Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A War on Science

This is a rather belated review of the Horizons Documentary- “A War on Science.”

I didn’t have time to watch the video until now.

Related Posts:
Horizon Origins Poll (here)

Another review (The Groggy Exile ;-))

The programme was cast in the mould of science vs religion documentary with the assumption built in that ID is the latest manifestation of Christian fundamentalists trying to get creationism into school science lessons. The background is the Scopes trial and the following US court cases to outlaw creationism from science education.

Despite this background it did allow several ID people to speak for themselves and this assumption in the background scenery could not prevent some of the key ID point coming across quite clearly.

In most cases the basic ID arguments were presented and the opponents were allowed to respond to this basic arguments with no opportunity for the ID people to come back at their opponents which tended to give the false impression that the anti-ID camp had won the scientific arguments and that ID was left as purely a political/social/religious movement.

Ken Miller appears with his dramatic assertion that the fight against ID is a battle for the “scientific soul of America.”

A very one sided view of the events leading up to the Dover trial is presented as the narrative background to the discussion of ID. No effort is made to present the real problem of secular education in a religious community. Only the anti-ID side were allowed to present what had happened at Dover. This may have been because the pro-ID side refused to give any help however but it was noticeably imbalanced I felt at that point.

ID was defended by interviews with Phillip Johnson, Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe and William Dembski. The arguments focused on the issue of evolution as science and evolution as an integral part of a societal creation story and the concept of irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum.

I thought that the editors of the programme should be commended in allowing the main story of ID to be told by the leaders of the movement themselves and they gave a good overview of the basic ideas of ID.

The UK scientists who spoke against ID came across (to a pro-ID man) as remarkably ignorant of the arguments of ID given that they had agreed to appear on the programme and that they must have spent at least some time seeking to familiarise themselves with its arguments.

I do think that if Richard Dawkins wants to be taken seriously in this debate he will have to change his approach completely. His approach is to snub ID and dismiss it entirely portraying its proponents as “ignorant people” and the “yapping terriers of ignorance” forcing real scientists to “waste their time and effort having to respond to them” He has refused any public debate over these issues based on the argument that to appear in debate with these ignorant people would of itself give the impression that they had a legitimate case that ought to be heard. He maintained that ID is only spreading in parts of the population that “don’t know anything”

David Attenborough seemed to be presenting a version of Stephen Gould’s “two separate magisterial view of science vs religion he argues that ID is religious and no different from creationism. He suggests that religion cannot overlap with science as it belongs in a different category of discourse. It concerns religious emotions and ethical feelings and spiritual values –it is entirely subjective.

The
UK spokesmen against ID were not very clear about what it was and what it was saying.

They are way behind the argument and have not bothered to learn the foundational issues.

The impression that the Dover judgement settles the issue over ID even in terms of the legal battles over how ID is taught is an error.

As far as ID is concerned this was a poisoned well from the start. Buckingham and the other pro-creationism members of the school board were from an ID point of view a liability- In Dover ID tried to make the best of a bad job and the Judge sought to make a supreme court judgement about ID for the united states rather than a limited judgement about this particular case.

Overall the BBC is to be commended for allowing the ID proponents to speak for ID themselves and highlighting the importance of the controversy. It was a shame however that they failed to present the underlying issue of conflicting worldviews impacting on education in a society which is still heavily influenced by Judeo/Christian foundations.

44 Comments:

Blogger Lifewish said...

They are way behind the argument and have not bothered to learn the foundational issues.

What would you say the foundational issues are?

(This isn't in any way a loaded question - I'm genuinely curious as to what you think the key points are)

3:26 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

"Overall the BBC is to be commended for allowing the ID proponents to speak for ID themselves and highlighting the importance of the controversy."

I agree. They gave the pro and anti-ID sides equal respect. And the inevitable conclusion is, just as the conservative judge in Harrisburg decided, that ID is creationism.

"It was a shame however that they failed to present the underlying issue of conflicting worldviews impacting on education in a society which is still heavily influenced by Judeo/Christian foundations"

Not excatly clear what you mean by this. Could it be that you are actually agreeing that ID is religious?

Like Lifewish, I am also interested in your understanding of what the foundational issues are. It seems to me that you cannot conduct a discussion without an agreement of the base issues.

8:50 am  
Blogger Mike Godfrey said...

I totally disagree allgally with your assesment of the Horizon programme-there no way it was balanced.
They ended the program with Millers questions re IC and probability-With no chance of a reply from the IDists.
Not a very balanced way to end a program.
A classic device used to discredit one side of a debate by leaving the viewer thinking theres no answer to the questions Miller posed.
Not too sure what you mean by Creationism -but ID is about design detection a legitimate scientific pursuit ask SETI.
ID and Naturalistic evoultion have differeing worldviews.
Each side has its own metaphysical axe to grind -just think of how offensive and ignorant Dickie Dawkins is !
The foundational issues for ID are the need for time and more time to develop new concepts and refine existing ones.

12:19 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

You suggest that the programme was imballanced because (among other things) -

"They ended the program with Millers questions re IC and probability-With no chance of a reply from the IDists.Not a very balanced way to end a program.A classic device used to discredit one side of a debate by leaving the viewer thinking theres no answer to the questions Miller posed."

In every debate someone has to get the last word, usually the incumbant. As ID is the "challenger", it seems reasonable that the evolution case gets the last word. In any case, if ID had a strong case, it would not matter if it came first or second: it would win by force of logic.

"Not too sure what you mean by Creationism..."

That's strange, because you use the word yourself. As in -

"The background is the Scopes trial and the following US court cases to outlaw creationism from science education."

"Each side has its own metaphysical axe to grind -just think of how offensive and ignorant Dickie Dawkins is !"

Allowed that Professor Dawkins can be a mite abrasive, but ignorant he is not. Unless of course you use "ignorant" in the way that IDers use "theory", i.e. in the popular rather than the strictly correct meaning.

"The foundational issues for ID are the need for time and more time to develop new concepts and refine existing ones."

If ID is an immature idea, why not go away and work on it in private. When, if ever, it is fit for peer review, bring it back out into the light.

"which tended to give the false impression that the anti-ID camp"....

As far as I can see the "anti-ID camp" consiste of 99.9% of scientists.You could make the BBC programme with the prticipation of hundreds or even thousands of pro-scientific method scientists. The ID side would have Dembski, Behe and ???

"They are way behind the argument and have not bothered to learn the foundational issues."

Lifewish has asked for an explanation of what these "foundational issues" were. So far I do not see a reply.

"Overall the BBC is to be commended for allowing the ID proponents to speak for ID themselves and highlighting the importance of the controversy."

Agreed

"It was a shame however that they failed to present the underlying issue of conflicting worldviews impacting on education in a society which is still heavily influenced by Judeo/Christian foundations."

It still seems to me that this is an inadvertant admission that ID has its basis in Judeo/Christian religion.

3:57 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Not too sure what you mean by Creationism -but ID is about design detection a legitimate scientific pursuit ask SETI.

SETI is an extended fishing expedition that occasionally comes up with interesting results. When it does so, it first tries to find natural explanations for those results before inferring design.

For example, when SETI discovered a repeating signal, the scientists there put a massive amount of effort into discovering natural explanations. Eventually they hit on the idea of pulsars - beams of radio noise produced by the magnetic fields of spinning neutron stars.

If they'd attempted to use Dembski's Explanatory Filter, they'd have concluded design and would even now be trying to decode the "alien signal", not understanding why they weren't getting anything useful out of it. They instead followed the scientific method of selecting a falsifiable hypothesis ("there's no way a natural object could be generating this signal") and then going out of their way to try and falsify it.

Maybe they're wrong and pulsars are actually signals from aliens. But that should never be our conclusion unless/until all others have been exhausted - i.e. unless/until the hypothesis is well-tested enough to be considered a theory. This is (among other reasons) because the conclusion that it's an alien signal gives us less information as to what the signal might do next, so is far less useful.

Equivalently, it's far less useful to say that a Designer is responsible for the diversity of life than to say that evolution is responsible for the diversity of life, because the former makes no predictions as to what we might discover about life next. That's why I'd expect a serious researcher investigating ID to spend months of his/her time trying to determine how evolution could produce given structures (for example, irreducibly complex ones or ones possessing high CSI) before concluding that it couldn't.

So you could say with some justification that evolutionary biologists are the true ID researchers, because they're the ones trying to falsify the hypothesis that an unknown intelligent entity was necessary for life as we know it to appear.

To conclude: Comparing ID to SETI doesn't leave ID looking too great.

The foundational issues for ID are the need for time and more time to develop new concepts and refine existing ones.

OK, I can accept that as a foundational issue. But, until it's been developed and refined to the point where it's even slightly useful, please excuse me if I look for ulterior motives in anyone trying to pass it off as valid science. In particular, you can expect me to (metaphorically) tar and feather anyone who attempts to teach it in science classes.

7:27 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

"The impression that the Dover judgement settles the issue over ID even in terms of the legal battles over how ID is taught is an error."

Hammered in Ohio as well.See-

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/02/the_win_in_ohio.html#more

How many times can the ID/DI lose the argument in the real world, and still maintain your loyalty?

8:13 pm  
Blogger Mike Godfrey said...

Hi Guys,
I stll maintain that the BBC program was biased -an unbiased program would be to allow both sides equal time and redress; this wasn't the case and its not to be expected.The dominating worldview of the west is Naturalistic materialism -from which evolution sprang.
As Gerald Coates once said 'Propaganda is the news of the Victor.
Its naive to expect force of logic to be the sole issue in a debate, when the editors of a program don't hold to the view that ID is presenting.
Lifewish said:
'Maybe they're wrong and pulsars are actually signals from aliens.'
Lifewish as far as I understand it a repeating signal such as the ones that lead to the discovery of a pulsar's would not qualify as complex specified information due to the short sequence length also they would fail in regard to the contingency filter no design conclusion would be made.
Sorry but I haven't got the time to comment on all points (we have a plumbing issue).
But before the plumber comes its fair to say that there are alterior motives on both sides of the debate as I stated before.
As far as Judges making Scientific claims im not too impressed... the judiciary are reflecting the concensus of opinion with greater fidelity than governments due to the relativism of the Law.The ruling in Dover was no big surprise-the dominating world view wins out again-Shock Horror!
Im not too sure that accepting design would be less useful than evolution -especially if ID is actually true -for instance we see examples of front loading.
Sorry guys have to go.
Great debate though

10:43 am  
Blogger Lifewish said...

I stll maintain that the BBC program was biased -an unbiased program would be to allow both sides equal time and redress; this wasn't the case and its not to be expected.

I'd tend to agree - it probably was biased. The only question is whether it was inappropriately biased. To use the standard (overworked) example: if you were making a documentary about holocaust denial, you probably wouldn't attempt to give each side equal time to explain their views. Historically, the scientific community has done better than any other group at figuring out how the world works, so it seems sensible to give them the benefit of the doubt over unproven challengers.

I'm not sure how the claim that evolution is a materialistic concept arises. The idea that life diversifies by evolution rather than by divine intervention is no more intrinsically materialistic than the idea that the planets are moved by gravity rather than by angels pushing them around. It wasn't even originated by philosophical (as opposed to methodical) naturalists - Darwin was a big fan of Paley before he left on his voyage.

Lifewish as far as I understand it a repeating signal such as the ones that lead to the discovery of a pulsar's would not qualify as complex specified information due to the short sequence length also they would fail in regard to the contingency filter no design conclusion would be made.

I have yet to see a mathematically rigorous definition of Complex Specified Information so I can't comment "officially". If you can help I would appreciate it. For example, why wouldn't a perfect snowflake be considered to be high CSI if you didn't know about the process of snowflake formation?

As far as Judges making Scientific claims im not too impressed... the judiciary are reflecting the concensus of opinion with greater fidelity than governments due to the relativism of the Law.The ruling in Dover was no big surprise-the dominating world view wins out again-Shock Horror!

What, even a Bush-appointed Republican Christian judge? It seems unlikely that such an individual would be willing to compromise their neutrality to push what you claim is a materialistic concept.

I'd also note that 83% of the Pennsylvanian population is Christian, so I'm not sure how evolution could be described as the "consensus". Sure it's the commonly-held view of scientists in the relevant sciences, but they're a very small minority in any population. So why would a judge who was interested in going with the "dominating worldview" choose to support them? Unless of course they make the best case for their views?

Im not too sure that accepting design would be less useful than evolution -especially if ID is actually true -for instance we see examples of front loading.

Accepting design would ringfence certain areas of life's history as off-limits to evolutionary biologist. This is only a problem when you consider that there might be much we could learn from studying the behaviour of evolution in those areas.

If design is actually an accurate description of how life arose then of course the study of these areas will not reveal any evolutionary insights. But if design isn't an accurate description, and yet we still fence these areas off, we'll be passing up on a treasure trove of information about the world. Given the potential of evolutionary approaches to revolutionise engineering, this would be kind of a waste.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say that we see frontloading - can you throw me a few examples?

Good luck with the plumbing!

7:17 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

"I stll maintain that the BBC program was biased -an unbiased program would be to allow both sides equal time and redress; this wasn't the case and its not to be expected.The dominating worldview of the west is Naturalistic materialism -from which evolution sprang."

The dominanting wordlview of the west is Christianity. Bush, Blair (or Brown or Cameron), Howard, Berlusconi... Could you name an athiest or agnostic head of state of an important western nation?

"As Gerald Coates once said 'Propaganda is the news of the Victor'."

Don't know who Gerald Coates is, but George Orwell (1903 -1950), said that "history is always written by the victors". Of course he was an athiestic lefty, so it would be a surprise if Mr Coates stole his quote from that particular source.

"Its naive to expect force of logic to be the sole issue in a debate..."

Not a scientific debate.

"...when the editors of a program don't hold to the view that ID is presenting."

So the BBC is biased as well? Is there anyone who disagrees with ID who is not biased? could you name them?

"As far as Judges making Scientific claims im not too impressed... the judiciary are reflecting the concensus of opinion with greater fidelity than governments due to the relativism of the Law.The ruling in Dover was no big surprise-the dominating world view wins out again-Shock Horror!"

Or the judge did his job, looked at the evidence, and reached the obvious conclusion. Shock horror.

"Im not too sure that accepting design would be less useful than evolution"

But by "design" the DI means God. Accepting God closes down all other avenues of investigation. That's why it's not science.

8:54 pm  
Anonymous Karl Proud said...

I have some questions.

I have no background in Natural Science, it rears it's head in my field of Politics only in as much as attempting to follow a sceptical critical thinking path to rare conclusions. I therefore have no way of really dismissing the ID technical arguments from those of the anti-ID advocates. Yes, I have read and listened to some things I understand, and a lot more that I do not, about bacteria and the complexity of areas that would seem incredibly complex to me even described in layman's terms.

So, I am not in a place that allows me the luxury of conviction - unless my conviction was to come from elsewhere.

However, my Social (Science) background makes me adverse to facts. Facts are dangerous structures, in my view cause for concern. So, I open myself to the possibility of an Intelligent Designer.

Now, the debate for me has body.

I search texts, listen to lectures, appraise debates. I wonder why some ID advocates want a separation of designed from designer? You've got me, I'm convinced - who/what did it? I can't argue with the 'Science' so I want to see what informs the greater question
I study myriad views of the world on a daily basis, the group mentality of the defensive hegemony, the passionate attacks of the 'new' movers. It's all here. All can see the motives of the natural evolutionists, they act like any other hegemony - as they should - scientific methodology demands defence, Kuhn doesn't require the new dominant theory to always be correct, so fight like hell. But I really don't understand what the pro-ID lobby want.

Why look for admission into Science class? We shouldn't want parity, we should demand dominance. The Science of evolution should be 10% natural selection and 90% conjecture of the nature of the Designer(s). Could someone tell me on this blog why the class shouldn't be filled with Christ, the Aliens and the Flying Spaghetti? Surely it can't be decided on the dominant religion of the local area. If it were, we would have to split the class into two distinct areas. One would inform children of the wonders of evolution, natural selection and irreducible complexity, whilst the other, dependant on which place on the planet this class was taking place, would instruct all in the nature and intentions of the Designer. Some classes, may even teach comparative theories of Design, bringing in the beliefs of others. We would have to think of a name for this.

We cannot get away from the Designer question, because most of any population will ask the question and demand an answer. There's a chance, that however hard we try to concentrate on the Science, the social will dominate. Everyone loves a mystery.

So, I really mean it - what do we pro-ID people want? I can't seem to find a mission statement. I don't know any evolutionists that feel completely fine about calling Darwinian evolution fact and not theory, unless they haven't tripped over a first year undergraduate Philosophy book, so what do we want them to do? Could it be that all theories should be given equal treatment in Science class, and for that matter all other classes? Would there be any theory that would be dismissed out of hand? and if there was, what would be the basis for that exclusion? Some lack of so-called 'Scientific' rigorous methodology, or maybe simply a lack of believers, would that keep out the conspiracy theories. Could we teach Holocaust denial as parity to Auschwitz due to some gaps in the primary source material concerning numbers of dead?

Any answers to my questions are gratefully received.

As a final admission of bias, I noted bacteria in the above piece as an example of irreducible complexity rather than say, the human eye, due to my own Catastrophic Retinopathy. Which means that I am less interested in it's complexity and more concerned with it's absurd reaction to blood vessel damage.

11:32 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Karl Proud said...

"I have no background in Natural Science, it rears it's head in my field of Politics only in as much as attempting to follow a sceptical critical thinking path to rare conclusions."

Karl, that's the nub of the question: ID wants us to abandon any "sceptical critical thinking path to rare conclusions". If they have their way, you don't have to worry yourself with critical thinking or reaching conclusions. They want you to listen to the priest who, having receieved the "truth" on tablets of stone, will tell you what to think, and God help you (literally)if you disagree. Think Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

9:40 am  
Blogger Mike Godfrey said...

Hi guys,
Lifewish regarding the BBC Horizon program you said:
'I'd tend to agree - it probably was biased. The only question is whether it was inappropriately biased.'

Regarding that statement I have 2 questions:
1.can you have inappropriate bias ?
2.Who gets to decide what appropriate Bias is ?
Lifewish you said:
'I'm not sure how the claim that evolution is a materialistic concept arises.'
Regarding the Materialistic credentials of Darwiniam evolution, Dawkins seems to think it is Materialistic :
"Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."
Materialism excudes any possibility of an open universe,there is no recourse to a designer -or to the possibility of design those concepts are assumed not to be on the table.

Regarding CSI, Lifewish said:
'For example, why wouldn't a perfect snowflake be considered to be high CSI if you didn't know about the process of snowflake formation? '
In order to infer design according to Dembski's filter we have to satisfy three criteria:Contingency,Complexity & Specification.
So without the process of investigating why snowflakes form as they do (the contingency part of the filter ) we could not use the filter to infer design as it requires all three questions to be answered, one way or the other.
To quote Steve Renner
The structure of snowflakes, while the probability of the
exact conformation of each individual flake is quite low, is the infallibly predictable result of matter obeying the
laws of chemistry and physics under certain conditions. Snowflakes, then, although low-probability and
specified, are also low in information, because their specification is in the laws, which are always and
everywhere the same.
KLIfeish said:
'Accepting design would ringfence certain areas of life's history as off-limits to evolutionary biologist.'
ID does not argue against Evolution it argues against naturalistic interpretations of the diversity of life.Most ID'ers hold to a form of evolutionary theory-one of many differences with creationism.
Front loading if I can break one of my own rules and post a link http://www.idthink.net/biot/tfile/index.html
Allygally your probably right that Gerald Coates nickrd the quote from Orwell. -leftie or not the truth remains.
Allygally said :
'Accepting God closes down all other avenues of investigation.'
Another quote in afraid -from Nncy Pearcy:
n the biblical worldview, scientific investigation of nature became both a calling and an obligation. As historian John Hedley Brooke explains, the early scientists "would often argue that God had revealed himself in two books—the book of His words (the Bible) and the book of His works (nature). As one was under obligation to study the former, so too there was an obligation to study the latter." The rise of modern science cannot be explained apart from the Christian view of nature as good and worthy of study, which led the early scientists to regard their work as obedience to the cultural mandate to "till the garden."
Early Scientists frequently held a thiestic point of view and that inspired investigation -most obvious examples are :
Roger Bacon (c.1220-1253), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Robert Boyle (1627-1691), Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), Michael Faraday (1791-1867), George Boole (1815-1864), Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), William Thomson: Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), and George Washington Carver (1864-1943).

Karl Proud said:
'So, I really mean it - what do we pro-ID people want? '
I cant answer for anyone but me -ID wants one thing as far as I can see that is to have design accepted as a legitmate option for the cause and diversity of lfe.

11:10 am  
Blogger Mike Godfrey said...

allgally,
im not too sure your interpretation of the motives for ID are entirely correct.
I think critical thinking is fundemental -in fact thats why I post on blogs I know many other IDers feel the same, arguments should be exposed to critique.
You said:
'They want you to listen to the priest who, having receieved the "truth" on tablets of stone, will tell you what to think, and God help you (literally)if you disagree. Think Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.'

Again I can only speak for my self but I would defend the right of anyone to belive anything they wanted, freedom is never free as the last century showed I value it.
Also many Iders are atheists or have no religous flag to fly.Your characterisation is crude and with all respect quite typical and quite wrong.

11:24 am  
Blogger allygally said...

Mike Godfrey wrote;
"im not too sure your interpretation of the motives for ID are entirely correct.
I think critical thinking is fundemental -in fact thats why I post on blogs I know many other IDers feel the same, arguments should be exposed to critique."

I too think critical thinking is fundemental. I just don't think saying "I cannot understand how this thing was designed, therefore God did it" is critical thinking.

Allygally said:
'They want you to listen to the priest who, having receieved the "truth" on tablets of stone, will tell you what to think, and God help you (literally)if you disagree. Think Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.'

Mike Godfrey replied;
"Again I can only speak for my self but I would defend the right of anyone to belive anything they wanted, freedom is never free as the last century showed I value it."

Agreed. I make no attempt to stop people believing what they want.

"Also many Iders are atheists or have no religous flag to fly."

Really? "Many?" how many? Can you name ten prominent ID proponents who are athiests? As far as I know all the prominent people at the DI are religious practitioners. In fact Behe admitted at Harrisburg that he wanted the definition of science stretched to include religion (in his example Astrology), because, if it wasn't, then ID would not fit the definition of science.

"Your characterisation is crude and with all respect quite typical and quite wrong."

I'm sorry you find this. I don't think it is, I think it is just strongly expressed.

My honest belief, based on what I know of the history of ID, is that the DI wants to destroy the distinction between state and religion in order to further the cause of theocracy. I would have been failing Karl if I had not told him so.

For the record, I find your stuff subtly argued and very well put. But, if it came to a choice, I'd rather be accused of being crude and be right than be highly subtle, elegant, sophisticated and mistaken.

1:21 pm  
Blogger Mike Godfrey said...

Hi Allgally,
regarding the IDers who are atheists im afraid I dont have a list.I do admit that the promenant guys in the field are coming from a Judeo Christian perspective.
Im not in the US so I can't comment on the state/church divide or if ID wants to bring the 2 together.Except to say I have never come across this notion in any reading I have done, Im not interested in church and state coming together in fact Id rather they stayed apart.
you said:
'I too think critical thinking is fundemental. I just don't think saying "I cannot understand how this thing was designed, therefore God did it" is critical thinking.'
by the same token I also don't think excluding design as an option because it doesnt satisfy me interlectually or is not part of my worldview is not critical thinking.
At this rate of posting I might need to get my own blog.

2:22 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Mike Godfrey wrote:

"regarding the IDers who are atheists im afraid I dont have a list.I do admit that the promenant guys in the field are coming from a Judeo Christian perspective."

But you said that "many" of the people who promote ID are athiests. In fact all of the prominent ID proponents are religious people. The only one I know who may not be religious (I don't know his beliefs)is Steve Fuller. But, as I understand it, at the Dover trial he claimed not to believe particularly in ID, just that it should be taught as an alternative to evolution.

"i'm not in the US so I can't comment on the state/church divide or if ID wants to bring the 2 together. Except to say I have never come across this notion in any reading I have done, Im not interested in church and state coming together in fact Id rather they stayed apart."

I'm not in the US either, but you will have read the Wedge Strategy, making it very clear that the aim of the DI was to fudge the constitutional amendment separating church and state. This was also the basis of the judgement at the Dover trial. The DI may quibble, but there is no real controversy on this point.

I wrote:'I too think critical thinking is fundemental. I just don't think saying "I cannot understand how this thing was designed, therefore God did it" is critical thinking.'

Mkie replied: "by the same token I also don't think excluding design as an option because it doesnt satisfy me interlectually or is not part of my worldview is not critical thinking."

It's not about "finding" intellectual satisfaction: intellectual satisfaction comes from the elegance of the theory and its ability to explain the known facts. Evolution does this best at the moment. Intelligent Design is woefully inadequate in explaining facts. There is no concrete eveidence for it, it explains nothing and it predicts nothing. It's main claim is that it is "not evolution". A not exactly intellectually satisfying position in my mind.

4:19 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

can you have inappropriate bias

Yes. I haven't yet rigorously formulated this particular section of my personal philosophy, but I'd tend to define "inappropriate bias" as "bias without statistical backing". So, if someone demonstrably lies to you regularly, it's OK to be biased against his latest contribution. If, on the other hand, a community has a tendency to promptly and straightforwardly admit its own mistakes then it's OK to be biased in favour of that community's current position, because, if they had any evidence it was wrong, they would have told you.

In this situation, the scientific community has historically (treated as a group) admitted its own mistakes. Actually, it has been the discoverer of most of them*, and has corrected its position publically and without rancour. By comparison, the Discovery Institute has a history of using what most scientists would consider dirty tricks to achieve a hidden agenda (as laid out in the Wedge document).

It's not OK to be biased against someone because you don't like them; it is perfectly fine to be biased against someone when they've shown a willingness to mislead you.

Regarding the Materialistic credentials of Darwiniam evolution, Dawkins seems to think it is Materialistic: "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."

That just means that it's compatible with materialism. Gravity is also compatible with materialism and, in a world where it was believed that the planets were moved by the pushing of angels, it again would be hard to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. I ask again: how is the theory of evolution any more materialistic than the theory of gravity?

The structure of snowflakes, while the probability of the exact conformation of each individual flake is quite low, is the infallibly predictable result of matter obeying the laws of chemistry and physics under certain conditions.

So how do we know that life as we know it isn't an "infallibly predictable result of matter obeying the laws of chemistry and physics under certain conditions"? How do we check this? How do we confirm that life doesn't fall under the "contingency" branch of Dembski's filter?

Off-topic: why is Dembski's filter even in that order in the first place? Shouldn't it be something like "chance; specification; contingency"? That's pretty much the procedure scientists go through when someone thinks they've discovered a new phenomenon - first they check that it's not an anomaly, then they check that that person isn't imagining or faking it, then they infer that the phenomenon is a product of some unknown natural behaviour. Sometimes the elements of the filter are swapped round even more. How does Dembski justify his particular arrangement in this situation?

ID does not argue against Evolution it argues against naturalistic interpretations of the diversity of life.

Nothing wrong with arguing against philosophical naturalism - I've done that myself. I'd claim, however, that ID goes further - it attempts to argue not only against naturalistic interpretation but also for supernaturalistic** interpretation. That's a fairly strong claim that, if true, would completely destroy the fundamental postulate usually referred to as the Theory of Evolution (that evolutionary forces are sufficient to produce the diversity of life).

If true, this would mean that certain areas, for example the formation of irreducibly complex structures, would be lost causes as far as evolutionary biology was concerned - there would be absolutely no possible developmental pathway for them, so why bother looking for one?

If we accepted this premise, to the point that we trained our schoolkids to think of these areas of research as lost causes, and then later discovered that we were wrong, wouldn't that be a horrific waste of potentially important discoveries?

Most ID'ers hold to a form of evolutionary theory

I know, I can think of at least four variants off the top of my head. And when you think about it, that's actually a black mark against the idea that ID is science. Science attempts to discover accurate, predictive theories about the universe we live in, so it tends to converge on one solution the more manpower you throw at it. Religion... well, as an atheist I'm not really in a position to comment about what religion attempts to do, but it seems apparent that, historically speaking, religion tends to diverge and schism as you throw more manpower at it.

Thus, the fact that ID has completely failed to converge on any single understanding of what happened can be seen as circumstantial evidence against its scientific credentials. Science doesn't do "big tents" of diverse opinions, at least not for long.

* If you disagree with this comment, feel free to present examples, outside the immediate context of discussion, of scientific mistakes corrected by nonscientists

** Or aliens, obviously.

6:55 pm  
Blogger John Umana said...

Evolution/ID debate: a cosmological perspective.
The focus of science should be: what can be known from the scientific record? It is often stated that scientific statements must be verifiable, that is, capable of verification. Science restricts itself to the measurable, observable universe of matter and energy in their various forms. Yet I submit that far more can be known from scientific investigation and analysis about ultimate questions than has been recognized by many scientists. In fact, the question “Why is there any matter at all?” is also a scientific question, though we may not yet have an answer to it. Why is there energy?
In considering the evolution/ID debate, I’d like first to offer a distinction. A great deal of the debate, sometimes rather heated, on evolution suffers from confusion because lots of scientists fail to distinguish two different senses of the term ‘evolution.’
MEANING NO. 1: In one sense, evolution means that all life on Earth
shares a common ancestor (and that different species share common ancestors,
such as for example the hippopotamus, dolphin and whale share a common
ancestor). It maintains that all organisms on earth are descended from a single common ancestor. Professor Darwin’s theory that living things evolved or descended from common ancestors is true and is proved by the convergence of the sciences.

MEANING NO. 2: But ‘evolution’ in Dr. Darwin’s sense is taken to
mean that a new species originates as a result of "natural selection" -- random
incremental mutations over millions of years. In this full-blown
biological and Darwinian sense, the term ‘evolution’ means a process whereby life
arose from non-living matter and subsequently developed entirely from natural
means. Darwin’s evolution posits that life arose on its own out of inanimate chemical
compounds and has gradually evolved over millions of years. Darwin’s
theory is that all complex species and organs such as the eye and animal
instincts evolved by the “accumulation of innumerable slight variations ….” (1859, p. 459)
It is this second meaning of evolution, the theory of natural selection as a theory of emergence of life and origin of species, that is unsubstantiated and false, I argue. Many point to the extensive evidence of common ancestry and conclude from that that theory of natural selection as the mechanism of evolution has been proved. But that is a non sequitur. Natural selection was Darwin’s Wild Guess back in 1850’s, a brilliant and interesting theory in the 1800’s. But it is less interesting today in view of microbiology. Natural selection as theory of emergence of new species is bad science today; it does not fit observation. No one, not Dr. Darwin or anybody else, has ever observed natural selection lead to the evolution of a single species in the 3.9 billion years since Earth went biotic. To be sure, natural selection (microevolution) is a true force of nature. Natural selection accounts for such things as pesticide resistance of insects (e.g., the mosquitos that survive an application of a given pesticide eventually develop an immunity to it over time), and antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Wiener cites the research of Peter and Rosemary Grant. But no finch ever evolves into a Bald Eagle (or something other than a finch) due to natural selection. That’s what the Grants would have had to discover to find any scientific corroboration for natural selection as a theory of emergence of life or biological evolution of species. Whatever the correct answer to emergence of life or new species is, it’s not natural selection.
Analysis from Recent Big Bang cosmology

1. Uniformity of temperature of different regions of cosmos

To evaluate the evolution debate, we need to consider the most recent findings in Big Bang cosmology. The NASA most recent discoveries from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (“WMAP”) are relevant to understanding biological evolution. The latest WMAP portraits allow NASA precisely to peg the age of the Universe at 13.7 billion years old + or – 2% margin of error. The WMAP team has shown that the Universe is only 4% atoms of ordinary matter, 23% of cold dark matter and 73% of dark energy. One of the most startling discoveries of the WMAP team is that the temperature of the Big Bang microwave background radiation is largely identical, no matter in what direction of the early Universe -- evidence that the Universe, on a macro level (taking cubes of, say, 500 million light-years on a side), is uniform and homogeneous throughout its vast expanse. Contrast this with an infrared photo of an ordinary explosion, even a nuclear blast; an infrared photo will show up areas that are significantly hotter and others that are cooler. But this is not what the WMAP portrait of the Big Bang shows. It is this uniformity and homogeneity of the disparate regions of the cosmos -- a scientific finding, not a philosophical finding -- that has taken scientists aback. The quest for an explanation for this uniformity in the cosmos is a scientific quest, not a question of theology (or at least not only a question for theologians).

If we had special glasses that could allow us to see the Big Bang microwaves with our eyes, the entire sky would glow with a uniform brightness in every direction no matter where in the sky you looked. The observations of the cosmic background radiation show that the Universe was astonishingly uniform in temperature (to one part in 100,000) by the age of 380,000 years after the Big Bang, per the WMAP team. The problem that this presents is that nothing (no energy and no information) can travel through space faster than light speed. How could this uniformity among different regions of the Universe be established when the Universe evolved so quickly such that there was no time for the uniformity of temperature and density in all parts of the embryonic Universe to be established and where information cannot travel faster than light speed? How could different regions of the cosmos whose horizons have always been separate and could never have interacted or influenced each other, have nearly identical temperatures? Though Dr. Alan Guth at MIT takes a stab at the problem with his theory of inflation, I do not find his theory plausible as an explanation of the 13.7 billion year duration of the uniformity. Something else is going on. The theory of random explansion of matter and energy and the fabric of space/time does not hold up to observation.

2. Rate of Expansion of cosmos is extraordinarily finely calibrated

A second major finding of the WMAP team at NASA is that the rate of expansion of the Universe precisely equals the critical rate needed to avoid recollapse of the entire Universe. The matter/energy density of the Universe exactly equals the critical density but is not greater. If it were greater than the critical density, that would result in slowing down the galaxies and eventually recollapsing the entire Universe, springing them back inwards like an overstretched Slinky toy into a Big Crunch. Did we just get lucky?

If such superfine calibration of the cosmos were true for 10 minutes, it would have been exciting enough. But nearly 14 billion years of such extraordinary calibration? What is behind this? The Big Bang was no ordinary explosion. Something else is going on. The Wilkinson probe has proved that the geometry of the Universe is flat, as opposed to being closed, such that, for example, the photons of a laser beam fired into space will continue in a straight line without curling back onto themselves, as they would if the Universe were closed or space were in the shape of a sphere. What is responsible for such fine-tuning of the cosmos from inception and keeping it precisely that way for billion of years? This is a scientific question. Astrophysicists really have no satisfactory answer to the flatness problem (the precise calibration of the expansion of the cosmos since its birth to avoid recollapse in some kind of 'Big Crunch'), if they attempt to explain cosmic flatness as a stream of chance coincidences that lasted nearly 14 billion years.

No astrophysicist, scientist or engineer has been able to explain these scientific findings. Something else is going on. The Big Bang is not some random haphazard explosion in space; it is the explosion of the fabric of space/time itself. A reasonable explanatory hypothesis is that some external force is controlling the Big Bang expansion of the Universe and has done so for nearly 14 billion years. Do the NASA findings tell us anything about the nature of this external force? Not much, but something. Do these findings lead to the conclusion that an omnipotent Judaeo-Christian or Islamic God exists? No. But this suggest that something else is going on other than random chance events.



The evolution debate

I propose that the analysis of Big Bang cosmology should be brought to bear on the evolution debate. Turning now to evolution --

Why did life emerge on Earth 3.9 billion years ago, but not on Mars or anywhere else in this sun system? Natural selection doesn’t work on Mars or anywhere else in this sun system? The position that natural selection accounts for Origin of the Species was always a conjectural theory to begin with, though natural selection is a true force of nature. It was Dr. Darwin’s “Wild Guess” back in 1859, a brilliant guess in his day, but not so interesting or plausible in our own time in view of the findings of modern genetics and microbiology. It does not fit with scientific observation, which makes natural selection as theory of emergence of life and origin of new species, bad science. Natural selection accounts for such things as pesticide resistance of insects (e.g., the mosquitos that survive an application of a given pesticide eventually develop an immunity to it over time), and antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Living things have a certain level of adaptability on their own. That does not mean that new species pop up on their own through random chance mutations. Something else is going on.

At most, natural selection shows that, for example, finches on the Galapagos Islands with larger bills have a better chance of survival in a drought. But no finch ever evolves into a Bald Eagle due to natural selection … and never will. Likewise, the orangutans in the Great Ape House at the National Zoo, a species about 14 million years old, do not build cities and do not evolve into chatty people and never will. Wasn’t 14 million years enough time for the orangutans and chimps to start building cities? After all, Homo sapiens is only 200,000 years old. They have had enough time to evolve, if time were the requisite ingredient for evolution as the neo-Darwinists posit. Orangutans continue to reproduce according to their genome and will continue to do so unless and until some external force mutates the species into something else, which has not occurred in the last 14 million years for this species.

Natural Selection Is Not the Mechanism for Origin of
New Species, as Shown by the Evolution of Dogs

The genetic studies published in November 2002 in Science by Peter Savolainen of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden and other scientists provide compelling new evidence against natural selection as the mechanism that gives rise to origin of new species. All breeds of domestic dogs evolved from a single gene pool of a small group of gray wolves in East Asia about 15,000 years ago, as mitochondrial DNA studies prove. This is an important new model for evolution and how it operates. This small group of East Asian gray wolves were the prototypes from which dogs and over the years all breeds of dogs were evolved. The prototype wolves were altered and their offspring were evolved into the first group of early progenitor dogs. Dogs in North America did not evolve from North American wolves. Likewise, European dogs did not evolve from European wolves. What happened to ‘natural selection’ in North America or Europe? It just didn’t work on those continents? Had ‘natural selection’ been the mechanism responsible for the evolution of dog breeds, then I submit that dogs in North America would have evolved from North American gray wolves. But they did not. Dogs in Europe would have evolved from gray wolves in Europe. But they did not. This genetic evidence is new evidence that tends to be disprobative of ‘natural selection’ as the supposed mechanism for the origin of species. Something else is going on here.

As every scientist knows, to refute theory X does not mean that the scientist knows what the correct theory is. But that is what I am shooting for. Natural selection, random mutations over millions of years, cannot possibly be the correct explanation for the origin of species or the emergence of life on Earth. Darwinism on this specific issue is fundamentally wrong, though Charles Darwin was a brilliant scientist. Evolution is real but the natural selection explanation can't be right. Why is it that young people in undergraduate or high school science class must be taught the neo-Darwinists' explanation of the causative mechanism behind biological evolution although it remains unsubstantiated? What would be wrong with teaching young people (older people as well) to evaluate competing ideas and theories and to keep their minds open? ... Or to saying: "Hi, kids, we scientists really don't have much of a clue about what is going on in terms of the causative mechanism for emergence of life or new species. Natural selection was Dr. Darwin's guess as to causation behind biological evolution but we really don't have the evidence to support it." This, of course, is not to say that we should not keep trying from science better to understand the emergence of life and the progress of biological evolution from that point in time.

The sudden appearance of flowers some 130 million years ago (some say earlier) in the fossil record is not consistent with natural selection. One day there are no flowers in the fossil record. The next day there were flowers. This is not consistent with evolution through minute incremental changes over millions of years to evolve a new life form. The neo-Darwinists’ theory of natural selection is fundamentally wrong and not sustained by the scientific evidence. However, Darwin and Wallace were correct to conclude that species evolve or descend from previously existing species. Dr. Darwin proved this with his pigeons, some of which he boiled and then examined their skeletal structures. All domestic pigeons derive from the blue rock dove (Columba Livia). This biological evolution – common ancestry of all life forms on Earth -- is real. Darwin’s and Wallace’s thesis that all life shares common ancestors was a brilliant scientific discovery and is proved today by the convergence of the entire scientific and fossil record, including paleontology, molecular biology, genetics, mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome DNA, comparative anatomy and physiology, biogeography, geology and archaeology.

Therefore, I am a biological evolutionist in terms of the common ancestry of all species (or pretty close to common ancestry; but there was not one single RNA strand from which all life emerged). But I advance the position that science points (not theology points, not philosophy points, but science points) to the workings of an external force – some force external to Earth and the cosmos. The WMAP team findings from this NASA probe at the L2 LaGrange point are verifiable scientific propositions. What they mean is open to debate. But they cannot be ignored.

Can the existence of a Judaeo-Christian God be proved from an analysis of the Big Bang or from DNA studies? No, not one way or the other. What can be demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence from microbiology and astrophysics, taken together - from all the scientific data as a whole – is that natural selection cannot possibly be the correct answer for the emergence of life or the origins of the species that make up this planet’s biodiversity.

Earth really is 4.54 billion years old. But what caused the Big Bang? And what caused complex life to develop on Earth but nowhere else in this sun system? Why have the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity uncovered no fossils or even so much as a seashell on the red planet although the Rovers have proved that salt seas once covered the landing sites on the Martian surface? Why did the Huygens probe that soft-landed on Saturn’s moon Titan last January 14th discover no life? Why are three-quarters of the surface of Earth covered with liquid water? Why is the microwave background radiation from the Big Bang, observed by NASA's WMAP satellite uniform in all directions to one part in 100,000? Why is there matter at all? Why is there energy at all? Why is there light?

These are some of the fundamental questions that need to be considered in making sense of biological evolution. What we need is more and better science, not more ideology from either side in the debate. I continue to believe that science is the best hope for finding the answers.

10:50 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

To Allygally,

You said:
"In fact all of the prominent ID proponents are religious people."

There are several others whose names I could dig out if you want but David Berlinski is a prominent non-religious ID proponent. He has a recent article on the origin of life here

2:04 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Lifewish,
You asked:
"how is the theory of evolution any more materialistic than the theory of gravity?"

The theory of gravity seeks to explain the way objects behave as we observe them. It says that the universe behave in an orderly way. It says nothing about the origin of gravity or its destiny.

The theory of evolution seeks to explain what is historically one of the main strands of evidence for superhuman intelligence in terms of unintelligent causes.

Charles Hodge concluded his study on Evolution with these words:“We have arrived at the answer to our question, What is Darwinism? It is Atheism. This does not mean that Mr. Darwin himself and all who adopt his views are atheists; but it means that his theory is atheistic; that the exclusion of design from nature is as Dr. Gray says, tantamount to atheism.”

2:21 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Lifewish,

You said.. (I paraphrase for brevity)

1. ID postulates some objects in biology as impossible to be produced by random events.

2. If this is true there is no point looking for a pathway to them using random events.

3. If we teach school kids not to look for a random event pathway and there is one and it is the true explanation of the biological object then they will lose out badly.

This kind of argument can be put the other way around.... If we teach our school kids that intelligent causes are excluded from science and there is a real set of objects which can only be explained by intelligent causes then they will lose out badly.

I think Pascal's wager applies perhaps???

The real point that ID asks is whether it is possible to identify certain objects as having an intelligent cause rigorously and scientifically.... so that we know one way or the other for certain.

That must be both exciting and useful.

2:39 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Lifewish,

You said:
By comparison, the Discovery Institute has a history of using what most scientists would consider dirty tricks to achieve a hidden agenda (as laid out in the Wedge document).

Can you give some details of the dirty tricks?

2:41 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,
You said:
"DI wants to destroy the distinction between state and religion in order to further the cause of theocracy."

The picture that is presented here is that of the present situation of neutrality and reason being assaulted by the forces of darkness and unreason taking us back to a theocracy!

This picture is an illusion.

We all want a legal system to suit our own worldview...There are just different sorts of gods and every state is a theocracy...to make a law you have to be either a god or speak for a god.

3:22 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

In this full-blown biological and Darwinian sense, the term ‘evolution’ means a process whereby life arose from non-living matter and subsequently developed entirely from natural means.

The version of evolution you're talking about sounds more like common or garden evolutionary biology to me. In which case, it certainly doesn't include abiogenesis.

My understanding is that evolution divides into the fact of common descent (as you said) and the mechanisms thereof. Neither of these explicitly deals with abiogenesis, although either may cross-fertilise with it.

Natural selection as theory of emergence of new species is bad science today; it does not fit observation. No one, not Dr. Darwin or anybody else, has ever observed natural selection lead to the evolution of a single species in the 3.9 billion years since Earth went biotic.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. Are you saying that we've never seen speciation occurring under laboratory conditions? That's false - my dad has personally speciated fruitflies. If I recall correctly, this was by putting them in different environments rather than by picking and choosing between individuals, so it would probably count as "natural selection".

If you don't think that counts, though, what are we left with? We've observed copious speciation events in nature (here are a few examples). Of course, we can never conclusively prove that any of these are purely as a result of natural selection.

But if we don't accept these, what we're left with is a tautology - we can never observe speciation under natural selection because, if we put the species in conditions where we can observe it sufficiently closely, that automatically renders the selection unnatural. Thus, failure to observe this tightly-defined version of natural selection wouldn't count as evidence against Darwinian evolution.

But no finch ever evolves into a Bald Eagle (or something other than a finch) due to natural selection. That’s what the Grants would have had to discover to find any scientific corroboration for natural selection as a theory of emergence of life or biological evolution of species.

I'd like to point out that this is moving the goalposts substantially. Finches aren't a species; they aren't even a genus; they aren't even a subfamily; they're a fully-fledged (no pun intended) family. And bald eagles aren't even in the same order as them.

Now, speciation, as I've already mentioned, has been observed to a degree more than sufficient to confirm its existence. Given a few hundred years, I'd expect us to eventually spot a transition that could sensibly be described as a transition between genuses (although there'd probably be a great deal of debate over it due to the inherent fuzziness of the terms - when does a twig become a branch?). However, to expect to observe a transition from one order to another is a complete straw man. If you waited a million years, you might just about see it happen in nature, but personally I don't have that much patience.

Evolutionary biology does not predict that we should see order-level changes occurring on a daily basis; if it did, it would have been thrown out years back as quite obviously that does not happen. This does not in any way affect its sufficiency as an explanation for common descent, any more than my inability to watch my grandparents grow up affects their sufficiency as an explanation for where my cousins and I came from and why we all have the same shape nose.

Why did life emerge on Earth 3.9 billion years ago, but not on Mars or anywhere else in this sun system? Natural selection doesn’t work on Mars or anywhere else in this sun system?

The sensible conclusion would be that, since natural selection only works once self-replicating systems are present, it must be easier for self-replicating systems to emerge on Earth. Given that the majority of the reactions necessary to produce life as we know it occur suspended in liquid H2O, this might be because Earth has ruddy great big oceans of the stuff and the other planets don't.

[A big chunk of repeated stuff]

I'd note that copy/pasting is generally considered to be bad form in a discussion such as this one. The logic is that rational discourse can only occur if it takes at least as much effort to make a point as it does to refute it, otherwise it's possible to "win" by snowing your opponents under with dodgy points. This is implemented in scientific discourse by the effort involved to get a paper published in a journal; sadly, blogs have no comparable system.

Living things have a certain level of adaptability on their own. That does not mean that new species pop up on their own through random chance mutations.

The nylon bug disagrees with you here. Developing the ability to digest an entirely new material, purely through a frame shift mutation? Sounds pretty impressive to me.

Given that bacteria do not in general reproduce sexually, it's something of a challenge to know where one species ends and another species begins. However, I'd assert that, if we came across this bacterium without knowing anything about its genetic makeup, we would probably conclude that it was a new species. A few thousand generations down the line, when its new functionality has really been honed, it will probably be hard to claim that it isn't a new species.

Likewise, the orangutans in the Great Ape House at the National Zoo, a species about 14 million years old, do not build cities and do not evolve into chatty people and never will. Wasn’t 14 million years enough time for the orangutans and chimps to start building cities?

Only if there was an evolutionary path from chimp to citybuilder such that every single step en route was viable. If, for example, chimps and orangutans lived in an area where the nutrients necessary to grow a big brain were in short supply, they would probably never get one big enough for citybuilding to really take off.

This is why the Aquatic Ape hypothesis for human origins is so nice - the food at the seashore is a lot richer in the raw materials needed to have a big brain.

Dogs in North America did not evolve from North American wolves. Likewise, European dogs did not evolve from European wolves. What happened to ‘natural selection’ in North America or Europe? It just didn’t work on those continents?

Dude, you have a really impressively weird view of what evolutionary biology says. There's no "predestined" path that stuff is supposed to take; each species just adapts to its surroundings. The Russian wolves apparently adapted to the arrival of humans earliest (by being the most domesticable) and, as a result, got transported round the globe. Purely as a matter of human history, an "invention" like the dog tends to spread from place to place rather than reemerging independently. I recommend the book "Guns, Germs and Steel" for more info on how events progressed after the arrival of humans.

Regardless, pointing to an example where humans got involved and claiming that it falsifies evolutionary biology is as daft as pointing to an example of someone picking an apple and claiming it shows that apples never fall off trees.

Why is it that young people in undergraduate or high school science class must be taught the neo-Darwinists' explanation of the causative mechanism behind biological evolution although it remains unsubstantiated?

It has been substantiated. Every single bit of it that's taught to kids is guaranteed to be rock-hard. Emergence of new features by natural selection and random mutation has been observed in the case of the nylon bug. Speciation has been observed repeatedly both in the lab and in the wild. Emergence of extremely complex traits by manipulation of the environment has been demonstrated in the lab. And then we get on to computer simulations, which is a whole other world of success stories.

The Theory of Evolution (that evolutionary processes are sufficient to explain the diversity of life) hasn't been directly substantiated - no hypothesis ever can be - but it's failed to be falsified so often that there's absolutely no justification for teaching anything else.

I submit that the only people who are teaching unsubstantiated science in classrooms are the less ethical faction of the ID movement.

One day there are no flowers in the fossil record. The next day there were flowers. This is not consistent with evolution through minute incremental changes over millions of years to evolve a new life form.

Correction: one million-year period there were no flowers, the next million-year period there were flowers. This is a result of the fact that flowers are an incredibly useful trick, which would thus have spread like wildfire once the plants happened upon it. This is completely compatible with evolutionary biology - in fact there's an entire model, known as "punctuated equilibrium", that's designed to figure out precisely how these sort of events work and how they arise from the mechanisms of evolutionary biology. Of course, you might not have heard of it - it's only been around for about 30 years.

But I advance the position that science points (not theology points, not philosophy points, but science points) to the workings of an external force – some force external to Earth and the cosmos.

I would advance the position that all you've demonstrated so far is a lack of knowledge of at least 30 years' worth of evolutionary theory. You might want to do some background reading here. I recommend TalkOrigins.org as a good place to start

I'm sorry I can't comment on your cosmological arguments - I'm not up to speed on that stuff. The links were interesting - thanks for pointing to the NASA site.

4:56 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

The theory of gravity seeks to explain the way objects behave as we observe them. It says that the universe behave in an orderly way. It says nothing about the origin of gravity or its destiny.

The theory of evolution seeks to explain what is historically one of the main strands of evidence for superhuman intelligence in terms of unintelligent causes.


But until fairly recently the (supposed) perfect order of the Heavens was considered to be a major plank of religious thought. That's why Bruno got burned alive and Galileo got put under house arrest.

The fact that religious groups gave up on that particular strand of evidence some centuries ago doesn't change the fact that gravity also cuts such a strand.

Maybe in a couple of hundred years' time proponents of the next theory to challenge religious beliefs will be saying "well, you accepted evolution, what's so special about our theory?"

You said:
By comparison, the Discovery Institute has a history of using what most scientists would consider dirty tricks to achieve a hidden agenda (as laid out in the Wedge document).

Can you give some details of the dirty tricks?


Well, firstly, the fact that they have a hidden agenda in the first place. Scientists are supposed to 'fess up to any ulterior motives. This is an extremely important rule.

Secondly, the fact that they tried to get their beliefs taught in schools without passing peer review. Targetting children with unconfirmed conjectures is a tarring-and-feathering offence of the first order.

Thirdly, their prominent use of a list of scientists who purportedly doubt the sufficiency of Darwinian evolution in an attempt to bolster the ID cause. That's at least three fallacies rolled into one:
1) the statement the scientists are signing up to is so vague that the majority of the evolutionary biology community could sign up to it
2) the statement doesn't mention Intelligent Design, so any attempt to use it as promotional material is assuming a lack of alternatives
3) the majority of the scientists do not work in remotely relevant fields, and are thus not going to be much more competent than complete laymen

Fourthly, their propensity for rather blatant quote mining.

There are a couple of other examples of things that affect their credibility, but I'd say that these are the key ones.

Of course, none of this would be so much of an issue if their work were to pass unbiased peer review, because then we'd know that, whatever their motivations, their work was good enough to be worth reading. Even if they managed this, their conduct would still be somewhat worrying.

I must confess that I made a daft mistake when I wrote the original comment. The example I was thinking of of ID movement dishonesty was of Dembski anonymously "reviewing" books he didn't like on Amazon - I'd managed to confuse myself into thinking he was a DI member. It is sheer good fortune that I got him confused with an organisation that also has a reputation for playing silly blighters.

6:06 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Uh... I'm an idiot twice over. Literally ten seconds after hitting "Login and publish" I noticed that Dembski is indeed a senior fellow of the Center for Science and Culture (subsidiary of the DI) - I must have missed his name the first time I checked.

Fortunately, apart from the lingering air of incompetence they generate, my two mistakes cancel each other out perfectly. Dembski's reviews are indeed an example of DI dirty tricks.

6:09 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Hmm, have just noticed a post in response to one of my points that I missed first time round.

This kind of argument can be put the other way around.... If we teach our school kids that intelligent causes are excluded from science and there is a real set of objects which can only be explained by intelligent causes then they will lose out badly.

I think it would be inaccurate to say that intelligent causes are excluded from science. They're only excluded if they fail to make predictions. If you're able to go into detail on the psychology and methodology of the God/aliens that you believe created this world, to the extent that it allows you to predict stuff that evolution doesn't predict, then I for one will be happy to label your beliefs as being at least as scientific as the social sciences.

It's just the attitude of "an intelligent being did it. We don't know how, when, where, why or what and we have no intention of investigating these questions, but we're sure an intelligent being was responsible" that is deeply unscientific.

I think this parody of the Intelligent Design movement said it best:

"Q: When did the Designer do the designing?
A: That's not something we can answer, it's more of a philosophical question.

"Q:How did the Designer do the designing?
A: Again, this is more of a philosophical question, so we can't say.

"Q: Is the Designer still designing?
A: Philosophical.

"Q: Is there anything Intelligent Design tells us about the Designer?
A: Yes, Intelligent Design says there is an Intelligent Design and an Intelligent Designer."

Anyway, back to the debate:

The real point that ID asks is whether it is possible to identify certain objects as having an intelligent cause rigorously and scientifically.... so that we know one way or the other for certain.

The ID movement as I understand it doesn't just ask that question; it:
1) attempts to answer it by semimathematical techniques
2) ignores all commentary from mathematicians and scientists pointing out why those techniques don't work
3) infers, by application of these techniques, that certain biological structures are designed
4) ignores any evidence that they could have evolved
5) attempts to get its conclusions taught in schools as an alternative to evolution.

There are of course exceptions to this behaviour pattern, such as your good self. However, to claim that ID just asks an interesting question is somewhat misleading.

1:45 pm  
Anonymous Farshad said...

1) attempts to answer it by semimathematical techniques
2) ignores all commentary from mathematicians and scientists pointing out why those techniques don't work
3) infers, by application of these techniques, that certain biological structures are designed
4) ignores any evidence that they could have evolved


hi Lifewish,

I'm not trying to jump into this debate, but just wanted to point out how your above comments on ID exactly fit the Neo Darwinian Evolution too:


Neo Darwinian Evolution,

1) attempts to support it by semimathematical techniques

2) ignores all commentary from mathematicians and scientists pointing out why those (macroevolutionary) techniques don't work

3) infers, by application of these techniques, that all biological structures are simply evolved out of nothing

4) ignores any evidence that they could not have evolved (by mutations & selection)

7:09 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

1) attempts to support it by semimathematical techniques

Evolutionary biology doesn't just support itself by semimathematical techniques. It uses a range of evidences, up to and including the holy grail of science: predictive power. To the best of my knowledge, ID has yet to demonstrate any predictive power.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with semimathematical techniques as long as they're well-tested and well-supported by solid evidence.

2) ignores all commentary from mathematicians and scientists pointing out why those (macroevolutionary) techniques don't work

Care to give examples? The explanations I've seen so far all seem to eventually boil down to "it looks implausible, hence it must be designed".

3) infers, by application of these techniques, that all biological structures are simply evolved out of nothing

Well, technically it only infers that they could have evolved out of nothing. This is an important distinction.

4) ignores any evidence that they could not have evolved (by mutations & selection)

Such as?

9:28 pm  
Anonymous Farshad said...

1)....

This is the main problem of evolutionary biology. It is not based on true mathematics, statistical information and probability calculations. So its observations and predictions are quiet open to personal judgement and wishful thinking. Bird evolution is a very good example.

as long as they're well-tested and well-supported by solid evidence.

How one can well-test and well-support evolution? is Neo- Darwinism testable? How can we test the bird evolution? They say ID is not testable, but how about the MacroEvolution itself?

2)Care to give examples? The explanations I've seen so far all seem to eventually boil down to "it looks implausible, hence it must be designed".

The whole ID is about giving such examples. But not only examples but mathematical proofs and real calculations. The correct word here is not "implausible" but "impossible". ID methods can easily show that most of macroevolutionary models can't even come close to "universal bound probability" i.e. they are impossible. If you think their calculations are wrong that's something else but as an engineer I found their math much more accurate and convincing than that of evolutionists.

...and in same way the evolutianary method boil down to "it must have been evolved so our assumptions must be true and there is no design"

3)Well, technically it only infers that they could have evolved out of nothing. This is an important distinction.

they could have evolved but how? mutation/selection is not scientificly proved. macroevolution has never been observed. It's very open to personal interpretation. Arrange some set of fossils and then claim they form an evolutionary path from mammal to whale, it may look convincing at first glance but is this an empirical fact?

4)ignores any evidence that they could not have evolved (by mutations & selection)

Such as?


Such as many objections done to this mutations/selection thing from many scientists that I'm sure you are quite familiar with them.
As I said before ID guys gave lots of those examples. Its upto us to believe in them or not but keep in mind those guys are real scientists.
Before ID there were also many other scientists who continously opposed the evolutionary monopoly in biology.
British Astronomer Fred Hoyle and his assistant Wickramasinghe wrote books to mathmatically disprove the macroevolution. Hoyle believed in Panspermia theory but again he always admitted that the whole story of life needs an external intelligence to enter into the picture. Without an intelligent touch it would be impossible.

11:04 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew Rowell said...

I said:
"In fact all of the prominent ID proponents are religious people."

Andrew Rowall replied:"There are several others whose names I could dig out if you want but David Berlinski is a prominent non-religious ID proponent. He has a recent article on the origin of life here"

You are right. I should have said "most".

But the principle still holds. The DI and the ID grouping within it are dedicated to destroying the separation of church and state in the USA. A significant motivation for Dembski, Behe et al is their religious belief in a god. Behe said so, almost in so many words, at the Dover trial. The Wedge Document makes the strategy quite clear.

As for David Berlinski, he may not be religious in a formal sense (I don't know his religious beliefs) but he seems to share Michael Behe's attachment to Astrology and magic:

http://www.harcourtbooks.com/authorinterviews/bookinterview_Berlinski.asp

All idealogies need naive fellow travellers, what Stalin called "useful fools", as cover for their true intentions. Perhaps someone should point Mr Berlinski in the direction of the DI's Wedge Document. If David Berlinski is a serious scientist, dedicated to the scientific method and to keeping religion out of science, and if he beleives that ID will take him to a promised land where science is free from religious interference, he is sadly mistaken. Wedge Highway leads in the opposite direction.

10:34 am  
Blogger Lifewish said...

I just came across this article, which claims that David Berlinski doesn't actually support ID. From the article:

David Berlinski, a mathematician and senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture and a sharp critic of neo-Darwinism, also signed the statement of dissent. But in an e-mail message, Berlinski declared, "I have never endorsed intelligent design."

Obviously there's no way to confirm this, but, if true, the "token atheist" of ID is no more.

AllyGally: Berlinski is a member of the Center for Science and Culture, so he probably already knows about the Wedge document - they were the ones who wrote it in the first place.

4:04 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Lifewish Wrote;


"AllyGally: Berlinski is a member of the Center for Science and Culture, so he probably already knows about the Wedge document - they were the ones who wrote it in the first place."

I knew that - just being mischievous.

I didn't know for certain that Berlinki is an atheist.

4:08 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,

I am still left wondering whether you have actually read the Behe astrology interchange in the transcript....

I acknowledge that the John West quote of Judge Jones is misleading and I would have preferred Dembski to come clean and admit that he was wrong about the Shallit deposition etc.

Behe's point was that astrology at that point in history was a mixture of science and superstition. There was real testable stuff there which was tested and the junk got thrown out.

We want to avoid throwing out any babies with the bathwater.

4:29 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Well spotted Lifewish ;-)

In my experience all agnostics are practical atheists...do they count?

4:32 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

This is the main problem of evolutionary biology. It is not based on true mathematics, statistical information and probability calculations.

That's true in part, although some bits of it are fairly decent, mathematically speaking. All the population dynamics stuff is fairly rigorous, as is the study of genetic algorithms and ALife systems. Problem is that the field of biology as a whole isn't particularly amenable to mathematics (and I speak as a maths student here). That doesn't in any way discredit evolutionary biology, any more than the relative intractability of weather prediction discredits meteorology.

How one can well-test and well-support evolution? is Neo- Darwinism testable? How can we test the bird evolution?

Well, for example, in the case of bird evolution you can look for strong evidence that the current hypothesis is accurate, and for any evidence whatsoever that the current hypothesis is inaccurate.

Examples of strong evidence in support of the current evolutionary hypothesis for bird evolution include the existence of fossils like archaeopteryx, the fact that a point mutation in birds can cause them to produce scales instead of feathers, and the fact that a similar point mutation can cause them to produce alligator-like teeth. (I'm currently looking for a primary reference for the feathers-to-scales mutation - I'll let you know when I've found one)

["Strong evidence" in this case is defined to mean evidence that looks like it's going to be really difficult for an alternative hypothesis to adequately explain. "Adequately explain" is defined to mean that said evidence naturally follows from the premises]

Specific routes have been proposed for the question of how this evolution from dinosaur into bird could take place. The current best guess is that the dinosaurs in question, having recently developed partial warm-bloodedness, were able to find a use for downy feathers, which are basically just frayed scales. The insulating effects of the down would then be boosted by equipping each feather with a more rigid structure, allowing the feathers to lie in layers. Once this rigid structure was present, it wouldn't take much for a mutation to give these already lightweight dinosaurs the ability to glide. And once that started to become a useful trait, the sky really wouldn't be the limit.

This is a solid hypothesis, which can then be subjected to further tests as new data comes in.

I would agree that the Theory of Evolution (that evolutionary processes are responsible for the diversity of life) is not directly falsifiable, in the same way that I'm fairly sure that a rarefied design inference isn't directly achievable. However, that doesn't mean it's not indirectly falsifiable. All ID needs to do to falsify the ToE is produce an hypothesis for some part of evolution that makes better predictions about future discoveries than the current best evolutionary hypothesis for that part of evolution.

So far, when ID proponents have proposed a model, it hasn't made any predictions at all, which makes it fairly easy for the evolutionary approach to surpass it. This is odd - I'd have thought it'd be very easy for ID to make good, powerful predictions. For example, most designers I know tend to modularise and reuse their code. Therefore, if the ID conjecture is accurate, we should see regular reuse of DNA sequences in situations where, as far as we can tell from the fossil record, two species aren't remotely related. For example, when we explore the genes responsible for fins in fish and whales, we should find that they're very similar.

If ID made predictions like this, and then went out and tested them, and repeatedly discovered that the evidence matched these predictions - despite the fact that evolution would not be able to explain such a homology* - then not only would I be happy to consider ID science, I would also be happy to acknowledge it as a very strong hypothesis and eventually accept its introduction into schools.

The current version of ID, by contrast, gives the impression that they're avoiding making any predictions for fear of being proven wrong. That's not terribly scientific.

(Sorry for going on at such length - this is an issue to which I've been giving much thought over the past couple of days)

The correct word here is not "implausible" but "impossible". ID methods can easily show that most of macroevolutionary models can't even come close to "universal bound probability" i.e. they are impossible.

Again, speaking as a maths student, I have yet to be directed to any mathematical explanation that is even remotely rigorous. I haven't read The Design Inference yet (it's on my To Do list) but I have dissected in some depth Dembski's Displacement Theorem, and it is my almost-professional opinion that it is complete bull (full details available on request). This isn't encouraging.

And other approaches I've come across such as Irreducible Complexity are blatantly an attempt to formalise the idea that something doesn't look like it could have arisen naturally. Without providing any explanation beyond personal intuition. The fact is that irreducibly complex structures form in nature all the time. Given this, I can't see why they shouldn't be able to form in biology.

If you're able to explain why exactly something like the evolution of a bacterial flagellum would be impossible, I would of course be grateful.

If you think their calculations are wrong that's something else but as an engineer I found their math much more accurate and convincing than that of evolutionists.

You know, there's a scientific hypothesis about that :P

(No offence intended - the hypothesis in question is entirely tongue-in-cheek)

...and in same way the evolutianary method boil down to "it must have been evolved so our assumptions must be true and there is no design"

I'd tend to say it boils down to "we know certain methods of production of complex systems are within the reach of evolution. On the premise that evolution was behaving the same way back then that it does now, let's see if we can figure out a route by which this thing could have evolved. Then let's try to falsify that route."

You are, of course, perfectly welcome to take the same approach with Intelligent Design, making predictions as detailed above and searching for direct evidence that such a Designer was actually active back then. However, just saying that a Designer did it, without providing a methodology or making any predictions, isn't going to cut much ice. In fact it's on the borderline of being scientifically nihilistic.

mutation/selection is not scientificly proved.

Fundamentally, that's true of absolutely everything in science. Heck, gravity hasn't been proved - it's just that we've got so much evidence in support of it that it seems fairly daft to deny its existence.

I've gone into some detail of why a similar state of affairs holds with mutation/selection earlier in this thread so I won't bog it down further by repeating myself.

Arrange some set of fossils and then claim they form an evolutionary path from mammal to whale, it may look convincing at first glance but is this an empirical fact?

No, it's a working hypothesis. If it's an accurate hypothesis, we can expect to find more data supporting it and no data refuting it. At present I'm not aware of any data refuting it.

Feel free to provide an hypothesis that makes stronger predictions if you can think of one.

Such as many objections done to this mutations/selection thing from many scientists that I'm sure you are quite familiar with them.

Most of the ones I'm aware of are creationist canards that have been thoroughly refuted decades ago. If you're aware of any that you don't think fit that bill, I would very much appreciate being appraised of them.

(Disclaimer: the first thing I'm likely to do is check TalkOrigins.org for a convincing rebuttal. You may wish to double-check that any such rebuttal is flawed before presenting your objections)

As I said before ID guys gave lots of those examples. Its upto us to believe in them or not but keep in mind those guys are real scientists.

Science shouldn't be a matter of belief - in fact the faith and scientific approaches to phenomena are, IMO, fundamentally antithetical. If ID really is a matter of belief then that's a sure sign that something is seriously wrong with it. If they're both correct and scientific, they should be able to demonstrate to any impartial observer that their hypotheses are the best ones available.

As an aside, I'd note that their being "real scientists" doesn't necessarily mean that their objections are in any way meaningful. As exhibit A, I present the Nazi pamphlet "100 Scientists Against Einstein", published in response to Einstein's receipt of the Nobel Prize. Einstein famously responded: "If I were wrong, one would have been enough."

British Astronomer Fred Hoyle and his assistant Wickramasinghe wrote books to mathmatically disprove the macroevolution.

Sadly, I haven't read Hoyle's book either (I'll add it to my horrifically-long To Do list). If you can present any of his mathematical arguments here, I will of course be happy to discuss them - arguments of that sort are the reason I got interested in the ID debate in the first place.

* Evolutionary biology predicts that fish fin genes should be no more similar to whale fin genes than they are to human arm genes. Evolutionary biology does, however, predict that whale fin genes should be far more similar to human arm genes than they are to fish fin genes. I have no idea if anyone has checked this.

5:26 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

In my experience all agnostics are practical atheists...do they count?

I propose a scoring system:

Start off with 100 points for a scientist supporting ID, and then apply these moderators:

1) Scientific qualifications:

- Divide by 2 for a non-PhD
- Leave as is for a non-tenured doctorate
- Multiply by 2 for a tenured doctorate
- Multiply by 4 for a Professor

2) Relevance of field:

- Divide by 4 for a scientist in a field with no relation to evolution (engineer, nutritionist, sociologist etc)
- Divide by 2 for a scientist in a partially relevant field (pretty much anything biological + certain areas of mathematics + probably some stuff I've missed) but hasn't actually studied evolutionary biology
- Leave as is for a scientist in a partially relevant field who has studied evolutionary biology
- Multiply by 4 for a scientist in a directly relevant field (anything with "evolutionary" in the title + most areas of bioinformatics)

3) Initial bias:

- Divide by 8 for a strongly evangelical or fundamentalist Christian (or equivalent in another religion)
- Divide by 2 for a moderate or lapsed Christian
- Leave as is for an agnostic
- Multiply by 8 for an atheist
- Multiply by 65536 for Richard Dawkins

Does that sound about right?

I was pondering including a "creationist canard" index too, to check for a person's susceptibility to known bull but, given the theme of this discussion (specifically that I'm fairly sure that ID is the next generation of said creationist canards), that would be problematic.

5:43 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

A morality tale of everyday science (and football)

Mike Godfrey said:

"The foundational issues for ID are the need for time and more time to develop new concepts and refine existing ones."

I can sympathise. I almost had a similar problem last week, when I nearly bought a ticket for the giant Euro lottery, prize = £120million.

My problem goes like this: if I had won, I intended to buy my local football club, Greenock Morton and make them the greatest club in Scotland -what you might call The Dominant Theory in Scottish football. At the moment, Celtic are the dominant theory, having the best players, stadium, support etc., and winning most trophies recently. Everybody attached to the game believes they are the bee’s knees.

The question is : how to replace the dominant theory (Celtic) with my theory (Greenock Morton)?

I could put lots of time and effort into building the infrastructure of the club. A new stadium, training facilities, dressing rooms, pitch, floodlights, tea-making facilities. Then I could get a new management team and buy better players and pay them higher wages, so they stay with the club while we gain promotion. (did I forget to say that Morton are in the third division?). There’ not a lot of evidence that they are any good, or ever will be.

After gathering numerous amounts of evidence (i.e. points) of the soundness of the Greenock Morton theory of Scottish football, we would get promoted to the second division. Some success, but more hard work to come. Gradually, we climb the ladder of achievement.

After 5 - 10 years, we would have reached the peak - Champions of the Scottish Premier League and European cup participants. Real success. Now the Greenock Morton Theory of Scottish football really is dominant. It has the proof, points, infrastructure, players and crucially, supporters, because as we proved our fitness through successive campaigns, more people came to support us. More people began to say: "I believe that Greenock Morton can become the dominant theory in Scottish football”. Gradually, bit by bit, we convinced the cynics. And of course, they couldn't argue with the points (evidence).

But, you will have spotted, that approach takes a lot of hard work, dedication, time, setbacks, arguments, changes of tactics and even of personnel, as some are seen as weak and needing rethought or replaced

And the risk is: you may never reach your goal. You might never become the dominant theory. All that time and effort wasted because the plan was flawed from the beginning! What a waste!

So I thought of another approach. I could just use my vast wealth to declare the Greenock Morton are the Dominant Theory in Scottish football. I could set up an organisation to promote my aims; the SFI (Scottish Football Institute), and fill it with football analysts eager to promote my theory. I could buy my own newspapers, stuff them with journalists from Greenock, and fill the back pages with imaginary tales of stunning success for my team while rubbishing the others; Glasgow Celtic, they are just a third division team (like us.), they just will not admit it. Their dominance is based on a closed establishment. If we played them we would beat them. Of course we would have to change the rules first, but it would be churlish not to let us- and a conspiracy as well. And the beauty is: there would be no need to even play any games. Risk defeat? No way Jose! We are the Champions, because we say so. Come to think of it, there is no need to even have a team!

But, you may protest: that's not the way it is done. You have to build up your hypothesis (a good team), submit to peer review (play games), you have to accept the referees decision: it's not a goal (or a supportable hypothesis), you have to take the knocks of defeat (or rejection), you have to accumulate evidence (points) that your theory is sustainable.

Not us mate. We have enlisted our MP to pass a law saying that our success should be reported in newspapers, even when it doesn't happen. And we are having it taught in schools, after all, we cannot have our children confused with the belief that the team that plays by the rules and wins the most games is dominant. We believe, therefore we are, Greenock Morton, the Dominant Theory in Scottish football.

Pity I never bought a ticket. If I had the whole project would have been more Intelligently Designed.

There is a lesson here for supporters of ID. There I no point in saying "We need more time to develop new concepts and refine existing ones, but in the meantime treat us as if we had done so".

You have to do the work to reap the rewards. Anything else is fantasy and romance.

1:33 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

You know, I think that's one of the best analogies I've ever seen. Mind if I steal it?

This blog is such a great source of metaphors :)

2:03 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Lifewish said...

"You know, I think that's one of the best analogies I've ever seen. Mind if I steal it?

This blog is such a great source of metaphors :)"

Of course you can. Us evil, nasty, atheistic devils are really very nice and cooperative, you know!

6:12 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Lifewish said...

"This blog is such a great source of metaphors"

Not any more.have you noticed the absence of IDers for the last few days. Does that mean that us pesky "darwinists" have won the argument?

You wouldn't be surprised, would you?

9:43 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Not any more.have you noticed the absence of IDers for the last few days. Does that mean that us pesky "darwinists" have won the argument?

You wouldn't be surprised, would you?


That's a little unfair - this blog often goes quiet then springs back into life. I doubt the current period of quietness implies any "victory" on behalf of supporters of evolution.

3:20 am  
Anonymous Farshad said...

Websites, Forums and Blogs are not places that one thoery will win or lose. It requires much more in-depth analyses and a detailed scientific look. Also it's difficult for all of us to come here and continously post. We need to pay attention to other aspects of life like work and other things.
I wanted to post lately but couldn't give enough attention.


As a small note for the relation between engineers and the ID I can say:

It is very likely and usual for an engineer to detect, analyse, understand and admire works of another engineer.

5:29 pm  
Blogger John Umana said...

Lifewish commented on John Umana’s comments...
Natural selection as theory of emergence of new species is bad science today; it does not fit observation. No one, not Dr. Darwin or anybody else, has ever observed natural selection lead to the evolution of a single species in the 3.9 billion years since Earth went biotic.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. Are you saying that we've never seen speciation occurring under laboratory conditions? That's false - my dad has personally speciated fruitflies. If I recall correctly, this was by putting them in different environments rather than by picking and choosing between individuals, so it would probably count as "natural selection".

Please let me know when anybody succeeds at speciating something other than a fruitfly from a fruitfly. Natural selection must be ruled out as a scientific explanation, though perhaps it has become a form of blind faith among some. JU

But no finch ever evolves into a Bald Eagle (or something other than a finch) due to natural selection. That’s what the Grants would have had to discover to find any scientific corroboration for natural selection as a theory of emergence of life or biological evolution of species.

I'd like to point out that this is moving the goalposts substantially. Finches aren't a species; they aren't even a genus; they aren't even a subfamily; they're a fully-fledged (no pun intended) family. And bald eagles aren't even in the same order as them.

How is this moving any goalposts? Dr. Darwin named his work, Origin of the Species. That’s what we’re talking about, how new species originate. My point is that nothing comes out of the finch family other than another finch. Take as much time as you want, but give me a new species from lab work if your viewpoint is to be scientifically viable. JU

Now, speciation, as I've already mentioned, has been observed to a degree more than sufficient to confirm its existence. Given a few hundred years, I'd expect us to eventually spot a transition that could sensibly be described as a transition between genuses (although there'd probably be a great deal of debate over it due to the inherent fuzziness of the terms - when does a twig become a branch?). However, to expect to observe a transition from one order to another is a complete straw man. If you waited a million years, you might just about see it happen in nature, but personally I don't have that much patience.

Here’s a little wager to consider: We know from mt-DNA studies that all dog breeds evolved from a small group of grey wolves in East Asia. So, why not take a group of grey wolves today and see if you can come up with any Chihuahuas through whatever selective breeding techniques you may choose to employ, but only sticking with the group of grey wolves (no introduction of dog genes permitted). JU


Why did life emerge on Earth 3.9 billion years ago, but not on Mars or anywhere else in this sun system? Natural selection doesn’t work on Mars or anywhere else in this sun system?

The sensible conclusion would be that, since natural selection only works once self-replicating systems are present, it must be easier for self-replicating systems to emerge on Earth. Given that the majority of the reactions necessary to produce life as we know it occur suspended in liquid H2O, this might be because Earth has ruddy great big oceans of the stuff and the other planets don't.

Have you considered WHY it is that three-quarters of Earth is liquid water – but no where else in this sun system? Just pure coincidence, just good luck? I know you are trying to avoid it, but Darwinists need to come to grips with the cosmological arguments that I mentioned. Just can’t be explained by pure coincidence or chance. I'm all in favor of this debate -- As John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty states, “[T]ruth has no chance but in proportion as every side of it, every opinion which embodies any fraction of the truth, not only finds advocates, but is so advocated as to be listened to.” Debate is a good thing, but we should stick to science, not to unsubstantiated theories that fly in the face of microbiology.
Stay well. John Umana

2:28 am  

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