What is Intelligent Design? According to sources close to the IDEA Center, "What is intelligent design?" was a question on Jeopardy to which the answer was something like "a theory which is a 'rival to evolution.'" The reported category was "Smart Stuff." It looks like ID is making its way into popular culture. (11/03)
The Design Inference at Toyota: Methods of detecting design seem to have had success in the field of criminology. An article in the The Sydney Morning Herald, "Toyota raided in Formula One industrial espionage investigation," reports that police raided the Toyota Formula One racing team's factory in Germany after detecting, "the apparent similarity of Toyota's TF103 car to the F2002 driven by the Ferrari world champion, Michael Schumacher." This is an example where complexity (the design of a car) and specificity (the pattern of the Ferrari's car) helped make the design inference. (11/3/03)
Science Teacher makes Moral Objection to ID: An article in The Science Teacher, "The Risk of Intelligent Design
" (by Lawrence C. Scharmann), makes a moral objection to intelligent design stating that we would not "like" to infer intelligent design to explain how some male insects hijack and kil other males who are mating to inject their sperm through the dead male into the female. The article fails to note that intelligent designed objects need not be aesthetically pleasing--as much as we hate it, torture chambers and nuclear weapons are all designed objects. However, the deeper point missed here is that this is a theological objection about the final (i.e. moral or metaphysical) cause of a biological structure, whereas intelligent design is merely a description of the efficient cause (i.e. the mechanism by which something was made). ID stands independent from moral issues, and if one wants to delve into those philosophical and religious questions, JudeoChristian religions provide plenty of answers to for the reason of the existence of natural evil. The article also states that ID does not make good predictions and prevents us from using evolution. The article fails to realize that many ID proponents affirm that evolution can make useful predictions involved in microevolutionary processes, and many of these have positive implications for research into medical problems like antibiotic resistance. However, ID does not seek to totally supplant evolution, but merely serve as a companion theory which can explain the origin of complex biological information. This has other implications, for if we are designed, then perhaps reverse-engineering could also help us make good predictions about solving medical problems. The article makes no mention of many failed predictions of evolution such as the failed expectation that DNA woul be junk, which could have grossly retarded our understanding of the cell, and medicine. (11/03)
Pro-ID student article in U. West Florida Newspaper: Travis Huisken, student at the University of West Florida, wrote an article, "Stonehenge, you and intelligent design" in which he makes a case that we can recognize certain objects in nature has having been designed based upon the specified and complex information they contain. Huisken inadvertantly provides an answer to the "why don't journals support ID" objection in noting that, "Anyone who reads scientific technical journals, such as Science or Nature, is acutely aware of the connotations of design in the language explaining biological systems. In describing what goes on in cellular systems, today's molecular biologists speak of rotors, stators, information, factories, chaperones, transcribers, machines, and more. Even the term "design" gets used frequently. Though Huisken notes that "many scientists (like Richard Dawkins, for example) argue that when we speak of design in nature, we should only be speaking of "apparent" design" or like Francis Crick, believe we were designed by aliens. Huisken concludes asking, "If,
indeed, we are the products of an intelligent designer ... it may be prudent for us to
ask ourselves: What were we created for?" (10/30/03)
Robert Pennock Criticizes Intelligent Design in Science Journal: ID critic philosopher Robert Pennock has a paper critical of intelligent design, "Creationism and Intelligent Design" published in Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics (Vol. 4: 143-163, Sept. 2003). The article notes that creationism is defined as including, "rejection of evolution in favor of special creation ... [and] standard reliance upon arguments from ignorance." Pennock notes that Supreme Court Justice Scalia in his dissent in Edwards v. Aguillard stated that, "[t]he people of Louisiana, including those who are Christian fundamentalists, are quite entitled,
as a secular manner, to have whatever scientific evidence there may be against evolution presented in their schools" but calls it a "loophole to get [creationist] views into the classroom under this rubric of 'evidence against evolution.'" Pennock states that intelligent design is a "legal idea behind to begin with a minimal position that can get into and pry open such a legal crack." Pennock no where describes where ID proponents use "arguments from ignorance" but quotes phraseology from ID advocates that makes it sounds like ID is a religious theory. However, Pennock does not refute Scalia's logic that religious persons, including religious scientists, should have the right to have evidence presented that may favor their views, as long as it is scientific. Pennock does not explain how Dembski's theory for detecting design leads one to "special creation." Pennock calls ID "creationism" but apparently gives no rationale for how the theory of intelligent design fits under his own definition. Pennock writes, "ID activists will often adamantly deny in public forums that they are promoting creationism, even though the religious basis of their view is quite clear in their writings and speeches to supporters, and most of their arguments against evolution are little different than those of creation science." Yet Pennock can only say this after quoting the harshest critics of ID rebutting the empirical evidence supporting intelligent design through investigations into information contained in the cell, cited by Behe and Dembski. With a very bland treatment of the scientific controversy and refusing to acknowledge that ID proponents have responded to their critics in many fora, Penock dismisses the scientific evidence stating that the ID movement has suffered a "complete lack of success in the research phase" and thus, Pennock concludes, must be religiously motivated. The primary evidence it has failed comes from the lack of publication of ID concepts like irreducible complexity in mainstream journals from leaders in the ID movement such as Behe. Pennock does not note that Behe did submit such a paper but it was not published because the editor said it did not conform to "orthodoxy." Had such a paper been published, many of Pennock's charges would seem innocuous. If this form of paradigm-change-resistance is what is really stifling the advance of ID, perhaps the circumstantial case that Pennock makes that it is merely a religious concept is weak, and ID has more to offer than Pennock would have us think. Indeed, given that Pennock's article opens and closes with mention of the high levels opposition that leaders of the AAAS have mustered against ID, it appears that mainstream scientists, and Pennock, are not interested in giving ID a fair hearing. Perhaps Pennock's case against ID needs to be re-thought.
American Spectator Discusses Intelligent Design theory: An article in American Spectator, The Mystery of the Missing Links found that skepticism of evolution is growing:
Last Saturday at breakfast with my flatmates, there was a pause in conversation. ‘Hands up anyone who has doubts about Darwinism,’ I said. To my surprise all three — a teacher, a music agent and a playwright — slowly raised their arms. One had read a book about the inadequacies of Darwin — Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis; another, a Christian, thought that Genesis was still the best explanation for the universe. The playwright blamed the doctrine of survival of the fittest for ‘capitalist misery and the oppression of the people’. Nearly 150 years after the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, a taboo seems to be lifting.
The article goes on to discuss that the intelligent design movement is leading the challenge to evolution, but then claims that evolutionary biologists are finding more and more evidence for macroevolution. Though the nature of this "evidence" is not discussed, the article concludes that both ID proponents and Darwinists should seek to reconcile religion with science.
AAAS Exemplifying Paradigm-Change Resistance In a statement issued by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), "Board opposes teaching intelligent design theory in science class," the AAAS declared:
The AAAS Board of Directors has passed a resolution urging policy-makers, scientists, and other members of the public to oppose teaching "intelligent design theory" (ID theory) in the nation's science classrooms, noting that the concept has so far not been supported by credible scientific evidence.
In declaring a victory before the battle was even fought, the AAAS is not exhibiting scientific openness nor tentativeness, but rather the paradigm-opposition of Thomas Kuhn. The statement makes no actual discussion of any of the evidence, but only encourages policy makers to abide by their statements. Interestingly, the reason why they feel it is merely an "interesting philosophical or theological concept" and not a "scientifically based alternative to the theory of evolution" is because, "Intelligent design theory has so far not been supported by peer-reviewed, published evidence." Yet the resolution makes no mention that when ID proponents have attempted to publish their work, they have met resistance from editors who have claimed it is merely outside of "orthodoxy" (see this article for details). The AAAS would thus put ID in a catch-22 situation, where they encourage scientists to oppose it because it isn't science, and why isn't it science? Because it can't get peer review publication. But what scientist would risk her career and go against the AAAS--the largest and most influential scientific organization in the United States? Thus, no journal would publish on ID because it violates the AAAS mandate, but the AAAS states they shouldn't publish because they haven't been publish. In effect, the AAAS has set up a system of standards for ID which it knows it cannot meet. This is the essence of paradigm-opposition of Thomas Kuhn, where scientists tend to resist new ideas, such as intelligent design, but not for evidential reasons. We hope that freedom of thought will return to science and scientists may once again consider intelligent design without fear of the thought police. (11/29/02)
Computers: Tiny DNA Computer a First
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