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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Intelligent Design Creationism Is Just Anti-Evolutionism

 
Intelligent Design Creationists are fond of telling us that they have a real scientific theory. They are not just attacking evolution, they are providing real evidence for intelligent design.

Yeah, right.

Let's see how one of the leading advocates of Intelligent Design Creationism actually performs when given the chance to make her case. Denyse O'Leary has an op-ed piece in yesterday's issue of The Calgary Harald [ My op-ed piece in The Calgary Herald - Albertans are right to reject Darwinian evolution]. To me it looks like the typical anti-science rant that we've come to expect from creationists. I don't see any attempt to promote the virtues of Intelligent Design Creationism. Am I missing something?



26 comments :

  1. Yes, you're missing the gullibility gene. Though one could use more offensive words than gullibility.

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  2. Actually, in their more honest moments, IDists will admit to not actually having a scientific theory. Paul Nelson and Phil Johnson have said as much. Here's Nelson:

    Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’-but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.

    and here's Johnson:

    I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world.

    Whoops!

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/01/intelligent-des-43.html

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  3. SIgh. Do you think that this "journalist", in the interest of providing a fair and balanced view, has actually read a real textbook on evolution?

    I'm not a scientist, let alone an evolutionary biologist, but it seems to me that all the cases she cites for evolution being "in trouble" (her favorite mantra) are laughably easy to refute and all she has done is present a string of anecdotes with a "so there" to tie them altogether. She has the old Cambrian explosion (sorry but 80 million years is not exactly 'quick'). And then stuff on new information about how research on the purpose of peacock's tails and spots on butterflies have new explanations - none of which seem to challenge the basic theory of evolution whatsoever, but if anything enhance our understanding. Then we have the usual drivel about peppered moths and Haekels embryo drawings, and that based on this all of evolutionary theory is suspect.

    And of course this is all very selective and completely ignores the mountains of evidence that uniformly confirms evolution as a theory. It's like arguing that PSI is real because my auntie once saw a ghost...

    To cap it all she quotes from polls of Albertans that somehow because they don't accept evolution they are smarter than the rest of us.

    It's pathetic and it's sad that the Calgary Herald was somehow conned into believing that Denyse O'Leary is a legitimate journalist....

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  4. "A judge is not a scientist," but Denyse is?

    Nope you're not missing anything, Larry. We need a list of scientists named "Denise/Denyse."

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  5. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove.

    They need to show how their "designer" manages to violate the laws of thermodynamics.

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  6. "No product is ready for competition in the educational world." "Whoops!" Where is the whoops?

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  7. r n b says,

    Yes, you're missing the gullibility gene.

    Hmmm ... do you know where I could get one?

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  8. Hell, the daft critter is CANADIAN!??
    That kind of IDiocy we have come to expect from Jesusland, but in Canada??

    Pack up and send the vacuity to Florida or similar, - there it will blend in with the rest of the composted minds.

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  9. We need a list of scientists named "Denise/Denyse."
    Lets not be so strict.
    Any Blondie song will suffice.

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  10. @stevef:

    There is also a recent interview with Michael Medved, a senior fellow at the DI, in the Jerusalem Post, in which he says, "The important thing about Intelligent Design is that it is not a theory - which is something I think they need to make more clear. Nor is Intelligent Design an explanation. Intelligent Design is a challenge. It's a challenge to evolution. It does not replace evolution with something else."

    This has been discussed at the Panda's Thumb, and it's online at

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1215331212438&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

    Tom S.

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  11. IDcreationism is loony but there's method in its madness. Its advocated point to the failures of biochemistry (and other disciplines) by stating, quite correctly, that they have no theory of life's origins.

    They do have several hypotheses, a few promising lines of inquiry, but no theory.

    Until biochemists can tell us how life on earth began, the IDcreationists are entitled to assert that "God did it."

    The response to IDcreationism isn't argument, it is science. Biologists should stop pretending that ignorance concerning the origin of life is okay. They should respond to creationist notions with experiments that can be replicated.

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  12. Anonymous, I think you are missing the whole point of ID creationism. Its not that they are pointing out deficiencies of current knowledge, their whole argument is that EVERYTHING in current evolutionary biology is deficient. They frequently claim there are no transitional fossils yet found, that molecular evidence fails to support common descent and that design is the only process that can lead to biological complexity.
    There is plenty of good research being carried out regarding origins of life - look at the following link for a good overview,
    http://www.rockefeller.edu/evolution/

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  13. They do have several hypotheses, a few promising lines of inquiry, but no theory. and 'Until biochemists can tell us how life on earth began, the IDcreationists are entitled to assert that "God did it."

    Do you mean 'entitled' here as in having a valid argument that we should seriously consider in their 'goddidit' assertion??
    Bollocks!

    And also, there are theories about how life started on earth, but they are still (as far as I can ascertain) in the early stages. And no, - god or gods have no part in those theories. They are based on science, not superstition or wishful thinking.

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  14. Anonymous said:
    They do have several hypotheses, a few promising lines of inquiry, but no theory.

    What hypotheses, what lines of inquiry?

    "Something, somehow, somewhere is wrong about evolutionary biology" seems not to be much of a hypothesis, and certainly doesn't offer a line of inquiry.

    Until biochemists can tell us how life on earth began, the IDcreationists are entitled to assert that "God did it."

    The IDers don't assert that "God did it". Nor, for that matter, what was done, nor when, nor ... well, relevant to the point at hand, how.

    Let me suggest this: "Until ID-advocates can tell us how life on earth began, anybody else is entitled to assert anything at all."

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  15. You guys spend all your time ARGUING that IDcreationists are wrong. You do this in part, I think, as a fig leaf to cover your own embarrassment. Yell loud enough and no one will notice that you don't know how life on earth originated.

    You have no fully formed, stable theory of the origin of life on earth. Lots of interesting reseach that receives almost no public attention. No wonder the IDcreationists are encouraged! You can't answer the Big Question!

    As long as we don't know how life one earth began the theory of evolution is radically incomplete. Correct as far as it goes, maybe, but not complete. An incomplete theory is NOT ADEQUATE. Stop wasting your breath on the superstitious; work to answer the Big Question.

    When biology textbooks can say definitively now life started, the IDcreationists will once again fade away.

    Darwin said life started when the Creator started it (see the last paragraph of Origin of Species, beginning with the 2nd edition). Why did Darwin invoke the Creator? Was he joking?

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  16. "This summer a meeting of key evolutionists took place at Altenberg, Austria, to revise the theory."

    This is a "journalist"?

    I wasn't aware that "journalist" meant 'person who will lie, cheat and steal to prop up his or her goofy notions.'

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  17. As long as Newton had no theory about where the planets came from, he had an incomplete theory of the solar system.

    As long as the chemists had no theory about where matter comes from, they had a radically incomplete theory of chemical reactions.

    As long as the linguists have no theory about how languages first originated, they have a radically incomplete theory of languages.

    And on and on.

    Tom S.

    Oh, I almost forgot: As long as the ID advocates have no theory of intelligent design ... no theory about anything ... No theory about origins, to be sure, but also no theory about after-origins, either ...

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  18. Anonymous, wait a second, I think I've got it.
    Did God poof it all into existence?
    The origin of life is a very minor problem for life scientists. Its only a series of chemical reactions, nothing magical or miraculous. Someone will work it out sooner or later and when they do it won't make the slightest bit of difference to the creationists, in exactly the same way that interspecies genetic sequence comparison has had zero effect on their proclamations that there is no evidence that species on earth had a common ancestor.
    As for Darwin? So what? He was a great scientist but clearly not correct all the time. Follow the evidence, not the authority.

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  19. martinc,

    This is a bad argument:

    "The origin of life is a very minor problem for life scientists. Its only a series of chemical reactions, nothing magical or miraculous. Someone will work it out sooner or later"....

    If it is so minor, it would have been solved by now. But it isn't minor; it is major. It is THE MAJOR MISSING PIECE.

    "...and when they do it won't make the slightest bit of difference to the creationists, in exactly the same way that interspecies genetic sequence comparison has had zero effect on their proclamations that there is no evidence that species on earth had a common ancestor."

    I agree with you. The die-hard creationists won't be convinced, but millions and millions of people will be. Today, when IDcreationists ask evolutionary biochemists how life began, the biochemists splutter generalities and then fall silent, because they don't have an answer.

    Minor problem? NO! THE ORIGIN OF LIFE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION FACING EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY TODAY.

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  20. Anonymous, I guess you are talking about people in the USA. When you have half the population believing in talking snakes, Noah's ark and Jonah living in the belly of a whale, its not certain that they are ever going to amenable to an argument based on biochemistry.
    What most of them fail to realize is that just saying 'a Magic Man done it' isn't a whole lot better than claiming a Leprechaun pulled the first lifeform out of his Dembski.

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  21. martinc,

    Presenting a robust theory and good evidence concerning the orgin of life isn't just about putting an end to IDcreationist ideology, it is about satisfying our curiosity.

    We would like to know how life began just as we once wanted to know how different life forms came to be (and still do, to the extent that speciation is still not fully understood).

    One of the side benefits of a sound theory of the origin of life would be its impact on people who might otherwise choose to believe that a god made life magically.

    Ideally, we ought to be able to simulate initial conditions in the lab, watch a self-replicating, living system emerge and watch that system diversify as conditions diversified. We ought to be able to actually watch the transition from non-cellular to cellular life.

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  22. Anonymous, this sort of research is ongoing in many laboratories (follow the link to the Rockefeller conference I posted earlier or try reading Genesis by Robert Hazen). Its not funded very well as there is little health issues involved and its unlikely to lead to commercial products (or military technology).
    As for recreating the initial conditions I believe this is an obvious strategy but those conditions themselves are uncertain since most of the early rocks in the earths crust are gone so we have little evidence to go by in recreating the precise scenario. As for allowing the replicating molecules proceed until they reach cellular life, good luck with that. It took about 2 billion years the last time before eukaryotic life arrived on the scene - and that's with a laboratory the size of the earth.
    If that's what it takes to convince religious Americans then as far as I'm concerned they can live on in blissfull ignorance. There are none as blind etc.

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  23. martinc,

    Yes, it is a difficult and very intersting problem.

    The origin of life is the most important area of research in biology today. To know how life began would be a splendid accomplishment.

    Not only would a solution be good in itself, it would go a very long way to countering creationist notions.

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  24. I was going to post anonymously, but I don't want to be confused with the original "anonymous."

    I just want to say that as a chemist, I didn't realize that evolutionary biology was based on Kipling's "Just So Stories." Thanks,Denyse, for pointing that out, but I have one question for you. Why do all your "references" seem to point to your own posts? (I'll admitthat I didn't check them ALL out.)

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  25. Until biochemists can tell us how life on earth began, the IDcreationists are entitled to assert that "neither we nor anyone else knows what happened yet, but there is no evidence whatever of supernatural agency."

    There, anonymous, fixed that for you.

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  26. jud,

    I believe you but many (perhaps most) people don't.

    It isn't good enough to say "We don't know". That's just weak.

    The lab is the answer to the pulpit, jud. Besides, solving the puzzle of biogenesis is both intrinsecly interesting and scientifically important.

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