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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

10 Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher re: Design

William Dembski (Ph.D) has put together an interesting list of ten questions one could ask their biology teacher re: design. You can click on the link and peruse it at your leisure, but I thought I would cite a few of what I thought were some of the more interesting ones...



  1. "In trying to understand biological systems, molecular biologists often need to “reverse engineer” them. Is this evidence that the systems were engineered to begin with?



  2. What evidence would convince you that intelligent design is true and neo-Darwinism is
    false? If no such evidence exists or indeed can exist, how can neo-Darwinism be a
    testable scientific theory?



  3. How do we account for the complex information-rich patterns in biological systems?
    Where did they originate?"


    And on and on they go. The official high priests of the psuedo-science known as evolutionary biology never asks itself these highly pertinent questions.

12 comments:

GentleSkeptic said...

And here I was led to believe that "Christians do not typically seek supernatural explanations for events that occur in the physical world."

Are you seeking/positing natural or supernatural answers for Dembski's questions?

1. This is nothing more than wanna-be clever wordplay. Dembski knows exactly what is colloquially meant by "reverse engineering" in this context, and exactly what it does not imply.

2. "Rabbit fossils in the pre-Cambrian" springs to mind. The case for neo-Darwinism has been made and strengthened over 150 years of inquiry and testing. It is up to Dembski to come up with evidence to support his hypothesis, not ask rhetorical questions about what kind of evidence would reverse the consensus. Also, that "no such evidence exists" but conceivably could, is read by the reasonable as explicit, if provisional, confirmation of neo-Darwinism, not as a refutation of its testability. Regardless, it's ID that has the testability and parsimony problems, so I can see why Dembski would love to turn the tables here.

It's also a false choice: what if the Intelligent Designer used evolution as His tool? There is an entire field of devout Christian support for this notion ("theistic evolution"), led by folks like Francis Collins, Ken Miller and the BioLogos foundation. And I'm pretty sure you know this already. Sheesh.

3. There he goes again with the "information." Pretty sure he still hasn't defined this term, in the same way that believers still haven't defined what a "spirit" is.

Same old same-old.

GentleSkeptic said...

You might also be interested to know that it's attitudes like yours that are actually killing the future of Christianity in America.

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.

One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.

JD Curtis said...

This is nothing more than wanna-be clever wordplay. Dembski knows exactly what is colloquially meant by "reverse engineering" in this context, and exactly what it does not imply

Do you mean that certain systems do not have the appeareance of being designed?

Rabbit fossils in the pre-Cambrian" springs to mind

"..as we all know, when rabbit fossils are eventually discovered in (Pre)Cambrian rocks,.. scientists will trample each other in the stampede to claim that a) the fossils are not rabbits, b) the rocks are not Precambrian, and c) evolution is "a large package of ideas, including: that life on Earth has evolved over billions of years; that this evolution is driven by certain mechanisms; and that these mechanisms have produced a specific "family tree" that defines the relationships among species and the order in which they appeared" and therefore a single impossible anachronism should not be sufficient to destroy such an important and glorious edifice constructed over so many years by so many famous scientists." Link

There he goes again with the "information." Pretty sure he still hasn't defined this term

Stephen C. Meyer wrote an entire book on it. website here

JD Curtis said...

Insofar as the other point that you raise re: Christianity is anti-science, the only thing that comes to mind is that some churches hold to a literal 6-day creation. What else would qualify as potentially 'anti-science'?

Stormbringer said...

If it looks designed, why go to so much effort to make excuses to disbelieve in a Designer? If the logical conclusion is that evolution does not give satisfactory answers (and needs constant patching to give it the appearance of validity), and that the evidence points to a Creator, well, have the courage to follow where the evidence leads.

GentleSkeptic said...

Do you mean that certain systems do not have the appearance of being designed?

If you'd ever read anything about evolution—like The Blind Watchmaker—you'd understand that the "appearance of design" and "design" are very different things. But I know you don't really care.

..as we all know, when rabbit fossils are eventually discovered in (Pre)Cambrian rocks,.. blah blah blah

Vox Day is not an authority on the subject, and we don't "all know" anything of the sort. The salient fact to note is that nothing even remotely close has been discovered, so biased conjecture about alleged responses to unlikely and non-existent finds are moot. What we "all know" is that it would be an amazing discovery that would overturn a lot of evidence from a lot of fields of study, and would thus warrant extremely close scrutiny and verification, lest it turn out to be an unscrupulous but lucrative hoax, like Piltdown Man or Nebraska Man.

Stephen C. Meyer wrote an entire book on it. review here.

In Signature in the Cell, Meyer talks about three different kinds of information: Shannon information, Kolmogorov information, and a third kind that has been invented by ID creationists and has no coherent definition. I'll call the third kind "creationist information".

Both Shannon's and Kolmogorov's theories are well-grounded mathematically, and there are thousands of papers explaining them and their consequences. Shannon and Kolmogorov information obey certain well-understood laws, and the proofs are not in doubt.

Creationist information, as discussed by Meyer, is an incoherent mess. One version of it has been introduced by William Dembski, and criticized in detail by Mark Perakh, Richard Wein, and many others (including me). Intelligent design creationists love to call it "specified information" or "specified complexity" and imply that it is widely accepted by the scientific community, but this is not the case. There is no paper in the scientific literature that gives a rigorous and coherent definition of creationist information; nor is it used in scientific or mathematical investigations.

… Meteorologists collect huge amounts of data from the natural world: temperature, pressure, wind speed, wind direction, etc., and process this data to produce accurate weather forecasts. So the information they collect is "specified" (in that it tells us whether to bring an umbrella in the morning), and clearly hundreds, if not thousands, of these bits of information are needed to make an accurate prediction. But these bits of information do not come from a mind—unless Meyer wants to claim that some intelligent being (let's say Zeus) is controlling the weather. Perhaps intelligent design creationism is just Greek polytheism in disguise!


………

What else would qualify as potentially 'anti-science'?

AGW denial, anti-vaccine hysteria, HRCC saying condoms spread AIDS … I dunno. Why don't you read Barna's book and find out?

GentleSkeptic said...

If it looks designed, why go to so much effort to make excuses to disbelieve in a Designer?

Yeah, man! I mean, if it looks obvious, it must be obvious, right? But the evidence does not point to a Creator: religion does. The logical conclusion is that evolution does not give satisfactory answers to people who have already decided that their God created the world and everything in it. So we are all unsurprised when such people say that "the evidence points to a Creator," because we understand that such people haven't really looked at the evidence, they've listened to their pastors tell them that the evidence is a lie. The courage comes in challenging this notion, which is exactly why Darwin was so brave.

And again; the false choice here is inexcusable. There are plenty of Christians, including the ones I mentioned above, who understand evolution and do not "make excuses to disbelieve."

You're simply being stubborn.

Stormbringer said...

"If you'd ever read anything about evolution—like The Blind Watchmaker—you'd understand that the "appearance of design" and "design" are very different things. But I know you don't really care."

Oh, the old standby of the Appeal to Motive fallacy. Hey, what gives you magical insight into someone's heart and mind, hmmm?

More than that, you use the very, very, tired fallacy that, simply stated, is, "If you understood evolution, you'd believe it. Since you don't believe it, you don't understand it." Drop the tired insulting lines, Skippy. There are many people who understand evolution quite well but still reject it on scientific and philosophical grounds.

"And again; the false choice here is inexcusable." Sure is. But the, it's YOUR Straw Man, so YOU made it inexcusable.

"You're simply being stubborn."

I'm not the one who started out lashing at people's intelligence and motives. Stubbornness is not the issue, anyway. The issue here is that there are people who reject evolution (a cornerstone of the atheist religion) because of evidence and intellectual choices. You don't have to like it, but this IS a fact.

GentleSkeptic said...

"One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is "Christians are too confident they know all the answers" (35%). [I'm looking at you, Stormbringer.] Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that "churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in" (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that "Christianity is anti-science" (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have "been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate." Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries." —Barna Group

I have been teaching science to evangelical college students for more than 25 years, and all this rings true. The students in my classes have had hundreds of hours of religious education growing up before they came to college. Most of them attended Sunday School regularly, listened to sermons at least once a week, spent time at summer Bible camps and weekends away with their youth groups. They read religious books, watched religious videos and subscribed to religious magazines (or, as is more likely, were given gift subscriptions by relatives).

The suggestion that scientists cannot speak about the past unless "they were there" is a strange claim. The implication is that we cannot do something as simple as count tree rings and confidently declare "This great pine was standing here 2,000 years ago." As a philosophy of science, such a restriction would completely rule out the scientific study of the past. This, of course, is precisely what the creationists want.

Many bright evangelical young people are, fortunately, not impressed with the suggestion that only "eyewitnesses" can speak about the past. Just this past spring I taught an honors seminar on science and religion at an evangelical college. The class included a couple of bright students who had grown up in fundamentalist churches that showed Ken Ham videos in their Sunday School class. Both of them recalled the encouragement to ask their teachers "Were you there?" And both of them, a few years older and wiser than "Emma B," thought this suggestion was ridiculous and wondered what kind of ideas required the embrace of such nonsense on their behalf. These students — in fact, most of the students I have had over the years — will graduate from college accepting contemporary science and its various explanations for what has happened in the past. But unless the leadership in their churches does a better job with its teaching ministry, such students will have a hard time returning to their home churches.
Karl Giberson, Ph.D, Evangelical Christian

Like I said: stubborn. And now I'll add: thoroughly indoctrinated and child-like.

JD Curtis said...

Whoop-de-doo GS. Since when has Intelligent Design had a say over origin of life issues? I only heard about it myself a few years ago. Darwin's theory has been around for over a century

GentleSkeptic said...

Darwin's theory has been around for over a century.

And Darwin's theory is about the Origin of Species, not the origin of life.

Since when has Intelligent Design had a say over origin of life issues?

You're kdding, right? By positing a "Designer," ID makes itself primarily about origins. Unless the Intelligent Designer didn't actually start the process, just designed the follow-up?

GentleSkeptic said...

Here's the argument about evidence, neatly summarized.