A Far More Interesting Question

ngc2440_hst_full2The scientific community and much of the world is so wrapped up in the divisive debate over whether man evolved up from lower species or was created pretty much as he is right now, that we have overlooked a fairly large and obvious elephant in the room – How did life get started in the first place?  Darwin didn’t have a clue, and neither does the scientific community today.

Nobody knows.  All theories are just that – and they all defy us –  mere, puny humans that we are – to find a way to test the viability of any of them.  Every single one starts with a hypothesis, including the one that says God did it, and then tries to find evidence to support it.  

Some members of the scientific community are extremely vocal in vilifying adherents of Intelligent Design.  They angrily dismiss anyone who even intimates a desire to test its viability, sometimes referring to them as ‘ID-iots’.  Well, count me in.  From now on, I want to be counted among the ID-iots.  I want to know why so many people are not talking about the possibility, remote as it may be to them, that much in the universe screams – SCREAMS – that it was designed.

And what about the universe itself?  Carl Sagan virtually worshipped at the alar of the ‘cosmos’, assuring us that it has always been here and that it is all that will ever be.  Yet the scientific community is more certain of the so called ‘big bang’ as the origin of the universe than they are of Darwinian evolution!  In fact, almost as many believe in a personal God who answers prayer (39.6%) as don’t (45.5%), according to a survey done in 1996.  That’s really interesting to me, especially since belief in a personal God is a belief system that is fundamentally incompatible with Darwinian evolution.  Is it possible that we have some closet ID-iots out there?

To paraphrase Shakespeare, the problem is not in our stars.  It is in us.  It is our own stubborn adhesion to the worldview in which we have so much invested that we simply cannot face the pain of having it excised.  Listen to this from biologist Richard Lewontin:

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment- a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanation, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Richard Dawkins has said that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.  That’s a very telling statement, and taken with what Lewontin said above, we can start to see why there is such animus, such vitriol expressed whenever atheistically oriented scientists are confronted with Intelligent Design.  They reject ID because they reject God.  They say they reject God because the evidence says He is not real, but that simply isn’t true.  The truth is the other way around.  

But none of the bickering is useful.  In the spirit of the tone set by our new President, I’d like to suggest that we try to find some common ground.  Statements that are too simplistic to be useful and too exclusive to allow discussion are simply rabbit trails we end up running down, while the really important issues go begging.

Intelligent Design is no more true that evolution.  That statement is simply not useful.  What is useful is to recognize and acknowledge the differences in our fundamental beliefs and to respect one another’s perspective without condemnation.  In that spirit, I offer these thoughts:

  • Some proponents of ID are no more religious than a turnip.  They simply question the all-inclusive orthodoxy of Darwinian evolution.  Darwin, not being God himself, made mistakes.
  • Most ID-iots want a seat at the table without being yelled at, marginalized or dismissed as believers in fairy tales.  
  • Atheists and scientists want to express their views and pursue their work without being preached at.
  • Two possible definitions of ‘science’ are”
    • The systematic recording of knowledge, or
    • Knowledge encompassing naturalistic explanation for natural phenomena as obtained via the scientific method.
  • The first is unfettered by boundaries that limit and inhibit – The second excludes all but the naturalistic 
  • It may be that this restriction has inhibited the progress of science in many ways, but 
  • Evolution is not a seamless and unified concept.  and neither is ID.  Therefore, if we stop yelling, maybe we can find parts of the one we reject that we don’t really reject after all.

That’s just a short list.  There are many, many other things to discuss.  I wonder if anybody out there wants to do that?

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8 thoughts on “A Far More Interesting Question

  1. Maybe scientists wouldn’t yell if you didn’t bear false witness against them. Carl Sagan most certainly did not believe that the cosmos “has always been here”. He most certainly knew of the cosmic microwave background and what that meant regarding the finite lifetime of the Universe, even if you don’t.

    You are totally mischaracterizing what scientists say and believe. You are lying about scientists and their motives. You are not an honest seeker of truth.

    Scientists reject ID because it is not testable. It makes no predictions that can be tested. It makes no predictions that are useful. It makes no predictions at all.

    What does ID say one will find if one sequences a genome? Nothing. The Intelligent designer could have put any kind of DNA in that organism, or could have used some other genetic code at his/her/its whim.

    What does evolution say one will find? A genome with predictable similarities and differences to organisms that are similar and different than the organism being sequenced. Different organisms will have similar levels of relatedness across their whole genome. That is between different organisms, each gene will have similar degrees of relatedness. If you look at 1000 different genes between two organisms, each gene will have similar relatedness.

    1. Wow. In only one exchange, you reverted to name calling and accusations. Now I am a liar and a mis-characterizer. Yet all I did was to ask questions.

      Carl Sagan may not have thought the Cosmos has always been there, yet he felt fine saying, as he did many times “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” If he thought it had a beginning, he didn’t feel the relevance of wondering when and how it got started.

      Your statement that ID is not testable is a non-sequitur. I mentioned Jonathan Wells and his study of centrioles. Scientists generally were not interested in them because they contain no DNA. He wondered whether ID could tell us something more. He formulated a hypothesis about them and published it in a biology journal and presented it in a poster session at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. Testing of his hypothesis was underway a year ago, and likely continues even now.

      As a scientist, I assume you knew that. And yet you call me a liar?

      In your rant, you failed to address most of my questions. There are four others. Please re-read my reply to your original post.

      I would like to give you another chance to prove yourself as one willing and able to engage in dialogue without accusing your questioner of being a liar. If you’re like all of the others of your stripe I have encountered, now is the time when you simply disengage. I’ve asked questions you can’t answer, and I am unwilling to engage in character attacks.

  2. Pingback: Consistent Dissonance « Bloom Where You’re Planted

  3. ID doesn’t even qualify as science.

    Not only is it not testable, it has no applications.

    I would challenge you to list just 1 application of ID.

    Also, J Wells paper, is true or not independent of intelligent design.

    1. Two questions first. What does the term ID mean to you? And so that I can respond in the way you want, maybe you could give me an example of neo-Darwinism, or whatever it is that you consider to BE science.

      I’m also unsure of your meaning in stating “Also, J Wells paper, is true or not independent of intelligent design.”

  4. According to Wiki:

    Intelligent design – is the assertion that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    I’ll accept the above definition.

    ………..

    The defining characteristic of a scientific theory is that it makes falsifiable or testable predictions. The relevance and specificity of those predictions determine how potentially useful the theory is. A would-be theory that makes no predictions that can be observed is not a useful theory. Predictions not sufficiently specific to be tested are similarly not useful. In both cases, the term “theory” is inapplicable.

    All borrowed from Wiki

    ….

    I don’t know what neo-darwinism is.

    ….

    Evolutionary theory has been put to practical use in several areas (Futuyma 1995; Bull and Wichman 2001). For example:

    * Bioinformatics, a multi-billion-dollar industry, consists largely of the comparison of genetic sequences. Descent with modification is one of its most basic assumptions.

    * Diseases and pests evolve resistance to the drugs and pesticides we use against them. Evolutionary theory is used in the field of resistance management in both medicine and agriculture (Bull and Wichman 2001).

    * Evolutionary theory is used to manage fisheries for greater yields (Conover and Munch 2002).

    * Artificial selection has been used since prehistory, but it has become much more efficient with the addition of quantitative trait locus mapping.

    * Knowledge of the evolution of parasite virulence in human populations can help guide public health policy (Galvani 2003).

    * Sex allocation theory, based on evolution theory, was used to predict conditions under which the highly endangered kakapo bird would produce more female offspring, which retrieved it from the brink of extinction (Sutherland 2002).

    Evolutionary theory is being applied to and has potential applications in may other areas, from evaluating the threats of genetically modified crops to human psychology. Additional applications are sure to come.

    talkorigins.org
    ———–

    Again these aren’t my ideas, I’ve borrowed them from other sites, but you asked for an example and I believe citing sources is important.

    Finally, I am only vaguely familiar with Wells paper, but scientifically it doesn’t really say much, nor does it support or defy ID.

    Hopefully you can provide an application.

    1. Thanks Ryan! You’ve taken some time with your reply, so let me try to return the favor. And let me do so by making this a front page post, rather than a more limited reply. Just go to the home page to see it.

  5. Ryan

    Not much time really, this ‘debate’ has been a hobby of mine for about a year now, so I can find sources pretty quickly.

    I’ll try to keep an eye on your page.

    Thanks

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