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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Intelligent design: Debate goes global

The Economist recently groused about the current Catholic challenge to Darwinism:

The net result has been the emergence of two distinct camps among the Catholic pundits who aspire to influence the pope. In one there are people such as Father Coyne, who believe (like the agnostic Mr Krauss) that physics and metaphysics can and should be separated. From his new base at a parish in North Carolina, Father Coyne insists strongly on the integrity of science—“natural phenomena have natural causes”—and he is as firm as any secular biologist in asserting that every year the theory of evolution is consolidated with fresh evidence.

In the second camp are those, including some high up in the Vatican bureaucracy, who feel that Catholic scientists like Father Coyne have gone too far in accepting the world-view of their secular colleagues. This camp stresses that Darwinian science should not seduce people into believing that man evolved purely as the result of a process of random selection. While rejecting American-style intelligent design, some authoritative Catholic thinkers claim to see God's hand in “convergence”: the apparent fact that, as they put it, similar processes and structures are present in organisms that have evolved separately.


and the powerful Turkish challenge, highlighting, for example, ID sympathetic Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol:
To the dismay of some Americans and the delight of others, Mr Akyol was invited to give evidence (against Darwin's ideas) at hearings held by the Kansas school board in 2005 on how science should be taught. Mr Akyol, an advocate of reconciliation between Muslims and the West who is much in demand at conferences on the future of Islam, is careful to distinguish his position from that of the extravagant publishing venture in his home city. “They make some valid criticisms of Darwinism, but I disagree with most of their other views,” insists the young author, whose other favourite cause is the compatibility between Islam and Western liberal ideals, including human rights and capitalism. But a multi-layered anti-Darwin movement has certainly brought about a climate in Turkey and other Muslim countries that makes sure challenges to evolution theory, be they sophisticated or crude, are often well received.


I know no reason to think that the elite Economistas are particularly happy with the grassroots uprising against radical materialism, but one really remarkable thing about both this article and Patricia Cohen's account of a recent debate between conservatives in The New York Times is the slow decline in language bias. Has it begun to dawn on some newsrooms that Darwinism really is a problem and that intelligent design is not going away?

Now, so far none of them have got around to considering the possibility that there may actually be arguments against Darwinism, as opposed to people who disagree with it. Maybe by the 22nd century they will get it. (No, wait, legacy mainstream media will be obsolete by then.)

In the context, it is not really surprising that Michael Behe was asked to write the Time 100 entry for Richard Dawkins. My guess is, ID will write Darwinism's obituary.

People will still believe that evolution occurred but will no longer be looking for purely materialist explanations.
My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

Animations of life inside the cell, indexed, for your convenience.

My review of sci-fi great Rob Sawyer’s novel, The Calculating God , which addresses the concept of intelligent design. My reviews of movies relevant to the intelligent deisgn controversy.

My recent series on the spate of anti-God books, teen blasphemy challenge, et cetera, and the mounting anxiety of materialist atheists that lies behind it.

My review of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God , my backgrounder about peer review issues, or the evolutionary biologist’s opinion that all students friendly to intelligent design should be flunked.

Lists of theoretical and applied scientists who doubt Darwin and of academic ID publications.

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy at the University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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