Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What is Intelligent Design?

ID Defined

The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.

In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.

ID is controversial because of the implications of its evidence, rather than the significant weight of its evidence. ID proponents believe science should be conducted objectively, without regard to the implications of its findings. This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion.

Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.


Is ID testable? Does it offer predictions? Is it falsifiable?

Yes. Also peruse this link to find a more lengthy response to these questions.

I find it interesting that anti-ID scientists often make the claim that ID isn’t testable, but later turn around and proclaim that ID has been proven false by new research.

If ID isn't science, it isn't testable, and it's not worth researching, why do Darwinists continue to work so hard at trying to refute it?

This article will help the lay reader get a better understanding of what ID theorists mean when they use the term CSI (complex specified information).

Is ID misrepresented by anti-ID Activists?

Of course...but, in many cases where misrepresentation is evident, it is probably the case that the person relaying the information doesn't fully understand ID or the depth of the issues in regard to this controversy. Misunderstanding and misinformation abounds.

Here are just a few blog entries I've posted in the past in regard to the misrepresentation of Intelligent Design. Several are in reference to the science standards circus that occured here in Kansas.

More Media Dishonesty

Humes Lecture Review

Monkey Girl - The Cause of my Evolving Migraine

How misleading can one possibly get

Steve Abrams takes Governor Sebelius to task

Ken Miller at KU

Behe Lecture at KU

Panel Discussion

Behe and Astrology

Unbelievable (the Gonzalez tenure case)

To keep tabs on how often ID is misrepresented, a good source would be Evolution News and Views. They report on the never ending misrepresentations of Intelligent Design on a daily basis.

For the record, I do not think that the scientific community *at large* is part of some deceptive "conspiracy" to do away with Intelligent Design, but rather the misrepresentation comes from those scientists who are completely aborbed in this debate, and the majority of those individuals are philosophical naturalists. But, again, I don't feel that these individuals are "conspiring" against ID.

A "conspiracy" is defined as follows:

a conspiring: an unlawful plot: a conspiring group: to plan together secretly: to commit a crime: to work together toward a single end

The only part of "conspiracy" that I would deem accurate in this case would be the last definition, being "to work together toward a single end". Most certainly, Darwnists are not acting unlawfully or planning together secretly. On any given day, anyone has access to surfing dozens of websites where these issues are being debated and discussed. It is no secret that those who support Darwinian evolution intend to make sure that ID is never considered science.

The bottom line is that these issues go much deeper than mere scientific issues. Opposing worldviews play a large factor in how people perceive these issues and the "facts". Eugenie Scott and the National Center for Science Education head up the attack on the Intelligent Design movement and they really make no secret about their game plan.

The most prominent cases of ID advocates losing their jobs or being censored due to these controversial issues are as follows:

Guillermo Gonzales
Richard Sternburg
Caroline Crocker
Baylor pulls the plug on Evolutionary Informatics Lab

Friday, August 31, 2007

Kitzmiller ruling

Since the Kitzmiller ruling, this particular question has occasionally surfaced:

Judge Jones made the ruling that ID is religion, so hasn't that pretty much put an end to Intelligent Design being considered science?


Here is a response to Judge Jones' decision.

Also read this link which provides information about the book, Traipsing into Evolution, along with several other relevant links.

From the link:

Traipsing into Evolution is a critique of federal Judge John E. Jones's decision in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. In this concise yet comprehensive response, Discovery Institute scholars and attorneys show how Judge Jones's Kitzmiller decision was based upon faulty reasoning, non-existent evidence, and a serious misrepresentation of the scientific theory of intelligent design.

Intelligent Design is becoming increasingly more acceptable as people better understand the inference. Kansas board of education member, Sue Gamble, who is no friend to ID, made the statement during a panel discussion at KU last December that during the 1999 Kansas science standards discussions, questioning evolution and considering ID was a "problem" that occured primarily in United States public schools. But, by the time we reached the 2005 discussions about the science standards, she was receiving emails from people worldwide complaining that ID was becoming a "problem" for them as well.

It's interesting that next February the controversies surrounding Darwinism and Intelligent Design will even hit the big screen in a movie titled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

It appears that as the misconceptions about Intelligent Design are addressed, people become more open minded about what the theory encompasses and are becoming more aware that it is not a religious argument, but rather a scientific one.

In regard to the religious *implications* of ID, there should be no reason why any particular religion should be opposed to the inference. It says nothing about a specific creative source, it merely infers from the scientific evidence that there is a source of intellect responsible for the design we observe in nature.

Certainly, Christian, Islamic and Jewish belief systems consider this designing source to be "God" or "Allah", but it appears that even pantheistic religions question Darwinism (in it's materialistic definition) as is seen in the views of the Dali Lama.

In theory, philosophical naturalists shouldn't even have a problem with ID because the source of intelligence could be a natural one such as extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). But, as we have seen, scientists who hold a purely materialistic viewpoint in regard to origins are the ones who are the most ardent activists against the inference of design.

The beauty of ID is that, while some may view it as the enemy of the materialistic worldview, it does not demand that the materialistic viewpoint of Darwinism has no place in the world of science. The Darwinian view on origins is a very distinct possibility, and if the two ideals were working peacefully side by side, we may find that a friendly competitive spirit pushes scientists into making a vast array of new discoveries in this regard.

The "Wedge" and Theocracy

Please read:

The "Wedge Document": "So what"?

It seems that many in the anti-ID community believe that there exists a conspiracy to set up a Christian theocracy, and that the Intelligent Design community is part of the "master plan".

Baloney...there is no basis for this assumption whatsoever.

No doubt there are Christian religious fanatics out there somewhere who would like to see a theocracy established, but on the other side of the coin, there are atheist fanatics who would like to see religion disappear altogether.

I firmly support the separation of church and state because I believe if one particular religion ever took hold in government, it would eventually become disasterous.

I also strongly believe that religion should remain out of the public school systems due to the fact that I'm quite sure that no one wants their child subjected to every religion under the sun during their school hours, and that is what would happen as soon as we open the door to one particular religious belief.

I also feel that secularism or humanism has advanced to a point that, for some, it is quite similiar to the make up of religious communities. They hold social events, support one another in their materialist faith, and proselytize just as other religious groups do. Consider this when perusing a few of these organizations:

The Council for Secular Humanism
American Humanist Association
National Secular Society

You’ll find that humanist groups do try to organize functions to help others in society, but their main focus is politics, rejection of the supernatural, science as truth, and various philosophical issues. They have meetings, bylaws and manifestos just as churches have meetings, church services, bylaws, and articles of faith. They encourage others to bring friends into the flock just as faith communities do.

Some of the key players in the evolution/ID debate are involved in humanist organizations. In fact, Eugenie Scott is a notable signer of the Humanist Manifesto III. Barbara Forest and Richard Dawkins are also members of humanist groups along with many other key players in the fight against “creationism“ (as they refer to it). The Humanist Manifesto has a tone very similar to religious articles of faith. I fail to see the difference between religious groups and atheist groups other than the fact that there is a belief or disbelief in God.

In Nancy Pearcey’s Book, Total Truth, she makes a very profound statement, IMO. She wrote that, “Humans are inherently religious beings, created to be in relationship with God - and if they reject God, they don’t stop being religious; they simply find some other ultimate principle upon which to base their lives.”

Here are a few other articles to consider in this regard:

Religion by Any Other Name
The Problem with Secularism

As far as teaching religion in the public schools is concerned, my personal preference would be that religion be discussed in history classes rather than comparative religion classes at the university level. I feel this way because it seems that at this point in time, due to the goal of keeping in sync with a secular, supposedly unbiased position on the subject, so many classes are taught in such a way that all religions are considered mythical and relevant only to people on some spiritual level for various reasons throughout history rather than actually providing the possibility that one might be able to consider religion as an avenue in which one might search for truth in regard to religious history or a possible purpose for our lives.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why don't IDist or Creationists post in peer reviewed journals?

The following links provide in detail why Intelligent Design and Creationist theories are not found in mainstream science journals:

1. Correspondence w/ Science Journals (Behe)
2. Why isn't intelligent design found published in peer-reviewed science journals?
3. Do Creationists Publish in Notable Refereed Journals?
4. Why Don’t Creationists Publish in Leading Science Journals?

There are several journals promoting peer reviewed Creationist research, but mainstream scientists involved in this debate deem these journals psuedoscience, ignore them, and continue to make claims that Creationists "don't do science". Creationist theories stand little chance of breaking into mainstream journals because they've been deemed "Christian apologetics", though creation science can be discussed without any reference to religion.

I find it disheartening to think that we may neglect to consider important insights about our universe merely because we are bound to the scientific gatekeeper that refuses to consider anything that may coorespond to a particular religious belief system...even if what is being discussed and considered is based on scientific research.

Below you will find a few of those journals that support creation science:

The Creation Research Society Quarterly
Journal of Creation
Institute for Creation Research

Dr. Walt Brown has also provides several theories in regard to creation science that can be found in his book, In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood. Brown also provides a website where his entire book can be viewed on line.

I've been asked several times why scientists who support Intelligent Design don't publish in ID journals. Personally, I wonder what the point would be in doing so? The scientists who ask this question are the same ones who have claimed that creationists MUST publish in mainstream journals if they want to be taken seriously. If ID research is not published in “mainstream” journals, the scientific establishment will merely deem it pseudoscience just as it has done with creation science.

Intelligent Design is *not* religion, hence the inference *should* be published in mainstream scientific journals. Just recently, a lab had been established at Baylor University where it appeared that Intelligent Design would be given consideration in the research that was being applied. Professor Robert Marks headed the "Evolutionary Informatics" lab and had begun collaboration with William Dembski on several papers. Though, as we have seen happen in the past, censorship of this endeavour took root, and the plug was quickly pulled. Par for the course...

I've also received comments similar to the following:

Bottom line: ID must make a positive, undeniable scientific advancement.”

It already has. It has demonstrated that materialistic processes cannot account for all that we observe in nature, and that design is overwhelmingly evident in the universe and living systems. This is perhaps the most significant scientific advancement of the last half-century, *if* science is defined as the search for truth.

If you don't believe this statement to be accurate, consider the research papers that have been published in recent years trying to falsify the inference.

A quote I've kept in my files, and that I find much more elegant than my writing style is found below (unfortunately, I neglected to document the source):

The theory of intelligent design promises to reinvigorate a field of science grown stale from a lack of viable solutions to dead-end problems. The intellectual competition created by the discovery of design will bring sharper analysis to the professional scientific literature and will require that assertions be backed by hard data. The theory will spark experimental approaches and new hypotheses that would otherwise be untried. A rigorous theory of intelligent design will be a useful tool for the advancement of science in an area that has been moribund for decades.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

William Dembski

The frequent accusation:

Various scientists have challenged William Dembski's work, and claim that he hasn't provided enough research to fully answer their objections.

Here is a good source for Dembski's response to those critics.

Like ID, evolution also has unanswered questions, yet we don't thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Just because we don't know, doesn't mean we won't know...and that can be applied to Intelligent Design as well as the Theory of Evolution.

Here is another link in regard to Dembski's latest book, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Microevolution vs. Macroevolution

The frequent question:

Please, ftk, explain what the difference between micro- and macro-evolution is. How does one distinguish between microevolution and macroevolution in a particular evolving form?

This is an issue of empirical evidence in comparison to historical inference.

Empirical evidence is evidence that one can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell; it is evidence that is susceptible to one's senses. Empirical evidence is important because it is evidence that others besides yourself can experience, and it is repeatable, so empirical evidence can be checked by yourself and others after knowledge claims are made by an individual.

At issue is whether we have seen with our own eyes macroevolution or microevolution occuring in nature. Microevolution is frequently seen and involves only changes in size, shape, color, or minor genetic alterations. No one questions these types of evolutionary changes.

But, macroevolution, on the other hand, would have to provide evidence that the offspring of an animal or plant was able to evolve, for example, a different and improved set of vital organs that could be inherited. Despite many breeding experiments trying to cause such changes, this has never been observed. Micro changes are trivial in comparison to the long-sought macro changes.

All known species appear fully developed, not partially developed. They show design. There are no examples of half-developed feathers, eyes, skin, tubes (arteries, veins, intestines, etc.), or any of thousands of other vital organs. These type of changes have not been observed in nature.

So, what we rely upon are theories about these macroevolutionary changes that are rife with inference based speculation, extrapolation and no small amount of imagination in endless circumstances.

For evidence of "evolution", Darwin suppporters will reference empirical evidence for natural selection in moths, mice, or ice fish, and declare "evolution" as "fact", yet these changes we have witnessed with our own eyes are merely microevolutionary changes. They don't support Darwinism, which is the belief that everything we observe in nature today was the result of the first microbe that appeared from the 'primodial soup' (a theory which is fast falling by the wayside as well) to everything we observe in nature today by means of nothing other than the mechanisms of source of intelligence required.

From those microevolutionary examples of natural selection, we are to consider various fossil series and extrapolate the evidence to the point where we are to accept as "fact" the following macroevolutionary examples in the textbooks:

-evolution of whales fossils
-evolution of horses
-evolution of humans
-evolution of amphibians, etc..

We have never observed these types of changes actually taking place, but rather rely on historical inference to support the conclusions.

The whale of a tail and other fossil examples that are said to support the above conclusions may actually be the result of macroevolutionary change, but then again, they may not.

As the Design inference spreads throughout the world, the general public is opening it's eyes to what Darwinism actually is and what is being taught as "fact" in our public schools.

Darwinism is no different that the theory of Intelligent Design in regard to the fact that both theories are based on historical inference. Our students should be allowed to consider both.

Added in edit: Here is a link to an excellent article by Jonathan Wells in regard to the definitions of Darwinism/evolution/macroevolution/microevolution.

Friday, August 24, 2007

My Posts in regard to Atheists

The question:

If you have no problem with atheists, why do you semi-constantly bitch about them?

I don't agree with the faith beliefs of atheism, but that has no coorelation with how I feel about *people* who are atheists. I have friends and family who are atheists, and I love them like I do everyone else. I can honestly say that I feel no contempt for anyone who discusses these issues in the blogosphere either. Sure, I get a little riled up when I carry on conversations with some of those who fall into the anti-theist category because I don't understand the hypocrisy of their position in many instances. But, in general, I love discussions about various faith beliefs and I can do it without any inkling of disrespect for the person I'm talking with. I feel no hatred or dislike for atheists, I merely disagree with their worldview. In fact, I find conversations about atheism fascinating, and they prompt me to put my own beliefs under a microscope.

But, I will stand up to the militant atheist who feels it is their mission in life to take a stand for anti-theism. They are often nasty, demeaning, and degrading to anyone who does not toe the atheist mentality. I will firmly and quite deliberately point out their hyprocrisy in regard to how they treat their opponents. Their bigotry and intolerance is no different than the most ardent, rabid anti-atheist religious fundamentalist. So, I do tend to hold up a mirror for them to peer into on occassion. This is not dislike or hatred for them on my part, but a way in which to urge them to consider that their goal for a "world without religion" is as dangerous as any theocracy that they may fear.

Quite frequently, I'll run across a person who is able to carry on an intelligent and interesting conversation about atheism, and I enjoy those discussions immensely. Below you will find a series of discussion that I had with just such a person.

One, Two, Three, Four.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Who are those kids pictured in your profile?

The two boys on the right of the picture are my sons, and the remaining six are all of their first cousins.

The picture was taken at their Great Grandfather's farm on the Kansas/Colorado border. They are sitting in a large truck full of grain.

My Grandfather will turn 100 years old this November, and he still runs his entire farm with only the help of my Uncle except during harvest. They plant wheat and corn and turn about 250 head of cattle. Not too shabby for two elderly gentlemen. My Grandmother passed away about 13 years ago, and Grandpa and my Uncle have been running things on their own. They never cease to amaze me.

My screen name, Forthekids, was chosen on a whim when I entered my first science forum several years ago. My two boys are actually the ones who prompted me to consider these issues more thoroughly.

When they were preschoolers, they asked so many questions and their obsession with dinosaurs had me surfing the net for answers. I hadn't realized that googling dinosaurs would bring up so many sites in regard to creation and evolution. The innocent questions of children have a way of making you consider issues you'd long since thought you'd understood.

Not long after their endless questions about life in general, I decided to consider my religious position much more thoroughly than I had ever done in the past. One question led to another, and another, and now I find myself blabbing away incessently on line about these issues.

It's a truly fascinating topic.

Why don't you ever answer any of our questions?

I do, but apparently you aren't listening. *wink*