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What neo-creationists get right

An evolutionist shares lessons he's learned from the Intelligent Design camp

By | June 20, 2008

Two and a half years ago, in what is so far the "trial of this century," federal district judge John Jones III linkurl:ruled;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/194/ that it was unconstitutional for a school board in Dover, PA to teach linkurl:intelligent design;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/36664/ (ID) theory in a public high school science class. The decision was stunning; the ID movement lost on every front. When Jones called the school board's efforts to introduce ID into the curriculum "staggering inanity," the anti-ID chorus roared its support. Jones declared the ID movement's science bogus, their tactics corrupt, and their religious motivations transparent. Intelligent design, Jones said, is the most recent species in the highly adaptive lineage known as linkurl:American Creationism.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15273/ The Dover trial seemed, for a brief moment, to be a wooden stake driven into the heart of creationism. But ID is once again back up and on the march. So far in 2008, legislators in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan, and Missouri have tried to require that classrooms teach both "the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory," code for unteaching evolution. Similar legislation linkurl:passed;http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2008/06/house_approves_changes_in_teac.html both houses of the Louisiana legislature this month and is coming perilously close to passing in Texas. American creationism's resilience is tied mostly to its cultural and religious roots, in particular the linkurl:Religious Right's;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/7/1/48/1/ conviction that scientific naturalism promotes cultural relativism. But in the debate over evolution, I also think creationists' doggedness has to do with the fact that they make a few worthy points. And as long as evolutionists like me reflexively react with ridicule and self-righteous rage, we may paradoxically be adding years to creationism's lifespan. First, I have to agree with the ID crowd that there are some very big (and frankly exciting) questions that should keep evolutionists humble. While there is important work going on in the area of biogenesis, for instance, I think it's fair to say that science is still in the dark about this fundamental question. It's hard to draw conclusions about the significance of what we don't know. Still, I think it is disingenuous to argue that the origin of life is irrelevant to evolution. It is no less relevant than the Big Bang is to physics or cosmology. linkurl:Evolution;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23321/ should be able to explain, in theory at least, all the way back to the very first organism that could replicate itself through biological or chemical processes. And to understand that organism fully, we would simply have to know what came before it. And right now we are nowhere close. I believe a material explanation will be found, but that confidence comes from my faith that science is up to the task of explaining, in purely material or naturalistic terms, the whole history of life. My linkurl:faith;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/52986/ is well founded, but it is still faith. Second, IDers also argue that the cell is far more complex than linkurl:Darwin;http://www.the-scientist.com/2008/6/1/32/1/ could have imagined 149 years ago when he published __On the Origin of Species.__ There is much more explaining to do than those who came before us could have predicted. Sure, we also know a lot more about natural selection and evolution, including the horizontal transfer of portions of genomes from one species to another. But scientists still have much to learn about the process of evolution if they are to fully explain the phenomenon. Again, I have faith that science will complete that picture, but I suspect there will be some big surprises. Will one of them be that an intelligent being designed life? I doubt it. Even if someone found compelling evidence for a designer, for us materialists, it would just push the ultimate question down the road a bit. If a Smart One designed life, what is the material explanation for its existence? The third noteworthy point IDers make has its roots, paradoxically, in a kind of psychological empiricism. Millions of people believe they directly experience the reality of a Creator every day, and to them it seems like nonsense to insist that He does not exist. Unless they are lying, God's existence is to them an observable fact. Denying it would be like insisting that my love for my children was an illusion created by neurotransmitters. I can't imagine a scientific argument in the world that could convince me that I didn't really love my children. And if there were such an argument, I have to admit I'd be reluctant to accept it, however compelling it appeared on paper. I have too much respect for my own experience. Which leads me to a final concession to my ID foes: When they say that some proponents of evolution are blind followers, they're right. A few years ago I covered a conference of the American Atheists in Las Vegas. I met dozens of people there who were dead sure that evolutionary theory was correct though they didn't know a thing about adaptive radiation, genetic drift, or even plain old natural selection. They came to their Darwinism via a commitment to naturalism and atheism not through the study of science. They're still correct when they say evolution happens. But I'm afraid they're wrong to call themselves skeptics unencumbered by ideology. Many of them are best described as zealots. Ideological zeal isn't incompatible with good science; its coincidence with a theory proves nothing about that theory's explanatory power. Should IDers be allowed to pursue their still very eccentric and outlying theory? Absolutely. There must be room, even respect, for eccentricity in science; it can lead to great discoveries. linkurl:Alchemy;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53274/ led to chemistry. Astrology to linkurl:astronomy.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/10317/ Much more often, of course, it leads nowhere. Looking for evidence of design in the natural world isn't itself unscientific (though, as I argue in my book, insisting that any designer must be a supernatural being is!) and if it were found, that would be big and fascinating news. But if I had a biology department with only seven faculty spots in it, I would not want someone who believed the cornerstone of modern biology was hogwash filling one of them. And I certainly don't want an improbable outlying hypothesis taught to my own teenage son as an alternative to one of the most powerful explanatory theories to illuminate the human mind. linkurl:Gordy Slack;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53514/ is an Oakland-based science writer. His most recent book, linkurl:__The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA__,;http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Over-Meaning-Everything-Intelligent/dp/0470379316 was published by Wiley in 2007, and came out in paperback this April. He is now writing a book about the neuroscience of epilepsy.
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Comments

Avatar of: Tom Thunnell

Tom Thunnell

Posts: 6

June 20, 2008

Whether evolutionists are humble or not has nothing to do with the validity of the theory. Science will never have all of the answers to any question - so what ?\nThe cell is more complicated than Darwin could have imagined - so what ?\nSome followers of evolution are blind followers - so what?\nNeither Mr. Stack's formal or informal use of the word "faith" is appropriate. An expectation of an outcome based on past performance of a formal method of inquiry is not properly defined by the word "faith".
Avatar of: Kerry Kleiber

Kerry Kleiber

Posts: 2

June 20, 2008

This was well thought out and well said. I'm also on the side of evolution, certainly not the creationists. But there's a real danger in unconditionally shutting out other points of views, even in (maybe especially in) science. I know, there's a lot of crackpots out there and even more smart people who simply go the wrong way. But we don't always know the right way until we've gone the wrong a few times. So, hire "Creationists" for a biology department? No. But, equally, don't shout them down, either, because of your fear, which is what it is.
Avatar of: Steven Hanson

Steven Hanson

Posts: 1

June 20, 2008

The idea of design carries with it the concept of originating, developing and executing a plan for a final product. None of these are possible without a "designer". \n\nThe whole concept of intelligent design is to crowbar religion in to ground they are unable to claim via experimental evidence.
Avatar of: Michael Holloway

Michael Holloway

Posts: 55

June 20, 2008

In the few times that The Scientist publishes on this issue there is always the insistance that an obvious political compromise can be reached with the anti-evolution education campaign that will make everyone happy. Your editor has acknowledged numerous complaints that he's naive on the issue. Nothing much seems to have changed. This is not a polite academic discussion. This is a propaganda war in which the anti-evolution campaign will stoop to any low necessary to misrepresent science and the scientific community. The "compromise" to be reached is how the subject of evolution is to be framed, not how much you can placate wackos. Yes, intolerant atheists are waging an anti-religion campaign that blurs/removes the line between science and spiritual philosophy, but that doesn't make fundamentalist lies about biology any more acceptable.
Avatar of: john toeppen

john toeppen

Posts: 52

June 20, 2008

Darwin?s perspectives have certainly been pivotal in establishing our modern views of an\nongoing creation. Environmental influences clearly influence breeding selection in addition to other factors that we do not yet understand. A complete picture is not yet within our grasp. Yet many of us (but not all) would certainly believe that our personal spousal selections were intelligent choices. The cumulative effects of such choices may well be responsible for some of the apparent intelligence seen in the designs of nature. There may even be mechanisms for learned experiences to impact genetic coding by RNA pathways that we do not yet understand.\n\nIt is arrogant to presume that we have answers to questions that we have not yet asked, or framed well. If we are unable to objectively consider possibilities outside of our preconceptions then we too are guilty of dogmatic thought.\n\nIt seems quite certain that creation continues as the human race manipulates genetic materials. We are participants and not just passengers. There is a persistent force within life itself that drives living things to act in ways that are well beyond simple survival. Sometimes a hypothesis is not provable or falsifiable and is therefore a matter of faith. Perhaps we should be more tolerant of other people?s views in such cases. There is no certainty that our views are entirely correct, or theirs. We should be open to the notion that everybody?s perspectives are incomplete and that our theories also need to evolve. We should also be aware that many religious people are seeking better answers because they too marvel at the stars and wonder about the fossil record. Absolutists find it difficult to bring converts into their fold.\n\nThis comment is personal, not professional, and has no affiliation with my place of employment.
Avatar of: Paul Gehrman

Paul Gehrman

Posts: 4

June 20, 2008

This article misses the point in my view. ID is about intellectual dishonesty. IDers don't care what the facts are, they already "know" all the answers. ID is religion. It has no basis other than someone's wishful thinking. Thus, while it's important for scientists to continue studying evolution's questions (is there anything more interesting to study!), we should not give up one millimeter to religious dogma, particularly to IDers who are hijacking the prestige of science for their own petty superstitions.
Avatar of: Melissa McCoy

Melissa McCoy

Posts: 4

June 20, 2008

To call ID an "improbable outlying hypothesis" is giving the believers of this religious idealogy way too much credit. A hypothesis is a tentative explanation for a phenomenon that can be tested by further investigation, which is exactly what leads to the requirement that ID not be included in science class discussions. In my opinion, there are few better ways to further reduce the credibility of science in this country.
Avatar of: irvin besen

irvin besen

Posts: 4

June 20, 2008

Gordy Slack has introduces some good points from which science can learn and which science must answer. I can remember the iritation that Jay Gould expressed about having to refute or explain to creationists. I think now it was time well spent. The Soviets used revolutionary ideology to shape science...to its great loss.\nScience has over-sold the notion of its perfection in all things...and that is a weakness in the presentation to the public. That the universe is coherent and consistent and is not capricious is the faith that keeps scientists ever searching.\nThe ID folks also have faith, that the universe is in the hands of a capricious designer. A Designer that only true believers have access to, and if you don't believe as they do, you could go to hell or worse.\nBoth sides must argue their case best they can. Science has its own standards, including fallibility and provability. ID folks have their own standards, not compatible with science and with the further agenda of bolstering their religion. Public education is not the right place to confont the issues, in my view.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 7

June 20, 2008

As a Catholic Christian I have never found that there is any moral issue concerning God, creation and science. Why? Because:\nFirst: I do not have the supremest ego to, for one second, believe God's time MUST be the same as my time. Who can be so egotistical, so vain? \nSecond: I cannot believe that the same God responsible for this Universe would be so small-minded and evilly intended as to make a Universal set of rules and laws, (laws of physics, chemistry) and then demand that you ignore them to follow a set of guidelines written 2-3,000 years before anyone knew any of the science behind the Universe, finally,\nThird: I fully see the irony of the vain, self-centered religionists who trumpet one cause, creationism, while ignoring all the other guidelines of that same book, (the bible), that deal with murder, theft, adultery, idol-worship, (money and power), good-stewardship of this planet and greed/vanity/slothfulness. \nWeird how all those issues are ignored in their day-to-day lives and the "in-your-face" publicity seeking issues are the only ones they forward.
Avatar of: Bernard Chasan

Bernard Chasan

Posts: 2

June 20, 2008

I cannot argue with the author's belief that much remains to be explained before evolution is in some sense, a satisfacory structure. Evolution is very much a developing science - which hardly makes it unique and hardly can be considered a weakness.\nThe fact that cells are way more complex than Darwin could possibly know, and that a complex and detailed science of molecular biology is now available hardly weakens the validity of Darwin's observations and the conclusions he drew from them.\n But the main weakness of this essay comes from its handling of religion. It is indeed true that atheists may know little about evolution yet believe in it anyway. But it is not true, as the author seems to believe, that anybody professing belief in a creator automatically must reject evolution.
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 20, 2008

Most reductionists lack an appreciation of the simple truth that spirituality does not have to imply the existence of the supernatural. That is a semantic problem; not a real one. So-called emergent properties are fundamentally synonymous with the idea of synergy, popularly expressed as follows: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Virtually all serious cosmological and field theoretical research in physics is predicated on the assumption that all physical laws are implicit in the nature of a single, ultimate underlying field. This assumption has a long history of success behind it in having evolved increasingly accurate, powerful models of the physical world. \n\nThis is in turn would appear to have its basis in the simple observation, also evident in abstract mathematical structures, that explanatory power always flows from the global, abstract, and general to the local, concrete, and specific as any elementary algebraic equation easily and clearly demonstrates. It also indicates powerfully that nature works the same way, as exemplified in the abstract structure of magnetic and gravitational fields and their implicit descriptions of an unlimited number of possible concrete scenarios. Successful theories must reflect the fundamental properties manifest in the structure of reality. All of this absolutely flies in the face of an exclusive reductionism, a full 180 degrees opposed to it.\n\nThis would also seem to imply that the essentially synonymous concepts of synergy and emergent properties are an illusion arising from the artificial separation from their contexts within the whole that human intellect tends to impose on specific phenomena. Such artificial intellectual fragmentation of the cosmos into subcomponents inherently sacrifices the essential significance of their functionality within the bigger picture. This loss of intelligence is recuperated upon their contextual reinsertion, thereby creating the illusion of synergy. Emergent properties are not anything mystical or magical. We simply quit ignoring what we were previously ignoring.\n\nWe also experience subjectively the most global, abstract, general aspect of our individual human experience as consciousness. Together with all the preceding, we might conclude that like everything else, consciousness is not an emergent phenomenon. Rather, it is simply the result of ceasing to ignore what the predominant brand of reductionism ignores. That leads to a bigger question. \n\nWhat if, as Chalmers and Stapp hypothesize, consciousness, and we might add, the intelligence implicit in natural structure (as clearly follows from the single underlying field assumption) are fundamental and axiomatic to existence itself? Would this not eliminate the need to have these apparently new and unprecedented phenomena, allegedly unrelated to any properties intrinsic to the cosmic system that evolved them, magically ?emerge? in complete contradiction to the most basic tenets of information theory and any conceivable elementary principles of conservation? \n\nWe might wonder whether the laws of nature of which we are currently aware are merely aspects of the intelligent, conscious structure implicit fundamentally and axiomatically in all phenomenal existence as generated from and within a single underlying field. Are we not intelligent and conscious? Could we have any existence apart from or outside such a unitary field? Are we not clearly, from any reasonable perspective at all, tiny subcomponents of the cosmic system that evolved us? \n\nIf they have no axe to grind, why is the secular fundamentalism of so many scientists based on inelegant, theoretically uneconomical, circular, short-circuited thinking that inevitably requires mystical assumptions, in direct violation of their professed reductionism, regarding the appearance of ?emergent properties? or ?epiphenomena? such as consciousness and intelligence? This single underlying field does not have to be viewed as supernatural, but rather as an aspect of nature that simply transcends all others and serves as their basis, just as any initial premise must of necessity transcend the logic of any theory while serving as its basis. \n\nWe don?t have to buy the idea of an anthropomorphic god to believe in an ultimate intelligence underlying and implicit within the cosmos that is indeed conscious and forms the basis for our individual awareness. This could be viewed as the scientific equivalent of God having created man in His own image, which in this case would follow logically from a fractal, holographic universe that recursively generates and evolves all local structure from within itself. It is vastly more economical theoretically than any alternative both in terms of science and the known history of human cognitive appreciation at the highest levels. \n\nScience uses the filtering and redundancy of experimental design and replication to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio in our attempts to communicate with nature on a socially macroscopic scale in practically effective ways. Ancient sages evolved modes that deal directly with human consciousness and aim to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio of individual communication with nature in practically effective ways. Might we not be better off viewing these systems as complementary rather than indulging in mutual scoffing while each unnecessarily regards the other as a competing perspective? \n\nIs it not also chauvinistic to assume that everyone possesses more or less the same level of cognitive capability beyond the narrow aspect we generally and rather crudely conceive in terms of academic intelligence? That is probably an assumption very typical of humans, but also likely a very flawed one. We know there are statistical outliers on the mentally ill and criminal end of the spectrum whose cognitive maladies have little to zero correlation with what we narrowly conceptualize as intelligence. Why do so many so-called intellectuals blithely assume there are no outliers on the other extreme that exhibit a cognitive clarity that also lacks much if any correlation with conventional measures of education and intelligence? \n\nWhy not take our cue from the ancient wisdom of some of such probable positive outliers likely venerated for just this very good reason and who have equated our consciousness with the single, underlying ?being-ness? of ourselves and everything else? Must our defensive egos dictate that we obstinately give our narrow definitions of intellect and academic prowess such absolute priority in assessing the nature of reality? \n\nA cornerstone of reductionism is falsifiability. Falsifiability can exist in practice without existing in principle, so these are very different and have consequently very different implications. However, a sufficiently comprehensive scenario can eliminate any potential for falsifiability in either case. For example, no one can incontrovertibly prove that his or her perception of life is not the product of a brain on artificial life support sitting in a laboratory on another planet in the 25th century with sensory input from a perfect neurophysiological recording of someone else?s current life. This is neither falsifiable in principle nor in practice and likely never will be. That directly implies that this essential cornerstone of reductionism becomes inapplicable at sufficiently comprehensive levels.\n\nWhy not take advantage of the redundancies inherent in the multiple sources of scripture in our major spiritual traditions, both east and west, to locate the commonalities that represent their essence? When we take this approach to eliminate system noise in the superficial cultural trappings and the distortions introduced with suspect additions and modifications, are the resulting striking parallels and essential consonance of ancient wisdom with modern scientific understanding really nothing more than mere coincidence? \n\nThe brand of reductionism that rejects spirituality out of hand deludes itself that it is getting away with its outmoded, classical, nineteenth-century perspective because it reflexively ignores the enormous, and what should therefore be the obvious disparity between local perception (that directly comprehends neither microscopic nor macroscopic realities) and modern scientific understanding of the comprehensively unified nature and structure of reality. Such adherents of reductionism ignore the implicit context residing in the structure of their own awareness, an awareness capable of generating mathematical concepts independent of any basis in physical data, but nevertheless sometimes predating the appearance of just such confirming data. By reflexively, unwittingly, and often arrogantly indulging the consequent ignorance so obvious to those with more cognitive clarity, the brand of reductionism that rejects spirituality a priori ironically scoffs at these while providing itself a well-deserved and very fitting finale in its own ultimate reduction to cosmic irrelevance. \n\nThe ultimate value of both approaches resides in their serving a role as practically useful tools for modeling reality that start at opposite, polar extremes of that same reality. Holism starts from the global extreme and reductionism from the local. Neither is ultimately useful without the other. Their successful integration should be the ultimate goal. Lack of such an appreciation of ultimate compatibility and complementarity manifests as the socially real, but philosophically and ultimately only apparent, conflict between the polar extremes of the search for a genuinely serviceable understanding of reality: spirituality and scientific thought. \n\nBy far the most significant component of this apparent conflict resides in the real difference in the more superficial views of each approach, which is to say, a lack of comprehensive integrity in the full, contextual appreciation of their functioning. It is arguably legitimate to consider this lack of comprehensive integrity or superficiality as manifest respectively in the secular and religious fundamentalism of reductionists and those professing interest in spirituality. Both find huge differences on the surface of these issues with no depth in assessing their nature as simple polarities within the unified spectrum of reality, and so naturally ignore the existence of their interaction and ultimate interdependence. \n
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 20, 2008

I am an avid follower of evolutionary theory. I believe that some day life may be generated in the laboratory. I see evolution as a continuous, recursive expression of the Supreme and Conscious Intelligence axiomatically implicit in the single, ultimate field underlying all phenomena. In short, I see evolution as God's modus operandi. \n\nWhy not speculate that organisms at every stage of evolution contain physical analogs of all the natural laws that have participated in their evolution to that point? Human or humanoid intelligence, then, may reflect them all, initially most likely with a poor signal-to-noise ratio, but still now recursively aware, that is to say, self-conscious in the sense of curiosity as to its origin and an intuitive awareness of the Intelligence that spawned it as well as exhibiting potential to resonate intellectually with the laws that continue to structure its reality. Perhaps that is what gives it the ability make scientific discoveries using reductionism at the appropriate local level, informed contextually by preexisting theoretical models and the integrating power of the global context implicit in consciousness itself.
Avatar of: James Cavenaugh

James Cavenaugh

Posts: 1

June 20, 2008

Hmm... an interesting article, - where to begin? "In the beginning God created..." This seems so self-evident to me that it seems ridiculous to try to defend it any more than trying to convince some one else that the sky is blue. (Actually, I think it would be philosophically challenging to convince someone that the sky is not, say, green if such a person really believed it to be green.) But while the *existence* of God is to me pretty obvious, His nature is not obvious merely from the heavens declaring his handiwork. For example, does He care about humans, and even individuals? That is a question that certainly lies outside the realm of science and squarely in the realm of theology.\n\nA deeper issue is the notion that to be a good scientist, or to be "scientific", one must be an atheist (or at least a functional atheist). I haven't read the author's book, but I think his sentence "Looking for evidence of design in the natural world isn't itself unscientific (though, as I argue in my book, insisting that any designer must be a supernatural being is!)..." really gets to the crux of the issue. OBVIOUSLY the simplest explanation for the EXISTENCE of the cosmos is that a supernatural being created it, period. The problem is that immediately leads to questions that lie in the realm of theology, not science. But simply accepting the simplest explanation (consistent with all the known facts, duh!) is not unscientific in any way, shape, or form. It's called "Occam's razor" and it has served scientists very well. In fact, its formalization in terms of minimum description length and minimum message length principles is an interesting area that I think will make a real impact in compuational biology.\n\nSo while I would disagree with the author in his notion that it's "unscientific" to insist that a designer is a supernatural being, I do want to say that I appreciate his honesty to admit that it *is* faith he has (yes, code-word for "religion") which insists, "I believe a material explanation will be found, but that confidence comes from my faith that science is up to the task of explaining, in purely material or naturalistic terms, the whole history of life. My faith is well founded, but it is still faith." I wish that Creationists had such honesty too!\n\nCan we be brutally honest with ourselves? To do so would be for the atheist to admit that they don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to the existence of, well, everything. Unfortunately for atheists, the ID arguments are in fact pretty solid when it comes to origins. The problem is that evolution explains much or all of the *diversity* of life, not the *origin* of life. Unfortunately for theists, none of the major religions of the world have much place for evolution. The Bible in particular has the story of Noah's flood, which at face value would be very much against the evidence of the world around us (e.g., the geographic diversity of life).\n\nAs to the notion that it's unscientific to have faith in a supernatural being, I say, let's be empirical about it. We're scientists, so let's see some data! In fact, science is very much a human activity, not some thing "out there", and in a real sense science is what scientists do. The fact is that a very great many scientists are theists, not atheists, including some of the most notable scientists of all time - maybe even Darwin himself (an agnostic). As to numbers, they vary by survey, but in general most scientists are theists, not atheists (e.g., see http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/050811_scientists_god.html). If you're going to seriously argue that it's unscientific to believe in a supernatural Creator, consistent with Occam's razor, then you're going to have to argue that the likes of Mendel, Einstein, and Newton were not very scientific. Good luck doing that!
Avatar of: Jesse Creel

Jesse Creel

Posts: 4

June 21, 2008

I find no problem with the fact to me, "God Created Evolution", the only universal truth needed to explain all existence! Out of this intelligent design arose as a consequence of the natural rules of universal creation. \n\n\n\n\n\n
Avatar of: Harry Roy

Harry Roy

Posts: 5

June 21, 2008

The ID people are committed to the notion that a complicated object cannot evolve step by step. But the evidence that it can has been growing ever since Darwin first noticed the numerous ways in which organisms solve the problem of perceiving light. A good recent example is the research on the components of the bacterial flagellum, which work on their own in organisms lacking a flagellum. \n\nThe idea that scientists might explain the origin of life is an hypothesis, not a matter of faith as the author claims. So far a number of tests of this idea have been made, for example the Miller-Urey experiment, or if you will the synthesis of urea by Friedrich Miescher in 1828. None of these have provided results that argue for vitalism. The results I know of favor the notion of consilience among biology, physics, and chemistry.\n\nThe notion that the world and its organisms were initiated by an intelligent creator is not an hypothesis, because it cannot be tested. There are no properties of a supernatural being that are obliged to have some kind of physical manifestation, by definition. People who want to believe in a creator are free to do so in our culture. But we should not accept their claim that this has anything to do with science any more than we should accept the tenets of their particular faith if we don't want to.
Avatar of: Jeremy Wickins

Jeremy Wickins

Posts: 9

June 21, 2008

The argument here perhaps points out a problem with school curricula, in that the history of science is rarely, if ever, taught. The evolution/creation issue is different from, but related to, both science and religion, but it can never be a debate - creation theory tends to deny evolution, and evolution tends to deny creation. Only occasionally, as demonstrated by other commentators here, is the point of view that both could exist given space, but it should be considered. Scientists, who claim to hold the high ground when it comes to open-mindedness, are on a loser every time they say "There is no creator". What if, just for an example, a face is found etched into a glacier (as per Slartibartfast in Douglas Adams' work)? Unlikely, of course, but we just don't know what there is yet to be found. \n\nThis is where curriculum bodies could do something useful by having a mid-ground course that incorporates both views, and allows discussion. However, this raises the further question of *which* creationism gets taught - Christian, Hindu, Rosicrucian, Andean animism...? US fundamentalists don't have the field to themselves, as should be pointed out to them!\n\nPersonally, just to put my comments in perspective, my standpoint is that evolution is as obvious as blue sky on Earth when there are no clouds in the daytime. It is elegant, and answers Occam's Razor in a way that "God did it" just doesn't. If a god/gods did it, why, how, and where did it/they come from in the first place? "God did it" is NOT the simplest answer, not now, not ever.
Avatar of: Gil Lawton

Gil Lawton

Posts: 42

June 21, 2008

Each time the subject of biological evolution is raised, the same opinions seem to be regurgitated on each extreme of a polemic. Unfortunately, opinions are not science but, ironically, they are a stimulus to science. By that, I mean that what seems "self evident" to one human does not seem "self-evident" to another. And some scientists, I am told, are humans.\n\nWere it not for the troublesome dissenters, one could -- be he scientist or no -- simply get on with it and not be subject to bothersome gadflies. One could simply flash his diploma -- his license to be the one whose intuition is always more "right" than that of someone who says, in effect, "The opposite is "self-evident."\n\nWhether patiently and methodically, or kicking and screaming all the way, the poor scientist, for all his GPA and mortar cap and other academic bells and whistles, has to stop what he is assuming off into the stratosphere about, come back down to where hard evidence is the only thing that will shut the b-----ds up -- if then -- and do MORE than spin words in such a way as to bypass the censoring side of the brain of student and layman and -- mercy -- even other scientists who just know in their heart of hearts that it is THEIR contrary interpretation that is right... their rationale that makes the most sense.\n\nIt's hell, ain't it. They just won't lie down and roll over for your blatantly obvious interpretation... for you most sensible and compelling of all possible argumentations... for your credentials and authenticity as the one entitled to the last word one it.\n\nDamn. Those gadflies even expect you to PROVE something. \n\nIs there no justice? No respite from the onus of PROVING things?\n\nShame. Shame. A thousand times shame on those who will no be convinced by your opinion unless you freaking PROVE your opinion is dead right, and everybody else's dead wrong.\n\nWhat is science coming to?!!!!!!!!!\n\nJimminies!\n\nAnd all those beautiful, intuitive things that bio-evolutionary theory offers.\n\nIt's just awful for the unwashed to carry on so, about the little parts of the puzzle that still have to be forced like square pegs into round holes. Lots of evolutionary biologists are almost certain the belong there... so why doesn't everybody just take their WORD for it.\n\nWhile all the same old regurgitation continues some of us have this feeling -- not "opinion" mind you, but a feeling... okay? That neither side has enough evidence to slam dunk any sweeping generalization. No matter HOW obvious to each pole its own speculations. \n\nDid I say "speculations?" Hey, I reckon I did.\nIt's a far cry easier to speculate prosaically than PROVE things, ain't it.\n\nFancy that,\n\n(:>)\n\n \n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 6

June 21, 2008

I am a little bummed that the Scientist is courting ID with articles like this one. I am not sure what good it does to the public or to scientists to title an article, "What neo-creationists get right."\n\nThe rejection of ID by scientists has nothing to do with whether there is a god or not. \n\nThe rejection is based on ID not being science. One cannot use it to generate falsifiable hypotheses; you can't give kids experiments to do, so they can see ID in action. So ID doesn't belong in science class, and scientists are correct to resist its entrance -- on those grounds alone. I don't see it is as helpful to the public debate for the Scientist to make it seem as though neo-creationism is on any kind of solid footing.\n\nIn my mind, part of why this is such a messy conversation is that there are sloppy thinkers all around. Scientists generally don't have training in philosophical or theological disciplines (and often seem to forget that each of them are phD granting scholarly disciplines). Philosophers and theologians generally are not trained in the scientific method nor in the specific disciplines of the biological sciences. \n\nAnd the average Joe or Jane is trained in neither.\n\nSo too many people react to this whole thing emotionally, often with fear and anger -- emotions that just muddle things further. \n\nA certain group of religous folks has come to see evolution as being a cause of what they perceive as the breakdown of "traditional family values" that has occurred over the past forty years. They want to find their god named or reflected everywhere they turn in society -- in court, in school, in their own behavior and in their neighbors' behaviors. In that worldview, the study of life - and the teaching of how life is studied -- without mention of their creator-god is just mind-bogglingly wrong-headed, and in their view, leaves the whole moral order of society without a foundation. Hence all this breaking down of values.\n\nBut when it comes to injecting god into science, their wish is of course muddle-headed. Because science has nothing, and appears unlikely to ever have anything, to say about whether there is a god, nor about what that god might be like, should god exist in some form. We just don't have scientific tools with which to study those questions.\n\nAnd scientists who drag their atheism or theism into the discussion are equally muddle-headed. One understands the outrage and fear of scientists at getting ambushed with this non-scientific god-stuff; but the outrage and fear are not helpful -- nor are scientists' theological speculations, as too many scientists show themselves to be theologically ignorant and/or naive as soon as they start to speak. Too many have no training in the discipline, but want to claim expertise. Exasperating. \n\nThe best thing scientists, as scientists, can do is teach the public what science is and is not. And be clear-headed and unafraid enough to say, when asked about god: "A scientist cannot answer that, because it is not a scientific question." And then teach why that is the case. \n\nLike the prior poster, I think there ~could~ be some value to "teaching the controversy", perhaps in a social studies class. But you would need a raft of social studies teachers who understood what science is and who had some insight into the religious worldview from which ID arises. Only such a dual-headed teacher could provide kids with a real sense of the "mars vs venus" nature of the controversy and not muddle the two lines of thinking. And I imagine that teachers like that are few and far between. So we would end up with kids and the public getting yet more muddled ideas. Which we don't need.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

June 22, 2008

Should IDers be allowed to pursue their still very eccentric and outlying theory? Absolutely. There must be room, even respect, for eccentricity in science; it can lead to great discoveries. Alchemy led to chemistry. Astrology to astronomy. Much more often, of course, it leads nowhere.
\nID has no theory, except that natural selection is wrong. It's proponents have had many years, and spent millions of dollars, but still don't have a theory, or any peer-reviewed publications. The money has gone to propaganda, lobbying and court battles, not for science.
\nConcerning atheism and science: while it is true that many scientists are atheists, it does not follow that most atheists are scientists, and especially it does not follow that author-selected attendees at some atheist conference are likely to be expert evolutionary biologists. I suspect those non-biologist atheists could make a better case for science in its many disciplines than a random group of attendees at a fundamentalist conference could do to oppose it.
\nScience works, superstition fails.
\ndkew
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 22, 2008

Regarding: Science and religion\nby anonymous poster\n\n[Comment posted 2008-06-21 21:02:47]\n\n"The rejection of ID by scientists has nothing to do with whether there is a god or not."\n\nI absolutely agree. Creationism is not science and does not belong in the classroom. It comes from a religious fundamentalism, many subscribers to which still believe God created the "earth" in seven days about 7,000 years ago as their literal-minded, bean-counting perspective calculates. This cannot be science in a universe in which everything from our closest galactic neighbor and beyond could have magically evaporated two million years ago and we would still not know it. \n\nLet's just make sure that the teachers of evolutionary theory, whether in science, biology classes, or elsewhere, do not take on the mantel of a superficial, secular fundamentalism that insists that evolution constitutes proof that a belief in a Supreme Intelligence, Who some prefer to call God, does not exist. NEITHER is such an assertion science! \n\nToo many scientists are in specialties that command no comprehensive overview of cosmology. Then there are some who are not in such narrow specialties and should know better. These people remain stuck in the heritage of a 19th-century scientific materialism built on the foundation of a classical view and that therefore effectively worships matter and energy as ultimate reality. Some scientist have known for a very long time that matter and energy are far from representing any kind of ultimate reality. \n\nThe foundation for the earlier point of view died by the early 20th century at the latest at the hands of theoretical physics, the most incontrovertibly successful of all scientific fields in constructing uncannily accurate theoretical models. Very unfortunately, too many scientists remain incomprehensibly ignorant of this simple fact, or at least show no intellectual acumen in assessing its implications. The reflexive tendency to identify the cerebral products of their sensory input as reality seems to have tacitly overpowered their intellectual integrity at a very fundamental level. This requires them to ignore that not only do we not have the ability to detect all manner of physical reality, but we cannot even perceive anything at either the macroscopic or microscopic extremes. \n\nWe have, however, augmented our technologically extended ability to perceive with collective brilliance in physical modeling over a period of a few centuries provided by some of the greatest geniuses ever known to science of any kind. This has given the lie to any ultimate significance for materialism, since this progress has left the very idea of materiality in any ultimate sense very highly suspect. If this makes no sense to some readers, please refer to my earlier comments. If it still makes no sense, we are dealing in intellectual futility until such readers inform themselves more deeply and/or, much more importantly, remove the blinders their psychological needs apparently manufacture below the surface of a materialistic awareness long rendered superficial by physical, scientific definition.\n
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 22, 2008

In the second paragraph of my previous comment, there is a mistake that could cause confusion as to the intended meaning. Quoting myself:\n\n"Let's just make sure that the teachers of evolutionary theory, whether in science, biology classes, or elsewhere, do not take on the mantel of a superficial, secular fundamentalism that insists that evolution constitutes proof that a belief in a Supreme Intelligence, Who some prefer to call God, does not exist. NEITHER is such an assertion science!"\n\nThat should read without the phrase "a belief in", or alternatively, "that a belief in a Supreme Intelligence, Who some prefer to call God, is baseless folly". \n\nIndeed, because of the negative implications for theists often inherent in the larger, general context of discussing this issue, I feel it would be prudent for teachers to explicitly point out that teaching evolution as fact (which I support as distinct from assigning absolute truth value to specific theoretical aspects of its current models) does not make a belief in God something to be rejected as irrational, not to mention worthy of ridicule.\n\n(Readers may notice that I refuse to accede to the relatively recent American convention that always places global punctuation such as periods inside closing quotation marks, thereby refusing to discriminate whether the quotes themselves are local or global. It is interesting to speculate whether such a lack of discrimination might be micro-cosmically symptomatic of a larger inability to discriminate between locally apparent realities and a more global, comprehensive appreciation of reality. In an earlier post, I proposed that such comprehensive cognitive appreciation is not distributed evenly within the human population any more that what we have narrowly defined as intelligence is, and that these two aspects of cognitive function are not necessarily more tightly correlated than this same narrow intelligence and insanity or criminality.)
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 22, 2008

I have already described in some detail my objections to creationism. However, the term "intelligent design" could conceivably be used to describe my own view as outlined in previous posts. Creationists have actually located the fundamental issue in their use of this term, but it has become associated with such fallacious arguments that to use it would be to imply thinking that has nothing to do with any rational perspective. However, it might be useful to point out that these fallacious creationist arguments are no more irrational than those of scientists who think it folly to believe in a Supreme Intelligence because they never caught such an entity hiding behind a tree. These two sides of the issue are fundamentally identical philosophically speaking. They are both guilty of entertaining literal-minded, superficial perspectives regarding the nature of reality...flip sides of the same coin. They represent religious and secular fundamentalism respectively.

June 23, 2008

Urea was first synthesized in 1828 by Friedrich Woehler, not Friedrich Miescher who was born only in 1844.
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 23, 2008

Evolution is a fact supported by incontrovertible evidence, but as in the case of any theoretical model, we cannot say the same thing about evolutionary theory. The creationists seem to be very confused on this point. Attacking alleged theoretical flaws does not indict in any way the reality of evolution itself. \n\nHowever, in the article we find this statement:\n\n"Even if someone found compelling evidence for a designer, for us materialists, it would just push the ultimate question down the road a bit. If a Smart One designed life, what is the material explanation for its existence?"\n\nWell, if we do NOT presume a Smart One, we still have the ultimate question, do we not? Where did any phenomenon originate? We are off track if we blithely assume that the idea of God exists only because of an intellectual need to explain physical existence. What if there is a limit case to both physical and metaphysical understanding? I suspect there is for very clear reasons that I hope do not require any detailed discussion. (I use "metaphysical" here in the same rigorous sense as "metamathematical", without the distorting connotations usually invoked by the former term.) \n\nWhat if we can approach the limit of understanding intellectually, but can never reach it? Does this necessarily mean we can't reach it cognitively? Remember, experience is primary while reason is a tool for successfully modeling it and dealing with it practically. \n\nAs stated in an earlier post, we must never forget that reason is a tool that has value only as it departs from premises founded in experience and returns us to our experience with successful application of its conclusions. Reason itself must be founded on axiomatic assumptions; hopefully ones that will be fruitful in fulfilling the aforementioned value and purpose of reason. \n\nIt seems that many scientists forget that reason therefore has no ultimate authority. It cannot even testify to its own internal consistency when applied to mathematical systems as fundamental as our number system according to Goedel's Proof. In short, the idea of proof is only applicable locally and empirically. \n\nPostulates at the global level can be tested only by their conformity with specific details of predictions based on comprehensive theoretical constructs. Ultimately even models so substantiated are perpetually open to revision as we all know. \n\nIs it not true that to say there is no God is scientifically equivalent to saying that the cerebral products of sensory input we identify as physical phenomena are primary while the lawful organization of their physical sources is not? To expect proof in terms of concrete evidence at a level of cosmology as global as a postulated Supreme Intelligence is futility bordering on utter silliness. It reflects the kind of intellectual superficiality typical of any other brand of fundamentalism and usually manifests its true nature with the same kind of dogmatic ranting. Is this not also the intellectual equivalent of the kind of fundamentalist mindset that declares God does not exist because we have not found Him hiding behind the moon?
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 23, 2008

In the previous post I asked:\n\nIs saying there is no God not scientifically equivalent to saying that the cerebral products of sensory input we identify as physical phenomena are primary while the lawful organization of their physical sources is not?\n\nIn the same post I used the term metaphysical. "Lawful organization" is an example of what I mean by "metaphysical", devoid of its usual, more questionable connotations. If, as virtually all serious modern research in field theory has assumed for almost a century now, the universe(s) is (are) ultimately (a) manifestation(s) of a single underlying field that comprehends all other fields and even supersedes space and time, generating them from within itself, then the lawful organization of physical existence is obviously intrinsic to the nature of the field itself. \n\nLaws are clearly not themselves physical, since they refer to abstract relationships among aspects of physical existence and do not themselves have any physical character, no mass and no energy, except as they ultimately manifest in terms of some kind of structural dynamic. This is what I mean by a rigorous concept of the metaphysical, fully analogous to the use of the less prejudicial term, "metamathematical". \n\nSo why pretend that our customary use of the term "intelligence" in information theory and technology is not applicable to the nature of the organizing power implicit in a single, timeless, spaceless field underlying and generating from within itself time, space, and all physical phenomena? After all, there is no intellectual integrity in arguing we intelligent beings somehow exist independently of the matter and energy this field manifests. And if a cognitive capability exists that is essentially uncorrelated with intelligence, in the same way that insanity or criminality lack much if any correlation with it at the negative extreme of the same cognitive ability, why should we assume that no one has it? \n\nIn fact, why should the latest models from field theory coincide so strikingly with descriptions from historical luminaries who may still be recognized as great sages because they had such cognitive capability, and who refer to a timeless, omnipresent, omniscient, infinitely intelligent Oneness at the basis of creation, even if expressed in cultural terms and metaphorical language that is currently poorly understood? Why should we let the inevitable, superficial trappings of ancient culture and metaphorical language dissuade us from recognizing the essential wisdom underlying the metaphysical heritage we have from them? Fundamentalists cling to the surface of life and desperately seek stability there where it can never exist. They fight change, which is the nature of life at the surface of existence, and interpret scripture with a commensurate literal-mindedness that fails to appreciate the deeper significance of metaphor. Secular fundamentalists do the same with their unwitting attempt at turning science into the secular equivalent of spiritual dogma. \n
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john toeppen

Posts: 52

June 23, 2008

?Life is the thin film of fermentation that occurs on the surface of planets, which, to the connoisseur, is the very best part.? Isaaic Asimov. \n\nThere is so much good science that still needs to be done. Chemical processes occurring in nature provide pathways that life wraps itself around. Reaction byproducts drive the probabilities of future reactions of the same kind. The time is long overdue for science to connect the dots. Physics creates chemistry, chemistry creates organics, organics create life, and life creates more complex life. Next complex life creates social structures, religion, philosophy, and then science. If we can firmly believe in anything it is the force of life itself.\n\nSpeaking for myself, Nature should be spelled with a capital N. It also seems that we created ?God? in our own image. But what we need to do is improve our societies by moving towards responsible philosophies and applying good science. It might help if we avoid the ?G? word and speak of the ?one force? that has many names.\n
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Paul Johnson

Posts: 1

June 23, 2008

"Still, I think it is disingenuous to argue that the origin of life is irrelevant to evolution. It is no less relevant than the Big Bang is to physics or cosmology. Evolution should be able to explain, in theory at least, all the way back to the very first organism that could replicate itself through biological or chemical processes."\n\nThats crazy. They call it "evolution" for a reason, not "origin of life"\n\nIf we knew more about abiogenesis they would both be considered biology. Newton's first law is not Newton's second law for a reason.\n\n"Second, IDers also argue that the cell is far more complex than Darwin could have imagined 149 years ago when he published On the Origin of Species."\n\nSo does modern science everywhere! You have got to know this.\n\n"Should IDers be allowed to pursue their still very eccentric and outlying theory? Absolutely."\n\nThey are, but not surprisingly it has made no progress.
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bjoern brembs

Posts: 9

June 24, 2008

"Should IDers be allowed to pursue their still very eccentric and outlying theory? Absolutely."\n\nAnd what is their theory? "Magic man done it!"\nAnd that is supposed to be "eccentric and outlying"? It is not a hypothesis, let alone a theory, it is the answer to everything man ever did not understand and so probably is older than any religion and every religion's basis.\n\nHow can "magic man done it!" ever be a theory?
Avatar of: Luc Raeymaekers

Luc Raeymaekers

Posts: 1

June 24, 2008

It is a relieve to see an evolutionist debating ID while keeping solid ground under his feet. I largely agree with G. Slack's 'concessions'. The important and exciting question is not so much the possible existence of a Creator, but whether or not there exists a God who intervenes or did intervene with the reality that is observable to us. The latter possibility is still open because, to my knowledge, Fred Hoyle's fundamental objection has not yet been answered. That a vast number of small steps, driven by selection from random changes, can have creative powers is possible in principle but seems to be extremely improbable in practice (by creative I don't mean small effects like changes of color or changes in affinity of an enzyme for substrates). ID can be dismissed only if it can be shown by (necessarily rough) calculations that the probability to build e.g. a bacterial cell is higher than infinitesimally small (e.g. a probability like 1 in the number of elementary particles in the universe), allowing let's say in the order of 1 billion years, 1 second per step and a number of parallel steps equal to Avogadro's number. This should be shown mathematically, not just by stories involving transitional forms and exaptations. In this respect, the well-known argument against the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum that it is built from preexisting components serving other functions is not sufficient. The argument seems to boil down to this: Hoyle's tornado has created an airplane not by blowing through a junk-yard, but by raging through a storage hall for plane components. The fact that in the latter case the chances to end up with a flying plane are higher in theory does not, I think, make any difference in practice. I know, evolution is not a storm, works by small steps, but, as said above, the claimed capability of this process lacks further theoretical foundation. As stated by Slack, science should try to find purely materialistic explanations, and the search for scientific proofs of Devine interventions may be impossible even in principle, but this is no reason to dismiss a recognition of their possibility as unscientific.\nPut in another way: has the creativity needed for the birth of life and the generation of its more complex forms been built into matter as studied by our science and is science up to the task of revealing this creative power in evolution, or is the main creative power (but with the aid of evolutionary processes) not accessible to science? As long as the first option has not been proven, the second opinion merits respect. Why may this not be taught in schools? Science and religion are not fully separated. There is only one reality. Both domains touch each other mainly in the explanation of origins and in the idea of the Creation as a still ongoing process. That's why this type of discussions are so important. Thank you Gordy Slack.\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

June 24, 2008

Wendell, you are a crank.\n\nOut off all the gibberish you're spewing, please put up one succinct clear statement of your hypothesis and one falsifiable test arising directly from your model.\n\nDon't tell us it's too complex to put simply (otherwise you fail the Feynman test).
Avatar of: Norman Goalby

Norman Goalby

Posts: 1

June 24, 2008

It's completely unreasonable to slag off evolutionary biologists for not yet having a full explanation of the origins of life. No biologists have claimed that (unlike creationists, who arrogantly make huge claims of deep insight). It is difficult to construct full and accurate explanations when so much of the core data is unknown and possibly unknowable, and experiments are nigh-on impossible.\n\nEvolutionary biology works to the high standards of evidence-based science, so progress is slow. It's not like the creationists and ID creeps who has no commitment to honesty or truth in concocting their fairy stories.\n\nThe gist of the article is that creationists have done something important in highlighting deficiences in evolutionary models. Rubbish. Creationists just emit a fog of lies that distracts biologists and educators from the core task of trying to elucidate and describe how life works and improve knowledge.\n\nSuperstition has no educative or informative value.\n\nAnd, to support the uninformed atheists, one does not need to have a deep knowledge of evolutionary theory to know that it trumps the creation myths of Middle Eastern goatherds.
Avatar of: N Gotts

N Gotts

Posts: 1

June 24, 2008

What utter tripe. The article reads as though the "Intelligent Design" crew had something to contribute to science. I suspect Slack is actually working for them - either that or he's a complete fool. One of their favourite lies is that science is based on faith - and Slack uses this absurd trope repeatedly. This man should never be invited to write for The Scientist again.

June 24, 2008

One correct assessment, that religious people fervently need God in everything, cannot slip into a scientific debate.\n\nThis is not about angry atheists or religious scientists. This is about the basic principle that science cannot be tinted by religious belief. Every time this has happened in the past, better science has won over religious belief. It is a good bet that next time will not be different.\n\nScience must not endorse and must not deny God. And any endorsements of ID are endorsements of religion, even if you embellish them.
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 24, 2008

Paul Johnson quotes:\n\n"Second, IDers also argue that the cell is far more complex than Darwin could have imagined 149 years ago when he published On the Origin of Species."\n\nPual Johnson replies:\nSo does modern science everywhere! You have got to know this. \n\nDear Paul,\n\nThe author never implied that he did not agree with this. In fact, if you read what immediately follows, he completely agrees with it and even elaborates on his concurrence. Your comment assumes that anything he quotes ID proponents as saying is something he's going to oppose. Worse, it demonstrates clearly that what you presuppose completely displaces the meaning of what you're reading. This is not to say that others on the opposite side of this issue haven't done exactly the same thing. Some are most certainly equally guilty.
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 24, 2008

There are four general categories of our commonly perceived "reality" as human beings, without taking into account the limitations of our senses and that of whatever other powers of observation and intellect we may possess:\n\nConsciousness\nIntelligence\nEnergy\nMatter\n\n\nWhatever the motivation, scientific materialism separates out consciousness and intelligence as secondary while it raises matter and energy to primary status. It pretends that the first two are products of the latter. This seems to me quite arbitrary and contrary to everything we know about structure from the perspective of mathematics and our most accurate, comprehensive physical models. \n\nAs stated in one of my earlier posts, explanatory power always flow from the global, abstract, and general to the local, concrete, and specific and never the reverse, as easily and clearly demonstrated with a simple algebraic equation, not to mention modern field theory. Consciousness and intelligence are global, abstract, general phenomena even if we tend associate these with our local physical existence. \n\nThe key point is that just because consciousness and intelligence at the local concentrations we find them in human beings were not in evidence in earlier times, we need not assume that these fundamental aspects of our experience were absent globally, which is to say, cosmically. Such an assumption seems absolutely arbitrary, and probably the result of unconscious, tacit assumptions. \n\nIt is, in fact, much more theoretically economical to view the amazing structural integrity we find in nature's laws as identical in principle with what we locally consider to be intelligence, using the term "intelligence" in the same rigorous, technical sense that we use it in information theory and artificial intelligence. Indeed, artificial intelligence, to whatever degree it exists now or in the future, is simply outboarded human intelligence. But we are provincial creatures, by and large, and full of tacit, unconscious assumptions based on the illusions created by our limited sensory appreciation and short-circuited thinking that fails to see the big picture. Most human thinking is plagued by a pretty poor signal-to-noise ratio.\n\nAll structural change within the cosmos is mediated by the flow of energy throughout it. The intelligence implicit in the structure of natural law articulates the flow of energy throughout the Cosmic System to communicate itself to and thereby modify local structure in ways that increasingly reflect the nature of the whole. Energy modulated with this intelligence is the means by which Cosmic Intelligence recursively articulates the physical restructuring of the Universe to drive the cosmic evolutionary process. \n\nWe can restate this as follows:\n\nThe structure of the Whole is such that the the cosmically comprehensive intelligence implicit in the abstract natural laws defining this structure creates global economic pressure to evolve everywhere subsystems of the Whole that increasingly reflect the nature of the Whole until local subsystems evolve that are capable of recognizing their Origin as the Whole, eventually becoming aware of their most fundamental identity as nothing less than the Whole. \n\nThis is fundamentally a scientific restatement of the ancient cognition that God created us in his image. The ancient Vedas of India contain the following: "Curving back on myself, I create again and again." This accords beautifully with the modern theoretical idea of a holographic structure recursively modifying the flow of energy within itself to evolve stars, galaxies, second-generations stars, heavy matter, planets, life, etc. Why do so many wish to dogmatically promote the idea that there no intelligence implicit in such a process? Why are the laws so structured that it evolved itself in a sequence that was an essential prerequisite for life?\n\nThe idea of a "magic man", as mentioned in a recent post, clings to an anthropomorphic interpretation of this kind of scriptural statement that apparently perceives it to mean that God is a local being who, when He looks in a mirror, looks like we do. This is the most silly fundamentalist interpretation imaginable. It reflects as much superficiality among the secular fundamentalists who can conceive of no other kind of God as we find in their religious counterparts, if not more. A sad state of affairs indeed!\nMost religious people, even fundamentalists, do NOT believe in such a locally perceptible Divine Dude. \n\nOne would like to think that terms like omnipresent, eternal (read that as beyond time and space as in the single underlying field that modern field theory seeks to understand), omniscient, and unitary (as in one Supreme Intelligence) would help to dispel such inane, off-the-mark interpretations. Sigh!
Avatar of: Harry Roy

Harry Roy

Posts: 5

June 25, 2008

Thanks for correcting my mistake about the attribution of the 1828 synthesis of urea to Friedrich Miescher (b. 1844) instead of Friedrich Wöhler. \n\nNow if human footprints really did predate dinosaur tracks...
Avatar of: James Williams

James Williams

Posts: 3

June 25, 2008

Gordy Slack is misguided in his view that neo-creationists have some good points to make. In essence each and every good point he cites has already been made by scientists; Intelligent Design (ID) creationists bring nothing new to the laboratory bench. \n\nI agree that there are big questions that evolution has yet to answer, but the central tenet of ID creationism states that they already have the answer for any and all of the 'big questions' -- their infamous, yet elusive, 'designer'. Science and scientists ask the big questions, not ID creationism, which merely starts with an answer and fits, bends and twists the evidence to suit their viewpoint. As Francis Bacon -- an architect of the scientific revolution stated "If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts: but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties." \n\nSlack also misaligns Evolution theory. It is a theory of development and diversity NOT of biogenesis; which is necessarily a different theory. It is true that the two may/will complement each other, but the two do not necessarily have to exist as inextricably linked theories for evolution to be a scientific fact and for the theory of evolution by natural selection to be accepted, as it is, by science. A creationist sleight of hand always links the two. \n\nSlack also talks about his 'faith' in science, but I fear his definition of faith when applied to scientific work would not be the same as an evangelical believer's definition of faith -- a blind and unswerving adherence to the authority of the Bible from the first word to the last. I know of no scientist who, when faced with an overwhelming mountain of evidence, still would cling on to a bankrupt theory or hypothesis. Faith or belief is often irrational and without evidence. The term 'faith' makes no sense in this context. The point he makes about millions 'believing' in a God, therefore a God 'must' exist for them, is just such an example of an irrational non-evidence based faith. I am happy to have people profess such faith, no matter their position, but I do object to them seeking to impose that faith on others, something the creationist movement wishes to do. \n\nI have no objection to ID creationists following scientific research, any scientific research, please do so and show us some of that research! But the fact is that they do not. They are calling for the acceptance of their viewpoint without a body of research. Science has a very good track record of accepting what at first may appear to be unacceptable, provided the body of research -- the evidence -- is there to back it up. I cite here the work of Lynn Margulis and her endosymbiotic theory for cell organelles. Lynn Margulis proposed her ideas in the 1960s. Although now accepted as a well-supported theory, both she and the theory were ridiculed by mainstream biologists for a number of years. Thanks to her persistence, and the large volumes of data that supported her hypothesis gathered by her and many other scientists over 30 years, biology can now offer a plausible explanation for the evolution of eukaryotes. Even this theory is open to falsification and changes if and when new evidence is found. So is evolution. How can Intelligent Design Creationism meet this basic scientific challenge when they claim to have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in their elusive designer? \n\nShould Intelligent Design Creationism provide a body of scientific peer reviewed and well evidenced research then we could, and should, take them seriously. If they persist in simply stating that 'the unexplainable leads to the conclusion that there is a designer' then they will never be taken seriously; especially since their examples of the 'unexplainable' are often, as a result of real scientific research, explained (for example the work that shows that the bacterial flagellum is not as 'irreducibly complex' as once claimed). I fear that Gordy Slack has been seduced by the slick PR of Intelligent Design Creationism.
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

June 25, 2008

I agree that the creationists just have to live in a state of perpetual denial, as they say in pop psychology, in order to ignore the reality of evolution. If you've read my previous posts with any understanding, you already know that. However, you randomly mix up another issue, that is, belief or lack of it in a Supreme Being, with creationism. I am a theist who avidly follows the latest developments in evolutionary theory and biogenesis. \n\nI suspect you either cease to read my previous posts at some point, never bother in the first place, or read them with no comprehension of what they say. Intelligence exists. Consciousness exists. Energy and matter exist, or at least we perceive as energy and matter the subtle, abstract microphysical phenomena that give rise to their appearance at our macroscopic level of observation. \n\nThe presumption of atheism is based on giving matter and energy primacy over consciousness and intelligence. That is arbitrary and in no way scientific or rational. Biological science used to assume that life existed here on earth only by Gamov's principle of astronomical improbability in a quasi-infinite universe. This attitude has gradually evolved to a suspicion that life appears wherever it has half a chance to do so, since we see it doing just that right here on our planet. The consensus now is that natural laws are predisposed to its appearance.\n\nThis shift in attitude can be summarized in the simple idea that scientists are now recognizing that the evolutionary process is not as random as previously assumed. Some scientists are now calling the natural laws responsible for evolution and/or biogenesis "fortuitous accidents of law". How long a chain from the big bang, the evolution of galaxies and stars, supernovae, heavy matter, second-generation stars, planetary systems, plant and organic life, and human level intelligence do we have to have before we quit calling the physical principles involved "fortuitous accidents of law"?\n\nI posit that there is such a thing as limit-case intellectual understanding that can only approach any ultimate understanding of reality, but never fully explain it. This does NOT necessarily imply that we cannot cognitively EXPERIENCE it. The phenomenon of sight, for example, can never be understood by examining and analyzing eyeballs, nervous connections, and brains, but only through the experience of seeing. \n\nReason requires axioms at its roots that are unprovable in principle. An assumption of the timeless presence of matter and energy is no more rational than assuming the timeless presence of consciousness and intelligence. The structure of natural law is itself the essence of what we call intelligence in its most distilled form. The same may be true of consciousness. It may be identical with the abstract, single field modern field theory posits as underlying all physical existence. \n\nNo matter what your rational assessment of the reality in which we find ourselves, none of us can say why any of it exists in the first place, much less why it is lawful at all. Atheists need to explain why lawfulness is different from intelligence and what kind of magic causes the so-called subjective but universally empirical experience of consciousness if they cannot agree it is fundamental and axiomatic to existence itself.\n\nThe point here is that to demand that an ultimate intelligence be subject to a local test as evidence of its existence is scientifically naive in the extreme. You cannot even do that with any modern comprehensive physical theory. So please try to be rational enough to quit demanding that theists do that or imply that they are being irrational if they cannot. That is just profoundly silly, incomprehensibly provincial, and scientifically extremely naive.\n

June 26, 2008

I have read the interchange of attacks and defenses carefully and have found some merit in both. Then I re-read your article and tried to pinpoint the detonating factor of it all.\n\nWhen you say that evolutionists have to humble down (not an exact quote, only the idea that lingers in my mind after reading) you are playing the same song the most rabid creationists shout every time.\n\nCreationists have some points right, and an article about them could be a good idea. But an article by an avowed evolutionist that can get misquoted as easily as this one is a step in the wrong direction.\n\nAs scientists we should be careful explaining how every theory and hypothesis has a level of confidence, from the rock solid basic tenets of evolution to the speculative theories of origins of sex to the highly speculative theories of the start of self-replication.\n\nBut the question of how to talk with somebody who is instinctively unable of imagining a world without his particular god (or gods) is not advanced with an article that seems (to the religious people) as a capitulation.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 39

June 26, 2008

You jargon sputtering imbeciles! This forum bears a shocking resemblance to the "sasukes gay/no he's not" manga forums - except no swearing. I am suddenly tempted to swear. Lengthely and profusely. \n\n#1 this is a forum, limit of three or four multi-page essays per "discussion".\n\n#2 Creationism, Evolutionism, and the Big Bang are all THEORIES and should be taught as such. We can't prove the Big Bang ever happened unless there is a second Big Bang for us to witness. Remember, we used to think the sun orbited the earth. What seems perfectly obvious now will soon make you the laughingstock of your grandchildren. If you have any.\n\n#3 Don't argue if you can't change the other guys opinion. That is why I am not going to bother to state which side I'm on.\n\n#4 Your speech is hilarious. I should show it to my next english teacher as an example of what happens when you use too many big words when smaller ones work better.\n\n#5 Creationists are smart enough to work in whatever scientific field they want, including evolution. Evolution is the study of multi-generational adaption. Creationism is how a species first appears. Totally compatible fields of belief.\n\n#6 Don't insult the intelligence of everybody on the entire forum. Ever. People will hate you, especially if you're right. Unless the post is anonymous. \n\nPS I love it when a 17 year old shows as much maturity as "scientists" who claim to have Phds.
Avatar of: Bryan Reuben

Bryan Reuben

Posts: 3

June 27, 2008

The core problem with evolutionary theory, if you accept Popper's theories broadly, as I do, is that it is not falsifiable. It makes no predictions as to the next species we can expect to appear, hence we cannot design an experiment to show that the theory makes sensible predictions.\n\nThis is one reason why everyone gets so worked up about it. No one gets emotional about atomic theory because, if you are interested, you can design an experment and demonstrate its validity. Evolution is great at explaining things but so is theology (It is all God's will!). I will confess to having faith in evolution, but it is still, technically, a theory. And don't try to sell me the one about black butterflies (moths?) in Manchester flourishing during the period of dirty air. There was no species change and interbreeding remained possible).\n\nBryan Reuben\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

June 27, 2008

Life truly is wonderful. No God or designer is needed to appreciate the exquisite interrelationship between matter and energy that come together to create the human race and our universe. Our children are the only ones who can continue to build on our understanding and continue to strive to create and apply technologies to have the equitable and safe world we all want and it is up to us to teach them. The existence of a creator/designer or not is irrelevant to this education.\n\nThe world really is in a mess. War, poverty, disease, pollution - all manifestations of man's advances to date. If this is creation's intent or intelligent design's it is certainly making a few mistakes along the way. I do not see intelligent design predicting where we will be next either. We should all focus our energies on solving world problems. Helping our children understand the world around them by instilling scientific principles and encouraging critical thinking is our best chance for a better future. It is ownly man who will be able to put things right. This requires knowledge and a unified political will.\n\nThis country allows us each to choose our own religious faith. Believers each have their own interpretation as to who or what God is or means to them growing from family, local community, and local and global religious influences. Participation in religious debate is also by choice and does not have a place in the science curriculum.\n\nLet's educate our children well, strive to solve the worlds problems by developing a common political will, and maintain our religious diversity by tolerance on all sides.\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 3

June 29, 2008

The religious people (Christian fundamentalists) will do anything to force open places to bother the average American...the workplace and the lab...Three four years ago was in southern part of my mid-Atlantic state...run down economic backwater hurt by lack of jobs, and education...even in strip malls were groups following/bothering average Americans...shouting out their brand of right-wing fundamentalist spew...even in the Chinese takeout place...I asked the owner in (Cantonese) "WTF?" he said they were like a plague of locusts...he regretted moving there and looked forward to selling and moving further North...the point? the religious right every since Dr. J. L. Cabell MD wrote in 1859 the pre-Dawin explanation of evolution "The Testimony of Modern Science to the Unity of Mankind: specific unity and common origin of all the varieties of man" has been pushing their view that evolution is incorrect. I believe it is best that the religious fundamentalists keep their faith separate from science. The mainstream Christian Church "the Church of Rome" and the "Church of the Orthodox East" and the oldest Christian religion "The Coptic Church" ignore evolution and never intrude into the workplace, or the lab. I believe the post-Reformation Churches since the split @ Worms during the Luther era and since, should follow this policy...imagine if Scientists began to investigate the dogma of the non-Catholic religions in North America, and demanded that their pet religious theory be preached on Sunday? Imagine...not a pretty sight...by the way during the years following Newton...fundamentalists opposed the Laws of Gravity as being against religion...the list is endless including those even today who are members of the fundamentalist religious right who claim "USA never go to Moon: was filmed in Hollywood studio." Anyhoo that is my two-cents worth...
Avatar of: deborah cummings

deborah cummings

Posts: 2

July 3, 2008

The latest Newsweek poll found 91 percent of American adults say they believe in God.\n\nI like to compare the evolution of a single cell organism to a complex human body;\n\nWith the evolution of the first stone wheel to the Space Shuttle.\n\n A fair comparison?\n\n So it's obvious to 9% of the US population that no engineers were ever needed for this transformation. It assembled itself on the launchpad - fueled itself & flew into space autonomously - totally by random chance.\n\nThe engineers at NASA will fight you on this - but they're absolutely delusional. \n\n I'm not afraid of evolution - I concede...\nThe world is however old you say it is-4 billion? - definitely not 6000 years old- OK I'll give you that one - and organisms have the ability to adapt & change over time and within their own lifetime -ie. feral swine - to domestic pig. you can have that one too - whatever...\n\nIn exchange, simply consider this\n\nGod is an Engineer! And it makes sense if we are Created in His image we have inside us the ability and drive to create. You ever feel that creative spirit inside you? - Dog's don't have it,Dolphins don't have it. Has a Monkey ever knitted you a sweater? They even have thumbs.\n\nAnd the reason we can't see God or as some folks like to call Him "Magic Man" - is that he operates at the speed of light - the original speed of man -before the fall. After the fall, Man became trapped in Time with a mortal body. God had to slow down to our speed to reach us - Jesus. And he walked among us, and points the way to become a creature of Light once again. - that's the Cliffs Notes version of the Bible. \nWhy isn't this plausible to scientists and the movie Star Wars is? \nAnyway.. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind,\njust trying to give you a different perspective.\n\nAs human engineer/creators we still haven't arrived quite yet- we haven't created male & female space shuttles that can procreate. \n\n - Hey thanks for your patience, thanks for the opportunity to post an alternate view. Have a nice day and may you evolve and prosper.\n c.s. cummings - cummingsresearch@hotmail.com\n
Avatar of: Larry Fafarman

Larry Fafarman

Posts: 2

July 4, 2008

Judge Jones overstepped his authority by issuing a judicial opinion on the scientific merits of intelligent design. He showed extreme judicial activism by arrogantly and presumptuously deciding perplexing questions that have baffled millions of people. We have theistic evolutionists, atheistic evolutionists, young-earth creationists, old-earth creationists, intelligent-designists, and what-have-you-ists. There are also combinations of these -- for example, ID-proponent Michael Behe believes in an old earth and common descent. The courts should declare the evolution controversy to be non-justiciable. A question is non-justiciable when there is "a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the question." Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267 (2004) \n\nRegarding the statement "creationism's resilience is tied mostly to its cultural and religious roots" -- I strongly disagree. Most religious people accept heliocentrism because the evidence overwhelmingly supports it and probably would also accept evolution if it were also overwhelmingly supported by evidence. But evolution is not overwhelmingly supported by evidence.\n\n"Ridicule and self-righteous rage" are not the biggest problems -- censorship is the biggest problem. I have experienced this censorship firsthand, e.g., I have been barred from discussing co-evolution on the Panda's Thumb blog and the blog of the Florida Citizens for Science.\n\nSome quibbles:\n\nThe correct terms are "scientific creationism" or "creation science" -- not "American Creationism." \n\nIntelligent design was not actually taught in the Dover school district -- only Darwinism was actually taught.\n\nI don't think that Kitzmiller v. Dover is still regarded "so far as the 'trial of this century'." For example, none of the books about the trial have done terribly well.\n\nIt was "breathtaking inanity," not "staggering inanity."
Avatar of: John Locke

John Locke

Posts: 2

July 5, 2008

He showed extreme judicial activism by arrogantly and presumptuously deciding perplexing questions that have baffled millions of people...A question is non-justiciable when there is "a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the question." \n\nThere are many questions which baffle millions of people and yet have clear and unambiguous answers. Exam questions from advanced math courses, for example. Should a judge rule that math problems have no right answers simply because the judge can't solve the problem him/herself?\n\nI have experienced this censorship firsthand, e.g., I have been barred from discussing co-evolution on the Panda's Thumb blog and the blog of the Florida Citizens for Science.\n\nPerhaps because those blogs are for science discussion, and you weren't discussing science. ID is not science, in the same way that astrology and witchcraft aren't science.\n\nIntelligent design was not actually taught in the Dover school district -- only Darwinism was actually taught.\n\nDarwinism was not taught in Dover. Evolution was. If you learned the difference, you might be able to discuss science on science boards without being ridiculed.
Avatar of: Larry Fafarman

Larry Fafarman

Posts: 2

July 5, 2008

There are many questions which baffle millions of people and yet have clear and unambiguous answers.\n \nThe evolution controversy is not one of them.\n \nExam questions from advanced math courses, for example.\n \nMathematics has rigorous standards of proof -- evolution does not.\n \nPerhaps because those blogs are for science discussion, and you weren't discussing science. \n \nOn the contrary, I was discussing science -- I was describing co-evolution in purely scientific terms, e.g.,\n \nIn the co-evolution of obligate mutualism (total co-dependence of two different kinds of organisms), unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., air, land in its different forms, and water in its different forms, there may be nothing to adapt to, and the reason why there may be nothing to adapt to is that the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism is likely to be locally absent. \n \n"Intelligent design was not actually taught in the Dover school district -- only Darwinism was actually taught. "\n\nDarwinism was not taught in Dover. Evolution was.\n \nWhatever. As the saying goes, it is just a rose by another name.
Avatar of: John Locke

John Locke

Posts: 2

July 5, 2008

Mathematics has rigorous standards of proof -- evolution does not.\n\nEvolution has been proven in the laboratory. There's overwhelming evidence for it in taxonomy, genetics, and other areas. \n\nID has *NO* standards of proof. There is no way to devise a testable methodology which could invalidate ID. Evolution is science because there are such methods, they have been tried, and they have failed to invalidate evolution.\n\nOn the contrary, I was discussing science -- I was describing co-evolution in purely scientific terms, e.g.,\n\nYou'll excuse me if I don't blindly accept your claims with no evidence.\n\nWhatever. As the saying goes, it is just a rose by another name.\n\nWe don't consider quantum mechanics Bohrism. We don't call gravity or physics Newtonism. Despite whatever contrubtions they made, and they were very influential, the fields have moved beyond their originators' understandings. You call it Darwinism, and you argue against the type of evolution that Darwin understood. You're invalidating your own position by arguing against a 150 year old position that has been greatly eclipsed by modern advances.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

July 7, 2008

it is unfortunate that slack and the scientist would give any sort of credence to id.\n\nits simple. science starts with observation, forms hypotheses, experimentally tests competing ideas, etc in an attempt to explain phenomena (ie science works to reach an answer/conclusion).\n\nid starts with a conclusion (god did it; usually the christian god) and tries to find any sort of evidence that gels with the conclusion.
Avatar of: deborah cummings

deborah cummings

Posts: 2

July 7, 2008

It's me again - the lone nut-job believer.\n\nThe reason most people reject ID is that they can't get their brains around the Idea of a Timeless Creator.\n\n It's like trying to view a 10MB picture with 256K ram. It just ain't happening.\n\n Your brain is going to give you error messages. That is usually "God does not compute"\nor "Highly Illogical Captain" for you Trekkies.\n\nWell I feel better now.\n\n s.c. cummings\n\n\n
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

July 8, 2008

With regard to "Wendell, you're a crank", I repeat these two paragraphs from an earlier post in response:\n\nNo matter what your rational assessment of the reality in which we find ourselves, none of us can say why any of it exists in the first place, much less why it is lawful at all. Atheists need to explain why lawfulness is different from intelligence and what kind of magic causes the so-called subjective but universally empirical experience of consciousness if they cannot agree it is fundamental and axiomatic to existence itself.\n\nThe point here is that to demand that an ultimate intelligence be subject to a local test as evidence of its existence is scientifically naive in the extreme. You cannot even do that with any comprehensive, modern physical theory. So please try to be rational enough to refrain from demanding that theists do that or implying that they are being irrational if they cannot. That is just incomprehensibly provincial, scientifically extremely naive, not to mention profoundly silly.
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

July 8, 2008

"The reason most people reject ID is that they can't get their brains around the Idea of a Timeless Creator.\n\n"It's like trying to view a 10MB picture with 256K ram. It just ain't happening."\n\nWell, I think you've hit at the root of it, although I don't like the term ID because it's too closely associated with creationism, which is bananas. However, as anyone reading my posts here already knows, I believe in an ultimate intelligence at the base of evolutionary process and physical existence itself. Those who give matter and energy some kind of eternal primacy over intelligence and consciousness are stuck in an obsolete, 19th-century view of reality as ultimately material in the face of overwhelmingly successful physical theories that indicate powerfully that the very idea of materiality is at the very least highly questionable. \n\nEven time and space are generated from theoretical foundations that transcend them. Yet we still find tons of scientists in other disciplines and even in physics itself who reflexively view reality in terms of a sense-generated scenario that cannot even comprehend extended spectra, not to mention macro- and microcosmic physical phenomena. They also reflexively ignore the very significant contextual component of their own experience represented in their own consciousness. This is what I call short-circuited, circular logic. "It's not there because I can't touch it or feel it." What cannot be touched or felt is quite a bit more than 90% of what we call physical reality, not to mention those ultimate, axiomatic aspects that by definition must transcend any possibility for local detection at all.
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

July 14, 2008

I refer to my comment that there are too many scientists "who reflexively view reality in terms of a sense-generated scenario that cannot even comprehend extended spectra, not to mention macro- and microcosmic physical phenomena." I should add to this that their arguments consistently imply a perspective that confirms this reflexive view without questioning it in the slightest degree. I should also add that such a perspective is even less able to conceive of a reality that has at its base an abstract structure that transcends time and space and actually generates them. \n\nEver since Richard Feynman we have known that time flows backwards for anti-matter and therefore conversely, of course, our time runs backwards with respect to anti-matter. This in and of itself implies a more fundamental level of reality that transcends time. However, when this same truth is declared by sages who had or have no scientific basis for it beyond their own cognitive clarity, it is called mysticism. \n\nThe simple truth is that most scientists do not accept this fundamental aspect of reality on a level any deeper than lip service. Its implications for their perspective is completely glossed over and remains so tacit to their supposedly elevated intellects that they fail to even recognize the intense cognitive dissonance this represents.
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

July 16, 2008

Show me a local test that reveals exactly what time is without a circular definition that merely has time referring to itself, that does not simply refer to our subjective experience of it, or does not employ an objective measure using some concrete periodic phenomenon that merely demonstrates its synchrony with events within time without defining time itself. The more fundamental the level of reality we examine, the less concretely definable it becomes. \n\nI posit that consciousness and intelligence fall within this category and that a Supreme, Conscious Intelligence cannot by definition be shown concretely to exist with some kind of local test because S/He/It exists beyond time, is omnipresent, omnipotent (Whose all-powerful will finds its local representations in all the abstract laws governing the physical cosmos), and is omniscient (the source and goal of all knowledge, conceivable or inconceivable for the human intellect), and the ultimate, fundamental, and axiomatic basis for all of what we conceive as reality. This Supreme Being is the Cosmic Parent in Whose womb we have evolved, and Whose laws governed every step of our billions-of-years gestation period, and Whose Consciousness and Intelligence is mirrored locally in our own, allowing us to wonder about our Source, intuit Its existence, and discover Its laws, and eventually to directly and personally experience Its awesome reality.
Avatar of: Robert Wendell

Robert Wendell

Posts: 22

July 29, 2008

My preceding post proposed the following:\n\n"This Supreme Being is the Cosmic Parent in Whose womb we have evolved, and Whose laws governed every step of our billions-of-years gestation period, and Whose Consciousness and Intelligence is mirrored locally in our own, allowing us to wonder about our Source, intuit Its existence, and discover Its laws, and eventually to directly and personally experience Its awesome reality."\n\nWith regard to this last, that is, the direct, personal experience of a Supreme Intelligence as an incontrovertible reality, the underlying assumption is that there exists an aspect of cognitive ability that comprehends an enormous range from that of mental illness and criminality to that of the greatest sages of all time. The negative pole of this aspect of cognitive ability is well-known to have little if any correlation with what we narrowly conceive as intelligence, education, and academic or scientific credentials. The postulate here is that the outliers at the positive pole of this range possess a cognitive ability that also has little to no correlation with what we measure as intelligence or with academic or scientific credentials. Most scientists unfortunately also have little to no inkling that their intelligence and credentials are not necessarily the whole story. \n\nThe consequent hubris of such people is responsible for their typically utter disdain for anyone lacking their credentials, but who happens to possess such cognitive ability. They assume a priori that their particular brand of knowledge and understanding defines the pinnacle of human knowledge and understanding. They do a pretty good job of basing their public relations propaganda on this assumption and selling it to many, but some humans are not buying, for both valid and invalid reasons , and some for good reasons they are not intellectually equipped (in the narrow sense) to defend.
Avatar of: Howard Landman

Howard Landman

Posts: 1

July 31, 2008

Larry Fafarman wrote:\n\n"Judge Jones overstepped his authority by issuing a judicial opinion on the scientific merits of intelligent design."\n\nNot at all Larry. Judge Jones was asked to rule on this issue, which was important to both plaintiff and defense arguments. That made it not only appropriate but necessary for him to address it in his decision. And a goodly percentage of the testimony in the case was on that topic. Jones himself wrote in his decision: "... we find it incumbent upon the Court to further address an additional issue raised by Plaintiffs, which is whether ID is science. To be sure, our answer to this question can likely be predicted based upon the foregoing analysis. While answering this question compels us to revisit evidence that is entirely complex, if not obtuse, after a six week trial that spanned twenty-one days and included countless hours of detailed expert witness presentations, the Court is confident that no other tribunal in the United States is in a better position than are we to traipse into this controversial area. Finally, we will offer our conclusion on whether ID is science not just because it is essential to our holding that an Establishment Clause violation has occurred in this case, but also in the hope that it may prevent the obvious waste of judicial and other resources which would be occasioned by a subsequent trial involving the precise question which is before us."\n\nSounds quite reasonable to me. He ruled on the issue because (1) he was asked to, (2) it was a critical part of his decision, and (3) he hoped to save a future judge from having to suffer through the same difficult arguments that he had.\n\nHis specific reasons for ruling ID was not science were given in the section following the above quote. Would you care to argue that any or all of them are wrong?\n\n
Avatar of: ROBIN COLCLOUGH

ROBIN COLCLOUGH

Posts: 4

January 14, 2009

We just have to look to human history to appreciate the danger of having any one set view. Lets concentrate on what we actually know and can prove, not what we don´t: All "life" on this planet shares the same highly modular object-based technology based on DNA coding. To any systems engineer it is obvious that not only are the molecular systems of "life" highly object-oriented, but also adaptive systems (partially self-adapting to their current environment), and nothing less than truly advanced technology at the sub-atomic level. From one point in time, the Cambrian Explosion, the core structural designs for all body plans exploded across the planet, and these designs are shared amongst all modern life, yet we cannot explain why this event occured. Did you know that the eye expression gene from a fruit fly is so similar to that of a mouse that they can be swapped between species and still produce the required eye at the require location?! We live in a universe full of replication at all levels, cellular and planetary. Trillions of cells, trillions of solar systems spread across each of the billions of galaxies. The universe is akin to a statistical model; fault tolerant, and in itself ultimately recycled by each big crunch and big ban. When our best scientists are unable to define the exact mathmatical model for any atom other than the simplest, can we really say that we can possibly know the answer to the origin of life in this universe? The IDers are most probably not correct, but neither are the evolutionists. If life only existed on earth, a planet in a galaxy of some 400 billions suns, in a universe of some 400 billion galaxies, that would be a true miracle, ask any statistician! As humans we find it hard if not impossible to grasp the idea that something, anything, can have no beginning and no end, but probably the unverses come and go, and that process has no beginning, and probably no end. Why is it so? This is a paradox as much as the question as to the presence or absence of God or even god/s. Surely if we know anything, it is that we must keep our minds open and look at only the facts if we are to avoid the historical embarrasment of those that said their view was the only correct one.
Avatar of: M M

M M

Posts: 1

January 29, 2009

As far as I can see IDers have no theory to pursue. It is entirely based on what they claim can't be explained naturally, so by definition they can't actually provide any evidence. The fact that they can point to stuff that we haven't got a 100% picture of is moot, since they have no testable or observable theories of their own to offer as an alternative. As someone pointed out (the Dover judge?) You can't base a theory on what you don't know.
Avatar of: Mike Breeden

Mike Breeden

Posts: 4

January 30, 2009

In this argument, you might be better off blowing off the atheist ideologists even sooner than the ID Creationists. The atheist ideologists seem to congregate around the Dawkins web site and all seem to use the same argument methods .. which generally have a distinct high school mentality. They also love to quibble to win a point instead of using common sense to understand one.\nI write about evolution, but I see no reason to try to be convincing to the progressive or atheist groups. That is preaching to the choir. The trick is the conservatives must be shown the value of evolution and the morality of evolution. It isn't about facts though. It is just one intellectual process that manages facts, logic and reason, but our most basic decisions are made based on values and emotions. Reason does not provide the instinct to struggle and survive, instinct does that. Those are our moral instincts, so my description of evolution is meant to be communicated in that form to sway conservative opinions using moral instincts, such as are trained and husbanded by religions. If something is true to the head and the heart, it will be taken as truth. An evolutionist is far better off trying to convince a conservative person that evolution is part of God's plan than convincing them that God didn't make the plan.\nThe atheist asks does God exist. The conservative asks is morality relative. I suspect that the truth would shock both. The answer is in the genes. I wrote my opinion at www.diver.net/seahunt/p/p_trans.htm.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

February 1, 2009

In regard to Gordy's comments on faith: We don?t need faith to have the confidence about which the author speaks. Science has a truly amazing record of discovery going back now at least 400 years. To have confidence that science will find the answer to the question of the origin of life on Earth is to have not faith, but a belief based on good evidence. We must begin to consider ?faith? to be a dirty word. One definition of faith, already endorsed by the dictionary, is similar to ?belief untuned to the evidence?. There are various ways of being ?untuned to the evidence?, but we need not get into those now. Of course, there are other definitions of faith, but we already have other good words for them, e.g. ?worldview? and ?trust?. So, we are now in a position to reserve one meaning for the word ?faith?, to consider it a dirty word, and to vow to avoid and disdain the attitude, method, or principle to which it refers.\n\nIn regard to Gordy's comments on the "experience of God": Billions of people do believe they "experience God", we cannot and should not deny it, but is their belief justified? Most of the time when you analyze what these people mean by their belief it is something like this? ?From time to time I have a particular and unique feeling which I believe to be caused by a one-of-a-kind super person with a particular set of attributes.? So, in the end, they are asserting a whole list of truth propositions, each of which must be separately examined. In addition, we need to do more research into this feeling which they have and determine exactly what is its pattern, phenomenologically and neuronally, and how it is likely to be produced and associated with beliefs about gods.\n\nAnd finally in regard to Gordy's comments about atheists rabid for evolution: Oh, come on. The atheists at that Las Vegas conference probably had a much greater knowledge of the principles of evolution than most of the theists at their conventions have and much greater than the author thinks. But, besides knowledge of evolution, what else might account for their strong confidence in and endorsement of evolution? It might be their trust in the consensus of biologists. I read somewhere that 99.5% of all biologists endorse evolution. So, are the atheists merely trusting authority (i.e. the biologists) like the theists who trust their authority (i.e. the theologians, priests, and pastors) and thus they are equally justified in their beliefs? No, and the reason is that the type of authority differs. The biologists have committed themselves to and rely on a particular way of investigating the world, of pursuing the truth, not found with the theologians and their ilk. \n\nThanks, Gordy, for your interesting article, but I think you have conceded too much.\nTallySkeptic
Avatar of: David Huber

David Huber

Posts: 1

March 17, 2009

Kudos for at least engaging in intelligent discussion without the common *political science* or *sound bite science* slant. Too often we cannot reach out to glance for a second through the other fellow's perspective if we viscerally disagree with it. Gordy recognizes that while science thinks materialism is the answer we are still in the dark about very many things e.g. we're trying to get a grip on dark matter and dark energy--something we cannot measure directly but which leaves its fingerprints on the cosmos, and find the Higgs bosun, which ought to be there. Other observers say God leaves his fingerprints too. Like E.O. Wilson, Gordy engages in a thoughtful dialogue leaving behind the hubris. (Although Wilson wanted to know HOW God created to be satisfied that he did). The model of admitting someone else has a point is useful in all areas of human disagreement. People need to know they are heard, not just vilified. Active listening says I respect your right to think as you do and your intelligence. I can articulate your argument,and while I may disagree, I myself am not God, so I might be wrong, and by listening I may be able to reach you and convince you. I also appreciate Robert Wendell's posts. Both sides may be grappling with existence from opposite ends of the same playing *field*. You both raised the level of discourse from diatribe to dialogue. Both sides of the issue can congratulate and emulate you.

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