The gods must be crazy if they call this intelligence [Review of "Unintelligent Design: Why God isn't as smart as she thinks she is," by Robyn Williams, Allen & Unwin: Sydney, 2006], Sydney Morning Herald, August 5, 2006, Deborah Smith. ... Continued from part #4.
[Graphic: Rudyard Kipling's "Just-So Stories," Amazon.com]
Recent scientific findings about the evolution of life are far more fascinating than the intelligent design movement's untestable Just So stories, he says. See part #4 on my observation that Darwinist attacks on their ID opponents often read like a case of psychological projection! Even evolutionists like the late Stephen Jay Gould complained about "the `just-so story' tradition of evolutionary natural history" (my emphasis):
"These tales, in the `just-so story' tradition of evolutionary natural history, do not prove anything. But the weight of these, and many similar cases, wore down my faith in gradualism long ago. More inventive minds may yet save it, but concepts salvaged only by facile speculation do not appeal much to me." (Gould, S.J., "The Return of the Hopeful Monster," in "The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History," , Penguin: London, 1990, reprint, p.158).
And as for "untestable," at least some Darwinists concede of their Darwinian "theory of evolution" that it is both not testable ("No one can think of ways in which to test it") and not falsifiable (it "cannot be refuted by any possible observations" since "Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it") and "It is thus `outside of empirical science'":
"Our theory of evolution has become, as Popper described, one which cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus `outside of empirical science' but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas, either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems, have attained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training." (Birch, L.C. & Ehrlich, P.R., "Evolutionary History and Population Biology," Nature, Vol. 214, 22 April 1967, p.352).
"I find it gobsmackingly outrageous that ID can be allowed to pretend our state of knowledge is inadequate. Incomplete, certainly, but expanding at a ferocious rate," he says. Williams here displays his own ignorance of ID. I would not be surprised if he has not read any ID primary sources, but is just regurgitating second-hand criticisms by his fellow Darwinists.
It is because "our state of knowledge" is not "inadequate" and has "expand[ed] at a ferocious rate," which is behind the resurgence of ID. Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen, in the book which is widely credited with marking the beginning of the modern ID movement, pointed out that "the sharp edge of this critique is not what we do not know, but what we do know ... The advance of science itself is what is challenging the nation that life arose on earth by spontaneous ... chemical reactions" (both theirs and my emphasis):
"One characteristic feature of the above critique needs to be emphasized. We have not simply picked out a number of details within chemical evolution theory that are weak, or without adequate explanation for the moment. For the most part this critique is based on crucial weaknesses intrinsic to the theory itself. Often it is contended that criticism focuses on present ignorance `Give us more time to solve the problems,' is the plea. After all, the pursuit of abiogenesis is young as a scientific enterprise. It will be claimed that many of these problems are mere state-of-the-art gaps. And, surely some of them are. Notice, however, that the sharp edge of this critique is not what we do not know, but what we do know. Many facts have come to light in the past three decades of experimental inquiry into life's beginning. With each passing year the criticism has gotten stronger. The advance of science itself is what is challenging the nation that life arose on earth by spontaneous (in a thermodynamic sense) chemical reactions." (Thaxton, C.B., Bradley W.L. & Olsen, R.L., "The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories," , Lewis & Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992, Second Printing, p.185. Emphasis original).
That is in fact what is behind the name of Michael Behe's book, "Darwin's Black Box," that in Darwin's day "the cell was a black box" and scientists "thought the cell was rather simple, like a blob of microscopic jelly" but "Since that time, science has shown that the cell is an extremely complex system containing ... all sorts of miniaturized machines" and "that such systems are best explained as the result of deliberate intelligent design":
"RI:What is the basic theme of Darwin's Black Box?
Behe: In science, a black box is a machine or device or system that does something, but you don't know how it works; it's completely mysterious. It may be mysterious because you can't see inside or because you just can't comprehend it. To Darwin and to his 19th century contemporaries the cell was a black box. The cell which we know now to be the basis of life was simply too small, and the science of the day had no tools to investigate it; microscopes of the time were still rather crude and people could see only the outlines of a cell. So, many scientists thought the cell was rather simple, like a blob of microscopic jelly. Since that time, science has shown that the cell is an extremely complex system containing proteins and nucleic acids and all sorts of miniaturized machines. In my book I go through a number of these machines and argue that Darwinian natural selection cannot have produced them because they have a property called irreducible complexity; that is, they consist of a number of parts, all of which must be present for the machine to work. Irreducible complexity is like a mousetrap which has a number of parts, and all the parts must be present before it can work. I argue that such systems are best explained as the result of deliberate intelligent design. I come to that conclusion through a kind of an inductive logical argument: whenever we see such systems in the real world, in the macroscopic world of our everyday life, we find that they are, in fact, designed. Nobody comes across a mousetrap and wonders whether it was designed or not. So I wonder whether we should in fact embrace the idea of intelligent design and build on it and see where it will lead science." (Behe, M.J., in "The Evolution of a Skeptic: An Interview with Dr. Michael Behe," The Real Issue, Leadership U., 14 December 2002. Emphasis original).
Williams wrote the first draft in three weeks at the beach house in Gerroa he shares with his partner, Jonica Newby. It is "the place in the universe we love being most". Quite frankly, having read some of William's weak straw man arguments against ID in his book in a bookstore, e.g.:
Unintelligent Design Robyn Williams ... Description Intelligent Design has found its way into the headlines, has been spruiked in the Parliament and is now trying to slink into our schools. So where did this wilfully ignorant sibling of creationism and its anti-scientific arguments spring from? And why is it refusing to go away? Using all the richness of the scientific and natural worlds, Robyn Williams takes on the stalking monster in a short, wicked and witty debunk of ID. Why make the earth, the solar system, our galaxy and all the rest, he asks, when the Garden of Eden was all that was needed? And then there's lifespan. During long periods of human history, the life expectancy of men was a mere 22 years and children were lucky to toddle, let alone grow up. Why the waste? And shouldn't we sue God for sinus blockages, hernias, appendix flare-ups and piles, not to mention bad backs? This is a book to infuriate the forces of darkness, and anger and amuse the rest of us.
it sounds like it was written "in three weeks at" a "beach house"! Nevertheless, as I said in part #1, I intend to buy the book at my next opportunity.
Continued in part #6, where I address William's above fallacious `argument from imperfection' against ID.
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
Genesis 2:15-17. 15The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."