Intelligent Design/Creationism: An Atheist Perspective
Syllabus (Lecture Below)
Intelligent Design/Creationism (ID/C) is combined because Intelligent Design is an attempt by proponents of Creationism to shed its association with religion and wear the cloak of science.
Some citizens are aware enough to recognize the attempt of ID/C to introduce biblical teachings alongside scientific concepts.
We have told each other myths and legends for millennia to help explain the universe and our role in it.
Despite their diversity, the great commonality of all these myths and stories is our desire, as human beings, to explain the world and its history, its future and our place in it. Humans today have the same desire, and they satisfy it with microscopes and telescopes, with satellites and seismographs, and with analysis of DNA.
This lecture focuses on creation.
A minority of Americans fully accept the scientific explanation for the origins of human life.
Of all the major religious groups in the U.S., white evangelical Protestants are the most likely to reject evolution.
A series of court decisions prohibit the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in public schools. Continuing challenges at local level.
Metaphysical Naturalism versus Methodological Naturalism
Hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific articles are published each year in many thousands of journals and conference proceedings. This massive and rapidly growing body of work constitutes the core of what is properly referred to as "scientific research." Intelligent Design grossly under represented.
How does real science function?
All scientific conclusions are tentative—they will be changed if new evidence contradicts previous understandings.
Science can never prove that a theory is absolutely true, but it can show that a theory is false.
The neuroscientist Stuart Firestein says that new facts lead back to ignorance because it raises more questions which must be answered.
In Intelligent Design adherence to the scientific method is conspicuously missing.
Irreducible complexity and the mouse trap catches creationists.
Organisms are many orders of magnitude more complex than pocket watches.
Scientists are looking for natural causes. The creationists are looking for proof of intelligent design and supernatural causation.
Hydrothermal Vents and diffuse vents.
Today’s problems need clear scientific minds to work on them. Intelligent Design side tracks students to leave contemporary problems in the hands of a higher power.
May the explorers in all scientific fields continue their search for understanding our universe and continue to share their knowledge with all of us
“Christians believe in the divinity, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Atheists examine, test and accept the facts of natural phenomena.”
Intelligent Design/Creationism is Atheist Scholar Lecture number 38. Please refer to AtheistScholar.org for the bibliography at the end of this lecture with references, and within the lecture, which includes many web links, and to previous lectures related to this subject matter, especially Lecture 18, Evolution and Creationism and Lecture 17, The Conflict between Science and Religion.
Intelligent Design/Creationism will be shortened to (ID/C) in this lecture. They are combined because Intelligent Design is an attempt by proponents of Creationism to shed its association with religion and wear the cloak of science.
What is ID/C? How does it define itself? What are ID/C’S stated goals and objectives? What scientific principals does it use in its approach to solving the many phenomena found in nature? What methods does it use to communicate its many ideas? Does ID/C have a history or has it freshly emerged? When you Google search the subject Intelligent Design on the web 43,400,000 results are obtained. At the bottom of the first search page, 8 sub categories list over 4500 titles each. On Amazon.com can be found 10,205 books offering support for ID/C, criticizing ID/C, and discussing the court defeats suffered by ID/C. When the issue of introducing ID/C into the science curriculum at the local public High School is presented at the local school board meeting, a conflict emerges and interest shoots up. Some citizens are aware enough to recognize the attempt of ID/C to introduce biblical teachings alongside scientific concepts. The parents supporting the idea of “fair play” and “equal chance” and “both sides” and “teach the controversy” support the introduction of ID/C. The parents who recognize the violation of Church State Separation and the interruption to the regular science program represented, will oppose the introduction of ID/C in any form. Some of them who are thinking even ask, “What controversy?” (see Dover 2005).
ID/C has been with us for endless centuries. This is the teleological and theological argument that has put the brakes on science for hundreds of years. It resides in the world’s creation myths; including genesis 1 and 2. Despite their diversity, the great commonality of all these myths and stories is our desire, as human beings, to explain the world and its history, its future and our place in it. Humans today have the same desire, and they satisfy it with microscopes and telescopes, with satellites and seismographs, and with analysis of DNA. Explanations developed millennia ago could not draw on sophisticated technologies and so seem quaint today to us, just as our technologies and medicine today will seem quaint to future generations. Today’s religions and fellow folk tales historically, were overprinted by the social and political agendas of their tellers, but yet, they reflect the same human desire to understand the world around us. But today, as well told as the myths are-including the bible- we can use the scientific method to chase away the shadows of doubt and uncertainty. Of all the living matter that has ever existed only one percent is available in the fossil record. A great number of myths deal with creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) and our mortality. This lecture focuses on creation. Today it is a sticking point between fundamentalist people of religion and people of science. But according to Pew Research it is not as generalized as once thought.
Pew Research Center
5 facts about evolution and religion
In the last century, the sharpest and most persistent clash between religion and science in the U.S. has centered on evolution as the explanation of the origin and development of human life. According to a poll of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press in May and June 2009, most scientists, (87%) 120,000, agree that life on Earth has evolved over time due to natural processes such as natural selection.
5 facts about evolution and religion. Are faith and belief in evolution necessarily at odds? According to Pope Francis, the answer is no. Indeed, the pope recently reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s view that “evolution in nature is not inconsistent” with church teaching on creation, pushing the debate on human origins back into the news.
Although most U.S. Catholics accept the idea of evolution in some form, a substantial percentage of American adults rejects the scientific explanation for the origins of human life, and a number of religious groups in the U.S. maintain that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection is not correct because it conflicts with their views of creation.
Here are five facts about evolution and faith:
1 The Roman Catholic Church has long accepted – or at least not objected to – evolutionary theory. Pope Francis is not the first pontiff to publicly affirm that evolution is compatible with church teachings. In 1950, in the encyclical “Humani Generis,” Pope Pius XII said that Catholic teachings on creation could coexist with evolutionary theory. Pope John Paul II went a bit further in 1996, calling evolution “more than a hypothesis.”
2 A minority of Americans fully accept the scientific explanation for the origins of human life. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey,60% of Americans say humans have evolved over time, but only about half of that group (32% of U.S. adults overall) believes that humans and other living things evolved solely due to natural processes, the explanation accepted by the vast majority of scientists. About a quarter of U.S. adults (24%) say that humans and other life evolved, but that this evolution was guided by a supreme being. The same survey found that a third of Americans (33%) reject evolution entirely, saying humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.
3 Of all the major religious groups in the U.S., white evangelical Protestants are the most likely to reject evolution. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of white evangelicals say that humans and other living things have always existed in their present form, while roughly one-in-ten white evangelicals (8%) say that humans evolved through natural processes. On the other end of the spectrum are the unaffiliated, a majority of whom (57%) said they believe that life evolved through natural processes.
The rejection of evolution by most evangelicals is largely mirrored by their churches, such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which explicitly reject evolutionary theory as being in conflict with what they see as biblical truth.
4 About a quarter of white American Catholics (26%) say that they do not believe in evolution of any kind, despite the church’s acceptance of it. The share of Hispanic Catholics in the U.S. who reject evolution and say that humans have always existed in their present form is even higher at (31%).
5 A series of court decisions prohibit the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in public schools. In spite of efforts in many American states and localities to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools or to teach alternatives to evolution, courts in recent decades have consistently rejected public school curricula that veer away from evolutionary theory. In Edward Aguillards (1987), for instance, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring public school students to learn both evolution and creation science violated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on the establishment of religion. End of report summary.
Throughout our history as human beings, when a new way of looking at our relationship with the universe was proposed, those ideas were most commonly deemed blasphemous.
We once believed the earth was flat. Many mythological cosmologies included an axis mundi, the central axis of a flat Earth that connects the Earth, heavens, and other realms together. From the flat to the stationary sphere in the 4th century BCE Greece, the geocentric model was developed based on astronomical observation, proposing that the center of the Universe lies at the center of a spherical, stationary Earth, around which the sun, moon, planets, and stars rotate. With the development of the heliocentric model by Nicolaus Copernicus in the 16th century, the sun was believed to be the center of the Universe, with the planets (including Earth) and stars orbiting it.
In the early 20th century, the discovery of other galaxies and the development of the Big Bang theory led to cosmological models of a homogeneous, isotropic Universe (which lacks a central point) that is expanding at all points.
And typically, at every introduction of a new idea, there were traditionalists who regarded anything new with suspicion, at the very least.
Which quickly brings my narrative up to date and introduces the necessity of dealing with (ID/C).
Intelligent Design/Creationism is very different from Science. Though the idea deals with phenomena in the natural world, research in this area does not bear any of the other hallmarks of science. Most importantly, though proponents sometimes make testable-and refuted-claims that relate to evolutionary theory, Intelligent Design itself is not testable and so cannot be validated by the central method of science-testing ideas against evidence against the natural world. This is because their fallback position is “…we don’t know therefore God designed it.” For detailed explorations into methodological (measurable, testable) and metaphysical naturalism (supernatural agency at work which can’t be measured, can’t be tested) please visit AtheistScholar.org and enter those terms in the search box. When you do, ten lectures will appear that expand significantly on the topic, especially Lecture number 18, Evolution versus Creationism, and also Lectures number 16 and 17.
(From John Rennie 15 Answers to ID/C Nonsense.2002.
From David H. Bailey 1 Jan 2014 Do creationism and intelligent design qualify as peer-reviewed science? )
ID/C writers insist that their writings constitute full-fledged scientific research. ID/C writers, for instance, hold that their notion that the earth and its living things (or even the entire universe) were created out of nothing by an intelligent source a few thousand years ago is a scientific theory, every bit as much as evolution is a scientific theory. Similarly, leading spokespersons of the intelligent design movement have asserted that their movement is primarily a scientific movement, not a religious movement, and that "intelligent design theory" deserves a place in public school classrooms.
But scientists and concerned citizens argue otherwise, pointing out that creationist and intelligent design material has not passed peer review because they lack the scientific method.
In 1995 George W. Gilchrist of the University of Washington surveyed thousands of journals in the primary science literature, seeking articles on intelligent design or creation science. Among those hundreds of thousands of scientific reports, he found none. In 2002, working independently, Barbara Forrest of Southern Louisiana University and Lawrence Krauss of Case Western University ran into the same problem. Some anti-evolution authors have published papers in serious journals pointing out problems with evolution being unsolved, such as, the origins of life and others, which no one disputes. ID/C is not giving the scientific world good reasons to take them seriously except on the political and public relations fronts.
(Link) Peer review in scientific research.
For several centuries the process of peer review has been recognized as an integral part of the scientific enterprise. In fact, nowadays a technical finding is not considered a bona fide scientific result unless and until it has passed peer review. This is an important point -- there is no such thing as non peer reviewed science. In fact, most scientific research institutions, as a matter of strict policy, do not announce a research finding until it not only has passed peer review, but has actually appeared in the scientific journal or conference proceedings to which it was submitted.
Along this line, note that whenever scientific issues are "debated" in any other forum -- blogs, discussion forums, news columns, political campaigns, Fox News, legislative bodies, television and radio, etc. -- such discussions are not to be taken seriously, particularly when the writers or speakers are not highly qualified research scientists.
It is also important to keep in mind a principle popularized by Carl Sagan: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence [Sagan1998, pg. 60]. Thus manuscripts that make strong claims, such as that some long-standing theory is fundamentally faulty, or that a long-standing mystery has been resolved, or that long-sought experimental evidence has been found, then such manuscripts are scrutinized particularly carefully, and the authors are expected to provide exceptionally convincing reasoning and documentation.
Hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific articles are published each year in many thousands of journals and conference proceedings. This massive and rapidly growing body of work constitutes the core of what is properly referred to as "scientific research."
The process of peer review has been an essential part of scientific research for 3 centuries. It requires a huge amount of time and effort on the part of scientific researchers, both to prepare manuscripts for peer review and also to review manuscripts written by other scientists. But the resulting peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings are of significantly higher quality as a result. While the process is certainly not foolproof, and lapses have occurred of both types (accepting bad papers and rejecting good papers), it has demonstrated itself to be a highly effective means of uncovering truth about the physical world.
ID/C publishes a great many books and articles in the popular press. This literature is often cast in scientific terminology, and may be persuasive to those who lack professional training in the particular fields of science in question, but it is not real science because it is not tested; it is made up of opinions. Is it measurable? Is it testable?
At the Dover trial, Dr. Behe (ID/C proponent), during cross-examination admitted, “There are no peer-reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological systems occurred.” Behe also conceded that there were no peer-reviewed articles some of the other claims that systems (such as the blood-clotting cascade, the immune system, and the bacterial flagellum) were irreducibly complex or intelligently designed. There are no scientific standards of peer review.(Prothero, Chapter 2)
Before we look into the ID/C wedge we need to first look at what scientists say science is.
What makes science, science? What makes since? A sampling of the Web, books and articles by scientists show many different approaches to the answer. But behind the variations, commonalities quickly emerge.
(From the National Center for Science Education) Science is a process for learning about the natural world, and also the knowledge generated through this process. The methodology of science is just as important as the specific knowledge science reveals.
As Carl Sagan observed, Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.
The process of science is creative and flexible. There is no single scientific method used by all scientists. Rather, scientists use a variety of tools and techniques to test their hypotheses about the natural world. In disciplines such as chemistry, experiments can be directly performed in laboratories, with control samples and repetition. In disciplines using the methods of historical science, such as paleontology, scientists act more like forensic detectives, logically examining clues left behind at fossilized death scenes. In other disciplines, such as astronomy, experiments conducted on earth can help astronomers to understand processes faintly observed in distant stars.
All scientific conclusions are tentative—they will be changed if new evidence contradicts previous understandings. As Donald Prothero has written, Science is not about finding final truth, only about testing and refining better and better hypotheses so these hypotheses approach what we think is true about the world.
It is important to keep in mind that the present concept of evolution cannot be a final and absolute truth. It is subject to further modification and change, as new facts are discovered, using the scientific method, as with all other scientific theories. There are many exciting discoveries ahead for evolution. Evolutionary biology is a necessary component to the newest fields of medicine, agriculture, biotechnology and law. (Please see AtheistScholar.org. Atheism and Creationism)
“In a non-rigorous and most general way, science can perhaps be defined as a human endeavor consciously aimed at acquiring knowledge about the world in a systematic and logically consistent manner, based on factual evidence obtained by observation and experimentation.”(Perakh 321)
The first commonality to emerge is the purpose of science. We use science to answer, in a meaningful way, questions we have about the universe we inhabit from the chemicals, millions of cells and microbes that make us up , out to the furthest reaches of deep space. In order to do this in an orderly process we use the scientific method. Niall Shanks says that science is a collection of human activities aimed at explaining the origins and nature of things we see in the world around us and the changes that these things undergo. Science proceeds through the construction of theories, which should be supported by high quality evidence and testing. The outcomes can be replicated by other laboratories or investigators.
What are the agreed upon elements of the scientific process? When this question is explored we can find many descriptions by scientists, in their different fields, from micro biology to astro physics. But once again a commonality soon emerges which makes our understanding less of a challenge.
I will be quoting from several scientists and science organizations to present the approaches to science and discover the self-imposed demands the scientific process places on each individual researcher.
From the simplest of outlines to chapters and books scientists have set out their methods.
The Scientific Methods.
J. Kimball, University of Washington, Department of Biology. As a part of Scientific Methods Kimball refers to the characteristics of science. All data and theories are treated with healthy doses of skepticism. Tolerance of uncertainty is needed when ideas do not seem to fit a certain problem. Scientists know their views are based on probabilities and a new piece of evidence may force a major shift in their thinking. Each scientist must know the foundations on which their subject is based.
Scientific methods are as varied as science itself but there is a pattern of similarity in the way scientists go about their work.
“The goal of science is to find an explanation for why the facts are as they are.”
That explanation is a hypotheses. Good hypotheses provide adequate explanations of the observed facts. If two or more hypothesis meet this standard the simpler one is preferred. It should also be able to predict new facts and certain specific consequences can be deduced from it. The null hypothesis asks the question, “Has the experimental treatment really had no effect?” Perhaps chance played a part. If the null hypothesis is less that 0.05 then the null is disproved and the observed difference is significant. Significance is not absolutely true but the high probability of the hypothesis provides a valid explanation of the particular phenomenon being studied. Science can never prove that a theory is absolutely true, but it can show that a theory is false.
Scientific work is reproducible either by the original researcher or by workers halfway around the world separated by time and distance. The great strength of science is its built-in system for self-correction.
Only rarely does a scientific discovery change the way scientists perceive the world around them. Darwin’s theory of evolution and Mendel’s rules of inheritance are examples of revolutionary developments.
Most science is brick work. One idea builds on another idea. New techniques lay the foundation for rapid advances in many fields. Just the discovery and development of the light microscope and later the electron microscope have contributed many advances to biology and related fields.
What makes it science? UCLA California Academy of Sciences:
Focuses on the natural world. Uses testable ideas. Same results can be obtained by different scientists in other labs. Relies on testable evidence. Involves the scientific community. Leads to ongoing research. Benefits from scientific behavior.
Mark Perakh in his book, “Unintelligent Design”, contributes 39 pages to a discussion he calls “The Building Blocks of Science”. (Perakh 326-365) The disclaimer is immediately put forward that science does not exist as a “neat scheme”. The blocks can be interchangeable and the boundaries of the blocks can be flexible. The blocks are a convenient way of explaining the scientific process. Let’s explore the blocks.
Methods of experimentation. Data. Bridging Hypotheses. Laws. Models. Cognitive Hypotheses. Theories.
Galileo Galilei’s use of the telescope pushed forward the development of astronomy. The orbiting of the Hubble telescope pushed astronomy to the outer reaches of space. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek built his revolutionary microscopes in the late fifteen hundreds and early 1600s. The results of his work with single celled animals using his microscopes was so detailed for the time that the Royal Society of London refused to accept his papers as a fancy. It took several years for his reputation for accuracy to be recognized and his contribution for microscopy to be distributed. In the 1920s and the earlier 1930s the electron microscope was develop by several researchers. Electron microscopes were developed into the 1930s, and since then greatly enhanced, to enable us to look more closely at objects than is possible with a light microscope. Scientists’ had correctly predicted a microscope that used electrons instead of visible light, as the illumination source, could view objects at far higher resolutions than a light microscope. (Science Learn.org) Antonie van Leeuwenhoek expanded the view 500 times. The electron resolution can reach up to 10,000,000. (Explore Electron Microscopy Sciences) From viewing single cell animals to atoms in 400 years. On May 24, 2013 scientists in the Netherlands took a picture of the inside of a hydrogen atom—the electrons, the protons, the neutrons. Quantum mechanics makes it virtually impossible to pin down these subatomic particles. Instead of having the ability to describe where a particle is, quantum theory provides a description of its whereabouts called a wave function. Wave functions work like sound waves, except that whereas the mathematical description of a sound wave defines the motion of molecules in air at a particular place, a wave function describes the probability of finding the particle. Most attempts to directly observe wave functions actually destroy them in a process called collapse. So to experimentally measure the properties of a wave function requires researchers to reconstruct it from many separate destructive measurements on identically prepared atoms or molecules. Please see the report on Science News. http://news.sciencemag.org/2013/05/snapshot-inside-atom.
The unstoppable development of experimental methods, from designing giant accelerators for elementary particles to small improvements in measuring and observational methods, is what underlies the progress of science. (Perakh 327)
The scientific pathway is data, via hypotheses to laws and from laws to theories. Data is synonymous with facts. It is also synonymous with evidence. Without data there is no science, only pseudoscience. (Perakh 328) “The language of science is overwhelmingly mathematical.” (Perakh 322)
(It is interesting to note that a frequent feature of pseudo-scientific theories is that they often suggest a neat and simple scheme allegedly representing complex reality-they leave out the testable data). (Perakh 325)
Scientific observation or experimentation, while driven mainly by curiosity, always has an either conscious or subconscious purpose – to establish verifiable facts which may shed light on the intrinsic structure and functioning of the real world. (Perakh 329)
Reliable data, via proper observation, accompanied by accurate measurement is an important part of the scientific arsenal.
An example is the discovery in the early part of the twentieth century (1911), of superconductivity. When lowered to below the critical temperature of a given material- the electric resistivity of certain materials dropped to almost no resistance at all. In 1986 a ceramic material was discovered with a much higher critical temperature enabling experimental work to take place in labs without using extreme temperatures, absolute zero. The scientists tested and retested their idea and finally announced it to a skeptical scientific community who then tested and retested and reproduced the results many times over. It took another fifty years for the theory to be fully developed.
The path from data acquisition can be arduous and prolonged.
These types of Hypotheses constitute a bridge from the raw data to the postulating of an objective law. If there is doubt on the part of the scientist two hypotheses are constructed-the null hypotheses and the alternative (bridging) hypotheses. The two are rigorously compared. The one whose likelihood is larger is accepted, the other rejected. The rigorous self-verification inherent in proper scientific procedure makes a vast number of laws of science work very well despite their tentative character.
Laws of science are both postulates and approximations. Fortunately, as the great success of science and technology based on it prove, those laws which have become firmly accepted as a part of science are, without exception, good postulates and good approximations. Every experiment adds a very small chunk to the vast arsenal of scientific knowledge, and the interpretation of any set of data must necessarily fit in with the entire wealth of science.
There are many classical examples of models; the stand in for the real thing. Brahe had meticulously accumulated data regarding the positions of the planets of the solar system. Kepler reviewed this data and postulated that they reflected a law (introducing a bridging hypothesis) and further postulated the three specific laws of planetary motion. A theory was needed to explain Kepler’s laws. Newton took all this information and combined it with his theories and equations of gradation and general laws of mechanics which then explained the actual planetary motions.
Choosing the model is very important as witnessed in this century by ID/C Behe’s use of the mouse trap to explain irreducible complexity. We will soon revisit this sad idea.
The cognitive hypothesis is a basic idea serving as a foundation for a theory’s development.
A scientific theory is an explanation of a phenomenon that is systematic, plausible and compatible with the entirety of the available experimental or observational evidence.
Firestein and Ignorance
In an entirely different approach, the nureologist, Stuart Firestein explores the difference of being ignorant in science and using ignorance to open new pathways to unending discoveries.
The neuroscientist Stuart Firestein says that new facts lead back to ignorance because they raise more questions which must be answered. (Ignorance 22) Real science is a revision in progress, always. It proceeds in fits and starts of ignorance. George Bernard Shaw stated: ‘Science is always wrong. It never solves a problem without creating 1o more. It can produce ignorance at a faster rate than it produces knowledge.” Firestein and Shaw were using, although separated by 70 years, ignorance in the sense of asking questions that lead to a deeper understanding of the concepts being studied.
What is (ID/C) saying that requires so much of our attention?
(Note - This is the text of the Discovery Institute's "Wedge Document," prepared in 1998, revised from the 1996 original. It lays out "the Wedge strategy" by which the Discovery’s Institute’s Center for Renewal of Science and Culture would promote "intelligent design" creationism. They have offices in Seattle and Washington, D.C.)
These are their abridged statements as copied on the website National Center for Science Education: Defending the Teaching of Evolution & Climate Change. (http://ncse.com/about)
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a not-for-profit, membership organization providing information and resources for schools, parents, and concerned citizens working to keep evolution and climate science in public school science education.
Svante Paabo in his book, Neanderthal Man, writes about the roll that politics within the scientific community has to be overcome sometimes with overwhelming examples of a new perspective or idea.
The Wedge. http://ncse.com/creationism/general/wedge-document
What is (ID/C)?
Let us examine the ID/C statement of purpose.
This document grew out of a conference held at a California Christian college in 1996. Since that time the movement has challenged the education system at all levels. There have been numerous court cases challenging their attempts to “wedge” religious ideas into the public schools, into the classrooms in college science programs, and altering museum displays to fit the Christian bible. (Please see Evolution and Conflict Between Science and Religion at ).
“THE WEDGE” CENTER FOR THE RENEWAL OF SCIENCE & CULTURE INTRODUCTION” October 14th, 2008.
The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West's greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.
Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art.
The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.
Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.
Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth.
Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature. The Center awards fellowships for original research, holds conferences, and briefs policymakers about the opportunities for life after materialism.
The Center is directed by Discovery Senior Fellow Dr. Stephen Meyer. An Associate Professor of Philosophy at Whitworth College, Dr. Meyer holds a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He formerly worked as a geophysicist for the Atlantic Richfield Company.
THE WEDGE STRATEGY
Scientific Research, Writing & Publicity
Publicity & Opinion-making
Cultural Confrontation & Renewal
The rest of their document discusses the need to confront the culture of materialism, focuses on publicity, opinion making, an expansion of the three basic goals, five year and twenty year outlooks, publication of scientific and academic articles, and the push to get ID into the schools at all levels.
Intelligent design includes the proposition that some features of living things are too complex to have been produced by the process of evolution and therefore they must be attributed to the creative work of a special intelligence or designer (euphemisms for God) who creates these pathways, these genes, and these organisms and operates in ways that stand outside of nature and therefore by mechanisms which cannot be scientifically investigated.
(Someone suggested that (ID/C) was the old wine of Creationism in new bottles.)
Intelligent Design theory states that the universe, and, more specifically, life, is not the accidental outcome of a spontaneous chain of random events but the result of a deliberate design by an intelligent mind. (Could the words “mind”, “intelligent being”, “entity” be euphemisms for God?)
The Wedge is a political/religious strategy, from the get go, favored by leading proponents of intelligent design theory. It is cleverly designed to undermine science as we know it, as well as modern, secular forms of government. Wedge strategists seek to reject our common intellectual inheritance from the Enlightenment with views to reinstating a theocratic form of government in which the wall of separation between church and state will no longer exist. A wedge has a tiny end and a fat end. At the thin edge of the wedge strategy are attempts at local, state, and national levels to get intelligent design theory taught alongside properly presented scientific theories about the world we live in. (God is rarely mentioned at this edge of wedge(preferring to use euphemisms), and for this reason intelligent design theory has been referred to as “Stealth creationism.” Toward the far fatter end of the wedge a broader social and political agenda emerges, in which it becomes clear that intelligent design theory is a carefully crafted ideological vehicle intelligently designed to provide a theological justification for social causes close to the hearts of religious extremists. (Niall Shank. God, the Devil, and Darwin).
United States Conservative Fundamentalist Christians, let alone other fundamentalist religions around the world, perceiving a threat to their way of life based on a literal interpretation of the King James Version of the bible, and other sacred texts, sought to defend themselves and their way of life against materialism and naturalism.
In the first sentence of the introduction to the wedge it states: “The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God…” In the second paragraph they hold the “intellectuals” responsible for drawing on the ideas of Darwin, Marx and Freud to portray humans as “animals or machines” at the whim of biology, chemistry and environment to do away with moral standards and view all areas of society and study through the lens of a materialist scheme.”
The Wedge people further state that they seek to over throw materialism and to re-open the case for a theistic understanding of nature. ID seeks to replace the materialist worldview with a science “…consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” In their five year objective, number 6, they will have identified ten states in which to rectify ideological imbalance in the states’ science curricula and include design theory.
Throughout the document, goals and objectives are set for using the court system to insert ID into the public schools science programs and to limit or prohibit the teaching of evolution. As their program has evolved their newest objective is to use “equal time”, “teach both sides of the controversy” (This is not a scientific, but a political/religious attempt to insert religion into the public schools. Not just any religion but a specific fundamentalist driven form of Christianity.) The Discovery Institute wants to provide the opportunity for scientific comparison between ID and evolution. ID is religion and belongs in a comparative religion class. For broader overview of both Creationism and ID as well as the court actions growing out of ID’s attempt to insert itself into the public schools please see (Evolution: Creationism, Creation Science, Intelligent Design, “Strengths and Weaknesses” on AtheistScholar.org.)
I want to examine some of the consequences of the wedge document. In the document ID/C’s key points are religious insertion into society using legal, political, the entire field of education, public relations, publicity and opinion making. Book publication is mentioned several times.
Adherence to the scientific method is conspicuously missing.
Carl Zimmer reacts to ID/C by saying once ID is shorn of its distracting attacks on evolution, there’s very little real science left to consider. How does ID account for all of this evidence in favor of evolution, from the fossil record to mutation rates, to the similarities, and differences between species? At what exact point did the designer intervene in the evolution of the horse, or bird flight, or the Cambrian explosion? And what did the designer do? How can we test these claims? What predictions has ID made that have resulted in important new discoveries? If you look for answers to these questions, you end up only with contradictions, untestable claims, or, most often silence.
ID/C proponents emerge very vocally at school board meetings to remove the teaching of evolution from text books, to put tags at the front of text books stating that evolution is only a theory when they do not know what a theory is, to demand equal time to explain how God brought this science all about, to lobby state and national legislators to introduce prayer to the public schools, to back candidates that will support their medieval views. (Carl Zimmer pp 230)
Why is it wrong to teach creationism in science classes?
(National Center for Science Education)
It's religious discrimination.
Teaching creationism privileges a single religious viewpoint. Many mainstream Christians, Jews and Muslims, along with Hindus, Buddhists, deists, and those of other faiths, reject many or all of the doctrines held by self-styled creationists.
Covering the entire spectrum of religious beliefs about origins might be appropriate for a comparative religion class, but it is not appropriate for science classes.
Furthermore, seemingly neutral policies such as "teach the controversy" or "teach both sides" actually single out particular religious viewpoints and place them in opposition to mainstream science. Students could come away from their science classes with the understanding that, for instance, fundamentalist Christianity is particularly hostile to modern biology. Thus, policies requiring or allowing the teaching of creationism could lead to discrimination against the very religions they are intended to defend.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids the government from establishing religion. This means that public schools cannot give special privileges to any religion. Since creationism is a sectarian religious view, it cannot be given preferential treatment by any government body, including public schools.
It’s bad science.
Standard creationist claims — about the age of the Earth, the pattern of descent of living creatures, and human history— are contradicted by scientific evidence, and were rejected by mainstream science over a century ago. Teaching such claims in science class misinforms and miss-educates students.
It would damage our students' understanding of evolution, one of the most significant theories in science, critical to unifying biology, to integrating biology with geology and astronomy, and to establishing the scientific foundations of modern medicine and agriculture. Creationist arguments also frequently promote severe misunderstandings in other scientific and mathematical areas, such as thermodynamics and statistics.
Creationist claims also create confusion about the nature of the scientific research; the way scientists actually obtain and evaluate evidence, make and test hypotheses, and continue to deepen our scientific understanding of natural processes. Thus, the damage of teaching creationism goes deeper that the specific subject matter, and makes it harder for students to understand new scientific ideas throughout their lives.
A key concept in ID/C is irreducible complexity.
(I will be referring to Mark Perakh in eSkeptics 08-08-2000 and others since the year 2000)
One of the Discovery Institutes strongest spokespersons is the biologist Dr. Michael J. Behe (a senior fellow of The Discovery Institute and a key witness at the Dover trial in 2005 which embarrassingly exposed ID/C for what it is) and author of the bestselling ID/C book, Darwin’s Black Box.
The concept of irreducible complexity was in fact known for many years before Behe’s book. Galen (1st and 2nd centuries AD) wrote about the large number of parts of the body and their relationships, each part being whole and self contained, which observation was cited as evidence for creation. John Wilkins, one of the founders of the Royal Society, who wrote (citing Galen), "Now to imagine, that all these things, according to their several kinds, could be brought into this regular frame and order, to which such an infinite number of Intentions are required, without the contrivance of some wise Agent, must needs be irrational in the highest degree." In the early 18th century, Nicolas Malebranche wrote "An organized body contains an infinity of parts that mutually depend upon one another in relation to particular ends, all of which must be actually formed in order to work as a whole," arguing in favor of preformation, rather than epigenesise, of the individual. The Nobel Prize winning biologist Hermann J. Müller had already discussed it (under the slightly different name of “interlocking complexity”) in 1918. Some 10 years before Behe’s book the same idea was explored by A. Graham Cairns-Smith. Unlike Behe, however, these pioneers did not claim that the concept in question was a great discovery on a par with those by “Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schroedinger, Pasteur, and Darwin” (as Behe actually asserted in Darwin’s Black Box). Neither did they claim that “irreducible complexity” was a “marker” of a supernatural design. To the contrary, according to Müller, development of interlocking complexity in biological systems is to be expected from Darwinian evolution. Therefore the concept in question, as such, evoked no resistance from mainstream science.
As a household example of irreducible complexity, Behe chooses the mouse trap—a Machine that could not function if any of its pieces were missing and whose pieces have no value except as parts of the whole. Therefore a designer had to make this object. Similar to Rev Paley’s (creationist) argument in 1802 of the watch found on the beach fame… we assume someone designed it and made it. If you remove a part the watch will not work- irreducible complexity. The same for the human eye-remove a part and it will not work-therefore irreducible complexity – therefore a designer, a creator, a euphemism.
We now return to the 21st century. Behe counts 6 parts for the mouse trap. (There are actually 7) Young and Edis in Why Intelligent Design Fails counted 7 parts to their mouse trap. They removed the latch. (Where you place the bait) They then wedged the bar just under the left hand side of the pin, creating a “hair trigger”, where the bait was placed. If the mouse approached from the outside (left hand side) it got away with the bait. If the mouse approached from the right hand side over the platform and touched the bait it got caught. The trap was not as effective, but it still worked. John H. McDonald, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Delaware, posted an animated essay- “A Reducibly Complex Mousetrap”, (http://udel.edu/~mcdonald/mousetrap.htmlh)please take the time to visit this site for an exposure of the “irreducible complexity” argument.
Behe, not to be set aside, now moves the Irreducible Complexity argument with the mouse trap over to the flagellum. By “irreducibly complex” Behe means a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. Some biological systems are too complex to have been formed by increments over evolutionary time. In other words, if you take away one part, the rest falls apart completely, like a house of cards. Such complexity could only have come into existence by the hand of a designer, intelligent; I think I see a euphemism again; is there room for Darwin here?
The mousetrap is made by human hands following a blue print.
The mouse follows a recipe recorded in its genome. We cannot expect a mouse to suddenly appear from nothing. We can expect a mouse to appear as we know it today. We can expect to see a mouse, or a flagellum, or an eye, or a blood clotting cascade as a result of eons of evolution.
The mouse trap argument is washed up. It cannot even be fossilized. Now to clear out the flagellum argument.
A flagellum is a projection from the cell body of certain prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells in the form of a tail or several tails.
Prokaryotes (pro-KAR-ee-ot-es)) are organisms without a cell nucleus, or any other membrane-bound organelles. Most are unicellular, but some prokaryotes are multicellular.
Eukaryotes (IPA: [juːˈkæɹɪɒt]) are organisms whose cells are organized into complex structures by internal membranes and a cytoskeleton. The most characteristic membrane bound structure is the nucleus. Animals, plants, fungi, and protists are eukaryotes.
The flagellum is used to propel the cell. Behe is saying to us that if even one component was absent, it would no longer function and so could not have developed incrementally over millions of years.
Christ College Cambridge counters Behe with the following observations.
“First at hand, some proteins in bacterial flagella have been shown to be helpful but non-essential to the flagella’s function. Several of these structures have been removed through genetic manipulation and the cells can still swim showing that the flagellum is functional. In addition, different bacteria have different flagella which require different and unique proteins. As such this irreducibly complex structure shows a large amount of variability and requires a range of different proteins in different organisms arguing against a single irreducibly complex structure.
Second at hand, the proteins making up the flagellum are very often similar to each other and to proteins used for other functions within the cell. This allows a model based on gene duplication to be built. In this model a section of DNA is duplicated resulting in a second copy of a gene within an organism, and this second copy is not maintained by selection since the first copy is still fulfilling the original role. Subsequently, therefore, this gene may diverge and can be co-opted into the flagellum. The existence of these similar proteins provides an indication that the flagellum did arise from existing structures rather than being produced in fully functional form by an intelligent external creator.”
The above two paragraphs rely heavily on Ed Roberts & Andy Maddox Christ's College Darwin Project. © 2009 Christ's College, Cambridge. And we have not even gotten to an ID/C favorite-the human eye. Again so complex that only a designer could have produced it.
And another favorite is the blood cascade which goes into effect when we are cut and bleeding. All elements must be present or it will not work. His (Behe’s) example was one of the turning points in the Dover trial…….
There is a large difference in what you anticipate as an outcome between an organism skillfully designed and one that is formed over eons of time by natural selection. Jerry A. Coyne (Why Evolution is True 12). Natural selection is a tinkerer rather than a top engineer. Natural selection works with the materials at hand, in the immediate environment. The intelligent designer is a very talented stylist and has a worldwide tool crib to order overnight anything needed to make his work an object of perfection. The naturally selected human eye can only perceive a limited range of the visual spectrum. The spectrum for human beings is between the wavelengths 400 and 700 (nanometers) which gives us respectable color perception but regrettably leaves out over ninety percent of the other wave lengths including ultra violet rays and inferred rays. Not to mention radar and gamma rays. A blindfolded rattle snake, for example, can correctly strike a rat (at the back of the neck avoiding the rat’s sharp teeth) using its infrared sensors. Lack of infrared sensors is a minor point for humans but then we have to mention the growing of cataracts that afflicts so many of our worldwide population, from children to elders and can bring on blindness. A list of eye diseases-some of the 54 major illnesses of the eye: age-related macular degeneration, subconjunctival hemorrhage, retinal detachment, scieritis, corneal ulcer, hyphema, one-rod dystropya, ophthalmoplegia, retinitis, pigmentosa, hypertensive retinopathy and many more diseases of the eye. Should we discuss the intelligently designed human lower back?
The human eye? Not so intelligently designed. The lower back? Need for much improvement. This is the real eye we have. Where is the eye or back that is so intelligently designed? Is it in the imagination of the Discovery Institute? (Foley, Hugh J. and Margert W. Martin.)
“Science is the product of the human mind and human endeavors, and does not look for confirmation of its theories in the bible or any other religious source. Equally, faith is not based on scientific proof of what is believed to be divine revelation; no efforts to reconcile the two areas, such as the attempts made by, Behe, Dembski and others, can change this situation.” (Mark Perakh. Unintelligent Design. 2004.)
The very existence of organisms of any kind involves the existence of complex, structured, highly organized, and ordered states of matter. Organisms are many orders of magnitude more complex than pocket watches. Scientists are motivated to find an explanation for these systems through the laws of thermodynamics. They observe the natural, unguided, causal processes producing complex, organized structures. The scientists are looking for natural causes. The creationists see this activity as proof of intelligent design and supernatural causation. ID repeated long and loud enough produces yet another Augean stable of doubt and misdirection to be cleaned. Shanks (2004)93.
Mark Perakh comments on William Dembski’s (like Behe a leading spokesperson for the Discovery Institute and ID/C) chance and probability in Dembski’s books The Design Inference and No Free Lunch and exposes them for what they are. The two books contain many technical formulas. Perakh asserts that they contain little of genuine mathematics, but are full of “mathematisms”. There is great usage of mathematical symbolism as embellishment, often only to create an impression of a scientific rigor of the discourse. Dembski and his symbolic renditions do not add anything of substance; they actually provide no advantage over the plain-word rendition even from the view point of brevity. “I have no objections to Dembski’s extensive use of mathematical symbolism, which is his right and often looks quite attractive, but I don’t think this extensive mathematism justifies viewing his discourses as “mathematically rigorous” as his followers do at the Creationist center. Many parts of that mathematical symbolism seem to serve no useful purpose.” Ultimately, after many pages and books on chance and probability Dembski is leading the reader to the designer concept.
ID/C is obstructionist.
(Kenneth Miller, a well known biologist, and an expert witness, had been called to the Dover school district trial challenging Intelligent Design being introduced, through the book, Pandas (A Discovery Institute publication) into the science curriculum. The following discussion of the blood clotting mechanism, from the book – the cascade effect-is being reviewed in court at the Dover trial. Miller is referring to slides during the discussion which we will follow without seeing the slides.)
The following presentation is an excerpt from the Dover trial transcript.
Kenneth Miller is speaking.
Now, blood clotting is, biochemically, an enormously complicated process.
In the lower right-hand corner (of the slide), there is a scanned electron micrograph of a red blood cell caught in a clot. And the action of this pathway produces a crosslink protein known as fibrin, which produces a meshwork which actually stabilizes the clot and helps blood to stop flowing.
Pandas describes this system, and on Page 141, and I quote, it tells students, -as we shall see, such interactive systems as illustrated here by the mechanism for a blood clotting are very strong arguments for intelligent design and are virtually impossible to explain in terms of Darwinian evolution, -unquote. Now, it's interesting to look into Pandas and say, why is it that this is an argument for design and impossible to explain by evolution?
Here is a page from Pandas describing the blood clotting cascade and a diagram of the cascade and two quotations from Pages 145 and 146. Here is the essence of the argument that students are given in Pandas. From Page 145, quote, Only when all the components of the system are present and in good working order does the system function properly, unquote.
Later in the page and going onto Page 146, it talks about the various proteins in the clotting pathway, and it says, quote, some of them -- these are the clotting proteins -- share discrete regions of their sequences with some others. Does that mean that they derive from one another? It may. But consider that even if this were the case, all of the proteins had to be present simultaneously for the blood clotting system to function, unquote.
So the argument made by Pandas is that the reason this is an example of design is because it's a multi-part system, and all of the parts have to be put together, presumably by a creator/designer before the system will work.
Well, that's a scientific statement in the sense that it's a claim that all the parts have to be present for the system to work. And because that is a scientific claim, we can investigate it scientifically and see if it is valid.
A standard and simple and straightforward scientific test of the claim that all parts must be present for this to work is simple. Eliminate one of the parts; see if the blood will clot. If it won't clot anymore, the claim might be right. If it will clot, the claim could be wrong.
Well, fortunately nature has actually done that experiment for us. And if you could advance the slide, I'm going to show right now, essentially here's the pathway, and I'm going to propose an experiment which is that we eliminate one of the important factors known as factor 12. That's right here. So there's my experiment. You can do this very easily on PowerPoint, much easier than you can do in the laboratory.
We have just eliminated factor 12, and the question now before the Court is, will blood clot or will it not? Advance the slide, please. It turns out that whales and dolphins have done this experiment for us already. Whales and dolphins, in 1969, well before Pandas was published, were shown to lack factor 12. And the slide contains a reference to an article by Robins, Kasting, and Aggeler from Science Magazine, Volume 166, Page 1420, 1969. And you will note a quotation from the abstract of this article saying, the dolphin intrinsic cascade lacks factor 12, unquote.
Now, this is from ancient history, as far as we molecular biologists might be concerned today, because 1969 is pre-molecular. So one might wonder, has that result held up?
Also in the lower left-hand corner of the slide I have pointed out that a paper published in 1998 by Semba, et al., confirms using genome analysis, that whale Hageman factor 12 basically is now a pseudogene in the whale genome. That's why it is not produced. It is, indeed, missing from the clotting cascade.
Whales face many problems on this planet. They're overhunted, they're overfished, but they don't have any problems with their blood clotting. So blood clots just fine, despite missing the factor 12. So the scientific prediction from Pandas turns out to be wrong.
Judge: And the prediction was -- this was known in 1969 is what you're saying?
Miller: Absolutely, that's correct. So certainly the people writing it should have known. But interestingly, in recent years, you might say the situation has gotten worse.
Judge: I'm sorry, worse in what sense?
Miller: Worse in the sense that the case that Pandas is trying to make has become even farther removed from scientific reality.
Can I show the next slide, please? Here again is my representation of the various components of the blood clotting cascade. And this time I'd like to propose that we take away not one part, but three. If you'd advance the slide, please. The proposal is that we take away the three parts which are known as the contact phase system. Now, that includes factor 12, which we talked about a second ago, but also factor 11 and also the factor that catalyzes the conversion of 12 to the active form.
Advance the slide, please. Those are the three parts that I propose eliminating. And advance it one more time, please. There they go. They're gone. It turns out these three parts are missing in a vertebrate known as the puffer fish.
And I have placed in the left-hand part of the slide a reference to a paper by Jiang and Doolittle, 2003. The title of the paper is, ”The Evolution of Vertebrate Blood Coagulation as Viewed from a Comparison of Puffer Fish and Sea Squirt Genomes”. It appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a very eminent scientific journal, Volume 100, Page 7527. And the relevant point here is that they are missing three parts of the system and their blood clots perfectly well.
(End of trial excerpt.)
For three interesting obstructionists sites to visit for exposure to ID/C please see the end of the bibliography.
There are so many areas in science where ID/C negatively crosses paths with science it is hard to choose an example.
Maybe a good example is the complex interaction observed at the bottom of the oceans in areas where the tectonic plates move over and under each other. This is where extreme heat and very high water pressure meet.
Hydrothermal Vents and diffuse vents: the possibility of life’s first beginnings on earth. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
And-(Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Hydrothermal Systems at Mid-Ocean Ridge Thermal Systems)
In 1977, scientists diving in the submersible Alvin made a stunning discovery on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean: vents pouring hot, mineral-rich fluids from beneath the seafloor. In addition, they also found the vents were inhabited by previously unknown organisms that thrived in the absence of sunlight. These discoveries forever changed our understanding of Earth and life on it.
Like hot springs and geysers on land, hydrothermal vents form in volcanically active areas—often on mid-ocean ridges, where Earth’s tectonic plates are spreading apart and where magma wells up to the surface or close beneath the seafloor. Ocean water percolates into the crust through cracks and porous rocks and is heated by underlying magma. The heat helps drive chemical reactions that remove oxygen, magnesium, sulfates and other chemicals from the water that entered the ocean through rain, rivers, and groundwater. In the process, the fluids also become hotter and more acidic, causing them to leach metals such as iron, zinc, copper, lead, and cobalt from the surrounding rocks. The heated fluids rise back to the surface through openings in the seafloor. Hydrothermal fluid temperatures can reach 400°C (750°F) or more, but they do not boil under the extreme pressure of the deep ocean
As they pour out of a vent, the fluids encounter cold, oxygenated seawater, causing another, more rapid series of chemical reactions to occur. Sulfur and other materials precipitate, or come out of solution, to form metal-rich towers and deposits of minerals on the seafloor. The fluids also contain chemicals that feed microbes at the base of a unique food web that survives apart from the sun. Instead of relying on photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into organic carbon, the bacteria use chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide to provide the energy source that drives their metabolic processes and ultimately support a wide range of other organisms such as tubeworms, shrimp, and mussels.
Vents also support complex ecosystems of exotic organisms that have developed unique biochemical adaptations to high temperatures and environmental conditions we would consider toxic. Learning about these organisms can teach us about the evolution of life on Earth and the possibility of life elsewhere in the solar system and the universe.
Plumes from such vents can be traced in the ocean for hundreds of meters upwards and hundreds of kilometers horizontally.
The hot fluids rising from depth are mixed with cold seawater and spread out before they emerge back onto the seafloor or are carried to the upper layers of the ocean. These are called diffuse vents and are usually only a few tens of degrees above the near freezing deep ocean water. This is the basis for an ecosystem that is largely independent of the sun and gives rise to the specialized vent animals such as the large tubeworms and clams. The relatively low temperature allows the animals to remain immersed in the nutrient rich water and allows the diffuse vent sites to develop into complex ecosystems. Often chimneys with focused, high-temperature venting are surrounded by areas of diffuse, low-temperature venting with more examples of divergent life forms. In all of the above we see the building of a food chain.
(There is an update)
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
A newly discovered ocean plume could be a major source of iron-the study reveals micronutrient riches rising from the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Update. August 13, 2013
Scientists have discovered a huge plume of iron and other micro nutrients more than 1,000 km or 621.371 miles long billowing from hydrothermal vents in the South Atlantic Ocean. The finding is causing the scientific community to adjust upward their estimates for the amount of iron being produced from the vents around the world.
The iron is being found near the surface in small particles as well as distributed along the ocean floor.
After the initial discoveries in the 1970s the ID/C community began to debunk the findings because the vents were “slowing down” and the pressure would hold the iron down. The organisms would explode as they neared the surface therefore they could not have evolved into different life forms. The ID/C continue to downplay the implications for the potential of early life formation at the great heat and depth. They ignored the life forms that are already there. The vents are slowing down and will eventually stop. See Casey Luskin. http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/838
Another update is in order. No slowing of the vents has been observed.
Woods Hole Oceangraphic Institute- Sievert Lab - Studying the Microbial Ecology & Physiology of Dark Life Overall Research Goals
How did life on earth begin? Is there a clue at the bottom of the sea? Marine microorganisms are essential to the maintenance of our biosphere, yet we have only a fragmentary understanding of the diversity and function of microbial life in the oceans. The Microbial Ecology & Physiology Lab studies the composition, diversity, and function of microbial communities, with the objective of understanding the relationship between microorganisms and their role in the ocean biogeochemical cycles. A better understanding of the interactions between the biosphere and geosphere is key to elucidating the role of microbes in the environment. The ocean contains a vast array of microbes whose metabolism and physiology remain largely unknown due to a lack of cultivated representatives. This is particularly true for the 'dark ocean', i.e., the parts of the ocean beyond the thin veneer where phototrophic processes dominate.
The data collected at sea are only part of the puzzle, however. Back on shore, the scientists are working to sequence the DNA of the microbes from each sample, which will help them identify which species were present in the IGTs(Isobaric Gas Tight Sampler is 18 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 33 pounds, the ultra-strong titanium with special straws to draw bacteria saturated water into the tube.
The scientists are specifically interested in a class of microbes called Epsilonproteobacteria, which dominate the vents. On Earth’s surface, these bacteria are found only in small numbers, in environments ranging from mudflats and swamps to cows’ stomachs. But at vent sites, they thrive.
How do they thrive?
Other research has shown that the microbes survive by using chemicals in the vent fluids as raw material in a series of chemical reactions called reduction-oxidation, or “redox” reactions, which transfer electrons between molecules and release energy in the process. Yet even with these existing studies, it’s still unclear exactly which combinations of vent chemicals different microbial species prefer to use, which biochemical reactions they employ to make energy, and which of their genes allow these processes to happen.
The samplers, made of a titanium cylinder, can suck in bacteria and fluids, and then maintain the intense pressures of the deep sea inside the cylinder as it journeys all the way back to the surface.
Scientists are working to sequence the DNA of the microbes from each sample, which will help identify which species were present in the IGTs. They are also using a new technique called NanoSIMS (for Nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry), which can analyze cells of individual bacteria to tell them which species created the most biomass (the organic material that makes up a microbe’s “body”) during the experiments. With this information, they will be able to calculate which microbes experienced the most growth when exposed to specific chemicals, providing clues to the biochemical reactions the bacteria use to survive. The research will also help pinpoint which microbes are the most active in the vent ecosystem. The fact is that there’s still much to be learned about these vent bacteria—and that every new discoveries could lead to new questions.
We are looking for answers and looking for new questions.
From Naill Shanks. God, The Devil, and Darwin pp 246. “In the end, it is the moral implications of the intelligent design movement and not its instrumental manipulation of science and science education that we all, collectively, need to be concerned about. For as Phillip Johnson, the creationist has observed in his defense of the Wedge Strategy: “If reason is to be a reliable guide, it must be grounded in a foundation that is more fundamental than logic…Instrumental reason is not enough. That is why the fear of the Lord is not the beginning of superstition but the beginning of wisdom.” When reason rooted in evidence about the world is abandoned, we will all have much to fear, especially from those claiming to be the anointed worldly authorities of a supernatural being, the existence of which is rationally questionable. There is little doubt that the Lord’s self-appointed worldly authorities are likely to flourish all too well in communities and societies where the citizenry won’t be permitted to challenge their “wisdom” and will, like their ignorant medieval forebears prior to the Enlightenment, lack the intellectual tools and other means to do so.”
In the meantime we have many problems in the world today. We are beginning to run out of drinkable water. Some parts of the world are parched and others are flooding. The planet is warming, the polar ice is melting, the sea levels are rising and people are being forced to relocate from low lying areas around the world. At high tide some streets in Norfolk Va. flood. Houses on Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana have been washed away by rising seas and sinking land. Out of 300 original houses 20 remain. Low lying Island Nations in the South Pacific are being overwhelmed by rising sea levels and frequent strong storms.
Because of the droughts, food production and distribution problems are contributing to increasing world hunger, and once again in our history people are being forced to relocate. The ocean temperatures are rising and various fish species are migrating to find more opportune environments, straining the commercial fisheries. Our increasing human world population is stressing our energy resources.
We need scientists who can concentrate on these various problem areas. Elementary and High Schools worldwide need to stress mathematics and science skills to fill our future scientific, engineering needs and expand the technological talent base. We need political science majors with backgrounds in science and technology to take an expanding role in political systems around the world. Our colleges and universities need to be properly funded and unencumbered by research restraints in order to conduct programs following established scientific principles and practices, to work with these emerging problems. Established scientists should be free from unnecessary intrusions on their work, teaching and research time.
Increasingly there is an inhibiting influence that constrains and constricts this science and technological need even further than it already is. It is a growing movement to violate the United States constitution by inserting religion into the public schools, especially though the science curriculum.
(ID/C) are extremely effective in opinion making, media manipulation and political activism. The revisionists are part of the Discovery Institute/The Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture.
By its own documents the organization responsible makes it very clear what its intentions are. The establishment of a theocratic society under a specific fundamentalist religion.
(ID/C) emerges very vocally at school board meetings to remove the teaching of evolution from text books, to put tags at the front of text books stating that evolution is only a theory when they do not know what a theory is, to demand equal time to explain how God brought this science all about, to lobby state and national legislators to introduce prayer to the public schools, to back candidates that will support their medieval views. (After Carl Zimmer)
"You can't convince a believer of anything because their belief is not based on evidence but on a deep-seated need to believe"
~ Prof. Carl Sagan
Today’s intelligent-design advocates are more sophisticated than their predecessors, but their arguments are not fundamentally different. They criticize evolution by trying to demonstrate that it could not account for life as we know it and then insist that the only tenable alternative is that life was designed by an unidentified intelligence. (John Rennie-15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense-Scientific American June 17 2002.)
The process of fossilization destroys 99 percent of the bones and shells of most organisms, so less than 1% of all the species that have ever lived are preserved as fossils. And then they have the great luck to be spotted in the last 200 years when a paleontologist happens to be out collecting. (Donald R. Prothero-Evolution pp50)
The last question at the end of a conference/lecture presentation when Neil DeGlass Tyson was asked to comment.
Religious Troll: “I read a book, The Consulation of Philosphy. Boethus, the philosopher, is condemned to death. He has everything taken from him. All he has left is his reason and his sense of self. He consoles himself that the world has worth. There is something that keeps things together. He uses his reason to get to the root of why he should be at peace in the face of death. The problem is his source of origin is a belief in God. What would you do? You have nothing except your reason and your knowledge of science.”
Tyson: “I would request that my body, in death, be buried, not cremated, so that the energy contained within it gets returned to the earth, so that the flora and the fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined upon the flora and fauna throughout my life.” End quote.
May the explorers in all scientific fields continue their search for understanding in our universe and continue to share their knowledge with all of us.
Thank you for your attention. I am looking forward to our discussion.
Intelligent Design/Creationism Bibliography
Books and Articles
Behe, Michael J. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.
Charlesworth, Brian ad Deborah. Evoluton: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Coyne, Jerry A. Why Evolution is True. New York: Peguin Books, 2010.
Dawkins, Richard. The Greatest Sh0w On Earth: the Evidence for Evolution. New York: Free Press, 2009.
Dembski, William. No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002.
Firestein, Stuart. Ignorance: How It Drives Science. New York: Oxford, 2012.
Livio, Mario. Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013.
Paabo, Svante. Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes. New York: Basic Books, 2014.
Perakh, Mark. Unintelligent Design. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2004.
Prothero, Donald R. Evoution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters. New York: Colombia University Press, 2007.
Scott, Eugenie C. Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2009.
Schroeder, Gerald. The Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth. New York: Free Press, 2001.
Shanks, Niall. God, the Devil, and Darwin. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Young, Matt and Taner Edis, eds. Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006.
Zimmer, Carl. Evolution: the triumph of an idea. New York: Harper Collins, 2001.
Bailey, David H. Do creationism and intelligent design qualify as peer-reviewed science? 1 Jan 2014 http://www.sciencemeetsreligion.org/evolution/creationism-peer-review.php/
Foley, Hugh J. and Margert W. Martin. Sensation and Perception: Vision. http://www.skidmore.edu/~hfoley/Perc3.htm
Kitzmiller vs. Dover Drecision. December 31, 2005. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/kitzmiller_v_dover_decision.html
McDonald , John H. “A Reducibly Complex Mousetrap” Department of Biological Sciences, University of Delaware http://udel.edu/~mcdonald/mousetrap.html
Masic, David. 5 Facts About Evolution and Religion. Pew Research Center http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/10/30/5-facts-about-evolution-and-religion/
National Center for Science Education. The Wedge. http://ncse.com/creationism/general/wedge-document
(National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a not-for-profit, membership organization providing information and resources for schools, parents, and concerned citizens working to keep evolution and climate science in public school science education.)
National Center for Science Education. Why is it wrong to teach creationism in science classes? http://ncse.com/taking-action/why-its-wrong-to-teach-creationism-public-schools
Rennie, John. 15 Answers to ID/C Nonsense.2002. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/701287/posts) Originally published in Scientific America.
Roberts Ed & Andy Maddox. Christ's College Darwin Project. © 2009 Christ's College, Cambridge. http://darwin200.christs.cam.ac.uk/pages/index.php?page_id=g2
Tyson, Neil DeGlass. Intelligent Design: An Historicl Perspectve. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afGkv0IT4dU
Tyson, Neil DeGlass. (Answers a question) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afGkv0IT4dU
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=83497&tid=3622&cid=174589&c=2 (Update. August 13, 2013)
Waters Warm, and Cod Catch Ebbs in Maine
3.6 Degrees of Uncertainty
Two interesting sites to visit for exposure to ID/C