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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Recent columns addressing the intelligent design controversy :

Here are the recent additions to this file of columnists views on the intelligent design controversy.

Bahr, Scott , a freelance writer from Livonia, Michigan, notes in the Detroit News that evolution theory relies on faith, too:
Both creationists and evolutionists have logically derived hypotheses for the origin of our world and its inhabitants. Creationists believe in an Intelligent Designer who set nature in motion, and evolutionists believe that nature itself is the infinite being and the source of all we know.

How theories differ

Both theories cite the same evidence, but they interpret the evidence differently based on their presuppositions. For example, science shows that a wide variety of organisms share an extraordinarily high percentage of DNA sequences. Evolutionists see this as evidence of a common ancestor, but creationists see this as evidence of a common builder.

The problem with answering the question of origins is that neither hypothesis is testable. We can't recreate the scenario to observe the process.

John Derbyshire explains how he gradually ceased to be a Christian, and curiously, ID-related stuff played a role:
I can report that the Creationists are absolutely correct to hate and fear modern biology. Learning this stuff works against your faith. To take a single point at random: The idea that we are made in God’s image implies we are a finished product. We are not, though. It is now indisputable that natural selection has been going on not just through human prehistory, but through recorded history too, and is still going on today, and will go on into the future, presumably to speciation, either natural or artificial. So which human being was made in God’s image: the one of 100,000 years ago? 10,000 years ago? 1,000 years ago? The one of today? The species that will descend from us? All of those future post-human species, or just some of them? And so on. The genomes are all different. They are not the same creature. And if they are all made in God’s image somehow, then presumably so are all the other species, and there’s nothing special about us at all.

This is the first time that I have ever heard anyone claim that being made in God's image implies that humans are a finished product. Few human beings have ever claimed it of themselves.

Dworkin, Ronald , offers three questions to America in the New York Review of Books, and one of them concerns the dangers of allowing students to know that Darwin may be doubted in science classes:
If we are to protect dignity by protecting people's responsibility for their own personal values, then we must build our compulsory education and our collective endorsements of truth around the distinction between faith and reason. We need a defensible conception of science not only for the intensely practical reason that we must prepare our children and youth to advance knowledge and to compete in the world's economy but also in order to protect the personal responsibility of our citizens each for his own religious faith. We need an account of science, in our public philosophy of government, that does not make its authority depend on commitment to any set of religious or ethical values. So Senator Frist made a serious mistake when he said that describing intelligent design only as a scientific alternative to evolution doesn't "force any particular theory on anyone." In fact it damages young students, practically and politically, by using the state's authority to force on them a false and disabling view of what science is.

Klinghoffer, David : You can't have both Darwin and
God because
The key point is whether, across hundreds of millions of years, the development of life was guided or not. On one side of this chasm between worldviews are Darwinists, whose belief system asserts that life, through a material mechanism, in effect designed itself. On the other side are theories like intelligent design (ID) which argue that no such purely material mechanism could write the software in the cell, called DNA.

ID supporters find positive evidence of a designer’s hand at work in life’s history. The Discovery Institute, where I’m a senior fellow, has compiled a list of more than 600 Darwin-doubting doctoral scientists representing institutions like Stanford, Yale, and MIT. The bibliography of Darwin-doubting works in peer-reviewed and peer-edited scientific publications continues to grow.

To put it starkly, Darwinism would put God out of business. God's authority to command our behavior is based on His having created us. By this, I don’t mean that He formed the first person from clay less than six thousand years ago, but that His guidance was necessary to produce the chief glory of the world, life. If the process that produced existence and then life was not guided, then God is not our creator.

Klinghoffer has some pointed things to say about Francis Collins' book, The Language of God, as well, including "sticky-sweet memories of how he accepted Jesus on a nature hike."

Padgett, Jeffrey , argues in the Western Illinois University Courier that teaching both sides of the evolution controversy is a good idea:
In truth, I discovered that there is much good, hard scientific evidence supporting and denying the theory of intelligent design, just as there is much that supports and discounts the concept of evolution. The reason public schools do not teach us the theory of intelligent design in science classrooms is because they equate it to teaching religion, and of course we must keep church and state separate.

But if the state is in fact being unbiased, then shouldn't they present the scientific evidence for both sides? This is the only way to be fair, and it certainly isn't forcing a religion on anyone. What is the harm in teaching all of the evidence for evolution and for intelligent design?

Pafford, John M., an adjunct professor of history at Northwood University, Michigan, argues in the Midland Daily News for teaching about the evolution controversy:
What aggravates opponents is that scientists supporting intelligent design rejected Darwinian evolution and determined that the evidence points to a Creator. While it is true that creationism is taught in the Bible, scientists believing in it do study scientific data and scientifically examine the phenomena of the natural world.

Mr. Bufka's advocating the removal of creationism and intelligent design from being considered in public schools leaves Darwinian evolution as the state-established belief system, a serious error and denial of academic freedom. All three of them, creationism, intelligent design -- and Darwinian evolution -- should be taught with each individual free to accept whatever he or she chooses.

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.

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Profs and ID: Community college profs 5 times as likely to take intelligent design seriously.

"About 30 percent of community college professors considered intelligent design as a serious scientific alternative. Fewer than 6 percent of professors at elite universities took that position," according to a study by sociologists Neil Gross of Harvard University and Solon Simmons of George Mason University, who surveyed nearly 1500 US profs. This finding tracks other similar findings, and makes one wonder whether universities go out of their way to encourage and reward materialism.
The studies indicate that spirituality affects how professors teach and interact with the world, said Jennifer A. Lindholm, the UCLA project director.

Her study concluded that the more spiritual professors were more likely to use cooperative learning techniques in the classroom; to use their scholarship to address community needs; and to encourage students to perform community service.

Maybe the "more spiritual professors" think they will be judged one day or that they will have to spend eternity with their students or something like that.

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"Anti-science": New catch-all term of abuse

The Discovery Institute (ID Central) notes that
anti-science has become a catch-all term on the American left for any science approach/finding that threatens one of their materialists ideologies, whether about evolution, the use of humans in destructive experiments, or global warming. In doing this, the American left makes perfectly clear that Darwinism is the creation story of atheism, destruction of human embryos/fetuses is its sacrament, and global warming is its apocalypse. I wonder when they will get round to the Books of the Prophets - or is that covered off by the latest speculations from evolutionary psychology?

Great errors in science: Highlighting the importance of academic freedom

A Brazilian friend advises me that Great Errors in Science , which highlights the importance of academic freedom in the sciences, is available in Portuguese. He explains more at his blog. Apparently, three articles were written by Brazilian "Ivy league equivalent" professors that my friend has the good fortune to know.

My friend, who has a copy, quotes,
Science is not only a vital activity for the survival and development of humanity. It is also one of the most beautiful productions of human intelligence. But only the acceptance of its limited character, partial and uncertain can avoid that it transforms itself into a fossilized belief system

But that, of course, is precisely what Darwinism has become, complete with ridiculous hagiography.

By the way, here is an interesting essay on the decline of academic freedom in the United States (in English), featuring Wendy Kaminer. She notes the curious - and worriesome - morph of college students into "young authoritarians."

Come to think of it, the only really vast change I have ever personally seen in a species over time has been the evolution of the rules-challenged college student into the sullen young authoritarian, who aims at suppressing any idea that challenges him. The Darwinists can have them all, in my view. Every one. I will take the rest.
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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