These Weeks in Intelligent Design – 02/06/11

Intelligent design news and discussion from the 19th of May to the 2nd of June, 2011.

Exams, exams and more exams are what’re coming up in my life soon, so understandably I’ve been a little sidetracked from blogging. But no fear! TWiID is back after a week off (I’m lucky the acronym still fits after I use the alternate multi-week title, I suppose), and I’m ready to get stuck into some ID news and discussion. The big story over the past week has been the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), the repeal of which recently (and unfortunately) failed, much to the delight of the Discovery Institute and friends, who have been lobbying to preserve the “academic freedom” act ever since it was challenged by the repeal last year. I’ll be spending a bit of time on the LSEA, as there have been two major blog posts by the DI on the topic recently, and I want to touch on some points that I think many anti-ID supporters of the repeal have overlooked.

I’ll also be discussing posts on the mysterious and surprising link between mathematics and biology, and the teleology of life.

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Casey Luskin wrote the first post about the Louisiana Science Education Act repeal. Let’s see what he had to say:

Yesterday the Louisiana State Senate Education Committee voted 5-1 to kill SB 70, a bill intended to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). The LSEA was originally adopted in 2008 by an overwhelming bipartisan majority (Louisiana House: 93-4; Senate: 36-0). It is the first Academic Freedom law passed in the nation to protect public school teachers who teach students to think critically (read: scientifically) on controversial scientific topics like Darwinian evolution.

Before voting down SB 70 the Committee heard testimony from both sides. Predictably, opponents of the LSEA who wanted it repealed repeatedly talked about “creationism,” “creationism,” and also “creationism.” LSEA-critics didn’t quote from the law, and completely ignored the fact that the law prohibits any advancement of religion in the science classroom.

Ah yes – “academic freedom”, my old friend. I’ve written about it before and I really need to solidify my thoughts on it into an essay or two on this site in the near future. But for those not in the loop, “academic freedom” is a buzz-phrase used by intelligent design proponents (and some creationists, albeit rarely) to describe a situation in which teachers who are “skeptical”1 of evolutionary theory are allowed to teach their students that:

  • “neo-Darwinism” has many minor and major flaws, which are increasing in number as biologists discover that its mechanisms are both implausible and unable to explain the nature of biological complexity and diversity we see in the world, and/or
  • intelligent design (ID) is a viable scientific hypothesis that is being seriously considered by a significant proportion of biologists as an alternative to “neo-Darwinism”.

ID proponents, such as those from the Discovery Institute, have in recent years (ever since the Dover trial in 2005, in which ID was ruled unconstitutional) focused only on the first half of the term, preferring “academic freedom” lobbying that leaves out the inclusion of ID in the curriculum. Naturally, the LSEA was an example of such an ID-free state education law, leading to Casey’s comments that it was “the first Academic Freedom law passed in the nation to protect public school teachers who teach students to think critically (read: scientifically) on controversial scientific topics like Darwinian evolution.” No mention of ID, and for good reason. They don’t want to get their hands dirty with the stain of unconstitutionality, not again – or at least, not for the moment.

But are ID-free “academic freedom” laws scientifically and educationally justifiable? I’m of the strong opinion that they are most certainly not. In essence, laws like the LSEA subvert the proper role of the curriculum in determining what should and should not be taught in high school science classes, allowing teachers to insert content that is not vetted through the proper educational channels into their lessons.

To look at this from another angle, let’s use an example of biology classroom-insertion that is a little less controversial than criticism of evolutionary theory. Consider a hypothetical situation in which a science teacher wanted to teach to their high school students extremely complex signal transduction pathways. Such material is usually reserved for third-year undergraduate and graduate students of cell biology, and is obviously inappropriate for students at a high school level, who lack an appropriate grounding in both basic biology and chemistry to understand and comprehend the ideas that are involved in signal transduction pathways. Should the teacher be allowed to teach this to their students, through the application of “academic freedom”? Obviously not. There are topics and concepts that are inappropriate for a high school level and these need to be regulated through an overarching curriculum, such as the one that already exists in countries like the US.

Clearly there are no lobby groups trying to get laws passed to allow high school teachers the “academic freedom” to teach incredibly complex biological concepts to their students – why would there be? – but it’s a scenario analogous to the one currently formed around the teaching of criticisms of evolutionary theory. Now, I’m not saying that such criticisms are necessarily complex or even that hard to understand (although some of them most certainly are), but simply that material that is to be taught in classrooms needs to be regulated by the curriculum to ensure that it is both accurate and appropriate in the context of the educational level the students are currently at. These criticisms of evolution that are readily tossed around in pro-ID circles are not accurate and are widely disputed amongst evolutionary biologists and biologists in general. So why should the curriculum just stand aside and allow teachers, who may not have formal training in the area of evolutionary biology, to teach them to students as if they carry any intellectual weight? The idea astonishes me.

Science education needs standards. If ID proponents and others who are critical of evolution think that their ideas should be taught in school science classes, they need to go through the proper, official channels, instead of trying to sneak their ideas over the fence at the back of the school oval via a legal leg-up.

As you have just read, I feel there are plenty of good reasons to oppose “academic freedom” laws even if they do not contain provisions to allow intelligent design to be taught in biology classrooms – but often it feels like the rest of the anti-ID community doesn’t share my opinion. Often critics of laws such as the LSEA make charges of creationism and unconstitutional religious messages being introduced into public schools as the result of the legal changes, even when language in the laws explicitly disallows such material to make its way into classrooms. On this point I’m going to have to agree with what Casey Luskin says in his post, in that the LSEA was not a direct attempt at getting creationism into biology classes:

There’s a good reason why there have been no lawsuits over the LSEA: despite their public rhetoric and talking points, even Louisiana Darwin lobbyists know in their heart of hearts that the plain language of the law does not protect the teaching of religion. Thus, it is noteworthy that the critics of the LSEA could not bring themselves to quote from the actual law itself during the hearing.

Perhaps you can read better than the Nobel Prize winners who opposed the LSEA: In the language from the law below, can you spot where the LSEA allows religion to march into the science classroom? From the law itself:

This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

Indeed, when pressed, not a single opponent of the LSEA could point to any instance of religion coming into the classroom under the LSEA. [Emphasis in original]

The LSEA was never about getting creationism into schools. It was, and still is, a method of unsettling the teaching of evolution, probably with the intent to allow extracurricular influences, such as churches and the Discovery Institute itself, to deliver pro-ID and pro-creationism messages to the minds of students already susceptible to learning about explanations other than evolution (which they have learnt at school is quite obviously flawed) for life’s diversity and complexity. But even though that may be the end goal of the LSEA, it’s not an easy thing to prove in a court of law, given that the argument is built up on many decades of historical analysis into the changing motivations and strategies of the creationist and intelligent design movements. I’m sure there are people out there competent enough to do the job, but even so, the courts would probably still require a direct link between the legislation and pro-ID groups’ intention to indoctrinate students outside of classrooms, something that is probably lacking. Also, keep in mind that while such an argument was being made and put forward, pro-ID groups would be trying to rip it to shreds with their impressive rhetorical abilities. Arguably, this has already happened in response to the current charges of creationism against the LSEA – just look at this post by Casey as well as numerous others on Evolution News & Views about the repeal.

All I’m saying is that efforts to repeal the LSEA and other similar ID-free “academic freedom” laws could probably be better spent promoting the stronger, more easily defendable arguments against such legislation that are based on the proper role of the curriculum in determining what students should and should not learn about. Arguments about creationism or ID being let into classrooms are, on their face, untrue, and at a more nuanced level, extremely hard to develop into a convincing legal case.

But like I said, I need to devote some time and effort into just this topic in the future in order to really sort out what I think about it all. Stay tuned. (This might be a good time to point out the RSS feed icon in the top right-hand corner of the page – the feed will keep you updated on any future posts I make about the topic.)

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The second post over the past week about the failed repeal of the LSEA was by John G. West, who shared a letter written to the Louisiana Senate Education Committee by 15 Ph.D. scientists (read: Discovery Institute-affiliated persons) supporting the law and criticising the repeal. There’s a PDF if you want to read it like that, but I’ll share some interesting bits of it with you here:

May 26, 2011

To: Louisiana State Legislators

Dear Honorable Legislator,

We are Ph.D. scientists concerned about the lack of scientific objectivity in science education. It has recently come to our attention that evolution activists are trying to pressure the Louisiana State Legislature into repealing the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), passed in 2008 by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. In particular, we have learned that a document from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Science, Evolution, and Creationism has been distributed to legislators, with the apparent intent to intimidate legislators into opposing academic freedom.

The vocal activists who oppose the LSEA are seeking to confuse the issue, since the LSEA is not about creationism. In fact, when a group of Nobel Laureates recently signed a letter calling for the repeal of the LSEA, it is noteworthy that their letter refused to quote from the law itself and instead harped upon the distraction of “creationism.” The truth is that LSEA does not permit teaching for or against any religious viewpoint.

We’ve heard this before from Casey’s post, but remember that this is a letter being sent by scientists directly to the people in charge of making a decision about the repeal of the LSEA. Notice how the points they are making here (so far) are actually valid. Rhetorically, this doesn’t look good for the repeal and its supporters. All the more reason to stop using this particular argument, eh anti-ID crowd?

If Darwin were alive today, he would urge us to teach his theory objectively. In Origin of Species, Darwin explained that “a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” Likewise, leading science education theorists agree that students learn science best when taught “to discriminate between evidence that supports … or does not support” a given concept. The LSEA was adopted for the purpose of implementing such an objective approach when teaching controversial topics like evolution. Unfortunately, many modern defenders of Darwin’s ideas reject his advice when teaching evolution.

This is where the letter goes entirely off the rails. Yes, students should be taught the critical skills necessary to evaluate competing ideas, but that doesn’t automatically make criticisms of evolutionary theory valid. They need to go through the academic community and down through the channels of curriculum construction before being allowed to enter the classroom. If ID proponents think that Charles Darwin would allow teachers to give unjustified ideas such as critiques of evolution to students, they’re completely and utterly wrong.

For example, the NAS’s Science, Evolution and Creationism booklet directly works against the scientific process by unscientifically elevating evolution to the status of unquestionable dogma. The booklet asserts that the “call to ‘teach the controversy’ [over evolution] is unwarranted” because “[t]here is no scientific controversy about the basic facts of evolution,” and evolution is “so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter” it. This is not a scientific approach.

Nonsense. The DI is manufacturing a controversy, most scientists know that. And it’s hardly unscientific to look at the facts of the matter and determine whether the particular arguments being put forward by anti-evolutionists are any good or not. They have been looked at, and they’re not very good. End of story. You don’t get to complain about how academia is unscientific if they disagree with you simply because you’re wrong. I thought that would be self-evident. Apparently not.

I could quote more of the letter, but it really is stuff we’ve all heard before. Nothing new. It’s a shame it worked, actually. Remember, the repeal was voted against, and the LSEA still remains a part of Louisiana’s educational law. Damn.

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The next post this week is by the ever-busy eponymous Evolution News & Views, who wrote about mathematics and biology and their spooky connection. Ooooh~! It’s a lot of silly stuff (I mean, population genetics has been a cornerstone of biology for how many decades now?), but I only really wanted it for the last paragraph, which beautifully highlights the reasoning behind the intelligent design argument:

From a philosophical standpoint, what does it mean that these biological systems can be explained by mathematical theories (DNA and information theory, animal markings and fractals, viruses and geometry, plankton and chaos theory)? The mathematical predictability certainly implies non-randomness. It also seems to imply layers of complexity and layers of information. These layers of complexity seem to indicate something more than unguided or random processes. It seems to indicate either a front-loading of information or at least some kind of mechanism that has the end goal in mind.

Brilliant. ID is clearly based, primarily, on intuitive arguments that theists and others with teleology-detecting predispositions will readily agree with. After that, little work is needed, except to construct philosophically convoluted (yet at the same time, overly-straightforward) arguments to make it look like ID critics have a mountain of reasoning to work through. ID proponents know how to convince those already susceptible to their way of thinking, and they do it all the time, every day, with the greatest of ease.

If only evolutionary theory could do that, then science education wouldn’t be so threatened.

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The last post this week is by Ann Gauger, who wrote about teleology in biology. Like the previous post, I’m only mentioning it for the last few paragraphs, which again makes a nice summary of ID thinking:

I like to show a video to illustrate the why we need to look top down as well as bottom up. It’s a real-time visualization of a living cell, with various structures (organelles) highlighted one by one. Go here to see it.

These cellular components, and many others, function in a very crowded cellular milieu, somehow recognizing the molecules and structures with which they are supposed to interact. They send and receive signals, correct errors, and adjust their activity in a dynamic way according to the needs of the whole organism.

Notice the language of intentionality in the last paragraph: ‘function’, ‘recognize’, interact’, ‘signal’, ‘correct’, ‘adjust’. Such language is common in biological writing.

[...]

Recognizing the implied intentionality in such language, several authors have called for biologists to abolish these words from their writing. According to them, anything that implies either teleology (being directed toward a goal or purpose) or agency (intelligence acting to produce an effect) is to be eschewed. After all, both teleology and agency have been discarded by modern biologists, along with vitalism. Yet teleological language persists. Maybe the reason such language is so common in biology research is because living things are directed toward a purpose. Maybe biological systems do reflect intelligent agency, because intelligent agents are the only known source capable of designing, assembling, and then coordinating so many interrelated sub-systems into a functional whole. And maybe, by acknowledging this, we can come to understand biology better.

Firstly, how exactly would biology be understood better if we found out it was all designed by some agent/s? I fail to grasp that argument fully. Not sure what she’s trying to say.

Secondly, the fact that biologists use teleological language when discussing biological phenomena is no more a reason to suggest that an agent was involved in their origin and development than the fact that chemists and physicists say that closed systems “want” to return to equilibrium, or that quantum physicists say that electrons are “unhappy” in high energy orbitals, or that geologists say that magma trapped in the Earth’s crust “needs” to be released are a reason to suggest that an agent was involved in these processes too. Humans use teleological language to help wrap our minds around a universe that doesn’t contain a lot of intelligent agency, relatively speaking. We anthropomorphise concepts in order to relate to them better, but that doesn’t point to a mind behind every scientific phenomenon, just that human psychology is a weird and wonderful place.

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Rapid fire ID posts!

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  1. I use the term in quotes, because they’re really not skeptical at all – more like confused and misinformed.

62 thoughts on “These Weeks in Intelligent Design – 02/06/11

  1. ID proponents really seem to love those animated visualisations of cell behaviour, but they always neglect to mention that they're invariably massive oversimplifications optimized for human understanding rather than true representational accuracy. Even actual video tends to use staining and microscopic techniques to reveal a single target of interest instead of trying to show the cell as a whole. It's much more chaotic than it looks.

  2. Benoît Leblanc

    The tone of the letter sent by a few creationist scientists suggests that they are opposing the repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act on scientific grounds. They certainly seem to take pain not to associate themselves with any religious movement, as ID has long been identified as a religious idea. I am however convinced that this letter was motivated by religious concerns.

    Now let’s not be happy with a mere belief; let’s test my hypothesis. Should these scientists have signed their letter on strictly philosophical or scientific grounds, we should find within their ranks a level of association with a certain religion not exceeding that within a control group. But what do we find?

    Wade Warren, Ph. D., teaches at Louisiana College, which defines its mission as follows: “The mission of Louisiana College is to provide a liberal arts education characterized by academic excellence, a commitment to the preeminence of the Lord Jesus, an allegiance to the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and a passion for changing the world for Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit”. I see. I wouldn’t dare to judge the good doctor merely by association, but this does not start well. One in one.

    Caroline Crocker, Ph.D., said to the Network of Evangelical Women in Ministry: “I believe that as Christians we have the Truth—I came to faith in Jesus when I was 18, over 30 years ago.” She does go on to state that science and faith should not be irreconcilable. However, “as Christians we have the truth” is not a scientific statement. Biologists do not say “we believe Darwin has the truth”… biologists demonstrate things by doing falsifiable experiments. Two in two.

    Charles Garner, Ph.D. : can’t find anything suggesting he’s particularly vocal about his religion (or lack thereof). Two in three.

    Robin Zimmer, Ph.D., is “a private biotech consultant and affiliate of the Center for Faith and Science International, which was founded to assist faith-based organizations such as churches better understand the importance and benefits of science and how it relates to their faith”.
    Egad. Three in four.

    Michael Egnor, M.D., doesn’t advertise his faith either, but did say “Why would I want my doctor to have studied evolution? I wouldn’t. Evolutionary biology isn’t important to modern medicine”. That’s hardly auspicious for a man of science!!! I’ll still call him a negative result, just to be on the conservative side. Three in five.

    Ralph Seelke, Ph.D.’s website says this : “I am convinced that Christianity is not only true, but that it is perhaps the only way of viewing the world that allows you to have both meaning and rationality in life”. Four in six.

    Charles Delzell, Ph.D. Dr Delzell does not wear his religion on his sleeve, much to his credit. Four in seven.

    Cornelius G. HUnter, Ph.D., has written “Darwin’s Proof: The Triumph of Religion Over Science”. Well, the man is entitled to his faith-based opinion. Five in eight.

    Charles Voos, Ph.D., said ““God-directed evolution seems plausible on the surface, but it is in conflict with the biblical record. . . . God did not direct evolution!” …So we see where he stands regarding the “hard evidence vs what the bible says” issue. Six in nine.

    David Elliot, Ph.D., is also at Louisiana college (“…a commitment to the preeminence of the Lord Jesus, an allegiance to the authority of the Holy Scriptures…”) and may just share the institutions core beliefs. Seven in 10.

    Donald Johnson, Ph.D. : (from creation.com) “Don came to faith in Christ when he was 12 years old at a Summer Camp: ‘I was raised in a Christian home, but I realized that I was going in the wrong direction, and God spoke to my heart and I accepted the Lord.’ “. Dr Johnson also holds the insane view that “Survival of the fittest, for example, suggests that there should be no laws against rape or murder, or anything else, because obviously the people who can do those things are fit, and those who are their victims are not fit”, showing that he understand nothing of the most basic aspects of natural selection beyond that of a caricature. Eight in eleven.

    John Oller, Ph.D., wrote this very elegant paragraph : “Take as a test the requirement of faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17). Do our proofs escape this requirement? Not at all, rather they depend absolutely on faith in mere consistency. If that consistency could be fully demonstrated ahead of time by mathematics, science, or human experience, our proofs would be inconsistent with the Biblical demand for faith. Or, if we could prove the Bible itself, such a proof would eliminate faith and be inconsistent with the Bible. But a proof of the Bible would require access to the full scope of time. This has been denied since the curse of sin (Genesis 3:24) and though nothing in the past or future is hidden from the Creator, it is fairly well hidden from us. So the test of faith sustains our proofs”. Nine in twelve.

    David Deming, Ph.D., is actually not a creationist. He says “I concluded that intelligent design cannot be construed as a scientific theory, and that the apparent goal of the intelligent design movement was to restore Christian theology as the queen of the sciences.” So if there’s one person in the lot who has some credibility in this affair, it would be him. I must admit I’m a bit annoyed that he’s also a climate change denier, though; a geophysicist should know better. Nine in thirteen.

    Donal Ewert, Ph.D., sums up what it’s like to be an “evolutionist” in the following terms : “This has lead to a state of denial of what his natural intuition tells him. Repeating his mantra “there is no need for God— there is no rneed for God- he goes on living in a world that constantly confronts him with the fact he is denying”. There we are. Ten in fourteen.

    Rebecca Keller, Ph.D., is another self-described Christian. A book publisher, she specializes in science books meant for home schooling. She endorsed new teaching standards (in New Miexico) that restored mention of evolution to the curriculum, reasured that “A student’s belief in God remains intact.” Eleven in fifteen.

    That’s a bit more than 73% of very Christian scientists. Considering that half of the AAAS members are either hard-core atheists or agnostics, we seem to see a trend, here.

    But what does the scientific method know? We should defer to some sacred book to see if this analysis is right.

  3. If Darwin were alive today, he would urge us to teach his theory objectively. In Origin of Species, Darwin explained that “a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”

    Again this quote is both incomplete and misconstrued by the dishonesty institute.

    "…each question, and this cannot possiubly be done here." ( or the likes depending on the edition referenced).

    That is critical to the discussion that the dishonesty institute tries to thrust forward, another quote mine, another twisting of what Darwin really said and his intended meaning.

  4. I am currently working on my PhD in applied math (studying population ecology), and one of the things that drew me to applied math was the elegant and beautiful way in which “these biological systems can be explained by mathematical theories.” But when we study these systems mathematically, there is a certain point at which we have accept that no model will ever be 100% accurate in its predictions. For example, a predator-prey system might exhibit periodic behavior with period 12 time units in nature, but the best mathematical model available for that system might predict periodic behavior with period 10 time units. Or perhaps the peaks in one of the population’s densities in nature might be 1050 individuals per unit but the best model prediction is 1000 individuals per unit. And I’m sure that even the folks at Evolution News & Views would agree that these small discrepancies between the mathematical theory and the real-life system do not diminish the predictive power of the model. In fact, I doubt that even a little less accuracy between theory and practice would stop the folks at Evolution News & Views from believing that “these biological systems can be explained by mathematical theories” or cause anyone to believe that somehow the prediction of periodic behavior in the model must be wrong.

    And in much the same way that these models and this mathematical theory can be used to predict the overall behavior of the system (even if the model can’t be used to predict with certainty the exact period of oscillations or exact population density at the peaks) probability theory makes predictions about the behavior of random events such as flipping a fair coin or rolling a fair dice (even if it can’t predict the outcome of one single event). And these predictions turn out to be quite accurate. If you accept the premise that “the mathematical predictability certainly implies non-randomness” when applied to DNA and information theory, animal markings and fractals, viruses and geometry, plankton and chaos theory, then you also have to accept that “the mathematical predictability certainly implies non-randomness” when applied to flipping a coin or rolling a dice. But I don’t think that anyone would claim that flipping a fair coin or rolling a fair dice are non-random events. So there is clearly something wrong with the premise.

  5. Since when is pointing out the problems with ANY theory, bad for science? There are valid problems with our current understanding of evolution, whether you want to recognise this or not. You can't write a 'regulation' to cover every single possible criticism to any theory. The Louisianna Law reflects the very best science imaginable.
    Man, if you lived during Galileo's time, you'd be the one insisting the Earth centered universe was above criticism. Or the early 20th century's theory that the Infinite and Static universe shouldn't be subject to the new 'Big Bang' theory, after all, think of the theological implications if that theory caught on!
    Give me a break!
    Joe Jensen, Canada.

    • Critical analysis of any scientific theory is great for science. In fact, scientific progress depends on it. But Nao is correct in that the high school classroom is not the appropriate venue for such debate. Teachers have a short time to teach a large amount of basic background information on a subject to students. Given their level of education to this point, having an intelligible debate is simply not possible. How many grade 10 students are boning up on the cis vs. trans controversy in evolution?

      Secondly, the ‘controversy’ alleged by the DI is a manufactured one. Based on flawed arguments they have inherited (by intelligent design!) from earlier forms of creationism. Therefore, even if it would be appropriate to teach such controversies, Intelligent Design would not qualify as a legitimate controversy.

      Dylan, a good Canadian. Go Jets.

    • Pointing out the problems with any theory is not only good for science, it is essential. However, those problems have to be genuine problems from a scientific perspective. Perhaps you clarify exactly what 'problem' with the theory of evolution is to be taught, since the scientific community doesn't believe there is one. Since you talk about valid problems, I'm assuming you can name at least one. 'Intelligent design' cannot, of course, be taught, since it has been ruled unscientific, faith-based and therefore unconstitutional.

      Galileo was the scientist. Those who denounced him were creationists. Not the best example you could have chosen.

  6. Sorry for high-jacking this thread, but I've just come accross this article:

    Kelemann and DiYanni (2005) Intuitions about origins: purpose and intelligent design in children's reasoning about nature. J. Cognition and Development 6(1):3-31 &lt ;www.bu.edu/childcognition/publications/Origins.pdf>.

    It's a developmental psychology research study in the tradition of Piaget and advances thereupon. But the results seem to be highly relevant to the ID debate, because children of any upbringing (not just religious) seem to go through a phase, where intelligent design explanations for things other than artifacts is highly intuitive to them.

    This reflects doubly on IDalists. 1.) They seem to be arrested in an early developmental stage, as is not unusual for adults. 2.) Their strategy of targetting school curricula is very disingenious, for school children are particularly vulnerable to their stuff.

  7. TBnSuch: "Critical analysis of any scientific theory is great for science. In fact, scientific progress depends on it. But Nao is correct in that the high school classroom is not the appropriate venue for such debate."

    That is the meaning of my comment regarding the Darwin quote. Clearly Darwin admitted he could not answer all his critics in the span of his book and thus he would address those comments in the scientific sphere of experts, not high school students. That's the major flaw (one of the major flaws) regarding the intelligent design argument to teach the controversy. But the fundamentalist approach is to rid the system of any reference of evolution in favor of creationism, aka intelligent design these days, and every little wedge they can insert into the schools they will do their utmost to do so. I believe Luskin referred to id as a "hypothesis." I don't think it's even that, but simply a bold assertion without anything to back it up.

  8. Jack Scanlan: “…but often it feels like the rest of the anti-ID community doesn’t share my opinion.”

    Count me as one who does. In fact I don’t care much about the religion issue. My passion is science education, and fighting the undermining of it by activists pretending to advocate “fairness.” The DI likes to tout its “Biologic Institute.” Which means that if they truly cared about science education they would be the ones demanding to have any new ideas properly vetted before introducing them (rubber stampers like Sternberg don’t count). They have even admitted in so many words that they still have nothing original worth teaching. All they have are long-refuted “weaknesses” of “Darwinism,” and have given no indication that they would do anything but censor the refutations that would clear up the misconceptions promoted by those “weaknesses.”

    They claim to be conservatives, yet demand handouts for their propaganda, and demand that Johnny get credit for wrong answers on the test. There’s no end to the irony.

  9. I wonder if this law allows for teaching things like the kamasutra in sex ed. Classes? I don’t see anyone on the anti-ID camp taking what may ultimately be a dishonest approach, yet some of these examples might be used to show that curriculums should not be left up to individual teachers or schoool boards for that matter…going through propper channels can then be shown to be the best course of action…or maybe the anti-ID crowd should be pushing for better reading comprehension, (including recognizing fallacies) and the scientific method before any of the more advanced science courses….(my own high school education lacked some of this and I’ve fallen for fallacies and quote mining many times).

  10. Hi Jack —

    Looks like your post has been hijacked by the Darwinbot mind-snatchers and their commentators. It doesn't take that much intelligence to see through this ruse. These brainwashed/brainwashing antiquarians are no match for the actual cutting edge scientists and science that is going on over the last 50 years in modern biology.

    In fact, we are at a cusp in biological science in which a radical departure from Darwin and his devotees, including neo-Darwinism, has occurred. Population genetics has nothing to do with explaining the actual causal mechanisms that are involved at the cellular level of organisms and whether they are actually capable, at the genetic or molecular level, of ever being able to transmute from bacteria to bears.

    Want references? Sure —

    "Dawkins's vulgarizations of Darwinism speak of nothing in evolution but an inexorable ascendancy of genes that are selectively superior, while the entire body of technical advance in experimental and theoretical evolutionary genetics of the last fifty years has moved in the direction of emphasizing non-selective forces in evolution." (Lewontin 1997)

    The insipid relevance of population genetics and Darwinian so-called explanations like 'random mutations and natural selection' merely conflate general explanations with explanations at the causal level. They "may serve a propagandistic purpose in the struggle for public support, but it is not the way to concrete [scientific] progress. "
    (Lewontin 1997).

    Darwinian evolutionist explanations are completely mindless and devoid of intelligence. No true Darwinist would deny it. Well, those who are not so unfortunately endowed are obviously not naive enough to accept such a severely handicapped viewpoint. Certainly there is a controversy – as well there should be. And that should be demanded to be discussed in the classroom and everywhere else that intelligent life is found or being cultivated. I would not want my children or others to be brainwashed by the minority cult of material evolutionists. I would expect them to be educated to the same level as any normal-thinking citizen of the world with enough intelligence to understand the difference between sense and nonsense.

    Numerous practicing scientists who think there is much controversy regarding Darwinism and the whole evolution industry have much to say in Suzan Mazur's, "The Altenberg 16: An Exposé Of The Evolution Industry" (2010).

    “The edifice of the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair….Evolutionary-genomic studies show that natural selection is only one of the forces that shape genome evolution and is not quantitatively dominant, whereas non-adaptive processes are much more prominent than previously suspected. ” {Koonin 2009).

    Motoo Kimura and Tomoko Ohta (1971) and others, have concluded both theoretically and empirically that natural selection has little or no effect on the vast majority of the genomes of most living organisms.

    “Kimura, Ohta, Jukes, and Crow dropped a monkey wrench into the “engine” at the heart of the modern synthesis — natural selection — and then Gould and Lewontin finished the job with their famous paper on The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm.” (Allen MacNeil 2010)

    “Let’s begin with the facts: The days of evolutionary science being an exclusive old boys club are over." (Mazur 2010)

    "…we as a people have got to move on because the central story of the theory of evolution — natural selection — is wrong in a way that “can’t be repaired” {Fodor and Palmarini)

    “Unless the discourse around evolution is opened up to scientific perspectives beyond Darwinism, the education of generations to come is at risk of being sacrificed for the benefit of a dying theory.” – Stuart Newman (2008)

    This is only a small sampling of the major controversy over Darwinian evolution and geno-centric conceptions of biology. So, should there be a free and open atmosphere in the schools and colleges over the teaching of evolution? I have barely scratch the surface of the deep problems that confront biologists in the study of life.

    Don't let the bombastic evil-utionist mind-snatchers lull you into buying their merchandise based on the extravagant claims of authenticity and scientific validity that they advertise. It is neither. And free speech on the internet, in the classroom and everywhere else is our only hope of combating the anti-progressive pseudo-scientific evolutionist cult.

  11. flawedprefect

    Will, you set yourself up to be completely p0wned. NONE of the scientists you cite talk about ID as the alternative. Their papers add to the knowledge we have about how evolution works, some are even debunked later on by other scientists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewontin's_Fallacy). Lewontin’s work is interesting, but upon reading, nowhere does he endorse ID. That scientists disagree on finer points does not mean they support ID. (surprised you didn’t quote mine Stephen Jay Gould) It means they are being skeptical of existing paradigms and postulating new hypotheses, however a bunch of quotes stating their opinions (no demonstrable data or findings are linked to above, just names & dates forcing us to either take your word for it, or Google away) does not show evolution to be false, and therefore ID correct by default.

    These legislations that keep getting pushed through are not designed to open discourse at the high school level of such papers, but rather to leave a backdoor open for ID proponents to do an end-run around peer review and due process and inject their nonsense directly into the corriculums in the hope of having a generation of kids grow up believing it is actually science – http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

    • So glad you said that so eloquently.

      It's as if a group of peers was discussing whether and to which degree global warming was due to human activities, sun spots, or so, and someone came along shouting in: "There you see, Earth Science is all a bunch of lies! Let's teach pupils that intra-terrestrials lit up the furnace!"

    • Interesting that you try to change the subject to something I neither mention nor support here or in any of my posts. It is not surprising, however, to see this kind of diversionary response coming from those who think that life is ultimately mindless and devoid of intelligence. Still, one has to admire the IDers who boldly and critically challenge the evolutionary baloney that is going on in the name of science.

      ID is not at the root of the controversy over evolution. Don't let these guys brainwash you with such nonsense. The advances that modern biology has made over the last 50 years in discovering the details of organismic life is driving the controversy. Victorian chemistry and physics, and Baconian methods of observational science are no longer useful in the context of actual biological systems. This has become a scientific reality. The journals that evolutionists are so fond of citing will soon be recycled and turned into toilet paper.

      The evolutionists are the minority opinion who are under the delusion that the rest of mankind should pay their obeisance and tithe to them. Well, in the market place of free expression we will see who pwned whom. The Darwinian ideologists are afraid of free speech because it completely short circuits the Goebbelsian method by which they propagate their faith.

      I am all for opening the discussion for more creative scientific ideas regarding the origin and nature of living organism, beyond the impersonal materialism of the Darwinian fanatics. That is what I support.

      • 'The evolutionists are the minority opinion'…

        I doubt if any more egregiously inaccurate comment has ever been written in the whole evolution/creationism debate. It's like me claiming that there are more trees in my yard than in the Amazon rain forest.

  12. So Will, do I interpret correctly that you find ID, OEC and YEC all at least as obsolete as you find "Darwinism"?

    • Yeah right. Go ahead and keep trying to change the subject. It only shows the complete bankruptcy of your Darwinian nonsense that you can't find a single answer to a genuine challenge to your insipid ideology.

      • flawedprefect

        Where exactly have you illustrated a genuine challenge, Will?

        • Just see how dull your intelligence has become. You can't even understand from my comments what should be obvious to any normal thinking person.

          The challenge is to think beyond the totalitarian mind funck of molecular Darwinism. But you can't do it. You can't even understand that there is such a reality. You have been brainwashed to think that there are either molecules or spaghetti monsters. So better stay in your Darwinbot well before the spaghetti monsters get you.

          • From my biology curriculum I remember interesting and tasty hypotheses being discussed in evolutionary biology. For example, hot debates in phylogenetics, punctuated equilibria of course, hypotheses about the extinction of dinosaurs, but also aquatic apes, panspermia, and other wacky stuff. Nothing dull nor insipid.

            These adjectives apply to some other disciplines within biology, but especially to so-called alternatives to evolutionary biology.

            My hunch is that, once you get explicit, I will either count that in as a discussion or advance within evolutionary biology, for example, if you mean evo-devo or some other aspect of the extended synthesis (that yould be interesting). Or I will count you as some new flavour of anti-evolutionism (that would taste awfully insipid to me).

          • flawedprefect

            …SOOO yoy got nothing?

  13. What's your alternative?

  14. ID/creationism must be bankrupt given the number of pseudoskeptics coming out of the woodwork these days. As "Mr. G." ("Panda's Thumb" regular commenter) colorfully puts it, a "pseudoskeptic" is one who claims to have "no dog in the fight." To which one replies "So that explains why you keep attacking the black dog and ignoring the white one."

    • ONce there was a fox who was trying to get some grapes hanging high above the ground. He kept trying to find a way to get them, but every time he was unsuccessful. So finally he thought – "Oh, those grapes are sour anyway!" == and walked away.

      Because you are incapable of thinking beyond a molecular tinker toy reality, the challenge to think in any other way can only mean one thing to you – pseudo skepticism. It couldn't possibly refer to anything that would truly be worth while beyond your current view.

      Sure, convince yourself that everything outside your Darwinian well is just pesudo skepticism. Everything is either black or white for you. This is the mentality of cults: We're right and the rest of the world is stupid. Thus our job is to convince the rest of the world how to be smart like us frogs.Croak, croak.

      • I am struck by the discursive strategy of your posts: the way you mistakenly construct evolutionary theory as ideology. In classic straw man fashion, you reify evolutionary theory as one single thing (when it isn't) and mistakenly make it a belief system. You then ironically proceed to tell us how we are the mindless ones for "believing" in a system of thought that doesn't really exist beyond your own faulty construction. Your repeated assertions that those of us who might see at least some relevance for natural selection in explaining biological diversity on the planet are mindlessly following cultist dogma really tells us more about your own dogmatic adherence to, and the growing irrelevance of, teleological understandings of the world more generally. It never ceases to amaze me how reactionary systems of thought and expression, like yours, always transfer the way you see and practice the world onto those with whom you find fault. It is like you are analyzing the inadequacies of your own cultural self. When I read your posts most of what I see is how trapped you feel in your own world view: one that no longer satisfactorily resonates with the way the world is.

        • You fail to understand that there is a world outside your well of billiard ball reality. You are lost in a "scientific" la-la land that eliminates everything that makes life and reality what it is to any ordinary person who is not brainwashed by your cult of mechanistic evolution. But you can't understand this, and you want to shut down any discussion that challenges that minuscule atomic and molecular conception of reality that arrogantly claims to be a theory of everything. Everything? Four forces and you think that's everything!

          And you guys really don't think you are drowning in a well of delusion? Wake up! What the hell are you thinking! You have been bamboozled by mechanists and taken a completely ideological abstraction of actuality as the foundation upon which to base your whole conception of life.

          I say you are all Darwinbots – mindless robots, who have been given a brain by mistake when a spinal column would have been sufficient. A vigorous challenge should be made against this totalitarian ideology and the intellectual creativity of the human spirit again instilled in such barbarians if at all possible.

          I still haven't seen even one creative idea outside of Darwinism posed by any of you. And lots of the usual -"Oh that all nonsense" for any concept outside of your severely limited world view. Or exasperated attempts to put the shoe on your challenger rather than face your own vacuity. Not only that, but you're probably scared that if you should volunteer such an account you would be severely excoriated by your peers for even venturing to go beyond the Darwin mind funk.

          Wake up people. Wake up to what they are doing to you. — And Jack wants to go and kiss the butts of Eugenie Scott and Dicky Dawkins! Instead if you give them a kick — that would be a photo to be proud of, and the beginning of a real, meaningful life.

  15. [...] more: These Weeks in Intelligent Design – 02/06/11 « Homologous Legs Filed Under: Design, intelligent designTagged: Academic Freedom, design, Intelligent Design, [...]

  16. Still think there is no debate?

    While the Darwinbots remain stupefied in their atoms-and-the-void reality (and we should put the emphasis on VOID) the need for real debate as to the genuine nature of reality is only more urgently pressing than ever. Let them flagrantly fiddle in Las Vegas while evolutionary bridges betwixt species are burning.

    ORFans, or singletons, are driving a wooden stake into the heart of the Darwinian minions who suck the creative intelligence out of their obedient Darwinbots to make sure they remain unthinking automatons. Here's a quote for you to blankly stare at:

    "Evolutionary biologists of earlier generations have not anticipated the challenge that singletons pose to contemporary biologists. By discovering millions of unique genes biologists have run into brick walls similar to those hit by physicists with the discovery of quantum phenomena. The predominant viewpoint in biology has become untenable: we are witnessing a scientific revolution of unprecedented proportions." (Kozulić 2011)

  17. How do real people think outside of the Darwinian well? Yes, there really is intelligent life beyond your well!

    Consider two books translated into English: the Bible and the Bhagabvad-gita. Yes, there really are other books starting with B besides Biology.

    They are both composed of the 26 letters of the alphabet plus punctuation marks, numbers and diacritics. We assume the laws of grammar hold. Now, it would seem possible to get from one book to the other by means of random mutation of the letters, etc. restricted by the laws of grammar and sequential combinations selected only for meaningful words in the English dictionary. Furthermore, we can select for only those sentences that made sense.

    I'm sure all you Darwin buffs would think, given enough time, this should certainly be quite possible. Right? Especially if we put all the conditions necessary to get to the desired goal.

    Only problem is — while books appear in written form in terms of letters of the alphabet, the letter are the last thing that appear in books. The combination and premutration of letters, etc. does not arise from shuffling them around. They may appear arbitrarily from the pure alphabetic perspective, but their appearance is governed by a higher prinicple that is not presesnt in the alphabet itself, or in the laws of grammar.

    Books begin with ideas, stories, etc. They are then articulated using words and then only lastly written using letters. We would completely miss the true meaning, origin and reality of books if we started from an alphabetic understanding.

    In the Philosophy of Spirit, Life is an Idea, or more provincially a Concept. It manifests objectively as a determinate object. You can't have an object without a subject and v.v. Thus Life come from Life. You can't produce Life as thus understood from indeterminate molecules and maintain an intelligible reality. Just as a book is not the product of a combination of letters, life is not produced from a combination of molecules.

    One has to feel pity for the frogs for whom this kind of thinking is completely "beyond" their well. Please. We need open debate on the scientific reality of life. March on TAM – "The Atheist Meeting" and and demand they stop brainwashing the public and force them to debate the issues.

  18. Do we need open debate?

    Why only speak of evolution when we also have Darwinian Devolution: Man to Frog

    “I have said in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare…. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music…. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive …. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”

    [Darwin's Autobiography, p 26]

    • Darwin lived at a time, where art was inspired religiously to a large extent. He might feel much more at ease and inspired by today's art.

      • Darwin lived in the 19th Century, the period of Victorian art which was inspired by the splendor of the royal court – from which it gets its name (Queen Victoria). You're thinking of 16th century Renaissance art 300 years earlier. But his loss was not only in the aesthetic taste for art. Music, poetry and literature also lost their charm for him.

        At least he started out as a gentleman. Today's generation starts from what Darwin lost and descend from there. Classical art attempted to express the highest ideals of truth, beauty and goodness in sensuous form. Modern art serves to replaced these ideals with utility, entertainment and enjoyment.

        The result of modern scientific education ensures that students never taste the joys of higher culture. Darwin himself expressed how miserable life became for him through his dry analytic turn of mind, "..it is a horrid bore to feel, as I constantly do, that I am a withered leaf for every subject except science. It sometimes makes me hate science, though God knows I ought to be thankful for such a perennial interest, which makes me forget for some hours every day my accursed stomach."

        • Thomas H. Huxley and George C. Williams are two important evolutionary biologists, who thought of mother nature as a wicked old witch.

          They both regarded art (and culture) as something precarious and threatened by nature. They both concluded, as far as I know, that humans have to achieve their culture and humanity against nature. The one thing they did not commit was the naturalistic fallacy in any of its forms.

          But you seem to commit it extensively. Otherwise, I do not see how findings of science are supposed to make insipid the arts, ethics, or culture in general.

          • HI joe —

            It is not a question of how "science is supposed to make" one loose taste in art, poetry,etc. Darwin is saying that he became depressed because he felt like "I am a withered leaf for every subject except science." It may be considered a product of his own specific mentality, but I think it is generally acknowledged that most scientists develop little if any interests in the arts, poetry, etc.

            I do not think it is hard to understand why this is. There is a feeling of beauty, truth, wonder and understanding in scientific knowledge. Other ways of experiencing all of that may not interest scientists if they are finding them in their particular field of study. The only problem is that scientists may think all other ways of experiencing such feelings are somehow inferior or illusory, and not only neglect but completely discard them. Based on my own experiences as a thoughtful scientist It seems to me that this is what is happening.

            So far as the naturalistic fallacy is concerned, it is hardly applicable to me, if you understand that idea in the same way I do, which is essentially the way in which Moore defines it. Basically, the naturalistic fallacy implies that one identifies a natural process with an evaluative judgement.

            For example, eating cookies is good or bad, as the case may be. In general, if X is any natural process/activity then proposing X is good would be a naturalistic fallacy, because good is not the same as any particular natural occurrence. Essentially, good is a universal whereas any particular instances of it are unique particulars. In the same way, fruit is a universal, whereas cherries, grapes, etc. are particulars or species under the genus fruit. In other words, you can't find the universal "fruit" in the market in the same way you find its particular forms like cherries, grapes, etc.

  19. Brilliant satire and arguments, Will. You have opened up a refreshing new way to debate the evolutionists and reduce them to embarrassing silence. Bravo. — All for open debate on these important topics in our lives.

    • I think you misinterpret the silence, raval.

      • I think not, Jack. This is the typical silence of the evolutionists when they are challenged. They don't want debate. They just want to have it their way or the highway.

        This is shameless dishonesty: "Do you think you have the definitive proof that evolutionary theory is wrong and your brand of creationism is right? Well, I’d love to hear from you."

        Frogs like to puff themselves up to make themselves feel, "Oh, I'm so big!" Well, unlike the hollow pompousness of the mindless evolutionists, I very honestly and openly dare any of you to debate the issues I have raised.

        And BTW – thank you raval. These people show themselves to have nothing beyond the well of their illusion.

      • Jack, his is only an admission of your defeat and in a very ungracious way — by casting aspersions on your opponent.

        • I'm silent because I cannot spare the time duelling the rhetoric of one person. It is not because I am incapable, it is because I am actually a rather busy person.

        • We may be silent in our replies, but secretly, we're inviting lots of mates over to our houses and reading his hilarious ramblings out loud. We've even invented a drinking game, based on "what logical fallacy has Will invented today" which can be very un-silent indeed. We then go to bed and evolve into a new species so we can do it all over again, but with a newly shuffled genome.

  20. fp: “more crickets”

    Will: Hungry little frog, aren’t you?

    Jack: Can’t debate because “I’m busy.”

    Will: Maybe you can spare enough time to see this hilarious spoof on one of your idols, Dawkins, who used the same excuse:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqr73wbIajc

    As for your, “I cannot spare the time duelling the rhetoric of one person” — it is the typical tactic of the totalitarian evolutionary ideologists to dismiss any discussion as irrelevant (or rhetorical) that is outside their own limited reductionist misconception of reality in the name of being scientific.

    Evolutionists are expert at circular reasoning. For example, they assume evolution occurs, therefore all evidence points to evolution. They presume evolution can be the only type of scientific argument, therefore any explanation beyond evolution cannot be scientific. And because it is all based on blind atheistic faith, they militantly (irrationally) defend their views and adamantly refuse to consider anything that challenges that faith.

    As for being “one person’s” argument, that is patently false. How many scientists names have already been mentioned in these arguments? And that is only a very small sample of the persons who disagree with evolutionists on the same principles that I have presented. It is the effect of evolutionary ideology that shrinks your mind down to the size of a pea that you cannot understand the simple truth that it is the majority of thinking persons who do not accept the ideology of the evolution cult. The media and certain scientists are in their pockets, and you are brainwashed by them to think you are the only rational people in the world. But it is not the truth. It is not the reality. It is the cult of wealthy materialists whose only aim is to maintain their control rather than pursue the truth.

    fp: “We may be silent in our replies..”

    Will: As it is said, “For a fool, to be silent is wisdom.” I admire you for your wisdom.

    fp: “based on what logical fallacy Will has invented”

    Will: You have not pointed out any logical fallacy, fp. My intention is not to ridicule you, although you may like to turn this discussion into that as another diversionary tactic to avoid the serious issues raised, my friend. I am playing with you in the hope that you might stop taking yourself so seriously and free yourself from your rigid adherence to what is a very unnatural, restricted and restricting ideology.

  21. I am happy to see this kind of dialog on the internet, and I fully agree that open discussion in the shcools is necessary for students to understand that science does not mean adherence to a particular ideology but an objective and open study of things. I have a phd in science and it took me many years to realize that the idelaized molecular models that science utilizes have really very little to do with life for any organism. Millions of tightly packed biomolecules of enourmous size and complexity interact and effect one another far beyond the ability of chemistry and physics to untangle. This fact will not go away because people refuse to let go of outdated ideas or ideologies of how to do science. If we are to educate a new generation of scientists to deal with these things they will not be able to do it if they are not exposed to new ways of thinking about them.

  22. Jack thinks that explaining the avalanche of data accumulated in the past 50 years in cell biology requires making only minor adjustments to neo-Darwinism. Anything beyond that he considers rhetoric or the views of only one or at most a few persons.

    U Chicago molecular biologist James Shapiro has released a recent book entitled "Evolution: A View from the 21st Century." Here is an excerpt from the author that is relevant to those very badly misconceived ideas:

    Most debates about evolution sound like the last fifty years of research in molecular biology had never occurred. Evolution: A View from the 21st Century aims to acquaint the reader with previously "inconceivable" but currently well-documented aspects of cell biology and genomics. This knowledge will prepare the reader for the inevitable surprises in evolutionary science as this new century runs its course.

    The capacity of living organisms to alter their own heredity is undeniable, and our current ideas about evolution have to incorporate this basic fact of life. The genome is no longer the read-only memory (ROM) system subject to accidental changes envisaged by conventional theory. We now understand genomes to be read-write (RW) information storage organelles at all time scales, from the single cell cycle to evolutionary eons.

    The contemporary concept of living organisms as self-modifying beings coincides with the shift in biology from a mechanistic to an information- and systems-based view of vital functions. The life sciences have converged with other disciplines to focus on questions of acquiring, processing and transmitting information to ensure the correct operation of complex adaptive systems.

  23. joe (not Joe!)

    I checked out Shapiro's theory. It is entirely naturalistic and, therefore, I do not see it as a challenge of the ilk of ID or creationists. The central dogma of biology may fall. That may open the door for individual teleology, but not for supra-individual teleology. Neither humans are clairvoyant because of their intellectual faculties nor are other organisms clairvoyant because of their genomic re-engineering functions. So variation may not be entirely random, but it will still be blind on evolutionary time scales. Evolution will remain a process of variation and selection. Credit will still be given to Darwin for having poposed this core mechanism. My hunch is that some will even continue to call it Darwinism, what you seem to regard as the great revolution overthrowing Darwinism.

    • Good to know that you actually checked out what Shapiro is doing. You may see it as naturalistic, and that is fine. It definitely does not get into the same kind of arguments as ID or creationism and remains completely on a sound scientific basis. I also adhere to the point of view of accepting what we actually observe in nature against the way we may ideologically want to interpret it.

      But to think that Shapiro's idea of a "shift in biology from a mechanistic to an information- and systems-based view of vital functions" is basically Darwinian in essence seems a bit far fetched. But if that's the way you want to see it — no problem. The fact that a shift is occurring in the ways we think about life is enough.

      There is a long road ahead to get from Darwinism to a genuine understanding of life and the universal context in which it exists. I am only arguing that this type of exploration and discovery should be embraced and taught in an open and creative way, beyond the tightly controlled totalitarian thinking that dominates much of biology today.

      And thanks for maturely engaging in this dialog.

  24. Will,

    I do not know how old you are or how established within academia. But let me warn you. Your radical way of lambasting against old-boys networks can get you into serious trouble. I'm telling you the below, because I categorised you as some creationistic weirdo at first, despite having been miscategorised so myself once. (I can live with scientific weirdos :-)

    When I was still naive about ID and thought it was an American topic I could safely ignore, I concerned myslef something completely else, optimization models. I once asked Geoff Parker via e-mail, why he apportioned the time his male dung flies spent mate guarding (after copulating with a certain female) with the time spent searching for females, instead of apportioning it with the time spent copulating. That is, Parker and Stuart (1976) added the mate guarding time to the searching time (MG +S) and traded it off against copula duration (C) in their now famous optimisation model. They gave no reason for this decision and it was never argued about this decision later (if a model works, why change it?). Intuitively I thought it more natural to add the time a male spent guarding a female (that it has just fertilized) against subsequent males to the time spent copulating with that very female (MG+C). It turned out that the decision was purely pragmatic, the model fit would have been gone entirely with trading MG+C off against S. Parker provided no other reason for their decision, but one of the first things he asked me was whether I was a creationist or IDologist.

    The import to this thread is that creationism and IDology puts an onus (detriment) on scientists to first prove themselves thoroughly as not belonging into that ilk, before they can enter a _scientific_ controversy. By lambasting about "Darwinbots" and "frogs", you will not get people like me into a sympathetic mood of listening to your arguments.

  25. Will, I agree we need more independent minded thinkers. The academic-corporate complex tends to thwart any creativity since their funding and jobs depend on feeding the system and maintaining the status quo. Only if freedom of thought is cultivated by independent bodies outside those institutions wherein it is no longer supported will new ideas thrive. It would be of great benefit to us all if schools would teach such freedom beyond the narrow confines of modern scientism.

    • flawedprefect

      The problem here is that ID is not a new idea; it is not even a challenge to the status quo. Not by a longshot. That is why “academic freedom” bills are dangerous. They feed that kind of paranoia, and put pseudo-science up on equal footing with real science, as if the classroom is the place these debates should take place. They are not. Peer review is where true challenges ate battled out. Then the solid science filters down to the classroom. Trying to do and end-run around this system which weeds out the bad ideas is dishonest. Lay people like us need to be skeptical about those who will try to raise false challenges. There is no debate to be had with the likes of Will. He throws up a handful of studies (which we Google, read, and conclude they are no real challenge, or fail to support his claim at all), quotes Shakespeare (as if the Bard has more to say on the subject than current scientific studies), and when asked to show where there is a genuine challenge to the science of evolution, defaults to calling us “darwinbots”.

      • fp —

        You write

        > ID is not a new idea; it is not even a challenge to the status quo<

        You presume evolution is the status quo. This is why the terms frog and bots fits evolutionists so well. They are so narrow minded that they cant see the truth around them. Most normal people in this world do not accept evolution. They know that God creates the world and has a hand it its design. Followers of the evolution cult are the only ones who don't know this fact. You are living in a very small world!

        >That is why "academic freedom" bills are dangerous<

        You are repeating what your evolution cult leaders are feeding you. This is how they keep you locked into the cult. Freedom is dangerous only because they might loose you from the cult. Once you realize this, you're out.

        >pseudo-science up on equal footing with real science<

        Evolution is a metaphysical idea (mechanistic materialism). To try to fit Nature into that ideology is not science. Real science means to conclude from observations, to let Nature reveal itself, not to put an ideological straight jacket over Nature and presume you have captured everything within that net.

        Science is limited in its scope due to the limitations we as scientist have. Scientists cannot know everything, only certain things within a limited range. Otherwise we have the monolithic specter of scientism. This is the aim of the evolution cult.

        >Peer review is where true challenges ate battled out<

        Truth is not established by a closed group of like minded persons who exclude those who don't agree with themselves. Scientists should not have the ultimate say in what is accepted as true when it is based on a molecular view of reality that is in fact far more comprehensive that moronic molecules can explain. Any normal person outside the evolution cult understands this quite naturally.

        >He throws up a handful of studies (which we Google, read, and conclude they are no real challenge or fail to support his claim at all)<

        The sources I cite are not based on any claim of my own. The authors themselves make the claim that Darwinism is dead. What more of a challenge can there be than that? You are simply lying. Another tactic of the evolutionist cult. Deny the evidence against Darwinism. Keep the faithful safe within the coven.

        When Shapiro writes that scientists are "facing a "shift in biology from a mechanistic to an information- and systems-based view of vital functions" you may not be able to understand that the whole Darwinian mechanistic understanding of life is being thrown out the window. It is impossible to convince someone whose lifestyle or job depends on not understanding it. Or Koonin's statement that "The edifice of the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair" seems quite certain to anyone who can read. Or Newman's statement that unless Darwinism is replaced "the education of generations to come is at risk of being sacrificed for the benefit of a dying theory.”

        Maybe you have a short memory. These quotes are on this page above. Most likely your psychological predisposition prevents you from fully accepting such things. I don't mean to force these ideas on you or anyone, my friend. But they do need to be stated just to clarify the situation for anyone else for whom such ideas may be more valuable.

        You have a right to be an evolutionist if you want. I think there is more than one side to the issue. And that's what I am presenting to anyone who reads this. That's all.

        • I could take the very quotes you mined, in order to arrive at the opposite conclusion, that the group of peers calling themselves evolutionary theorists is an open society with lively _scientific_ controversy being ongoing rather than suppressed. The only thing they are not open to is unscientific nonsense.

          • Thank you, joe. It is good news if at least you admit there is a controversy. Jack and the others on this blog deny that is the case. Certainly there are a number of independent thinking scientists in academia who are not afraid of challenging the reigning paradigm. But I hope you are aware that one has to be a rare breed of scientist to go against Darwinism. It also takes a lot of smarts to present creative new ideas based on the actual evidence of living intelligent processes going on within even the simplest organisms.

            If we assume there is God and He created the world, then science can only tell us so much about that creation, because it is ultimately miraculous, being the product of divine energy. This has always been the attitude of science from the beginning.

            Only the ultra materialists (the eliminativists) want to eliminate all personal aspects of reality and reduce everything to matter (the naturalist fallacy). Any ordinary thinking person should realize this is insane. It can only be the result of a cult mentality who have this megalomaniac idea that they are the only ones in possession of the 'absolute truth' because it is the only 'scientific' explanation of things.

            They claim that the universe is a result of a big explosion, and that the rich variety of nature we see around, well it evolved – i.e. 'it just happened.' Then they clam this is science. Only problem is, their theory of everything not only excludes everything we hold valuable in life, but they haven't been able to produce even a pebble as proof of the validity of their TOE. And as for evolution explaining the variety of life on this planet – have they been able to evolve even the simplest bacteria into an amoeba or one prokayrote into a eukaryote.

            Oh, they will say, these life forms all came from a more primitive LUCA, which unfortunately is not around anymore so you just have to keep the faith, man. Evolution is the truth. Praise Darwin.

            I think we have had enough of such 'science.' Those whose brains have not atrophied from exposure to all this mindless nonsense in the name of science, who have not become so brainwashed by the cult of Darwin fundamentalists, break free from this tyranny of the heart and mind. There is so much more to life than chemistry and physics. (It is so amazing that anyone would even have to be told that! You can thank your education and the media for that situation.)

        • flawedprefect

          BAHAHAHAHA! Will you are so full of shit, it’s a wonder you don’t leave yourself on Dawkins doorstep dressed a flaming paper bag. Cheers for the LOLs!

          • Good fp. Let it all out, my friend. We have to die to live, as Hegel said. Die to your old self and ideas, and live again renewed. I think you are smart enough to understand you have been cheated by the evolution cult. You may hate me with all your heart for killing your old ego, but accept the death of your old and useless self and you will be 'born again' — as they say — hopefully in the heaven of truth and not in the hell of illusion. For the soul is eternal, and suffers neither birth nor death. (This is not a matter of faith but of direct experience, once you know what to look for.)

  26. I gave Will the benefit of doubt, but think that he's not really having a concrete scientific idea, which he wants to promote. My story was meant to show that most of the hardening of orthodox darwinism is not an intrinsic feature of sciente but a defense reaction against unscientific and anti-darwinian claims from creationists and IDologists. I thought Will would see that (t)his behaviour is self-defeating.

    As a teacher I also think that education should help pupils to find a way out of animistic, artificialistic and other childish views of the world. Teaching ID to pupils of a certain age is like teaching somewhat younger pupils that each object is inhabited by some life-fore (formerly called deamons). The task of a teacher is to challenge the views that pupild develop naturally by facts that are couter-intuitive to these views. To corroborate childish views means to stop their mental development, or at least to pose no challenges that stimulate mental development.

    Claiming that the childish view of artificialism (that everything has a maker) is a grand intellectual challenge to a scientific theory is really putting everything upside-down. Surely, it would not pose a challenge to pupils that are in an artificialistic state of mind and therefore would not stimulate their further mental development.

    • Joe, the problem is that we see science from totally different perspectives. First of all, it should be made known to your students that the scientific perspective is only a perspective of reality, and a very abstract one at that.

      I already gave the example of a book, which you seem to have completely overlooked, but it was meant to clarify the point that an analytic understanding of a book in terms of its alphabetical constitution has its place but is irrelevant to the whole substance and meaning of the book.

      Take another example that may catch the relation between science and reality more clearly. Consider a map. Now, a map has an intentional correspondence with a certain terrain. The map is a color drawing on paper. The terrain is a three dimensional landscape that is hardly made of paper and colored ink. This real landscape has actual trees, people, culture, social, moral and spiritual values, along with numerous peculiar idiosyncrasies, etc. etc, none of which a map in itself has. Thus a map may be useful for certain limited purposes, but there is not a one to one correspondence to the total reality that it is related to.

      When the science of physics and chemistry, and we can include mathematics and present day molecular and genetic biology if you like, is presented to students as an actual description or explanation of reality, or how to think about it., then a great and criminal injustice is being done to them and reality.

      Science presents us with an idealization or model of reality, not reality itself. This is the point. That we are persons and not a bag of impersonal molecules is essential to a genuine understanding of reality as we all experience it. There is no question of artificiality here. The artificialism is to teach them they are made of molecules alone.

      You want to avoid the concept that everything has a maker, but to claim that the maker is impersonal matter or energy does not strike you as the ontological doctrine of materialism, positivism, atheism, and impersonalism. We all come from persons, and therefore it is our empirical experience that tells us that person is original, not derivative of something impersonal.

      The impersonal artificialistic state of mind that you are teaching is wha is obstructing their further mental development as rational beings, and entrapping them in a dead and illusory conception of themselves and the world. If science is threatened by reality, then it should be relegated to reclusive mad men in white coats who are a danger to society for their tendency to spread their madness to others as reality.

      Only when science is relegated to its proper subordinate position to philosophy and religion, as a maidservant and not a master, then and only then can science be taken seriously for what it is. Get real. Become a teacher and not a mutation of a teacher — a cheater.

  27. My comments are now being censored by the site admins. That is the evolutionists for ya.

  28. By censoring my comments you have proven your deception. I hope you can sleep at night with the lies you are propagating through your dishonest brainwashing methods. Will

    • I'm not censoring your comments, Will. My commenting software sometimes flags comments for *moderation* (meaning that I have to manually approve the comment), but I always do unless they are actually spam.

      To the best of my knowledge, all of your comments have been approved – the system isn't showing any more that need to be moderated. If you think a comment has been lost in the system, repost it and I'll approve it immediately.

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