Friday, August 05, 2005

The Little Engine That Could...Undo Darwinism, etc

Here are excerpts from news articles, with my comments in square brackets:
The Little Engine That Could...Undo Darwinism , The American Spectator, June 2005. By Dan Peterson, August 5, 2005 ... "IMAGINE A NANOTECHNOLOGY MACHINE far beyond the state of the art: a microminiaturized rotary motor and propeller system that drives a tiny vessel through liquid. The engine and drive mechanism are composed of 40 parts, including a rotor, stator, driveshaft, bushings, universal joint, and flexible propeller. The engine is powered by a flow of ions, can rotate at up to 100,000 rpm (ten times faster than a NASCAR racing engine), and can reverse direction in a quarter of a rotation. The system comes with an automatic feedback control mechanism. The engine itself is about 1/100,000th of an inch wide -- far smaller than can be seen by the human eye. Most of us would be pleasantly surprised to learn that some genius had designed such an engineering triumph. What might come as a greater surprise is that there is a dominant faction in the scientific community that is prepared to defend, at all costs, the assertion that this marvelous device could not possibly have been designed, must have been produced blindly by unintelligent material forces, and only gives the appearance -- we said appearance! -- of being designed. As you may have guessed, these astonishingly complex, tiny, and efficient engines exist. Millions of them exist inside you, in fact. They are true rotary motors that drive the "bacterial flagellum," a whip-like propulsion device for certain bacteria, including the famous E. coli that lives in your digestive system. Oddly enough, this intricate high-speed motor is at the center of a controversy that has been kindling in scientific circles for a decade, and is now igniting hot debate outside those circles. That's because, even more oddly, the implications of whether this little engine was designed are incalculably profound. They involve questions such as: What constitutes science? Did living things "just happen" by natural causes or were they designed by an intelligence? And what follows from those two competing alternatives -- in morality, education, culture, and science itself? ... Of course, if the hypothesis that the universe and life are designed is true, the ready inference is that this designer has to be an incomprehensibly potent and awesome Intelligent Agent. A lot of influential people in science, the media, the schools, and other institutions don't much like the notion of the Big Intelligent Agent. Hence the controversy over ID, and the slanted treatment of it that is often seen. ... [Be sure to read the rest of this great article!]
Evolution and Christianity, Dennis Brown, University of Notre Dame, July 18, 2005. A renowned philosopher from the University of Notre Dame supports recent comments by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn that belief in evolution as accepted by some in science today may be incompatible with Christian beliefs. "Cardinal Schönborn has it right," said Alvin Plantinga, the John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy and one of the world’s leading scholars in the philosophy of religion. "Evolution means different things to different people. Some of these things are perfectly consistent with Christian belief, but others are not. "Some think of evolution as the theory of common ancestry: Any two living things share ancestors, so that we and the poison ivy in our back yard, as well as other living creatures, are cousins. This is surprising, but compatible with Christian belief." Problems arise, according to Plantinga, when "scientists and others take evolution to be a process that is wholly unguided and driven by chance, so that it is simply a matter of chance that rational creatures like us exist. This is not compatible with Christian belief, according to which God has intentionally created us human beings in His own image. He may have done so by using a process of evolution, but it isn’t by chance that we exist." Plantinga adds that the idea that "human beings and other living creatures have come about by chance, rather than by God’s design, is also not a proper part of empirical science. How could science show that God has not intentionally designed and created human beings and other creatures? How could it show that they have arisen merely by chance. That’s not empirical science. That’s metaphysics, or maybe theology. It’s a theological add-on, not part of science itself. And, since it is a theological add-on, it shouldn’t, of course, be taught in public schools." ... [Plantinga has (as usual) hit the nail (or rather, hit Cardinal Schönborn's `wedge') right on the head! The right place to insert Christianity's (and ID's) `wedge' is not between ex nihilo/de novo separate creations and "common ancestry", but between "common ancestry" and evolution's claimed mechanism of "a process that is wholly unguided and driven by chance."]
On Solid Ground: Evolution versus Intelligent Design, Breakpoint, Chuck Colson, August 4, 2005. President Bush sent reporters into a tizzy this week by saying that he thought schools ought to teach both evolution and intelligent design. Students ought to hear both theories, he said, so they "can understand what the debate is about." Well, the usual critics jumped all over the president, but he’s absolutely right. Considering all competing theories was once the very definition of academic freedom. But today, the illiberal forces of secularism want to stifle any challenges to Darwin—even though Darwin is proving to be eminently challengeable. Take biochemist Michael Behe’s argument. He says that the cell is irreducibly complex. All the parts have to work at once, so it could not have evolved. No one has been able to successfully challenge Behe’s argument. In fact, the scientific case for intelligent design is so strong that, as BreakPoint listeners have heard me say, even Antony Flew, once the world’s leading philosopher of atheism, has renounced his life-long beliefs and has become, as he puts it, a deist. He now believes an intelligent designer designed the universe, though he says he cannot know God yet. I was in Oxford last week, speaking at the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute, and had a chance to visit with Flew. He told a crowd that, as a professional philosopher, he had used all the tools of his trade to arrive at what he believed were intellectually defensible suppositions supporting atheism. But the intelligent design movement shook those presuppositions. He said, however, on philosophical grounds that he could not prove the existence of the God of the Bible. ... [Read more of this article too. BTW, AFAIK Behe doesn't say "the cell is irreducibly complex" (I would like to be wrong on this), although I do - see my "The Minimal Cell: A Problem of Evolution 1/2" and 2/2]


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Stephen E. Jones said...

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CG>Citizen Grim said...
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