Today on Blogcritics
Home » How intelligent is Intelligent Design?

How intelligent is Intelligent Design?

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

I grew up with a healthy suspicion of religious extremists and their bizarre concerns. I was raised in South Africa, where the main white Christian church stood solidly behind apartheid. They said apartheid was based on the Bible and ordained by God. Although religion can drive a noble cause, like anti-slavery, it’s often used to further all sorts of malevolent agendas.

So naturally, I am no great fan of America’s Christian Radicals — Pat Robertson, Dobson, and the like — and their attempt to smuggle religion into our schools’ science curriculums under the guise of Intelligent Design. I started nodding fiercely as I read these wise words, excerpted from a piece by Verlyn Klinkenborg (yes, that’s really someone’s name) in the NY Times:

The universe is perhaps 14 billion years old. Earth is some 4.5 billion years old. It’s been approximately 3.5 billion years since primeval life first originated on this planet. The oldest hominid fossils are between 6 million and 7 million years old. The oldest distinctly modern human fossils are about 160,000 years old.

The truth of these numbers has the same effect on me as watching the night sky in the high desert. It fills me with a sense of nonspecific immensity.

Humans feel much more content imagining a world of more human proportions, with a shorter time scale and a simple narrative sense of cause and effect. But what we prefer to believe makes no difference. The fact that life on Earth has arrived at a point where it is possible for humans to have beliefs is due to the steady ticking away of eons and the trial and error of natural selection.

Evolution is a robust theory, in the scientific sense, that has been tested and confirmed again and again. Intelligent design is not a theory at all, but a well-financed political and religious campaign to muddy science. Its basic proposition – the intervention of a designer, aka God – cannot be tested. It has no evidence to offer.

Accepting the fact of evolution does not necessarily mean discarding a personal faith in God. But accepting intelligent design means discarding science. Much has been made of a 2004 poll showing that some 45% of Americans believe that the Earth — and humans with it — was created as described in the book of Genesis, and within the past 10,000 years. This isn’t a triumph of faith. It’s a failure of education.

There is a destructive hubris, a fearful arrogance, in that myth. It sets us apart from nature, except to dominate it. It misses both the grace and the moral depth of knowing that humans have only the same stake, the same right, in the Earth as every other creature that has ever lived here. There is a righteousness – a responsibility – in the deep, ancestral origins we share with all of life.


It’s really bad, children. Christian Radicals make us the joke of the civilized world. It’s bad enough that the U.S. has the death penalty and Neanderthal healthcare, but being plain STUPID DUMB IDIOTS … jeez. How long will we allow our brains to be hijacked by these well-financed troglodytes? Somehow, 45% of us believing the world was created like Genesis says, and us being plagued by obesity, and us having cosmetic surgery on our vaginas — perhaps even us making “pre-emptive” war on a country as non-threatening as Iraq — it all seems connected.

I don’t know how, but I instinctively feel it does. Maybe on a more basic level than the obvious one, which is that of sheer dumb-assery.

What might this level be? The unstoppable march of a collective dumbing down, fueled by the profits to be made out of a know-nothing, buy-anything citizenry? Jingoistic pride in the total oblivion of ignorance? Countless decades of commodity fetishism, which make a few of us materially rich, and the rest of us culturally deprived?

There really is a failure of education in our country. We are raising a greedy elite on the one hand, and an exceedingly stupid peasantry on the other.

Our airwaves are full of dumbass propaganda, like the local Pravda we call Fox News, lapped up by us average folks, and manufactured for us by elitists like Rupert Murdoch.

We eat shit, we watch shit, we think shit. Are we, among the industrialized nations, the biggest consumers of shit? Yes, we appear to be. Where else do 45% of the people think the world was created according to that scientific book Genesis?

Protestant Christianity, a religion that served us so well (much better than Catholicism served South America), a religion that made us a nation of hard-working, Yankee-ingenuity starters-up of many new things — has it metastisized into something weird and anti-American? Will it lock-step us into a future that will keep us from stem cell research, so we end up having to buy our science from India and Korea?

How can a nation like us, who has led the world in technological advances, allow ourselves to fall behind others in science? Why are we sitting this one out, and watching other nations graduate scientists like fleas on our corpse, while we’re still debating evolution?

It’s time for our nation to call the Christian Radicals what they are — people who are as bad for our freedoms as Islamic extremists are for Muslim countries. Christian Radicals are our Taliban, our blowers-up of Buddha statues, our anti-science Luddites, our anti-progress haters of modernity.

They are a cancer. A virus. A galloping disease that threatens to destroy our natural health and future greatness.

They must be fought tooth and nail. Some millionaire should start financing a 24/7 media attack squad on Christian Radicals. These spreaders of the Dumb Plague want to take us back to the Dark Ages, and they’ve got rich dudes funding their fundamentalism.

Where are the pro-science rich dudes to turn back this attack on our tried-and-true values of scientific enlightenment and progress? The ideas of these Dumb Plaguists will not only impoverish us intellectually, but economically, too. Science breeds wealth. These radicals will make us poor.

Are we going to sit back and watch the Christian Radicals make our entire nation as backward as they are?

(Enjoyed reading this? There’s more stuff like it at Adam Ash.)

Powered by

About Adam Ash

  • http://jmaximus.blogspot.com John Bill

    Only a moron believes that the universe is 6,000 years old, and the earth is flat.

  • http://dlennis.org/Mysql/wordpress/ D L Ennis

    Well said!

    D L

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

    Beautiful commentary.

    It’s time for our nation to call the Christian Radicals what they are — people who are as bad for our freedoms as Islamic extremists are for Muslim countries.

    I would love for our country to jump on this bandwagon. This has been my primary bitch here for years now.

  • dave

    Both the article and your commentary demonstrate an almost exhaustive ignorance of Intelligent Design as it’s actually articulated in the literature. It’s out there if you care to educate yourself, Adam.

    But the following passage stopped me in my tracks…like a bolt from the blue, unprecedented in modern philosophy, Klinkenborg has cut the gordian knot of modern moral theory with this breathtakingly insightful aphorism:

    “There is a destructive hubris, a fearful arrogance, in that myth. It sets us apart from nature, except to dominate it. It misses both the grace and the moral depth of knowing that humans have only the same stake, the same right, in the Earth as every other creature that has ever lived here. There is a righteousness – a responsibility – in the deep, ancestral origins we share with all of life.”

    Virtually every moral theorist since Nietzsche has treated the apparent fact of naturalism as an unqualified disaster for ethics, but with a few rhetorical flourishes the NYT has rescured us from The Abyss!! Oh happy day! If only Camus were here to see it.

    Unite Klinkenborgians, under the banner of common humanity!! Man, we’re going to have to revise The Second Treatise of Government to make use of all this “grace and the moral depth.” The entire basis of the social contract will have to be rethought. I’m going to have to chuck my library of modern moral thought from Bentham to Foucault…and replace it with a plaque of this op-ed in bold caligraphy!

    Thank you Klinkenborg!! The world thanks you!! Humanity thanks you!!

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Dave:
    Get the Dawkins book I recommend from Amazon before insulting yourself with your own lack of intelligent design.

  • Leon

    It saddens me to see the response above. For one the very tolerance that that you feel the Christians should have regarding evolution evidently doesn’t apply to you. As long as you can have your way, you feel free to bash anyone elses opinion, use whatever vulgar hate language you feel like, because you THINK that there is no scientific evidence pointing to anything else but evolution. So now this democratic nation that has grown up in the philosphy that we can be open to look at each other’s opinion and respect differences suddenly is no longer valid because it differs with your belief. It scares me when people start agreeing that no one can be exposed to a certain theory. Look at all the evil dictators off the world. This is what happened when certain people decided only they were right and everyone else was wrong and therefore became a danger to them because they might have some valid points that could discredit them. So the result is to hate them, hey, even get rid of them. That’s where it gets to by taking your approach. If the ID or Creationism is so obsurd. Then let the facts fend for themself. We’re not exactly a primitive people that cannot discern between good and bad logic. But that is what is seems that you are taking us back to. A primitive people, hating whoever doesn’t think like us.
    Unless you’re to scared, look around and examine it for yourself, the cold hard facts. visit http://www.answersingenesis.org unless that is, you feel to threatened.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Ohmigod, the creationist trollbots have landed.

  • dave

    Adam: I’ve got the Dawkins, the Dennett, and (hey!) the Darwin. I think I’ve got a much better handle on Darwin than you do on ID.

  • gonzo marx

    Leon..you make some very good points..but you seem to miss the central tenet of the debate

    ID proponents are attempting to redife terms retroactively so they can take their unfounded hypothesis and couch in in scientific language (calling it a “theory”) without having to pass the rigors of scientific methodology

    as far as the assertation that folks bash who they feel like…well, both sides can get heated, but i have yet to find a scientist that screams on his own television statin that his opponents will be going to Hell to burn for eternity…or even the latest…a “christian” minister calling for assasinations

    remember…
    evolutionary theory = science
    ID = metaphysics/philosophy/theology

    and …gnosis > dogma

    hope that helps

    Excelsior!

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Dave:
    Listen, the latest research shows that the same genes that produce flies produce humans. That’s why evolution has led to such complicated designs. The “argument” from “complication” seems to be the main “argument” for intelligent design. Well, there it goes. What does your latest research say? And where is the EVIDENCE for Intelligent Design? Have you found any alien fossils that show an alien intelligence “designed” us? Jeez, I don’t know I’m getting involved in this, I’m already starting to feel like an idiot arguing on an idiotic level.

  • dave

    Adam: “Get the Dawkins book I recommend from Amazon before insulting yourself with your own lack of intelligent design.”

    This is lovely prose, Adam, but this little bit of wit escapes me. Maybe you can help me exegete: How does one insult oneself, exactly?

    “Dave, you ignorant slut…”

    I dunno. I’m not feeling it.

    Also, how would I accomplish this belittlment with “my own lack of intelligent design”?

    I’ll admit, your clever use of “intelligent design” is rapier-sharp here, but not matter how arrange it, I don’t seem to be able to insult myself with the phrase.

  • dave

    “Listen, the latest research shows that the same genes that produce flies produce humans.”

    This would be a fantastic breakthrough. Can you cite the work?

    “That’s why evolution has led to such complicated designs.”

    Hmm. Humans came from flies and that’s why evolution led to such complicated designs? You lost me, buddy.

    “The “argument” from “complication” seems to be the main “argument” for intelligent design.”

    It’s called specified complexity, and it’s how we detect design all the time. How would you tell the difference between random bashing on a keyboard and Hamlet? Or between letters spilled on the floor and Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky? Patterns. Specified patterns. Which is what you find in biology — patterns specified for the purpose of sustaining life. Can you cite ONE example of a Darwinian pathway that has been scientifically shown to have led from one species to another?

    “Have you found any alien fossils that show an alien intelligence “designed” us?”

    Ummm….no. Damn. You got me Adam. I give.

    “Jeez, I don’t know I’m getting involved in this, I’m already starting to feel like an idiot arguing on an idiotic level.”

    Ah, don’t beat yourself up.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    The work has been going for a number of years now. I heard about it on NPR last week. A biologist was very excited about it.
    I guess if you go on NPR, or WNYC.org, you’ll find it. It was Leonard Leopate’s show. Sorry, too lazy to do it for you.
    The whole IDEA of Darwin is that one species leads to another; mutations are a scientific fact, for example. What the hell are you talking about? Read the latest book by Dawkins, where he takes evolution backwards.
    Man, I’m beginning to disgust myself. I’m not a scientist, but I tend to believe a century of scientific investigation and thousands of scientists. I wouldn’t want to base my science on the Bible. I just can’t get behind the idea of God creating the world in seven days. Also, the idea of a God who creates millions of years of fossil record at the same time to fool us into coming up with the explanation evolution, also freaks me out. That’s got to be some whimsical God for sure. Like Einstein said, God doesn’t play games with the universe. I leave that to creationists.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Here’s one Darwinian pathway from one species to another: from a chimp to Bush.

    Jokes aside, we share almost a 100% of DNA with monkeys. You don’t need much of a pathway between our lot and theirs. Check em out in the zoo, dude: us primates look like the same pathway to me.

  • Leon

    Gonzo Marx . . thanks, I do want to clarify “christian” as it is a label thrown onto about anything these days. However, I do not consider anyone who calls for the assasination of another being, a true follower of Jesus Christ, who by the way didn’t use any screaming tactics either.

  • ss

    45%!
    I mean, 45%!
    I’m going to go ahead and pretend there’s a prayer answering invisible man who can answer this plea
    PLEASE let 45% be an inflated statistic
    PLEASE let 45% be an inflated statistic

    Good points all, AA, but, fuck I hope your wrong or the poll was wrong on that 45%.

  • dave

    “The whole IDEA of Darwin is that one species leads to another;”

    Thank you, Adam. Truly enlightening.

    “mutations are a scientific fact, for example.”

    Example of what? Cite one example of a sustained, beneficient genetic mutation that has been passed on and become part of a species. All you have are fossils, homologies (similar biological structures) and a bunch of just-so stories connecting them.

    Quit relying on secondary sources. Did you really read Dawkins? You obviously care enough about your own opinions to publish it, but you’re too lazy to do the work of defending it. I doubt you’ve done much more than a cursory read of secondary material.

    “What the hell are you talking about? Read the latest book by Dawkins, where he takes evolution backwards.”

    You’re the one publishing for all the world to read, Adam. When push comes to shove, you really have not one fuzzy pink notion about the issue do you? All you can do is say “read Dawkins.”

    I’ve read Dawkins. Have you read Dembski, or Johnson or Behe? Do you have the integrity and intellectual curiosity to actual inform yourself about issues before holding forth in public, or are you just too lazy?

  • dave

    “You don’t need much of a pathway between our lot and theirs. Check em out in the zoo, dude: us primates look like the same pathway to me.”

    If it’s that simple, then it shouldn’t be hard to scientifically demonstrate the mechanism at work. This is classic just-so reasoning. A good Darwinian would know better than to just say, “but look how similar they are!” There’s much more work to do than that, and if you’d actually read Dawkins with any comprehension, you’d understand that.

    So they’re similar. Big deal. Lots of buildings are similar and share similar blueprints. And you know what DNA is? A blueprint.

  • Leon

    Adam. . Ah finally someone brings the fossil record to attention. The fossil record is a very good argument AGAINST evolution.
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v14/i1/fossil.asp
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v4/i4/fossils.asp
    A couple of helpful guides.
    Also you mentioned mutations. Exactly what you would expect in a fallen world. However, where is the documented case of an increase in genetic information. Mutations are an actual loss of information. Not to difficult for even a common man to figure out. Wish you the best in your search.

  • dave

    “The work has been going for a number of years now. I heard about it on NPR last week. A biologist was very excited about it.”

    Damn, you’re good. This is truly exhaustive research. I had you all wrong, Adam. Did you do your graduate work in journalism at Columbia?

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

    A lot of the intelligent design threads here aren’t so much debates on IF the subject should be taught, as much as they are debates on the possibility of a designer. Meaning these debates are probably the ones that would be going on in classrooms and I can’t imagine why anybody would want that, because there’s clearly no learning going on here.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Thank you, Steve. Their “scientific” debates should take place in Sunday school, not public schools.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Two more things and then I’ll shut up.

    1. Intelligent Design is not science. It cannot be verified with facts, like science demands of any scientific theory. ID is faith and speculation. You won’t find a fossil record for ID, for example; you won’t find EVIDENCE for it, like an intelligent finger of God you can pick up in the jungle, and then touch and weigh and measure and analyze it in the laboratory.

    2. Scientists don’t insist that preachers put forward the arguments for evolution in their Sunday sermons. So creationists should return the favor and have their arguments in Sunday school, where it belongs — and not in public school science curriculums, where it doesn’t belong.

  • mark

    Indeed, the debate operates on (at least) two levels (its so complex it seems to be intelligently designed). First, on the validity of ID as a theory next to and at par with neo-Darwinist evolution. Bearing in mind that in Darwins Origin Species are numerous references to (a) God (esp. at the end of the book), it seems safe to say the scientific weight of ID is, well, lets just say, not all too impressive. So should ID be taught? Yes, absolutely, but in a Philosophy 101 class – NOT in Biology.

    Secondly, on the merits of teaching ID at all. My 2 cents would be, that anything that gets kids critically (not: dogmatically!) involved in thinking actively about who we are, where we came from and why we are here is GREAT – seems like just the recipe to prevent becoming a country of obese morons.

    At a third level, I’d be interested in metaphorical comparisons between complexity theory and the discourse of ID, as both start from a sense of wonder about the infinite beauty and complexity of nature (and culture, I hope). Again. what is wrong with that?

  • http://ezsgblog.com/vtdawson/index.php Bennett

    Great post Adam. I flashed through the comments without reading too much… It’s all the same crap with links to Bible Thumping webtrash.

    My favorite Creation Webtrash is the museum that shows Adam and Eve frolicing with T-Rex (a vegetatian dinosaur!), and asserts that dinosuars were on the “Arc” during “the great flood”….

    Too sad!

    Here is the story, an early post of mine, little response due to posting on a holiday weekend, but the single comment amuses me to no end…

  • dave

    “1. Intelligent Design is not science. It cannot be verified with facts, like science demands of any scientific theory.”

    Well, you’ve memorized the anti-ID talking points, even if you’re completely ignorant of ID itself.

    Adam, the whole point of ID is to verify design with facts. It eliminates chance through small probabilities. A design claim can be falsified very simply: provide empirical data proving that a non-intelligent agent produced the object in question. And please, Adam, no just-so stories like “but they look so much alike!!!”

    Darwin deserves better.

    “2. Scientists don’t insist that preachers put forward the arguments for evolution in their Sunday sermons. So creationists should return the favor and have their arguments in Sunday school, where it belongs — and not in public school science curriculums, where it doesn’t belong.”

    This is a very silly statement, Adam. Your instincts about your arguments being idiotic were right on.

    Can you state, in concise terms, what Intelligent Design is? Just state the argument, as you understand it. Show the world that you have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.

  • JR

    dave: Adam, the whole point of ID is to verify design with facts.

    So how’s that going? Can you cite any papers in high-impact, peer-reviewed science journals? (Nature, Science, Cell)

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme ven

    Great book,

    I hope everyone reads it!

  • dave

    “So how’s that going? Can you cite any papers in high-impact, peer-reviewed science journals? (Nature, Science, Cell)”

    It’s a young discipline, and up against tremendous hostility in the journals right now. The irrationality surrounding the issue is staggering — see the case of Richard Sternberg.

    That said, the philosophical basis for the argument is William Dembski’s The Design Inference which was release on Cambridge Press. Stephen Myers’ published an article on the specificity of information in biological information and the higher taxonomic categories in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington earlier this year.

    Of course, this meant that the old cannard of “where’s the published articles” argument went by the wayside.

    So of course the entire Darwinian establishment, which has careers, research grants, and indeed entire departments invested in the unquestioned presumption of Darwinism went apeshit.

    So, this is not an even playing field by any stretch, and it is very difficult for an ID argument to get a fair hearing in the journals.

    That said, please keep making the argument. It’s early in the game, and the more deeply invested the anti-ID crowd becomes in the “where’s the articles” argument, the more devastating it will be when articles like Meyers become more common place.

    In the meantime, expect the gatekeepers to do everything in their power to keep a lockdown on good ID science, while allowing any number of Darwinian arguments full of conjecture and just-so stories gladly through the door.

    So be it. Time is on ID’s side. Straw men and Red Herrings can only hold off the tide so long. The evidence of design in biology is overwhelming, and a new generation of scientists are coming up that will not have been indocrinated in the party line. Don’t expect this to just go away. It’s not.

    The teleological argument has been around for thousands of years. Darwin has only been around for 150. It was premature to think he’d have an indefinitel lockdown on the subject.

  • Mr O

    Dave
    Help me out here. I’ve read Behe and Dembski’s work but I am still confused. You see I teach 8th grade science and I just don’t see anything “teachable” here!? To paraphrase Behe, “when we look at a cell it seems far to complex and must carry out so many functions at the same time that the only conclusion is that it must have a designer.” This is just speculation, peppered with probability to be sure, but where are the testable hypotheses or even theoretical predictions that I could present to my class?

    Funny thin is, I’m closer to the opinion that there is INtelligence behind the Universe than as not, but you have got to back things up a bit, say within the first nanoseconds after the Big Bang when the Universal constants (examples: speed of light, relative strength of elementary particles, strength of bosons etc . . .) seem to have “miraculously” developed. But without any falsifiable predictions or hypotheses this cannot be called “Science,” can it? There are no experiments that would allow me to mix test tube “A” with beaker “B” and *poof* we get a burning bush which assures my kids that an Intelligent Designer had each and everyone of them in mind when he set the Universe in motion.

  • http://copygodd.blogspot.com copygodd

    dave: “A design claim can be falsified very simply: provide empirical data proving that a non-intelligent agent produced the object in question.”

    doesn’t that also mean that a design claim can be proven very simply, by providing empirical data proving that an intelligent agent produced the object in question?

    which just takes us back to our inability to prove the existence of god. it’s a matter of faith, and faith isn’t science.

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

    what if God is proven? Then there is no faith anymore, there is only a ruler, at that point, just like a President or a King.

    ID people don’t get it, they lose if it’s proven there is no Designer, and they lose if it’s proven there is.

    They only win as long as it’s never proven.

  • dave

    “which just takes us back to our inability to prove the existence of god.”

    It has nothing to do with God. It has to do with whether the object in question exhibits the the property of having been designed.

    People use this kind of reasoning all the time, in the legal system, in insurance claims, etc. There’s no justification to rule this kind of reasoning out just because some people don’t like the implications.

    But do what you will with the implications. There’s are Jewish, Muslim, Moonie, Christian, and agnostic (hello! Antony Flew!) thinkers who give credence to the design argument.

    Only people with a deep, emotional commitment to reductionist materialism want to rule design inferences out a priori — that is to say, before we’ve even begun to examine the evidence.

  • dave

    “But without any falsifiable predictions or hypotheses this cannot be called “Science,” can it?”

    I’ve never understood this objection. “Science” comes from the Latin scientia which just means knowledge. If the argument is good, based on the evidence (as Behe’s example of the bacterial flagellum is) then what’s the problem?

    By the nature of the ID argument as you understand it, what kind of predictions should it make? As I take it, it’s simply an explanatory mechanism for a given phenomena. It can’t predict where design will be detected, it can only say whether an object is designed after the fact.

    But, a claim of DI can be falsified — by simply demonstrating that a non-intelligent agent cause the object in question.

  • Mr. O

    Dave wrote, “Only people with a deep, emotional commitment to reductionist materialism want to rule design inferences out a priori — that is to say, before we’ve even begun to examine the evidence.”

    Yes Dave, you are making my point for me. How can I or anyother science teacher “teach” ID at this point? There has been no empirical examiniation of the evidence. No predictions, no hypotheses, no tests= no theory. Probability alone cannot prove an empirical fact, we need what educators call “hands on activities.” Science should never be “a priori,” hell that’s an Aristotilian principle-the very hallmark of Scientific reasoning is that there be actual field work. I cannot wait to met the human being who emperically proves the existance of God, or Q, or whatever we call the Intelligent Designer. Talk about a breakthrough.

    Cheers

  • Duane

    Dave,

    Thanks for participating in this thread. You’ve kept things interesting with your observations.

    In your post 29, you indicated that the scientific community was hostile towards ID, and that they were being kept out of the mainstream because of this hostility, which, I take it, you think is based on a dogma that has resulted from the research grant infrastructure. How would you respond to this quote?

    “In the mid-1990s George Gilchrist of the University of Washington surveyed thousands of journals in the primary literature, seekingarticles on ID. Among hundreds of thousands of scientific papers, he found none. In the past few years, independent surveys by Barbara Forrest of Southeastern Louisiana University and Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University have been similarly fruitless.

    “Creationists retort that a closed-minded scientific community rejects their evidence. Yet, according to the editors of Nature, Science, and other leading journals, few anti-evolution manuscripts are even submitted. Some anti-evolution authors have published papers in serious journals. Those papers, however, rarely attack evolution directly or advance creationist arguments; at best, they identify certain evolutionary problems as unsolved and difficult (which no one disputes). In short, creationists are not giving the scientific world good reason to take them seriously.In the mid-1990s George Gilchrist of the University of Washington surveyed thousands of journals in the primary literature, seekingarticles on ID. Among hundreds of thousands of scientific papers, he found none. In the past few years, independent surveys by Barbara Forrest of Southeastern Louisiana University and Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University have been similarly fruitless.”

    “Creationists retort that a closed-minded scientific community rejects their evidence. Yet, according to the editors of Nature, Science, and other leading journals, few anti-evolution manuscripts are even submitted. Some anti-evolution authors have published papers in serious journals. Those papers, however, rarely attack evolution directly or advance creationist arguments; at best, they identify certain evolutionary problems as unsolved and difficult (which no one disputes). In short, creationists are not giving the scientific world good reason to take them seriously.”

    — John Rennie, Scientific American, 287 (2002)

  • Mr. O

    Evolutionary Theory can be summarized as descent from a common ancestor with modification. What predictions could we make and how might we test them?

    Take a Bear and a Dog. According to Evolution they should have descended froma common ancestor. Predictions:
    1. If they descended froma common ancestor then they should share commom genetic sequences. (Bears and dogs do)
    2. If they descended from common ancestor then they should share analogous structures with modification. (I would suggest a dog’s dew claw compared with a bears thumb)
    3. If they descended from common ancestor then they should be harder to distinguish from each other at early developmental stages. (bears and dogs are practically indistinguishabile from one another in utero)
    4. If they descended from a common ancestor then there should be evidence of this in the fossil record. (dig down deep enough and the differnces between canines and bears melt away until a time some 15 million years ago when an animal called the “beardog” seems to have roamed the Earth.)

    Now ID needs some testible, falsifiable predictions like these.

  • dave

    “In your post 29, you indicated that the scientific community was hostile towards ID, and that they were being kept out of the mainstream because of this hostility, which, I take it, you think is based on a dogma that has resulted from the research grant infrastructure. How would you respond to this quote?…”

    Well, sociological conjecture is tenuous, and difficult to prove. I’m not gonna die on that hill. I will say that I’m suspicious of anything Barbara Forrest “independently” researched. But again, not going to the mat for it.

    Look, it’s prima facie obvious that the majority of folks who are hostile to ID are scared to death of the theological implications. Just look at Michael Ruse, an otherwise very intelligent British expat who objects to ID because he genuinely believes that it’s part of a conspiracy to put sinners into concentration camps. He actually said that. He has other arguments, of course, but this is the one he trots out on national television.

    Furthermore — look at the Richard Sternberg case. Before anyone had had ANY time to evaluate Meyers’ article or Sternberg’s procedures, there was an unbelievable outcry. Surely, no matter what you think of Meyers’ piece or Sternberg’s procedureal rigor (both of which hold up under scrutiny, imo) you have to concede that the emotions exhibited by the establishment at the Smtihsonian were far out of proportion to any kind of reasoned judgement they could have had time to make about the case. The only factor was the controversy surrounding ID.

    Seriously, can anybody tell me with a straight face that a pro-ID essay, no matter how rigorous or how many PhD’s back it up, could possibly make it through the gates at Nature, Science or Cell in the current political climate?

    Again, it’s very early in the game. Things could be very different in 5 years. But right now, it’s very popular for the anti-ID crowd to say that ID isn’t science because it isn’t in the journals, but ID can’t get into the journals because it isn’t science. Where will that be in 5 to 10 years? No one knows, but I suggest that the Darwinists will eventually need better arguments than “where are the articles?”

  • dave

    “Evolutionary Theory can be summarized as descent from a common ancestor with modification. What predictions could we make and how might we test them?”

    All of your examples are also consistent with the hypothesis of a common designer.

    For example, a Frank Lloyd Wright building of a certain period will most likely share many traits with his other buildings of the same period.

    Not only will they be “homologous” in actual structure, but if we look at the “DNA” of the buildings, the blueprints, they also share many commonalities. In their early stages — foundation and framing — they may actually be indistinguishable.

    So, if someone cares to posit a common designer for biological entities, why on earth would they expect to see radically heterogenous structures? Everything we know about designing entities tells us that they tend to reuse good designs and make local structures mutually adaptable.

  • Mr O

    Dave
    Throw me a bone here, how do you “teach” ID in Science Class without the SCience? You keep talking 5-10 years down the line. I cannat wait to see the emperical evidence for the existance of an IDer, but are you admitting that it is too early to present to my 8th grade Science Class?
    Cheers

  • Mr. O

    Dave
    In 39 you seem to be ignoring the gradual defferentiation in the fossil record. How about we think about humans. Were Australopithecines and Homo-Erectus “throw-away” designs? Are you suggesting that the “designer” designed them independently of one another over a span of millions of years? Is there some compelling reason to take this position in light of the other three predictions of Evolution-analogous structures, common blue print (DNA), and Developmental similarities? In other words, why assume that the “designer” didn’t use Evolution through mutation and natural selection to accieve its goals?

  • dave

    “Throw me a bone here, how do you “teach” ID in Science Class without the SCience? You keep talking 5-10 years down the line. I cannat wait to see the emperical evidence for the existance of an IDer, but are you admitting that it is too early to present to my 8th grade Science Class?”

    It might not be time to “teach” it in eighth grade, in the sense that you would present it as fact. I think many local school boards are jumping the gun here and causing unecessary backlash.

    But I certainly think that a middle school teacher should be allowed to present ID and any other legitimate criticism of Darwinism, alongside Darwin in all his glory. I’m certainly going to have my kids read through Voyage of the Beagle, Origin of Species, Dennett, Dawkins, et. al., as well as the good ID literature out there. It’s all part of the history of ideas and there’s nothing to be scared of.

    But I don’t know if I have a bone to throw you. If you don’t feel comfortable using Michael Behe’s mousetrap example applied to the bacterial flagellum, then don’t. Keep reading and watching, and bring it out when you think it’s time. No one should dictate that to you.

  • dave

    “In other words, why assume that the “designer” didn’t use Evolution through mutation and natural selection to accieve its goals?”

    You don’t have to. The two are mutally compatible. The fact that there may be some graduation among species doesn’t negate a design argument applied to a specific structure.

    In fact, most ID advocates agree that this is probably the case.

  • Mr. O

    Dave
    Again, I don’t think I’m too far away from you on this issue, I personally believe in a Higher Power, but as you said its too early for much of the educational world.

    But you also said this, ” If you don’t feel comfortable using Michael Behe’s mousetrap example applied to the bacterial flagellum, then don’t. Keep reading and watching, and bring it out when you think it’s time. No one should dictate that to you.”

    Bush’s endorsement of this theory while still in its infancy and efforts by many school districts across the country to add ID to their curriculums seem to suggest that many proponents of ID DO want to dictate to teachers what to teach in our classrooms.

    We are still gonna need hard Science before we can make ID a viable theory.

    Cheers

  • dave

    “Bush’s endorsement of this theory while still in its infancy and efforts by many school districts across the country to add ID to their curriculums seem to suggest that many proponents of ID DO want to dictate to teachers what to teach in our classrooms.”

    My read of Bush’s statement is that his position is no different from that of most of the academic ID advocates: ID should not be required, but it should not be ruled out either. Legitimate criticisms should be allowed to be aired in the classroom alongside Darwin in all his glory.

  • Susan

    DAVE: “it’s how we detect design all the time. How would you tell the difference between random bashing on a keyboard and Hamlet? Or between letters spilled on the floor and Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky?” (post #12)

    Letters on a keyboard do not procreate. Your analogy is useless when talking about life forms. You may not be a slut, but your argument is ignorant.

  • dave

    “Letters on a keyboard do not procreate. Your analogy is useless when talking about life forms.”

    Your statement is irrelevant and misses the point. Design is a property of entities and events that can be detected. We do this all the time. There is nothing particular about living things that should exempt them from the application of this intuitive form of reasoning, unless you have a religious commitment to a definition of science that conveniently rules this out before you actually have to deal with the data.

  • Susan

    DAVE: “For example, a Frank Lloyd Wright building of a certain period will most likely share many traits with his other buildings of the same period.”

    Same problem, Dave. Frank did not design buildings that reproduced. DNA is self-replicating; blueprints are not. If Frank could have designed buildings that had sexual intercourse and reproduced on their own, then you’d have fodder for an analogy. But he didn’t, and you don’t. (post #39)

  • dave

    “Frank did not design buildings that reproduced. DNA is self-replicating; blueprints are not. If Frank could have designed buildings that had sexual intercourse and reproduced on their own, then you’d have fodder for an analogy. But he didn’t, and you don’t.”

    If you had read the post in context and understood it, you might have a relevant point to make.

    But you didn’t and you don’t.

  • dave

    I’ll be more charitable. Susan said:

    “DNA is self-replicating; blueprints are not.”

    Doesn’t matter. The issue was whether the fact of biological similarites could only possibly be consistent with common descent. I demonstrated, using the building analogy, that no, biological and genetic similarities are not only consistent with a design inference, but are in fact exactly what you’d expect from a designer.

    The fact that cells reproduce and buildings don’t has absolutely nothing to do with the point that was being made.

  • Susan

    DAVE: “There is nothing particular about living things that should exempt…”

    That’s my point, Dave. Evolution only speaks to living things. It’s your nonliving examples, manuscripts and buildings, that render your analogy false and useless.

    Bush would require ID in public schools. Reread what your president said. I’m glad you don’t agree with him. Let him know you don’t agree.

    DAVE: “The fact that cells reproduce and buildings don’t has absolutely nothing to do with the point that was being made.”

    Er, yes it has everythign to do with it. You have no examples of intelligence making living things. Evolution has examples of living things making living things without intelligence (sexual intercourse is fun, but you don’t need a PhD to do it). Don’t use an analogy that avoids the very thing you want to prove. We are all aware of Mount Rushmore and watches and we see evidence of their makers, but we have no science that provides evidence for ID. Let it go until you get some science. It’s faith. Why are so needy of it becoming science? Does science have cachet that religion doesn’t have?

    Yes, I suppose it does.

  • dave

    “You have no examples of intelligence making living things.”

    This is a common objection to the design inference known as “false analogy.” But it has nothing to do with the analogy I was making. I wasn’t defending the design inference with my analogy. You’re not reading carefully, you’re rushing to judgement, like so many ID critics. Read slowly and carefully and make sure you understand the argument being made before you make an objection.

    If you want to talk about the “false analogy” objection as applied to the design inference, we can do that. It just has nothing to do with the point I was making.

    “Why are so needy of it becoming science? Does science have cachet that religion doesn’t have?”

    I don’t need it to “become” anything. It is what it is. There is no competition between the two as long as there are no artificial, ad hoc barriers erected between the two, as in Gould’s “magesteria” or the philosophical slight-of-hand known as “methodological naturalism.” Science, properly understood, should merely be defined as the knowledge man can gain from observing the natural world. Any attempt to restrict the *kinds* of conclusions that are allowed from these observations is gratutitous and philosophically tyrannical.

  • Susan

    Dave: “But it has nothing to do with the analogy I was making.”

    Yes, it does. The idea behind ID is about how complex things are. Some complex non-biological things were designed by intelligent humans. But there are no examples of complex living things designed by intelligence. So analogies of blueprints and manuscripts are not relevant when one is speaking of “biological similarites” (your words).

    Dave: “Science, properly understood, should merely be defined as the knowledge man can gain from observing the natural world.”

    What observation about my appendix makes you think of an intelligent designer?

  • Baronius

    Blogcritics ID topics are like trains, if you miss one there’s another every 15 minutes.

    Mr. O – The scientific support for ID theory is typically statistical. Around here, someone else usually discusses that. I’ve been mainly talking about Behe’s analysis of irreducible complexity. It looks like you’re familiar with Behe, so I’ll probably sit this one out. But ID is more of a critique of current evolutionary theory than a fully-formed theory of its own.

    It’s been many, many years (many) since I’ve been in 8th grade. When you teach a theory, do you typically discuss its possible weaknesses and alternatives? That’s non-rhetorical (many, many years).

    Adam – Glad to see you’re feeling inclusive toward the stupid troglodytic ignorant dumbass shiteating radical viruses.

  • dave

    “Yes, it does.”

    No, it doesn’t.

    “The idea behind ID is about how complex things are. Some complex non-biological things were designed by intelligent humans.”

    It’s good to see that you have a rudimentary grasp of the design inference. I was not making a design inference when I employed the building analogy.

    Analogies are wonderful things. They can be employed in all sorts of ways. Sometimes people use analogy in poetry. Sometimes they use analogies in a philosophical argument. Sometimes they use them to explain things. I was using it in this last manner.

    You seem to think that since I was talking about ID and using an analogy, then I must necessarily have been using it to defend the design inference. I have been known to do that, it just wasn’t happening there.

    Susan, are you being willfully dense, or are you simply incapable of reading slowly with comprehension?

    “What observation about my appendix makes you think of an intelligent designer?”

    I have no observations to make about your appendix.

  • Susan

    Dave: “It’s good to see that you have a rudimentary grasp of the design inference. I was not making a design inference when I employed the building analogy. ”

    The design inference is rudimentary. I think we are both done explaining it. Do you have more?

    Analogies in poetry are called metaphors. In argument and science they are never proof. But they are useful in arugment and sicence if the characteristics of the two compared items are similar to help draw similar conclusions. If they are not similar, a debator should refrain for using them. You, Dave, need to refrain.

    Dave: “I have been known to do that, it just wasn’t happening there.”

    What was happening there for you, Dave? Maybe it was just you, off in a corner being willflly dense. That’s okay, but no need to share. We understand.

    Dave: “appendix…”

    ‘Nuf said. I rest my case.

  • Mr.O

    Baronius
    Thanks for the comment. Of course we talk about the weaknesses in Scientific Theories in my class. I teach at-risk inner-city kids, they think everything is a conspiracy! I already said that I believe in a higher power, I was raised Unitarian so I do not believe in a personal God, but more of a Deist-set-the-Universe-in-motion-Ominpotent Being. I say look to nature’s constants for evidence of design, because here is the problem with Behe’s critique of Evolution. He, and most ID proponents, start with some unsound piece of a rather well-developed theory, like the multiple functions of a single cell for example, and say, “look, Evolution may explain the descent of humans from apes but it cannot explain the complexity of a paramecia’s cilia, therefore we must conclude that an Intelligent Designer is behind all life-case closed” And this is supposed to be Science?! Look I have the same problem with String Theory. There are holes in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity after all. Why does Gravity work? Einstein would have us believe that the mass of objects curves space and causes objects to sort of roll towards each other, and this doesn’t seem to jibe well with Quantum Mechanics which is filled with probability and a reliance on particals to hold the Universe together. But no one can find the Graviton! Both theories have many field tests and experiments which seem to suggest their validity in certain instances, but taken together, they seem irreconcilable. Enter String Theory. Its pure Theoretical Physics and high level mathematics all the way. Sure Brian Greene can illustrate on paper how an 11 dimensional hyperspace filled with elegant occilating strings could create something like our Universe, again on paper, but where is the field work?

    No ID and String Theory as they exist today are like Ptolomey’s Epicycles. Remeber how the Catholic Church refused to accept anything but a Geo-centric Universe, one in which all heavenly bodies revolve around the Earth in perfect spheres. It took one hell of a lot of fancy math to explain why Mars backtracked across the sky half way through the year-forget that the Earth is closer to the Sun and therefore makes a faster revolution-if it cannot be explained by experiment or observation drum up some dogma and crunch the numbers to support your position.

    No I am sorry, but the more I think about it the only way to emperically prove Intelligent Design is with an experiment the convinces the old Primary Mover to show herself. I don’t see it happening somehow. Its better to look for natural explanations for phenomena. But hey, this line of thinking, “hey, if we poke a small hole in a theory then we can just conjure up some supernatural explanation for everything and call it science,” would make my job very easy. Consider:
    “Mr. O how does lightening form?”
    “Jesus”
    “Mr. O how do mountains form?”
    “Allah”
    “Mr. O what holds atoms together?”
    “The hand of God.”

    You get the picture.

    Cheers

  • dave

    “Sure Brian Greene can illustrate on paper how an 11 dimensional hyperspace filled with elegant occilating strings could create something like our Universe, again on paper, but where is the field work?”

    This is what John Horgan calls “ironic science.” It’s amazing that all these science puritans who’d never read Popper in their lives come out of the woodwork screaming “not falsifiable!!!” at Intelligent Design, but somehow string theory and an infinite number of universes are theories get a free ride, peer reviewed, etc.

    It’s what I call “selective positivism.”

  • dave

    “Its better to look for natural explanations for phenomena. But hey, this line of thinking, “hey, if we poke a small hole in a theory then we can just conjure up some supernatural explanation for everything and call it science,”…”

    But what if it were nothing like that? What if Intelligent Design opened the door for a broader metaphysic that allows for mind and purpose as an irreducible property of the natural world? What if the discovery of a designed natural entity was the first step in revealing an elegent mind-like structure to the natural world, rather than the essentially dead structure we assume it is with our latent atomistic assumptions?

    Aristotle, Leibniz, Berkely, Hegel, Whitehead, Bergson, Jonas…these are just a few of the philosophers over the centuries that have argued against reductionist atomism, in favor of seeing mind as more essential.

    The discovery of design does not have to mean we surrender the essential elegance of nature over to an ad hoc, interventionist God kind of scenario. Nature itself can still operate according to consistent laws, but the idea of design might open our understanding to some things we never would have considered otherwise.

    Design means intentional action towards an end, which implies mind. Why assume that all of reality must absolutely reduce to mute, determined, dead matter acting on other mute, determined dead matter? The Newtonian/Lucretian/Epicurean assumption about atoms (the a-tom, undivisible particle as the essential, irreducible fact of the universe) doesn’t seem to have panned out the way it was hoped. Maybe it’s time to move science on to some other ideas.

  • Susan

    Dave: “but the idea of design might open our understanding to some things we never would have considered otherwise.”

    Such as, what?

    Mr. O is right. Design is a dead end. It’s doesn’t help predict anything. If we could talk to the designer and ask why, well, that would be neat. I’d like that. I could find out about my appendix and why my brother’s killed him. But the designer isn’t answering my prayers or queries or voice mail. Maybe it’s shy as well as somewhat intelligent.

  • dave

    “Such as, what?”

    Such as a universe that is not made of dead, mute, inert matter. I’m saying it’s possible that modern physics since newton might have been operating on a fruitful but false analogy — the analogy with dead objects: the universe is essentially made up of dead things, like rocks are dead, and that the living is just a type of what is dead.

    For more see Hans Jonas’ The Phenomenon of Life.

    “I could find out about my appendix and why my brother’s killed him.”

    I can’t help you there, but a simple prayer would be a start. You don’t have to have all the answers in the universe to offer up a prayer. All that takes is a little humility and a willingness to let go of anger, assumptions, demands…and actually it’s funny how little faith it takes. That seems to come afterward.

  • Baronius

    Mr. O – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Simpsons episode with the Movementarian cult, but you practically quoted it. One of the best Simpsons ep’s, and that’s saying something.

    I’ve never heard anyone try to explain the graviton vs. warped space discrepancy. The ‘brief history of time’ guy (I can’t remember his name offhand) seems to accept both ideas. There’s a common saying among ID proponents that we should ‘teach the debate’, and I have no idea if that’s possible, or even done with other debated issues. It should be, of course, but teachers are up against plenty of challenges (in case you hadn’t heard) and there are lots of problems with curricula.

    My gut says that ID can be taught as ‘the debate’, or as a critique of contemporary evolutionary theory, but it doesn’t posit a complete scientific theory. That’s its point, in fact. It says that random mutations would take too much time, and that there’s no scientific explanation to account for it. How can there ever be an experimental way of confirming that? The closest thing is to cite a wall of statistics which oppose the current evolutionary timetable.

    That’s one of the reasons that I’m a big fan of Behe. Where most ID’ers present a problem of degree, he presents a problem of kind. The structure that can’t gradually evolve. A thing which doesn’t work with one part missing would have to emerge more-or-less intact, which isn’t gradual, or develop gradually, which wouldn’t provide any advantage in terms of natural selection. So it couldn’t occur through random mutation and natural selection.

  • D.C.

    There seems to be a lot of HATE here being expressed by people of the evolutionary point of view. Of course since they believe in a fairytale, it is understandable that they think they came from monkeys.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Susan says: “I could find out about my appendix and why my brother’s killed him.”

    Dave answers: “I can’t help you there, but a simple prayer would be a start. You don’t have to have all the answers in the universe to offer up a prayer. All that takes is a little humility and a willingness to let go of anger, assumptions, demands … and actually it’s funny how little faith it takes. That seems to come afterward.”

    Dave, does that sound like science or faith? Now that you’ve advocated prayer as a tool for finding things out, it’s obvious your agenda is faith not science.
    Thanks for finally making yourself clear.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Baronius: I’ve decided to draw the line at Christian Radicals — when they advocate putting religion on science curriculums, killing stem cell research, or murdering foreign heads of state. I don’t want to include them in anything until they repent their sins.

  • Susan

    Dave: “but the idea of design might open our understanding to some things we never would have considered otherwise.”

    Susan: “Such as, what?”

    Dave: “Such as a universe that is not made of dead, mute, inert matter.”

    Dave, you think that ID is what opens our understanding that some things on this planet are living?

    I was going to comment about your prayer advocacy solution, but Adam already did. Dave, should we teach prayer in school?

    I just heard Behe speak yesterday on talk radio. He had a hard time distancing himself from 10,000 year-old earth believers (they comprise most of his support). There was time for animal eyes to form from light-sensitive patches of skin to the eyes we have to day (which will continue improving if we don’t go extinct). I’m still curious about our appendices. They are poorly designed (a leftover from our ancestors). Evolution can account for an underused organ, but it turns ID into an oxymoron.

  • dave

    “Dave, does that sound like science or faith? Now that you’ve advocated prayer as a tool for finding things out, it’s obvious your agenda is faith not science.”

    Susan seemed to be looking for Meaning rather than facts. Science is good at the latter but not so good at the former. Prayer and Meaning have tended to go hand-in-hand for me. But that’s just me responding honestly to Susan’s statement.

    I’m curious, though Adam. You seem to be implying that someone who has faith would never be interested in science. I wonder how you reconcile that with people like, say, Issac Newton, Galileo, Rene Descartes, and, oh, Neils Bohr for instance. Faith was an important part of all of these men’s lives. Does that mean that their “agenda was faith not science?”

    “I’m still curious about our appendices. They are poorly designed (a leftover from our ancestors).”

    There is still so much we don’t know about how all organs interact as a whole. And even if they are inefficient, so what? There’s a whole lot of unjustified value judgements in asserting that if a designer made us, he would HAVE to have made us with perfect physical efficiency. What if the designer’s goal wasn’t efficiency but a particular kind of humanity? What if the very inefficiency and limitations of our bodies is an integral part of what drives our creativity, our passions, the essence of what makes us human?

    How strong and efficient would be enough? Should we all be Schwartezeneggers? Alien-type indestructable super-beings? What kind of existence would that be?

    You can’t separate any one particular aspect of our existence from everything else. We are what we are — human, with a lot of qualities that from one perspective look like frailties and vulnerabilities, but in actuality turn out to be the very thing that drives an essential part of our humanity.

    Beyond that, in many religious accounts that include a designer, there is a doctrine of the “Fall” or some other catastrophy that has affected all of creation. Many believers might say that the imperfections you see all around you are the result of this catastrophy.

    That’s not an argument for any one worldview, but just to say that Darwinism’s “descent with modification” isn’t the only worldview that can account for ineffecient or underused biological entities.

  • Baronius

    Adam, you’re right, of course. My interest in ID theory isn’t scientific, it’s religious. Everyone who questions contemporary evolutionary theory (even Gould) is working for Pat Robertson. We also have secret meetings when the “unholies” aren’t around.

    There are two sides to every argument, the right one (which is also inclusive) and the wrong one (which is espoused by shiteating idiotic viruses). You are fortunate to be (1) right, (2) inclusive, and (3) able to recognize that your opponents are shiteating morons.

    Sorry, dude, but this is just too easy.

  • dave

    “Dave, you think that ID is what opens our understanding that some things on this planet are living?”

    No, I’m saying that the modern reductionist worldview, for the most part, sees all of reality as essentially dead. Living things are an anomaly. Life is an accident — a random assemblage of matter that might just as well never have occured. Nietzsche states this idea succinctly in The Gay Science: “The living is just a type of what is dead.”

    If design, or purpose/telos, is an essential part of reality, an irreducible fact of existence, as many, many philosophers have argued, then the modern/reductionist worldview is no longer viable. “Mind” or “Life” would be much more fruitful concepts to use to describe reality if telos (or purpose) is the irreducible fact, not death.

  • gonzo marx

    fascinating thought there dave…but one not proven out by the facts at hand

    if “Mind” or “Life” is the baseline paradigm…then where is it?

    not anywhere else in the solar system we have found so far…as far as a statistical analysis of the quantity of space/time observable the phenomenae you speak of constitue an infintesmal fraction

    i understand that, being alive, one can have a prejudicial viewpoint…but this seems to render your prime postulate fallacious

    Excelsior!

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Dave, the more you comment about ID, the more it sounds like metaphysics — not faith or science. And that would make a terrific debate. There are those who think that human intelligence will eventually spread throughout the universe — and that is where we are heading, seeding all of creation with our intelligence. An unintended result (or maybe intended) of evolution.

    Baronius: I’m happy to be inclusive about Kerry, Bush, Limbaugh, Al Franken, Baptists, Episcopalians, liberals, conservatives, communists, atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Flat Earthists, environmentalists, capitalists, etc. even though I like to argue with all of them.
    But not Christian Radicals. They’re a blight on our nation. They hold us back. Their ilk was a blight when I grew up under apartheid in South Africa. I guess childhood conditioning just turned me against them.

    When it comes to New Agists and buyers of self-help books, I’m still not sure. They drive me crazy on some visceral level that interferes mightily with the DNA of my inclusionary porject. I don’t want to exclude them like Christian Radicals, but what do I do about how annoying they are?

  • dave

    “Dave, the more you comment about ID, the more it sounds like metaphysics — not faith or science.”

    Everything is metaphysics.

    “if “Mind” or “Life” is the baseline paradigm…then where is it?”

    No a reflective mind, like sentience, but a super-rudimentary “awareness.” See: Berkeley and Leibniz through Whitehead, Bergson, Jonas.

    Descartes made the dogmatic assertion that all of reality is divided into “thinking things” and “extended bodies.” What if the two were not as radically istinct as he assumed?

    “There are those who think that human intelligence will eventually spread throughout the universe — and that is where we are heading, seeding all of creation with our intelligence.”

    That sounds like Kurzweil or similar nutcases. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m talking about a very rudimentary notion of “mind” as a way to describe the simple interactions of matter. The simple, unreflective “awareness” and reciprocal interaction between, say, electrons might best be described in terms of “mind” (which isn’t to say “rationality”) or “life,” as opposed to the persistent billiard-ball, Rube Goldberg metaphor that seems to be the base metaphor that modern science operates from, no matter how sophisticated it gets.

  • dave

    The above should have read “radically distinct”

  • dave

    “But not Christian Radicals. They’re a blight on our nation. They hold us back. Their ilk was a blight when I grew up under apartheid in South Africa.”

    The problem with them is not the “Christian” part, but the “Radical” part, which is to say the part of them that defines themselves as what they are NOT as opposed to what they ARE.

    If you define yourself by what you hate, then you end up becoming hateful. Nothing could be less Christ-like.

    Some of your rhetoric, Adam, however well justified by your horrible experience in South Africa, demonstrates the same kind of negativity.

  • ss

    Dave:
    You can try to dismiss Adam’s satire as negative, but you got in a nice little huff when Susan crushed you with that house analogy.
    And I do mean crushed you.
    And you know it too, or you wouldn’t have started calling her dense.

  • D.C.

    Evolution is nothing more than Hocus Pocus of modern acedemia. Pffff. Big Bang, Inflation then Evolution. WOW! Those who claim to be Christians, especially ministers, who believe in evolution are nothing more than modern Gnostics in Christianity. Oh, I know! As humans evolved, plants did too, which just happen to pull out of the earth elements we need to eat. Which also happen to be in the earth in the first place. The coincidences could go on. How the earth recycles itself. How the water is recycled through evaporation to replenish the earth. Why babies , who chew their fingers, don’t have teeth yet (Lucky for them). That the eath is covered in green and brown, the most calming colors, with a few patches of colors scattered here and there. Or the details of the human brain. How the brain stores in a FRU, a place that stored just faces, this is all just by chance. Yeah right. And Michael Moore will really be president someday! You people are so sad out there. Oh and don’t forget, which came first through evolution? The adult or the infant?

  • dave

    “You can try to dismiss Adam’s satire as negative, but you got in a nice little huff when Susan crushed you with that house analogy.

    And I do mean crushed you.

    And you know it too, or you wouldn’t have started calling her dense.”

    You got me. I can’t pretend anymore.

    Yeah, I didn’t know what I was gonna do when Susan came out of the blue with that one. For a while I was in such a panic that I forgot which section of Dialogs Concerning Natural Religion contained David Hume’s original statment of the “false analogy” argument. Then for a second I thought about digging out St. Thomas and looking into his statements about the nature of analogical knowledge, to see if maybe I could counter Susan’s whithering critique. No, I’d have to go further — as brilliant as St. Thomas was, he’s no match for Susan.

    Finally, I realized that I was going to have to go back to the pre-Socratics, to Anaximander of Miletus, who first articulated the Analogy of Being that holds across all particulars, making all knowledge possible. What I had to do was counter Susans’s phenomenological approach, indebted as it was to a post-Husserlian reduction, with a pre-modern appeal to analogy as understood by the Ancients. The problem separating Susan’s approach and mine, is of course, Descartes’ ubiquitous dualism, which, I would say is the underlying problem. Once you’ve separated the res extensa and the res cogitans, the dubito comes in on a rope, right? Under the modern assuption of radical doubt, analogy of course is vulnerable. But the Ancients understood analogy differently, as fundamental to all knowledge. So it is there, and only there that I might find the resources to parry this bold philosophical thrust.

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

    which came first through evolution? The adult or the infant?

    the infant. When we were cavemen, we were having infants, also when we first learned to walk upright. Infants are always first. Whenever there was a change/mutation in the lineage of mankind, someone would have to be born with it.

    While it is hard to comprehend evolution because it takes place over millions of years, we can look at much shorter time spans and still see a form of environmental adaptation going on, which to me would still be evolutionary.

    For example, the average height of a man in Shakespeare’s time vs. our time. You can see evolutionary changes in even as little time as that.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~proy1/ Paul Roy

    Great post Adam. I couldn’t agree with you and Mr. Klinkenborg more. Like your blog as well. Some of these replies are down-right scary though aren’t they?

  • D.C.

    But of nuts.

  • ss

    Dave:

    You’re well read, no one could argue that. The crux of Susan’s arguement seemed to be that citing examples of order imposed on chaos by an act of will does not refute the arguement that order can also arise from chaos without an external act of will, so long as there is a source of external energy to overcome the second law of thermo-dynamics (energy comes into a system, system cannot then be a closed system, entropy then does not apply)
    She did this by refuting your analogy. While telling us all about the many fine philosophical enquiries into the nature of knowledge that you have no doubt read, you have failed to provide any argument that gives your original analogy any more weight than than the analogy she used to counter it.
    Instead you’ve attacked the use of analogy, because hers was better than yours.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Dave, that was meant to be parody right?

    If so, that’s a pretty funny satire of Philosophy 101 style jargon and rambling without any understanding of what texts mean.

    This is a really poor philosophical debate, which illustrates why discussing Intelligent Design would be an absolute pedagogical disaster and waste of time in science classrooms. Metaphysical speculation is almost completely useless, particularly metaphysical speculation that has nothign particularly instructive to say about the substance of science itself. Sure, you believe in telos and a Designer — that doesn’t tell you anything useful about how design took place through the process of evolution, whom the Designer is, and why the Designer chose what appears to be pretty ordered, historical evolutionary patterns to make His (we are praying, apparently, before our lab experiments after all) “will” known.

    This is all pointless. No ID proponents will ever gain any measure of respect in mainstream academic science because this isn’t the stuff of science journals and legitimate, actually scientific research. It’s not philosophy either, which is why I think you see such desperation and anti-intellectual anger on the part of the would-be cosmologists who push inchoate ideologies like this upon politicians who don’t know anything about religion OR science.

    It’s a legitimate critique of science to say that it’s too oriented toward techne and is unable to provide meaning for human life. That’s fine and probably true. But Intelligent Design is not an answer bridging the gap between humanism and science because it’s neither scientific nor philosophical, which is the entire problem. Intelligent Design doesn’t elevate your religious ethics to the level of scientific inquiry, nor does it humble science’s claim to truth into mere speculative metaphysical claims that are only equally as valid as some casual observation about how various species look alike and thus reveal the beauty of God’s hand in their complexity.

    Dave: I know you aren’t a student of philosophy so much as a mindless name-dropper, but you do realize that your entire teleological argument you’ve made is an almost perfect tautology right? You defined “design” as being something like “mind” working through matter and biological objects and infer that “design” is thus an essential part of reality and existence. How do we know design is at work? Because, you tell us, of the “life” and “mind” that is working through design. That’s the definition of circular logic and your definition of “mind” in relation to our biological facticity is eccentric an interpretation at best, unsupported by any serious philosophical literature.

    Very few of the philosophers you bastardize would take this silly body of theory or the conclusions you draw from their worky seriously.

    What exactly are the possibilities that are closed off from current understanding that Intelligent Design would open us up to in the process of scientific discovery? Don’t be general, be very specific and explicit with examples of what you think we might discover and learn from being open to “design.”

    The only good thing you wrote here was your point that much of string theory or cutting-edge physics is speculative and borderline metaphysical and can’t be verified by experiment. This is true. But at least it’s an extrapolation upon the body of knowledge up to the limits of what experimental science has shown us is true once technology catches up to scientific theory and allows experimentation to test these ideas. The level of “speculation” in theoretical physics is also infinitely more advanced and complex than any Design speculation I’ve ever heard. Intelligent Design already begs the question before it answers it — it closes off understanding to assume the role of a Designer rather than opening us up to new questions. If your entire “scientific” theory centers on one metaphysical issue — did God design this? — all your “science” and philosophy will ultimately be defined through the lens of your theology and they cease to be science and philosophy as a result.

    I’m convinced that engaging in these discussions is a waste of time and gives “Intelligent Design” more credit than it deserves. It’s NOT a real debate in the scientific community and it’s not a contest between two equally valid points of view. As far as I can tell, Intelligent Design does not have a distinct point of view.

    That is all.

  • Brian Garrepy

    I was misinformed…I thought evolutionists came to this theory of “Intelligent Design” because they were halted with some sort of “Animated Stasis”?? To be truthfully honest…Evolution hasn’t been proven because there is no way to show it happening and just because our Finite minds cannot fathom the infinite wisdom of God doesn’t mean you can prove that a creator doesn’t exisist!! When people keep judging God on man’s poor decisions then Evolutionists will still only have science to base everything on….I find that to be pretty narrow minded considering we haven’t even reached the bottom of the ocean.

  • Susan

    Brian, it’s fun to sling adjectives like “narrow-minded” around until you educate yourself by looking the word up in a dictionary and realize that it refers to prejudiced people: people who pre judge before all the facts are in. Scientists refuse to call evolution fact. Yet religious extremists want to call ID a scientific theory. Who is doing the prejudging?

    The word “narrow-minded” also refers to intolerant people. I suppose you could call those of us who are intolerant of ignorance and prejudice “narrow-minded,” but then since you are intolerant of our view, what do you call yourself?

    Bob: You have an excellent Bullshit detector. Glad you are on the side of truth…but, then, that’s why you are on the side of truth.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Susan, I like your um BS detector as well. You’re smart, honey :) Why do you only write about boring religious crap though? There are much more interesting discussions on this site.

    Like I said before, it’s almost as much of a waste of time to engage in debates with religious fundamentalists as it is to be one yourself. Atheist argument is a frustrated defeatist gesture.

    Let’s mate like savage primates and breed some smart skeptic little monkeys. I’m so good at hot monkey lovin it must be evidence of design in the universe.

    THat is all.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    But only if you’re hot, of course.

    That is all.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    And I don’t believe in absolute capital-T Truths about the universe or metaphysics.

    I think we had this discussion already in the atheism discussion I got bored of.

    But if you’re cool with that and hot, let’s have some hot monkey love.

    That is all.

  • Susan

    What are the more interesting topics? I do weary of the those who don’t think for themselves.

  • Brian Garrepy

    Susan, I refuse to see that term the whole valid point to my comment but thanks for the English class. *Sigh*
    I think when anyone on this site makes any kind of valid point against evolution then the Darwin Nazi’s have to disect anything just to get points. For example, Scientists are making close ended statements that because there are commonalities between man and ape that we must have evolved..Right?? But, those same scientists haven’t been to the bottom of the ocean, so, who knows what’s down there?? Do you??
    That is pretty narrow minded* to come to such a conclusion especially if we haven’t explored all the planets in our solar system either.
    I can honestly state that I’m not narrow minded** to the idea that everything is linked together in a way but to say that we have become smart and self reliant over time and that every other creature hasn’t yet does makes me question Evolution(Darwinism, Animated Stasis,etc..)My religious viewpoint will have to come in another post because it does consider things beyond the realm of lab tests and theories.
    I guess if you are indirectly calling me predjudice and ignorant then i feel you are narrow minded** because you can’t fathom someone else being smart if they don’t agree with you…I didn’t see anyone give Gonzo Marx an English class about “Excelsior”?!? Is he talking about,”fine curled wood shavings used especially for packing fragile items”?? You tell me…

    (Touche..*smirk*)

    *-to pre judge before all facts are accounted for.
    **-Intolerant person

  • Susan

    So you think humans have ancestors at the bottom of the ocean or in space? What about DNA evidence for creatures right here on earth? Are you going to feel better about evolving from an eel or a space creature? Why? What do you care where you came from? It doesn’t change how wonderful you are. Surely you know by now what you are capable of. What do you care what science reveals? It changes nothing about what you already know yourself to be.

    Smart does not mean morally better. If you think only smart beings are worthy, are you advocating the killing of mentally retarded people? No, of course not. So what if we are smarter than dogs? It’s just a fact. No need for pride; we were born with it. What we do with our intelligence is the moral test. All animals have a right to make their way on this earth. I hope we humans who are smarter use our intelligence to protect the less intelligent rather that what we have done historically–beat them up and take their land or their oil.

    Incidentally, whenever someone calls you a nasty name, don’t think you need an English class. Use a dictionary because 8 and 1/2 times out of 10 it is Freudian projection, i.e. they are accusing you of the very thing of which they are guilty.

  • Brian Garrepy

    Okay… So now you’re really losing me. If I shouldn’t care about where I come from then what’s your reason for living(or arguing evolution)? Is it just to point out other people’s inadequecies? Is it to group us religious folk with the people who maime,torture and kill for worldy posessions??It is definately an interesting topic that if we evolved to such a state why haven’t other creatures done the same? Or if God has created us,then “Intelligent Design” doesn’t follow his word. Also, I brought up the ocean and solar system because of your ability to state the obvious which is the usage of the term “narrow minded”. My thanking you for the English class wasn’t a passive stance from an insult but a sarcastic statement because I could sense your elitist attitude, i.e.; To make me look stupid so that people reading my comment wouldn’t take it seriously!! The mere fact that you mention the realm of mistreatment to humanity means you took my words out of context and you probably have done that with the Bible.(giving you the initial credit because I don’t believe you ever read it)So, you’re already lopsided on your quest for facts!! What your truly saying is that you weren’t calling me Narrow Minded you were just projecting your own inadequecies on me?? Bunched with your elitist attitude, no one will ever be able to prove anything to you because you already have come to your own conclusions!!Thanks for the pyschotherapy, but I’m burnt out from replying to someone who doesn’t necessarily care about the truth just being real witty about putting people down!! Maybe you should read John’s scripture from the New Testament….

    Peace.

  • Mr. O

    Brian
    “Darwin-Nazis,” wow, clever! Was it Jon Stewart who said, “in the future everyone will be Hitler for fifteen minutes!” Wait just one damn minute are you sure you’re not really Bill Oreilly?

    Cheers

  • dave

    “Dave, that was meant to be parody right?”

    No, it’s a precis for my dissertation.

    Whaddaya think?

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    Bob A. Booey:
    You’ve certainly gone through a few stages of evolution on this thread, both forwards and backwards.
    Susan, don’t mind Bob’s monkey ways; if the truth be told, we ALL secretly admire you.
    Dave, thank you for keeping us all going. I liked that analogy hop through various philosophers a lot. In fact, I find your sense of humor the only compelling argument for ID you’ve made.
    Baronius, I’m sorry I can’t live up to my own ideals of inclusion, but I’ve decided to exclude New Agists after all. Along with folk singers and efficiency experts.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    From wood s lot:
    A Child’s Primer of Intelligent Design
    Susie Day
    The Baby Jesus will grow up and become very wise and holy, and invent the steam engine. He will sponsor all sorts of crusades and slave trades and inquisitions and bake-sales, until one day He is tricked by a wicked anthropologist into visiting the Bronx Zoo, where He is stomped to death by a lesbian gorilla. Which just goes to show: it is very hard to get a proper education in today’s America.
    On, now, to our next chapter, in which the Baby Jesus comes back and gets revenge. Hurry, children — we don’t want any of you to be left behind.

  • D.C.

    But a Nuts again. Who is out there quoting John Stewart? You Michael Moron wannabe.

  • Susan

    Brian: “If I shouldn’t care about where I come from then what’s your reason for living(or arguing evolution)? Is it just to point out other people’s inadequecies? Is it to group us religious folk with the people who maime,torture and kill for worldy posessions?”

    Brian, I have a moral compass that is built on my own thinking. It works regardless of outside influence. What I learn in science class will never change how I treat others because science is NOT religion. That’s the problem with ID in a science classroom. I don’t understand why religious people want to put it in there. It’s no place to for discussions about how or why to be a good person.

    Non-religious people care where they come from because it is scientifically interesting. Our goodness rests with ourselves and is our responsibility whether we came from the mud, from space aliens, or from God. We know how to be good people no matter what science uncovers.

    Brian: “What your truly saying is that you weren’t calling me Narrow Minded you were just projecting your own inadequecies on me??”

    Freudian projection only works on a subconscious level. Only the originator of the name-calling can be subconsciously projecting.

  • Brian Garrepy

    Susan, I guess I should’ve made it clearer that I am not a Proponent for ID. I find that it goes against Christianity. I don’t feel that religion should be kept out of the Science classroom either because it does explain how things were started(in my opinion). It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to preach the new testament but to say to children that God doesn’t exist would be rather “narrow minded” because just as I don’t have the exact 100% proof that Evolution doesn’t occur, you don’t have that proof either that God doesn’t exist.

    Susan,”Non-religious people care where they come from because it is scientifically interesting.”

    Does that mean that anything that has to do with our species that cannot be explained by science wouldn’t be as interesting?
    If it is ever proven beyond faith that we were created by God, would you be able to admit that your goodness and evil were created by design(not ID)? And if that is the case then just as in science there are outside forces that impose upon any matter, that your thoughts and emotions aren’t just your responsibility!! To say that everything is linked and then to say that we as individuals are responsible for the way we think and act kind of contradicts itself. Yes, we can think and act on our own, but those thoughts and actions affect everybody and everything, sometimes beyond our understanding. The reason why I have my faith is that though evolution could prove the process it doesn’t explain(to me) how or why. My faith in a greater being that I call GOD gives me the opportunity to ask questions and somtimes get answers by myself or with a group. Some answers I will never understand because as much as we can rationalize and feel, we are not omnicient or omnipitent.

    Susan, I was actually refering to the idealogy as narrow minded, not the scientists. So, I guess I may have made some prejudgments without all the facts at sometime in my life but who hasn’t. It’s not a guilty conscious that made me use the term but having bad experiences with that mindset.

  • dave

    “I know you aren’t a student of philosophy so much as a mindless name-dropper,”

    Who you callin’ mindless?

    You know, it’s funny how many dog-eared, margin-cribbed, highlighted editions of philosophy texts you have to read, mark up and re-read just to drop names and look snazzy on some blog. But what’s life worth if you don’t have a hobby?

    ” but you do realize that your entire teleological argument you’ve made is an almost perfect tautology right? You defined “design” as being something like “mind” working through matter and biological objects and infer that “design” is thus an essential part of reality and existence.”

    Realizing that the “but you’ve misunderstood me” argument rarely gains traction in these discussions (see my exchange with Susan above), I’ll try to clarify what you’ve missed.

    Design *implies* mind. Mind is interesting from the standpoint of metaphysics because of the long history of philosophers who have tried to establish mind as opposed to inert matter as the irreducible fact of reality. Science has ignored them en toto. Berkeley. Bergson. Whitehead. (That klunking sound you hear is more names hitting the floor.)

    The teleological argument has a long and venerable history, and no, it’s not tautological. No less than Kant (klunk) said that it “always deserves to be mentioned with respect . It is the oldest, the clearest and the most accordant with the common reason of mankind.”

    What I’d like to see is the ID movement mature past the stage where designed natural substances are like easter eggs (hey! found one!) to the point where it can integrate with more comprehensive metaphysics like that of Bergson or Whitehead (or Aristotle/Maritain) ((klunk, klunk, klunk, klunk)) into an elegant physics that brings the strength of the Baconian (klunk) insight in contact with a worldview that doesn’t have all the problems of materialist reductionism — the fact/value dichotomy for instance.

    Would make a helluva dissertation, actually.

  • Susan

    Brian, religion may tell you and other Christians how life got started, but it does not tell non-Christians the scientific truth. That’s why it is wrong to teach it as fact or scientific theory. It’s your opinion, as you say, but taxpayer money shouldn’t go to fund the propagation of your opinion under the auspices of “science.”

    I don’t think there’s a science teacher in these United States that would dare teach that God does not exist. If there is one, I would agree that teacher needs to be fired just as fast as a teacher who teaches that God does exist. It’s simply not our place to teach religion in a public setting. It is not about being narrow-minded.

    Science teachers teach evolution because that’s what is the current thinking in the scientific field. God belief is faith, not science. Do you want your preachers preaching about string theory? Why not? Would you say they are “narrow-minded” because they refuse to preach it?

    Susan,”Non-religious people care where they come from because it is scientifically interesting.”

    Brian: “Does that mean that anything that has to do with our species that cannot be explained by science wouldn’t be as interesting?

    No, the questions are cool. What is uninteresting is looking for the answer to those kinds of questions through faith. Good thing scientists don’t do too much of that. It’s unproductive.

    Brian: “If it is ever proven beyond faith that we were created by God, would you be able to admit that your goodness and evil were created by design(not ID)?”

    I hope goodness is our own, otherwise what kind of a god designed serial killers? But proof beyond faith of anything? Why would I get upset about that? That’s all I require!

    Brian: “To say that everything is linked and then to say that we as individuals are responsible for the way we think and act kind of contradicts itself.”

    I’m not saying “everything is linked.” Physically we are linked, but I do believe in individuals. I am not a fan of the collective unconscious.

    Brian: “[Evolution] doesn’t explain(to me) how or why.”

    No, it doesn’t, but it doesn’t pretend to. To get that I think you are looking to other men for your answers. Why not look within yourself?

    Brian: “Some answers I will never understand because as much as we can rationalize and feel, we are not omnicient or omnipitent.”

    If you can’t understand it and it can’t be tested, it’s not an answer. I suggest it is another human manipulating you. Don’t give them money.

    Brian: “It’s not a guilty conscious that made me use the term but having bad experiences with that mindset.”

    That’s the most honestly candid thing you have said. Scientists and preachers are all people. Both can help and both can be manipulators. How can you distinguish good people from bad? There are many ways, but one thing’s for certain, just because someone says they believe in God does not give them a free pass to abuse you.

  • Brian Garrepy

    Susan,
    Don’t mince my words and enough with the pyschobabble. You always take things out of context and spin them like a rabid DJ. I will sum it up for you… You’re a confused Elitist. You can’t say that you don’t think that everything is linked if you constantly support Evolution and to share truth wether it be God in the Science room or Darwin in the church, I don’t feel it would be doing any injustice. You guys don’t search for the truth!! You just want to throw around your psuedo-intellectual garble and try to make average people seem like they have been abused because you couldn’t believe in anything other than your own arrogance even if it came with a seal of approval from Darwin himself.
    I’ve had enough with close minded fools like yourself…Goodnight!

  • ochairball

    i’m not a christian radical. i’m not even a christian. and i don’t believe in genesis. i think the bible is largely metaphorical.

    but i do believe that there may be alternate theories on life. heck, scientists have many different theories for beginnings of the universe. there may be more to the picture than evolution. of course, there’s more.

    let them teach intelligent design. there are dumber things that schools have done. like cut out art and music… science.

    frankly, i don’t know too many schools that actually spend more than one day a week on science anyway. Now, that’s something everyone should be up in arms about.

  • Susan

    Brian,
    I have not drifted to a different blog. There is nothing in your post to which I can respond.

  • Susan

    Well, there is one thing to say: Your accusation that I am elitist is puzzling to me. I have dropped one name, Freud. You have dropped…well, why count. Brian, would it make you feel smart and important if other posters caled you elitist? That’s all I can come up with….

  • D.C.

    LETS ALL TALK ABOUT THE MAYA.

  • Bunny

    My Goodness! I tried to read this whole train, but it is too long! So I’ll tag on my caboose.

    There are two types of discussion going on here. One is about the facts and the methodology of science, how it is or should be conducted, and how it should or should not be taught. The second is about whether there is a God, and if there is should we all kill ourselves now and get it over with?

    I truly don’t understand the whole fear of God thing. If you really respect Science as the resource for answers about our world, then let the scientific process happen. Let the ID side present their case, and seek the facts. If the facts point to intelligent design, then they do. If not, then they don’t.

    And IF, when it is all said and done, intelligence is shown to be a primary component of our universe, that does not mean that Science corroborated the Pope, the Crusades, the anti-abortion agenda, or any other “Christian” brand of historical or current “evil” that people perpetrate on each other. All it would show is that there was intelligence involved in the process of life.

    The debate over the implications of intelligence, or lack thereof, is a separate one. If you want to argue religion, that is fine. But science gets nowhere (ask Galileo) when it is consumed from within by religous fervor. And yes, atheism is by definition a religion, and has its fanatical members.

    On another thread, I saw a few passing references to everyone’s favorite American (not Bush), Pat Robertson. News flash: One supposedly Christian man suggests murder, and it is reason to hate all Christians? The Soviet Union was expressly atheistic and murdered millions of people. Should all non-atheists use that as a motive for hating atheists? No. That is ridiculous. So is trying to pin Robertson on the average American church-goer.

  • Baronius

    Bunny – interesting post, but do you really think that the debate over the implications of intelligence can be kept separate from this discussion?

    There’s a guy around here (I think it’s Duane) who regularly asks ID’ers if they would accept evolution if the next 20 years brought answers to all of the open debates within the theory. As much as I wish I could agree with Bunny’s and Duane’s common goal – studying and debating the science without regard to its philosophical implications – I don’t believe that many people are up to the challenge.

    Biblical literalists need young-earth creation. Atheists need no guiding hand in evolution. Other beliefs may not be so limiting, but their followers may have preferences. One liberal friend sees any compromise with ID as a victory for Bush. One committed Christian friend thinks that creationism alienates people from Christianity; another sees Darwin as the last surviving atheist of the 19th century and wants him dead and buried.

    (Me, I’m a crank. ID would neither help nor hinder my beliefs. I’m curious to see if the theory leads to anything conclusive, but mainly I like the sound of people yelling at each other.)

    Bunny, do you think that ID can get a fair hearing in the paleontology departments, the school boards, the press?

  • Susan

    Baronius, do you think ID should have a hearing in the school boards or the press when it hasn’t pass scientific muster?

    We can’t just teach anything to students because it might be true or we want it to be true. We have to have scientific evidence for it. Quick name a piece of evidence for ID that accounts for me having an appendix.

    Bunny; ‘Let the ID side present their case, and seek the facts.’

    What would those facts be? and why haven’t they been presented?

  • Susan

    Here’s a fact from evolution to show that if there is a Designer, it is not so intelligent:

    Daniel C. Dennett: “Brilliant as the design of the eye is, it betrays its origin with a tell-tale flaw: the retina is inside out. The nerve fibers that carry the signals from the eye’s rods and cones (which sense light and color) lie on top of them, and have to plunge through a large hole in the retina to get to the brain, creating the blind spot. No intelligent designer would put such a clumsy arrangement in a camcorder, and this is just one of hundreds of accidents frozen in evolutionary history that confirm the mindlessness of the historical process.”

  • WTF

    This is gettin tiresome….

    I’m gonna go do some calculus for a while — to perk myself up.

    seeya

  • dave

    Daniel C. Dennett: “No intelligent designer would put such a clumsy arrangement in a camcorder, and this is just one of hundreds of accidents frozen in evolutionary history that confirm the mindlessness of the historical process.”

    This is just one of the unwarranted leaps that Dennett makes throughout the book. Dennett’s enthusiasm for Darwin is almost religious — the book reads like a hagiography for an idea. Dennett’s a smart guy, but he’s an old school reductionist given to inflating the efficacy of evolutionary algorithms with lofty rhetoric. For Dennett, no less than our entire understanding of the cosmos, ourselves, our history and our purpose hangs on the strength of Darwin’s idea. It’s a fascinating read, as one of the best overviews of the history and effects of the idea on culture, but it also gives amazing insight into how desperately the materialistic worldview needs Darwin, clings to Darwin, praises Darwin to the high heavens. The inverse of Dennett’s Darwinian rapture is the utter despair he would be in if Darwinian algorithms were ever shown to be inadequate to the herculean accomplishments he ascribes to them. Its the inverse of fundamentalist zeal/fear.

    As to the eye: First of all, our knowledge of the eye and its relationship to our neurological processes is anything but exhuastive. For you, Dennett or anyone else to claim the “blind spot” (which, amazingly, is accounted for and adjusted to by the brain) as proof of lack of design is a huge leap. We simply don’t know enough to say this — you’re betraying prior commitments by pushing the evidence to give you more than it does.

    Second, there has never been an adequate evolutionary pathway *demonstrated* that could produce the eye itself. To claim a supposed inadequacy like the blind spot is somehow “proof” of a process that has never been observed, is, again, a massive overreach.

    Third, who says design, even of a deity, always has to be optimal? That’s a value judgement. What if the designer wasn’t out to create super-beings, but simply human beings? All good engineers understand how to design within tolerances, to trade off effiency in one system to account for another — to design towards the stated goal, and no more. And the human biological entity is a wonder in that regard. We have an amazing, rich and mysterious existence. If the “blind spot” were an ongoing source of aggravation or even suffering, you might have a point.

    But let’s turn the table. Instead of projecting what we’d expect to see from a designer — what would we expect to see from evolutionary algorithms? Thousands of transitional species, not only in the fossil record, but living and walking among us. Vestigal organs in the dozens or hundreds; genetic starts and stops, aborted attempts, biological graduation of infinite variety. What have you actually got? A tailbone, an appendix, a panda’s thumb and a few other similar examples shouldered with the burden of supporting and Idea that must replace religion, metaphysics and teleology, and become the bedrock of the majority of the hard sciences. A paltry showing for a mechanism that supposedly has accomplished all that Dennett attributes to it.

  • Susan

    Dave,

    You have an interesting habit of doing the very thing you claim other do: Dennett is religious and he’d cry inconsolably without his god Darwin, and he uses lofty rhetoric. These things describe you!

    You also use exaggeration to denounce believable ideas by claiming they are exaggerations. There is no controversy about the blind spot’s design flaw. So why would you say that a person who thinks the eye is a poor design is making a huge “leap”? You even defend the idea of a design flaw when you claim that the brain must “correct” for it and when you say the designer deliberately made if faulty because it was unconcerned about making the design optimal.

    Dave: “If the “blind spot” were an ongoing source of aggravation or even suffering, you might have a point.”

    Okay, let’s talk about the appendix.

  • dave

    “There is no controversy about the blind spot�s design flaw. So why would you say that a person who thinks the eye is a poor design is making a huge “leap”?”

    1. Poor design is still design.

    2. “Poor” design is a value judgement that you have no standard to judge against, lacking as you do exhaustive knowlege of the neurology of image processing.

    (And another thing, when’s the last time this horrible “design flaw” bugged you? “Why do you have bruises all over your face, Dave? Oh, I keep running into doors — it’s my damn blind spot.”)

    “Okay, let’s talk about the appendix.”

    You keep coming back to the appendix. If it really is the source of such a greivous personal loss then you have my sincere condolences.

    But in that case I think the real issue is the problem of evil and/or anger with God. The appendix itself and its apparent uselessness is a flimsy basis for a worldview.

  • dave

    “You have an interesting habit of doing the very thing you claim other do: Dennett is religious and he’d cry inconsolably without his god Darwin, and he uses lofty rhetoric. These things describe you!”

    Tu quoque? In philosophy this move is a formal fallacy.

    And, so what? Let’s say I grant you this. All you’ve done is agree that Dennett has the same kind of pre-philosophical emotive commitment to his metaphysic as I do to mine. I believe that is essentially the point I was making.

  • Susan

    DAVE: “1. Poor design is still design.”

    Poor design is not Intelligent Design.

    Poor design is not necessarily Design. We don’t look at the remnants of a house whipped apart by a tornado and think Design, but we may see a “design” in the direction of the wind. Chaos has its own design. If chaos is Design, you are worshipping a very mean god.

    How come if you and Dennett are equally religious, you see it as a flaw when applied to Dennett but not when applied to you? You were the one to start in on the formal fallacizing.

    Dave: “The appendix itself and its apparent uselessness is a flimsy basis for a worldview.”

    That’s not a worldview, silly. It’s only proof that ID isn’t true. The design of the appendix is not intelligent. It’s left over from our ancestors, some of which went on to become rabbits who actually use their appendices.

  • Susan

    Say, Dave, does religion to you just mean the worshipping of something unworthy?

  • dave

    “Poor design is not Intelligent Design.”

    Design, by definition, is intelligent.

    “Poor design is not necessarily Design.”

    That’s like being a little bit pregnant.

    “We don’t look at the remnants of a house whipped apart by a tornado and think Design…”

    ???

    “…but we may see a “design” in the direction of the wind. Chaos has its own design. If chaos is Design, you are worshipping a very mean god.”

    You have a basic misunderstanding of the concept of design. Chaos, by definition, is not design. I’m really not sure what your point is here. You seem to be blurring the boundaries between the problem of evil and the question of intelligent design, with the result that your articulation of both is incoherent.

    “How come if you and Dennett are equally religious, you see it as a flaw when applied to Dennett but not when applied to you? You were the one to start in on the formal fallacizing.”

    I don’t see it as a flaw. I just doubt seriously that Dennett would ever own up to his presuppostions.

    “That’s not a worldview, silly. It’s only proof that ID isn’t true.”

    It is no such thing. The existence of the appendix is neither here nor there with regard to the argument from design. If it can be shown that Darwinian pathways cannot account for a biological entity, what relevance is it to point out that another organ is vestigal? It’s a non sequitur.

    Intelligent Design and evolution are compatible. I happen to personally think that the appendix is an extraordinarally thin basis upon which to place your faith in Darwin (I mean, really — is that ALL you got??) but if it makes you happy, go crazy. It has absolutely nothing to do with the question of design. Most, if not all, design theorists will argue that at least some speciation has been accomplished by descent with modification; the existence of the appendix is an indifferent matter to the question of, say, the irreducible comlexity of the bacterial flagellum.

  • dave

    “Say, Dave, does religion to you just mean the worshipping of something unworthy?”

    Religion to me is concern with the highest things, expressed as faith.

  • dave

    Here’s an article from the Washington Post that gets closer to some of the ideas that I think could take ID into the next 10, 20 years.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/28/AR2005082800964.html

  • dave

    “Most, if not all, design theorists will argue that at least some speciation has been accomplished by descent with modification;”

    I take that back. No *speciation* has ever been demonstrated to have occured because of the mechanism of evolutionary algorithms (pace Dennett). And not all design theorists are agreed as to whether inter-species leaps have or even could possibly occur. All agree in principle, however, that descent with modification is compatible with ID.

  • dave

    Here’s some excerpts from Michael Denton on the implications of the “blind spot,” in response to Dennett:

    “It would seem that rather than being one of the classic “evidences” for undirected evolution and for maladaptation, the inversion of the retina is in fact highly problematic in terms of undirected models of evolution. Why on any undirected model should such an unlikely, improbable arrangement–unique in the animal kingdom–have appeared in the first place some 600 million years ago in the earliest of vertebrates who had presumably no need for high acuity vision and in all probability possessed photoreceptors with metabolic rates perhaps one or two orders of magnitude less than those of higher warm-blooded vertebrates today? If the non-inverted retina works so well for the cold-blooded cephalopods why did evolution go to such trouble to invert the retina in cold-blooded vertebrates? And is it really just fortuity that this curious event resulted in an adaptation which turned out to be essential for high acuity vision in the most advanced terrestrial vertebrates that appeared on earth long after this remarkable choice was made.

    Rather than being a case of maladaptation, the inverted design of the vertebrate retina would seem to be a classic case of pre-adaptation–where an ancient adaptation was “chosen” long before its utility was of necessity. It is evidence for design and foresight in nature rather than evidence of chance. Evidently not all “tidy-minded engineers” get things right.”

  • dave

    Again, Susan, is that all you got?? The usual suspects: blind spots and appendices? Where are the gradations? The aborted pathways, vestigal organs, intermediate fauna? Where’s the slam dunk?

    A theory that’s supposed to be as well-tested and proven as Newton’s conservation of energy should be simple and unrefutable to demonstrate.

  • Susan

    Again, Susan, is that all you got?? The usual suspects: blind spots and appendices? Where are the gradations? The aborted pathways, vestigal organs,

    Dave, what do you think is the definition of a vestigal organ?

  • dave

    Is there some confusion on the matter? It’s an organ or its remains whose usefullness is diminished, wholly or in part, because its function has been taken over by other system(s) or is otherwise no longer needed.

  • Susan

    No, at least you are not confused about that. The appendix’s usefulness in humans is poor design.

    Goodbye, and good luck, Dave.

  • dave

    Likewise, Susan.

  • Steve

    Dave’s argument with the rest of you reminds me of the fact that whenever the issues of origins come up, evolutionists consistently make theological assumptions all the time!!! They talk about “because this is like this, there couldn’t be a God”..it all sounds rather out of place in the discussion if we are only discussing science. However, when talking about origins, I suspect it’s unavoidable. Which is why I think the subject of origins goes beyond the boundaries of a science class. I think origins should be taught in a class of it’s own, with all the major views represented.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Susan: you’re smart, but religious debates are boring. Just click on my name and comment where I do, honey :) that’s where the fiesta is on this site.

    Dave: your design argument is tautological because you employ a self-serving definition of mind that you then say implies design and creation.
    That’s circular logic and you’re right that most philosophers reject such a notion of mind.

    Bergsonian intuitionism is not religious per se and certainly not Christian. The “dissertation” you speak of wouldn’t be taken seriously in any respectable philosophy department and perhaps not in a religious studies department either. Divinity, maybe.

    Your definition of design as intelligent is also self-serving and somewhat circular as well. How do we know it’s intelligent? Because it’s designed. How do we know life is designed? Because look at the intelligence around us.

    In terms of your odd speculation about transitional species and such things, evolution happens very slowly and requires thousands of years of breeding to naturally select for mutations that are all around us. The reason you don’t see halfway-between species currently is that we don’t often see those mutations in wild animals and don’t know which are being naturally selected. More importantly, we have specific fossil records and the very visual insights you rely on to interpret design to indicate that evolution does have the starts and stops and transitions between various animals that you speak of.

    If you’re not a philosopher or a scientist, what are you?

    That is all.

  • Steve

    So, Bob,
    re. “In terms of your odd speculation about transitional species and such things, evolution happens very slowly and requires thousands of years of breeding to naturally select for mutations that are all around us.”
    Would you say then that you are a uniformitarianist, and that you reject Stephen Jay Gould’s theory of “punctuated equilibria”.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    No, I agree with Gould, but even within those periods where evolution is more rapid, we’re still talking thousands of years to see any significant number of new species. No one thinks evolution is smooth and gradual in biology anymore, although I’m certainly no biologist.

    And Steve, they already teach “creation” in schools that prepare people for the ministry. People who want to learn that crap should sign up and stop wasting the education of everyone else’s children who want real jobs.

    That is all.

  • Steve

    Well, Bob,
    As far as I know, public schools are funded with govt. (i.e. EVERYONE’S) money, seminaries aren’t. I think if you changed that, one way or the other, you’d have alot fewer folks arguing with you about this stuff. Bottom line is, if you’re gonna spend other folks’ money on things they don’t agree with, they’re gonna ask lots of questions and maybe even have some objections, I guess that’s the price you have to pay when you feed at the public trough.

  • Mr. O

    I didn’t know this conversation was still going on. I posted this on another thread. Am I getting through to those of you who feel Intelligent Design is ready for the classroom yet?

    David Flanagan
    “At the very least, lets teach the controversy. Darwinian Evolution is a theory, and MUST be taught as such. If you want to REALLY confuse kids, try teaching philosophy or religion in the science classroom. That is what proponents of evolution want. They don’t want sound, reasoned debate and a realistic look at the science, they want dogmatism.”

    What a bunch of crap! I just spent the week preparing 8th graders for my State’s standard Science test. You want to know what the first thing we reviewed was? The SCIENTIFIC METHOD! It’s really simple, try and keep up if you can!

    1. Identify your problem
    2. Research
    3. Form a hypothesis
    4. Develop procedures to test your hypothesis
    5. Analyze the data
    6. Draw concludions
    7. Repeat ad nauseum!

    The real “controversy” the ID proponents are asking us to teach is, “do we throw out the SCIENTIFIC METHOD or not?!”

    Next we reviewed electromagnetism. I explained to them that lightning was, “the handy work of ZEUS, casting bolts of electricity down upon us hapless mortals!” Guess what, they told ME that this was not a scientific argument because there was no use of the SCIENTIFIC METHOD! Then we got down to some good old fashioned scientific dogmatism-we conducted actual experiments in class. I had students generating electricity and turning electric current into magnets in no time. Zeus never showed up though. Intelligent Designers-they just aren’t emperical when you need ‘em!

  • D.C.

    More hocus pocus of evolution which science itself now is refuting.

  • Mr. O

    Yes, Science by definition refutes “hocus pocus.” Intelligent Design is “Hocus Pocus.” You see?

  • Luke

    You don’t really believe all that crap you wrote do you? ID is dumb, and the world is full of dumb people, that’s just a fact of life, there’s no christian conspiracy to destroy the world.

    ————–
    When killing unborn faetuses is deemed morally ok, i’ll be the first in line to buy the Mc faetus burger value meal

  • Luke

    in response to daves comment No.121

    “earliest of vertebrates who had presumably no need for high acuity vision and in all probability possessed photoreceptors with metabolic rates perhaps one or two orders of magnitude less than those of higher warm-blooded vertebrates today? If the non-inverted retina works so well for the cold-blooded cephalopods why did evolution go to such trouble to invert the retina in cold-blooded vertebrates?”

    Regardless if you’re a cold-blooded vertebrate or a cold blooded cephalopod, Good eyesight is a handy trait to have, even if all you’re using it for is to better see all the female cold-blooded vertibrates that you want to get jiggy with, evolution is designed to help you get more poontang.