The Moonlandings were faked and other nonsense

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Not so Intelligent Design.

Creationists are trying once again to shoe-horn religion into science classrooms. This time, they call it "Intelligent Design", but its just another mask for the same kinds of attempts to discredit the Theory of Evolution that have been made ever since Darwin originally published his theories. Theists are trying to use the methods of science against science. By pointing out that it is the "Theory of" Evolution, they imply that theories are somehow wrong. But think of this - we still call our knowledge about gravity the "Theory of Gravity". Yet when I drop my pen, it falls to the floor despite it only being a theory. The theory of Evolution describes to the best of our scientific knowledge and ability, the facts of what we call Evolution just like the theory of Gravity describes how gravity behaves. We may not have the details perfectly exact, but the theory matches our observations and knowledge of how each field works. We see evolution in action today. To me, natural selection is such an obvious observation. Imagine seeing a row of 10 bicycles in a bike rack. 9 of them have locks and the 10th does not - which bike is the bike thief going to take - the unlocked one of course. The unlocked bikes are preferentially stolen. Now imagine a herd of zebra which is being stalked by a pride of lions. Which zebras are going to survive? The fastest and healthiest survive. The survivors go on to mate and produce new zebra which inherit the genetics of the survivors - the herd gets stronger over time because of that - evolution in action. It's so obvious that it's hard to see how the creationists/fundementalists/intelligent design advocates cannot see just how logical evolution is and how it also applies to our own species. Intelligent design is an attempt to spray religious graffiti all over science. If I were forced to teach "Intelligent Design" in the classroom, I would teach it for what it is and I would blow it out of the water by showing students how it is refuted by proper scence.

Wade Wurthen in an article in The State says:
There is no debate [about the fact of evolution] within the scientific community; that’s why intelligent design proponents seek to legislate their truth in the political arena.

They frame the issue as a choice between godless, “random” evolution and purposeful creation by God.

This misrepresents evolution and the relationship between science and religion. Evolution can occur randomly (genetic drift), but it can also proceed by the non-random process of natural selection. Also, like all scientific theories, evolution is not atheistic; it neither affirms nor denies the existence of God.

So, again, this argument is a false dichotomy. Couldn’t God make a new species through the natural process of evolution? (Well, of course She could.) In fact, many of the 500,000 scientists who accept evolution today are believers. Intelligent design proponents frame this false dichotomy so they can claim that science and evolution oppose religion.

They confuse evolutionary theory with origin-of-life hypotheses. They claim that “evolution can’t explain how life arose, so this theory is based on faith.”

Here are some websites relevant to this discussion: - The Bad Astronomy Blog

The Onion's "Intelligent Falling" parody.

CNN's coverage of the Dover Area School District trial on Intelligent Design

The Panda's Thumb website

Note added later in the day:

This blog entry from the Evolutionblog hits the nail on the head. I couldn't say it any better myself:


  • Darwin declared that his theory would be demonstrated false if a single cell is found to be more complex then a bag of jelly. He would be shocked to learn about the complexities of DNA, RNA, Mitochondria, and all the other wonders and mechanisms.
    The problem comes down to the deeper you dig and learn the more complex life is. Random chance demands simplicity to succeed. Science demands that we can demonstrate a result over and over again. None of these are the case in evolution.
    If intelligent design is too much for you perhaps simply recognizing the faith required to believe in evolution will allow you to have greater respect for those who believe otherwise.

    By Blogger ablur, at 5:11 PM  

  • First, I don't have faith in Evolution. I do, however, understand the science behind it enough to believe that it is the best theory that fits the available evidence. The complexity of the Universe is one of the fascinating parts of studying it and I don't see any problem in science understanding that complexity. Yet despite the complexity, it is remarkably simple. Perhaps you don't appreciate just how long 4.5 billion years (the age of the solar system) or 12-15 billion years (the estimated age of the Universe) just really is and just how much can happen in that interval. I see ID as a simpleton view of the Universe which is good at explaining how the Universe might work to those who really aren't intersted in knowing anything significant about how the Universe really works. And personally, ID is far too simple for me. Do you have a reference for Darwin's quote you give?

    By Blogger Jim, at 6:53 PM  

  • Try this site and its links.

    In Chapter 6 in "The origins of Species" You will find what Darwin saw as faults to his theory. He suggested that over time these problems would work out and his theory would be found valid. The exact oposite has occured.

    What about the second law of thermodynamics (entropy), we can find no scientific model of things moving from simple to complex. We instead can find an unending supply of the oposite.

    The final question that leads us both to a loss, is that we don't know it all. The general body of knowledge expands daily and no matter how hard we try we will never know it all. With that said there is still a chance that one of us is right, but odds are far greater that we are both wrong

    By Blogger ablur, at 9:02 PM  

  • On the contrary. Evolutionary theory has been improved and is accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists in related fields. The only real debate over evolution is about the details of how it works, not about whether or not it works. Darwin recognized that he didn't have all the answers but over time, science has filled them in quite well.

    You are misusing or misunderstanding the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Isolated systems can decrease entropy - systems such as stars and planets or life.

    I certainly have never said that I know it all. But I do have confidence that the methods of science are much more reliable in learning about the Universe and will ultimately answer all the unknowns if given the chance.

    By Blogger Jim, at 11:16 PM  

  • Please explain to me how these problems have been remedied through science?
    Transitional creatures - In nearly 150 years of looking not one has been found. There are billions of fossils stored in museums and universities all over this planet yet not one.
    This glaring lack of evidence should be enough, but I see you have faith in that not seen.
    I know about this new thought of puctuated evolution or what ever the current label is. We can easily demonstrate the falicy of this by going to an elementary school yard. The kid with the slightest difference is ridiculed and even beaten. There is zero association unless forced by a teacher. We see the same thing in the animal world. The very infant animal is often refused nutrients simply for being born different and left to die. How would these creatures even survive let alone propagate?

    The Eye - Darwin discusses the utter incredibility of the eye. He fails to demonstrate any real value in even having a light sensitive cell. We know in todays world how important visual images our, but if nobody had them, what advantage would there be and why would it continue to evolve? We can eliminate the preditor by light or night issue, they wouldn't have eyes either.

    The vast universe - Some would argue that with all the stars and planets out there, there must be other life. The shear magnitude of celestial bodies tends to offset the incredible odds of life beginning at all. You could simply say that the odds being so high and oportunity being maybe even greater it had to happen. By this arguement could we not therefore say, that we shouldn't find other life because we just happen to beat the enormous odds? If we do find other life and it has a basis of similarity (carbon based) could this not help intellegent design by way of the farm theory? Some would suggest that aliens from other planets brought life here. We are simply the resultant process of time. This would lead to the question of why have they not returned? Or, what real purpose did placing this life here serve? Perhaps there is a greater intellegence out there that will one day give us this answer. Intellegent Design does not have to simply lend itself to biblical thought.

    Evolution lacks the true critical test of science - How would one prove it or test it in a lab? It must be repeatable, without this fundimental test it is only a theory. We simply collect evidence and stack it up hoping to build a better image of what can not be proved scientificly. The problem comes if we simply toss out that which doesn't fit are perameters. Perhaps we are so busy looking for what we want to find we stumble over what is really there.

    By Blogger ablur, at 5:48 PM  

  • Excerpt from provided info:
    When scientists announced last month they had determined the exact order of all 3 billion bits of genetic code that go into making a chimpanzee, it was no surprise that the sequence was more than 96 percent identical to the human genome.

    This may seem like quite a marvel, but how do we stack up against -- pig, cat, mouse & rat. During my college pre-med days I was constantly told of the similarities between these animals and humans. Working on cadavers we often used these other species as reference and pre planning. Without a basis for comparison this fact may have little value.

    By Blogger ablur, at 8:10 PM  

  • So with 96% of the Chimpanzee genome being identical to Human genome, I wonder why that doesn't tell you that we must have evolved from a common ancestor? Seems a pretty conclusion. Don't need an "Intelligent Designer" for that.

    I've also heard that the majority of the genetic material that humans have is currently not used. Seems pretty wasteful if created by a designer. Last time I checked the majority of the items in my car were there for a reason, having been designed.

    I don't have any information on how our genome compares to other species, but the similarities in our structures is remarkable if you ask me and a direct indication of a distant common ancestor.

    Given the extremely low probability of any individual becoming a fossil, I don't find it surprising that we don't have every type of creature that has walked the Earth in our fossil collections. But there are enough samples of similarity that demonstrate transistional creatures to suggest that they indeed were there in most cases.

    While I suppose space aliens could have interfered with our evolution, I have seen no evidence to support the claim, only seeing idle speculation. If one were to believe the claims of UFO enthusiasts, one would imagine that they are here and watching us. I don't believe that is the case, however - again there is no significant evidence to support such a claim.

    By Blogger Jim, at 9:02 PM  

  • 40 million different parts is close?

    Without a comparison of other species how do we accept this fact with any basis? We can't prove that there is any % of difference. I could list hundreds of useless parts in your car. Have you ever fully disassembled one? Many are aesthetic.

    Given the extremely low probability of any individual becoming a fossil, I don't find it surprising that we don't have every type of creature that has walked the Earth in our fossil collections. But there are enough samples of similarity that demonstrate transitional creatures to suggest that they indeed were there in most cases. How could you brush off this probability curve when the probability of evolution is far higher? This seems quite disparaging.

    As bizarre as the UFO (Farm Theory) may be there are those who believe it. The intelligent design model would easily fit their belief. We can't cast it aside because we both find it far fetched at best.

    By Blogger ablur, at 7:26 AM  

  • I am disappointed in your lack of defense for your opinion. You seem firmly set on evolution yet the many problems don't seem to convince you that much more needs to be done to confirm this theory.
    In the mean time you seem to be very interested in tearing down other theories that have equal viability given there many wholes as well. True science would place all these theories on a level playing field. None of them can be backed up through experimentation in the lab. It all boils down to opinion and what you choose to believe or place your faith in.
    I enjoyed our brief interaction. I look forward to returning and seeing what more you choose to write on. Perhaps we can find unity on a topic. I think I would enjoy knowing you and the many indepth conversations that we could have. It is hard to find someone with mental fortitude to corrispond with.

    By Blogger ablur, at 6:55 PM  

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