Monday, August 07, 2006

Nothing Wrong With Kansas #2

Nothing Wrong With Kansas: State voters move science education out of the Victorian era, Washington Post, August 6, 2006; Page B06 ...

[Continued from part #1. Graphic: ATP Synthase rotary motor, Colorado State University. Eppur si muove - "it still moves" also! Or as my atheist molecular biology lecturer exclaimed as she put up a slide of it: "The bloody thing ROTATES!"

As in one of my molecular biology textbooks, the ATP Synthase complex is "is a `rotary engine'," in fact "an electrochemical-to-mechanical-to-chemical energy transducer" and "the smallest rotary engine in the world":

"According to this model, [the ATP Synthase complex] F0F1 is a `rotary engine' in which the electrochemical energy that is released as protons pass through the F0 component and is transduced into mechanical energy, which then drives the conformational changes of the aB assemblies that lead to ATP synthesis. In other words, the F0F1 complex is an electrochemical-to-mechanical-to-chemical energy transducer-and the smallest rotary engine in the world! Or, in the words of one author, `a splendid molecular machine.'" (Becker, W.M., Kleinsmith, L.J. & Hardin J., [1986], "The World of the Cell," Benjamin / Cummings: San Francisco CA, Fourth edition, 2000, p.440)

Isn't the `blind watchmaker' wonderful! :-)]

Intelligent design is a defensible theological position -- the belief that life is so complex and perfect that a creator must lie somewhere behind it. [This is yet another falsehood supporting evolution. As this editor of the Washington Post must know by now (and therefore is deliberately misleading his/her readers), ID does not claim that: 1) "life is so complex and perfect"; 2) "that a creator must lie somewhere behind it" (my emphasis).

First ID makes no claim that the design must be "perfect." All ID claims is that the design is beyond the resources of unintelligent processes to produce.

Second, ID makes no claim about who or what the designer was. ID theorists include agnostics such as Michael Denton and David Berlinski, who has stated he has "no creationist agenda whatsoever" and "no religious principles":

"I have no creationist agenda whatsoever and, beyond respecting the injunction to have a good time all the time, no religious principles, either" (Berlinski, D., "A Scientific Scandal?" Commentary, July 8, 2003).]

But being untestable in its positing of a supernatural explanation for natural phenomena, it is no more scientific than the belief that Athena was born from Zeus's head. [This also is a falsehood supporting evolution. As this editor must know, ID does not claim that the design is "supernatural."

"But Doesn't Intelligent Design Refer to Something Supernatural? From an ID perspective, the natural- vs.-supernatural distinction is irrelevant. The real contrast is not between natural laws and miracles, but between undirected natural causes and intelligent ones. Mathematician and philosopher of science William Dembski puts it this way: `Whether an intelligent cause is located within or outside nature (i.e., is respectively natural or supernatural) is a separate question from whether an intelligent cause has operated.' Human actions are a case in point: `Just as humans do not perform miracles every time they act as intelligent agents, so there is no reason to assume that for a designer to act as an intelligent agent requires a violation of natural laws.' On the other hand, even if an object were miraculously created, it could still be studied. Take the flagellum, for example. No matter what its origins, a flagellum is a flagellum. We can take it apart, we can examine its components, we can modify it, we can figure out how it works. And we can do that whether it evolved over eons or popped into existence two seconds ago. In the world of human technology, this is called reverse engineering. But the same process is also used in biology. `That’s basically what everybody at the bench is doing,' said Scott Minnich, a microbiologist at the University of Idaho. `We don’t have the blueprints in the true sense. We have the DNA code for a lot of organisms, but in terms of the assembly of these molecular machines, it’s a matter of breaking them apart and trying to put them back together to figure out how they function.' This is also the kind of work that will be done with the human genome. Speaking to the New York Times in late June, when the human genome breakthrough was announced, Harold Varmus, former director of the National Institutes of Health commented, `The important thing is having pieces of DNA in your hand, and being able to figure out how they work by modifying and mutating them. That's where the game is now.' Fittingly, the metaphor he used to describe this process was examining a clock: `You can take the clock apart, lay the pieces out in front of you, and then try to understand what makes it tick by putting it back together again.'" (Hartwig, M., `Frequently Asked Questions about Intelligent Design," Access Research Network: Colorado Springs CO, 2003)

Teaching it as science does a grave disservice to students who wish to understand natural phenomena that only evolution truly explains. [See part #1 re the fallacy of equivocation on the word "evolution."]

How do bacteria become drug-resistant? Why do birds, bees and bats all have wings? [This is a version of another fallacy in support of evolution, namely the Strawman Fallacy. The tactic here is to put up something that ID does not even dispute and then claim that because "evolution" explains it, ID must be false. But ID does not claim to be a complete theory of biology or that all of "evolution" is false. ID only disputes Darwinism in its claim that there is no design in nature, by counter-claiming that there is at least some design in nature.

Mind you, if the claim is that ID is not science because it is "untestable" (which is false) it would be interesting to see "evolution's" testable, scientific explanation of "Why do birds, bees and bats all have wings"! When Richard Dawkins was asked what would re-evolve if "earth was hit by an asteroid tomorrow and everything but simple microbes were destroyed," he would predict that we would "get flight" or even "plants and animals"!:

"PD: ... The question that we have to ask is if the earth was hit by an asteroid tomorrow and everything but simple microbes were destroyed and we came back in another 3 or 4 billion years, would we expect to find homo sapiens here again. Well, of course not.

RD: Of course we wouldn't!

PD: No, of course not. But the question is would we expect to find any intelligent life and I think most biologists would say no.

McK: Richard Dawkins, I know you're bursting to say something there.

RD: Yes. It is not in my view sensible to invoke fundamental laws of physical improvement for the biological improvement of complexity or running speed or anything else. If you wiped our life and started again-no, you would not get homo sapiens. I tell you what you would get, you would probably get a great diversity of living form . You'd probably get plants, animals, you'd probably get parasites, you'd probably get predators, you'd probably get large predators, small predators. You might well get flight, you might well get sight. There are all sorts of things that you can guess that you might get. You would certainly not get a re-run of what we've got."

(McKew M., "The Origin of the Universe," Interview with Richard Dawkins & Paul Davies, Lateline, Australian Broadcasting Commission, 19 June 1996, in Australian Rationalist, No. 41, Spring 1996, pp.72-73)]

Intelligent design can lead only to unintelligent students, or at least badly educated ones. [This is simply absurd! For starters, Intelligent Design might be true! But even if it wasn't, as the above quotes by Campbell, et al. and Sagan point out, it is "good science" to have an alternative hypothesis, even though at least one must be false.

Even if Darwinism was true, it would be good education for students to better understand why it was true in comparison with its main rival ID.

But then this is how Darwinism has always operated, as the ecologist Leigh noted, "by eliminating competing explanations, not by providing evidence that natural selection among 'random' mutations could, or did, account for observed adaptation" (my emphasis):

"The primary problem with the [modern evolutionary] synthesis is that its makers established natural selection as the director of adaptive evolution by eliminating competing explanations, not by providing evidence that natural selection among 'random' mutations could, or did, account for observed adaptation . Mayr remarked, 'As these non-Darwinian explanations were refuted during the synthesis ... natural selection automatically became the universal explanation of evolutionary change (together with chance factors).' Depriving the synthesis of plausible alternatives, which seemed such a triumph, in fact sowed the seeds of its faults." (Leigh, E.G., Jr, "The modern synthesis, Ronald Fisher and creationism," Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 14, No. 12, December 1999, pp.495-498, p.495).

As the great French zoologist Pierre Grassé, warned in 1973 concerning Darwinism, it was "a pseudoscience" that "is taking root in the very heart of biology":

"Through use and abuse of hidden postulates, of bold, often ill-founded extrapolations, a pseudoscience has been created. It is taking root in the very heart of biology and is leading astray many biochemists and biologists, who sincerely believe that the accuracy of fundamental concepts has been demonstrated, which is not the case." (Grassé, P.-P., "Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation," [1973], Academic Press: New York NY, 1977, p.6)

And if is a mark of a pseudoscience that it is afraid it "will collapse once it becomes possible for critics to get a fair hearing." So rather than "welcome the critics to an academic forum for open debate" to "confront the best critical arguments," the Darwinists instead "caricature them as straw men" and "rely on the dishonorable methods of power politics," including "propaganda and legal barriers to prevent relevant questions from being asked" and "on enforcing rules of reasoning that allow no alternative to the official story":

"In the final analysis, it is not any specific scientific evidence that convinces me that Darwinism is a pseudoscience that will collapse once it becomes possible for critics to get a fair hearing. It is the way the Darwinists argue their case that makes it apparent that they are afraid to encounter the best arguments against their theory. A real science does not employ propaganda and legal barriers to prevent relevant questions from being asked, nor does it rely on enforcing rules of reasoning that allow no alternative to the official story. If the Darwinists had a good case to make, they would welcome the critics to an academic forum for open debate, and they would want to confront the best critical arguments rather than to caricature them as straw men. Instead they have chosen to rely on the dishonorable methods of power politics." (Johnson, P.E., "The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism," Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, p.141)]

In the seesawing of Kansas politics on this issue, it is too early to declare victory. It is, however, encouraging that voters seem to be insisting, at least for now, that when students study biology, they learn the real thing. [See above. If the Darwinists were confident that their theory was "the real thing" they would be eager to demonstrate that in science classes.

However in this age of the Internet, the best and brightest students will learn about ID anyway, and they will note the attitude of the Darwinists is in hypocritical contradiction to the principles of "good science" that they apply to everything else but "evolution"!

And just as Darwin could "look with confidence to the future,- to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality":

"Although I am fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume under the form of an abstract, I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are stocked with a multitude of facts all viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mine. ... I look with confidence to the future,- to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality ... for thus only can the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed be removed." (Darwin, C.R., "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection," Sixth Edition, 1872, Senate: London, 1994, pp.422-423)

so can ID. And there are promising (and ominous for the Darwinists) signs that at least some "young and rising naturalists" are not content just to be told by the scientific establishment what they must believe but are in fact "expressing much interest in the `creative guiding hand' of intelligent design"!:

"It is a hard fact that the scientific case for the intelligent design hypothesis is getting much stronger. ... How will the idea of intelligent design be regarded by the public and by the scientific community in years to come? ... On the one hand, although newspaper editorialists might disapprove, polls show that the great majority of the public already is convinced of design. On the other hand, because it has been raised on Darwinism, much of the scientific community is used to thinking exclusively in Darwinian terms. Nonetheless, even there it seems, the times they are a- changin'. A recent news article in the journal Nature reported on an invitation-only meeting where up-and-coming students could rub elbows with Nobel prize winning scientists. For this year's meeting the organizing committee `... invited scientific academies and other agencies around the world to open competitions for young scientists to attend, then whittled down a list of nearly 10,000 applicants. The final 2005 list of 720 invitees represented a new profile of participant: academically excellent, familiar with societal impacts of their research and fluent in English. They are generally under thirty, but the majority are now Ph.D. students or postdocs.' But the students asked surprising questions. `it is curious to see the questions that students from different cultures ask,' [Gunter Blobel (medicine, 1999)] remarked after a discussion on evolutionary biology led by Christian de Duve (medicine, 1974). He was taken aback to find some students expressing so much interest in the `creative guiding hand' of intelligent design. [Abbott, A., "Nobel laureates: Close encounters," Nature 436, July 14, 2005, pp.170-171]" (Behe, M.J., "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," [1996], Free Press: New York NY, 10th Anniversary Edition, 2006, pp.272-273)]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book'

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