Thursday, February 10, 2011

ID Creationism in Minnesota

February 9, 2011

Joe Cap commented in the Minnesota Post

I think young Earth creationism is wrong, and anything specifically invoking the supernatural should not be taught in science classes. With that said, this article shows the typical ignorance of Intelligent Design.

Professor Randy Moore: “They’ve had evolution classes, they choose to reject it in favor of religion.”

Three things are wrong with this statement.

(1) It implies that there is only one kind of evolution, the neo-Darwinian synthesis based on methodological naturalism (the a priori assumption that nature is all that there is), and (2) that if you don't believe the claims of this theory, the ONLY other choice is religion. I personally believe life evolved in a tree similar to what is taught in evolutionary biology classes, but could not have happened simply via random mutations and natural selection. Not nearly enough information search capability. This is not automatically imply that God or gods did it. Lastly, Mr. Moore implies (3) that those who choose evolution are not religious. I'm not even talking about theistic evolutionists (people who adhere to every inkling that evolutionary biology has to teach, and believe God did it). You're trying to tell me Richard Dawkins is not religious about his worldview? Militant, atheist evolutionary biologists are every bit as religious as a sweating, hollering young Earth creationist preacher from south Alabama.

Beth Hawkins: "And no, Intelligent Design does not qualify as a scientific theory."

I know this isn't an article intended to debate this issue in depth, but this type of hand waving is boring. For anyone truly interested in Intelligent Design, from either side of the fence, I encourage you to check out the series of posts on titled "ID Foundations". It is a fairly rigorous discussion of what ID is all about. Be sure to read the comments sections, too, as some very good discussion both both sides happens there.

(I placed the comment by Cap in italics, Mar. 10, since some people think that HIS words were mine).

So, I replied;

Beth Hawkins did a good job within her limited word count. Joe Cap managed to pack a lot of nonsense into just over 300 words.

The original article published in last week’s Science magazine was “Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom” by Michael B. Berkman and Eric Plutzer. They found that ~28% of teachers nationally do correctly and enthusiastically teach the scientific basis of all biology, evolution. At the opposite end of the scale, 13-18% personally reject evolution, and actively subvert the curriculum, or explicitly teach creationism. One Minnesota teacher was quoted, “I don't teach the theory of evolution in my life science classes, nor do I teach the Big Bang Theory in my [E]arth [S]cience classes…. We do not have time to do something that is at best poor science.”

Berkman and Plutzer felt that the remaining teachers, ~54%, who were weak in their presentation of evolutionary biology lacked a proper background, and thus lacked the confidence, and competence to successfully present the curriculum. Prof. Moore disagrees, and cites his own data that the “unsure” teachers are were a mere 15%, and that up to 25% of teachers rejected evolution and taught religious creationism instead. Oddly, he has published 2003 data indicating that up to 52% of teachers felt they were inadequately prepared to teach evolution, “The Teaching of Evolution & Creationism in Minnesota” Randy Moore and Karen Kraemer, The American Biology Teacher. 67(8): 457–466. 2005.

Mr. Cap’s comment has no relevance to any of this. Not one of his objections to Prof. Moore’s observations is supported with facts, which I’ll come to presently.

Mr. Cap wrote, “(1) It implies that there is only one kind of evolution, the neo-Darwinian synthesis based on methodological naturalism (the a priori assumption that nature is all that there is).”

The theory of evolution was rephrased in the 1930s to meld the discoveries in genetics with Darwin’s notions of common descent, and selection. This relied heavily on the mathematical models of population genetics and weakened Darwin’s emphasis on individuals and “survival” in favor of populations and reproductive success. This was the “the neo-Darwinian synthesis” Mr. Cap referred to above. There have been two significant additions since then; Kimura’s neutral theory (see his 1985 book “The neutral theory of molecular evolution), and the observations by Gould, Eldredge, and Lewontin of rapid change in the fossil record which they generalized as “punctuated equilibrium” as opposed to Darwin’s gradualism( see: Gould SJ and Eldredge N 1977 Punctuated Equilibria: The Tempo and Mode of Evolution Reconsidered; Paleobiology 3 115–151). We are currently anticipating further advances in developmental biology (mostly in embryology), and ecological theory which will in turn expand and improve evolutionary theory. It is highly unlikely that Randy Moore, a professor of biology, would think that the neo-Darwinian synthesis of Fisher, Haldane, and Huxley is the “only” kind of evolution.

In the same numbered objection, Mr. Cap confused “methodological naturalism” with “philosophical naturalism.” The latter holds that the material universe is exclusive. Scientists universally hold to “methodological materialism.” That is, scientific explanations, or theory, must always be based on observable phenomena and may only use natural law-like statements in their theories. You cannot toss miracles and undefined magical powers into your work to dodge difficulties and still pretend to be scientific. It is methodological materialism that allows the devout Hindu, or Christian to contribute good science equally along with the agnostics, and atheists. In this regard there is “only one kind of evolution” because there is only one kind of science period, that based on methodological materialism.

Mr. Cap wrote “(2) (Prof. Moore asserted gh) that if you don't believe the claims of this theory (evolutionary biology gh), the ONLY other choice is religion. I personally believe life evolved in a tree similar to what is taught in evolutionary biology classes, but could not have happened simply via random mutations and natural selection. Not nearly enough information search capability. This is not automatically imply that God or gods did it.”

Prof. Moore is speaking from his perspective from over a decade of opinion survey research. This research has shown that teacher rejection of evolutionary theory in favor of actually teaching creationism was religiously motivated. It was not an assumption, or opinion, it was an objective fact. But, Mr. Cap did use the opportunity to make an absurd claim of his own that the nested hierarchies of evolutionary biology are real, but that they didn’t happen by evolutionary means. His “argument: Not nearly enough information search capability.” This is a bit of classic Intelligent Design Creationism gibberish.

It is close to the argument made by ID creationist Mike Behe in his Dover testimony. Behe had cited his article with David Snoke, “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues” Protein Science (2004), 13:2651–2664. Based on this paper, Behe asserted that there was “too little time” for a random process to have generated complex organisms. In cross-examination however, he was forced to admit that using realistic conditions his published result would have actually supported evolution. (see Behe cross examination, Day 12 Am. )

Mr. Cap claims that ID creationism does not have a religious foundation. Some obvious statements by ID leaders will settle this error;

Michael Behe
“In my estimation, although possible in a broadly permissive sense, it is not plausible that the original intelligent agent is a natural entity. … Thus, in my judgment it is implausible that the designer is a natural entity." From “Reply to My Critics,” Biology and Philosophy 16: 685–709, 2001.

William Dembski
In a 1999 article for the Christian magazine Touchstone “Signs of Intelligence,” Dembski confirmed the foundation of ID in John 1 when he assured readers that "Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory."

"My thesis is that all disciplines find their completion in Christ and cannot be properly understood apart from Christ." 'Intelligent Design', p 206

Phillip Johnson
"This [the intelligent design movement] isn't really, and never has been, a debate about science, it's about religion and philosophy." World Magazine, 30 November 1996

"The Intelligent Design movement starts with the recognition that 'In the beginning was the Word,' and 'In the beginning God created.' Establishing that point isn't enough, but it is absolutely essential to the rest of the gospel message." Foreword to Creation, Evolution, & Modern Science (2000)

"Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools." American Family Radio (10 January 2003)

Jonathan Wells
"Father's words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle" [Note: 'Father' refers to self-proclaimed Messiah, Rev. Sun Moon]. Date: 1996. Source: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D.

ID creationists Paul Nelson and Steve Meyer are also Young Earth Creationists, and William Dembski has recently been forced to recant his published opinion that the Genesis Flood was not a historical global event. His statement reads, “In a brief section on Genesis 4–11, I weigh in on the Flood, raising questions about its universality, without adequate study or reflection on my part. (referring to his book “The End of Christianity”). Before I write on this topic again, I have much exegetical, historical, and theological work to do. In any case, not only Genesis 6–9 but also Jesus in Matthew 24 and Peter in Second Peter seem clearly to teach that the Flood was universal. As a biblical inerrantist, I believe that what the Bible teaches is true and bow to the text, including its teaching about the Flood and its universality.”

We might was well finish up with Mr. Cap’s errors. I’ll skip his bigotry toward Young Earther’s, and southerners other than noting it seems as extreme as any atheist’s. The last gross error is that there is a “theory of intelligent design.” Again, I’ll let two of the ‘great’ minds of ID creationists take the stage;

Philip Johnson
"I also don't think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that's comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it's doable, but that's for them to prove...No product is ready for competition in the educational world." Berkley Science Review (Spring 2006).

Paul Nelson
Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don't have such a theory now, and that's a real problem. Without a theory it's very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now we've got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as "irreducible complexity" and "specified complexity" - but as yet no general theory of biological design. Date: July/August 2004 Source: Touchstone Magazine interview

There is no ID theory, and there never will be an ID theory. ID is relabeled creationism, and not a science of any kind.


RBH said...

Writing as an ex-Minnesotan, thanks! :)

Gary S. Hurd said...

You're welcome. ;}