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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Quick posts: Breaking news in the intelligent design controversy

So much is happening nowadays in the ID controversy that I am trying out a new system for posting some of it. I will quickly indicate the nature of the event, with a link, and maybe a comment. I will do a fair bit of this until I catch up with my backlog.

■ ID guy Jonathan Wells explains why he thinks Darwinism is doomed.
"So after 150 years, Darwinists are still looking for evidence – any evidence, no matter how skimpy – to justify their speculations. The latest hype over the "brain evolution gene" unwittingly reveals just how underwhelming the evidence for their view really is."
■God allows the universe to "create itself and evolve, according to Lutheran chemist and physicist/pastor, in article trashing intelligent design. So God was asleep at the switch?

■ Emory U pundits bash ID.
"Seven professors each gave a short lecture, after which they all took questions from the audience."

Listen to them or you're stupid.

■ This French group does not appear to be boneheaded materialists, to judge from greetings by Charles TOWNES and others,
Charles TOWNES, Physicist, Nobel Prize for Physics, Berkeley (USA)
What can be more important than understanding the nature and the meaning or purpose of our universe and our lives, the primary goals of science and religion ? And the nature (science) and meaning (religion) of this universe, if understood thoroughly, must come close together. UIP has generated important interactive consideration of these profound topics. Warm congratulations to UIP for its work and very best wishes on its 10th anniversary !
though I hear that they do not seem to think that the meaning and purpose they see in the universe should apply to life.

■ Russian scientist Anatoly Akimov is convinced that science has found God.
Academician Akimov was baptized at the age of 55. ‘Have you come to believe in God?’ a priest asked him when he came to church. ‘No, I have simply realized that He cannot but exist!’ the scientist answered.

■ Ann Coulter, who had kind words for the ID guys, has been accused of plagiarism, but Talking Points Memo (no friend of hers) did not find the smoking gun, after a staff day working on it.

■ According to an interesting Guardian review of Matt Ridley's biography of double helix discoverer Francis Crick,
at the summit of this career in 1976, Crick simply abandoned DNA research and emigrated to the Salk Institute, outside San Diego, where he devoted the rest of his intellectual life to brain research. Having uncovered the secret of life, he now struggled to reveal the secret of consciousness. He died, in 2003, still pursuing that goal.

By contrast, Watson quickly settled for life as a panjandrum, as administrative head of the US Cold Spring Laboratory. But then, the pair were different in many, striking ways. Watson was a royalist anglophile. Crick, by contrast, was a republican, atheist, libertarian, drug-taking womaniser. He once wrote: 'Christianity may be OK between consenting adults in private but should not be taught to young children', while his Who's Who entry for recreation was listed as 'conversation, especially with pretty women'.

No wonder Crick never discovered the secret of consciousness ... no wonder Watson didn't either.

■ Scientists are born not made, according to Greg Blonder of Morgenthaler ventures, writing in BusinessWeek:
... stop teaching chemistry, physics, or biology classes as separate subjects where memorizing nomenclature is the first order of business. Instead, invest a year of classes in experimenting with the world—making batteries, growing algae, for example. Then spend another year learning how to build scientific intuition through estimation, asking such questions as how long the air will last for a person in a sealed room or whether there's enough solar energy for mankind's needs.

Then devote another year to "case studies," comparing, say, risks to costs of building a bridge with ever-decreasing safety margins. Students could even learn how to distinguish between a successful scientific law (such as Darwinism), a failed scientific hypothesis (such as astrology), and a pseudo-scientific fairy tale (such as Intelligent Design).

But what, I wonder, will they do if it turns out that Darwinism does not predict anything or that there is good reason to believe that design is a feature of the universe? Do the case studies allow for such a conclusion - or are they propaganda exercises?

■ Don Cichetti has an interesting post onintelligent design and culture:
But what if Naturalism is simply another belief system? What if Naturalism is not science at all, but a philosophical straitjacket that forces science to only come to conclusions that are acceptable to Naturalism, whether or not those conclusions are actually true? What if Naturalism is simply a faith-based belief system, claiming things that cannot be proven, and for which there are millions of contrary pieces of evidence?

Yeah, what if? Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the intelligent design controversy.

■ Philosopher of science Robert Pennock, whose main claim to fame is opposing intelligent design, kicked off the Sagan National Colloquium at Ohio Wesleyan University in September. According to OWU Online,
Overall, the lecture was informative and well-constructed. Pennock was able to relay a very complex and nuanced case to an audience where biologists were in the minority. Some audience members may have left dissatisfied with Pennock’s discussion of the relationship between intelligent design and biology. He maintained that intelligent design is merely creationism relabeled. He also covered the science of evolution in great detail. In the end, some may conclude that his lecture was short on the specifics of why intelligent decision is not a science.

■ People for the American Way are mad as stink about intelligent design.
Some have even tried to claim that evolution is itself a religion.
But, of course, for some proponents, including Richard Dawkins, evolution clearly is a religion - but PFAW seems not at all concerned that that religion might be taught in schools. Another one for the why there is an intelligent design controversy files.

■ Speaking of Dawkins, he is apparently preaching that traditional religion (not his kind) is the "root of all evil" to the taxpayer-supported Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A sponsor sensibly remarks
It is a powerful polemic, and makes for some uncomfortable and gripping scenes. But as Dawkins categorically dismisses all people of faith (including moderates) as dangerous dupes, you're tempted to ask whether he himself is demonstrating a certainty that borders on fundamentalism – whether his unshakeable faith in science is just as fixed as the beliefs of those he condemns.

Wow! Jathink????!!! Actually, few Christians - to grab a group - are as ideological as materialist atheists such as Dawkins, because they long ago had to address the fact that many disagree with them. They cannot just persecute people with contrary evidence.
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?

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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