Saturday, June 02, 2012


Darwin and ID--A Brief Comment

There is a lot of noise in the channels of Darwin versus ID

Most adherents of Intelligent Design have very carefully and firmly differentiated themselves from creationists. This includes Michael Behe, William Dembski, and Stephen Meyer, the latter having perhaps written the most definitive tome on ID—Signature in the Cell. None of these scientists, and that is precisely what they are, ascribe to the 6,000-year creation meme, nor do they ascribe to equating design with a designer, and hence God. They merely observe in nature that there are highly regular structures that appear to have the quality of having been designed.   It was Dembski that devised a logical test for that quality.  They leave the ancient saw: “Who designed the designer” to philosophy and religion.
Abiogenesis, or the origin of life, has been excluded from Darwinism, where Thaxton among others have suggested that it is difficult to begin the evolutionary process without accounting for how DNA information was created in the first place and only then passed to succeeding generations of species. 

Further, in considering evolution as descent with modification, they argue that the random selection process is completely inadequate to construct in an unplanned manner either the collection of molecules found in the human cell, or their purposeful functions, or the information transfer processes that these molecules perform, all leading up to Man.

One critical point they cite is the so-called pre-Cambrian explosion of fully formed body types with no precursor intermediate forms. Not only does this aspect mitigate against Darwinism, but also the fact that from that period till now further limits the time for random modification evolution to about 500 million years, and not the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang, or even the 4.7 billion years since the formation of Earth.
Of course, there is the stopgap idea of Punctuated Equilibrium to try to make it all work anyway. There are several mathematical calculations whose results indicate that 500 million years is simply not enough time for the complex structures of primates to be formed by blind chance (Dembski, among others).  Then, too, they cite the rather obvious facts that species breed true, and that true examples of species cross-breeding are not found.

Michael Behe introduced the concept of irreducible complexity, which states that for an animal to be functionally complete there is an irreducible set of organs, limbs, feeds, and controls without which the animal cannot function. This leads to the conundrum of how such animals could be constructed by successive small modifications when the modifications from nature are random and unplanned, but the poor animal needs all of its minimal parts working together simultaneously, and they cannot be acquired instantly, plus, there are no prior versions of the animal or its parts in the pre-Cambrian set of species. It is my understanding that all attempts so far to disprove these allegations have been abject failures, but I am sure that there have been later tries that could possibly have been more successful. In that case, I would want to see the evidence, and never mind the author.

Yet another hit on ID comes from the circular reasoning used by publishers. Since there have been few peer reviewed publications on the subject, ID isn’t accepted science, so ID is refused publication. The fact is that a number of key books on the subject, including most on the reference list below, have been peer reviewed, as have a number of articles in scientific publications.

The attitude I abhor is the closed-minded one that says Neo-Darwinism is absolutely right, it is settled science, the ID people are not scientists, and what’s more, we will explain all of these anomalies sooner or later, given time and resources. These are most unscientific attitudes.

Anomalies indeed! Why such a theory has to be so sacrosanct is beyond my comprehension, and champions of these statements appear to me to violate the dictum of science that you follow the data and the evidence wherever it takes you. Thesis is, or should be, contrasted with antithesis and the synthesis that follows. Darwinism has been a productive concept in many ways and deserves respect, but it isn’t a theory without flaws and knowledge gaps.
1.   Signature in the Cell, Stephen C. Meyer, HarperCollins, 2009.
2.   Why Us? James Le Fanu, HarperCollins, 2009.
3.   Intelligent Design 101, H. Wayne House Editor, Kregel  Publications, 2008.
4.    Intelligent Design, William A. Dembski, InterVarsity Press, 1999.
5.   Darwin’s Black Box, Michael J. Behe, The Free Press, 1996.
6.   The Darwin Myth, Benjamin Wiker, Regnery, 2009.
7.   Doubts about Darwin, Thomas Woodward, Baker Books, 2003.

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