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During and following the Intelligent Design trial in Dover, Pennsylvania, in the months from Sep 2005 to Jan 2006, I scanned thousands and thousands of news articles brought up by plugging the search term "intelligent design" into google news. A handful of them stood out from the others, making me stop and think, "Good point!" or, "Well said!"
Here they are.
Table of Contents:
Unnecessary disclaimer: There is no implication that the writers present here agree with me, or with each other, on any, and certainly not all, points relating to evolution and intelligent design.
The current controversy as it is carried on at the popular level about whether the view known as "intelligent design" should be taught in biology classes along with evolution rests on a great deal of confusion. Most of that confusion has to do with definitions of the terms of the debate and with questions about what counts as science.
One of the major problems in discussions of evolution is that the term "evolution" is used in a number of different ways - it is a quite plastic notion. Some of these usages are not controversial, but others are very much so. Proponents of evolution frequently make the mistake of taking evidence for one of these non-controversial usages as evidence for a quite different and much more controversial one, thus committing a logical error or fallacy.
There are, I think, at least nine different notions or claims or statements that are frequently subsumed under the heading of "evolution," as follows:
1. The earth and living things on it are very much older than 6000 years. (This is a denial of the so-called "young earth theory" that is held by some religious fundamentalists or Biblical literalists; they are usually called Young Earth Creationists or YECs.)
2. Living species as they now exist did not appear on earth all at once; instead, there has been change in biological organisms over a long period of time.
3. Change in allele frequencies occurs. (This is a further specification of statement 2. I have heard and read evolution defined as "change in allele frequencies").
4. Mutation (in DNA, or whatever other form may be specified) sometimes occurs in living things.
5. Natural selection sometimes occurs. Through this some living things continue, reproduce, and thrive, while others do not and thus die out (this is sometimes described in terms of "evolutionary advantage").
6. A combination of mutation, with the result of that mutation then operated on by natural selection, is the cause of at least some changes in biological organisms.
7. Mutation, operated on by natural selection, or genetic drift, or population isolation, or sexual selection, can account for all the changes that have occurred in biological organisms (i.e., this mechanism can account for all species change and the coming into being of all biological differences and biological structures, after the first living cell appears. I take this to be an approximate summary of Darwinism and the received or prominent versions of neo-Darwinism).
8. The mechanism described in statement 7 is the only possible (or intellectually credible) account for all changes that have occurred and will occur in biological organisms.
9. Metaphysical naturalism - as opposed to metaphysical supernaturalism or theism - is the only truly scientific attitude, methodology, or stance for dealing with the natural world, including the world of all biological organisms.
There does exist, I think, overwhelming and conclusive evidence - geological, palentological, biological, and other evidence - supporting the truth of each of the statements 1 through 6. In other words, we are warranted in saying that statements 1 through 6 are true beyond reasonable doubt. If evolution is defined as the claim that any or all of the statements 1 through 6 are true, but only that, then we can say that evolution is true. Thus, if the claim "evolution is true" means only that one or more of the statements 1 through 6 is asserted to be true, then that claim "evolution is true" is warranted or accurate.
The YECs will, of course, object to that because they do not accept statements 1 and 2 as being true. But the YEC position is, in fact, anti-scientific because it refuses to accept observable and well- established data about such things as the age of the earth, the age of living things, and the changes that have occurred in living things over long periods of time. The YEC position is therefore intellectually and ethically blind and dishonest, and thus wholly repugnant.
The YEC position should be explicitly rejected by all responsible opponents of Darwinism because the existence of the YEC position allows many staunch proponents of Darwinism and neo-Darwinism to think and say that their opponents are all stupid, anti-scientific troglodytes and Bible-thumpers. But that is incorrect because today's important opponents of Darwinism and neo-Darwinism - especially those who hold to some form of intelligent design - do not hold to the YEC view. Unfortunately, many intelligent design theorists and other anti- Darwinists are not as fervid in their denunciation of the YEC position as they should be, and they thereby allow their opponents to confuse them with the YECs and thus to summarily dismiss them.
The Seattle-based Discovery Institute - today's most prominent and active advocacy organization against Darwinism and for intelligent design - has dealt itself and its supporters an enormous disservice by its failure to publicly and explicitly denounce the YEC view with the same vehemence and explicitness as it attacks Darwinism and neo- Darwinism. This allows its opponents to say - correctly! - that it is inconsistent in its approach to the question of what is to be considered to be scientifically credible.
Looking again at the list of statements 1 through 9, the most important point is that the truth of any or all of the statements 1 through 6 does not yield the truth of the statements 7 through 9. In other words, it is perfectly possible, logically and otherwise, for all of 1 through 6 to be true and yet for all of 7 through 9 to be false.
The error in much evolutionist thinking and argumentation and much of the confusion in the evolution vs. intelligent design debate comes about, I think, precisely because of this confusion: statements 1 through 6 are known beyond reasonable doubt to be true and are thus accepted by all informed and reasonable people. Moreover the truth of 1 through 6 offers some evidence toward the truth of one or more of the statements 7 through 9. On that basis, many evolutionists go on to assert that one or more of the statements 7 through 9 is, in fact, true.
This is an error that occurs over and over in accounts of evolution given by its defenders: there is a subtle - or, sometimes, not so subtle - slide back and forth from the truth of one or more of the statements 1 through 6 to a conclusion about the truth of one or more of the statements 7 through 9.
An important consideration here is whether genuine science needs to be restricted to non-metaphysical claims. As a matter of fact, since all scientific theories do go beyond the actual evidence that is or can be given for them, science itself necessarily enters the realm of metaphysics (the term comes from Aristotle's work that came after and went beyond his Physics). Metaphysical claims go beyond scientific data itself into an extra-scientific domain where statements or claims go beyond the evidence for them.
A highly influential book that attempted to deal directly with these issues was The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins shows that statements 1 through 6 are all true, so that no reasonable person who is at all familiar with the evidence should deny the truth of any of those 6 claims. But on the basis of the truth of 1 through 6, Dawkins then goes on to assert the truth of 7 and then 8 without giving conclusive evidence for their truth. He also accepts - tacitly if not explicitly - statement 9. But statement 9 is, itself, a kind of quasi-religious claim - it states that extra-physical explanations must be ruled out of science. Dawkins also has the problem that in this book and elsewhere he adopts an offensively pugnacious and polemical style and stance against anyone who rejects evolution, i.e. Darwinism and neo-Darwinism. In this Dawkins exhibits a lack of modesty and of the true scientific spirit.
As I understand them, the proponents of intelligent design hold that many biological organisms and structures give such abundant evidence of complexity and of seeming to have been designed (Dawkins explicitly admits this) that it is necessary to conclude that they have in fact been designed (Dawkins adamantly denies this). That is to say that intelligent design proponents hold that, in the face of this observable complexity of seeming design, the only intellectually credible conclusion is that these organisms did not and could not, in fact, have come about through the blind or mechanistic processes described by Darwinist or neo-Darwinist evolution, but, instead, came about through actual design by some intelligence.
That is a strong inductive argument, although it is not deductively conclusive - it is possible that, by some unexplained means, the blind and mechanistic physical world got lucky. But the intelligent design argument looks at the evidence and concludes that it is so infinitesimally unlikely that these design-marked structures could have come about through a process that has no intelligence behind it that we should conclude that intelligent design is, in fact, the overwhelmingly justified conclusion.
Whether or not intelligent design is a scientific theory or whether it goes beyond science into an extra-scientific metaphysical - or religious - realm depends on what we consider to be the domain and limits of science. The proponents of Darwinian and neo-Darwinian evolution themselves go into a metaphysical realm when they conclude any of statements 7 through 9 - and especially statements 8 or 9 - from the truth of any or all of statements 1 through 6. Their stance is therefore as metaphysical and religious as that of the intelligent design proponents; it is equally metaphysical and religious because atheism is, itself, a form of religious belief. Thus, we must conclude that evolution and intelligent design are both either scientific or extra- scientific together. Proponents of Darwinist and neo-Darwinist evolution cannot legitimately claim that their stance is scientific while claiming that intelligent design is not.
[Lloyd Eby holds a doctorate in philosophy of science and teaches business and professional ethics at the George Washington University in Washington, DC.]
The editorial "Dover on Trial" (Sunday News, Sept. 25) mischaracterized the issues involved, and stated that "in scientific parlance, an accepted theory is on par with a law - as in, the law of gravity" (implying that people who question any part of evolutionary theory have no legitimacy). Yes, it is true that in "scientific parlance" a hypothesis that has risen to the exalted status of a theory - with a vast body of incontrovertible, empirical, reproducible, scientific evidence; with no contraindications in the data whatsoever; and no other reasonable interpretation - is on par with a law, like the law of gravity. But Darwin's "theory" of evolution from a common primordial ancestor through random mutation/natural selection hasn't met that level of proof.
It was not until the 1950s that the first empirical, reproducible scientific evidence offered hard proof that natural selection could cause small changes within species - the famous peppered moth experiment - which dealt with the preponderance of one color over another in survival value to the moths. However, change within species is not the creation of a new species.
Last fall, National Geographic reported that an experiment involving fruit flies was under way with hopes of empirically proving for the first time that natural selection can cause speciation. If it does, it'll still be a far cry from proving common descent from a primordial, ancestral smidgen of life through natural selection/random mutation alone. Natural selection is only a filtering mechanism that weeds out less successful traits according to the nutritional resources available in a changing environment, etc. Random genetic mutation - which often results from damage to a gene - though occasionally offering some survival advantage, is far more likely to be neutral or deadly. While there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that Darwin's theory of the mechanism of speciation is valid, there isn't a shred of evidence - fossil or otherwise - that natural selection and random mutation can create entirely new genetic material where none existed before.
If life accidentally forming in the primordial sea is even probable (actually this "theory" violates the laws of probability - and experiments to validate it have been unsuccessful) the life that formed would be perfectly suited to its environment. It would have no need to evolve; in fact, it would be so simple, how would it get more information to select from to transform itself?
Real science distinguishes between solid facts and theoretical speculation; yet, there are contraindications to Darwin's theory in the fossil record, and also anomalies revealed at the molecular level by advances in microbiology, that the ACLU doesn't think students should hear about. Biologist Kenneth Miller says that a scientific theory must be testable. A hypothesis is usually tested against its antithesis. The antithesis of Darwin's hypothesis of evolution from a common primordial ancestor through random mutation/natural selection alone is that some areas of nature appear to be irreducibly complex, indicating intelligent input rather than an entirely random process. If you ignore that, you aren't actively seeking to determine whether all the data really supports Darwin's theory unequivocally - and that's being unscientific.
The "theory" of evolution might be the operative unifying theory in paleontology, but an extremely imperfect fossil record is not unequivocal evidence for Darwin's theory; and in most biological research it contributes little more than a catchy tune to hum along. Unfortunately, bending observations to fit it happens more often than open-mindedly noting the anomalies that appear in the data. Legitimate criticism is blacklisted (not debated) in scientific journals. It's censorship - not "religion" that's threatening science.
For several years now, a continuing debate has been Creationism vs. Evolutionism. Even though evolutionists won't usually admit it, the difference between the two is simply a difference between two theories of origins. Each side looks at the same evidence, but because of differing presuppositions, each one comes up with differing conclusions. It's as simple as that.
A recent addition to the debate is the idea of Intelligent Design. This idea simply says that the universe and everything within it is far too complex for any of it to have happened by accident; therefore, it must have the hand of some intelligent designer behind it.
So this represents a change of philosophical gears in the debate. It is really debate about whether the designer exists or not and how involved in creation he is if he does. Since the existence of a designer - or its non-existence - cannot be proven empirically, the question each person must answer becomes, "Which side makes more sense?"I believe the Intelligent Design side does. One of the many reasons is the issue of irreducible complexity. This sophisticated sounding, yet very simple, idea says that there are certain things which cannot exist and function unless they have all their parts; therefore, for them to exist and function while their essential parts develop is an impossibility.
The well-used illustration is the mousetrap. A mousetrap consists of several parts, all of which are essential to its proper working. If all you've got is a board and spring, it doesn't catch mice. If you only have a trigger and a whapper, it still doesn't work. You have to have all parts put together in a certain way for it to work. If evolution were true, then there would have been the biological equivalent of a half-put-together mousetrap catching mice while it evolved into something more efficient.The simplest form of life is the amoeba. It is perfectly suited to what it does. It has no eye, but it can gravitate toward light. It has no feet, but it can move as it wishes. It has no reproductive system, but it reproduces far more efficiently than species which require two sexes to do so.
Evolutionists say everything got started as simple, one-celled animals like amoebas, and became more sophisticated over the millennia as they developed into other organisms. The answer of Intelligent Design is that in order for the amoeba to evolve into something other than what it originally was, it would have to develop some things which were not natural to it as an amoeba, but which would prove to be essential to whatever it was that it was evolving into.
The problem for the evolutionist is that until these systems were developed fully, they could not be functional. And if they were not functional, then it is reasonable to ask, "Then how or why were they developing at all?" Who needed them? Why bother? Or, the most basic question of all, "Why evolution?"See why I say that the idea of an intelligent designer makes more sense? Without it, all we are left with is the implausible notion that things can live and thrive while their essential parts are only partially developed, and while developing into something else, and all by chance. This is science?
Robert Hays of Pearl received his bachelor's degree in biology from Belhaven College and has degrees from Reformed Theological Seminary. He is a Presbyterian (PCA) pastor.
The debate over Darwinism raging throughout the country has made its way to Yeshiva University. The YU summer book project, the book project dinner, and a lecture provided by self-proclaimed Darwinist and Atheist Michael Ruse, are all examples of how the issue has invaded our campus. But so far there has been no room in YU for Intelligent Design.
If not even Yeshiva University is willing to host a lecturer or sponsor an even-handed debate on the issue of Intelligent Design as part of the book project, then is there a forum for Intelligent Design anywhere?
In the interest of fairness and to provide the balance that is currently lacking, I interviewed Dr. Elliot Pines PhD, a scientist and Intelligent Design advocate, to briefly discuss the Theories of Evolution and Intelligent Design. A qualified voice must be heard in response to the likes of Ruse, who lamely claims Intelligent Design is merely based on "stupid arguments."
Many do not understand the nuances of the Intelligent Design position, and ignorantly assume that Intelligent Design forecloses the possibility of any evolution. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dr. Pines emphasizes that the problem lies not with breeding-limited single-component variation, microevolution (e.g., beak form), but with the Darwinist postulation of system-level transformation, or macroevolution (e.g., lizard to birds).
Ardent believers in the Theory of Evolution have levied false charges against Intelligent Design, calling it "a guise for religion" or "Creationism." The truth of the matter is that Intelligent Design makes no reference to any religion. Unlike Creationism, it does not involve Genesis or the Biblical explanation of the origin of man. In fact, many proponents of Intelligent Design believe that the universe is 13.7 billion years old despite the fact that a literal interpretation of Genesis leaves us with a universe that is only six thousand years old. The fact that Darwinists disingenuously resort to this unfounded labeling is an indication of their inability to provide adequate answers to the questions posed by Intelligent Design proponents.
Dr. Pines explains the basic arguments against Darwin's theory. He first observes that "the idea that biological systems are uniquely exempt from the mathematics of information theory is absurd," and that it is impossible for complex information systems to arise from "a random series of training environments." He further emphases that "ignoring the fact that the ratio of available stable to unstable states decays exponentially with increasing complexity is to pursue the imaginary."
Biochemistry is used to support design, unlike religions that are based on faith or tradition. Pines cites renowned Intelligent Design biochemist Michael Behe's principle of "Irreducible Complexity," defined by Behe as "a single system which is composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning." (Darwin's Black Box, page 39). They see this as clear evidence of design.
There are those who have tried to disprove Behe's arguments and it is important to understand the inadequacy of their response. Darwinist Dr. Ken Miller, who often sports a mousetrap spring as a tie clip, states that complexity is not an issue. He observes that parts of a mousetrap, defined by Behe as "irreducibly complex," can have independent functions evolving in complexity over time. The base of the mousetrap, says Miller, can be used as a paperweight, the spring as a tie clip. Pines says Miller's tie clip antics are "cute" but countless objects can clip a tie, and anything with weight can serve as a paperweight. Given that myriad items can efficiently operate as a tie clip, paperweight, etc, how many random groupings of these objects have the specificity to operate in any stable complex system?
Pines says that when pressed, an Evolutionist "cannot provide anything remotely resembling a step-by-step process in which an actual complex system could evolve."
The arguments against macroevolution do not end there. Focusing on the probabilities of macroevolution, Pines says "mathematical models demonstrate the time it would take for the first living cell to evolve would be the age of the universe times ten to an exponent in the thousands. Yet we see such appear in less than 100 million years of geological time, possibly far less." He challenges Evolutionists "to counter with even a crude model of the way they claim that evolution happens." [I have issued the same challenge in my main evolution page: just tell us the "what" of evolution. Forget, for now, the "how" and "why". There have been no takers. DS] He points out that the "vast majority of mutations on active DNA are known to be negative [damaging to fatal]" adding that Darwinism's "historical pattern of fraud has left me more than a little suspicious."
Charles Darwin himself devised his theory prior to any understanding of the cell structure and before the discovery of "what makes molecular machines," or DNA. Darwin uses the words "we may well suppose" over 700 times. As Pines put it, "That's not real science."
This debate over evolution is currently taking place throughout the country. The school board of Dover, Pennsylvania, all of whose members have been voted out in a recent election backlash, were sued for requiring a mere four paragraph statement to be read in science class explaining that there are alternatives to the Theory of Evolution. Some have made the outlandish claim that something as innocuous as a four-paragraph statement somehow violates the First Amendment and that religion is being forced upon young students. But informing students that there is another point of view, that there are scientists who question the Theory of Evolution, in no way violates the Establishment Clause (the phrase "separation of church and state" appears nowhere in the Constitution).
Intelligent Design is not a religious ideology and therefore cannot in any way be affected by the First Amendment. Our Founding Fathers did not mandate an unfair and unbalanced education in the Constitution. Forcing students to hear one side of a heated scientific debate is not a threat. As a matter of fact, not informing students of alternative theories is pure indoctrination. The attack on Intelligent Design is part and parcel of the ACLU tactic to file a lawsuit against anything remotely resembling religion in the public sector.
It is important to dispel the myths surrounding the First Amendment because there are those who use it as fodder to attack anything religious. The amendment provides for freedom of religion, not from religion. As John Adams said: "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Suing over the words "Under G-d" in the pledge, Ten Commandments displays, and even the lighting of the massive Chabad menorahs on government property, are examples of the Secular-Left's crusade against religion. In 1796 George Washington said, "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." That does not sound like the type of guy who would support the prohibition of Intelligent Design Theory in our public schools.
"Academics should be about freedom of thought and open debate. Let students read both sides of the issue. It's like an inquisition for any student who goes into the field," says Dr. Pines. "We need the pendulum to swing in the other direction." Dr. Pines challenges the propriety of Evolutionists lecturing on Intelligent Design. "If one man is representing both his side and the other side, watch out! The propaganda meter goes up."
The decision by a federal judge to strike down a Pennsylvania resolution informing school children about problems with Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is religiously bigoted, scientifically obtuse, and twice as activist as the actions denounced by the judge.
Before I critique the conclusions of Judge John Jones, let's take a look at the resolution passed by the Dover Area School District:
Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of Life is not taught.
Beginning in November 2004, teachers in the Dover Area School District were required to read the this statement to students in 9th grade biology class:
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.
Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.
Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.
With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments.
The following is the text of Judge Jones' conclusion in italics, with my comments from my critique interspersed:
The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause.
It is debatable whether the Pennsylvania school board's ID policy violates the Lemon test (the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; the statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion) or the endorsement test, but both of these tests are moot as they illustrate a profound misunderstanding of the First Amendment.
As former Chief Justice William Rehnquist said in Wallace v. Jaffree, "No amount of repetition of historical errors in judicial opinions can make the errors true. The ‘wall of separation between church and State' is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned."
First of all, the United States Congress (prohibited by the U.S. Constitution from "making [a] law respecting an establishment of religion") not did make the resolution. The Dover Area School Board is not a part of the United States Congress and is thus not prohibited from making a law respecting an establishment of religion.
Second, the resolution passed by the school board does not respect any establishment of religion. Does it respect the Southern Baptist Convention? Does it respect the Catholic Church? While it might respect religion in general, it doesn't respect any establishment of religion. It merely acknowledges that the universe and everything in it may have been designed by an intelligence.
In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.
The scientific method is defined as (1) State the problem. (2) Form a hypothesis. (3) Observe and experiment. (4) Analyze the data. (5) Draw conclusions.
Intelligent design adherents have stated the problem ("Where did everything come from?"), formed a hypothesis ("an intelligence created it"), they have analyzed the data (the same data which evolutionists interpret through the lens of chance, and ID'ers interpret through the lens of design), and have drawn conclusions ("the evidence indicates the universe could not have come about through random chance). Just because ID doesn't fit the narrow definition of "naturalism" (another closed-minded theory which says anything in nature had to come about on its own, without "supernatural" cause), does NOT mean it's not science. As I've outlined, ID fits the scientific method-it just doesn't reach the conclusions evolutionists like.
Darwinian evolution is no more "testable" than ID. No one has yet identified intermediate forms between one species and another, and I doubt anyone is going to be sitting around for a few million years to measure those mythical "microscopic changes" from one species to another-and even if someone did sit around that long to observe it, it still isn't going to be "science" until that observation period has elapsed. Darwinian evolution is no less based on supposition and conjecture than ID or creation science; it is, however, a less rational and intellectually sound theory.
Until about 150 years ago, when atheistic evolution became vogue, scientists did not consider belief in God to be incompatible with science. Scientists who believed in God include William Kelvin, Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein, and Sir Francis Bacon, the father of the scientific method. These men would have been surprised to be called "unscientific."
Also, the requirement for ID to be accepted in the current scientific community before it can qualify as "science" is unrealistic and hypocritical. That's like saying that in order for black people to qualify for equal rights, they must be accepted as equal by the KKK. Or for chickens to be approved of, they must first be accepted by foxes.
With regard to uncoupling itself from creation and religion, there are many creationists who won't have anything to do with ID because it doesn't go as far as they'd like in acknowledging that the Judeo-Christian God was that intelligent designer.
Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general.
Actually, ID doesn't necessarily preclude the possibility that the intelligent designer may have set creation in motion and then used evolution as a mechanism for change and growth; this is another reason many religious creationists reject ID. Therefore Judge Jones makes a false presupposition about what ID actually encompasses.
Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs' scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community,
There is no doubt that the scientific community overwhelmingly accepts the theory of evolution. Yet the scientific community once overwhelmingly believed the earth was flat. The scientific community once overwhelmingly believed that if you drained enough of an infected person's blood, you'd heal them. The scientific community once overwhelmingly believed that the sun and stars revolved around the earth. So I'm unimpressed by what the scientific community "overwhelmingly accepts."
and that it [evolution] in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.
Back to what I said above: the sphere of ID theory encompasses both evolution and a creator
To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.
It could also be said that just because undeniable proof of God's existence has not yet been found, we must automatically reject any possibility that he exists-especially in favor of an "untestable" theory like Darwinian evolution which is embarrassingly full of holes.
Ironically, while making excuses for the pitiful job Darwinian evolution does of explaining origins, Judge Jones makes it clear that intelligent design will be judged by a different, higher standard: it must not only proffer a good theory, it must provide incontrovertible proof that it is true-otherwise, it's just religious superstition and thus must be summarily rejected.
The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy.
No, the citizens of Dover were well served by the members of the board who could be open minded enough not to blindly accept the pabulum and propaganda of a scientific and intelligentsia community which is highly invested in protecting how pathetically thin their evolution theory actually is. The board did citizens a service in encouraging intellectual stimulation, rather than unthinking acceptance of a bad idea-an idea so bad that it can't even stand toe-to-toe with intellectual criticism.
It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.
What lie is that? What disguised purpose is that? Judge Jones "presupposition" that the board wanted to force students to believe in God? Any serious examination of ID reveals that the theory can encompass evolution as a mechanism used by the designer. ID'ers only reject the notion that the universe came about as a result of random chance with no external influence (in other words, the origin of the universe was not subject to the law of cause and effect).
With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.
That conclusion is flatly wrong. If all else fails, read the Constitution.
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court.
No, of course it's not activist to substitute your own beliefs, opinions and preferences for what the Constitution plainly spells out. Why would anyone think that was an activist position?
Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial.
The only "breathtaking inanity" here is that of Judge Jones and his "head in the sand" approach to truth -and full disclosure. He disparages a "national public interest law firm" (presumably the Discovery Institute or the Foundation for Thought and Ethics) as "eager to find a constitutional test case on ID," yet by omission of mention seems to have no issues with the Pennsylvania ACLU which represented the malcontents who opposed the resolution. I guess the ACLU never has an agenda.
Pretty much everyone who isn't to the left of Ted Kennedy realizes that the ACLU (an organization formed by someone who said, "I am for Socialism, disarmament and ultimately the abolishing of the state itself as an instrument of violence and compulsion. I seek social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class and sole control by those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal.") is the epitome of an organization "eager" to test the Constitution on anything and everthing traditional and sensible.
Language in the court opinion referring to "fundamentalist opponents of evolution" makes the bias of the court pretty clear.
The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
They certainly do. Americans have deserved better for the past 85 years than to be dragged into a "legal maelstrom" which has undermined everything upon which this nation was founded. Pretty much everything the ACLU has ever advocated has resulted in an "utter waste of monetary and personal resources" in defending what history and common sense tells us is moral and legal. But apparently Judge Jones wants to continue this tradition of wasting everyone's time and rewarding one of the most anti-American groups ever to reside within our own borders.
To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,
We've already covered this one, but since Judge Jones brings it up again, he's talking about preserving what Judge Rehnquist called "a metaphor based on bad history."
and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution,
As we meanwhile denigrate and disparage not only the religious beliefs of most people in America, but denigrate the notion of open debate and scientific integrity.
and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID. We will also issue a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs' rights under the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been violated by Defendants' actions. Defendants' actions in violation of Plaintiffs' civil rights as guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 subject Defendants to liability with respect to injunctive and declaratory relief, but also for nominal damages and the reasonable value of Plaintiffs' attorneys' services and costs incurred in vindicating Plaintiffs' constitutional rights.
What constitutional right has been vindicated? The right not to be offended? Gee, I missed that one in the Bill of Rights. The right not to hear that you might be wrong? Sorry, missed that one, too. Man, I've got to get myself a copy of that new lib constitution!
So, in blind obedience to a fatally flawed belief in the twisted supposition that the First Amendment means government cannot allow anyone to be exposed to anything remotely religious in nature, we'll completely ignore the scientific method and reject ID outright simply because it might be "religious."
An interesting note on the hypocritical rejection of anything "religious" is that the courts have already ruled that secular humanism is a religion. A federal appeals court ruled just this year that prison officials had violated an inmates religious rights by not allowing him to create a study group for atheists. This opinion was based on an earlier 1961 opinion in Torcaso v. Watkins which stated that "secular humanism" was a religion. Therefore, Darwinian evolution is a religion and is also unconstitutional. Schools have been teaching the religion of secular humanism in many areas for a long, long time-yet officials like Judge Jones don't seem to have a problem with that religion.
Atheistic evolutionists are so completely blinded to the truth that they cannot even intellectually entertain the notion that there might have been an intelligent designer of the universe. The pursuit of science was once defined by having an open mind to whatever answer was supported by the evidence. The pursuit of science (by the dominant establishment) is now defined by a fanatical effort to maintain the status quo that asserts man as the highest intelligence in the universe.
But what if it's right? Is it science to throw out the correct answer simply because it doesn't fit our presuppositions? Is it science to reject an answer because we don't like it? Is it science to reject the truth simply because it might be religious in nature?
I may not like getting a ticket for doing 75 MPH in a 45 MPH zone, but that doesn't change the fact that I broke the law and will have to pay a penalty for it. If the origin of the universe turns out to be God (and we'll all know the answer to that question within the next 100 years or so), stubbornly claiming that answer isn't scientific isn't going to get much mileage at the Pearly Gates.
For the record, I once believed that theistic evolution was a viable theory for explaining the origin of the universe, as we know it. I rejected theistic evolution some eight years ago when I realized that not only is evolution scientifically unsupportable, but that the Judeo-Christian account of creation much more closely fits observable evidence. I became so convinced of this that I ended up on the board of the Black Hills Creation Science Association.
I'm not a drooling knuckle-dragger who blindly accepts what I'm told. I've examined the best evidence for each theory and chosen the one that makes the most sense…unlike the average believer in atheistic evolution.
What I'd like to know from some unbelieving evolutionary biologist is this: given that great apes still exist, and have nowhere near the intelligence of homo sapiens, it's clear that apes did not and do not need our big, fat, chess club brains to survive. Yet we have them.
When Charles Darwin came up with his "Origin of the Species," the devil jumped for glee.
Now the so-called intelligent had a rival to the Bible's account of creation. That is, the unbelieving intelligent for obviously the genuinely intelligent continued to keep their brain cells in proper order.
The biblical account of creation is so logical and powerful that it can only be believed as historically sound. That is why for centuries it was believed as historically sound.
Then came along a Darwin. He manufactured an hypothesis which, for secularists, grew into a theory and now has become a "fact." So it is reported in text after text and mantraed by one university professor after another. Even evangelical educators have given into the evolutionary presence as rock-bottomed. Not all, but some have. And for those who have not, they've given up on fighting for the truth.
Evangelical scholars who do not hold any tenet of the Darwin religion to be factual have become so exhausted in the debate that they have basically reached the conclusion that if the Darwin disciples want to believe it and go to hell, let them. So be it. In other words, "Amen and amen."
Since a child I have chuckled at the Darwin ameba growing into this and that and finally becoming us-humans. That was such a laughable bit that I could not believe that adults bought into it. And when they did, they surely were not of our parlor company. They belonged over on the side of the metro tracks.
Our kind believed in the God of the Bible, the Genesis rendition and so found it to be exceptionally reasonable. Sure, it was to be accepted by faith but as a growing child into adulthood, I really didn't find that I needed to muster that much faith to hold onto it.
Now today I simply refuse to enter into any further debates about evolution. I'm approaching 70. Therefore, those back-and-forths can go hang.
I simply pity the secularists who have made Darwin to be such an imbedded religion that they can't see how utterly nonsensical their jargon, doctrines, tenets of "faith," dogmatic paragraphs and creeds have imprisoned them. They tenaciously guard their so-called archeological finds, the museum foldouts, the artistic sketches and so forth. It is reality that for these Darwinists their religion has become their own Vatican with saints and prayer books and theologies.
Now we have another judge buying into this nonsense that has been spreading its disease since the mid-1800s. So Newsday.com's Bryn Nelson reports: "The concept of ‘intelligent design' is inherently religious in nature and may not be introduced into high school biology classrooms in a Pennsylvania public school district, a district court judge ruled Tuesday in a sharply-worded and potentially far-reaching decision.
"'The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID [intelligent design] is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory,' wrote U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in a 139-page decision that prompted a flurry of responses on both sides of the bitter intelligent design-evolution divide."
As for this "Intelligent Design" entrée, I don't buy it either. Of course those espousing Intelligent Design mean by it GOD. And they mean GOD as the God of the Holy Bible. That's plain. It's simple. Therefore, I say that those supporting Intelligent Design need to go into the classrooms to state that GOD must be placed alongside Darwin's make-believe for it is GOD who created all from nothing.
In other words, believers should quit playing word games. Come out and say what you truly intend. You are trying to get the students of today and tomorrow to realize that truth of the Bible. It is that God created all things from nothing because God is God. Just be up front with it.
Of course, this judge's decision doesn't finally mean finale. This whole discussion will go on and on and on. At the moment, the majority of Americans have told poll registers that they don't buy into Darwin's evolutionary theory but instead believe God created all things.
Good for American believers. They are far wiser than the unbelieving secularists who man the liberal classrooms and write the liberal texts.
One of the major tricks the devil has played upon the human brain is to conclude that Darwin came up with truth. He came up with discovering the similarities in a creation brought about by the wise, eternal Creator. Of course there are similarities and progressions and match-ups. The one Creator made it all; therefore, there will be patterns that overlap and so forth.
But to go beyond that to start with a speck and come up with the complicated human being is utter insanity. It is insanity. There. Let's all repeat it again: It's insanity.
To the Editor:
The number two question in life that everyone asks himself is a topic again in the news. "What is the meaning of life?" is followed closely by "How did I get here?" I don't have a problem with the Big Bang Theory, but what happens after that according to scientists and Darwinists, is not rational.
We're to believe that if you take some rocks and minerals, maybe add some sand, dirt, acid, a little salt and a lot of water (water seems to be the magic ingredient), heat them up, cool them off, shine light on them, put them in the dark, and do this over and over again, if you wait long enough, say several million years, the inorganic molecules are eventually going to form some kind of relationship and spawn a life form.
I've been out of school for a long time, so I don't know if we started out as an amoeba, bacteria, a virus, or even a fungus. Once these microorganisms got established, life just took off from there became plants, fish, birds, and animals. Hundreds of thousands of species and subspecies of life evolved, and in the end, the most complex of all, homo sapiens. The definition of Homo sapiens is intelligent or wise species. How ironic.
Another conundrum is procreation. How do you evolve a reproductive system? If life did just spontaneously occur, what caused the gender split? Now it takes two different kinds of the same species that have to "get together" to further their lineage. Before you ask "which came first the chicken or the egg" don't forget about the rooster.
It is generally accepted that the average human uses or has access to less than 25 percent of his brainpower. I think of my brain as a four-drawer filing cabinet. I've only been able to get into the bottom drawer, though, and half the time I can't find what I'm looking for there. This assumption if further evidenced by the savant. There are those who were born with brain damage, autism, or other handicaps that have inexplicable powers and talents. Some have photographic memories or mathematical abilities like calculating instantly the square root of a six-digit number to five decimal places. Our brain has computer-like abilities.
Recently on "60 Minutes", there were a couple of blind boys who couldn't even button their own shirts who could play compositions on the piano after hearing them just once. Scientists know relatively little about how the brain works, but they think we all have Einstein and Beethoven like potential. With evolution being a process of adaptation and mutation, how did we get brains that are much more sophisticated than we know how to use? It's contra-evolutionary.
Sometimes all the facts just don't add up. Knowledge is a worldly thing, but wisdom is divine. To answer the question of how we got here, for me it's a no-brainer. They used to call it Creation, but teaching "intelligent design" at least is an alternative for the wise.
I am a scientist. The tortured logic required to believe in evolutionary theory never ceases to amaze me. Consider the random probability of forming a protein (a basic building block of life) as one part in 10 to the 390th power (i.e., as 1:10 followed by 390 zeros), or even the greater probability that the evolutionist would argue as one part in 10 to the 40th power (by comparison, winning $1 million with $1 in the lottery is about 1:10 million). Then consider the probability of forming a cell, then that cell being able to replicate, then those replicated cells forming an organism, then those organisms forming a simple animal.
Now similarly consider an independent process where a separate, reproductively compatible animal is formed in close enough proximity to the first animal, and some type of union taking place such that a similar offspring is reproduced, and the process continuing.
With the first premise being a cosmically insignificant event, certainly it follows that this reductio ad absurdum argument places evolution as an impossible event even for the most secular in our society. Hence, intelligent design is the only reasoned alternative and evolution is the religion that takes the greater faith.
Bob Murphy has a PhD in economics from New York University, and is the author of Minerva. See his personal website at BobMurphy.net.
One of the most unfortunate aspects of the controversy between proponents of modern, orthodox evolutionary theory (to which I shall simply refer as "evolution" from now on) and Intelligent Design (ID) theory is the sloppy argumentation. Perhaps this is because biology is a hard science, and hence the experts in this field are not as well trained in rhetoric as, say, people with PhDs in philosophy or even economics. In any event, in the present article I analyze an excellent summary of the dispute hosted by Natural History magazine. Three major figures in the ID movement give short position statements, followed by responses from proponents of evolution. I rate these exchanges and also the introductory and concluding portions of the special issue. (Disclaimer: I believe that the allegedly overwhelming case for evolution is overrated.)
Dembski vs. Pennock: Very Good
In this exchange concerning information theory, Dembski and Pennock do a wonderful job of clearly stating their positions. As we shall see, Dembski starts with a very strong case, but Pennock impressively rebuts.
Dembski starts by reminding his readers that explanations relying on intelligence are certainly not alien to unquestionably "scientific" disciplines:
But how do we know that nature requires no help from a designing intelligence? Certainly, in special sciences ranging from forensics to archaeology to SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), appeal to a designing intelligence is indispensable. What's more, within these sciences there are well-developed techniques for identifying intelligence. Essential to all these techniques is the ability to eliminate chance and necessity.
Hoping to draw the reader in with an obvious (and popular) example, he then refers to a movie:
For instance, how do the radio astronomers in Contact (the Jodie Foster movie based on Carl Sagan's novel of the same name) infer the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence in the beeps and pauses they monitor from space? The researchers run signals through computers that are programmed to recognize many preset patterns. Signals that do not match any of the patterns pass through the "sieve" and are classified as random. After years of receiving apparently meaningless "random" signals, the researchers discover a pattern of beats and pauses that corresponds to the sequence of all the prime numbers between 2 and 101.… When a sequence begins with 2 beats, then a pause, 3 beats, then a pause…and continues all the way to 101 beats, the researchers must infer the presence of an extraterrestrial intelligence.
After illustrating his basic approach with this example, Dembski then gets a bit more rigorous and explains the process by which one can operationally define information. Finally, because (Dembski claims) DNA is, among other things, a huge repository of information, it is evidence of intelligence. To switch examples: If two guys are hiking in the woods and discover some rocks arranged to spell out, "WARNING SNAKES AHEAD," then there would be no doubt in their minds that something intelligent had deliberately designed this arrangement. All Dembski has done is to systematically explain how it is that we make such an evaluation all the time (in our everyday lives) and how to apply it to the biological context.
As I said earlier, Pennock does a great job meeting Dembski's challenge. He first claims (plausibly) that "the odd sequences found within DNA are quite unlike a series of prime numbers. Dembski has no way to show that the genetic patterns are ‘set up in advance' or ‘independently given.'" In other words, Pennock is challenging the analogies. If I may put words in his mouth, I think Pennock is arguing that the only reason we think DNA contains information is through our understanding of the evolutionary process; it's not analogous to our understanding of mathematics which then could provide independent evidence for extraterrestrials.
Next Pennock challenges Dembski's "law of conservation of information." Basically, Dembski argues (in his work, not in this short piece) that if you see a system with a certain amount of information, it must have gotten "in" from somewhere, and more important it must have been caused by an intelligence. Pennock counters this superficially plausible claim by pointing out that "researchers are beginning to use Darwinian processes, implemented in computers…to evolve complex systems and to provide solutions to design problems in ways that are beyond the power of mere intelligent agents."
This may sound hokey to the average person, but (at least for those readers who are familiar with economic theory) we should be careful. One of the biggest mistakes (which Friedrich Hayek spent much of his career attacking) we can make in the social sciences is to assume that a complex order (such as a monetary economy) must have been deliberately designed by someone or some group. Now of course, one could argue from a certain point of view that the intelligence of all actors in a market taken together gives rise to the complex economic system, but in the same way the evolutionary theorist could argue that the ecosystem as a whole had all the information from the beginning, which only manifested itself in particular strands of DNA billions of years later.
Behe vs. Miller: Fair
Behe is the most famous of the ID proponents, and I've heard his standard case so often that I've lost the ability to disinterestedly evaluate it. As we shall see, I think the evolutionist response (at least in this exchange) is fair at best, and really doesn't help the intelligent layperson evaluate Behe's argument.
Behe first reminds us of Darwin's own criterion for success or failure:
How can we decide whether Darwinian natural selection can account for the amazing complexity that exists at the molecular level? Darwin himself set the standard when he acknowledged, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."
Quite simply, Behe thinks he has taken Darwin at his word and offers the examples of the bacterial flagellum, the blood clotting mechanism in humans and other animals, and the system of protein distribution in cells. But Behe's famous illustration of his idea is the mousetrap analogy:
Some systems seem very difficult to form by such successive modifications - I call them irreducibly complex. An everyday example of an irreducibly complex system is the humble mousetrap. It consists of (1) a flat wooden platform or base; (2) a metal hammer, which crushes the mouse; (3) a spring with extended ends to power the hammer; (4) a catch that releases the spring; and (5) a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back. You can't catch a mouse with just a platform, then add a spring and catch a few more mice, then add a holding bar and catch a few more. All the pieces have to be in place before you catch any mice.
In case it's not clear, the reason Behe added the last sentence above was to show that an "irreducibly complex" system (such as a mousetrap) cannot arise through the Darwinian process of mutation and natural selection. The evolutionary account makes perfect sense when explaining, say, how a giraffe's neck got to be so long; over time those giraffes with slightly longer necks produced more offspring than those with shorter necks, etc. (And the reason that a giraffe doesn't have a neck sixty feet long is also easily explained by the larger requirements of calories, loss of speed, etc.)
But, according to Behe, when it comes to something even as (apparently) simple as a single celled organism, we see an astoundingly complex machine that consists of numerous parts, many of which are crucial to the success of the organism as a whole. Unlike the giraffe story, it is impossible (according to Behe) to come up with an account of how a cell could have arisen step-by-step through gradual mutation and natural selection, because gaining just part of (say) the system for protein distribution wouldn't be advantageous; only getting the whole system in one fell swoop would be. Thus, if life evolves only through unguided or "blind" processes, the (alleged) irreducible complexity of cells is a serious problem.
Miller's response to Behe is very pithy and no doubt caused great mirth in the evolution camp, but I shall argue that it is rather weak indeed:
Ironically, Behe's own example, the mousetrap, shows what's wrong with this idea. Take away two parts (the catch and the metal bar), and you may not have a mousetrap but you do have a three-part machine that makes a fully functional tie clip or paper clip. Take away the spring, and you have a two-part key chain. The catch of some mousetraps could be used as a fishhook, and the wooden base as a paperweight; useful applications of other parts include everything from toothpicks to nutcrackers and clipboard holders. The point, which science has long understood, is that bits and pieces of supposedly irreducibly complex machines may have different - but still useful - functions.
As I said above, Miller's response is clever, but does it really hold up? Let's forget the biological context for a moment (because one's own position on evolution versus ID will certainly cloud one's judgment) and imagine that we're really in a situation involving a "mousetrap," and I put that word in quotation marks because to label it as such begs the question of what this thing's purpose is.
Okay, so you and I walk onto a porch and see, perhaps in the corner, a flat piece of wood with a spring, a hammer, etc. You claim that it is a mousetrap, by which you mean that it is a device that someone with intelligence deliberately designed, for the purpose of catching mice. In contrast to your assertion, I maintain that there is no reason to invoke an unseen designer. After all, it's possible that those components came together in some other way.
You of course are astounded by my position. Although it's difficult to even set up the scenario for calculations, you feel quite sure that my explanation is astronomically improbable.
Now - and here's the rub, folks - suppose I say, "Hold on. My story isn't nearly as improbable as you think. I don't need to assume, for example, that a tree got hit by lightning and a flat board was produced, and that an earthquake caused an iron deposit to eject a spring, etc. Those individual components could have existed for other reasons. For example, maybe someone was using the wooden base, the hammer, and the spring as a three-part tie clip, and maybe someone else was using the catch as a fishhook, and finally maybe a third person was using the metal bar as a nutcracker. So it's not unreasonable to suppose that those components all existed. All my explanation needs, in terms of random chance, is that some event occurred in which all three of these components come together accidentally to form a functioning mousetrap, which a human then placed in the corner of his porch."
Does the reader see where I'm going with this? It is a very weak response to Behe to argue that each of the components of an allegedly irreducibly complex system could exist in some other capacity. First, why would natural selection have those components exist in the proper state long enough for the random coupling to occur? To go back to the mousetrap analogy, even though you could use the wooden base+hammer+spring as a tie clip, you wouldn't do so for very long. Maybe you'd use it once in an emergency, but you would discard it after that use because it wouldn't be a very good tie clip. Second, even if we concede that it's possible that each of the numerous components could exist on its own, it would still take a complicated story to explain how they all came together at the same time. To go back to the mousetrap analogy, even if we did have people using each of the components for the uses Miller suggests, it would still be a ridiculous claim to say that they all came together to form a mousetrap without someone's deliberate design.
Of course, the proponent of evolution will argue that this isn't the case in biology, and that there are plenty of plausible accounts by which (say) something like the human eye could have evolved step-by-step. All I'm trying to do above is show that Miller's response to the mousetrap analogy isn't very good at all; what he should have done instead is simply say that it's a bad analogy.
Wells vs. Scott: Poor
In his contribution entitled, "Elusive Icons of Evolution," Jonathan Wells is taking the modest position that two of the allegedly great pieces of evidence for evolution are, in fact, nothing of the kind:
Scientific theories, however, must fit the evidence. Two examples of the evidence for Darwin's theory of evolution - so widely used that I have called them "icons of evolution" - are Darwin's finches and the four-winged fruit fly. Yet both of these, it seems to me, show that Darwin's theory cannot account for all features of living things.
Regarding the finches, Wells points out that the supposedly important work on this (by Peter and Rosemary Grant) doesn't demonstrate what the evolutionists think it does:
In 1977 the Grants watched as a severe drought wiped out 85 percent of a particular species on one island. The survivors had, on average, slightly larger beaks that enabled them to crack the tough seeds that had endured the drought. This was natural selection in action. The Grants estimated that twenty such episodes could increase average beak size enough to produce a new species.
When the rains returned, however, average beak size returned to normal. Ever since, beak size has oscillated around a mean as the food supply has fluctuated with the climate. There has been no net change, and no new species have emerged.
Wells then tackles another oft-cited piece of evidence in the alleged mountain of confirmation of evolution, the four-winged fruit fly:
Normal fruit flies have two wings and two "balancers" - tiny structures behind the wings that help stabilize the insect in flight. In the 1970s, geneticists discovered that a combination of three mutations in a single gene produces flies in which the balancers develop into normal-looking wings. The resulting four-winged fruit fly is sometimes used to illustrate how mutations can produce the sorts of anatomical changes that Darwin's theory needs.
But the extra wings are not new structures, only duplications of existing ones. Furthermore, the extra wings lack muscles and are therefore worse than useless. The four-winged fruit fly is severely handicapped - like a small plane with extra wings dangling from its tail. As is the case with all other anatomical mutations studied so far, those in the four-winged fruit fly cannot provide raw materials for evolution.
Admittedly, Wells doesn't spell out quite clearly what his overall point is. We must remember what he (and many other, though not all, ID proponents) thinks is true in the Darwinian story: Wells believes that there is genetic variation within species, that this can lead to phenotypic differences, and finally that environmental change can favor or hinder the different groups, such that the proportion of a given species having a certain trait can change over time. However, what Wells denies is that this "microevolution" can lead to the formation of entirely new species. He admits that "large" changes are possible, particularly if humans deliberately alter the genetic code, but he claims that such large changes would never be beneficial, and so cannot explain the complexity of life.
Now that we understand the view of Wells, and how it differs from the standard Darwinian story, we can better understand his short piece. Wells is pointing out that two of the most popular pieces of evidence that allegedly make the case for evolution do no such thing, when contrasted with Wells' own story. In other words, if one is trying to decide between Wells' view and that of an orthodox evolutionist, one would have to conclude that the work of the Grants and the research on fruit flies either was neutral or helped Wells.
So how does Eugenie Scott respond to these claims? It would have been ideal to either contradict Wells' claims (i.e. to say that the finches really did experience a permanent deviation in beak size or that the fruit flies really did improve after the mutations), or to offer other examples where these phenomena occurred. But Scott does nothing of the kind. Regarding the study of finches:
Reading Wells, one might not realize the importance of the Grants' careful studies, which demonstrated natural selection in real time. That the drought conditions abated before biologists witnessed the emergence of new species is hardly relevant; beak size does oscillate in the short term, but given a long-term trend in climate change, a major change in average size can be expected.
Do you see what Scott has done here?? He has said that the mere fact that the example doesn't illustrate what people typically claim - and that, in contrast, it illustrates only the weaker claim of Wells and other IDers - is irrelevant, and that the very thing under dispute "can be expected." That's the whole point, Dr. Scott - Wells and others are saying it can't be expected, and they challenge you to show a counterexample. (Note that I'm not saying no such counterexamples exist; the talkorigins site claims that there are observed cases of speciation. I'm just pointing out how silly Scott's response is.)
Now what about the fruit fly? Again, in light of Wells' position - that major mutations are harmful and so can't explain the diversity of species - Scott should've (ideally) given an example where it was helpful, or acknowledged the empirical gap in the theory that perhaps would be filled over time. Instead he cavalierly says:
Wells admits that natural selection can operate on a population and correctly looks to genetics to account for the kind of variation that can lead to "new features in new species." But he contends that mutations such as those that yield four-winged fruit flies do not produce the sorts of anatomical changes needed for major evolutionary change. Can't he see past the example to the principle? That the first demonstration of a powerful genetic mechanism happened to be a nonflying fly is irrelevant.
Scott then goes on a long (relative to his whole piece) discourse on how many researchers are working in this area (and this, presumably, is evidence for its validity) but he doesn't tackle Wells' point head on. Finally, he demonstrates that his own a priori views make it impossible for him to agree with Wells, regardless of the empirical evidence:
Wells argues that natural explanations are inadequate and, thus, that "students should also be taught that design remains a possibility." Because in his logic, design implies a Designer, he is in effect recommending that science allow for nonnatural causation. We actually do have solid natural explanations to work with, but even if we didn't, science only has tools for explaining things in terms of natural causation.
In light of this conclusion, it's not surprising that Scott (apparently) put such little effort into understanding Wells' position. Since Scott can reject Wells' theory on methodological grounds, the alleged problems with the finch and fruit fly studies really are (in Scott's worldview) irrelevant.
The Introduction and Conclusion: Horrible
Finally, let us briefly analyze the setup and concluding remarks for the above three exchanges. First, if you click on the link I provided, you'll see that the website places at the top the label: "evolution: science and belief." This is a very typical move, illustrated by Futuyma's book, Science on Trial. Rather than treating PhDs such as Behe, Dembski, and Wells as peers who espouse very bad theories, they are classified as being opposed to science itself.
Before I continue, let me make one thing clear: I completely understand that the overwhelming majority of biologists, chemists, and other relevant experts support the theory of evolution, and think Behe et al. are crazy. I don't expect the ID proponents to be published in mainstream journals or to be featured at major conferences. But when their peers elect to address their views, they could at least offer them the basic respect of treating them as fellow (misguided) scientists.
(For an analogy, I have participated in a forthcoming Journal of Libertarian Studies symposium on a book that deplores capitalism. Let me admit upfront that the journal editor selected participants whom he knew would criticize the book; the purpose of the symposium was not to really consider the possibility that our worldviews were totally wrong, but rather to demonstrate to the faithful how right we are by gang-criticizing this particular book. Nonetheless, the symposium will not be entitled, "Capitalism: Economics and Emotion," where our views correspond to the former and the mutualist's to the latter.)
The concluding "Overview" by Barbara Forrest is, to only slightly oversimplify, one long ad hominem attack. She tells us, for example, that, "At heart, proponents of intelligent design are not motivated to improve science but to transform it into a theistic enterprise that supports religious faith."
Now yes yes, I understand what makes her say that, and I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of people who get excited by the IDers with PhDs do so for religious reasons. Nonetheless, her impugning of the motivations of thousands of people (based on the behavior of, shall we say, a subset of that group) is not only classless, not only irrelevant (because you evaluate a theory on its merits, not the motivations of its proponents), but it's not even sensible. If someone really believes, say, in the Genesis account, then that person thinks the Darwinian story is just plain wrong. It's not merely that this person objects to the theory of evolution because it offends his religious sensibilities, no, this person objects because he thinks it makes false claims about the natural world. Now if that really were somebody's view, wouldn't the ID movement be a necessary step in improving science?
I am writing in response to Mathew Myrup's letter ("Intelligent design is not scientific," Dec. 6). He proposes that even though life is extremely improbable, with the amount of stars in the universe, life is bound to happen some place.
Is this a scientific claim? Scientists admit that our earth is tuned in almost every way to support life: in its magnetic field, its internal structure, its orbit, its chemical composition, its atmospheric conditions, its size, its temperature, its many intricate chemical cycles, its unique location in a safe zone of a galaxy, the nature of our sun, etc. Scientists concede that without most these properties, there would be no life here.
Our planet is unique, and the probability that even this planet exists is quite small, but let's pretend for argument's sake that there are many other "privileged" planets out there.
Astronomers and physicists agree that our universe is extremely fine-tuned. The consensus is that if one of the six universal constants that underlie the fundamental physical properties of the universe were altered "even to the tiniest degree, there would be no stars, no complex elements, no life."
To explain this apparent fine-tuning of the cosmos, atheistic scientists have expounded upon Myrup's idea by saying "there must be billions upon billions of universes. With so many, it's inevitable that there would be one out there that is tuned to allow for stars, complex elements and life." This idea, as romantic as it sounds, is not based at all on evidence-it is entirely speculation.
Essentially, to avoid evidence that points toward design, naturalists build themselves a metaphysical escape hatch. They say: If life is improbable, do we need to account for a designer? Not if we pretend that there are random chemical reactions happening on billions of planets across billions of universes.
I suppose everyone's got his or her faith in something. Some put it in God, others put it in unscientific naturalistic speculation. In my opinion, just because some atheist scientists believe it without proof, it doesn't make for good science; it makes for a boring religion.
If there's one thing the sensitive issue of evolution in schools needs, it's for someone to come in and explain, using simple and caring words, why everyone is stupid.
I'm here to help. I will draw upon my vast background in both biological sciences (I've seen "The Land Before Time" like sixty times) and theology (a priest spilled his soda on me - that counts as a baptism). And I will not rest until everyone is confused and angry!
The origin of the question of our origin dates all the way back to our questionable origins. There are three schools of thought as to how this came about.
First is evolution - the idea that everyone and everything is all some catastrophic chain of chemical reactions, like a slow, gooey explosion. There's also some stuff about how death is useful for the species. Evolution is so emo.
Second, there's creation, which is the idea that something floaty and bored made us and probably spends a lot of time cheesed at us for mucking up our pretty world. Creation is based on scripture and tradition and faith, which gives them a hefty advantage in debates.
Science: "...in conclusion, we're about six chromosomes from being pointless, hairy monkeys. Life is pain."
Ye Olde Religione: "God says you're wrong. Also he says to shut up and that no one really likes you, they're all pretending."
Third, there's intelligent design. It's a complicated theory, and I shall do my very best to do it crazy amounts of justice. Basically, complex things have creators - watches have watchmakers, and people are lots more complicated than watches, so they must have a Creator too.
Since that Creator is complex, logically, he must also have a CReator, who in turn has a CREator. Once you're run out of letters to capitalize, you've reached the top of the chain and can stop wondering where stuff came from.
The problem is, which one to teach in schools? Scientists will claim the theory emo-lution is entirely right and everyone doesn't understand their pain. But some people have the whacky idea that the theory of evolution is just some theoretical idea.
This is simply not the definition of theory. Gravity isn't a theory - it's a fact. Try dropping a pencil. Gravity, right? Now try creating life from primordial atmospheric gasses which then evolve into complex organisms. See? It's a fact!
If we were going with the insane notion that science is full of theories, why, students would have to apply critical thinking to everything they learned! No, things that are theories need to clearly be labeled such. Students have a right to know when to turn their minds on and off during the school day.
Johnathan Kastner is a senior English major. His column runs every Thursday in the Verve.
[This book finally explaining evolution was published in Oct 2005. As far as I know, it was not presented as evidence in the Dover trial. DS]
From sciencedaily.com :
Book Description: In the 150 years since Darwin, the field of evolutionary biology has left a glaring gap in understanding how animals developed their astounding variety and complexity. The standard answer has been that small genetic mutations accumulate over time to produce wondrous innovations such as eyes and wings. Drawing on cutting-edge research across the spectrum of modern biology, Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart demonstrate how this stock answer is woefully inadequate. Rather they offer an original solution to the longstanding puzzle of how small random genetic change can be converted into complex, useful innovations.
In a new theory they call "facilitated variation," Kirschner and Gerhart elevate the individual organism from a passive target of natural selection to a central player in the 3-billion-year history of evolution. In clear, accessible language, the authors invite every reader to contemplate daring new ideas about evolution. By closing the major gap in Darwin's theory Kirschner and Gerhart also provide a timely scientific rebuttal to modern critics of evolution who champion "intelligent design."
From yubanet.com: Book Explains How Evolution Really Works, Rebuts Intelligent Design
By: Harvard Medical School
In a new book, The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma, Harvard Medical School's Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhart, of the University of California-Berkeley address a key problem in evolutionary theory that has puzzled scientists from Darwin on and which is now under intense scrutiny by proponents of intelligent design: where do the big jumps come from in evolution? Kirschner, HMS professor and chair of the Dept. of Systems Biology, and Gerhart show that newly discovered molecular properties of organisms facilitate evolution.
The origin of novelty, the development of new arrangements of interlocking parts that some call "irreducibly complex," can only be understood in the light of the last 20 years of research in cell biology and development.
We now know that the 'parts' that make up a living organism are very unlike the rigid parts designed for machines. Instead, they can flexibly connect and re-connect, using the same pieces over and over to make new functions. For example, one might think that a mutation that makes the neck of a giraffe longer would have to be accompanied by several other mutations, one that expands the length of the muscles of the neck, another that makes the blood vessels longer, and so on. But instead, the muscles grow to fit the length of the bone and the blood vessels grow until all the muscles have a sufficient supply of oxygen. Apparently very complex adaptations can therefore be achieved with few, simple mutations.
Today, it is understood for the first time that all animals use the same set of core processes to develop into adult forms. Applying this knowledge to evolution, the authors show that novel traits emerge from the ways the organism is constructed: its complex mechanisms for adapting to the environment, its modular construction, and its internal circuitry that can be re-specified and reconnected.
John Harshman: One potential reason for that is that I have read the paper, and you haven't. You seem determined to avoid discussions of real evidence in favor of your personal gut feelings.
Wall of Sleep: You're right I haven't read it and don't know where to find it. A google search turned up only references to it. So I guess, until I do find it, we'll have to terminate this discussion - on this one point anyway.
John Harshman: Try a college library. Actual printed material. Surely there's a library near you somewhere.
Wall of Sleep: I see no reason to go out of my way to research naturalism. I've been looking at this world for 45 years. Throughout *all* of my schooling, I've been taught the basics of evolutionary theory. I get it. I know how it's supposed to work. I don't need to study it in depth to know I don't accept it.
I have already stated my arguments for design and everyone poo-poos them as if they are the incoherent rantings of a 10 year old.
I've been accused of providing *no* evidence when in fact I use the *same* evidence all of you use.
These are two different ways of looking at the world - that's all. The weight of science does not support naturalism any more than it does design - since both explain *everything*. It's just a matter of how the evidence is interpreted. That's the crux of the matter: both arguments *fit* the evidence - so why am I chastised for choosing one over the other? Is it because I said design is more likely? Well, I still think it is, but since no one has ever done the math to compare the two, we'll just have to trust our intuition on that question.
You all know that there are problems with the theory of evolution. You just won't admit it when one of "us" is in the room.
Why can't the scientific community quit with the elitism and admit that there are two explanations for this world we live in?
Frankly, I'm getting tired of arguing. I'm getting tired of being accused of ignorance because I don't know every detail of the current, always changing, never settled, purely speculative theory you all subscribe to.
So I'll state my case once more and get out:
Everything that exists in this world can be explained in terms of design.
You decide which is more likely.
Thanks. It's been fun!
Funny how you idiots try to turn the tables when your chips are down. I'll tell you what I've been telling the other God-Haters such as yourself in this forum. You don't get to question me and I don't allow evolutionists to turn the tables, which is all you are attempting to do. You claim macroevolution and abiogenesis are facts. You cannot offer one shred of proof for those claims and then you claim that my belief is religion and yours is science. You know this is what you do and then continue to do it. That makes you liars and hypocrites. Now either prove your claims, or go away. I am not interested in discussion. I am interested in you proving your claims, which is what any real scientific approach would see happen. Those who claim it is true, prove that it is true. The fact that you keep trying to turn the tables, tells us that you don't have the proof.
Evolution is a bunch of CRAP not worth wasting the time of Day on.
A fantasy world of facts with out proof.
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