IA and ID in the WSJ; update on CfS

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Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article on ID in college classrooms today.

AMES, Iowa – With a magician’s flourish, Thomas Ingebritsen pulled six mousetraps from a shopping bag and handed them out to students in his “God and Science” seminar. At his instruction, they removed one component – either the spring, hammer or holding bar – from each mousetrap. They then tested the traps, which all failed to snap.

“Is the mousetrap irreducibly complex?” the Iowa State University molecular biologist asked the class.

“Yes, definitely,” said Jason Mueller, a junior biochemistry major wearing a cross around his neck.

That’s the answer Mr. Ingebritsen was looking for. He was using the mousetrap to support the antievolution doctrine known as intelligent design. Like a mousetrap, the associate professor suggested, living cells are “irreducibly complex” – they can’t fulfill their functions without all of their parts. Hence, they could not have evolved bit by bit through natural selection but must have been devised by a creator. “This is the closest to a science class on campus where anybody’s going to talk about intelligent design,” the fatherly looking associate professor told his class. “At least for now.”

Overshadowed by attacks on evolution in high-school science curricula, intelligent design is gaining a precarious and hotly contested foothold in American higher education. Intelligent-design courses have cropped up at the state universities of Minnesota, Georgia and New Mexico, as well as Iowa State, and at private institutions such as Wake Forest and Carnegie Mellon. Most of the courses, like Mr. Ingebritsen’s, are small seminars that don’t count for science credit. Many colleges have also hosted lectures by advocates of the doctrine.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

They include some remarks from chemical engineer Christopher Macosko of University of Minnesota:

…a member of the National Academy of Engineering, [who] became a born-again Christian as an assistant professor after a falling-out with a business partner. For eight years, he’s taught a freshman seminar: “Life: By Chance or By Design?” According to Mr. Macosko, “All the students who finish my course say, ‘Gee, I didn’t realize how shaky evolution is.’ “

Tragic. I wonder if he uses Wells’ “Icons” or some other such nonsense?

At the end of the article, one of Ingebritsen’s (back at ISU) tactics is demonstrated:

On a brisk Thursday in October, following the mousetrap gambit, Mr. Ingebritsen displayed diagrams on an overhead projector of “irreducibly complex” structures such as bacterial flagellum, the motor that helps bacteria move about. The flagellum, he said, constitutes strong evidence for intelligent design. One student, Mary West, disputed this conclusion. “These systems could have arisen through natural selection,” the senior said, citing the pro-evolution textbook.

“That doesn’t explain this system,” Mr. Ingebritsen answered. “You’re a scientist. How did the flagellum evolve? Do you have a compelling argument for how it came into being?”

Ms. West looked down, avoiding his eye. “Nope,” she muttered. The textbook, “Finding Darwin’s God,” by Kenneth Miller, a biology professor at Brown University, asserts that a flagellum isn’t irreducibly complex because it can function to some degree even without all of its parts. This suggests to evolutionists that the flagellum could have developed over time, adding parts that made it work better.

During a class break, Ms. West says that Mr. Ingebritsen often puts her on the spot. “He knows I’m not religious,” she says. “In the beginning, we talked about our religious philosophy. Everyone else in the class is some sort of a Christian. I’m not.” The course helps her understand “the arguments on the other side,” she adds, but she would like to see Mr. Ingebritsen co-teach it with a proponent of evolution.

Ms. West and other honors students will have a chance to hear the opposing viewpoint next semester. Counter-programming against Mr. Ingebritsen, three faculty members are preparing a seminar titled: “The Nature of Science: Why the Overwhelming Consensus of Science is that Intelligent Design is not Good Science.”

I think that’s a *course,* not a one-time, hour-long seminar, if I’m not mistaken. Or at least, a similar one was/is in the works there.

Additionally, for those of you who are in Iowa, there also will be a seminar on Feb. 2nd at ISU:

Why Intelligent Design Is Not Science - Robert M. Hazen 02 Feb 2006, 8:00 PM @ Sun Room, Memorial Union - Robert M. Hazen is the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University, and a scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Geophysical Laboratory. He received his M.S. in geology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from HarvardUniversity. Dr. Hazen is the author of over 240 articles and 16 books, including the most recent Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin; Why Aren’t Black Holes Black? and the best-selling Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy, which he co-authored with James Trefil. Dr. Hazen has recorded the acclaimed lecture series, The Joy of Science, with the Teaching Company, which provides a fresh and definitive overview of all the physical and biological sciences.

Finally, again for those of you in the Hawkeye State, the Iowa Citizens for Science group now has a website: http://www.iowascience.org. It’s still a bit rough, but I’ll be updating it with events like these as I find out about them, so keep an eye on it–and drop me an email (iowascience AT gmail DOT com) if you’d like me to add you to the email list for even quicker updates.

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Today, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece titled "At Some Colleges, Classes Questioning Evolution Take Hold," which talks about some very bad teaching practices (although it doesn't call them that, of course…this is journalism. T... Read More

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As the goober said, “Checking up and doing research on journalism subjects is haard work!” so why bother. Who’s going to win the World Series next year? Just ask George Steinbrenner.

When we see the same errors passed on again and again, it’s time to alert the media that those who repeat these misconceptions are not merely mistaken, they are deliberately lying. The WSJ shouldn’t think Thomas Ingebritsen is just a little behind in his reading, they should state that he really should know better, and is probably lying to his students.

Ingebritsen’s faculty bio is at http://www.gdcb.iastate.edu/faculty[…]l.php?id=120

The only publications listed there deal with distance learning; none deal with evolution.

I recall a comment in passing that someone made a video demonstrating how parts could be removed from a mousetrap leaving in every case a device with some other useful function, concluding that the mousetrap is far from irreducible. Anyone have further details on this?

The only other thing I’d add is that assuming the design for the mousetrap came from a human inventor and not you’re favorite omniscient “designer” then evidence of any genuine “irreducibility” would be a mystery indeed. While the mousetrap is simple enough that it’s not impossible some inventor awoke from an opium-induced stupor, thought “Behold! The mousetrap!” and started putting springy bits of metal on a wood slat, I suspect there is a more likely explanation:

Namely, the inventor of the mousetrap probably knew of other machines with springs, others with mechanical trips, understood the basic concept of baiting a trap, and combined these ideas into a hybrid mechanism. There was probably some trial and error. Ideas that sounded good were not the best and slight modifications improved matters. Much of this tinkering had random elements, but the inventor kept at it until the trap was effective and inexpensive to manufacture. It might not have happened that way, but this is how I would characterize a typical human invention process.

There are indeed some differences between the fumbling way in which we humans invent machines and the way in which evolution produces complex features. But both appear to be a combination of search (random or exhaustive) and incremental refinement. There is nothing in ID formalism capable of making a distinction between the creative power of evolution and the creative power of mere human (not omniscient) intelligence.

“This is the closest to a science class on campus where anybody’s going to talk about intelligent design,” the fatherly looking associate professor told his class. “At least for now.”

Actually, next semester my college is finally offering the evolution course again (yes! now I can learn all about the subject I love so much), and the poster annoncing the class that was put up around campus was edited from the one 2 1/2 years ago to include a note about how important evolutionary theory is to biology. Considering the current news, I don’t see how any evolution class could be complete without a brief mention of ID…and how the evidence doesn’t weigh in.

The strongest evidence ID claims to have is that of irreducibly complex systems. Let’s face it, that’s a really subjective interpritation. So you think there is a design in a biochemical system. Fine. Techincally, that shouldn’t be incompatable with seeing evolution…but as the Dover testimonys show, it’s easy to convince people of a connection between evolution and athesim, and divide the community.

With a magician’s flourish

This characterization might be accurate if you include three card monte dealers in the general category of magicians. Heck, every conjurer, honest or not, is in the business of pulling the wool over the eyes of his audience, so on second thought this phrase is more appropriate than the writer probably realizes.

The WSJ also gives favorable coverage to stocks in which they have a financial interest, so don’t expect much in the way of journalistic ethics from them.

Just out of curiosity, I know we have a lot of professors here, how many of you have ever had a class where

“In the beginning, we talked about our religious philosophy.”

I recently finished my undergrad degree, and in my five years (dual major), the only time that we ever “talked about religious philosophy” was in an international studies class called “Revolution, Violence, and Terrorism.” If I were taking a class which was not remotely related to religion or philosophy and the professor chose to discuss religion instead of what we were supposed to be learning, I’d have asked for my money back.

If you’re interested in Macosko, look here:

http://www.cems.umn.edu/research/ma[…]nterests.htm http://www.cems.umn.edu/research/macosko/ool.html

You can even download his slides. I’m sure PZ Myers would have a ball with him.

And I’d just like to point out (yet again) that not all of us with chemical engineering or chemistry degrees have huge blinders when it comes to every other field of science. *sign*

AMES, Iowa — With a magician’s flourish, Thomas Ingebritsen pulled six mousetraps from a shopping bag and handed them out to students in his “God and Science” seminar. At his instruction, they removed one component — either the spring, hammer or holding bar — from each mousetrap. They then tested the traps, which all failed to snap.

“Is the mousetrap irreducibly complex?” the Iowa State University molecular biologist asked the class.

“Yes, definitely,” said Jason Mueller, a junior biochemistry major wearing a cross around his neck.

Lessons not taught:

For the next lesson, Ingebritson tells the students to put two mousetraps in a dark box with food and water, and leave them be for several weeks. “Did your mousetraps reproduce themselves biologically?”, he asks the youngsters.

“No.”

“So are mousetraps eligible for natural selection?”

“No.”

“So then, are they an appropriate analogy for biological features?”

“No.”

————————— I can dream.

Actually, it’s pretty easy to imagine a snap mousetrap “evolving” from mousetraps with fewer parts–see examples here and here and here, for example.

The easiest way to demonstrate that a snap mousetrap is not irreducibly complex is to remove the catch and hook the hold-down bar under the end of the hammer. I’ve done this modification, and while it doesn’t snap as easily as a regular mousetrap, a little pressure by an unlucky mouse in the wrong place would definitely trigger it.

The story is of course downright scary: a Creationist professor inquiring about the religious beliefs of his students and browbeating non-Christians (can you imagine if the opposite had happened?); another, utterly unqualified in biology, gloating about how many students leave his course with new confusion and doubts about evolution (as opposed as having learned positive evidence for anything), and an evolution-friendly professor that is cowed into misrepresenting the status of evolutionary theory by student harassment. That’s a shocking picture, indeed.

There is one interesting nugget though. If the article is correct, it would seem that Iowa State, whose faculty have been publicly and repeatedly accused of Mccarthysm by ID advocates for publishing a statement opposing Intelligent Design, has been offering a full-fledged course in Creationism for several years. So much for ideological censorship, I guess. Is there any of ther repeated claims of persecution by ID supporters that has turned out to be real? So far, they all seem to have been just skillful PR, exploiting the media’s taste for a good underdog story.

If the article is correct, it would seem that Iowa State, whose faculty have been publicly and repeatedly accused of Mccarthysm by ID advocates for publishing a statement opposing Intelligent Design, has been offering a full-fledged course in Creationism for several years.

I got the impression it was a freshman seminar, not a “full-fledged course”.

First, I really liked the faculty response at ISU. Adding a seminar or course explaining what evolution really is and why ID is not good science is an excellent move. Trying to prevent Ingebritsen from teaching ID allows ID to claim “persecution”, but setting up a new course to counter him could really get the facts out in the open. We could even use the noise about ID as a “hook” to get people interested in learning real science! It would be a lovely irony.

Second, a couple of years ago it occurred to me that an antidote to Behe’s mousetrap argument might be a computer program that allows a mousetrap to evolve by RM and NS. I imagined a fairly realistic physics environment with some modest but nice graphics, a “mouse” with simple cheese-seeking behavior, and a variety of household objects (strings, rubber bands, forks, pencils, a coffee mug, etc.) that could be randomly attached to one another in a variety of ways. The program starts out with a couple of randomly-chosen implements and a piece of virtual cheese, and anything that manages to take a swipe at the mouse scares it off for a while. The devices that protect the cheese reliably, for the longest time, tend to survive and reproduce.

I don’t have the programming skills to put together such a program. But it might be an amusing project for somebody out there. I’m confident that a reliable mouse-killing contraption would rapidly evolve. And it would probably often be irreducibly complex.

Probably a lot of people here at PT have seen the SETI screen-saver, which allows your computer to sift through SETI data while it’s idle. It would be fantastic if someone could write a program which allowed a central hub somewhere to link to idle computers when they’re idle and use them to evolve a better mousetrap. As a screen saver, it could display the current best devices being employed against the little virtual mice.

A pipe dream, I know, but if anyone out there has the programming know-how, it would be fun. In general, I think it would be great if there were a screen-saver like the SETI program which could take advantage of computer idle time to help run evolutionary algorithms. The processing power in idle academic computers is such a rich untapped resource.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 3, column 10, byte 567 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

I love it, on the one hand 100 years of accumulated evidence and research into evolution, on the other hand a mouse trap analogy. Truly, 21st century America is becoming the finest civilization of the 18th century.

Actually, James Henry Atkinson would be the “designer” in this case.

“That doesn’t explain this system,” Mr. Ingebritsen answered. “You’re a scientist. How did the flagellum evolve? Do you have a compelling argument for how it came into being?”

A chump, a rube, and a bully. This guy’s a winner all around!

Seriously, this makes me angry, very very angry. She’s a college freshman, of course she’s not going to know enough about the Type III secretion system. Yet he calls her a “scientist” and probably takes a perverse pleasure in beating her down, as if he’s taking on the scientific community itself: “take that, you eggheads!”

What a big man.

The easiest way to demonstrate that a snap mousetrap is not irreducibly complex is to remove the catch and hook the hold-down bar under the end of the hammer. I’ve done this modification, and while it doesn’t snap as easily as a regular mousetrap, a little pressure by an unlucky mouse in the wrong place would definitely trigger it.

right, so a human intelligent designer would simply redesign the trap so you can’t circumvent his argument physically any more.

The John Templeton Foundation distances itself from Intelligent Design and rebuts the WSJ characterization of the foundation as a supporter of ID.

Today the WSJ ran a front page story mentioning the John Templeton Foundation in a way suggesting that the Foundation has been a concerted patron and sponsor of the so-called Intelligent Design (“ID”) position (such as is associated with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and the writers Philip Johnson, William Dembski, Michael Behe and others). This is false information. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The John Templeton Foundation has provided tens of millions of dollars in support to research academics who are critical of the anti-evolution ID position. Any careful and factual analysis of actual events will find that the John Templeton Foundation has been in fact the chief sponsor of university courses, lectures and academic research which variously have argued against the anti-evolution “ID” position. It is scandalous for a distinguished paper to misinform the public in this way.

(Emphasis added.)

The article goes on to discuss the Foundation’s funding of Guillermo Gonzalez, and makes it clear that the support was given before Gonzalez attached himself to the DI’s program.

The response also notes the Foundation’s “vigorous” disagreement with the ID position.

The article goes on to discuss the Foundation’s funding of Guillermo Gonzalez, and makes it clear that the support was given before Gonzalez attached himself to the DI’s program.

amazing what some folks are willing to sell for money, eh?

Dembski did the same exact thing when it became clear his legitimate science career wasn’t going anywhere.

I thought the WSJ article did a reasonable job of identifying the ID proponents and their funders as religiously motivated. I doubt that all readers will get the same thing from the article, though.

Please tell me he is not tenure track. Those publications of his listed on his bio are good examples of what sience ed. types publish vs. actual science researchers, and then to turn around and act like a scientist…pathetic.

Please tell me he is not tenure track

very doubtful after this performance. He has chosen his path, and now i’m sure he hopes for grants from ngo’s like the DI, instead of grants from NSF.

likely he will end up at a seminary college publishing “popular ‘science’” books like dembski

Here is some hopeful news. Unfortunately the “teach the controversy” plan of the Discovery Institute fellows does not include a history or criticism of the “controversy”. They would like to see the information presented in the form of dueling campaign ads rather risk having anything they tell kids about mousetraps responded to and rebutted.

Do science textbooks make any effort to address the history and tactics of the anti-evolution movement? I would like to see information about how they have denied the existence of Christian evolutionists while claiming that they are not religiously motivated made available to students. Can the fact that Intelligent Design advocates can not agree on the age of the earth, the theory of common origin or even understand what a theory is be included in textbooks? This is all factual information and many science textbooks include historical and social contextual information. Can the these books mention that Intelligent Design Advocates recycle old discredited arguments to new audiences be mentioned, or can they point to instances where anti-evolutionists have given dubious or contradictory testimony under oath? (Can Behe’s testimony be reproduced word for word?) While there is no scientific controversy there is a raging social controversy that is directly relevant to the science education of students. That is the controversy that needs to be taught.

Rather than go around legally mopping up after every local school board who demands that “criticisms” of evolution be taught, why not teach these criticisms first in a context where they can be addressed?

Andrea Bottaro Wrote:

The story is of course downright scary: a Creationist professor inquiring about the religious beliefs of his students and browbeating non-Christians (can you imagine if the opposite had happened?); another, utterly unqualified in biology, gloating about how many students leave his course with new confusion and doubts about evolution (as opposed as having learned positive evidence for anything), and an evolution-friendly professor that is cowed into misrepresenting the status of evolutionary theory by student harassment. That’s a shocking picture, indeed.

Sounds like the mirror image of the copy of Jack Chick’s “Big Daddy” I received from a concerned reader of my last letter-to-the-editor. But in this case, it’s a story about real people, really doing and saying these things.

Somebody (Ken Miller?) posted an animation showing “evolution” of a mousetrap, piece by piece. To teach a course talking about mousetraps, flagella, clotting cascades, &c., without acknolwedging that these examples have been refuted, strikes me as professional incompetence.

Tara Wrote:

Robert M. Hazen 02 Feb 2006, 8:00 PM @ Sun Room, Memorial Union - Robert M. Hazen is the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University

Dr. Hazen spoke at our last IDEA meeting at GMU. He’s a fine gentleman.

In the beginning God set the entire magnificent fabric of the universe into motion…In such a universe, scientific study provides a glimpse of creator as well as creation.

Robert Hazen

Seriously, this makes me angry, very very angry. She’s a college freshman, of course she’s not going to know enough about the Type III secretion system. Yet he calls her a “scientist” and probably takes a perverse pleasure in beating her down, as if he’s taking on the scientific community itself: “take that, you eggheads!”

Perhaps her response should have been something like. “No, I don’t have a complete mechanism for the evolution of the flagellum. Do you? Can you tell the class what your proposed mechanism is?”

After all, even Behe won’t say anything more than “poof”!

actually we had this exact discussion with Mr. Balter in another thread, there apesnake.

you do of course realize the difference between teaching what ID is in a COLLEGE biology course rather than any K-12 course, yes?

there is a raging social controversy that is directly relevant to the science education of students. That is the controversy that needs to be taught.

but NOT IN A K-12 SCIENCE CLASS!!

He’s a fine gentleman.

*edited by mean Tara*

To teach a course talking about mousetraps, flagella, clotting cascades, &c., without acknolwedging that these examples have been refuted

You can call them refuted, but from the standpoint of market research, they have strong empirical backing. Trial after trial shows that the rubes go for them every time. You really expect these guys to give up their best gimmicks?

In the beginning God set the entire magnificent fabric of the universe into motion…In such a universe, scientific study provides a glimpse of creator as well as creation.

care to take a stab at proving that scientifically, Sal?

or even better, formulating a null hypothesis to it?

Posted by Steverino on November 15, 2005 12:36 PM (e) (s)

You people are so transparent

The thing is though; they are not transparent. I know that is not the case for you, but for people (non scientific) who are being exposed to ID for the first time it sounds very plausible.

I know I was taken in. It was only by persevering on this site (and comparing it to ID sites), that I eventually came to the conclusion: ID proponents are all smoke and mirrors.

Don’t underestimate their power of persuasion to the average Joe.

Wow! All these people sympathetic to ID. I wonder when they will be publishing their ID led research.

I’d better not twiddle my thumbs; they might end up falling off.

Sal Wrote:

At GMU there are several ID leaning faculty and large numbers of ID leaning students, and in the wake of the dismissal of a ID leaning professor of cellular biology and scientist specializing in Immunopharmacology Caroline Crocker, he would be the best person to restore some degree of appreciation for the non-ID science faculty at GMU. I think he recognizes that demeaning and insulting ID leaning students (especially since several ID leaning Bio Students have graduated from GMU in the past, including those at the PhD level), it would be counter productive to be insulting and demeaning them.

She was dismissed for teaching non-science in a science class, Sal.

Consider: there is no theory of ID. No experimental support for ID. No ID papers, no ID lesson plans, no ID.

That’s why it’s religion - you even admit it yourself. Under what circumstances is someone justified teaching theology in a science class, Sal?

Hazen later had praise for some of Wells scholarship, but felt Wells goes too far in claiming ID.

Here’s another example where I’d really like to see Hazen’s exact words - in context.

Personally, I find Wells’s “scholarship” - such as it is - shoddy and dishonest, and I’d be surprised to learn that any serious scholar would have anything good to say about it.

Another point about this quote that doesn’t ring true: “felt that Wells goes too far in claiming ID”? Where does Wells have any positive claims for ID? All I’ve ever seen of Wells’s “scholarship” is generally bogus criticisms of evolution and scientists’ integrity.

Stephen Elliott:

“The thing is though; they are not transparent. I know that is not the case for you, but for people (non scientific) who are being exposed to ID for the first time it sounds very plausible.”

This is quite true. I know that in my family, even though we all have college educations, including several advanced degrees in Science (not including me), the ID propaganda seems reasonable at a glance. This is primarily because, as Christians, they are predisposed to the idea of ID, and as Americans, they are predisposed to fairness. However, if I can get them to do even minimal research on the subject, that predisposition evaporates. The problem is to get them to do that research.

In that regard, the DI has unintentionally given me a good attention getter: “Did you know that Intelligent Design Theory includes redefining science to include Astrology, Palm Reading and Tarot Cards? And that they have done just that in Kansas?”

I am looking forward to trying this out at Thanksgiving.

Tara wondered of Macosko:

Tragic. I wonder if he uses Wells’ “Icons” or some other such nonsense?

The syllabus is here of Macosko’s course: Macosko’s Course

matt Wrote:

The John Templeton Foundation distances itself from Intelligent Design and rebuts the WSJ characterization of the foundation as a supporter of ID.

The John Templeton Foundation is happy enough funding cosmological ID but protests rather too much in its denial of support for biological ID.

From matt’s original link there is another:

“The John Templeton Foundation has made $1 million available for research grants relevant to the question “is there evidence of universal purpose in the cosmos?”. This is a science focused research project and is expected to results in publications in peer-reviewed journals or books. Examples of relevant research areas include developing new empirical insights which might illuminate and help quantify the extent to which the Universe can be said to be fine-tuned for life (in e.g. cosmology, physics, chemistry and biology). This may include exploring associated interpretive aspects involving ontological and teleological implications, but projects should be primarily focused on new and innovative scientific research. The deadline for proposal summaries is October 31, 1999. Topics

Topics that fall within the scope of this program include research in physics, cosmology, biochemistry, neuroscience and mathematics:

* quantifying the extent to which the Universe can be said to be fine-tuned for life. This may include studying the effect of changes in: o initial conditions o fundamental constants of physics o laws of physics in a variety of contexts, for instance o early-universe cosmology o cosmic structure formation o production of heavy elements in stars o origin and evolution of life o origin of an arrow of time * closely related philosophical, theological, biological & economic studies impacting directly and substantively on the topical focus of the program and relating to issues such as fine-tuning impact on aspects of life which might have relevance to the general question of purpose (increase of complexification, development of consciousness, free agency, altruism, mind-directed creativity, etc.). This might include, for example, studying the effect of changes in: o the origin of mathematical rationality and the laws of physics o the nature of freedom, consciousness, free will and mental creativity in intelligent beings o logic and epistemology o teleology in economic and biological/evolutionary systems o philosophical and theological research on the theodicy problem and related issues o concepts of universal purpose/teleology in relation to scientific forms of inquiry concepts of God within scientific cosmology o the creative potential of intelligent beings to impact the course of evolution of life in the cosmos/cosmic ensemble”

Professor Guillermo Gonzalez was a grant winner in an international academic research grants competition sponsored by the Templeton Foundation in 1999. This competition was named the Cosmology and Fine-Tuning Research.

The fine-tuning here referred to is more commonly called the “anthropic principle”. It is a mutant form of the cosmological argument, which is closely associated with the argument from design.

What is the difference between John Templeton and his Foundation and Howard Ahmanson and the DI? Answer: tactics only. They share the same fundamental aim - to proselytize for the cause of science as a form of religion.

The one attacks established science in order to reform it in the image of its own brand of religion; the other tries to ingratiate itself into established science in order to feed off its pre-eminent intellectual status, and to push its own preferred religious mode, in this case the “theistic evolution” of the entire cosmos.

There is a very close tie-in with the Catholic Church, which has pretty much the same kind of ideas, derived from Thomas Aquinas, courtesy of Aristotle.

This whole religiously driven assault on, or attempted seduction of, science, is an attempt to take us back to the world view before science properly existed. A world view where reason was supposed to be able to establish the existence of God, by contemplating the physical world.

We appear to be going through a world-wide counter-revolution. Religions of all varieties are seeking not just to hold their own line; they are seeking to push back the encroaching line of secular implications carried within the modern scientific method, which does not see it as its business to establish God’s existence.

The supreme success of science in despite of its total disconnection from God, is striking the fear of God into God-fearing folks. They want it to get back onside.

I ought to have highlighted also:

o origin and evolution of life

And what is fine-tuning if not another phrase for intellegient design?

At GMU there are several ID leaning faculty and large numbers of ID leaning students

Do any of them have a scientific theory of ID? Why not?

Oh, by the way, Sal:

1. What is the scientific theory of intelligent design, and how do we test it using the scientific method?

2. According to this scientific theory of intelligent design, how old is the earth, and did humans descend from apelike primates or did they not?

3. what, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than weather forecasting, accident investigation, or medicine?

4. do you repudiate the extremist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson, and if so, why do you keep taking his money anyway? And if you, unlike most other IDers, are not sucking at Ahmanson’s teats, I’d still like to know if you repudiate his extremist views.

5. Why are you undermining your own side by proclaiming here that ID is all about defeating “atheism” and “anti-religion”, while your side is desperately trying to argue in court that ID has nothing at all whatsoever to do with religion or religious apologetics? Are your fellow IDers just lying under oath when they testify to that, Sal?

Thomas Ingebritsen pulled six mousetraps from a shopping bag and handed them out to students in his “God and Science” seminar. At his instruction, they removed one component — either the spring, hammer or holding bar — from each mousetrap. They then tested the traps, which all failed to snap.

“Is the mousetrap irreducibly complex?” the Iowa State University molecular biologist asked the class.

My response would be: “How many of you have had your tonsils, appendix, or other parts removed?” (If I was feeling sadistic, I’d include teeth!) Followed by: “Funny, you seem to still be functioning. Do you think that means you’re simpler, or more complex, than a mousetrap?”

The fool isn’t showing “irreducible complexity”, he’s demonstrating irreducible *simplicity*!

Thomas Ingebritsen pulled six mousetraps from a shopping bag and handed them out to students in his “God and Science” seminar. At his instruction, they removed one component — either the spring, hammer or holding bar — from each mousetrap. They then tested the traps, which all failed to snap.

“Is the mousetrap irreducibly complex?” the Iowa State University molecular biologist asked the class.

My response would be: “How many of you have had your tonsils, appendix, or other parts removed?” (If I was feeling sadistic, I’d include teeth!) Followed by: “Funny, you seem to still be functioning. Do you think that means you’re simpler, or more complex, than a mousetrap?”

The fool isn’t showing “irreducible complexity”, he’s demonstrating more-or-less irreducible *simplicity* – characteristic of designed objects, but NOT of lifeforms!

Leigh Jackson Wrote:

And what is fine-tuning if not another phrase for intellegient design?

Fine-tuning is philosophically quite the opposite of Intelligent Design. Fine-tuning asserts that the Universe was planned to be suitable for life. ID asserts that life could not arise and develop in this Universe without supernatural intervention, i.e. that it is unsuitable for life as we know it.

I contend that the anthropic principle is a form of ID. It employs the same rationale as Behe et al. There is something so difficult to explain in natural terms that we must assume a supernatural cause.

Behe and his mates argue for divine intervention; religiously inclined supporters of AP argue for divine pre-emption. There’s a question over the how and when, but it’s God who is responsible for life, just the same.

The scientific response to the unexplained reason for the universe being just this way and not another, is to say that there is some serious stuff that we do not yet know - and need to know. There is a lot more work still to be done.

The religious response is to say godidit. We will probably never get to know all the answers. There will always be mysteries. Scientists will always be looking for answers, whilst the religiously-minded will always be seeing signs of God.

Sometimes, of course, some scientists will be happy to see signs of God too, but science would cease if all scientists were to see God behind every mystery.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Tara Smith published on November 14, 2005 12:31 PM.

Lecture Planned on Intelligent Design was the previous entry in this blog.

Templeton Foundation and Santorum Losing Faith in ID? is the next entry in this blog.

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