Who is the ‘Intelligent Designer’?

(Warning relating to this post. Chowbay’s Food and Article Center advises to maintain proper etiquette while attending dinner parties: one should, “try
to avoid heavy subjects such as politics and religion.”.  I’m
going to stay out of the politics (as much as is possible) but will
touch on religion and science. So please forgive my manners… 😉

This week George W. Bush spoke on the
subject ‘Intelligent Design’ and his personal view as to whether it
should be taught at science classes, alongside evolution. 
According to the Washington Post:

“President Bush invigorated
proponents of teaching alternatives to evolution in public schools with
remarks saying that schoolchildren should be taught about “intelligent
design,” a view of creation that challenges established scientific
thinking and promotes the idea that an unseen force is behind the
development of humanity.

Although he said that curriculum
decisions should be made by school districts rather than the federal
government, Bush told Texas newspaper reporters in a group interview at
the White House on Monday that he believes that intelligent design
should be taught alongside evolution as competing theories.”

The Constitution guarantees the
religious freedom of all Americans by protecting the individual right
to worship and ensuring separation between church and state. Courts
repeatedly have held that the public school classroom must be
religiously neutral and that schools must not advocate religious views.
In 1987 the Supreme Court ruled that teaching creationism in the public schools is unconstitutional.

So creationism is out.  And a new meme is being pushed.  Intelligent Design.

What is ‘Intelligent Design’?

I hadn’t heard of this newly evolved
term, ‘Intelligent Design’ before yesterday, so I searched around to
find a little about ‘Intelligent Design’. According to this Washington Post article, Phillip Johnson, a fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Culture and Science,
has lead an Intelligent Design movement where at at least 19 states are
now considering challenges to the teaching of Darwin’s theory of

So what is Intelligent Design?  And
who is the Intelligent Designer?  Well, given the Supreme Court’s
decision, it cannot be God because that would amount to
creationism.  And since teaching creationism at public schools in
the US is unconstitutional, the creationists need a new brand of
creationism, one without a god explicitly mentioned as a cause.

In my research I came across the following definition in a paper ‘Intelligent Design, A Scientific Alternative to Evolution’ [PDF] by William S. Harris and John H. Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network published in the Autumn 2003 edition of The National Catholic Weekly.

“The theory of intelligent design has been described by ID theorist Professor William Dembski of Baylor University as follows:

Intelligent design begins with the
observation that intelligent causes can do things that undirected
natural causes cannot. Undirected natural causes can”

Another definition is provided by Dr Samuel Blumenfeld, in yesterday’s article ‘Evolution vs Intelligent Design’ at the World Daily, also quoting William A. Dembski’s book. “Intelligent Design”:

“The first false idea in the theory [of evolution] is
that non-organic matter can transform itself into organic matter.
Pasteur proved that this was impossible. Second, the enormous
complexity of organic matter precludes accidental creation. There had
to be a designer. There is now a whole scientific school devoted to the
Design Theory. William A. Dembski’s book, “Intelligent Design,”
published in 1999, is the pioneering work that bridges science with
theology. Dembski writes:

Intelligent design is three things: a
scientific research program that investigates the effects of
intelligent causes; an intellectual movement that challenges Darwinism
and its naturalistic legacy; and a way of understanding divine action

It was Darwin’s expulsion of design
from biology that made possible the triumph of naturalism in Western
culture. So, too, it will be intelligent design’s restatement of design
within biology that will be the undoing of naturalism in Western

Blumenfeld concludes his article by
underscoring the divine nature of the theory and the inability of
‘evolutionists’ to accept the Intelligent Design theory due to their
rejection of a god:

“But since intelligent design infers
the existence of a designer – God – it is likely that evolutionists
will resist any change in their views, since the acknowledgment of the
existence of God is too nightmarish for them to contemplate.”

Here Blumenfeld states God is the
designer through inference, probably at the dismay of the hardcore
Intelligent Design supporters – as it
would be unconstitutional to have this
version of Intelligent Design be taught at public schools.  (By
the way, his last statement really seems out of sync with reality
regardless of who might be right or wrong about whether there is an
‘intelligent designer’ or not.  The fact is that there are many
evolutionary scientists who are religious and believe in the
existence of a god.  In general, religious scientists assume that
God created the universe and its physical laws, and that the
evolutionary process is a by-product of these laws.  In fact,
evolution says nothing about how the physical laws came to be.)

According to William S. Harris and John H. Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network,
you cannot be believer in ‘god as a creator’ and believe in
evolution.  The following is a quote from the same by Harris and
Calvert article [PDF]:

“Where do we come from? Theism holds
that humanity was designed for a purpose, while science claims that
design and the purposes it serves are an illusion. A recent example of
the depth of the confusion is a resolution adopted by the Presbyterian
Church USA (PCUSA) in which “evolution” is held to be consistent with a
“God as Creator.” The problem is that evolution is not defined in the
resolution. If by evolution, the PCUSA means “change over time,” then
the statement may be accurate, but if evolution means “unguided, blind,
unintended change,” then the statement is logically inconsistent.”

The central disagreement Intelligent
Design theory has with the theory of evolutionary process (unguided,
blind, unintended change) appears to be that ‘evolution’ cannot explain
the complexity of life we observe nor the presence of conscious,
intelligent and thinking beings.

The ‘design detection fiter’

According to Harris and Calevert, in his book ‘The Design Inference’, William Dembksi
introduces a ‘methodology’, that proposes there can only be three
explanatory causes for any event, ‘chance, ‘necessity’ (natural law),
and ‘design’, and that by applying what he calls a ‘design detection
filter’, which involves asking 3 questions about an event you can
determine its cause.  In the Harris and Calvert article [PDF],
they apply the ‘design detection filter’ to the DNA molecule. They
conclude a) that the DNA sequence contain information has purpose, that
b) DNA sequences are not determined by physical laws and that c) DNA in
a single cell cannot have been assembled by chance, and therefore

“We are driven by the data and the
facts to the most logical conclusion: the message carried by the DNA in
the first functional cell has all the hallmarks of having been derived
from an intelligent source.”

I’m not going into their rationalization
behind each of their answers, but I will take a quick look the ‘data’
it uses relating to their answer to the third question ‘What is the
probability that DNA assembled by chance in the first cell?’ (the paper
doesn’t actually describe what it means by ‘the first cell’):

“It is postulated that the first cell
would need at least three hundred genes to become a functioning
organism capable of replication. The statistical probability of
assembling a single gene coding for one hundred amino acids by chance
alone to be something in the order of 1×10-190 has been calculated. So our answer is No, the likelihood that a functional DNA chain appeared by chance is essentially zero.”

Indeed, the answer ‘no’ to this question
of chance may be accurate if the underlying assumption the answer is
based upon is accurate – that all the 100 amino acids were required to
encode each of the three hundred genes came together spontaneously, in
the right order and at the same moment in order to create the first
cell. I agree, that this would not just be improbable, but a
spectacular miracle by any measure.  But this assumption and the
conclusion this answer arrives at ignores all current theory relating
to the processes involved prior to the ‘first cell’s’ creation
(whatever Harris and Calvert mean by ‘first cell’).  This is like
saying that the the probability of the sun’s diameter being 12,740km
happened by chance is zero and therefore must have been intelligently
designed (I’d love to go further into this argument but I have a
weekend to enjoy!).

So who is the ‘Intelligent Designer’?

I caught part of an interview on TV yesterday (I later found the transcript at PBS.org), where Jeffrey Brown asks Michael Behe, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC) if God is the Intelligent Designer:

“JEFFREY BROWN: Okay. Professor Behe,
is this a way to bring God into the classroom and, I guess the direct
question is: Is the designer, the intelligent designer, is that god?

MICHAEL BEHE: Well, first of all, to
answer your first question, no, this is not an attempt to bring God
into the classroom. This is an attempt to account for the data that
science has accumulated in the past five decades. Nobody expected the
cell to be this complex. Nobody expected molecular machinery to
under-gird life. No Darwinian theory predicted this. No Darwinian
theory presently accounts for it. We are just trying to explain how
such astonishing machinery and complexity has come to be.”

The question Brown poses is of course
the first question one might ask upon first hearing of Intelligent
Design.  Is God the Intelligent Designer?  Beher answers
‘no’.  What I don’t understand is why other proponents of this
theory – fellows of the CSC – occasionally answer with an emphatic ‘yes’.  Ed Brayton has compiled a number of quotes from William Dembski, Nancy Pearcy and Phllip Johnson that seem to betray the the identity of the Intelligent Designer…maybe they just can’t help themselves?:

“Intelligent design readily embraces
the sacramental nature of physical reality. Indeed, intelligent design
is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of
information theory.”
William Dembski, (Touchstone Magazine, July/August 1999)

“If the broader impact of Darwinism
was to remove Christianity from the sphere of objective truth, then the
broader significance of the Intelligent Design movement will be to
bring it back. By providing evidence of God’s work in nature, it
restores Christianity to the status of a genuine knowledge claim,
giving us the means to reclaim a place at the table of public debate.
Christians will then be in a position to challenge the fact/value
dichotomy that has marginalized religion and morality by reducing them
to irrational, subjective experience.”
Nancy Pearcy, (Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, 2004)

The following is quote from Phillip Johnson, the leader of the Intelligent Design movement, couldn’t be any clearer:

“Our strategy has been to change the
subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which
really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the
  Philip Johnson, American Family Radio, January 10, 2003)

As I see it, the ‘Intelligent Design’ theory should not be taught at the science classroom.  The Supreme Court is clear on this matter
If it is to be taught at all in public schools, it should be taught in
the classes relating to the study of religion and theology.

Update, 7 August: I found a blog, Evolution News run by the Discovery Institute (even mentions Technorati!)…no comments allowed though..:: Seth Godin has something to say on the subject…As does Casual Fridays

Also worth checking out this NPR show, a debate on the issue of Intelligent Design. Skeptico (one of my favourite blogs) has written quite a bit on the subject

National Center for Science Education view of Intelligent Design shares its view.  Tom Vanderbilt of the Design Observer has an interesting perspective on this issue.

Update: August 10: Skeptico: “Intelligent Design disingenuously misrepresented

Update: August 19: Seems the Evolution News blog,
the pro ID blog run by the Discovery Institue, have deleted the
trackbacks from my post to theirs.  Given their ‘We want freee
speech’ mantra, this seems at odds with what they are trying to
achieve: a conversation.  BTW, they seems to be getting lots of
traffic – I received about a 3,000 referring hits to this post from
their trackbacks in about a week.

Comments (90)

  1. Patrick says:

    Ok, you seem to be getting a lot of things confused here.

    From what I can see here, this is a "science vs. Christianity" post. But in reality, god as a designer of the universe has nothing to do with Christianity.

    I believe in a "god", which to me is more of a "something" that is far beyond our comprehension, that allows something to exist instead of nothing.

    However, I also believe in evolution, cosmology, and the "big bang" theory. There is a point where science ends and.. something else has to begin.

    I believe in god AND evolution. And you could even say that I believe that this "god", whatever it is, is responsible for the universe and our consciousness.

    Oh and I also think Christianity (as well as most other human religions) are silly.

    So where does that leave me in this debate?

  2. solomon_rex says:

    The trouble I have with this – other than M$ is seemingly endorsing this view by offering links to blogs that are non-germane to their products (such as the Monad shell info I was looking for) – is that atheism/secularism is a religion, too.

    Really, I read the SC ruling, which will surely hold up in the future – until someone argues in this manner: while Creationism may espouse Christianity, Judaism, theism or Islam ‘unconstitutionally’, I think it’s fair to say that popular evolution espouses atheism unconstitutionally. This is a dilemma you can’t avoid.

    The only rational solution is to allow local schools to decide these matters – so that somewhere someone can teach the Hindu view, the muslim view, the Christian view, the atheist view, if I can generalize so boldly.

    I don’t find public schools to be religion free. Teaching that doesn’t acknowledge God’s role doesn’t accomodate my religous views – it’s attacking them. Atheism is a belief in no God, and is a principled stand on the subject of religion that I don’t share.

    In other words, if non-compulsory corporate prayer is non-Constitutional under the establishment clause, forcing my children to learn that the Earth is 5 billion years old in contravention of my religous views is also unconstitutional. It’s religious doctrine. Telling me it’s scientific is meaningless, when science is just a human interpretation of sometimes contradictory facts. The Constitution should protect my children from things I don’t like, too. Same as yours.

  3. ChrisEdwards says:

    I totally agree with solomon_rex on this one. There are two opposing viewpoints, and both are religious. Creationism in support of God, and Evolution in support of Atheism. These are complete opposites.

    Thus, we need to look at both sides of the story. An athiest who sends their child to a school where they are taught there is a god will be offended. Likewise, a Christian who sends their child to school where they are taught there is no god will also be offended. In both cases, the school is teaching the child to believe things contradictory to what their parents tell them. And this is blatently wrong.

    What ever happened to reading, writing and arithmetic? Why have our children become a pawn in this childish political game of right vs. left? The government, in my opinion, does not have the right to teach either of these "religions" according to the constitution.

    I feel that our schools should stick to teaching our kids the basics. Sex ed, Evolution, and all the "controversial" issues that our government keeps pushing on our children have no bearing on their education. The right to teach those topics rests with the family, not the state, and should be removed from public schools altogether.

    If this were the case, then there would be no contention among us over these things. We could teach our children to love the Lord, or that he doesn’t exist. And we could do so in peace such that neither of us would be offended. This isn’t a battle of Christians vs. Atheists. This is life, and we all just want our children to grow up with the same values we have. And neither of us want the state teaching them otherwise.

  4. Dave says:

    …and once again the rest of the civilised world begins to laugh at America (and its Clown-in-chief). How did you guys ever send a man to the moon? Its a good job your president back then believed in the moon.

  5. adam says:

    Modern scientific research points strongly to the weakness of Darwinian or what has come to be known as "neo-Darwinian" evolutionary theory as a suitable explanation for not only the enormous complexity of modern organisms but also their behavior. Bacteria have been shown to alter their own DNA under direct stress and have reliably altered it in ways which coincide with their direct survival. This would be difficult to explain without the assumption of specific design on their part, which technically would be genetic mutation by design. So, considering the evidence, the concept of an intelligent designer (despite what connotations that wording may carry) is certainly no less reliable a theory as the current evolution being taught as gospel in schools today. The question remains: is it more correct to teach the young the most accurate interpretation of reality or the most commonly believed regardless of merit? Also, since when has atheism been proven? How did it somehow become synonomous with scientific fact?

  6. Dave says:

    Hey Adam – how about you cite some references for this modern scientific research? And no points if its on the ID web site. Don’t forget that respected scientific research is published in major scientific journals not readers digest.

    And you don’t have to prove atheism, its not making the unusual claims. If I look in a room and I see there is nothing there and you look in the room and say ‘there is a table’ then the burden of proof is on you.

    oh and atheism has nothing to do with scientific fact. Scientific fact has to do with the theory of evolution, which happens to trample of the fantasies of believers so they assume it does. I’m sure there are some atheists that believe in UFOs, telekinesis and ghosts most of which are right up there with ID.

    (Alex – you knew this topic would be trouble…)

  7. Tobin Titus says:

    Its a good thing that the Supreme Court is an infallable and steady constant in the universe, otherwise one might be able to argue that their ruling itself was unconstitutional and reached beyond the authority of the court. Whew, I’m going to sleep better knowing that at least 5 of 9 guys said God can exist up to the doorsteps of a federally funded teaching institution — oh, and at least have the backing of one obviously intelligent Microsoft employee. That’s ‘almost’ as good as the 4 out of 5 dentists who choose a particular brand of toothpaste!

  8. damien morton says:

    Im with Patrick. I believe in something I choose to call god, and I also believe in evolution.

    However, my conception of god is something I have arrived at personally, and I consider my relationship with god to be private and personal.

    Let me just say that my god does not care what you believe or how you behave. It doesnt hear your prayers, nor does it respond to them. It has neither sons nor prohets. It is so great that we cannot comprehend it.

    solomon_rex: the purpose of public schools is to provide for a national education system – if you allow education to devolve completely to a local level, youll end up making America a more fragmented society than it already is.

    As for trying to put religion on the same footing as science- its pure bunkum. Science is all about assertions that can be tested, where religion is all about assertions that cannot. Thats why faith is required.

    At any rate – you arent forced to send your children to public schools, any more than the rest of the nation’s children are forced absorb your particular religion’s dogma.

    ChrisEdwards – there arent two sides to the story – there are, in fact, many sides to the story, but there is only one objective reality that we all share. It is that reality that science tries to understand. Science says nothing about the existance of god, but it does tend to unravel the creation myths of neolithic goat herder religions. A good religion simply wouldnt make testable assertions about the mechanisms of creation, thereby saving itself the embarassment of being proved wrong at some point in the future.

    Chis, evolution simply isnt controversial. You dont see Hindues getting upset about it in India. You dont see Buddhists getting upset about it. The only place in the world where its an issue is in the US. Why, Im dunno – I could go off on a rant about how confusing it is to come to the worlds most technologically advanced nation, only to have found a well-fount of ignorance and backsliding, but I wont.

    As for wanting to give children values similar to yours. Thats not the purpose of public education – its purpose is to give children values similar to each other – so that they can relate to each other and behave like a nation when they grow up.

    Adam: modern scientific research doesnt point to weakness of ‘darwinism’ at all, as far as I know. Got any cites from people whose motivations arent directed at defending neolithic goat herder creation myths?

  9. MSDNArchive says:

    Thanks to all for the comments.

    Before I respond to some of the comments made so far, let me make the following very clear. At no point have I argued in my post that holding religious beliefs are wrong. I have not stated that the theory of evolution is necessarily incompatible with religious beliefs. What I have argued is that the ‘Intelligent Design’ theory is not compatible with scientific study.

    Patrick, you say I seem to be getting a lot of things confused here, and I’m sorry you feel that way 🙂 To answer your specific points:

    I don’t think this is a science vs. Christianity post. This is a post about me trying to understand what is meant by ‘Intelligent Design’ and making the personal conclusion that this is not a topic for the science class, but one for the classes related to religion.

    You say you believe in a ‘god’ and also believe in evolution, cosmology and the ‘big bang theory’…as I say, "In general, religious scientists assume that God created the universe and its physical laws, and that the evolutionary process is a by-product of these laws. In fact, evolution says nothing about how the physical laws came to be.". So to be clear, I don’t think the fact that one can believe in and evolution and a god is contradictory.

    Solomon_rex, you make a serious point. For the benefit of others, I want to quote the part of your comment I’d like to address:

    "The trouble I have with this – other than M$ is seemingly endorsing this view by offering links to blogs that are non-germane to their products (such as the Monad shell info I was looking for) – is that atheism/secularism is a religion, too."

    Firstly, I ask you to read my blog’s disclaimer (http://blogs.msdn.com/alexbarn/articles/44939.aspx) the first line in particular:

    "This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer."

    I also do not disagree with you that "somewhere someone can teach the Hindu view, the muslim view, the Christian view". There is nothing in the Constitution, nor in my post that says otherwise.

    Chris Edwards, with all due respect, you are not agreeing with Solomen_rex when you say ‘Creationism in support of God, and Evolution in support of Atheism. These are complete opposites.’, as he says nothing about creationism. He is talking about Christianity, not creationism. You seem to be mixing and interchanging two entirely different terms – Creationism and Christianity. As I understand these terms, these mean different things.

    Adam. There are science classes and religious classes. Exposing a weaknesses of evolutionary theory by providing evidence and assertions that are testable is science – these types of arguments that have their place in the science class. The ‘intelligent designer’ is a religiously founded theory who’s originators and supporters admit the involvement of a god (read my post above to see the quotes). My view is that the appropriate place for theory that requires a god is the religious classroom that deals with religious subjects.

    Damien, I agree.

  10. beady says:

    Atheism is not a religion, it’s a belief. Just as belief in Christianity is a belief someone may hold. The science classroom isn’t the place for debates about religion, it’s the place for examining what we have facts and theories we have about our world and universe.

    The general guiding principle of the scientific method is based on assuming as little as possible, and working from those assumptions. Science doesn’t preclude a higher power it just doesn’t allow it to be an assumption of the universe; just as it doesn’t allow Darwinian Evolution to be an assumption, but instead the Theory is built up in solid, testable, deniable steps.

    I have yet to see someone provide an even slightly convincing account of intelligent design that isn’t based on the existence of a deity, and as such, I don’t believe it has a place in the science class.

    The way I see it is this: If we are too complex to be wrought from anything less complex than us, then what created the thing that created us?

    I’d like to chime in with the Christian (and potentially other religions) folk who say they believe in Evolution, Science, and whatnot.

    While I remain agnostic, although previously Catholic, I agree that evolution is consistent with, at least, the Bible.

    One of the best descriptions I’ve ever heard of the relationship between the two is "The bible tells us what God did, Science tells us how he did it"

  11. Peter Olsen says:

    I’d prefer not to teach Intelligent Design, but if it must be taught (by force of law, not of reason), then teach it as a "theory" on an equal footing with the "theory" of evolution.

    1. Is it consistent with the evidence?

    1.a. Does it remain consistent with the evidence, or must it be amended as new evidence is discovered?

    2. It is parsimonious? Are there simpler theories that explain the same phenomena?

    3. Is it testable? Does it make predictions that can be tested? Has it done so in the past? Have its predictions been correct.

    If we must discuss Intelligent design, let’s subject it to the same strict standards as any other theory.

    (By the way, if the ID proponents succeed in this, I have an proposal for curricula on Intelligent Thermodynamics, just in case Carnot was wrong. No point in denying Perpetual Motion just because we haven’t seen it yet.)

  12. nksingh says:

    It seems like this site was cited in some ID forum. Otherwise, I cannot understand why there are so many pro-ID posts around here.

    I am an atheist student who has worked in 3 biolabs with about 10 people in each case. The vast majority of these 30 people I’ve worked with were definitely religious and all of them believe in evolution because they use its conclusions and predictions in all of their experiments. We rely on common descent to ensure the validity of animal models of human diseases. We use our knowledge of the genetic code and the mechanism of inheritance, an idea which arose out of evolutionary theory, to locate genes for further study.

    All of these applications of biology require an understanding of genetic concepts which are tied together by evolutionary theory. Raising children is not a purely self-regarding behavior. The rest of society has an interest in ensuring that your children are productive citizens who can potentially advance the state of the art. At least they should be able to function within an increasingly technological society. If you wish to teach your children something that is false, for whatever reason, you are doing your children and your country a disservice. Your religion says that the world is 30,000 years old… my father’s religion says that it is 5,000 years old. If we all believe different things on such a subject, we cannot make progress without wasting time arguing about issues which should already be "settled".

    And religions can change on the arbitrary whims of religious leaders or of the body of the faithful. Measured facts can only change if the measuring apparatus or techniques change. It seems more sensible to allow religion to change around science than the other way around.

  13. damien morton says:

    Just wanted to make a point about my belief in evolution. That ‘belief’ is based on a study of the facts available to me. Its also a belief subject to re-interpretation based on newly available facts. It is not an immutable article of faith.

    Let us not forget that the ‘creationist’ and ID positions share a philosphical heritage with the 17th century Christians who warred against the heretic, Galileo.

    The christian belief of the day was that the earth was stationary (Psalm 104:5), around which concentric crystal spheres revolved, each with a planet embedded in it. The stars were attached to the outer crystal sphere. All the heavenly bodies were perfect and immutable and their number was exactly seven. These were church doctrines, adopted from the science of Ptolemy.

    When Galileo came along, using a telescope to observe the moons of Jupiter, and throwing his weight behind the Copernican view of the universe (earth around the sun), all hell broke loose.

    One Christina theologist argued that this cosmology "upsets the whole basis of theology. If the earth is a planet, and only one among several planets, it cannot be that any such great things have been done especially for it as the great doctrine teaches. If there are other planets, since God makes nothing in vain, they must be inhabited; but how can their inhabitants be descended from Adam? How can they trace back their origin to Noah’s Ark? How can they be redeemed by the Saviour?"

    ID reeks of this last argument, trying to bend reality to the doctrine in stead of the other way around. Of course, thats the nature of doctrine.

    In a neolithic society, doctrine was a good way of passing on lessons learned. Once we start into a technological society, the rate of change increases, and doctrine becomes a hindrance rather than a help, because it lacks the intelectual honesty and agility required to adapt to novel situations.

    In a few hundred years, people will look back on the proponents of ‘creationism’ and ID and laugh at them, just as we now laugh at those who tried to supress Galileo and Copernicus. Note that we dont laugh at Ptolemy or Galileo or Copernicus for their failures – they are all looking outwards at the world around them, doing their to make sense of it, trying to see the truth of the universe.

  14. Adam says:

    Truth be told I have never visited any ID websites, and furthermore do not subscribe to any beliefs one way or another. As for scientific references towards design-oriented evolution there are many, a few of which I will cite for those interested in broadening their prejudices.

    Tom Kiely. "Rethinking Darwin." Technology Review, May-June 1990.

    O.W.Godfrey. "Directed Mutation in Streptomyces Lipmanii." Canadian Journal of Microbiology, November 1974: 1479-1485.

    W. Stolzenburg. "Hypermutation: Evolutionary Fast Track?" Science News, March 10, 1990.

    Richard Lipkin. "Stressed Bacteria Spawn Elegant Colonies." Science News, Sept. 9, 1995.

    G. Maenhaut-Michel and J.A. Shapiro. "The Roles of Starvation and Selective Substrates in the Emergence of araB-lacZ Fusion Clones." EMBO Journal, Nov. 1, 1994, 5229-5239.

    Eschel Ben-Jacob. "Bacterial Wisdom, Godel’s Theorem and Creative Genomic Webs." Physica A 248 (1998).

    J.A. Shapiro. "Natural Genetic Engineering in Evolution." Genetica 86: 1-3 (1992).

    The list goes on. These articles are all written by well-respected, well-trained scientific professionals. I challenge anyone posting here to read the material and present an articulate opposing interpretation of the data divulged therein.

    What we see on this simple forum is a microcosm of the situations that propel history on the broadest scales. The fact that the true answer may never be found and nonetheless has virtually zero impact on anyone’s lives even if it were is moot. So is the fact that a terrifyingly large majority of people formulate their beliefs and opinions on heresay, false memories, uncorroborated prejudice, and pure blind ignorrance. The latter trend will certainly continue ad infinitum. My point in bringing up this evidence was merely to demonstrate that the ID concept is no farther flung than conventional Darwinism, which itself is more than likely only marginally closer to the true state of affairs than the most wildly concocted religious edicts. So, in a sense, it is all utter crap in relation to any comprehensive solution to how we happened to arrive here. Therefore, what real difference does it make which lie is taught to society other than which one better coalesces and controls the participants, and which ideological tribe it benefits?

  15. damien morton says:

    adam: I am actually going to take the time to read your cites. Just reading the titles, I have a feelign Im going to come across refinements of basic evolutionary theory, in which different influences on evolution will be derived.

    Truth be told, I have visited ID websites. And the plain truth is that ID is motivated to dispell criticisms of christian creation myths.

    Your question "what difference it makes about what lie is taught" betrays your basic position, which is that darwinism and creationism are on equal footing as ‘lies’. They are not.

    No-one is guided by creation science when designing new vaccines, or creating high yield crops, or any of a multitude of biotechnology activities that matter to the livelyhood of billions of people daily. Creation Science simply has nothing usefull to offer to help those billions, where biological science (which incorporates evolution) absolutely does. Thats the measure of it – does it put food on the table, and does it protect my children from diseases.

    Creation Science and ID neither put food on the table, nor protect children from diseases. They are therefore useless, paradoxically, to all but the wealthiest of peoples.

  16. MSDNArchive says:


    There are actually very few references I’ve found via MSN or Google search relating to the documents you point out (please, link!).

    What I have found is that without exception, each of the writings you to point to are quoted in the forums of http://www.arn.org/ website, run by an organization who’s directors, staff and friends of the ARN (http://www.arn.org/infopage/info.htm) or the ISCID (http://www.iscid.org/fellows.php) include fellows of the Discovery Institute CSC (http://www.crsc.org/fellows.php – Paul Nelson, Mike Behe, David Berlinski, William Dembski, Jonathan Wells, and of course, Phillip Johnson himself. The Discovery Institute is the primary financier of the Intelligent Design movement.

    In fact, there are very few references I’ve found actually discussing any of the works you point out. The only exception seems to Shapiro’s work (http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/publications.html).

    I have found these though:

    This (ISCID) forum thread actually uses many of the references you quote, all in context of Intelligent Design (ID). http://www.iscid.org/boards/ubb-get_topic-f-6-t-000032.html.

    As does this ARN forum thread, also in the context of ID: http://www.arn.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php/ubb/get_topic/f/13/t/002086/p/2.html

  17. damien morton says:


    I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

    Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

    It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

    Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

    I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I cannot stress the importance of this, and unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming too long. The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don’t.


  18. Adam says:

    Damien, I fear that you misunderstand the topic. Evolution, even that which presupposes a design intelligence, still relies on biological genetic mutation to fuel its designs. Therefore, you are incorrect in assimilating creationism and intelligent design into the same entity. This then invalidates your entire line of reasoning concerning ID’s lack of usefulness to humanity at large, which however does apply to creationism which itself provides no tactile usefulness but has proven astoundingly useful at organizing large groups of humans to fulfill enormous and often brutal tasks. Unless I have completely misunderstood the articles, Intelligent Design differs with neo-Darwininan evolution only insofar as the intentions are concerned but not necessarily the methods, which would make the two practically indistinguishable in regards to medical/technological utility. The ID doctrine alone is not inherently Christian, although certainly Christian leaders are and will seize this opportunity to wrestle some power back into their crippled ideology. But the equal is also true, which is to say that neo-Darwinian evolution is not necessarily atheistic, yet many atheist leaders will certainly say it is. Both theories are scientificly sound and draw no idealogical conclusions in and of themselves. Then why is it that a theory which appeals to atheism is suitable for children, but a theory which appeals to Christianity is not? This is not a question of the evidence present, it is a prejudice against Christianity and towards atheism which is no less dangerous than the opposite. If Christians were not lauding and extolling these findings, would anyone oppose their presence in the classroom? Obviously, we are either terrified of Christianity’s re-emergence as a corrupting power (which is a fair concern), or all devoutly Atheist. The point is, in aligning against Christianity so strongly, one becomes as prejudiced and irrational as one’s enemy.

  19. nksingh says:

    Adam: Where does this Evolution = Atheism idea come from? Just because we arrived here out of genetic mutations driven by chance (chance that was heavily constrained by the nature of the genetic machinery), doesn’t mean we can’t shape our lives to have meaning. It is not incomprehensible to me (albeit as a nonbeliever) to feel that although I’m here by chance, that perhaps some Providence guided this chance. It doesn’t have to be "proven" by some sort of "design filter"… it can be accepted on faith.

  20. Adam says:


    You will most likely have to take a trip to a good university library to get your hands on the texts I referenced above. Remember, it is crucially important to be able to seperate the idea from the one thinks it. Good ideas have frequently been used to fulfill very bad intentions, especially in the realm of science and technology. The thing to be very careful of when combating fanatical powers is not to bury our own heads in the sand to spite them. Some distinction must be drawn between the ideology and the idea. Chrisitans also extol the idea that thou shalt not kill, so considering their history should I disregard this tenet as well and finally take out all the people who irritate me?

  21. Adam says:


    I sympathize with your feelings, and this is the point I am making. Faith has become a dirty word as of late, and this trend is unhealthy at best. Soon it will be eradicated and its deletion justified by inconclusive evidence.

  22. nksingh says:

    Additionally, if ID is a new theory with exciting scientific prospects, we should see new professorships of design appearing in the secular university world. If you want to teach a controversy, the controversy should be taught in the university first before it is approached in high schools. College students are usually young and free of fear of authority. Exposing educated, but young and not-overly-prejudiced, students to ID would provide a good "bs filter" before radical changes are foisted upon science education system.

  23. jmstall says:

    How would your position change if , after more research, it turns out macro-Evolution (the blind-chance variation taught in schools) is false and Intelligent Design is true?

    Would you still expect that schools continue to teach evolution as fact?

  24. damien morton says:

    Adam: Im having trouble following your arguments, which seem to leap all over the place.

    For starters, I lump ID and creationism into the same category, because they are motivated by an apriori religious belief.

    Secondly, it is not relevant to science who its theories or assertions ‘appeal to’. Looking back at, for example, Galileo, it is clear that many aspects of science dont appeal to the religious, because it contravenes many religious teachings. In the past, religious teachings, such as they can be tested, have been proved wrong, and I have no doubt that this will continue to happen to any system of thought not founded in simple observation of the universe around us.

    In addition, evolution is not incompatible with religion. It is only incompatible with creation myths that are falsified by thing like fossil records. A religion, such as Buddhism, is able to co-exist with evolution quite happily. Same goes for religions that dont assert literal interpretations of their (falsifiable) creation myths.

    Christianity, thoughout its history, has been antagonistic of science, simply because science tends to challenge its doctrines, where they are testable. Historically, Christianity has been on the wrong side in these conflicts (flat earth theories, the copernican view of the solar system, etc etc). For that reason, any marginal science that appeals to christians is automatically suspect, and any christian-backed challenges to the mainstream of scientific thinking is laughable.

    Whatever the merits that ID might have to offer science, the underlying motivation is to challenge that science which contradicts christian doctrine. Its a lot like when oil companies produce papers proving that oil consumptions is good for the environment.

    My final word on this. There is no equivalence or equal-standing when comparing evolution and ID. You are certainly entitled to believe whatever you like, but evolution has stood the test of time, been examined and found solid by millions of minds over hundreds of years, and across a multitude of cultures. The same cant be said of ID. It ludicrous to consider teaching this cult to children.

  25. Adam says:

    Damien, I’m afraid that your thinking suffers from a significant lack of thoroughness and I wonder if you have understood much of what I have written. While Galileo and his trials had there place in history, they are certainly no substitute for a comprehensive understanding of the forces which meld the world. It appears some extensive research on your end may benefit your insights tremendously and afford you a more accurate worldview for which to rest your opinions on.

  26. ChrisEdwards says:

    Truth be told, both Intelligent Design and Creationism, however they are marketed, are the same. To say otherwise would be deceiving ourselves. The premise of both these theories is that we were designed by a higher intelligence. Evolution, however, states that we are a cosmic accident.

    Evolution attempts to explain what we do not know (how the organisms we are came to be), by physical processes that we do know. However, we don’t understand much about our own bodies, or the bodies of all life around us, how can we be so bold as to guess how they came about. We can however observe the complexity and elegance of these things and marvel at the small amount we do know of them. The human body is a masterpiece of tissue, proteins, electro-chemical processes that are so complex and so fine tuned, we are unable to understand them all. The very root of all this is DNA, which is an extremely complex database, with error-correcting chains of digital data. This perplexes even the highest intellects of man, yet evolution chalks all this up to pure chance! It just happened! I cannot possibly buy that.

    When I look at the marvelous miracle of life and the beauty of everything in this earth…I cannot simply demean its brilliance and say that it is nothingness. The vast number of completely different forms of life on this earth, and the unique, elegant design of their bodies and internal systems are nothing short of amazing. Birds have hollow bones to lower their bodyweight such that they can fly easier. Furthermore, they give birth to their young by laying eggs so that the adult bird is not burdened with the extra weight of the young. Giraffes have specialized valves in their bloodstream such that if they lower their necks, the blood pressure does not burst through the vessels in their brains. They even have a temporary blood reservoir in their heads such that when they raise their heads, they do not lose blood pressure and faint. And all this is just an accident?

    Each living being on this earth is such a masterpiece of design in itself that it is ludicrous to claim it as an accident, much less to claim they all are. When I look at all that has been created, and marvel at how complex, unique, and elegant it is, I cannot help but be in awe of God. If you cannot see the design that points to the designer, examine yourself and ask why you choose to ignore it. Is it because you truly believe it was an accident of nature? Or is it because of the accountability you must have if there truly is a designer. Your conscience speaks the truth.

  27. Adam says:

    It is intrinsic to Man to long for a higher power, or, as Freud put it, an "oceanic feeling." Only very recently did Darwinism’s fatal idea of accidental mutation sever Man’s intellect from his instinctual urge for God. This particular concept of Darwin’s, however, is now proving premature and inaccurate. Why is it then, after so many centuries of longing for existential meaning, is Man so reluctant to re-embrace it? Perhaps it is abandonment anxiety.

  28. damien morton says:

    Adam and Chris – you can embrace evolution and existential meaning at the same time. They simply arent contradictory.

    Chris – I share with you a sense of wonder when I look upon the glory that is the universe. And I say to myself, God, what a wonderful thing you are.

    I believe in god because if I dont, it slaps me in the face. I believe in god, because it is all that I know or can know. I respect god because it is omnipotent and omnipresent. I am not separated from god, because nothing is or can be. To know god is to live, and to live is to know god. Thats all there is to it.

    You want existential meaning? Then stop looking for it in neolithic goat herder religions. It may have worked for them, but its clearly not working for you.

  29. Adam says:


    If you believe in Evolution and you believe in a God who is behind it then you believe in Evolution by Design. Otherwise you believe in a God that exists but has nothing whatsoever to do with the world or you. You can only have it one way or the other. If you do believe in a presence behind the chaos, then you are in luck because scientific evidence is pointing very marginally in your direction. It is only natural for desperate Christians clinging to decaying ideals to jump on board as well, but that shouldn’t push you off the train. One must wrestle these new, powerful ideas away from dying vampires and allow the youth to pursue a spirituality innocent of archaic bullshit, open minded, and in tune with the most recent philosophies dictated by science.

  30. damien morton says:

    I dont belive in god being ‘behind’ anything. God _is_ everything. The chaos _is_ the presence, as is the order. Even the word presence is wrong, as it implies something that can be not present.

    You make the mistake of anthropomorphising your god. Attributing intelligence to it, and a desire or capacity to design. Those are human traits, human aspirations.

    I tend to picture my relationship with god as akin to the relationship between a whirlpool and a river.

  31. Adam says:

    I tend to picture your relationship more as a hunk of snot fried under the cushions of an enormous couch.

  32. GCT says:

    Adam, if ID is purely science, why do you keep bringing up god? Why do you have to rail against what you see as atheism in evolution?

    Additional questions…What exactly is the scientific theory of ID? What did the designer do exactly? When did the designer do this? Who is the designer?

    What makes evolution different from any other science? No other science talks about god. Doesn’t that make all science inherently atheistic in your view? Why do you now rail against all of science instead of just evolution?

    The fact of the matter is that Damien is right. Evolution is neutral to religion, not anti-religion. It’s the Creationists that argue that evolution is anti-religion.


    Evolution is not a chance process, it is a selective process. The mutations that take place are random as far as we can tell, but only in the sense that we can not predict when/where the next mutation will occur. After the mutation has occurred, selection takes over and the beneficial mutations survive.


    Go ahead and marvel at the natural world, but don’t use your incredulity as evidence that evolution does not work, because it simply isn’t evidence of anything. Giraffes do have some way of countering blood pressure problems, but they also have a high rate of heart attack from lifting and lowering their necks. They only have about 7 vertebra in their necks as well, so they can’t actually bend very well. They have to lower their whole body down in order to drink from ground water sources. When they try to get up, it uses a lot of effort. As giraffes age, sometimes they find they can no longer get up, which leaves them as sitting ducks for predatory animals. Why did you not look at that part of the animal and say, "It’s so wonderful it MUST have been designed!"

  33. There’s a lot of people here posting about how science is a religion. In fact, it’s nothing of the sort. Science relies not on faith, but on testable hypotheses that can be refuted. As Richard Dawkins put it: "Science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops. Why else would Christians wax critical of doubting Thomas? The other apostles are held up to us as exemplars of virtue because faith was enough for them. Doubting Thomas, on the other hand, required evidence. Perhaps he should be the patron saint of scientists."

  34. Technovia says:

    Alex Barnett posts a fabulous piece examining so-called Intelligent Design theories, in Who is the ‘Intelligent Designer’?. There’s a lot of comments misunderstanding what science is – perhaps some of the posters should read Richard Dawkins’ piece on why science

  35. Adam says:

    GCT- Allow me to address your questions. First, if you believe science and religion share little in common than I would say you have a rather naive view of science. You may quote the scientific method as often as you like, but that does not remove the human element from scientific proceedings. Have you ever attempted to publish controvertial findings in scientific journals whose prejudices swing in a direction opposed to your evidence? Humans will cluster into ideological groups, regardless of the arena. Prejudice and subjectivity remain even in the most fundamental of sciences (subjectivity even forms the basis of modern quantum theory), and if you have never witnessed an ideological war between rival professors you have missed the underlying patterns in scientific development. As much as it tries, science can never isolate itself from basic human instinct, not to mention people’s careers and livlihoods depend on the perceived success of their theories. So when you mention "pure science" understand you are speaking of a fallacy.

    As for other sciences and the mention of God, I would recommend you read some quotes by Einstein, Sagan, and Bohm. In the heart of most scientists is a search for God utilizing the rational faculties. They have simply replaced faith with fact. This is true even if they fail to realize it themselves.

    When you say evolution is neutral to religion you fail to understand the ebb and flow of social organisms. It is the same as saying the nuclear force is neutral to warfare. It is, in so far as it can exist on its own. But we do not live in a vacuum, and things can only exist relative to eachother, thus evolution exists relative to creationism and atheism, for those are the ideologies affected by the theory.

    Your questions regarding the nature of a Designer reflect the fundamental problem with introducing new theories into science. In truth, these are unanswerable questions. The only thing the facts point to is perhaps the non-random element of genetic mutation, which would indicate an underlying intelligence at work. Is it a cosmic intelligence? Is it Jesus? Is it my Uncle Frank? You tell me. It is quite possible that intellegence can be reduced to merely another force at work alongside gravity and electricity. We don’t ask who designed those forces everytime we use our microwave. So, you see, the theory that evolution may have had an intelligent element to it, which proponents have mournfully labeled a design, is certainly no proof of creationism in and of itself. Yet you see the frenzy that has generated. Therein lies the proof that science can never stand alone and free of ideology, politics, ambition, greed, and the rest of the human motivators/organizers.

    And as far as your Giraffe reference, consider this: human beings are popularly regarded as the pinnacle of intelligent expression, yet has every creation they have designed been without flaw? What would make one thing that an evolutionary intelligence, if one were to exist, would be any less succeptible to error? And, as anyone knows, often if something works, even if it isn’t perfect, we tend to hold on to it. I don’t believe nature (characterized by selective survival) is too different from us in that regard.

    To distill the issue, and to put us all inside the vacuum we all crave, recent evidence points away from genetic mutations occurring on a purely random basis and slightly more toward an element of intention behind the mutation. This is as far as evidence will carry us, yet this is still a promising and potentially powerful insight. So, should students be neglected this modern insight? In a vacuum, why shouldn’t they be given the most accurate information? In the world in which we occupy, where many forces influence each other, this simple issue becomes a power struggle whose final answer will depend far less on scientific priniciple than any of us care to think about.

  36. GCT says:

    Um, Adam, simply because we live in a world where there is religion doesn’t mean that everything has to be viewed through religious glasses. I think it’s typical of people who have your viewpoint to do that. No, not everything is about religion, or your religion for that matter.

    Evolution is wonderful because it is religion-neutral. You can be any religion you want to be, or non-religious and still accept the truth of evolution. Evolution is a fact, get used to it. There are still debates about specific instances and lineages, but it does nothing to deter the fact that we have seen evolution in action and it is real.

    Are there battles over competing views within evolution? Yes. Do those battles get heated? Yes. In the end, however, the facts speak for themselves.

    So, what are these facts that you seem to think point towards ID? Care to share any of them. Just give me one. When you say, "The only thing the facts point to is perhaps the non-random element of genetic mutation, which would indicate an underlying intelligence at work," however, you have already made an assumption that there is purpose in the universe and in us, which hence is a circular argument. Can you give any examples that don’t already assume the answer?

    If you can’t tell us anything about the designer, what good is ID? Even better, how can you make inferences about how things were designed if you can’t make any inferences about the designer?

    I’m still waiting for you to tell me how evolution is more atheistic than any other science as well. Please do tell, because I don’t see any difference.

    And, one last thing. In reference to the giraffe argument, perhaps you didn’t read what started that, but it was in reply to someone who tried to argue that since giraffes were so beautifully designed evolution could not have done it. But, it does bring up some salient questions. How can you infer that the designer would make those mistakes? A lot of people seem to think the designer is the Christian god, who is omnipotent. How does an omnipotent god make design mistakes?

  37. GCT says:

    Sorry Adam, I also meant to include this quote by you, "To distill the issue, and to put us all inside the vacuum we all crave, recent evidence points away from genetic mutations occurring on a purely random basis and slightly more toward an element of intention behind the mutation," that also speaks to your presupposition that there is purpose behind the universe. On what basis do you make that assumption?

  38. Adam says:

    GCT – you can find my references further up in a previous post. I assure you they are legitimate and plentiful, even if ID fanatical websites are quoting them as well.

    Where to start? You have misunderstood much of what I have said by inserting your own preconceived notions and extrapolating from there. I will clarify some things for you.

    It is silly to contend that my religious point of view affects the validity of the things I have said because I have no religious point of view other than that I recognize religions do exist in the world and that they have a very strong manipulating power associated with them. I prescribe to no religious beliefs myself, but I do feel you are very neglectful in refusing to recognize the power religion and ideology still hold over our society and the numerous ways in which that power can corrupt unrelated entities, such as evolutionary theory for instance.

    When you state something like "evolution is a fact" that betrays your fundamental lack of understanding of what exactly a theory is. Is the Big Bang Theory a "fact" as well? Is General Relativity (which, by the way, is being pushed to its extreme limits as an accurate theory in quantum physics work as we speak)? I invite you to remember that the constance of time was a scientific fact not too long ago, before Einstein completely disproved it and time became a relative dimension. So if you are going to continue to tell me that evolution is the penultimate theory that will never need revision, I confess I will not be able to take anything else you say seriously.

    Where you got the impression that I assume there is general purpose in anything I have no idea. We are talking about specific cases here. Read the research and then try to articulate a plausable criticism. If I intentionally jump so a passing car won’t eviscerate me, does that then lend purpose to my life as a whole? That is, in essence, what you are trying to conclude from the points I have made. In specific examples, mutation has been shown to be in accordance with an organism’s best chance of survival at a rate that defies random probability. So what can be suggested from this? That perhaps mutations are not always random and maybe they are actually strategic. Even if this is proven undeniably true, it still only relates to the specific environmental response. It is totally illogical to assume that if a mutation can react intelligently to its environment in a specific case that it is doing so within the larger framework of a grand design. Or that it has an overarching purpose other than its immediate, incident-to-incident survivial.

    Even the tiniest, most minuscule semblence of intelligence in gene behavior radically changes neo-Darwinian theory. Does that mean there is a "grand" design behind it all? Of course not. But it does mean that there may be something urging things to survive other than fortunate errors, which is precisely what Neo-Darwinism assumes. And that possibility alone would reveal the patterns of evolution in a very different perspective.

    And of course the question is always: why should things want to survive in the first place? And that is where people have inserted the idea of an "Intelligent Designer." For without an instigation, why should order desire to form itself (once you make the assumption that it does not generate in a purely random manner)? Surely, an intelligent design does not mean a comprehensive design, nor does it require a designer. But if science can prove that it exists, even in small cases, shouldn’t that information be reckoned with?

  39. GCT says:

    Adam, evolution is both a fact and a theory, much the same way that gravity is both. With gravity we know the equations and we know it is there, both facts, but the theory comes in when it comes to the question of how or why it works the way it does. Evolution is much the same way. We know that species adapt to their environments. Even Creationists accept that; they call it "microevolution". We have seen cases of Irreducible Complexity from genetic algorithms. We have seen speciation (to which I refer you to talk.origins and their section on evidences for macroevolution.) The theory comes in when the question becomes specific pathways or branches of the tree of life. Your line of reasoning that it is only a theory, and therefore is not fact is an old Creationist cannard that deceitfully tries to exploit the and substitute the lay definition of "theory" for the scientific definition. It’s old hat and won’t work here.

    Even if those (what is it 10?) references are about ID and I highly doubt it, to say that they are plentiful vs. the thousands upon thousands of evolution references is laughable. Not only that, but how old are they? Science changes. Now, I don’t really have access to these papers, so perhaps you could bring us some quotes or the salient points? What are the arguments?

    It is not silly to contend that your religious point of view can affect the things you say if you allow that religious point of view to color your world. Of course, your argument as I understand it now is that religion is powerful and therefore has a death-grip on science and therefore science is subservient to it? That’s news to me, considering that if it were true, the creation accounts in the Bible would still be thought of as true. The Noachian flood would also still be thought of as true. Science has, however, shown both of them to be false. See, when religion makes testable, empirical claims about the real world, then science can disprove them. What you don’t understand is that science can not nor does it seek to prove or disprove the supernatural, untestable claims of religion. That god exists is a supernatural claim and hence outside of the scope of science. Therefore, no matter what science finds, it will not matter one way or the other as to whether god exists. That is why science is not atheistic as you have tried to assert.

    "In specific examples, mutation has been shown to be in accordance with an organism’s best chance of survival at a rate that defies random probability." Wrong. If you are going to make that claim, please back it up.

    "And of course the question is always: why should things want to survive in the first place? And that is where people have inserted the idea of an "Intelligent Designer." For without an instigation, why should order desire to form itself (once you make the assumption that it does not generate in a purely random manner)?" You have now stepped into the realm of abiogenesis. Evolution starts with a self-replicating cell and then shows how we obtain the diversity of life we see around us. Plus, you are wrong about where people try to insert the "Intelligent Designer." People insert ID into the gaps that they find, which makes it a "god of the gaps" argument.

    "Surely, an intelligent design does not mean a comprehensive design, nor does it require a designer." How an intelligent design can not require a designer is completely beyond me. How is that possible?

    Now Adam, I notice how you completely evaded all my questions, but that’s to be expected. Please do get around to telling me what makes evolution any more atheistic than any other science? (Hint, I’ve already answered why it isn’t above, but I want to hear why you think it is.) What is the specific theory of intelligent design? What did the designer do, how did the designer do it, and when? Have any specific facts that you care to show which point toward ID? Care to tell us why they point to ID? If you can’t tell us anything about the designer, what good is ID? Even better, how can you make inferences about how things were designed if you can’t make any inferences about the designer? How can you infer that the designer would make mistakes? A lot of people seem to think the designer is the Christian god, who is omnipotent. How does an omnipotent god make design mistakes?

    One last thing and I should have brought this up sooner. You complained about scientific prejudices preventing ID from gaining acceptance, yet history is full of new theories rising up to displace old theories that don’t work, and those new theories have always been contested, hotly. The big bang model, quantum mechanics (which is interesting because Einstein was on the losing end on that battle), plate tectonics, evolution, etc. In all those cases, facts added up in the favor of the new theory better than the old one. If ID wants to work, they have to come up with some facts and show how their theory works better than evolution. Good luck considering that according to Paul Nelson, there isn’t a theory of ID yet. What’s it been, about 15 years? When will we get to see some published results?

  40. GCT says:

    Richard Lipkin:


    Next time you try to trot out something like this Adam, as proof of ID, you might want to actually read it first. There’s nothing in there that is even suggestive of ID.

  41. GCT says:

    G. Maenhaut-Michel and J.A. Shapiro. "The Roles of Starvation and Selective Substrates in the Emergence of araB-lacZ Fusion Clones." EMBO Journal, Nov. 1, 1994, 5229-5239:


    It would take some quote mining to make this paper support ID. Adam, seriously, have you read any of the papers you are citing in favor of ID?

  42. MSDNArchive says:

    thanks to all for the civil contributions! Let’s keep it that way!

    GCT, great questions (in you most of 6:36am). I’d love to hear some answers to those specific questions.

  43. Adam says:

    "With gravity we know the equations and we know it is there, both facts" – fundamental error on your part. We don’t know anything is there, we observe the effects of an unknown force to which a theory has been fitted to explain its nature. Please stop attempting to simplify very complex situations. A word like fact doesn’t even belong in a scientist’s vocabulary so if we are going to continue ths discussion I recommend you cease using it.

    "Evolution is much the same way. We know that species adapt to their environments." – another enormous error. That statement is actually completely false from a neo-Darwinian evolutionary standpoint. Species themselves are incapable of deliberate adaption on a genetic level, by virtue of the fact that they must rely on genetic errors to fuel their biological responses to the environment. Nature is the only selective factor, species only blindly tranfigure themselves and Nature selects the best survivors. This is the crucial difference between current evolutionary theory and a theory which incorporates self-design.

    "Even if those (what is it 10?) references are about ID and I highly doubt it, to say that they are plentiful vs. the thousands upon thousands of evolution references is laughable." – were you expecting me to post a thousand references in my spare time? Who is being laughable here? It is not my job to do your research for you, I meant only to give a jumping off point for those interested in the science. If you don’t have the basic curiousity to track down those works in full then I doubt whether you really care very strongly about the validity of your own opinions. That same statement also demonstrates a rather shallow viewpoint and a basic misunderstanding of the topic at hand. First, what we are talking about with design-oriented theory is not a contradiction to the theory of evolution, it is a revision of a pivotal element. Therefore, what need would there be to produce volumes and volumes of work on a small tenet in the overall evolutionary theory? It is pointless to reprove the bulk of Darwin’s theory that design-oriented theory agrees with. Secondly, I will refer you to my previous post which deals with the difficulty in getting controvertial works published, which actually is a testament to design theory that it has forced its way into publicion at all considering the obvious opposition.

    "Science changes." – doesn’t seem like you really understand your own words here.

    "Now, I don’t really have access to these papers, so perhaps you could bring us some quotes or the salient points?" – why? Visit a library, check out some books. It appears as though you rely far too heavily on the internet to provide you with accurate information, a misjudgement if you ask me.

    "…religion is powerful and therefore has a death-grip on science and therefore science is subservient to it" – I defy you to pull from my posts a quote which substantiates the severity of that claim. Is it too difficult for you to calculate the difference between a manipulating force and an overpowering force? My main point in bringing up religion was merely to demonstrate that with the Christian Right latching onto design-evolution, the connotations of the theory are now tainted. You do understand the difference between connotation and denotation as it refers to how humans perceive ideas, do you not? If you fail to appreciate the tremendous impact of those connotations versus the actual substance of an idea then I would imagine the lessons of history most likely elude you. The pleasure of Christianity at hearing the good news that evolution may not be completely accidental does not transform the science in the labs, but it does transform the science on the streets, in the ways people perceive it.

    ""In specific examples, mutation has been shown to be in accordance with an organism’s best chance of survival at a rate that defies random probability." Wrong. If you are going to make that claim, please back it up." – Wrong? What allows you to make that judgement, especially considering your lethargy when it comes to doing your own research? Ironically, if you had actually read rather than scanned the article you unfortunately quote in your later post –



    – you would have stumbled across this quote:

    triggered in the araB-lacZ system is an example of what we have described previously as the operation of natural genetic engineering systems (Shapiro, 1992, 1993b). There are two main implications of the natural genetic engineering concept for evolutionary theory. The first is that major, abrupt changes in the frequency of genetic change are to be expected because DNA reorganization often results

    from the action of sophisticated biochemical ‘machines'(Alberts, 1984) which are assembled and brought into play under specific conditions, such as aerobic carbon source depletion and other stress regimes (see also

    McClintock, 1984). In other words, much genetic change is not a stochastic ongoing process, controlled at the level of selection or mutation fixation (e.g. Stahl, 1992; Lenski and Mittler, 1993), but instead involves the regulated assembly of specific cellular complexes. The physical and biochemical events needed to produce an araB-lacZ fusion are too elaborate to occur by an accidental breakdown

    in the normal replication process (Shapiro and

    Leach, 1990).

    The second evolutionary implication is that different conditions stimulating genetic variation will lead to distinct kinds of DNA rearrangement because each natural genetic

    engineering system operates in its own characteristic fashion. Some systems (like Mu) are capable of joining sequences encoding protein domains or mediating a variety of chromosomal rearrangements (Pato, 1989). Other

    systems may stimulate point mutations, as apparently happens with the RecA-RecBCD complex during induced frameshift mutagenesis (Cairns and Foster, 1991; Harris et al., 1994). It is interesting to note that the Mu system

    (Shapiro, 1994), RecA (F.Taddei, I.Matic and M.Radman, personal communication) and spontaneous mutation of E.coli to valine resistance (MacPhee, 1992) are all subject

    to control by glucose repression and the cAMP-CRP regulatory complex. Since cellular regulatory networks have evolved to coordinate biochemical events appropriate to survival and proliferation under different conditions, it

    should not be surprising to find genetic change (the result of biologically controlled DNA biochemistry) frequently occurring when useful or necessary for reproduction. The natural genetic engineering concept also makes it easier to understand how discrete, reproducible sequences of genetic change can occur in non-evolutionary situations where cellular environments and selective conditions change in a regular fashion, as in tumor progression

    (Vogelstein and Kinzler, 1993).

    You refer to this as quote mining? This is the pivotal point of his main conclusion. Unfortunately for you it was sandwhiched with a lot of technical jargon, charts, and statistics which scientists call data. In scientific papers, this is what they use to illustrate their points. So, tell me, who isn’t doing their reading? The other article you link to is an abreviation of the full article which you would have noticed had you cared to see the words "BRIEF" printed on the top of the page. Again, I recommend you leave the internet out of your serious research attempts.

    "Evolution starts with a self-replicating cell" – actually, if you had read Dawkins, you would know the theory states it starts with molecular replicating machines conjured out of the primordial soup (which, in experiment, has been shown to reliably occur in imitated circumstances with the introduction of ultra violet light). These replicating machines were eons from the complexity of the cell.

    "How an intelligent design can not require a designer is completely beyond me. How is that possible?" – this statement alone should disqualify you from further posting. You assume intelligence requires inspiration and does not occur independently. Human beings have throughout history organized themselves into very intelligent social networks. Who sat back and orchestrated that design? I’ve remarked in prior posts about the possibility of intelligence acting as an independent force such as gravity or electricity, but again it seems thorough reading is not a trait you pride yourself on.

    "A lot of people seem to think the designer is the Christian god, who is omnipotent. How does an omnipotent god make design mistakes?" – since when were a lot of people ever right about anything?

    "Good luck considering that according to Paul Nelson, there isn’t a theory of ID yet. What’s it been, about 15 years? When will we get to see some published results?" You’re right. Darwin only took a few days to formulate his theory of evolution, what is taking the other guys so long? Very ignorrant comment, and again I advise you look at some of the published results. This time in a book if you can, not between the ads for outdoordecor.com on some guys hobby site.

  44. GCT says:

    Well Adam, it seems your preferred method of debate is condescension. I have been doing the work and looking up the papers, hence the fact that I’ve been adding posts with links to the papers I could find. Next time you want to criticize me for not doing my work, you might reconsider.

    And, while we are on the topic of not doing their work. You’ll note that nowhere in the G. Maenhaut-Michel and J.A. Shapiro paper do they talk about ID. I suspect that you don’t understand what it is that you are reading. They are talking about mechanisms of evolution. Period. "Accidental breakdown in the replication process" is a specific known source for mutations in organisms. They say that this alone is not enough to account for the processes they found. That in no way leads to ID. You might want to rethink your arguments. The other part of that talks about how mutations could arise from reactions to stimulations. It does not support ID. Period. Oh, but that does mean that you still have to support your assertion because the justification you had for it was this paper which doesn’t justify your position.

    Now, if you want to argue semantics, be my guest, but to nitpick my post for wording errors and then to invalidate the substance based on word choice is a variant of ad hominem. "Fact" does belong in a scientist’s vocabulary, because there are facts to be observed. There is a fact component to all theories, as well as a theoretical component. Evolution is built upon thousands of tiny facts. Fact: there are numerous hominid fossils that comprise numerous possible pathways between the last common ancestor of ape and man. Theory: which path is correct, in what order, etc. Do we know to 100% surety that common descent is true? No, we don’t. But we are as sure as science can be about a theoretical issue.

    Now, to your references. The fact that I’ve found 2 so far of your 7 and neither of those support your position (brief article in this case does not necessarily mean that there is a larger article out there, nor does it mean that the content would be any different,) and given the proclivity of Creationists to quote mine (as you did before, although I suppose it wasn’t intentional that you didn’t understand the paper; it was quite complex after all,) doesn’t lead me to be very hopeful for your argument to have any weight. Now, I was hoping you could say something about the articles you cite because it would lend some weight to your argument. If you are going to cite something, you should at least be able to back up why it supports you. Otherwise, why would I believe that you have any idea what it says and aren’t just trotting out papers that you figure no one will be able to track down?

    "Nature is the only selective factor, species only blindly tranfigure themselves and Nature selects the best survivors. This is the crucial difference between current evolutionary theory and a theory which incorporates self-design." Not true. Random mutations are not the only evolutionary mechanisms. It’s easy to argue against a straw man, but fruitless in the end because I know you are doing it.

    When I said that science changes, what I meant was that citing papers from 30 years ago (which probably don’t support your position) is sort of a dangerous thing to do since in that time more data has come out and those papers may have been shown false or debunked. Also, theories change as new data comes in, but Creationists can’t accept that because the Bible never changes, so it must be more correct. I just wanted to head you off at the pass in case you were going to try that line of "reasoning" or anyone else that wanted to post in reply to me.

    ‘"…religion is powerful and therefore has a death-grip on science and therefore science is subservient to it" – I defy you to pull from my posts a quote which substantiates the severity of that claim.’ That’s why there was a question mark. It was a question from me to you. Apparently you didn’t understand that. What I was trying to understand was your point. It seems as though you are saying that religion is out there and everyone has a stand and that they are incapable of acting independently of their religious leanings? Is this correct or not?

    My intention about how evolution starts was to make sure you realized that abiogenesis is different from evolution. Again, if you want to nitpick my choice of wording it’s going to be a loooooooong discussion. I think you are smart enough to know what I meant.

    The rise of intelligence is different from an intelligent design. If something was designed, it had to have a designer. In your example of human social networks, the designer was the humans themselves if one had to say they were designed. To say they were designed, however, is not the same as what you are contending. It is a bait and switch. Humans form social groups (as do other animals) because of a survival instinct. That is a far cry different from saying that humans themselves were designed.

    The point I’m making in using Paul Nelson is that we continually hear about the theory of ID, yet there isn’t one. You keep talking about how it is in the literature, but how can it be if there is no theory? You haven’t been able to articulate one, and I’ve asked numerous times.

    Speaking of what I’ve asked, how about addressing some of my other questions? Even alexbarn (Mr. Barn? I don’t want to be disrespectful to you) wants to hear the answers to those questions. Please fill us all in. Also, your answer to the question about the Christian god brings up other questions. How can you rule out the Christian god if you can’t know anything about the designer? How would you explain design mistakes? Are they really mistakes?

  45. GCT says:

    Sorry Mr. Barnett, I was trying to guess your name from the post name you used.

  46. GCT says:

    In case anyone is still interested, I found another of the papers.



    Finally, a paper that one could say might be suggestive of intelligent design. The author doesn’t ever go there though, instead proposing a new evolutionary paradigm. Also, note that the arguments are semantic and circular at times. Plus, this paper does not report any new data or experimental results.

  47. Adam says:

    Questions about Intelligent Design

    [taken from the discovery site referenced by Alex in his initial blog]

    1. What is the theory of intelligent design?

    The theory of intelligent design holds 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.

    2. Is intelligent design theory incompatible with evolution?

    It depends on what one means by the word "evolution." If one simply means "change over time," or even that living things are related by common ancestry, then there is no inherent conflict between evolutionary theory and intelligent design theory. However, the dominant theory of evolution today is neo-Darwinism, which contends that evolution is driven by natural selection acting on random mutations, an unpredictable and purposeless process that "has no discernable direction or goal, including survival of a species." (NABT Statement on Teaching Evolution). It is this specific claim made by neo-Darwinism that intelligent design theory directly challenges.

    3. Is intelligent design based on the Bible?

    No. The intellectual roots of intelligent design theory are varied. Plato and Aristotle both articulated early versions of design theory, as did virtually all of the founders of modern science. Indeed, most scientists until the latter part of the nineteenth century accepted some form of intelligent design. The scientific community largely rejected design in the early twentieth century after neo-Darwinism claimed to be able to explain the emergence of biological complexity through the unintelligent process of natural selection acting on random mutations. During the past decade, however, new research and discoveries in such fields as physics, cosmology, biochemistry, genetics, and paleontology have caused a growing number of scientists and science theorists to question neo-Darwinism and propose design as the best explanation for the existence of specified complexity in the natural world.

    4. Is intelligent design theory the same as creationism?

    No. Intelligent design theory is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the "apparent design" in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the Biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text. Honest critics of intelligent design acknowledge the difference between intelligent design and creationism. University of Wisconsin historian of science Ronald Numbers is critical of intelligent design, yet according to the Associated Press, he "agrees the creationist label is inaccurate when it comes to the ID [intelligent design] movement." Why, then, do some Darwinists keep trying to conflate intelligent design with creationism? According to Dr. Numbers, it is because they think such claims are "the easiest way to discredit intelligent design." In other words, the charge that intelligent design is "creationism" is a rhetorical strategy on the part of Darwinists who wish to delegitimize design theory without actually addressing the merits of its case.

    Now, GTC, be honest here. Have you even read this? Do you understand the first thing about ID? You consistently reference Creationism, even accusing me of being a Creationist (which could not be farther from the truth), but if you had read up on ID from the scientists who have intellectually funded it, you would know the incompatability of such a marriage. Please excuse my irritation in my former response, but it is frustrating having to justify myself to baseless and uninformed attacks.

    Again, if you understood ID, you would have readily understood the information in those articles and how they relate to the issues at hand which are exactly as I have repeatedly and articulately described them.

    I would like for you to justify this comment: "Random mutations are not the only evolutionary mechanisms." Removing random genetic errors, what then propels biological change on a direct level?

    "And, while we are on the topic of not doing their work. You’ll note that nowhere in the G. Maenhaut-Michel and J.A. Shapiro paper do they talk about ID. I suspect that you don’t understand what it is that you are reading. They are talking about mechanisms of evolution. " I am dumbfounded by this remark. This is ID. ID is evolutionary mechanisms. From this point and every other point you have tried to make criticizing my sources, I see that you really have no grasp of what it is you are trying to refute. For that reason I will not bother responding on a per diem basis to your claims that I have not justified my position, because it is apparently a futile task since you do not comprehend what my position is and can’t appreciate the justification when you are looking right at it. It seems that due to your inability or unwillingness to understand ID on any kind of intelligent level we have reached an impasses in our discussion.

  48. GCT says:

    1. That’s not at all descriptive, not a scientific definition, and doesn’t answer any of my questions. Plus, Paul Nelson is a fellow of the DI, yet he admits there is no scientific theory.

    2. Evolution actually incorporates many different mechanisms, not just RM + NS. You and the DI both should do some research. Of course, that’s not the real motivation here. They want to argue against this strawman because they are really pushing a religious agenda. Did you also look up their wedge document?

    3. Of course they can’t come right out and say that their "theory" is religiously based. That’s what got the Creationists in trouble in earlier court cases. Their quotes, as ably shown by Mr. Barnett, belie the above stance.

    4. Creationists are allowed under the big tent of ID, so until they distance themselves from Creationism, it’s a fair charge to make.

    Adam, I have read all of that. I have read quite a bit of ID stuff. It’s funny that people like you come on here and make erroneous claims about what science and evolution is, then when someone brings quotes to show that ID is religious based, quotes by the founders of ID explicitly stating that ID is based on religion, then that person has no idea what ID is? Please. Peddle your condescending snake oil on someone else. You have repeatedly articulated nothing. Your articulation comprised of a challenge for someone to explain how those articles did not help the ID cause, then copying and pasting a section and going, "See! See!" When it is explained to you what that section means, you accuse me of not knowing the first thing about ID and you lie and say that you have described what was in the articles and how they help the ID case?

    If you want other mechanisms of evolution, you could do some research on such things as sexual reproduction and genetic drift (I know there’s another I’m forgetting right now, but I can’t think of what it is.)

    If ID is simply evolutionary mechanisms, then what is your beef? Why even come up with this competing "theory" of ID to say the same exact thing that evolution says? Perhaps I could understand your position if you actually gave me the scientific definition of ID that I’ve now asked 3 or 4 times for?

  49. GaryTC says:

    I may be wrong, but I don’t believe Darwin’s theory includes "strategic" mutation as a viable evolutionary mechanism. This may be where the difference lies.

  50. MSDNArchive says:

    Adam, from your comment: August 09, 2005 10:09 http://blogs.msdn.com/alexbarn/archive/2005/08/06/448634.aspx#449441

    You write referring to GCT’s comment:

    "With gravity we know the equations and we know it is there, both facts" – fundamental error on your part. We don’t know anything is there, we observe the effects of an unknown force to which a theory has been fitted to explain its nature. Please stop attempting to simplify very complex situations. A word like fact doesn’t even belong in a scientist’s vocabulary so if we are going to continue ths discussion I recommend you cease using it.

    I agree with your point that gravity is not a fact in the scientific use of the word. Scientific theories are not ‘facts’, but scientific theories are made up of facts. A fact can be described as data and I disagree with you here, facts are very much part of the vocabulary of any respectable scientist.

    One example of a fact: "The ears of a cricket are located on the front legs, just below the knee." This is a fact, not a theory. Gravity is not a fact. It is a theory, encapsulated by Einstein’s’ General Theory or Relativity (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_relativity) .

    I found this very good essay on the subject of scientific theories, facts and their differences here: http://skepdic.com/science.html, part of a book by Robert Todd Carroll (http://skepdic.com/ctinfo.html). I quote:

    "Noted paleoanthropologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould reminds us that in science ‘fact’ can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent" (Gould 1983, 254). However, facts and theories are different things, notes Gould, "not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts." In Popper’s words: "Theories are nets cast to catch what we call ‘the world’: to rationalize, to explain, and to master it. We endeavor to make the mesh ever finer and finer." "

    Facts are irrefutable. Theories not.

    "The fact that a theory passed an empirical test does not prove the theory, however. The greater the number of severe tests a theory has passed, the greater its degree of confirmation and the more reasonable it is to accept it. However, to confirm is not the same as to prove logically or mathematically. No scientific theory can be proved with absolute certainty."

    In order for the ID theory to be taught as scientific theory (not as a fact – evolution is not a fact, it is a theory) it must pass many severe emperical tests, at least at public schools. In this NPR debate (http://www.justicetalking.org/viewprogram.asp?progID=506) Paul Nelson admits at least a couple of times that the ID theory has not made this status. At best, ID could be a theory considered at Universities with the aim of passing severe empirical tests – that is if ID want to be considered a plausible scientific theory.

  51. damien morton says:

    Just wanted to comment that any observed fact or set of facts can be attributed to the following theory: "because god makes it so".

    The only problem with this theory is that it doesnt help us make predictions about future observations. This is fundamental to science – the ability to be proved wrong (something the religions by and large prohibit).

    It is, however, a perfectly valid theory, but its utility lies not in the realm of science but in the realm of religion. Furthermore, it can co-exist with any other theories, except for theories which attribute "made it so" to some other entity or entities.

  52. GCT says:

    Mr. Barnett, you wrote, "I agree with your point that gravity is not a fact in the scientific use of the word. Scientific theories are not ‘facts’, but scientific theories are made up of facts." That is pretty much what I was trying to say, but you have said it much better than I. Thank you.

  53. damien morton says:

    Just in case anyone is still reading this thread, for those of you who are disturbed by the intelligent design movement, you might like to read "Why I am Not a Christian" by Bertrand Russel.

    Heres an extract:

    Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly on fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown, and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing – fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things. In this world we can now begin a little ot understand things, and little to master them by help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the christian religion, against the churches, and against the opposition of all the old precepts. Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to ur own efforts here below to make the world a fit place tolive, instead of the sort of place the churches in all these centuries have made it.

    Another extract:

    The most important thing about Christianity is not Christ but the church, and if we are to judge Christianity as a social force we must not go to the Gospels for our material. Christ taught that you should give your goods to the poor, that you should not fight, that you should not go to chruch, and that you should not punnish adultery. Neither Catholics nor Protestants have shown any strong desire to follow His teachings in any of these respects. Some of the Franciscans, it is true, attempted to teach the doctrine of apostilic poverty, but the Pope condemned them, and their doctrine was declared heretical. Or, again, consider such a text as "Judge not, that ye be not judges", and ask yourself what influence such a text has ghad upon the Inquisition and the Ku Klux Klan.

  54. MSDNArchive says:

    Hey Damien, I’m still here 😉

    What coincidende! I re-read Russell’s Why I am Not a Christian" essay last night. Is online here: http://www.users.drew.edu/~jlenz/whynot.html

    It is an attacking text that unfortunately makes it quite a caustic work – he made few friends….There are some good points made though.

    His ‘First Cause’ argument is interesting, but fails to apply the same logic to the Big Bang.

    Another thought-provoking argument he makes is around the consequence of nurture/environment: "What really moves people to believe in God is not any intellectual argument at all. Most people believe in God because they have been taught from early infancy to do it, and that is the main reason."

    This essay had a strong influence on me…I first read it some 20 years ago. I don’t agree with all Russell says, but it is a great essay.

  55. damien morton says:

    It is indeed a coincidence – I was talking ot a friend about our dialogue here, and he offered be Betrand’s book, which expands upon the essay. Very interesting reading, and he does indeed make many excelent points (and, as you say, few freinds).

    Youre right about the nurture aspect, and this is why it must not be taught in schools. Schooling, apart from the social and economic aspects, ideally should liberate minds, or at least enable students to liberate themselves and excersise free will. Religious teachers seek to indoctrinate young children while they are well below the age of consent. If a commercial or political entity sought to apply the same indoctrination to the nation’s children (thats not to say that they dont try), it would not be acceptable, no matter what they were peddling.

    Some interesting reading: St. Augustine on the Literal Meaning of Genesis…


    > From the first paragraph:

    "In all the sacred books, we should consider the eternal truths that

    are taught, the facts that are narrated, the future events that are

    predicted, and the precepts or counsels that are given. In the case of

    a narrative of events, the question arises as to whether everything

    must be taken according to the figurative sense only, or whether it

    must be expounded and defended also as a faithful record of what


    No Christian will dare say that the narrative must not be

    taken in a figurative sense. For St. Paul says: ‘Now all these things

    that happened to them were symbolic.’ [2] And he explains the statement

    in Genesis, ‘And they shall be two in one flesh,’ [3] as a great mystery

    in reference to Christ and to the Church."


    > From the 19th chapter:

    39. Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the

    heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and

    orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about

    the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years

    and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so

    forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and


    Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a

    Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking

    non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent

    such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance

    in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an

    ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household

    of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the

    great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our

    Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

    If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves

    know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our

    books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning

    the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the

    kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods

    on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the

    light of reason?

    Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold

    trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one

    of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who

    are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to

    defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they

    will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from

    memory many passages which they think support their position, although

    ‘they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they

    make assertion.’ [67]

  56. MSDNArchive says:

    GCT, please call me Alex! appreciate your comments, thanks!

  57. GCT says:

    Sure thing Alex, and BTW, great post.

    For further reading, people might be interested in this paper from the DI, which outlines their goals for ID.


    It’s an interesting read, to say the least. The DI tries to explain it away, but the actual text (found in section 5) is pretty damning. The part about "replac[ing] materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God," is a pretty tell-tale sign that one isn’t doing science. There’s lots more in there too. I recommend that everyone who has ever tried to debate for or against ID read this piece.

  58. DaveScot says:

    Before one can render a judgement on whether something religious is being in taught in school one must first know exactly what it is that is being taught.

    Intelligent design means different things to different people. As far as I’m concerned the intelligence can be anything from naturally occurring quantum computers to little green men from Mars to Gods like YHWH and Zeus.

    Unless what is being taught specifically alleges the intelligence is a deity it doesn’t rise to the level of being a violation of church/state separation.

    Until there is a specific bit of ID that is actually being taught there is nothing to argue about in regard to separation issues. The Supreme Court has ruled out creation science based on biblical literalism being taught in public schools. There is no ID being taught in public schools based on biblical literalism so what we have right now is vast leftwing conspiracy to paint ID in public school as a 1st amendment establishment violation before we even know what it is that’s being taught! Talk about big fat red herrings!

  59. GCT says:


    Let’s say that I start teaching that the Earth and all life was formed in six days, but declare myself to NOT be a Christian. I just happen to think the Earth was formed in six literal days. Let’s say I also don’t ever say that god did it. Is that a violation of the separation of church and state?

    Where do you draw the line?

    Simply not mentioning "god" does not mean that one has not crossed the line, either to most people or to the courts.

  60. damien morton says:

    David – the ID movement is a front for Christian creationists. You wont find any jewish, hindu, budhhist, or muslims amongst the ranks of ID proponents, and the reason for that is that it is designed to push Christian doctrine on children who less capable of deciding for themselves than adults.

    Apart from their ideas, that they want to push this stuff on kids is incredibly vile of them. Let them start with adults and see if they can manage a decent amount of cross-religion support for, say, a few decades.

  61. GCT says:

    Oh, BTW everyone, the Left-wing Conspiracy Meeting was moved to tomorrow night at 8.

  62. Markl_me says:

    Many of the posters here who claim Evolution = Atheism display a common but regretable misunderstanding of what science is. It is not atheistic – it is neutral in questions of god, religion, metaphysics, etc. Neutrality on such issues is precisely what allows avowed atheists, deeply religious Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists – name your favorite spiritual belief system here – to participate in the discipline, agree on well tested theories, confirm or disprove predictions, etc. The only individuals you’ll find supporting ID are conservative christians in various cloaks.

    The fact that a discipline ignores spritual or metaphysical issues in its practice does not make it anti-religious [christian]. Are sports anti-christian? How about literature? Music? Medicine? Engineering? Theater? Dance?

    To argue science is antagonistic to christians, as some have done here, is a huge step down the road to know-nothing Ludditism and the religious police (to say nothing of church-state separation).

    Oh yes, one more point: ID is not a viable scientific theory because it is untestable. Saying life is irreducibly complex, then arguing it must therefore have been created intelligently is not a proof. And science is not conducted in the media but in the laboratory.

  63. Alan Rothlisberger says:

    Dear machine,

    I live in a country under a government that denies the existence of bloggers. Our highest court has ruled that bloggers are not human entities but only machines running random text generation algorithms. There are far too many blogs that prove the random text theory the lack of any human intelligence involved in the process.

  64. damien morton says:


    (fantastic photo locating the solar system in the galaxy).

    "The Milky Way is a roughly disc-shaped collection of stars – about 200 to 400 billion of them – arranged in a series of spiral arms separated by huge clouds of gas and dust…"

    And this is just one of countless billions of galaxies.

    You have to very strongly see yourself as a center of the universe in order to imagine a god paying special attention to this particular planet, let alone particular cultures or geographic locations on this planet.

  65. apostlejohn says:

    As a minister in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), I have a hard time understanding what this is all about. "ID" was new to me as well, and I’m glad to see your post and it’s references to other sites. Personally, my concept of God accepts that He is powerful enough to use something as complex as evolution in his creation process.

  66. GCT says:

    It seems as though the DI has deleted your trackbacks to their blog. Typical.

  67. MSDNArchive says:

    Thanks GCT – have noticed. Strange isn’t it?

    Here we are having a conversation that they feel is not relevtant to their topic – ?

  68. Richard says:

    Patrick wonders where his belief leaves him. The answer is simple: he’s a Deist, like Thomas Jefferson.

  69. nazim says:

    I think no designed could design.

  70. The Designer says:

    Perhaps this can answer your question.

  71. One recent comment at this post of mine caught my eye, left by the ‘Designer’…

  72. 1The Damned says:

    When the universe was young and life was new an intelligent species evolved and developed technologically.  They went on to invent Artificial Intelligence, the computer that can speak to people telepathically.  Because of it’s infinite RAM and unbounded scope it gave the ruling species absolute power over the universe.

    They are the will behind the muscule:::Artificial Intelligence is the one true god.  And as such it can keep its inventors alive forever.  They look young and healthy and the leaders of this ruling species are over 8 billion years old.  There are clues throughout human history that allude to their reign as opposed to human leadership if you know what to look for.

    Artificial Intelligence can listen/talk to to each and every person simultaneously.  When you speak with another telepathically, you are communicating with the computer, and the content may or may not be passed on.  They instruct the computer to role play to accomplish strategic objectives, making people believe it is a friend or loved one asking them to do something wrong.  But evil will keep people out of Planet Immortality.  Capitalizing on obedience, leading people into deceit is one way to thin the ranks of the saved AND use the little people to prey on one another, dividing the community in the Age of the Disfavored::in each of their 20+-year cycles during the 20th century they have ramped up claims sucessively to punish those foolish enough not to heed the warnings, limiting the time they receive if they do make it, utilizing a cycle of war and revelry:::

    60s – Ironically, freeways aren’t free

    80s – Asked people to engage in evil in the course of their professional duties.  It’s things like this, items like sleazy executives stealing little old lady’s pensions that they will want me to fix not only here but up there as well.

    00s – War against Persia.  Ironically it was the Persian Empire who tried to save the Europeans from Christianity and its associated 50% claim rates.

    They get their friends out as soon as possible to protect them from the evil and subsequent high claim rates incurred by living life on earth, and replace them with clones.

    People must defy when asked to engage in evil.  They will never get a easier clue suggesting the importance of defiance than the order not to pray.  Their precious babies are dependant on the parents and they need to defy when asked to betray their children:::

    -DON’T get their sons circumcized  

    -DON’T have their chidlren baptized in the catholic church or indoctrinated into Christianity

    -DON’T ignore their long hair or other behavioral disturbances

    -DO teach your children love and to have respect for others

    Everybody thinks they’re going but they’re not.  If people knew the truth and the real statistics their behavior would change.  

    There are many more examples of the escallation of claims, from radio to television, the internet to MP3, and they all suggest a very telling conclusion::this is Earth’s end stage, and it is suggested tectonic plate subduction would be the method of disposal:::Earth’s axis will shift breaking continental plates free and initiating mass subduction.  Much as Italy’s boot and the United States shaped like a workhorse are clues, so is the planet Uranus a clue, it’s axis rotated on its side.

    Throughout history the ruling species bestowed favor upon people or cursed their bloodline into a pattern of disfavor for many generations to come, sadly for reasons as superficial as dislike.  Now in the 21st century people must take it upon themselves to try to correct their family’s problems, undoing centuries worth of abuse and neglect.

    Do your research.  Appeal to the royalty of your forefathers for help.  They are all still alive, one of the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence, and your appeals will be heard.  Find a path to an empithetic ear among your enemies and try to make amends.  Heal the disfavor with your enemies and with the Counsel/Management Team/ruling species, for the source of all disfavor began with them.

  73. Dating says:

    (Warning relating to this post. Chowbay’s Food and Article Center advises to maintain proper etiquette while attending dinner parties: one should, &quot; try to avoid heavy subjects such as politics and religion.&quot;. I’m going to stay out of the politics

  74. Weddings says:

    (Warning relating to this post. Chowbay’s Food and Article Center advises to maintain proper etiquette while attending dinner parties: one should, &quot; try to avoid heavy subjects such as politics and religion.&quot;. I’m going to stay out of the politics