Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What is the "Intelligent Design" Movement?

Tonight at UNLV there's going to be lecture entitled "Intelligent Design: A Unique View of Globalization and Science" by Gunther Stent, emeritus professor of cell and molecular biology at UC Berkeley. From the abstract blurb that's going around, I gather that he's no friend of ID but is willing to concede that evolutionary orthodoxy is wrong in some areas. I'll post my thoughts on the lecture afterwards.

For now, I'd like to provide a link to a nice short paper that helps define what the Intelligent Design movement is all about. Critics often try to pigeonhole the movement, either by panning it as an essentially "religious" movement or even more narrowly as merely disguised "creationism". This article shows why those are inaccurate charicatures.

Marcus R. Ross, "Who Believes What? Clearing up Confusion over Intelligent Design and Young-Earth Creationism" (Warning, it's a large file: 5+ MB, .pdf)


At 3/05/2006 6:30 PM, Blogger Doug Rigby said...

The Ross article is useful in understanding the spectrum of teleological positions.

My understanding of the purpose of the Intelligent Design movement is that they would like to engage science in a credible way in support of: (1) identifying real design elements in the universe and (2) explaining irreducible design by a designer. This is an admirable scientific objective and I do not see how any scientist would have any problems with it. Point (1) may be tough to rigorously show, but not impossible.

Given this, the Ross definition of Intelligent Design (ID) is flawed and will create a huge obstacle towards any possible scientific acceptance. This is because the ID tent includes creationism. No modern scientific activity will be considered credible if it does not acknowledge a 4+ billion year-old earth (geological fact) and ancestry among organisms that is biologically continuous (evolutionary fact). Both of these factual observations are attested to by multiple independent evidentiary validations, which mean they are almost certain truth (as certain as one can scientifically get in this life). Evolutionary theory may be flawed, but any new replacement or modified theory will still need to incorporate these two facts.

I would strongly recommend that the ID movement add a 3rd stipulation that rejects creationism cold.

At 3/06/2006 7:16 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Morris said...

I am not sure why they should all together abandon creationism. In my mind it is still as viable an option as anything else. I would disagree with the geological and evolutionary facts that were mentioned.

First, Radiocarbon dating, or any method similar to it, is hugely inaccurate and shouldn't be trusted as a fact. Radiocarbon dating works by identifying the time T that it takes for element X to decay into a smaller quantity and produce element Y. This appears to be just simple math, but when dealing with a very complex environment it becomes very difficult to identify the initial amounts of element X and Y. Since these amounts are crucial to the calculation they must be identified with certainty which is almost impossible to do. Many of the things that we use to “prove” the old age of the Earth are simply false interpretations of valid or mostly valid data. I just finished reading a book about how geology and biology nice fit within a biblical timescale. Therefore, it is not nearly as simple as was mentioned.

Secondly, evolution also is not even close to a fact, but has been accepted as such with almost no concern for the evidence against it. We still have never seen life come from non-life which is crucial to the idea of evolution. Also, even given an initial life it is hard to see how evolution is even possible mathematically. Every generation of offspring of an organism will have a certain (very small) probability of a genetic mutation. Those genetic mutations will have a certain (very small) probability of actually being beneficial. Therefore, most mutations will not be good mutations meaning they will be worse for the host organism and at every generation of offspring it is less and less probable that a new species would actually develop. Also, since evolution is such a slow and gradual change then why do we not see organisms that are more closely related? It would make no sense for a tiger to all the sudden explode, biologically, into a cheetah. Where did they go? Lastly, an organism will evolve only as much as is needful for the environment. If we had an infinite food source for an organism and left the organism alone near the food source would we imagine, when we came back, that we would see the organism typing a Shakespearian masterpiece or instead would we imagine seeing the organism in much the same state as it was left in because that environment didn’t require much change. However, we as humans are millions of times greater than anything else on this planet. Why according to evolution would we reach such a level, when it is most natural for an organism to only go so far as is needful to gain control.

These supposed facts are nothing more than some research scientist’s invalid opinion which has come to be accepted as fact. Therefore, I think creationism is still a very valid explanation for the world around us much more valid than others.

At 2/18/2009 8:57 PM, Blogger Slow Roast Media said...

Same old creationist blabber....this nonsense is easy to refute... see


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