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Can 38 Nobel Laureates Be Wrong?

Nobel Laureates urge rejection of intelligent design
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Lawrence Journal-World
http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/sep/15/nobel_laureates_urge_rejection_intelligent_design/?breaking

TOPEKA — A group of 38 Nobel Laureates headed by Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel have asked the Kansas State Board of Education to reject science standards that criticize evolution.

In a letter to the board released today, the group from several countries said Darwinian evolution is the foundation of biology.

“ … its indispensable role has been further strengthened by the capacity to study DNA,” the group wrote. (See entire letter.)

The conservative majority on the State Board of Education have accepted science standards that were proposed by proponents of intelligent design, which holds that the complexities of life point toward evidence of a master planner. A final vote on the standards is expected in October or November.

The Nobel winners, however, said intelligent design cannot be tested as a scientific theory “because its central conclusion is based on belief in the intervention of a supernatural agent.”

The Nobel winners also said science and faith are not mutually exclusive.

The signers of the letter from the New York-based Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity includes leading physicists, chemists and medical experts. Wiesel earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

This is remarkable. Note the part of the letter that the LJW article left out:

Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.

Evolution is an “unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.” Unguided? Unplanned? Eugenie Scott, where are you? Didn’t you advise these people? Whatever happened to evolution and religion not being in conflict?

As one of my colleagues notes: “Ironically, these scientists have just provided key ammunition to the Kansas board on one of the disputed points of the new science standards. The evolutionists in Kansas are up in arms about the proposed definition of evolution in Kansas because it posits evolution as unguided and unplanned. Evolutionists in Kansas rightly fear that such a definition sounds anti-religious. So here a group of Nobel laureates come and use the very definition evolutionists in Kansas want eliminated! The Nobel laureates have come to the rescue of the Kansas board and they don’t even know it!”

Let’s hope this isn’t a hoax.

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11 Responses to Can 38 Nobel Laureates Be Wrong?

  1. Why are Nobel Peace Prize winners lecturing the Kansas State Board on the nature of science?

  2. Idiot savants. There’s no other rational explanation.

  3. According to a survey published in Nature

    http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/atheism1.htm

    some 72% of National Academy scientists are positive atheists. Getting 38 Nobel prize winners to affirm their conviction that God doesn’t exist is probably about as difficult as falling off a log. Positive atheism isn’t science, it’s faith. Science is agnostic. These scientists are speaking of their faith while pretending to be speaking of their profession. It’s dishonest and quite frankly despicable.

  4. “Idiot savants.”
    You crack me up.

  5. Question: “Can 38 Nobel Laureates Be Wrong?”
    Answer: Yes, they can.
    Truth has nothing to do with the number of persons it convinces.

  6. It seems as though a group of 38 Nobel Laureates should know better. As far as I can tell, “Idiot savants” sounds about right.

    David

  7. Calling evolution “unguided”, at least in the ostensible sense, is something we might hear from Kenneth Miller, who claims to maintain his faith and stance on evolution without conflict. We can debate whether this stance is meaningful or simply leaves the role of an Ultimate Designer without any semantic content at all.

    However, calling evolution “unplanned”. How can that be a scientific / logical derivaction from confirmable evidence? That throws even the most abstract Deist notion of God out the window. Totally unscientific, totally idiotic.

  8. [...] [...]

  9. [...] (Mike has previously commented on Miller’s reply here. Hat tip: Uncommon Descent.) [...]

  10. The Darwinian theory the Wiesel 38 letter refers to is testable. The letter claims:
    “Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.” This is what we could call the neo-Darwinian Equation (NDE): RMs + NS = All biology.

    NS is everywhere and is true by definition. The fit breed and persist and those biological objects persisting breed. NS is not particularly a biological process but it is a process in biology.

    There is a catalog of RMs on genomes, known causes, known outcomes for RMs in biology. Mutants can be manufactured on demand.

    So certainly RMs + NS = Some Biology.

    Lets give the NDE all its asks for and make observations. Take any current biological object and its genome and walk back along the NDE path the genome took; it did take one path by the NDE. Two distinct genomes in this path will differ by at most one RM, that is some genetic material difference caused by a RM, possibly more than one RM. We have a long chain of genomes each belonging to a biological object.

    Generalise this to all the NDE paths in biological history. Look at all the possible genome chains and their companion biological objects. Each biological object in the chain passed its NS test as it was fit to breed and persist. Next and prior objects in any chain differ by one RM.

    What should we see? Long and dense-as-possible genome chains. We should be awash in life forms.

    Do we observe this now or in fossil records?

  11. RussellBelding: “The Darwinian theory the Wiesel 38 letter refers to is testable. The letter claims:
    ‘Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.’ This is what we could call the neo-Darwinian Equation (NDE): RMs + NS = All biology.”

    Let’s understand that it’s not evolution itself that’s under dispute. Certainly, there is valid scientific evidence for microevolution. (Bacteria developing resistance to antibiotics is just one example.) The point of ID is to point out that there are serious gaps in the theory that ALL of the biological phenomena we see today could have arisen by way of random, unguided chance. Unfortunately for the 38 Nobel Laureates who signed this letter, THIS take on evolutionary theory is not “Logically derived form confirmable evidence”. These people did not specify that when they say “evolution,” they mean the random, unguided evolution of all biological phenomena, but I think it’s pretty clear that’s what they meant. This is just another attempt to shoulder off ID without having to take its scientific challenges head-on. I do agree with this statement of yours: “So certainly RMs + NS = Some Biology.”

    David

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