Sunday, November 27, 2005

'Design' Vs. Darwin #3

Part 3 (of 3) of an older article which appeared during the Dover trial. My comments are bolded and in square brackets.

[Continued from part 2]

'Design' Vs. Darwin, CBS, Oct. 23, 2005 ... A small but growing number of scientists now challenge some of the fundamental tenets of Darwinism, Braver reports. They point, for example, to a tiny bacterium, with moving tails, known as flagella, and insist that its intricate workings could not be the result of a genetic accident. [Nor the result of a series of genetic accidents.] "Well, maybe that's what they believe, but for biologists, we know differently," remarks biochemist Maxine Singer, who says there are clear evolutionary explanations for this and other issues raised by the intelligent design theory. [I note that Singer does not state what these "clear evolutionary explanations for this" the bacterial flagellar rotary motor, "A self-assembling nanomachine with fine switching capability":

"Nature created a rotary motor with a diameter of 30 nm. Motility of bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli with a body size of 1 ~ 2 micron, is driven by rapid rotation of a helical propeller by such a tiny little motor at its base. This organelle is called the flagellum, made of a rotary motor and a thin helical filament that grows up to about 15 micron. It rotates at around 20,000 rpm, at energy consumption of only around 10-16 W and with energy conversion efficiency close to 100%. Prof. Namba's research group is going to reveal the mechanism of this highly efficient flagellar motor that is far beyond the capabilities of artificial motors. The flagellum is made by self-assembly of about 25 different proteins. The rotor ring made of protein FliF is the first to assemble in the cytoplasmic membrane. Then, other protein molecules attach to the ring one after another from the base to the tip to construct the motor structure. After the motor has been formed, the flagellar filament, which functions as a helical propeller, is assembled. Precise recognition of the template structure by component proteins allows this highly ordered self-assembly process to proceed without error. .... Bacterial cells swim actively by rotating a bundle of flagella. The motor switches its direction every few seconds to change the swimming direction of the cells for bacteria to seek better environments. .... Prof. Namba first saw an electron micrograph of the bacterial flagellum and its motor when he was a graduate student. He was surprised to see such complex and sophisticated structure exist in living organisms. It impressed him deep enough to switch his research from muscle to flagella after a while. `Looking at the shape of the flagellar basal body, it is obviously designed to rotate. Looking at a picture of the flagellar motor on the wall every day, I feel up towards revealing the mystery by any means.' .... So far, for the flagellar motor, the deeper our insights get into the mechanism, the deeper the mystery becomes. ... It is the motor mechanism that is even more difficult to understand." (Ishiguro K., "Revealing the mystery of the bacterial flagellum: A self-assembling nanomachine with fine switching capability," Interview of Keiichi Namba, Japan Nanonet Bulletin, No. 11, February 5, 2004)
let alone "other issues raised by the intelligent design theory"!] A member of the National Academy of Science, and former head of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, she says intelligent design is not science, it's a leap of faith: [Actually the boot is on the other foot! It really takes "a leap of faith" to believe that a complex machine could be put together by a `blind watchmaker'!] "The whole concept of science is, you're always asking new questions. [Well, in this case it is ID which is "asking new questions" and Darwinism which is trying desperately to suppress them!] But, intelligent design says, 'This is the end of questions, because here's the explanation: [Isn't that what science is supposed to be about? To "end ... questions" with the correct "explanation"?] Some intelligent designer said this is the way it's gonna be.' And so, for kids in schools, it closes their minds, not opens them." [ID makes no claim like, "Some intelligent designer said this is the way it's gonna be." All ID proposed is that some things in nature are the result of intelligent (rather than unintelligent) causation. And it is Darwinism which "closes their [students'] minds, not opens them" by refusing even to consider that those things in nature that look designed, were designed.] What about the argument that students should at least be taught that there's a controversy over Darwin's theory? "There are controversies," Singer replies, "over the mechanisms of evolution, and we should be teaching those. But there is no controversy in science about whether evolution occurs or not." [This is the usual Darwinist `doublespeak'. What exactly is this "evolution" that "there is no controversy in science about whether [it] occurs or not"? And why if "The whole concept of science is, you're always asking new questions" is there "no controversy in science about whether evolution occurs or not."?] Nevertheless, Braver says, evolution, the idea that we are all descended from apes, has never been popular in this country. [The point is that if "evolution" is defined as "the idea that we are all descended from apes" then polls show that more (37% + 12% = 49%) of the USA public believe that than the alternative, separate creation (45%):
"... perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis).
It is "evolution" that is defined as "God had no part in this process" that the overwhelming majority (45% + 37% = 82% compared to 12%) that "has never been popular in this" or any "country"!] A new CBS News news poll found that 51 percent of Americans believe God created human beings in their present form. [The results were:
CBS Poll: Majority Reject Evolution, NEW YORK, Oct. 23, 2005(CBS) Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved. ...
God created humans in present form51%
Humans evolved, God guided the process 30%
Humans evolved, God did not guide process 15%
So again the overwhelming majority (51% + 30%=81%) reject the view that "God did not guide [the] process." That is the "evolution", i.e. fully naturalistic evolution which denies design (not "the idea that we are all descended from apes" which IDists like Mike Behe (and me) accept), which ID is necessarily opposed to, and which the Darwinists (aided by their media acolytes and dupes) are so desperate to conceal.] Three states have now adopted policies that would allow teachers to introduce scientific criticisms of the Darwinian theory of evolution. [Presumably "have now" should be "had already" since the Discovery Institute lists three states before Kansas (Ohio, New Mexico and Minnesota) which had "adopted policies that would allow ... scientific criticisms ... evolution".] So it's no surprise that the question of intelligent design is capturing people's attention. President Bush made headlines when he said intelligent design should be taught and, just a week ago, on the program "West Wing," a fictional presidential candidate was asked: "Do you believe the theory of intelligent design and the theory of evolution should be taught alongside each other in public schools?" The character in the show responded, "Absolutely not. One is based on science, the other based in faith." [That is also "fictional"!] That fictional character isn't the only one who thinks so. John Haught, a research professor of theology at Georgetown University and author of several books on religion and evolution, argues that science is just not equipped to deal with spiritual, or philosophical questions. [The short answer to Haught is that ID is not addressing "spiritual, or philosophical questions". That is why ID sticks to the question of the empirical evidence of design in nature and refuses to get into the question of the identity of the designer, leaving that with philosophy and theology:
"The scientific community contains many excellent scientists who think that there is something beyond nature, and many excellent scientists who do not. How then will science `officially' treat the question of the identity of the designer? Will biochemistry textbooks have to be written with explicit statements that `God did it'? No. The question of the identity of the designer will simply be ignored by science. The history of science is replete with examples of basic- but-difficult questions being put on the back burner. For example, Newton declined to explain what caused gravity, Darwin offered no explanation for the origin of vision or life, Maxwell refused to specify a medium for light waves once the ether was debunked, and cosmologists in general have ignored the question of what caused the Big Bang. Although the fact of design is easily seen in the biochemistry of the cell, identifying the designer by scientific methods might be extremely difficult. In the same way, Newton could easily observe gravity, but specifying its cause lay centuries in the future. When a question is too difficult for science to deal with immediately, it is happily forgotten while other, more accessible questions are investigated. If philosophy and theology want to take a crack at the question in the meantime, we scientists should wish them well, but reserve the right to jump back into the conversation when science has something more to add." (Behe M.J., "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," Free Press: New York NY, 1996, p.251).
But it is interesting how those like Haught who claim that "science is just not equipped to deal with spiritual, or philosophical questions", then turn around and in the name of science, discuss "spiritual, or philosophical questions"!] "There's a point in our quest for understanding, it seems to me, where the question of what the ultimate explanation of things is, is quite legitimate and needs to be asked," he says. "But science does not ask ultimate questions. It asks questions about proximate, physical causes." [Note how Haught smuggles in "physical" in between "proximate ... causes", thus begging the question in favour of materialism (or physicalism), when in fact sciences like archaeology, forensic science and SETI "ask... questions about proximate," non-physical causes." After removing the false question-begging, the answer to "science does not ask ultimate questions. It asks questions about proximate ... causes" ID is also only asking "questions about proximate ... causes", i.e. the proximate cause(s) of instances of design in nature.] "So, by definition, science is just not wired to pick up any signals of some ultimate intelligence or ultimate wisdom," Haught adds. [See previous.] But at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, Ham says the theory of intelligent design is going to reopen debate in this country about religion in the science classroom. "At least they're starting to get people to think about the issue," Ham says. "They're battling it in public. And I believe you're gonna see a lot more. You're seeing that culture war in America, and you're gonna see that culture war heat up." [I must say I am surprised and pleased that Ken Ham now seems to be supportive of ID. ] That means, concludes Braver, that the answers to age-old questions - like who we are and why we're here - may remain as elusive as ever. ... [Well, if ID demonstrates (in fact it already has-despite all the hype, in over a decade, no one has even come close to refuting Behe's evidence and arguments for irreducibly complex molecular biological systems, made in his 1996 book, Darwin's Black Box) that there is intelligent design in nature, then that is the start of "answers to age-old questions - like who we are and why we're here." Those who reject that evidence, show that they really don't want to know the answers to those "age-old questions." As C.S. Lewis observed, "There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (`Man's search for God'!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that!":
"Men are reluctant to pass over from the notion of an abstract and negative deity to the living God. I do not wonder. Here lies the deepest tap-root of Pantheism and of the objection to traditional imagery. It was hated not, at bottom, because it pictured Him as man but because it pictured Him as king, or even as warrior. The Pantheist's God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for Him, like a book on a shelf. He will not pursue you. There is no danger that at any time heaven and earth should flee away at His glance. If He were the truth, then we could really say that all the Christian images of kingship were a historical accident of which our religion ought to be cleansed. It is with a shock that we discover them to be indispensable. You have had a shock like that before, in connection with smaller matters-when the line pulls at your hand, when something breathes beside you in the darkness. So here; the shock comes at the precise moment when the thrill of life, is communicated to us along the clue we have been following. It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. `Look out!' we cry, `it's alive.' And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back-I would have done so myself if I could-and proceed no further with Christianity. An ` impersonal God `-well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads-better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap- best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband-that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (`Man's search for God'!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?" (Lewis C.S., "Miracles: A Preliminary Study," [1947], Fontana: London, 1960, Revised edition, 1963, reprint, pp.97-98. Emphasis original).]

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

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

"Neither, lastly, would our observer be driven out of his conclusion, or from his confidence in its truth, by being told that he knew nothing at all about the matter. He knows enough for his argument. He knows the utility of the end: he knows the subserviency and adaptation of the means to the end. These points being known, his ignorance of other points, his doubts concerning other points, affect not the certainty of his reasoning. The consciousness of knowing little, need not beget a distrust of that which he does know." (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, pp.5-6)


R. Antonio said...

Unfortunately, many believers wrongly consider the Bible to be a cronological account of history--when it is not--Genesis is not even the oldest book of the KJV Bible. The problem, it seems to me, is that the Bible is NOT a historical book, but a book of patterns and principles upon which to build a proper--God ordained--social structure.

Still many people believe that the Bible is a history book. So it's no surprise that when historical evidence, such as fosils, are brought into the mix, it results in dogmatism and hysteria instead of a fair confrontation of the facts. Truth, by definition, is in your face--confrontational.

Faith is not affraid to confront facts, question authority and assumptions in order to eliminate the sources of distortion and lies.

Stephen E. Jones said...

R. Antonio

Thanks for your comments.

I disagree that "Genesis is not even the oldest book of the ... Bible." The underlying eleven clay tablets structure of Genesis 1-36, and the Babylonian counterparts to Genesis 1-11, indicates that Genesis is indeed "the oldest book of the ... Bible":

"Accordingly the present writer feels justified in following Wiseman [Wiseman P.J., "New Discoveries in Babylonia About Genesis," 1958, pp.53ff] in the assertion that Genesis contains in the first thirty-six chapters a series of tablets whose contents were linked together to form a roughly chronological account of primeval and patriarchal life written from the standpoint of a Mesopotamian cultural milieu. ... The tablets that may be isolated will be seen to have a title, a residuum of textual matter, and a colophon, along with certain additional features .... The sources can be described briefly as follows: Tablet 1: Gen. 1:1-2:4. The origins of the cosmos Tablet 2: Gen. 2 :5-5:2. The origins of mankind Tablet 3: Gen. 5: 3-6:9a. The histories of Noah Tablet 4: Gen. 6:9b-10:1. The histories of the sons of Noah Tablet 5: Gen. 10:2-11:10a. The histories of Shem Tablet 6: Gen. 11:10b-11:27a. The histories of Terah Tablet 7: Gen. 11 :27b-25:12. The histories of Ishmael Tablet 8: Gen. 25:13-25:19a. The histories of Isaac Tablet 9: Gen. 25:19b-36:1. The histories of Esau Tablet 10: Gen. 36:2-36:9. The histories of Esau Tablet 11: Gen. 36:10-37:2. The histories of Jacob .... The present writer is of the opinion that the foregoing classification of material represents the genuine literary sources underlying the first thirty- six chapters of Genesis." (Harrison R.K., "Introduction to the Old Testament," 1969, Tyndale Press: London, 1970, p.548)

This also indicates that "the Genesis account is historical, depicting what actually transpired in history":

"The writers of the Bible conveyed to their contemporaries the message of God, and their only way was to use the languages and customs of their time. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect Moses to describe creation in twentieth- century scientific language. Nonetheless, the Genesis account is historical, depicting what actually transpired in history. This is clearly evident in the eleven tablets, each ending with `These are the names [generations, decendants] of ...' found in the first 36 chapters of Genesis. The contents are linked together to form a roughly chronological account of primeval and patriarchal life (i.e. Gen. 1:1-2:4; 2:5-5.2; 5:36.9a; 6:9b-10:1; 10:2-11:10a; 11:10b-27a; 11:27b-25:12; 25:13-19a; 25:19b-36:10; 36:236:9; and 36:10-37:2) (1, 2)." (Pun P.P.T., "Evolution: Nature and Scripture in Conflict?," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1982, p.251).

Which is not to deny that this real history may be expressed in symbolic form (e.g. the Book of Revelation):

"It is argued that the picture of God working like a potter with wet earth, anthropomorphically breathing life into man, constructing woman from a rib, with an idyllic garden, trees with theological significance, and a talking serpent, is the language of theological symbolism and not of literal prose. The theological truth is there, and this symbolism is the instrument of inspiration. We are not to think in terms of scientific and anti-scientific, but in terms of scientific and pre-scientific. The account is then pre-scientific and in theological symbolism which is the garment divine inspiration chose to reveal these truths for their more ready comprehension by the masses of untutored Christians. This is the view of James Orr who wrote: `I do not enter into the question of how we are to interpret the third chapter of Genesis-whether as history or allegory or myth, or most probably of all, as old tradition clothed in oriental allegorical dress-but the truth embodied in that narrative, viz. the fall of man from an original state of purity, I take to be vital to the Christian view.'[Orr J., The Christian View of God and the World, 1897, p.18]" (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," [1955], Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, pp.223-224)

Stephen E. Jones