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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Podcast in the intelligent design controversy: Origin of life: Continuing failure of theories

At, sponsored by the Discovery Institute*:

The New Spontaneous Generationists

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future, Anika Smith interviews writer Robert Deyes on The New Spontaneous Generationists, who argue that "matter and energy somehow self-originated into complex forms without outside intelligence." While we may have moved beyond expecting rats to materialize from garbage heaps and maggots from decaying meat, materialists today are trying to simulate the origin of first life without intelligent agency -- and they're failing. Listen in to learn why, and read Deyes' article at ARN's ID Report for more.

(*whom I have often called the "evil Discos" , ironically, precisely because of the libels I have heard against them. I have met them and know no good reason for the libels.

And I could not quote on this blog the libels that have been uttered against me.

This is a "family" blog. Kids do not need to know how such totally messed up
guys regard traditional grannies. The kids have a future, even if those guys do not.)

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Junk DNA: Sorting through the trash

From the evil Discos:

When "Junk DNA" Isn't Junk: Farewell to a Darwinist Standard Response
Richard Sternberg, research scientist at the Biologic Institute supported by the Center for Science and Culture, is now blogging at Evolution News & Views, weighing in on the latest research showing that so-called “Junk DNA,” which Darwinists have discounted as “rubbish,” are actually “anything but that.”

Sternberg writes:

In the Darwinist repertoire, a standard response to evidence of design in the genome is to point to the existence of “junk DNA.” What is it doing there, if purposeful design really is detectable in the history of life’s development? Of course this assumes that the “junk” really is junk. That assumption has been cast increasingly into doubt. New research just out in the journal Nature Genetics finds evidence that genetic elements previously thought of as rubbish are anything but that. The research describes tiny strands of RNA, previously thought to be junk, that now turn out to play a role in gene expression. Another finding by Dr. Geoff Faulkner shows that “retrotransposons,” a further variety of “junk” as the dogma previously taught, play a similar role.

Click here to read more

See also these stories abut supposed "junk" DNA.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Darwinism and intelligent design: Darwin's public relations squad

My friend, AngelWeb at Free Mark Steyn alerts me to this story by Melanie Phillips, "Creating an insult to intelligence" (29th April 2009):
Listening to the Today programme this morning, I was irritated once again by yet another misrepresentation of Intelligent Design as a form of Creationism. In an item on the growing popularity of Intelligent Design, John Humphrys interviewed Professor Ken Miller of Brown University in the US who spoke on the subject last evening at the Faraday Institute, Cambridge. Humphrys suggested that Intelligent Design might be considered a kind of middle ground between Darwinism and Creationism. Miller agreed but went further, saying that Intelligent Design was

nothing more than an attempt to repackage good old-fashioned Creationism and make it more palatable.
But this is totally untrue. Miller referred to a landmark US court case in 2005, Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District, which did indeed uphold the argument that Intelligent Design was a form of Creationism in its ruling that teaching Intelligent Design violated the constitutional ban against teaching religion in public schools. But the court was simply wrong, doubtless because it had heard muddled testimony from the likes of Prof Miller.

One thing I would contest with Phillips is that it was "muddled." It was a sophisticated attempt to keep a dying idea - Darwinism - alive, using the legal system.

If you can get a judge to say something is true, the fact that most reasonable persons do not believe it does not count for much.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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More on BioLogos ...

Here, Tribune asks "What problem does Collins have with ID," in response to my post on his new venture BioLogos, "US government genome mapper Francis Collins fronts new BioLogos theory, preferred to “theistic evolution”"

Well, first, truth in advertising, I have written three reviews of Collins's book, The Language of God, two of which were quite favourable, and the third more thoughtful and critical. The first two merely recommend to book as suitable for a student at Christmas, for example, and I would stand by that. If the student comes home raving that he is an atheist because all scientists are, well, Collins thinks otherwise, is famous, and is an easy read.

But while Collins is an outstanding geneticist, I don't find him a deep thinker in these matters. So I am not sure how fruitful it would be to worry about what bothers him individually about ID, in an age when even an atheist like Bradley Monton thinks ID discussable and another atheist, Thomas Nagel, thinks ID discussable in schools.*

I am glad that, as others have noted, he isn't misrepresenting ID as a "God of the gaps" theory (= we can't understand it, so God dunit), when ID is about what we do understand (design). I assume that that is a sign of his good character.

The BioLogos project seems an effort to protect theistic evolution from the charge of practical atheism, by invoking Scripture. I do not think that will work, but I can certainly see how Christian clergy and scientists of a certain generation and religious preference would embrace it.

Theistic evolution got started in an age when it looked like Darwin was right, and people wanted to hang on to their faith. They professed that one could be a Christian and a Darwinist without paying any attention to the fact that it didn't work for Darwin and Darwin's aim was explicitly contrary to theirs, as he made clear to Wallace and Asa Gray.

But now it looks like he was wrong or doubtful, so theistic evolution is an answer to a problem that doesn't exist. However, so much has been written in its defense and so many careers built on it that we must not expect it to just go away.

I would predict instead that there will be more efforts like Biologos, as theistic evolutionists try to position themselves in relation to current evidence.

*For the record, as a curriculum writer and sometime advisor, I would say that anything should be discussable in schools if the students actually care about it. Making the teacher or the curriculum irrelevant to students' true concerns is not the way to educate. Not every student who thinks school a waste of time has been wrong, unfortunately.


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