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bmetzler's Journal: Intelligent Design? 57

Journal by bmetzler

Intelligent design has become a major issue recently. But what is it? It seems that people are quick to attack it. But does anyone know what intelligent design is?

I done a little studying as I have time to learn the science of intelligent design. I am not a science major, so I don't have a background to really understand science. I haven't talked a lot about intelligent design, because I don't really feel comfortable arguing for or against something I don't understand.

But I noticed that a lot of people are quick to attack and critize something that even they don't seem to understand. In fact, it has become increasingly popular recently to use intelligent design as a political attack. Is this surprising?

It seems to be obvious on a fundamental level that there can only be 2 posibilities for why things are. For example a horse was either always a horse genetically, or a horse came from something else which ultimately genetically came from a primordial soup. Scientifically, there cannot be any other choice. At least it has alluded me.

That means that everyone either believes that we came from primordial soup or we always were. And so the battle lines are drawn. Now, people will take a side and have many different reasons for believing it. I don't consider having various reasons for believing something bad or even wrong. But the only reason that is important in my consideration is the science supporting each view.

There is science that supports each view. The tricky part is being willing to have an open mind and taking the time to find out what that science is. When we understand both sides scientifically, we will be able to have a better debate then just yelling that intelligent design is too "religious."

So, that's what I want to do as I have time. I want to do my part to stop this scientific ignorance, and learn the science behind intelligent design. I'm sure that my willingness to have an open mind and question evolution will irritate many people who are intolerant to such skepticism, but that is their choice. I am interested in science, and I'm sure that my search for it will be rewarded.

I could say more I suppose, but it is late. I'll probably revisit this issue as I learn more about the science behind intelligent design.

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Intelligent Design?

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  • One would think that it would be far more worshipful of God to imagine that He could create a universe that would generate Man from the raging chaos of the Big Bang, over a span of 4.5 billion years, than to imagine Him as some cheap magician who waved his hands only 6000-odd years ago. In fact, one could strictly regard the "young earth/intelligent design" crowd as dire blasphemers for the way that they attempt to limit God with their feeble powers of conceptualization and woeful lack of faith in Him.
    • One would think that it would be far more worshipful of God to imagine that He could create a universe that would generate Man

      It might be more worshipful of God to believe in theistic evolution, but in this JE I am trying to deal with the science of intelligent design, not which theory is more worshipful.

      -Brent
    • I consider myself a Christian and I also believe in the philosophy of science and have developed a belief that is something better than current popular ideas of "intelligent design".

      You see, I believe that the universe was designed intelligently, too. I believe that when God was assembling the universe, He laid out all the rules of physics, made all the universal constants just right, made sure carbon molecules behaved the way they do *before* the big bang. When God said/did something similar to "let ther
      • When God said/did something similar to "let there be light", and the universe sprang into existence, the laws that had been laid out made it so that life as we know it couldn't help but evolve over billions of years.

        What laws? How do we prove them? I'm looking for science here, not just some personal opinion about what God did.

        -Brent
        • the problem is that "intelligent design" is NOT science. that is a fact. it does not stand up to the rigors of scientific method because it is not based on evidence whatsoever. it's merely scientific "language" put on top of a creationist view. it has been utterly demolished by real science and hard evidence. if you want to learn more about it, i strongly recommend the blind watchmaker by Richard Dawkins which fairly, logically, and conclusively rips apart all the foundations of intelligent design by i
          • if you want to learn more about it, i strongly recommend the blind watchmaker by Richard Dawkins which fairly, logically, and conclusively rips apart all the foundations of intelligent design by irrefutably explaining how it is inconceivable that any "designer" was behind the universe. i was applying critical thinking to the best of my ability on this book and it just holds up to all sorts of devil's advocate attacks.

            Actually, the one devil's advocate attack that book falls to is in it's basic two axioms
            • i believe you may have oversimplified what you've labeled as the axioms. primarily, dawkins states that randomness exists in mutation, but NOT in selection. it's a key point because ID proponents love to point out that evolutionists think that we are completely randomly created beings--which adds fuel to their Personal Arguments of Incredulity. evolution being random is absolutely untrue.

              also, how can one deny that objective evidence exists? the fossil record correlates with the theory laid down by darw
              • i believe you may have oversimplified what you've labeled as the axioms. primarily, dawkins states that randomness exists in mutation, but NOT in selection. it's a key point because ID proponents love to point out that evolutionists think that we are completely randomly created beings--which adds fuel to their Personal Arguments of Incredulity. evolution being random is absolutely untrue.

                I've got a problem with randomness in mutation as well- to my way of thinking every mutation has a purpose. That purpo
                • I see that as a failure of imagination and willingness to study.

                  Wow. Basically stating that 180 years of scientific endeavor and peer review is a failure of imagination and willingness to study? So, fundamentally, you've figured out what the best minds in science couldn't? That's quite a discovery! When you start talking about "personal beliefs" as opposed to a scientific method, there's no point in discussing anymore--although I'd like to try I guess. You might as well say, "I believe that blue greml
                  • Wow. Basically stating that 180 years of scientific endeavor and peer review is a failure of imagination and willingness to study?

                    Peer review and theology have a lot in common- both are about weeding out unorthodox ideas and limiting data.

                    So, fundamentally, you've figured out what the best minds in science couldn't?

                    The best minds in science are still human- and thus biased. Letting go of bias is the first step- but once you understand that human beings are built to be biased, it's a step that can't b
                    • ok, i can see that we could have a whole lot more to talk about now, but i really don't have the time. maybe i can reply tomorrow in more detail.

                      i'd like to leave you with something, though, that completely destroys your idea of "arrogance" in science. A theory is not scientific unless it is falsifiable. That principle ends all arrogance. Every person who is convinced by scientific theory must accept that it is possibly provably wrong and must accept it in the face of contradictory evidence. If you bel
                    • ok, i can see that we could have a whole lot more to talk about now, but i really don't have the time. maybe i can reply tomorrow in more detail.

                      Works for me.

                      i'd like to leave you with something, though, that completely destroys your idea of "arrogance" in science. A theory is not scientific unless it is falsifiable. That principle ends all arrogance. Every person who is convinced by scientific theory must accept that it is possibly provably wrong and must accept it in the face of contradictory evidence
                  • In fact, you're ignoring all of the failed mutations that cause death, disease, or utter disfiguring of offspring. It doesn't follow that a conscious designer manipulates selection because it simply doesn't fit reality or the evidence.

                    I think you’ve overlooked something: Those points you bring up don’t prove that there is no intelligent designer. They prove that there is no benevolent intelligent designer.

                    Yes, that’s right folks, I’m saying explicitly that it’s either Darwin o
        • What laws? How do we prove them? I'm looking for science here, not just some personal opinion about what God did.

          You know, laws like the speed of light is about 3E8 m/sec, the acceleration of gravity of a body, all the known properties of the elements, you know, other laws that have been proven (at least, proven beyond most doubt) scientifically. My point was that I believe that these laws were determined (yes, by God), before the universe existed. Everything science says about the universe after the big
          • You know, laws like the speed of light is about 3E8 m/sec, the acceleration of gravity of a body, all the known properties of the elements, you know, other laws that have been proven (at least, proven beyond most doubt) scientifically.

            Well, these laws are not conflictory with ID. I could teach a science class from an Intelligent Design framework and be able to teach all of these laws. So, what's the problem here?

            -Brent
            • Well, these laws are not conflictory with ID. I could teach a science class from an Intelligent Design framework and be able to teach all of these laws. So, what's the problem here?

              I'm not sure we have one!

              There is not a whole lot of science in the kind of intelligent design that's popular right now.

              I mean, I can say all day that God set the electronegativity of Carbon to 2.55 when the he created the universe, because that was precise factor that was needed for life to evolve. Honestly, that's what I think
    • One would think that it would be far more worshipful of God to imagine that He could create a universe that would generate Man from the raging chaos of the Big Bang, over a span of 4.5 billion years, than to imagine Him as some cheap magician who waved his hands only 6000-odd years ago.

      I would think it exactly the other way around: it cheapens one's view of God to think that He could (or would) only create the basic building blocks of the Universe, then let everything go randomly from there, than it would

  • I think science is just as much saying "we don't know" as much as we are saying "we do know". I think ID has a place in the classroom as an alternative that helps little scientists learn self-deprecation.
    • Students should be allowed to declare that God may have simply wanted x to equal 3, and since the instructor clearly cannot prove otherwise, Q.E.D.

      This will revolutionize homework!

    • There's a brilliant way to promote science in students. Let's impose untested, non-falsifiable hypotheses in the classroom! That'll show those uppity scientists!
      • Let's impose untested, non-falsifiable hypotheses in the classroom!

        I don't see anyway around it, unless you happen to be omniscient.

        Of course that is an argument for teaching science instead of religion :)

        Science is tested and valuable, but much of the theory (theory has the same root as theology, btw) that ties these facts together in an understandable package are untested and non-falsifiable at the time they are taught.

        But if you want children bewildered at the universe changing so definitively every 25 y
        • I don't have a problem with teaching falsifiable theories in the classroom, but intelligent design doesn't make any claims that can be disproven - and therefore is not science. As for the "people like me" remark, thanks, I didn't know that you had noticed.
          • but intelligent design doesn't make any claims that can be disproven

            See, that's the problem. What are the scientific claims that Intelligent Design scientists make and what are the comparable claims that evolution scientists make. I know what supporters of evolution and supporters of intelligent design say about their respective believes, but that's not scientific. I'm not going to believe in evolution because an evolutionist tells me that evolution is more "worshipful", or Intelligent Design is too "

            • Wouldn't it be more appropriate to research the claims of ID, instead of asking us to provide second and third-hand accounts of their claims?
              • Wouldn't it be more appropriate to research the claims of ID

                Yes, that is an ongoing project of mine.

                instead of asking us to provide second and third-hand accounts of their claims?

                You and others seem quite confident of what their claim are for only having second and third-hand accounts. But this is one of the points I was trying to make. Instead of rejecting ID because of religious or emotional responses, why not research the claims and focus on the science of ID. It might be easy to attack ID from

  • My father is a voracious reader, and he stumbled onto a book called The Science of God by Gerald L. Schroeder. This book attempts to draw together Biblical knowledge and scientific findings and theories into a unified whole. I haven't read it yet, but my father told me it makes some good sense. I have a copy here in front of me; it is my next reading project.

  • I noticed no one seemed to answer your ACTUAL question, so I'll give it a shot (you were asking to know more about ID and the science thereof, right?)

    There are actually three major classes of theories on how life got to the place it is on Earth right now:

    1. "Darwinian evolution": This is the theory that chaotic natural forces, collectively known as "natural selection", caused animals to change phenotype, genotype, and species by the following method: A) a beneficial genetic mutation occours, by whatever m
    • Brief PS--the "ID" I see publically that is chafing a lot of people's sensibilities is actually a hybrid of 2 and 3--a sort of "well, we have to show the evidence of evolution and such, and pretend to wonder who the designer is, but *wink nudge* we both know God really did it, just like the Bible says."

      The debate being carried on in public fora is really unrepresentative of ANYONE'S best evidence or positions, and is seemingly led by the spokespersons who are shrillest (as opposed to best-informed or most-s
      • the "ID" I see publically that is chafing a lot of people's sensibilities is actually a hybrid of 2 and 3--a sort of "well, we have to show the evidence of evolution and such, and pretend to wonder who the designer is, but *wink nudge* we both know God really did it, just like the Bible says."

        True. That's because when people argue about ID today, they ignore science and move to the more juicy subjects of religion and emotion. Who wants to argue about something as dry as science when we could argue over

        • See, I see this from both sides, and I don't think it's the fault of "the evolutionists" as much as you're painting it. I get equally fed up with the ID/Creationism-lite advocates and their shrill little mueseums that "prove" the Grand Canyon could've been formed in a single flood and that dinosaurs and humans co-existed before the Flood. That's not science, either.

          The part that hangs me up is that there's really no debate whatsoever from inside the actual biology community--the scholarly papers have come
          • Brent, Great Journal Subject

            Zeriel,
            I thought I'd put my commentary here, as I really like the points you have made. I would further suggest that exactly the points you have made are exactly the "in" for theology classes. That is, by describing "random" in terms of "god", a child's religious training can be used to redirect scientific learning through these little "ins".

            When I went to school, the rest was done directly by my science teacher, by explaining that science is built upon evidence, and that an

  • That evolution is a fact AND intelligent design is guiding an end-point of evolution far in the future. That's the tantilizing option the Jesuits present- the idea that God exists, that the natural laws we discover are his methods, and that he ain't done with creation yet.
    • That evolution is a fact AND intelligent design is guiding an end-point of evolution far in the future. That's the tantilizing option the Jesuits present- the idea that God exists, that the natural laws we discover are his methods, and that he ain't done with creation yet.

      Huh? How do we teach that in science class? What science is there in that belief?

      -Brent
      • Huh? How do we teach that in science class? What science is there in that belief?

        The exact same science that led to the idea of "random mutation" to begin with- the fact that the scientific method is good for finding models of possible reality, but can never be complete enough to describe reality itself. The other piece of science is that you can study evolution looking at your own family- geneology is a great way to study evolution.

        One of the big problems with YEC and ID and evolution is the idea that
        • The other piece of science is that you can study evolution looking at your own family- geneology is a great way to study evolution.

          Uh, not really. As far back as I can track my family tree, they were all humans. Same with everyone else's family tree. In fact, no one has every found in their study of their family tree that they any anything but humans in their family tree as far back as recorded history goes. It might be that someone does have a primitive life form in their family tree, but it cannot b

          • Uh, not really. As far back as I can track my family tree, they were all humans. Same with everyone else's family tree. In fact, no one has every found in their study of their family tree that they any anything but humans in their family tree as far back as recorded history goes. It might be that someone does have a primitive life form in their family tree, but it cannot be proven. As such, this does not seem like a study of evolution at all.

            One common point is life span- it's increased greatly and dramat
            • One common point is life span- it's increased greatly and dramatically in the last four generations. Another common point is height- the reason the spanish galleons look so cramped in our museums is because people were much smaller 500 years ago, it was rare to find a man taller than 5 ft. The change is happening- slowly but visibly.

              OK. That's interesting. What is this change? Are our ancesters 4 generations ago less human because they didn't live as long? Were people less human 500 years ago because

              • OK. That's interesting. What is this change? Are our ancesters 4 generations ago less human because they didn't live as long? Were people less human 500 years ago because they were as tall? Or were they human, but had different physical characteristics?

                All very interesting questions that deserve study. The ultimate point of the Jesuits is that speciation doesn't matter much to the study of evolution- and I have a tendency to agree with them somewhat. All speciation is just changes piled on top of change
                • All very interesting questions that deserve study.

                  Could questions like that be studied in science class? What about if they were in a chapter on intelligent design? Could they still be studied?

                  -Brent
                  • Could questions like that be studied in science class? What about if they were in a chapter on intelligent design? Could they still be studied?

                    It seems to me that the Jesuit version of Theistic Evolution IS the only form of Intelligent Design that can be studied in a chapter on Intelligent Design- and most of the actual scientists behind Intelligent Design would have no problem with it. You said before that you ignored this option because there weren't enough differences with evolution to consider it; I'
                    • It seems to me that the Jesuit version of Theistic Evolution IS the only form of Intelligent Design that can be studied in a chapter on Intelligent Design

                      By the Jesuit version of Theistic Evolution are you talking about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's works? Because it is my understanding that his work falls on the evolutionary side of the debate, not the intelligent design side. Therefore it wouldn't be useful in a chapter studying the science of intelligent design.

                      Furthermore, his work is about incorpo

                    • By the Jesuit version of Theistic Evolution are you talking about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's works? Because it is my understanding that his work falls on the evolutionary side of the debate, not the intelligent design side. Therefore it wouldn't be useful in a chapter studying the science of intelligent design.

                      Depends on your definitions. A strict evolutionist believes in random mutation; a theistic evolutionist believes that *nothing* happens without a purpose behind it. It's really about competing r
                    • A strict evolutionist believes in random mutation; a theistic evolutionist believes that *nothing* happens without a purpose behind it.

                      Well, you can't scientifically prove that there was a purpose behind a mutation, as least not a supernatural purpose, so we are back to random mutations. Scientifically, I believe that "regular" evolution and theistic evolution look the same.

                      It's really about competing religions, not about science at all, since there's no scientific way to prove that randomness exists.

                    • Well, you can't scientifically prove that there was a purpose behind a mutation, as least not a supernatural purpose, so we are back to random mutations. Scientifically, I believe that "regular" evolution and theistic evolution look the same.

                      Why does it have to be a supernatural purpose? Or to put it another way- if there was a God who was able to set up all the rules the universe depends on at the start, why would he have to violate those rules to get something done?

                      But other than that, you're absolute
                    • Why does it have to be a supernatural purpose? Or to put it another way- if there was a God who was able to set up all the rules the universe depends on at the start, why would he have to violate those rules to get something done?

                      I think I used a distracting word. Maybe phantom is better. If God has a purpose for a certain mutant, how do we determine that a mutation is not really random, but actually has a purpose. Scientifically, there is no difference from a random mutuation and one that only God kno

                    • I think I used a distracting word. Maybe phantom is better. If God has a purpose for a certain mutant, how do we determine that a mutation is not really random, but actually has a purpose. Scientifically, there is no difference from a random mutuation and one that only God knows the purpose of. If we knew the purpose of a mutation, it wouldn't be random at all, would it?

                      Exactly- which is why I say randomness does not exist. It's just a code word for God, a replacement for people who are nervous about the

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