Sunday, March 29, 2009

Breaking: Intelligent Designer Not Intelligent

(I covered this story awhile back, so consider this the unabridged version.)

Some ammunition for those of you who … … ID/creationist proponents.

Most of this is rehashed -- except for my argumentational illustration at the end.

If you’re not so familiar with the subject matter or need a refresher course, I’ve tried to arrange this piece in as simple, yet in as thorough a way possible. (It’s kinda long)

Anyway, if you don’t need the background, jump to the Intelligent Designer section at the end.

No Segue

On 2-12-09, Citizenlink had a teaser article up, linking to an opinion piece in U.S News and World Report by Candi Cushman, Focus on the Family’s education analyst:

Intelligent Design Belongs With Darwin in Classrooms; Political Correctness Does Not

She begins with the mention of Darwin’s approaching 200th birthday, and goes on to contend that if the movie Inherit the Wind “celebrated as an eloquent protest against attacks on freedom of thought” were made today, the roles would be reversed.

In true to FOF persecution complex form, she states: “This time the person sitting in the prosecution box would be an educator who dared to challenge any part of Darwin's theory.” And then goes on to claim that professors and scientists are essentially being persecuted for “daring” to suggest “design” in nature.

(Incidentally, this was the same approach Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled” took. Nothing to do with demonstrating that ID was scientific, only to highlight those who were supposedly being unfairly persecuted.)

Cushman then cites the example of a teacher “who was reassigned to earth science after daring to present both sides of the debate.” (bold mine)

As in, Teach the Controversy

Some Background (bold mine):
In 2004, the Dover, Pennsylvania school board established a policy that science teachers would have to read a statement to biology students suggesting that there is an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution called intelligent design. Intelligent design, or ID, claims that certain features of life are too complex to have evolved naturally, and therefore must have been designed by an intelligent agent. The Dover high school science teachers refused to comply with the policy, refused to read the statement. And parents opposed to the school board's actions filed a lawsuit in federal court.
Fortunately the ID proponents’ arguments in court went handily down in flames. There were no survivors.

However, “teaching the controversy” can be perfectly legitimate, in science or in any other field. But in the case of ID, there is no legitimate controversy, because there is no scientific controversy. By characterizing ID as one “side of the debate,” Cushman and ilk attempt to raise, without merit, the theological tenets of ID to the level of scientific inquiry.

As the ruling Judge John E. Jones III said:
The goal of the ID movement is to foment a revolution

Intelligent design, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science. Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents' as well as Defendants' argument that to introduce intelligent design to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum. Moreover, intelligent design's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not intelligent design itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the intelligent-design movement is not to encourage critical thought but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with intelligent design.
Cushman continues: “More than 700 scientists have signed their names on a petition (launched by The Discovery Institute in 2001) stating their skepticism that natural selection can sufficiently account for the complexity of life.”

I thought U.S News and World Report (the host of her article) was popular because it had journalistic standards, but with her mention of the Discovery Institute, those 700 scientists may as well have been 700 Scientologists.

The Discovery Institute is the main instigator in the effort to rebrand creationism as scientific theory. They are also the authors of the Wedge Document:

From Wikipedia:
The Wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Institute manifesto known as the Wedge Document, which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to "defeat [scientific] materialism" represented by evolution, "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions"[2] and to "affirm the reality of God."[3]
And then Cushman feigns the proverbial wail ‘Won’t somebody please think about the children!’:
“Shouldn't students have the opportunity to investigate what … may point to evidence of design?”
I think the last part of that statement encapsulates how baseless and surreptitious their complaint is.

Evolution is a design. There are processes on Earth, and universally, that are by definition, designs. That’s precisely what science is “designed” to do - figure out how those designs work, and how they came to be, and it just so happens that science is part of that design too. In fact, one might even consider science to be design itself, trying to understand itself.

But no, not you, Candi Cushman. Curses! It’s those dreaded defenders of the definition of science itself that are the enemy!
“extreme efforts to shut their voices down - people shouldn't have to fear losing their jobs simply because they want to question a theory - cuts at the heart of the freedoms this nation holds dear - free speech - the right to express controversial ideas without fear - oppressive climate - police-state climate.

But the good news is that wherever there's tyranny, there's always rebellion.”
So that’s the good news, she and her FOF BFF's, and their ardent followers are the victims in all this. And let’s not forget all those poor poor students who are being SO unfairly denied the Focus on the Family perspective when it comes to all of known history.

Demonizing Evolutionary Biology

In a two page article, Cushman mentions “Darwin” in some form, 9 times: Darwin's 200th birthday approaches, Darwin's theory, Darwinian evolution, Darwinian evolution, Darwinian evolution, Darwin's theory, Darwinian evolution, Darwin's theory of evolution, and the title: Intelligent Design belongs with Darwin in classrooms.

This is NOT without intent.

The following is not the article I had originally read to make my point here, but this paragraph sums up the gist of it (again, bold mine):
Let’s Get Rid of Darwinism
Olivia Judson

To return to my argument: I’d like to abolish the insidious terms Darwinism, Darwinist and Darwinian. They suggest a false narrowness to the field of modern evolutionary biology, as though it was the brainchild of a single person 150 years ago, rather than a vast, complex and evolving subject to which many other great figures have contributed. (The science would be in a sorry state if one man 150 years ago had, in fact, discovered everything there was to say.) Obsessively focusing on Darwin, perpetually asking whether he was right about this or that, implies that the discovery of something he didn’t think of or know about somehow undermines or threatens the whole enterprise of evolutionary biology today.
Which is precisely what the continual referral of evolution as “Darwinian” is intended to do - deny that Darwinian evolutionary theory has taken on a scientific life of it’s own.

As far as I recall, the story goes that Darwin was religious, then discovered/studied natural selection -- the inherent tenet of evolution -- and then became atheist/agnostic. (See Wikipedia’s section on Charles Darwin’s views on religion.)

So, by repeatedly referring to evolutionary biology as “Darwinian,” all science based on Darwin’s theories can be maligned (when need be) as the rantings of an atheist out to prove that there is no god.

Fortunately we have reality to refer to.

I’ve linked to that website several times now, so just to make it official, it’s a wellspring of information on the whole ID attempted power grab rebranding. I would even say that it’s basically all you need to refute any ID/creationism argument. You can watch the entire program online, and/or read the full transcript, and there are a host of additional articles that expound on some of the intricacies of the subject matter. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

A couple of my favorite ID arguments

--The missing link between apes and humans: Archeology has been around for some 150 years, they should have found it by now.

--Carbon dating: We don’t know how fast carbon decayed before the invention of carbon dating, therefore all carbon dating measurements are irrelevant.

On With The Show

As Answers in Genesis freely admits:
Dinosaurs certainly did roam the Earth in the ancient past! Fossils of dinosaurs have been found all over the world, and their bones are displayed in museums for all to see. Scientists have been able to reconstruct many of their skeletons, so we know much about how they may have looked.
And from that same page:
What Did Dinosaurs Eat?

The Bible teaches (in
Genesis 1:29-30) that the original animals (and the first humans) were commanded to be vegetarian. There were no meat eaters in the original creation. Furthermore, there was no death. It was an unblemished world, with Adam and Eve and animals (including dinosaurs) living in perfect harmony, eating only plants.
Here’s a Google search of creationism dinosaurs vegetarian for further reference. Point being that the above example is only one of many.

Intelligent Designer

Now, if intelligence is the ability to understand the order of importance, then why would an intelligent designer create vegetarians with teeth and claws that were designed for flesh ripping?

Some say that it wasn’t until after man’s “fall from grace” that certain animals became predacious, but that still doesn’t answer the question as to why they were designed for predation in the first place.

Evolutionary biology is pretty much settled on the whole “natural selection,” “survival of the fittest” thing. Predator eats prey, prey adapts, predator adapts, and so on. Those who don’t adapt, perish.

Adaptation IS evolution.

The more adaptation, the more species.
The more species, the more complexity.
The more complexity, the more intelligence.

Throw in a few ages and eras, and the next thing you know you’re infested with 7 Billion human animals.

It is precisely the “design” of the predator/prey - adaptation/evolutionary process that has resulted in human intelligence.

So again, if intelligence is the ability to understand the order of importance, why would an intelligent designer, make humans, and then make the process necessary to make humans?


BlackTsunami said...

Emproph, my buddy. How have you been? I missed you commmenting on my site.

Emproph said...

Hey BT,

I miss posting there as well, and elsewhere. As you can see though, my rants take up much of my time.

I swear, almost anything I start to write turns into an essay, plus I’m a perfectionist, so I have to choose my commenting carefully these days, lol.

I stop by regularly though, so at least know that much. :)