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Intelligent Design Theory: Science or Religion?

 
 
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2005 01:37 pm
Is intelligent design theory a valid scientific alternative to evolutionary theory or is it only a religious view?

Is there a consensus in the scientific community one way or the other on this issue?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 78 • Views: 700,721 • Replies: 23,065

 
ebrown p
 
  6  
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2005 01:39 pm
Yes there is a consensus in the scientific community.

By scientific community I mean all conventional scientific organizations which accept the scientific process (for example publishing in peer reviewed journals) which encompasses the great majority of scientists.

The consensus is that Intelligent Design is not scientifically valid.
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Algis Kemezys
 
  0  
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2005 01:56 pm
I think the only formula to wonder about is the one Pythagoris discovered in Zeus cave so many thousand of years ago. The formula of phi which is 1 to 1.618 also mentioned in the Davinci code.While on Crete earlier this year it was reintroduced to me by the locals who knew much and plenty of that which has been diverted from our attention is North America. I think the greatest colamity was the sabotage of buring the library of Alexandria. because of that forces that be could manipulate historical truth to their wishes without the reprise from ancient written text.
ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2005 02:17 pm
A couple of links

From the AAAS (American Academy for the Advancement of Science)...

Quote:

Whereas, ID proponents claim that contemporary evolutionary theory is incapable of explaining the origin of the diversity of living organisms;

Whereas, to date, the ID movement has failed to offer credible scientific evidence to support their claim that ID undermines the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution;

Whereas, the ID movement has not proposed a scientific means of testing its claims;

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the lack of scientific warrant for so-called "intelligent design theory" makes it improper to include as a part of science education;

http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2002/1106id2.shtml


From the National Association of Biology Teachers
Quote:

As stated in The American Biology Teacher by the eminent scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973), "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." This often-quoted declaration accurately reflects the central, unifying role of evolution in biology. The theory of evolution provides a framework that explains both the history of life and the ongoing adaptation of organisms to environmental challenges and changes.

While modern biologists constantly study and deliberate the patterns, mechanisms, and pace of evolution, they agree that all living things share common ancestors. The fossil record and the diversity of extant organisms, combined with modern techniques of molecular biology, taxonomy, and geology, provide exhaustive examples of and powerful evidence for current evolutionary theory. Genetic variation, natural selection, speciation, and extinction are well-established components of modern evolutionary theory. Explanations are constantly modified and refined as warranted by new scientific evidence that accumulates over time, which demonstrates the integrity and validity of the field.

http://www.nabt.org/sub/position_statements/evolution.asp


From the Botanical Society of America
Quote:

Some people contend that creationism and its surrogate, "intelligent design," offers an alternative explanation: that organisms are well adapted and have common characteristics because they were created just so, and they exhibit the hallmarks of intelligent design.

...
Creationism has not made a single contribution to agriculture, medicine, conservation, forestry, pathology, or any other applied area of biology. Creationism has yielded no classifications, no biogeographies, no underlying mechanisms, no unifying concepts with which to study organisms or life. In those few instances where predictions can be inferred from Biblical passages (e.g., groups of related organisms, migration of all animals from the resting place of the ark on Mt. Ararat to their present locations, genetic diversity derived from small founder populations, dispersal ability of organisms in direct proportion to their distance from eastern Turkey), creationism has been scientifically falsified.


The fact is every mainstream scientific organization from the most prestigious AAAS and American Physical Society, to science educational organizations professional organizations accept evolution as fact and reject creationism and intelligent design.

The only exception to this are "scientific" groups that are connected to religious organizations. There are groups of religious people with scientific credentials, but these represent a very small minority. Gallup reports that over 95% of life scientists accept evolution as proven.
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wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2005 02:43 pm
Thank you, ebrown!

Justice Breyer (of the U.S. Supreme Court) once gave a speech to the AAAS about the need for a pool of science experts to serve as expert witnesses in court cases. Most court cases would involve something specific like DNA evidence, but other cases involve wider-ranging issues such as school board decisions on science education.
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Ray
 
  0  
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2005 10:09 pm
I think it's merely a postulate, at least until someone can rationally or empirically prove it. I wouldn't call it a scientific theory though.

I'm afraid that any mention of a "design" would make people think suddenly of Christianity when it isn't.
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2005 10:17 pm
Re: Intelligent Design Theory: Science or Religion?
wandeljw wrote:
Is intelligent design theory a valid scientific alternative to evolutionary theory or is it only a religious view?

Is there a consensus in the scientific community one way or the other on this issue?


Intelligent Design, Syn. "Poofism"
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2005 10:20 pm
Quote:
Intelligent Design Thory: Science or Religion?


What kind of prize are we talkin' about here, if we guess the right answer?


Stay tuned, folks, up next: Piltdown Man: Fiction or Fantasy? . . .

After these words from our sponsors . . .
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2005 10:39 pm
The general principle proposed by Intelligend Design is that biological life is so complex that there is no way it could have come about naturally, and therefor, it is a result of Intelligent Design.

The Logical extension of that principle is that anything in nature which is beyond our ability to understand at the moment, must therefor be the result of Intelligent Design.

(Note: The General Principle of Intelligent Design leaves open the possibility that the Intelligence behind Earthly biology could be extraterrestrial. However, since those extraterrestrials also have to explain their own biology, and so on, etcetera, the ultimate conclusion must be that a Supernatural Intelligence must have started it all... quick, what has three letters and starts with a very big "G")
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Apr, 2005 03:52 am
Gag . . . the reaction which i experience whenever confronted with theology . . .
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wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Apr, 2005 07:06 am
As far as including intelligent design theory in high school science, the criticism that it is religious can be set aside. Intelligent design theory has not been corroborated to the degree that evolutionary theory has. I don't think that high school students should be given the false impression that intelligent design is a valid alternative to evolution.
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rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Fri 29 Apr, 2005 08:25 am
wandeljw wrote:
As far as including intelligent design theory in high school science, the criticism that it is religious can be set aside. Intelligent design theory has not been corroborated to the degree that evolutionary theory has. I don't think that high school students should be given the false impression that intelligent design is a valid alternative to evolution.


I find the entire premise of ID to be illogical, not just uncorroborated. Since when does science say that anything we can't fully explain must be supernatural or mysteriously artificial, in origin. In a nutshell, that is what ID is saying.

Science is supposed to propose theories to explain nature, not to deduce that nature is supernatural simply because we can't explain something. ID is obviously not science, and when you remove it's scientific sounding terminology, shows its true theistic colors.
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wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Apr, 2005 08:39 am
rosborne,
I think that even Aristotle's science, although naive, was an attempt to replace Greek mythology as an explanation of nature. Do you agree?
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Apr, 2005 09:14 am
wandeljw wrote:
rosborne,
I think that even Aristotle's science, although naive, was an attempt to replace Greek mythology as an explanation of nature. Do you agree?


I don't know. I'm not familiar with "Aristotle's" science.
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wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Apr, 2005 03:19 pm
University of Pennsylvania Open Letter to Dover School Board:

Quote:
As scientists, scholars, and teachers, we are compelled to point out that the quality of science education in your schools has been seriously compromised by the decision to mandate the teaching of "intelligent design" along with evolution. Science education should be based on ideas that are well supported by evidence. Intelligent design does not meet this criterion: It is a form of creationism propped up by a biased and selective view of the evidence.

In contrast, evolution is based on and supported by an immense and diverse array of evidence and is continually being tested and reaffirmed by new discoveries from many scientific fields. The evidence for evolution is so strong that important new areas of biological research are confidently and successfully based on the reality of evolution. For example, evolution is fundamental to genomics and bioinformatics, new fields which hold the promise of great medical discoveries.

Our students need to be taught the method and content of real science. We urge you to alter the misguided policy of teaching intelligent design creationism in your high school science curriculum. Instead, empower students with real, dependable scientific knowledge. They need this knowledge to understand the world around them, to compete for admission to colleges and universities, and to compete for good jobs. They deserve nothing less.
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wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 May, 2005 09:12 am
Quote:
Professor Defends Intelligent Design
(York Daily Record, April 24, 2005)

At 9 a.m. Saturday, only about a dozen members of the community sat in the auditorium for a program commemorating the rededication of Dover Area High School. Two hours later, about 100 people were on hand for the district's biology seminar on intelligent design.

The guest speaker was Michael Behe, a professor of biological sciences at Lehigh University in Bethlehem who has authored "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution" and has published more than 40 scientific papers. Behe made five points why intelligent design - the concept that life is too complex to have been evolved solely through natural selection and must have been created by an intelligent designer - was a better explanation for the biological world's existence.

Darwin wrote that all forms of life were, in part, the result of numerous, successive slight modifications. But Behe said there are some biological systems, such as those pertaining to bacterial flagellum and blood clotting, which could not have evolved on their own. The systems are so complex, he said, that no one part could have worked or survived without all the parts associated with it today. The concept is called irreducible complexity.

Behe, who said he was a Christian, also said he has no trouble accepting that the universe may have begun with a bang some 13 billion years ago. But he can accept this only if the igniter of the bang did so with a plan to get life to where it is today.

He also said he believes there is enough DNA evidence to support the idea that life could have come from a single source and that life is changing to meet the demands of a changing environment. But, he said that may mean that God, or the designer, is creating through secondary means. "Natural selection does a whole lot," Behe said. "But the question is, can it be extrapolated into everything?"

Kyle Cunningham, a professor of genetics at Johns Hopkins University, made the trip from Baltimore to hear Behe speak. "The ID movement is not about enlightenment," Cunningham said. "It's about creating confusion in an effort to ultimately remove evolution from the classroom." During a question-and-answer period, he asked Behe how he reconciled evidence suggesting that DNA is in a constant state of evolution. "Through DNA sequencing, we can see similarities between organisms, and there are some good indications that we all have a common (ancestor)," Behe said. "But there is still nothing to suggest how all of this came about." The Rev. Chad Rimmer of Union Lutheran Church in York asked Behe if he really believed that high-school biology was the best place to introduce young people to intelligent design. Behe said yes because there is more evidence for a designer than for evolution. He also said the controversial nature of intelligent design would stimulate students into a discussion they would find interesting. In Dover's statement, however, the district said it "leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families."

Cunningham said he got the impression that Behe believes everything that evolution teaches except what really took place during the universe's first moments. "If that's what it comes down to, that's a philosophical question, not a scientific one," said Rimmer, who has a biology degree from the University of North Carolina. "So take the discussion out of science and place it where it belongs, in philosophy."
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georgeob1
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 May, 2005 10:03 am
I believe this debate has been trivialized by protagonists on both sides.

The situation is that science can neither offer a complete description for the origin and evolution of the universe nor prove that it was not created. Same goes for the origins of life. In both cases science has developed models which have been continually refined and extended, and which today can consistently describe most of the respective processes. Continued research can be expected to produced continued improvement in these models in the future, just as it has in the past. This, however, does not guarantee that science will be able to dispense with the idea of a creator - that question is still open and there are in some areas of physics and biology reasons to doubt that it will.

The notion that belief in God requires that one reject evolution or even scientific models for the expansion of the universe is patently false - despite the fact that some religious zealots assert that it does. It is entirely possible that there is a creator and that the laws of physics and biological evolution, which we are struggling to understand, are themselves a part of His creation.

Science is the disciplined process through which we have learned to systematically develop refutable hypotheses and use reproducable experiment to confirm, reject, or modify them. In educating our children and ourselves, it is important that we focus on what is being taught and exclude what is not. Religion, per se, has no place in a science classroom. One should instead focus on and teach the scientific method, which is based on refutable hypotheses and acknowledgement of the limits of our understanding. Since science cannot prove there is no God or no creator, this assertion has no place in a science classroom either.

In short, most of this as it affects education is a phoney issue. There is no conflict between science and creationism as long as we adopt the scientific method, which calls for us to acknowledge possibilities that are still open.
ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 May, 2005 12:40 pm
George,

I understand your desire to take a moderate "middle of the road" stance. I don't think it is correct.

There is a very serious conflect between science and creationism because of the scientific methos. The fact is, for the vast majority of the scientific community, evolution is not an open question.

Not only that, this is far from a "phoney issue". The scientific community considers this a very important issue.

I work with both scientists and educators. The creationist movement is a source of constant frustration to both groups. When these news stories come up (i.e. the current school board politics in Kansas) they are always brought up by my colleagues. To a person we all feel that this is nothing less than a religious assault on reason.

I bring this up only to point out that this is a very important issue to both sides.

Two points from the perspective of the scientific community.

1) The vast majority of the scientific community feels that there is enough evidence to justify the broad acceptance evolution as valid. Gallup reports that over 90% of scientists accept evolution as a fact. The number for life scientists is over 95%.

This is not just a belief that one is a better theory than the other.

I can report (from within the community) that the vast majority of the scitific community consider creationism as a "lunatic fringe". I use this term because it correctly conveys the feeling we express within the community. As evidence look at the Scientific American editorial from the April issue. It is aptly and intentionally derisive.

2) Most of us in the scientific and science education communities feel that stopping the Creationism and Intelligent Design from science classrooms is very important. Read the statements from the AAAS and other prestigious science organizations that I posted earlier on this thread.

The scientific community is spending a great deal of energy to stop the Creationism movement. And there is good reason for this.

Of course there is political controversy here. But the question is whether the vast majority of the scientific community who accept evolution determines the science curriculum, or a small minority of religiously motivated dissenters.

To me, and to many others, this is a very important issue.
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georgeob1
 
  3  
Reply Mon 2 May, 2005 02:36 pm
Most people are quite ordinary -- this tautology applies to all groups scientists included. History shows us they can be as wrong as many other groups in their consensus views, and that the consensus view has often stood in the way of real scientific progress.

I am not trying to steer a middle of the road course for purposes of forced moderation. I am instead rejecting the close-minded prejudices of both extremes.

No one seriously doubts that evolution is observably occurring more or less as Darwin and others have described it. That is not and never has been the real question. What is at issue is whether or not any other hypothesis may be required to explain our present existence. That question is still open. You may believe that conventional evolutionary models may one day prove conclusively that no other elements are required. However, you cannot know that to be true in a scientific sense. The only "scientific" course for you is to admit the possibility and go on, distinguishing belief from certainty.

Physicists have developed excellent models with which to represent the origin of the universe. Indeed remarkable inferences can be made about the early expansion of the universe after the big bang, however, no explanation is offered for the bang itself. Moreover the physicist's models fail to explain the observed size of the universe, so to overcome this deficiency they invent "inflation" , which is merely a word for a tyemporary suspension of the laws of physics to reconcile the model with observed reality.

Those who are concerned with complexity considerations are in an equivalent position with respect to biological evolution. We know the age of the earth approximately, and geologists can tell us roughly how much time has passed since physical conditions on it were able to support life,. The question remains -- is that enough time to produced the observed complexity of living forms?. As far as I know that is still an open question -- science as yet offers no definitive answer to it.

I agree that the teaching of science in schools should focus on science and not religion. However this debate does not require that science attempt to claim ground it does not yet occupy. If you advocate a close-minded approach to these questions merely to keep out those who advocate a different close-minded approach, you will have established your equivalence with those whom you oppose --- a very unscientific outcome indeed.
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Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 May, 2005 03:04 pm
There is something at this juncture which is worth pointing out. In another thread on the subject of evolution (a thread begun in the Spirituality & Religion Forum, as far too often is the case), one of the participants made the following statement:

"EVOLUTION IS NOT SCIENCE, it is nothing more than another religion. It is a guess at something that cannot be tested, experimented, or anything else. It is a big guess that is sugar coated with "science" The only reason anyone still believes it is because it is the only thing that they can claim as evidence to the nonexistance of God. They want to do whatever they want, and if the "logical thought" b.s of "science" says that there doesn't have to be a God, everyone will jump on board."

Leaving aside the issue of a lack of clarity of expression in that statement, the aspect of an irrational fear of the teaching of a theory of evolution leaps out at one. I don't have a dog in this fight. I can go from one year to the next without discussing evolution or religion with anyone in real life. I cannot recall the last time that i had a conversation on the subject of evolution, which suggests to me that it has been twenty years or more since that occurred--because i have an excellent memory and recall conversations for long periods of time. I have brief discussions of religion from time to time, with a friend of mine who is vehemently anti-religious. He is a dedicated conservative, and a vocal supporter of the current administration--i feel obliged to mention that before anyone leaps on the statement and hurls abuse at a true and cherished friend who would not swat a fly needlessly. Apart from occassional discussions with that friend, who needs an opportunity to vent his disgust and anger, i probably have not had a conversation on the topic of religion in more than 15 years--i recall the last one vividly, although it may have been 16 or 17 years ago, i cannot recall the temporal references necessary to establish it with certainty. It was quite amusing, in a nauseating sort of way, because i was being solicited to join a bible study group by some very narrow-minded, exclusionary and hateful fundamentalists.

All of which does in fact have a bearing on this topic. Hatred flies about the debate, cackling with glee at the anguish wrought. The statement above is exemplary of the paranoia of those of faith, but little education and experience of a wider world. The same can be said of those who make science their religion (giving ammunition to those who advance silly hypotheses such as that which i have quoted), i just don't have such a succinct statement to offer exemplary of that side of the coin. Fifteen years ago, i met a woman with whom i came in frequent contact because of my employment situation. She and i became sufficiently friendly to converse, and it came out through a third party that she was "an atheist." Well, i am not "an" atheist, because it simply is not an issue with me personally. I am atheist in the sense that i am without god. She eventually offered me reams of documents from a local atheist celebrity. Such individuals abound, and they make atheism their creed and science their god. They are to me cut from the same cloth as the religious fanatic. The woman in question became disenchanted with my lack of "evangelic" fervor for atheism and we drifted apart--no loss to either of us, i am certain.

Were i not active here, neither the topic of the current state of religious belief in America, nor of the current state of science education would ever impinge on my pleasant, nearly-monastic life of intellectual asceticism and physical sybaritic self-indulgence. Because i do participate here, and i can anonymously indulge a penchant for beating up on the absurdities of religious belief, i have a reputation here as a mean guy, who hates christians. I hate no one in my life--i do despise, as a purely intellectual matter, appeals to an unestablished authority. That goes for bible thumpers, and for worshippers of science who cannot even articulate the simplest of descriptions of the process of natural selection.

The quoted statement above is chilling in view of the resurgence of religious revivalism and fanaticism in this country, which seems to be cyclical, beginning with the putative "Great Awakening," corresponding to John Wesley and the rise of evangelical revivalism in England. Few people questioned the validity of the theological claims of the revivalists then, and they were basically put out of business by the authorities of the established religions of the colonies who did not appreciate having their theological monopoly challenged. The bitterness lasted right up to our Revolution, and helped to create a good many of the factions which formed at that time.

In our times, however, that revivalism has a new target, and one which exploitative religious authority is only too happy to see assaulted, which is those parts of scientific investigation which challenge the principle of "revealed truth." As the statement above plainly shows, for some among the religiously convinced, this is a matter of the very survival of their respective credos, and a clarion call to do battle as a christian soldier against the gathering forces of evil who intend to strike down god and all he (?) stands for. It is this extremism which gives pause to those who are not extremists in matters of the veracity of scientific investigation, but for whom such activity has the character of a valuable societal activity.

There is a war going on, and as is always the case with war, the first casualty has been truth.
 

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