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Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution

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Intelligent Design (ID) is the assertion that the universe and living things show signs of having been designed by an intelligent agent.


ID seems very much to support the idea of a creator; a superintellect who masterminded the whole universe. Strictly speaking, however, ID does not make any claims as to the attributes of the intelligent designer; identifying the intelligent designer as God appears to be a natural conclusion.


ID, according to leading ID theorist William Dembski, is committed to an ontological claim and an epistemological claim. The ontological claim is that the universe shows signs of design, which is fundamentally distinct from chance and necessity. The epistemological claim is that design can be observed and detected. ID is a type of statistical inference where a hypothesis is rejected if the outcome falls within a region in the space of possible outcomes that has a very small probability given the hypothesis under investigation. The outcome here may, for instance, be a biological organ, structure, or mechanism.


The hypothesis is a scientific combination of chance and necessity that explains the outcome. By "very small probability" the ID researchers refer to a specific value of probability that takes the whole probabilistic resources of the universe into account. Dembski calls this value the "universal probability bound" and calculates it to be 1 in 10150. (That is, the universal probability bound is equal to one divided by one followed by150 zeros--an extremely small number.6)


Chris Mooney reports in The American Prospect that John H. Marburger III, director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, denounced "intelligent design" as unscientific. Mooney writes:


Speaking at the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers, Marburger fielded an audience question about "Intelligent Design" (ID), the latest supposedly scientific alternative to Charles Darwin's theory of descent with modification. The White House's chief scientist stated point blank, "Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory." And that's not all -- as if to ram the point home, Marburger soon continued, "I don't regard Intelligent Design as a scientific topic." In March 2004, when asked about the Bush administration's scientific credibility in light of the president's reported skepticism about evolution, Marburger similarly got it right: "Evolution is a cornerstone of modern biology."

Edited by Luke_Wilbur
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Guest Ahmed K.

ID cannot be considered a part of science proper, however. It lacks the features that make it an acceptable scientific theory including the ability to make predictions to be verified by experiment.

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Guest Soldier of God

President Bush said that schools should teach both traditional evolution science and an alternative concept called "intelligent design."


"I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught. I think that part of the education is to expose people to different schools of thought. You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

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Do we have all the answers to the origin of life? No. Students should be allowed to critique and analyze common issues and clarify what we do know about evolution and what we don't

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Guest Shelama

I am a firm believer in Intelligent Design and the Designer. While I stand in awe of Her imperfect designs, it is clear to me that She has some serious problems and issues, including Manic-Depressive Illness and Multiple Personality Disorder. The sooner the study of Intelligent Design is introduced into the public schools, the sooner me might, just possibly, be able to get Her the help She needs.

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Guest deepred

If you ask William Dembski what the theory of ID is, youll probably get some analogy with the idea of SETI. In short, an explanation of mathmatically deciphering between signs of non-intelligence and intelligence. And in the end youll get something like "If SETI is a geniune science why cant ID be?" But what is defined by ID proponents and what they actually do are two compeltely seperate things.


If you see what Dembski and camp try to do youll notice they write books called "Intelligent Design the Bridge Between Theology and Science". And most recently what the intelligent design camp has done is brought stickers onto our highschool biology textbooks that read "Evolution is just a theory...". On the very recent article on the ARN homepage the headline reads "Evolution: Call a theory a theory". Proponents of ID ask that you only "Teach the controversy."


If there is one thing proponents of ID -HATE-, it is to be categorized with Creationist. This has become very hypocritical, Creationist dont beleive evolution even occured as where ID'st say evolution could have occured but not by chance alone etc...and then again resort to the analogy of SETI. If this is trully so of ID proponents, then why do they say "Call the theory of evolution a theory?" And mark our highschool books with "Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered." If these propnents of ID are going to define ID as a perfect comparison to SETI, and a theory that doesnt denie the fact part of evolution, why are they calling -Evolution- a theory, just like any creationist? The proponents of ID when debating intelligent design are constantly attacking the idea of neo-darwinism as the explanation of evoluiton, yet what they do in the public school district and even in there own books, is consider the fact of evolution and its theory (neo darwinism) one in the samething. But why should attacking the theory (neo darwinism) of a fact (evolution), destroy the fact (evolution)? If they think this is so then they are no better than there counter part creationist.


Critics of ID are no better in this mis-understanding, thouhg the blame can all be put on the IDst for the confusion in the first place. For example, if ID is a science in the same sense SETI is, then ID doesnt have to put forth a theory of ID like hoped for by many on this thread. For example if SETI found an intelligent signal from outerspace it wouldnt be SETI's job to understand and form a theory of the biological origins, organisms and there evolution, of the signal, in order to validate if it was made by intelligence. Theyve simply done there part in deciphering between the signs of intelligence and chance. If ID is going to keep moving forward, its proponents have to stop pretending like it needs to not just remove neo-darwinism but also evolution. They need to stop pretending like removing neo-darwinism -is- removing evolution as a whole. And if its critics are going to be correct in critizing it they must stop asking useless questions like 'what is the theory of ID?". What is the theory of SETI? Is it testable? ID shouldnt (if it is to be as Dembski defines it) seek to replace any theories of science. And it also doesnt claim to be a theory (if it is to be as Dembski defines it) of evolution. And therefore any questions of how do we test this theory is also irrelevant. Asking questions like how is ID better than Neo darwinism, is again irrelevant. They do -not-, because they -cannot- replace each other.


This part of the intelligent design movement is maddening. Frustrating even. Ridiculous, and creates mass confusion even among its followers, or observors

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This editorial from today's NY Times explains how the religious right set up and funded a "parallel intellectual universe, a world of 'scholars' whose careers are based on toeing an ideological line" designed to "make it seem as if there really is a controversy about the validity of evolutionary theory."




August 5, 2005

Design for Confusion


I'd like to nominate Irving Kristol, the neoconservative former editor of The Public Interest, as the father of "intelligent design." No, he didn't play any role in developing the doctrine. But he is the father of the political strategy that lies behind the intelligent design movement - a strategy that has been used with great success by the economic right and has now been adopted by the religious right.


Back in 1978 Mr. Kristol urged corporations to make "philanthropic contributions to scholars and institutions who are likely to advocate preservation of a strong private sector." That was delicately worded, but the clear implication was that corporations that didn't like the results of academic research, however valid, should support people willing to say something more to their liking.


Mr. Kristol led by example, using The Public Interest to promote supply-side economics, a doctrine whose central claim - that tax cuts have such miraculous positive effects on the economy that they pay for themselves - has never been backed by evidence. He would later concede, or perhaps boast, that he had a "cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit."


"Political effectiveness was the priority," he wrote in 1995, "not the accounting deficiencies of government."


Corporations followed his lead, pouring a steady stream of money into think tanks that created a sort of parallel intellectual universe, a world of "scholars" whose careers are based on toeing an ideological line, rather than on doing research that stands up to scrutiny by their peers.


You might have thought that a strategy of creating doubt about inconvenient research results could work only in soft fields like economics. But it turns out that the strategy works equally well when deployed against the hard sciences.


The most spectacular example is the campaign to discredit research on global warming. Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus, many people have the impression that the issue is still unresolved. This impression reflects the assiduous work of conservative think tanks, which produce and promote skeptical reports that look like peer-reviewed research, but aren't. And behind it all lies lavish financing from the energy industry, especially ExxonMobil.


There are several reasons why fake research is so effective. One is that nonscientists sometimes find it hard to tell the difference between research and advocacy - if it's got numbers and charts in it, doesn't that make it science?


Even when reporters do know the difference, the conventions of he-said-she-said journalism get in the way of conveying that knowledge to readers. I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, "Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth." The headlines on many articles about the intelligent design controversy come pretty close.


Finally, the self-policing nature of science - scientific truth is determined by peer review, not public opinion - can be exploited by skilled purveyors of cultural resentment. Do virtually all biologists agree that Darwin was right? Well, that just shows that they're elitists who think they're smarter than the rest of us.


Which brings us, finally, to intelligent design. Some of America's most powerful politicians have a deep hatred for Darwinism. Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, blamed the theory of evolution for the Columbine school shootings. But sheer political power hasn't been enough to get creationism into the school curriculum. The theory of evolution has overwhelming scientific support, and the country isn't ready - yet - to teach religious doctrine in public schools.


But what if creationists do to evolutionary theory what corporate interests did to global warming: create a widespread impression that the scientific consensus has shaky foundations?


Creationists failed when they pretended to be engaged in science, not religious indoctrination: "creation science" was too crude to fool anyone. But intelligent design, which spreads doubt about evolution without being too overtly religious, may succeed where creation science failed.


The important thing to remember is that like supply-side economics or global-warming skepticism, intelligent design doesn't have to attract significant support from actual researchers to be effective. All it has to do is create confusion, to make it seem as if there really is a controversy about the validity of evolutionary theory. That, together with the political muscle of the religious right, may be enough to start a process that ends with banishing Darwin from the classroom.


E-mail: krugman@nytimes.com




Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company Home Privacy Policy Search Corrections XML Help Contact Us Work for Us Back to Top

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Today's Intelligent Design concept is quite simular to the early twenth century thoughts of Jeans, Eddington, Whitehead, and J. S. Haldane tried to convert science into a modern ally of ancient superstition and create a new scientific mystical religion. Jeans and Eddington had assured everyone that real science and real religion were the same thing.


Their technique was to conclude from the fact that science had not demonstrated how the universe had come to be, that it must have been made by an intelligent creator; to go from the circumstance that science had not synthesised life to the assertion that the origin of life was a miracle; to make the uncertainty relation in quantum mechanics into an argument for human free will. Such books as Jeans's The Mysterious Universe, ostensibly based on science, were negations of science. Jeans's world was a mythological abstraction from science, an arbitrary reduction of all the concrete universe to a number of abstract categories.


The book credited with laying out the philosophical underpinnings of the modern intelligent-design movement was published in 1991 by Phillip E. Johnson, a law professor at Berkeley who claimed that Darwinian evolution is based on scant evidence and faulty assumptions. In 1996, a biochemist at Lehigh University, Michael J. Behe, offered scientific argument in favor of intelligent design. Mr. Behe introduced the idea that some living things are irreducibly complex, meaning that they could not have evolved and must have been designed.


Two years later, a mathematician who now works at Baylor University, William A. Dembski, claimed to have developed a mathematical "explanatory filter" that could determine whether certain events, including biological phenomena, develop randomly or are the products of design.


The classic experiment demonstrating the mechanisms by which inorganic elements could combine to form the precursors of organic chemicals was the 1950 experiment by Stanley Miller. He undertook experiments designed to find out how lightning--reproduced by repeated electric discharges--might have affected the primitive earth atmosphere. He discharged an electric spark into a mixture thought to resemble the primordial composition of the atmosphere. In a water receptacle, designed to model an ancient ocean, amino acids appeared. Amino acids are widely regarded as the building blocks of life.


In 1969 a carbonaceous meteorite fell in Murchison Australia. It turned out the meteorite had high concentrations of amino acids, about 100 ppm, and they were the same kind of amino acids you get in prebiotic experiments like mine. This discovery made it plausible that similar processes could have happened on primitive Earth, on an asteroid, or for that matter, anywhere else the proper conditions exist.  - Stanley Miller


In 1924 a Russian biochemist, Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin, wrote a pamphlet on the origin of life (based on ideas presented at the Russian Botanical Society in 1922) and provided what Irish physicist, John Desmond Bernal, called "the first and principal modern appreciation of the problem." Taking into account the recent discovery of methane in the atmospheres of Jupiter and the other giant planets, Oparin postulated that the infant Earth had possessed a strongly reducing atmosphere, containing methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water vapor. In his opinion, these were the raw materials for the evolution of life.


There is no fundamental difference between a living organism and lifeless matter. The complex combination of manifestations and properties so characteristic of life must have arisen in the process of the evolution of matter.

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We all have our own belief system. For me I think that there is a Greater Power at work, but I am in no position to dictate to others what my position is.


Just as the Atheists are in no position to push their agenda on others.


For me, if people "after school" want to hold "Prayer Meetings" , or "We don't believe in Any Prayer meetings" in the schools, and AFTER HOURS, then I don't see any harm in that.

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Guest Opinions

I recently graduated high school and have some points that Ive always wondered. I dont completely beleive in the big bang theory and evolution but I dont completely believe the religious side. I have come to an understanding of both. I believe humans evolved just like the evidence suggests but still where did WE come from? I believe there is some higher being, Im not sure what it is yet because no church and completely proved to teach the word of god as it is in the bible. Anyway my question to many of you is, Do you think it is possible for both of these theories to coexist? Maybe there is a higher being that planned to created mankind but did it by making us evolve.


See I am on neither side. I went to church for many years until high school but no preacher or teacher could teach the bible for what it is. Ive read many scripture and found many things contradicting and nobody could answer my questions, than the church gets mad because Im questioning god. No Im trying to understand because you say you cant believe in evolution because it doesnt explain how we got here. How did god get here or where did he come from? People say well god is just there, he is infinite and humans dont understand the concept. That is as believable as the big bang theory. Im just curious to know why they cant teach them to coexist because IT is possible. Right?

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Guest Jonathan Knight

In Washington, D.C. last Saturday, the annual meeting of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) adopted a resolution on Intelligent Design of concern to faculty and others in the academic community.


The theory of evolution is all but universally accepted in the community of scholars and has contributed immeasurably to our understanding of the natural world. The Ninety-first Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors deplores efforts in local communities and by some state legislators to require teachers in public schools to treat evolution as merely a hypothesis or speculation, untested and unsubstantiated by the methods of science, and to require them to make students aware of an "intelligent-design hypothesis" to account for the origins of life. These initiatives not only violate the academic freedom of public school teachers, but can deny students an understanding of the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding evolution.


The implications of these efforts for higher education are particularly troubling to this Meeting. To the degree that college and university faculty in the field of biology would be required to offer instruction about evolution and the origins of life that complied with these restrictions and was at variance with their own understanding of scientific evidence, their freedom to determine what may be taught and how would be seriously abridged.


This Meeting calls on local communities and state officials to reject proposals that seek to suppress discussion of evolution in our public schools as inimical to principles of academic freedom.

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Guest Phillip

"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings." - Albert Einstein

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Guest Andrei Linde

The first, and main, problem is the very existence of the big bang. One may wonder, What came before? If space-time did not exist then, how could everything appear from nothing? What arose first: the universe or the laws determining its evolution? Explaining this initial singularity-where and when it all began-still remains the most intractable problem of modern cosmology.

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On August 1, 2005, a group of reporters with President Bush. The President’s remarks suggest that he believes that both intelligent design and evolution should be taught so that “people are exposed to different schools of thought.” Here are the President's relevent remarks.


“Q: I wanted to ask you about the -- what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design. What are your personal views on that, and do you think both should be taught in public schools?


THE PRESIDENT: I think -- as I said, harking back to my days as my governor -- both you and Herman are doing a fine job of dragging me back to the past. (Laughter.) Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught.


Q: Both sides should be properly taught?


THE PRESIDENT: Yes, people -- so people can understand what the debate is about.


Q: So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?


THE PRESIDENT: I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.”

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Guest imago Dei

The explosion of scientific understanding and technological capability in modern times has brought many advantages to the human race, but it also poses serious challenges. Our knowledge of the immensity and age of the universe has made human beings seem smaller and less secure in their position and significance within it. Technological advances have greatly increased our ability to control and direct the forces of nature, but they have also turned out to have an unexpected and possibly uncontrollable impact on our environment and even on ourselves.


Just as man's beginnings are to be found in God, so is his finality. Human beings are oriented to the kingdom of God as to an absolute future, the consummation of human existence. Since "all things have been created through him and for him" (Col 1:16), they find their direction and destiny in him.


According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the “Big Bang” and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5-4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage. However it is to be explained, the decisive factor in human origins was a continually increasing brain size, culminating in that of homo sapiens. With the development of the human brain, the nature and rate of evolution were permanently altered: with the introduction of the uniquely human factors of consciousness, intentionality, freedom and creativity, biological evolution was recast as social and cultural evolution.


Pope John Paul II stated some years ago that “new knowledge leads to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge”(“Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Evolution”1996).


Neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process – one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence – simply cannot exist because “the causality of God, Who is the first agent, extends to all being, not only as to constituent principles of species, but also as to the individualizing principles....It necessarily follows that all things, inasmuch as they participate in existence, must likewise be subject to divine providence” (Summa theologiae I, 22, 2).

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Guest Malcolm

William Dembski is using Benford's Law.


Benford's Law is named for the late Dr. Frank Benford, a physicist at the General Electric Company. In 1938 he noticed that pages of logarithms corresponding to numbers starting with the numeral 1 were much dirtier and more worn than other pages.


Benford then embarked on a mathematical analysis of 20,229 sets of numbers, including such wildly disparate categories as the areas of rivers, baseball statistics, numbers in magazine articles and the street addresses of the first 342 people listed in the book "American Men of Science." All these seemingly unrelated sets of numbers followed the same first-digit probability pattern as the worn pages of logarithm tables suggested. In all cases, the number 1 turned up as the first digit about 30 percent of the time, more often than any other.


Dr. Benford derived a formula to explain this. If absolute certainty is defined as 1 and absolute impossibility as 0, then the probability of any number "d" from 1 through 9 being the first digit is log to the base 10 of (1 + 1/d). This formula predicts the frequencies of numbers found in many categories of statistics.


The number 1 predominates at every step of the progression.


Hill, T. (1996) 'The first-digit phenomenon', American Scientist 86: 358-63.


This is a very accessible account of Benford's law, it's history and applications, including several examples and a description of the character of the 'random samples from random distributions' theorem. An interesting example illustrates the dependent nature of the probability of particular digits occuring in particular places: while the unconditional probability that the second digit of a base 10 number is a 2 is approximately 0.109, the conditional probability that the second digit is 2 given that the first digit is 1 is 0.115. And the probability that the first three significant digits are 3, 1, 4 is roughly 0.0014, fourty percent higher than one would expect if digits were distributed uniformly!

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"Say the words," said the Ape Man, repeating, and the figures in the doorway echoed this, with a threat in the tone of their voices. I realised that I had to repeat this idiotic formula, And then began the insanest ceremony. The voice in the dark began intoning a mad litany, line by line, and I and the rest to repeat it. As they did so, they swayed from side to side, and beat their hands upon their knees, and I followed their example. I could have imagined I was already dead and in another world. That dark hut, these grotesque dim figures, just flecked here and there by a glimmer of light, and all of them swaying in unison and chanting:


"Not to go on all-Fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?


"Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?


"Not to eat Flesh or Fish; that is the Law. Are we not Men?


"Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?


"Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"



—H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau (Chapter 12, "The Sayers of the Law"), 1896. New York: Bantam Books, 1994, pp. 64-65.

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Guest Lawmaker

To know


Who am I

Why am I here

Who made me

What is the purpose of my existance


Every person has his or her own philosphy.


Materia Prima


Rearranging with existant things


Ex Nenihilo


Revelation is supernaturally revealed truth.


God is the spark that created proper order.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I believe The Designer of Intelligent Design is so intelligent, that why he let you vote! Not him!



Q: If the Designer of Intelligent Design is so intelligent, how come he made George W. Bush president of the United States?


A: He was the natural selection.

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