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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More quick posts: Recent events in the intelligent design controversy

Still a bit behind here, so I can only quickly link recent events of interest:

- Martin Cothran over at the vere loqui blog points out that:
Richard Dawkin's website is running down Patrick Henry College, questioning its students' ability to think critically. But, apparently, whoever is running the website forgot an important fact: Patrick Henry's debate team has defeated Oxford (where Dawkins teaches) two years in a row. Who is it that can't think critically?

- Todd Norquist writes me to say:

In his debate with Stephen C. Meyer, U. of WA paleontologist Peter Ward announced that $100 million dollars endows Harvard's ''Origins of Life in the Universe Initiative."

Todd, that's a lot of cheese whiz, ... $100 million. Norquist cautions that, er, that cheque may not yet have been cut. He goes on to remark:
Seriously now-THIS IS GOOD NEWS-the more rigorously Harvard designs its OOL science, the more obviously evidences consonant with I D will surface-just as nearly every advance in astrobiology [however strained the project's metaphysics] buttresses the Privileged Planet hypothesis. Somewhere in this project, for example, someone may be honest enough to take a mathematical or experimental crack [or 2, or 90] at one of the information problems. Heck, biologists are commonly ignorant of the even the polypeptide impasse, not to mention chemical hurdles, such as cytosine's synthesis (David Berlinski delightfully surveys OoL research. I recently heard a Gonzaga bio prof publicly declare: "We now know, by the laws of chemistry, how life started." Harvard, yes-by any and all means-do try and get a life. Let the serious bench science-and publishing-begin!

Well, I hope it isn't just a bunch of boondoggles in the Galapagos. We'll see.

- From Muslim ID advocate: Turkish Minister Supports Intelligent Design

In a recent TV debate on the Turkish educational system, the country's Minister of Education, Mr. Hüseyin Çelik** argued in favor of intelligent design and for incorporating the theory into Turkish high school biology textbooks. The debate was aired on CNNTurk* on 17 October 2006, on the popular TV show Tarafsiz Bölge (Neutral Zone), which is hosted by the trendy Turkish journalist Ahmet Hakan Coskun.

During the 2.5 hour-long program, the minister was challenged by another leading journalist, Ismet Berkan, who has previously argued for Darwinism and against ID in his columns. Berkan contended that the vague reference to "creation" in Turkish biology textbooks as an alternative to Darwinian evolution should be omitted, since it presents faith, not science. Minister Çelik responded by pointing that the idea of creation is not necessarily based on religious texts and that it can be based solely on objective evidence and the latter is what Turkish textbooks refer to. Moreover he gave a brief description of ID, by quoting an op-ed piece of mine — that was, interestingly enough, published in the newspaper that Mr. Berkan edits (Radikal) — and argued that it should be in Turkish textbooks as an alternative theory to Darwinian evolution. The 15-min discussion between Minister Çelik and Mr. Berkan is available in audio, albeit only in Turkish.

So, watch out. ID might become a part of science standards soon in unexpected places…

* CNNTurk is a joint-venture of CNN International and the Dogan Media Group, Turkey's no. 1 media empire. It is one of the two most prestigious and popular newschannels in Turkey.
** Mr. Çelik is a member of the incumbent AKP, Turkey's moderate Muslim party.

O'Leary's question: Will we soon see a Turkish franchise of the American National Center for Science Education, just like the British franchise, British Center for Science Education? That should send the controversy right into hyperspace! Those people have a genius for helping ID everywhere they go.

- Thomas Nagel, a top Anglo-American philosopher, slams Richard Dawkins’The God Delusion in The New Republic.
Since Dawkins is operating mostly outside the range of his scientific expertise, it is not surprising that The God Delusion lacks the superb instructive lucidity of his books on evolutionary theory, such as The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, and Climbing Mount Improbable. In this new book I found that kind of pleasure only in the brief explanation of why the moth flies into the candle flame--an example introduced to illustrate how a useful trait can have disastrous side effects. (Dawkins believes the prevalence of religion among human beings is a side effect of the useful trust of childhood.)

I’m getting bored with Dawkins, plus ten, and think he has both peaked and tanked, but thought I should pass this on anyway. A moth that got religion would certainly fly out of the candle and then go on to testify on prophecy TV, right?
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?

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

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being granted tenure at Baylor after a long struggle - even after helping in a small way to destroy the Baylor Bears' ancient glory - in the opinion of a hyper sportswriter.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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