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5/29/08

Creationism and Intelligent Design

This post provides a link to an audio interview between DJ Grothe and biochemist Michael Behe on Point of Inquiry (Nov. 9, 2007).

Play the interview from here.

I found it to be a very telling discussion in that Grothe asks various questions that are meant to display the various question, curiosities and even charges made with regards to Intelligent Design (ID). Behe does his best to qualify the various issues raised. They discuss everything from the difference between Creationism and ID and from evolution being taught in schools to the court case for which Behe testified.

I thought that this discussion may be useful in clearing up some confusion that is virtually ubiquitous. I though to post this because so very many people, from readers of this blog to PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins, et al, constantly refer to “creationism” or “creationists” when the issue is ID and ID proponents. In fact, someone recently asked me if ID was not a specified form of creationism. Nay, rather, Creationism is a specified form of ID. ID is not creationism which is why there are atheists, agnostics, Moonies, Jews, Christians, Muslims, et al, who are ID proponents.

21 comments:

  1. So the differance between the two is one is MORE vague? You do realize that makes it even worse as a scientific theory, right? Theories need to be specific and exact.

    Lets be honest- ID is the belief that life requires a creator- aka the rejection of evolution. So it is either chance or a creator... and we all know it isn't chance.

    But this is all theological hair spliting. There is no more reason to believe ID is true than creationism. Both are arguments from ignorance, both are nonfalsible, both fail to make predicitons or run experiments...

    In short, neither of the two are science.

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  2. I'll have to agree with you, Mariano, that "Creationism" is a subset of "Intelligent Design". But it's the subset that gave birth to it. I suppose you've read the Wedge Document? Of course, just because ID was conceived as a strategy to get theistic and specifically Christian ideas into public school science curricula, doesn't prove that it is false, or that it cannot be supported by atheists or believers of all stripes as well. But since ID has offered nothing so far in the way of science (no research program, no theories about the nature of the Intelligent Designer), but simply has a great deal of money to spend on PR, I don't expect that it will do any better, in the long run, than it did at Dover- it may take time, but the truth will out, as they say. But that's just my perhaps overoptimistic surmise. Lots of people still believe that the Earth is six thousand years old, that Uri Geller bends spoons magically, and that sending money to Benny Hill will get you to Heaven, so who knows how long ID will be around?

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  3. Sam,

    I don't see how the hypothesis that there is a Creator rejects evolution.

    All I see it rejecting is a blind and purposeless universe (metaphysical naturalism).

    Neither have I ever seen a definition of "evolution" that includes a blind process.

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  4. I agree. I don't see ID rejecting evolution.

    I only see that evolution is introducing the idea that everything must be explained in a naturalistic manner. Which tells me that this is a personal issue, not a scientific issue.

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  5. Profire said: I only see that evolution is introducing the idea that everything must be explained in a naturalistic manner. Which tells me that this is a personal issue, not a scientific

    I second that!!!

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  6. "The Quest for Right": A Creationist Attack on Quantum Mechanics.

    By Stephen L of the newsgroups.derkeiler.com

    Here's a different take on creationism/ID: "The Quest for Right," a multi-volume series on science, attacks Darwinism indirectly, by attacking quantum mechanics:

    "American Atheists base their reasoning on Quantum Interpretation, hand in hand with Quantum Mathematics. Summoning the dark forces of quantum mysticism, with mathematical incantations, possesses the power to bewilder, and thus con, the average persons seemingly at will, into believing the bizarre and surreal: Z Particles, Neutrinos, Leptons, Quarks, Weak Bosons, etc. Mystics attempt to pass off quantum abuses as legitimate science, by expressing the theories in symbolic fashion. These formula represent the greatest hoax ever pulled upon an unsuspecting public....The objective....is to expedite the return to classical physics, by exposing quantum dirty tricks. That is, unethical behavior or acts,...to undermine and destroy the credibility of Biblical histories. These dirty tricks include: Absolute dating systems, Big Bang Theory, Antimatter, and Oort Cloud. These...have no further station in Science."

    http://www.questforright.com

    A more sophisticated way to argue against Darwin is certainly to argue against modern physics. Without modern physics, you lose astrophysics too, which enables the author to make the case for YEC [young earth creationism]. The author goes on to "prove" that things like red supergiant stars and X-ray pulsars don't really exist, except in the imagination of scientists.”

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  7. As far I'm not a ID supporter, I agree that ID isn't the same as creationism.

    It's well explained in this long article on ID:

    http://www.arn.org/docs/williams/pw_idtheoryoverview.htm

    I see ID as a philosophical hypothesis, but I'm not sure that it's a scientifically testable hypothesis, not more than the non-falsifiable/testable memetic theory.

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  8. See Occum's Razor... or the actual argument ID proponents make.

    Evolution + ID is more complicated than one or the other and just as accurate. In short it adds additional parts WITHOUT increasing predictivity.

    Occum's razor was made for such an argument.

    The universe isn't blind and purposeless- you give it too much credit. For starters, the universe isn't sentient- it is incapable of having a purpose or a plan. It simply is.

    Whcih is good. Purpose given from on high is a defining feature of those who are not free.

    As for randomness in evolution... mutations are ENTIRELY random. Survival is also highly random- why do you think we have things like the founder and bottleneck effect?

    Profire
    The purpose of science is to explain everything in a natural matter.

    If it seeks to use a non-natural explanation it isn't science. You may think this unfair, but guess what? For science it has worked for the past two millenia- more and more supernatural things have been shown to be natural.

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  9. I only see that evolution is introducing the idea that everything must be explained in a naturalistic manner.

    Err, not quite. Evolution states that it is explained not just in any naturalistic manner, but rather a very specific one called natural selection. You can still believe, of course, if you want, that intelligent design is compatible with evolution, but that doesn't change the fact that evolution is the theory that explains everything while ID explains nothing.

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  10. Ok so I listened to the first part (it got a little embarrassing as it wore on, and I tuned out..)

    I must admit I had not appreciated this argument before, regarding the distinction between ID and creationism, that it (according to Behe) consists in where you started your analysis: nature or the bible. So if in the end you arrive at the same conclusion, ID is supposedly still different from creationism. Interesting.

    But even so. If something in our genome was intelligently designed (assuming for the sake of argument that ID will somehow be able to prove that) - shouldn't the million-dollar question in ID be "who was the designer?" Where is the ID research into that? Do they suggest that this is less important than finding out that something was designed? Surely it's the other way around; if something truly was designed, the only interesting project would then be to find out more about the designer. If the designer isn't necessarily God, as ID proponents like to pretend, then what are the other options? (please, submit your suggestions)

    Which reminds me. You guys remember this movie called "Expelled" that was on a while ago? In it, Richard Dawkins somehow comes across as suggesting that life could have originated elsewhere and been transported here by an alien civilization. This remark earned him a lot of ridicule from the ID'ers, as I recall. As Dawkins explained, however, in this argument he was bending over backwards in order to make the best possible case for ID that could be made from a scientific perspective. And for that he got duly ridiculed. For the life of me, I can't imagine why he has developed such an aversion to debating creationists.

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  11. c. david parsons- I've got to hand it to you. You are a living confirmation of Poe's Law, that is, the difficulty of distinguishing fake fundamentalism from the real thing. I checked out your website and I'm still not sure. If it's a satire it's very well done- if not, it's peerless fruitcake stuff. Can anyone help me?

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  12. Zilch, I'd lovingly challenge you to examine "The Quest for Right": A Creationist Attack on Quantum Mechanics, before maligning me as a kook.

    I have also started a blogsite to discuss issues further.
    http://questforright.blogspot.com/

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  13. I only see that evolution is introducing the idea that everything must be explained in a naturalistic manner. Which tells me that this is a personal issue, not a scientific issue.

    Theism introduced the idea that there must be a second, completely different, supernatural realm for which there is no direct evidence. However, since we have strong evidence which supports an existing natural explanation, positing a whole new realm doesn't appear necessary. Which tells me this is a personal issue, not a scientific issue.

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  14. c. david parsons- I've already checked out your website, but I'm not going to buy your books, if they even exist: I've already had my laugh, and I have a family to support.

    I'm still not sure that it's not a brilliant satire. Again: any of you Christians here want to help me out on this? Or are you all of the "big tent" persuasion, and support anyone's kooky ideas, or at least don't knock them, as long as they profess to believe in God? Of course, I can't blame you, if you all have better things to do with your time. Darwin knows I should be doing my taxes right now: rendering unto Caesar and all that.

    And cdp: I may think you're a kook, but that's not "maligning" in my book. Some of my favorite people are kooks. Even I am a kook, of sorts. More power to you: either way, satire or serious, you have created something wildly original and funny. The world needs more stuff like this.

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  15. @C David Parsons

    You may or may not be a kook, a troll, or just sincerely misguided - all of those are debatable opinions.

    What is entirely beyond doubt is that you are currently the most prolific generator of comment spam in the section of the blogosphere that refers to ID and evolution.

    I get a google news alert with links to various news and blog pages and every day, literally every day that i follow those links I come across at least one of your meandering incomprehensible pseudo scientific cut-and-posts.

    Give it up, get a life, and maybe even study some science!

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  16. Zilch said: any of you Christians here want to help me out on this?

    What is it exactly that your asking for help with? I don't know CDP nor have I read his article(or books), but I have read the responses here to him. None of which get beyond calling him a 'kook' (which is actually NOT a term of endearment).

    Articulate an actual argument against something his argument specifically says (I'm referring to the one CDP referenced in his comment), and perhaps then I'll second your assessment. But I don't make a habit of seconding ad hominem with so little information about what both of y'all are talking about.

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  17. The missing link between ID proponents and creationism has been found some time ago.

    Of Pandas and People (1987, creationist version), p. 3-40: “Evolutionists think the former is correct, creationists accept the latter view.”

    Of Pandas and People (1987, “intelligent design” version), p. 3-41: “Evolutionists think the former is correct, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view.”


    Also, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day6am2.html#day6am889

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  18. Netlosh- Thanks for replying. And you're right in wanting a good reason to call someone a kook. But it's difficult to find anything to refute in cdp's comment, or his website, because it's so confused. I'll give it a shot, though. He says:

    Mystics attempt to pass off quantum abuses as legitimate science, by expressing the theories in symbolic fashion. These formula represent the greatest hoax ever pulled upon an unsuspecting public....The objective....is to expedite the return to classical physics, by exposing quantum dirty tricks. That is, unethical behavior or acts,...to undermine and destroy the credibility of Biblical histories.

    As far as I can unravel this, he is saying that quantum physics is a plot to get people to not believe in the Bible. Now, most people I know, believers and unbelievers alike, would agree that the relevance of quantum physics to belief in the Bible is null. And many of the founders of quantum physics have been believers, which makes it unlikely that they were plotting to sow disbelief in the Bible. But in any case, cdp simply states baldly that quantum physics is false and that it is a plot, with no evidence whatsoever for either claim. That earns him the epithet of "kook" in my book. Or brilliant satirist.

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  19. P.S. I just looked at cdp's main website, and found some stuff that's easier to understand. For instance (annoyingly, I had to type this out by hand, because it is a pic and not text):

    "The backbone of Darwinism is not biological evolution per se, but electronic interpretation, the tenet that all physical, chemical, and biological processes result from a change in the electron structure of the atom which, in turn, may be deciphered through the orderly application of mathematics, as outlined in quantum mechanics."

    In the first place, this "tenet" is not held by anyone, because it's false. Chemical processes do result from a change in the electron structure of the atom, true; but many physical processes do not: nuclear fusion, for instance, or a meteorite striking the Earth, or wind blowing. Of course electrons are involved in these processes, but the processes do not result from electron interaction.

    But that's just quibbling. The main mistake made here is calling "electronic interpretation" the backbone of Darwinism. While it is true that actual evolution "depends" upon the interaction of electrons, so does anything that involves chemistry. But the understanding that evolution occurred can be, and was, established with no knowledge of electrons whatsoever. There is a great deal of evidence for evolution that does not involve chemistry, not to mention quantum physics, at all. So even if quantum physics were defenestrated tomorrow (I'm willing to make a large bet that it won't be), that would say nothing whatsoever about the status of evolutionary science.

    If I have time, I'll look for more stuff later. Cheers from overcast Vienna, zilch.

    Btw- if any of you are in the SF Bay Area between June 9 and July 15, drop me a line, and the drinks are on me.

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  20. Zilch said: And you're right in wanting a good reason to call someone a kook.

    I don't actually care if you call him a kook (actually there where a few things about his post I found rather odd myself), my only concern was with the insinuation that because Christians didn't necessarily feel compelled to respond (one way or the other that we may "all of the 'big tent' persuasion, and support anyone's kooky ideas, or at least don't knock them, as long as they profess to believe in God".

    That had nothing to do with anything. But it wasn't my intent for push you to venture on wasting your time wading through any nonsense just to refute it (I haven't read any of his stuff myself so, to be fair, I'm not calling his stuff crap, only that you have and thats what you saw).

    You've obviously articulated an actual challenge to his statements now and I guess we'll see what the man has to say for himself. Take care...

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  21. Netlosh- I didn't mean to insinuate that all Christians have the "big tent" mindset. Some do, some don't; just as some atheists will defend other atheists just because they're atheists: it's just human, and I find I have to do my best not to succumb to it myself.

    Cheers from rainy Vienna, looking forward to sunny California, zilch

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