Sunday, November 27, 2005

'Design' Vs. Darwin #1

My comments, bolded and in square brackets, on an older article which appeared during the Dover trial. Because of its length, I have split it into three parts.

'Design' Vs. Darwin, CBS, Oct. 23, 2005 ... By random mutation - or by design? Those two different explanations for the diversity of life are in conflict in a court case now under way in Pennsylvania. [Now concluded and awaiting the judge's ruling late December/early January.] And they are in conflict outside the courtroom, too, in many places. Rita Braver examines the controversy over "intelligent design," on CBS News Sunday Morning. There are questions, Braver observes, we cannot stop asking: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? There have never been any easy answers, or universal agreement. [The Darwinist answer to those "question ... we cannot stop asking" was given by Neo-Darwinism co-founder George Gaylord Simpson, "Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned':

'Although many details remain to be worked out, it is already evident that all the objective phenomena of the history of life can be explained by purely materialistic factors. They are readily explicable on the basis of differential reproduction in populations (the main factor in the modern conception of natural selection) and of the mainly random interplay of the known processes of heredity. ... Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned." (Simpson G.G., "The Meaning of Evolution: A Study of the History of Life and of its Significance for Man," [1949], Yale University Press: New Haven CT, 1960, reprint, pp.343-344. My emphasis).
While ID does not answer those questions directly, it does contradict the Darwinist claim that "all the objective phenomena of the history of life can be explained by purely materialistic factors":
"1. What is the theory of intelligent design? The scientific 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. Note: Intelligent design theory does NOT claim that science can determine the identity of the intelligent cause. Nor does it claim that the intelligent cause must be a `divine being' or a `higher power' or an `all-powerful force.' All it proposes is that science can identify whether certain features of the natural world are the products of intelligence." (Crowther R., "Discovery Institute gives overview of intelligent design," Baptist Press, December 17, 2004) .]
But on a 40-acre spread in northern Kentucky, a new, privately funded, $25 million project is under construction. Called "The Creation Museum," it's dedicated to one premise about how the whole world came to be. "The real purpose is to say the Bible's true, and it's history. Genesis is true," explains Ken Ham, founder of the Answers in Genesis ministry. [By "Genesis is true" Ham, as a Young-Earth Creationist (YEC) means that it is literally true, i.e. the days of Genesis 1 are literal, 24-hours and the Earth's age of about 10,000 years can be obtained by adding up the genealogies in the Bible. But even Whitcomb and Morris in the book that launched the modern YEC movement, The Genesis Flood found they could not just add up the Bible's genealogies because (amongst other things), "all the postdiluvian patriarchs, including Noah, would still have been living when Abram was fifty years old" and so "the strict-chronology view must be set aside":
"If the strict-chronology interpretation of Genesis 11 is correct, all the postdiluvian patriarchs, including Noah, would still have been living when Abram was fifty years old; three of those who were born before the earth was divided (Shem, Shelah, and Eber) would have actually outlived Abram; and Eber, the father of Peleg, not only would have outlived Abram, but would have lived for two years after Jacob arrived in Mesopotamia to work for Laban! On the face of it, such a situation would seem astonishing, if not almost incredible. And the case is further strengthened by the clear and twice-repeated statement of Joshua that Abram's `fathers,' including Terah, were idolaters when they dwelt `of old time beyond the River' (Joshua 24:2,14,15). If all the postdiluvian patriarchs including Noah and Shem, were still living in Abram's day, this statement implies that they had all fallen into idolatry by then. This conclusion is surely wrong, and therefore the premise on which it is based must be wrong. Consequently, it seems that the strict-chronology view must be set aside in order to allow for the death of these patriarchs long before the time of Abram." (Whitcomb J.C. & Morris H.M., "The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications," [1961], Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1993, Thirty-sixth Printing, pp.477-478)
which however then invalidates a fundamental premise of YEC - that the age of the Earth can be determined by simply adding up the Bible's genealogies!] It rejects years of findings by mainstream scientists that different species of creatures came into being over the course of hundreds of millions of years, through the process of evolution. [Braver here commits the usual fallacy of false (or faulty) dilemma:
"Faulty Dilemma. ... Here the opponent forces one into an either/or answer when the question has a third alternative. He says, `Accept this or that, both of which are contrary to your position,' but doesn't mention a third alternative. The key to avoiding the dilemma is simply to find the third alternative." (Geisler N.L.& Brooks R.M "Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking," Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI, 1990, p.110)
that there are only two alternatives, that "different species of creatures came into being over the course of hundreds of millions of years" is "the process of evolution" and the only alternative is creation in the sense of "God made land animals" in one "day" and so "dinosaurs and human beings existed at the same time" (see below). But clearly there is a third alternative, God created "different species of creatures ... over the course of hundreds of millions of years", which is what Old-Earth/Progressive Creation (OEC/PC) maintains:
"What Is Intelligent Design? The dominant view in science today is naturalistic evolution, which claims that the universe is the result of an unguided, undirected process, explainable strictly in terms of chance and natural law. Design theory proposes a third cause--intelligent design--and claims that evidence for design in the universe can be detected empirically. Here’s a summary of the major positions that fall under this category: THEISTIC EVOLUTION: Many versions of theistic evolution reject design, and are identical scientifically to naturalistic evolution. But some versions propose that design was "frontloaded" into the initial conditions of the universe and its laws, so that creation would unfold over time in the way God intended. OLD-AGE or PROGRESSIVE CREATION: God guided the process of development, injecting information at key stages in the development of the universe and life to design new forms of organization. YOUNG-AGE CREATION: God created the universe and the major life forms within a short period of time (some say six literal days), about 10,000 (rather than billions of) years ago. (Pearcey N.R., "We're Not in Kansas Anymore," Christianity Today, May 22, 2000, Vol. 44, No. 6, p.42) .]
"You basically say in this museum that dinosaurs and human beings existed at the same time?" Braver asks. "Oh, absolutely," Ham answers, "because, you know, the Bible teaches that God made land animals on day six, alongside of Adam and Eve." [That depend on what "day" means in Genesis 1. But there is plenty of evidence in the text itself that it does not necessarily mean a literal 24-hour day:
"A vast literature has grown up around the word yom (Hebrew for day). The flood geologists and the gap theorists vigorously defend the literal-day view and strongly attack the metaphorical interpretation. ... In view of the fact that such a great array of geologists and theologians accept the metaphorical interpretation of the word day, the case for the literal day cannot be conclusive nor the objections to the metaphorical interpretation too serious. In the first two chapters of Genesis the word day is used as follows: (i) in verse 5 it means daylight and (ii) a day marked out by an evening and morning; (iii) in verse 14 it means daylight in contrast to night, and (iv) in the expression `and for days' it means a twenty-four hour day; (v) in Gen. 2:4 it refers to the entire period of creation." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," [1955] Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, p.145. Emphasis original).]
Ham understands that Supreme Court decisions mandating separation between church and state mean his point of view cannot be taught in public schools. [Yes, because Ham's "point of view", unlike ID, is based on the Bible.] Still, says Braver, he sees a glimmer on the horizon: a new theory called "intelligent design" is bringing hope to Christians like himself, who don't believe in evolution. "They see it as a way of, maybe this is how we can try to get the school students to at least hear of another view," Hamm says. [I doubt if Ham actually said "`intelligent design" is bringing hope to Christians like himself." In the past he has been critical of ID for its strategy of "put[ing] aside ... Bible issues and ... ask[ing] the question: `What is actually known from scientific evidence as opposed to materialist philosophy about the claims of evolution?'":
"The Firing Line program (hosted by William F. Buckley, Jr) featured eight debaters on the creation/evolution issue. At one stage in this debate, Barry Lynn (Executive Director for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and a lawyer and minister in the United Church of Christ) held up my book D is for Dinosaur. He turned to Phillip Johnson (Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, and a well-known speaker and writer on philosophical issues relating to origins) and said: `This book is widely distributed in creationist circles and used in schools, home schools, and religious schools... Here's a little picture. `Man and dinosaur. Adam wasn't scared to watch dinosaurs eat because all the creatures ate plants and not meat.' `Now do you think that's good biology? ... I want you to tell us if you think that this is not so silly and dangerous kind of idea to plant in the hands of high-school students that in fact the Flintstones are some kind of documentary.' 'Well,' Johnson replied, 'The kind of thing you're encouraging certainly is silly, just almost as silly as the work of [evolutionist] Richard Dawkins.' It was also sad to hear 'creationist' Johnson remark in the midst of this discussion: `And in fact I have said on many occasions and have urged persons of the conservative Christian community to put aside the whole Bible issues and let us ask the question: What is actually known from scientific evidence as opposed to materialist philosophy about the claims of evolution?' Now, where in the Bible does it ever say that Christians should put aside 'Bible issues'? In fact, Christianity is a whole way of thinking based on the foundation of God's revealed Word! Answers in Genesis stands on the foundation that we should not put aside the Bible in what we say and write ... [When you hear someone say this `I would encourage Christians to put aside the Bible issues and argue against evolution using only the known scientific facts' This is what they are REALLY saying! `Christians should put aside God's infallible Word and instead, use man's fallible wisdom to fight man's fallible wisdom.' ]" (Ham K., "Creation books are 'dangerous'!," Answers in Genesis Prayer News," Creation Science Foundation: Brisbane QLD, August 1998, p.1. Words in square brackets are not in webbed version)
However, at least Ham now realizes that "intelligent design is not the same as creationism. ... is not a Christian movement ... [is] not ... about the Bible [and is] not against evolution" (if the version of "evolution" does not deny design):
"Ken Ham is president of Answers in Genesis, a Kentucky-based ministry that equips Christians to defend the biblical account of creation. Ham says Christians must realize that intelligent design is not the same as creationism. `The intelligent design movement is not a Christian movement,' he says. `They're not all about the Bible; they don't tell you who this is "intelligence" is.' And because of that, he is concerned that students who start to believe in an unidentified `intelligence' could easily be `directed to a Muslim god or a Hindu god or a New Age god or whatever.' Ham also urges Christians to understand that the intelligent design movement is not against evolution. `They're not against evolutionary geology, they're not against evolutionary biology or evolutionary astronomy or evolutionary anthropology,' he says. Still, the Answers in Genesis leader says he is encouraged that many school districts are considering teaching intelligent design or creationism alongside the theory of evolution when students are taught about the origin of life. As a result, he says, `more and more people are becoming informed." (Martin A. & Brown J., "Ken Ham: Intelligent Design Not 'Christian' - but Not a Bad Thing Either," Agape Press, October 18, 2005).]
The underlying premise of intelligent design, Braver points out, is that recent advances in molecular biology have enabled scientists for the first time to peer into the inner workings of a single cell, revealing mechanisms so complex that they couldn't possibly have evolved by chance, and must have been deliberately designed, especially when it comes to DNA, the building block of life. [ID does not claim that some "cell ... mechanisms [are] so complex that they couldn't possibly have evolved by chance" (my emphasis), since that would place the burden of proof on ID to prove a universal negative, which cannot be done. Rather ID makes the more modest claim that some cellular mechanisms, such as the bacterial flagellum rotary motor and the vertebrate blood-clotting cascade, cannot plausibly be explained by unintelligent cause(s) and that intelligent cause(s) is the best explanation.] The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, cradle of the intelligent design theory, produced a video saying, "There is, in fact, no entity in the known universe that stores and processes information more efficiently than the DNA molecule. Every DNA has 3 billion individual characteristics." "In other words," asserts Stephen Meyer, who holds a doctorate in the history of science, and is director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, "we're seeing something that, in any other realm of experience, would trigger an awareness of design. And therefore, we think the best inference is that things were actually designed." [Agreed. As Behe points out, "The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck:
"The fourth claim in the design argument is also controversial: in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life. To evaluate this claim, it's important to keep in mind that it is the profound appearance of design in life that everyone is laboring to explain, not the appearance of natural selection or the appearance of self-organization. The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious." (Behe M.J., "Design for Living," The New York Times, February 7, 2005).]
He says that intelligent design is based entirely on observable scientific evidence, and that it's not creationist theory. But, he acknowledges, "It's consistent with a view that many people in our culture hold, that there is some larger purpose, derived from a creator." And would that be Christian creator, Braver wondered. "Well," responded Meyer, "many people have different interpretations of that." [ID is certainly "consistent" with the "Christian creator" and IDists who are Christians naturally assume that the Intelligent Designer is the "Christian creator" but the point is that it is impossible to derive the specifically "Christian creator" solely from the evidence of nature] Says Miles Eldridge [Niles Eldredge!], a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, "Nobody buys for a moment that they have in mind the creature from the black lagoon, or any other possible intelligent designer. They're clearly referring to God." [Eldredge misses the point. No IDist who is a Christian denies that they believe that the Designer is "God". But they cannot prove it from the evidence of nature alone.] Eldridge [sic] is curator of an upcoming exhibit on biologist Charles Darwin, whose studies in the Galapagos Islands led to his landmark publications on the origins of the species 1859 which inspired, as Eldridge puts it, "monumental sea changes in our thinking about who we are and how we came to be." [That's strange for the author of a book titled "Reinventing Darwin" and who stated in another book (with a subtitle that included, "The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution" (my emphasis) that:
"Darwin's early scientific experience was primarily as a geologist, and much of what he had to say about the nature of the fossil record ... was an accurate and insightful early contribution to our understanding of the vagaries of deposition and the preservation of fossils. But his [Origin of Species] Chapter 9 (first edition) on the imperfections of the geological record is one long ad hoc, special-pleading argument designed to rationalize, to flat-out explain away, the differences between what he saw as logical predictions derived from his theory and the facts of the fossil record." (Eldredge N., "Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria", Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1985, pp.27-28. My emphasis)!]

[To be continued in part 2]

PS: See tagline quote which is my next installment of Paley's design argument.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"Sixthly, he would be surprised to hear, that the mechanism of the watch was no proof of contrivance, only a motive to induce the mind to think so:" (Paley W., "Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature," [1802], St. Thomas Press: Houston TX, 1972, reprint, p.5)

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