Thursday, August 25, 2005


Excellent American Thinker article.


And “superstition” is not an inappropriate word for the more vituperative opponents of ID. The fact is that, separate from the scientific theory of evolution but mixed in with it in many people’s minds, there exists a philosophy (or what might even be considered a religion), which I shall call “evoluticism”, which preaches that some mysterious force, either inherent in or external to the laws of nature, is continually pushing things onward and upward toward a higher and more perfect humanity. In short, evoluticists believe in the Black Slab in Kubrick’s movie 2001 A Space Odyssey. This philosophical extension of evolutionary concepts is the basis of virtually all 20th century liberal philosophy and social thinking—and therefore, at least subconsciously, a part of the mindset of many contemporary scientists and journalists.

Therefore, as noted physicist H. L. Lipson once put it, when you attack evolution, you attack their religion. They are therefore inclined to be hostile to any other religion. I remember, fifty years go in a Caltech seminar room, hearing a distinguished geochemist dismiss the big bang hypothesis as “Catholic”.


In contrast, the concept of the spontaneous origin of the first cell is on very shaky ground. You must start by making a quasi-primordial soup, rich in amino acids and other building blocks of life, as Stanley Miller and Harold Urey did in the 1950’s. Then you must somehow stir it and shake it until the components spontaneously assemble to form long chains of DNA, RNA, proteins, and numerous other macromolecules—with all of the multi-thousand amino acid sequences exactly right and mutually compatible. Then you must continue stirring until the macromolecules sort themselves out into the proper groups and somehow surround themselves with membranes, with just the right sort of ion transport properties, to form organelles such as a nucleus, lysosomes, ribosomes, mitochondria, and all the other cellular components. Then you must keep stirring until all these organelles pack themselves into a cell membrane, with just the right composition of fluid in it. You have only a few billion years to shake up all these dice and have them all come up right at the same place and time.. Ready, set, go, and good luck—but I don’t think you’re going to succeed. However, if you think this scenario is scientifically plausible, then sit down and start calculating probabilities.

Alternatively, you might argue that some much simpler subcellular form of life might have preceded cells and that such “protolife” is not evident now because it would have been too fragile to survive fossilization. (Viruses don’t count since they need cellular organisms to reproduce.) I find this idea implausible because of the large number of chemical processes that must occur to maintain any form of self-sustaining life, but yes, you can argue thus. Then, go back to your laboratory and do some Miller-Urey experiments and make some protolife to show us—or at least simulate it on a computer.

In either case, according to the rules by which the game of science is played, it’s up to you to prove your assertion. Until you do so, the Intelligent Design hypothesis is a valid alternative.

But such logical and impartial responses to ID are unlikely to happen. Since the dogma of evoluticism is at the root of all liberal thinking, and since it depends on spontaneous evolution, that theory is sacred and any opposing concept is heresy and must be peremptorily silenced.. So we now have the paradox of religionists being scientific and scientists being dogmatic. We can only hope, with Pope John Paul II, that

"science can purify religion from error and superstition [and] religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes


Anonymous said...

For someone who posts about meta-ignorance and his engineer's sense of things, that's a disgustingly dishonest article to support; its core premise is "If evolution cannot explain something that evolution does not attempt to explain, we can believe in magic instead."

Matteo said...

And you merely prove the whole point. All I hear from Darwinists is a dodging of actual issues being raised by the ID'ists. No doubt you've refrained from reading any of the actual ID works, because you know they're wrong from the outset. The Darwinists keep digging deeper holes for themselves in just this way. I'd love to read some cogent arguments from you guys, things that address ID arguments that I find compelling, but I never do. As far as I'm concerned, until the Darwinists start answering real questions I have instead of generating noise (i.e. they need to refer to the ID works themselves instead of caricatures, they need to answer the rebuttals made to their arguments against the works, and need to refrain from anti-religious diatribes and screaming about how the Christians are funding everything and want to establish a theocracy), they lose. I've been waiting ten years to hear some honest counterarguments. I wait in vain. More and more people feel this way, otherwise ID wouldn't be such a hot topic!

Sorry, I find nothing whatsoever dishonest in the article. And the hell evolution isn't attempting to explain abiogenesis, that is, life from non-life, an accidental development from simple beginnings. You are pulling the typical Darwinist "let's move the pea under a different shell" trick. Tiresome. Show me an evolution textbook that doesn't trumpet Miller-Urey. What do you think "The Selfish Gene" was about, anyway? This is just silly.

Will the Darwinists ever calculate the odds and show me that unguided abiogenesis is NOT the magic you rail against? I doubt it. They tend to scream whenever anyone mentions odds. Curious.

Grumpy Old Man said...

There's nothing about evolutionary theory that either negates or supports the idea of Intelligent Design, because as far as I know, no one has proposed a plausible test that would make ID more or less likely.

Therefore evolutionary theory does not disprove the idea of a Designer, and doesn't prove it, either.

Nor does current evolutionary theory imply Progress, although many writers once used e.t. in that fasion. If the world turned into a superhot, sulfurous soup, certain microorganisms would be better adapted to such an environment than we featherless bipeds.

Progress? You'd have to ask the micro-orgs, if your blood didn't boil away first.

Anonymous said...

That opinion piece is about abiogenesis. You take your superstition as proven when someone points out that evolution doesn't try to explain that. Exactly who is playing a shell game here?

Besides, it is factually incorrect: Polls suggest a lot of evolution deniers believe literally in the Bible, including Genesis. ED is not only about explaining where the first cells came from; the common arguments for it (irreducible complexity, etc) are made using current species as examples, which is why EDers want to teach it next to evolution rather than the -- much briefer -- origin-of-cells coverage. It is dishonest to pretend it only differs with science about something that happened three billion years ago.

If you want a brief intro to scientific theories on abiogenesis, is probably your best starting point.