Monday, March 18, 2002 at 2:01 PM
Web Exclusive - Is the theory of evolution wrong in its assertion that species adapt and evolve through a series of random mutations? Can the question of whether a conscious, intelligent agent is responsible for the creation of life be answered scientifically? On Monday, March 18th, we took a critical look at Intelligent Design - a theory that some would like to see added to the state's academic science curriculum. We talked with two experts - one for and one against the idea. As part of the call-in show, we asked listeners to email us their comments. Here is a listing of the comments that didn't make it on the air.
Perhaps conundrums like this are why a leading proponent of intelligent design, William Dembski, has stated that he does not presently support the teaching of intelligent design in high schools.
There have been so many discoveries and changes in scientific ideas over just the last century. I have read the adjusted science guidelines proposed by the intelligent design proponents. Curiously, it removes all references to the age of the earth. This is an important scientific fact that school students should know. If they don't learn how old the earth is in school, won't that eliminate any field trips to the natural history museums throughout the nation, where timelines are used to explain the presence of different species that have lived on earth before us. And if this intelligent designer was so smart as to create humans, then why did he create dinosaurs, that were a dismal failure. Is this intelligent designer possibly a scientist that is running experiments on which species can survive the longest?
The whole debate relative to intelligent design seems to be closely related to one group of people attempting to incorporate their own concept of God into public schools using a two or three step plan where a one step plan has failed in the past.
This "intelligent design" issue seems to be an attempt to rehash the "evolution/creation" question. The theory of evolution is about how evolution takes place after we have observed it in nature. The theory of creation addresses questions about the characteristics, methods, and motivations of a supernatural being. It is also related to the "starting place" for evolution. Clearly these are different categories of questions and should be addressed by different types of institutions.
I find the comments of those in the scientific community opposed to the public dissemination of the idea of Intelligent Design to be reminiscent of the book Flatland by ... . The notion that because we cannot identify or "know" the purported agent behind Intelligent Design and must therefore decline to draw any inferences based on this agent, reminds me of the characters in this book who lived in 2-dimensions. Because they could not conceive of it, they forbade, even persecuted, proponents of the idea that there were 3-dimensions in the universe...
In any event, when I took a college-level biology course a decade ago, our text introduced us 2 main tenants underpinning biological science: 1) All life is composed of cells. 2) All cells derive from preexisting cells.
I always found this second tenant to be incompatible with the theory of evolution. In the long run, macro-evolutionists have to hold that cells just suddenly somehow appear out of nothing, yet this runs completely contrary to this second of the foundational statements of biology. How can proponents of Macroevolution explain this paradox without a leap of faith?
I believe we would be much more advanced if we would try to understand why things were created to do what they do.
Most scientists are limited because of the following reason.
1 Tim 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
What is the limit for the theory of "intelligent design;" does is apply only to biological systems or even to the origin of the cosmos? If it does try to extend itself to explain the "cosmos," it becomes a philosophical explanation - not scientific theory. Thank you,
Do not vestigial organs, such as mole's eyes, bring into question the intelligence of the designer?
The effects of intelligent living things on the history of their own survival would seem an entirely valid field for scientific research and one in which both sides ought to be able to talk to one another cordially.
Note also that Darwin made allowance for intelligent selection in his theory of 'sexual selection.'
Mr. Rudy: Where are the articles, where's the data, what is the data for ID?
I wonder in what context would intelligent design be taught? How do we avoid slipping into "religion," and if we can't avoid it, will there be a bias of Western religious ideas over Eastern ideas. Wouldn't intelligent design do better in a Philosophy or World Religion course? Are we trying to fit a square peg into a round hole here?
To prove intelligent design, wouldn't you need an "un-intelligent" design to compare it to? You can tell an arrowhead is intelligently designed because it is different from a rock, but with our planet there is nothing to compare it to.
Is there a difference between Science and Religion and Philosophy(Metaphysics I thought captured the concept of ideas beyond science)? Of course if you look at the history of science you might think that what is beyond science has evolved.
In the end, all creations are designed by evolution.
That is exactly what the question about Intelligent Design is. It is some kind of intelligence.
We are not asking "WHO" the designer is, but simply giving another theory about "How" it was done.
I have a 5-year-old who will start public school in the fall, and I do not want her fed unproven concepts. I believe that evolution has withstood one and one-half centuries of scrutiny. ID needs to submit itself to the same rigors.
Also, on WCPN home page you have 'intelligent design' listed as 'theory.' Intelligent Design is not a theory, it is a belief. Theories must be refutable to be considered science.
Regarding the changes to the science standards proposed by Intelligent Design advocates for Ohio, Ellen H. is incorrect when she claims that the changes remove all reference to the age of the earth. See www.sciohio.org for documentation on the proposed modifications. The proposals generally seek to modifiy the dogmatism of the claims made for the theory of evolution to bring them more into line with what the data actually support for the theory.
Regarding the vestigial organs providing reason to question the intelligence of the designer, I'd say a couple of things. What we're learning recently is that there is a tremendous amount of variability coded into the genomes of living things. The mole's eyes, I would predict, fall into this category, although we don't know enough yet about the causal pathways from genes to macro- structures to test that claim. The computer software analogy is telling here. It takes greater intelligence, greater programming skill, to build a program with a range of variability that is parameterized than to build one that is hard-wired for a particular function. Regardless, Intelligent Design doesn't seek to address the character (perfection or lack thereof) of the designer. That question is one that moves the discussion into the philosophical arena.
Regarding Pdlovett's and other's comments that ID is too new to be seriously considered: my view, expressed on the program, is that only in the last couple of decades has it become a coherent theory. But in many areas of science, two decades is an eternity, and biochemistry is one of those areas.
Regarding the "who designed the designer" question which appears in a couple of emails, I responded on the program that this is ultimately a philosophical, not a scientific, question. I'd add this however: the questioners are implying that an explanation of Design for a particular biological system is incomplete and therefore unscientific because the designer itself requires explanation. But surely there are many areas in science in which we are satisfied with a correct causal account even though that causal account can't be traced all the way back to ultimate causes. For example, we accept the theory of plate tectonics as the correct explanation for some mountain-building activity, even though we cannot trace ultimate causation seemlessly back indefinitely. In everyday life, we accept as the proper explanation for (for example) a letter we receive in the mail that our friend wrote it, and don't require further explanation for that friend.
Regarding the several objections that Intelligent Design should not be forced onto students, I agree. In last week's debate, Steven Meyer recommended the same position to the Ohio board of education. I think many people would also be interested in ensuring that the dogmatic claims made for evolutionary theory are brought more into line with what the data warrants, and that evidence both for and against the theory would be presented in the schools. I believe it would be a good idea to provide Biology teachers the freedom to discuss Intelligent Design as well, if they are comfortable in doing so.
Thanks again for inviting me on the program!
Sincerely, Doug Rudy