Home » Evolution, Intelligent Design » Niles and Greg Eldredge — keeping the world safe for evolution (it’s an unfortunate task, but somebody’s got to do it)

Niles and Greg Eldredge — keeping the world safe for evolution (it’s an unfortunate task, but somebody’s got to do it)

A new journal is coming out that wouldn’t be necessary if we weren’t so much trouble: Outreach and Education in Evolution, published by Springer Verlag. As a seminary professor (among other things), I usually associate the word “outreach” with proselytizing and missionary zeal. For people who aren’t religious, those Darwinists sure have learned a lot from religion.

. . . A father-and-son team—a world-renowned evolutionary biologist and a highly skilled and sophisticated science high school teacher—have decided it’s time to help science educators fight back against the strong pressure creationists are exerting on public education. In the new journal Outreach and Education in Evolution, to be published by Springer starting in March 2008, editors-in-chief Niles and Greg Eldredge intend to fill the gap between scientific literature and curriculum materials normally available to educators and students. . . .

SOURCE: Springer Verlag.

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26 Responses to Niles and Greg Eldredge — keeping the world safe for evolution (it’s an unfortunate task, but somebody’s got to do it)

  1. a highly skilled and sophisticated science high school teacher

    I think someone needs to consult with a highly skilled and sophisticated english high school teacher to proofread their press releases.

    But I see where the outreach started. That’s a real reach to make a high school science teacher sound like a lot more than a high school science teacher.

    It’s amazing how much resistance there is to mentioning ID in a science classroom. I mean come on, the orthodox theory of evolution is supported by overwhelming evidence and ID is vacuous. What’s the big deal? You can describe ID in about 3 minutes then easily show why it’s just pseudo-scientific nonsense by presenting the overwhelming evidence of how mud turned into manatees through chance and necessity, right? LOL

  2. Darwinists are looking more like fervent, adamant, fire & brimstone preaching missionaries with each passing day.

    But it still ain’t religion? Go figure huh. :-(

  3. > Darwinists are looking more like
    > fervent, adamant, fire & brimstone
    > preaching missionaries with each
    > passing day.
    >
    > But it still ain’t religion?

    Perhaps they think to be (religiously) involved in the “good battle” :-)

  4. “have decided it’s time to help science educators fight back against the strong pressure creationists are exerting on public education”

    Can somebody tell me exactly what is this “strong pressure”. In the US at every turn attempts to have something other than darwinian fundamentalism taught in science class has been blocked by the courts. Even suggesting something as heretical as open problems in evolutionary theory has been barred by judicial fiat.

    So where is the strong pressure ?

    Darwinism must be something of a paper tiger that if it can’t even stand up to the scrutiny of discussion of open problems in the field or that it needs to be protected from supposedly nonsensical competing ideas, on par with geocentrism or a flat earth, by judicial fiat.

    Is the evidence really that weak that even modest scrutiny and questioning of its claims is seen as “strong pressure” ?

    Do these people even know what “Strong pressure” is ? Who do they think they are fooling ?

  5. At the Springer site they start off by saying, “Nearly a century ago, John Scopes was found guilty of violating a Tennessee statute when he taught evolution in his classroom.”

    And yet, according to Dr David Menton, “Scopes never taught evolution during his two weeks as a biology teacher, and thus really didn’t violate the Butler Act, it was considered sufficient that the class textbook, Hunter’s Civic Biology, did cover the evolution of man.”

    I’m not surprised that (macro)evolutionists take such a sloppy approach to history even when it’s very recent and well recorded.

    But this, from the same paragraph as the Springer quote above, is interesting.

    The battle to keep religiously based explanations of the history of life—especially human life—out of the science curriculum continues unabated.

    If it’s history what’s it doing in a science curriculum?

    Consider that scientific work on the wreck of the Mary Rose has greatly enhanced knowledge of English life (particularly English naval life) in the mid 16th century. Scientists have worked on identifying, raising and preserving the vessel and they have worked on analysing both its remaining contents and the causes of its state of decay. I presume chemists, marine biologists, pathologists, archaeologists, physicists and engineers, at least, have all worked on the project.

    The scientific work done on the Mary Rose could be the basis of many excellent case studies for education in various branches of science and applied science. How to preserve wood that has been buried in the sea bed for hundreds of years, or how to identify the traces of marine worms come to mind. None of that has any relevance to life in mid-16th century England and even whatever findings may have been made from examining the remains of entombed sailors only has meaning because we know exactly when the ship was sunk.

    I don’t believe any sane person would have any difficulty in seeing that English naval life in the mid 16th century has no place in any science curriculum. In the same way the history of life in general has no place in any science curriculum. It’s history, not science. Science can only indicate what might have happened (assuming nature is all there is). It cannot prove what did happen (especially not if nature is not all there is).

    On the other hand, detecting design in what was left of the hull and in the construction of the many other artefacts recovered is definitely a task for appropriately trained scientists.

  6. idnet.com.au has stated, on the previous thread about Woese’s paper:

    “Carl Woese talks about the sharing of useful genetic information. He does not however tell us where and why that information arose.”

    Perfectly right, that’s the only important point. ID is all about that.
    Evolutionists (you know who I am speaking of, I don’t feel like specifying too much today) are creating a lot of confusion just to hide the simple truth. So, let’s stick to it:
    1) There is a lot, and I mean really a lot, of extremely complex and functional information in living beings. That’s an easily observable fact.
    2) Nobody really knows where it came from. Note that we have no other known example, in nature, of such a great abundance of evident and sophisticated and functional information, anywhere.
    3) Obviously, human thought has to ask where that information came from. It’s a very spontaneous and natural question, and a very good one.
    4) Science, as we know it, has tried to give an answer in terms of the known forces of nature and of deterministic principles: that answer is darwinian evolution (allow me the term: if we want to be more specific, let’s say RM + NS).
    5) The answer at point 4 is evidently wrong and unsupported by either logic or evidence. All the ID debate is about that.
    6) No other palusible answer has ever been given, as far as I know. A lot of fantastic theories (like punctuated equilibrium, genetic drift, and so on) have been built, bur none of them goes even near to suggest a believable mechanism which may, in terms of known forces and deterministic principles, explain the genesis of that information. So, unless we embrace them as new methaphysical doctrines, believing in “self organizing principles” and other fairies, they are not science, and not even good phylosophy.
    7) HGT is a very interesting phenomenon, but it definitely does not explain the genesis of information, only a mixing of it. And even a mixing, if random, is of no use. An intelligently designed mix, on the other hand, is a very intriguing perspective.
    8) Common ancestry (or not) is an interesting problem, but it has nothing to do with the genesis of information, only with the way it was instilled in the final “products”. So I think any consistent IDer may think as he pleases about common ancestry.
    9) Front-loading is an interesting perspective, but it does not affect the problem of the genesis of information. Either the information was front-loaded (although one should spcify better how and where), or instilled in “historical” times, bit by bit, nothing changes: where does it come from? So, I think anyone can has his own point of view about front-loading, and still be a consistent IDer.

  7. Hello, my name is Alex, and at my school I have been learning about the ongoing controversy between evolution and ID proponents in philosophy and ethics. I have been doing a lot of extracurricular research on the subject, and have divined what seems to be something that both sides miss when debating. I am not trying to find fault with either viewpoint, and simply want to know how ID proponents would respond to my idea. It seems that the concepts of Specified Complexity and Irreducible Complexity don’t directly contradict the theory of evolution for this reason: according to both ideas there is evidence from biological life on Earth that some intelligence was the cause of the complexity in organisms, whilst also saying that not all biological systems are necessarily the product of intelligence, as CSI can be mediated between different systems. So my question is this: couldn’t the complexity of organisms have been transferred from a different system. Say for instance, the intelligent designer created the sun, which then transferred CSI to the Earth, making life on it only seem irreducibly and specifically complex, like the way a well designed watch gives off the secondary feature of lighting up at night. This would make the light seem irreducibly and specifically complex, whilst it would simply be a by-product of the capacity of the watch to tell the wearer the time. Am I right? I myself see this as a pay-off for evolution and ID.

  8. Kathleen K. Smith, Director, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, said, “As an official partner of Outreach and Education in Evolution, NESCENT is pleased to support this important endeavor. Focusing Kathleen K. Smith, Director, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, said, “As an official partner of Outreach and Education in Evolution, NESCENT is pleased to support this important endeavor.

    NESCENT is a 15 million dollar taxpayer funded worthless Darwinist propaganda insitution. Their funding ought to be cut by congress ASAP. 15 MILLION Dollars!

  9. 9

    al,

    couldn’t the complexity of organisms have been transferred from a different system.

    In Dembski’s Detecting Design in the Natural Sciences, he says,

    “(4) Finally, the designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials.”

    This seems to be, essentially, what you are talking about. In some circles, this process is known as actualization.

    Say for instance, the intelligent designer created the sun, which then transferred CSI to the Earth, making life on it only seem irreducibly and specifically complex, like the way a well designed watch gives off the secondary feature of lighting up at night.

    If there were any evidence that this was the case, we should pursue it. Optics and radiation has been one of the most heavily studied aspects of nature, as far back as Robert Grosseteste and Albertus Magnus in the 1100′s. To my knowledge, after a millenium of serious empirical inquiry, functional or coded information of any type is yet to be deciphered from the sun’s energy.

    Does anyone else know anything about this?

  10. 10

    al,

    It should be noted here that the Medieval’s proposed the exact mechanisms you describe to explain many things, including a significant role for solar energy in mineral formation and spontaneous generation.

  11. 11

    Back on topic: I think this journal is a great idea!

    The Darwinists have failed to provide tractable evidence showing that blind evolution can account for the origin and diversity of life, so they’re starting an apolgetics, rhetoric and polemics journal.

    I agree with Borne, Darwinism is looking more like a religion everyday.

  12. Inquisitive Brain

    Thank you for the response, I’ve posted similarly on the Panda’s thumb, to see what both sides would say to my concept. The thing I was trying to get at, which I seem to have not done (Sorry), was to state that because ID doesn’t suppose that the Designer is omniscient, that the events leading up to evolution might have been Intelligently Designed, such as the laws of physics and biology upon which the theory of evolution is based, but that evolution might still be true (in the way that evolution proponents state), in that the Designer might not have known that evolution would have occurred from these laws, which would make the theory of evolution viable in the ID mindset. Those on the Panda’s Thumb say that I’m incorrect to base such a conclusion on the concepts of CSI, but presuming that ID is valid, is the idea that the designer isn’t omniscient a downfall for the ID proponents’ opposition to the theory of evolution.

  13. gpuccio

    Your point (4)

    A minor point, perhaps, but RM & NS is not necessarily deterministic (see Ken Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God, for instance).

  14. 14

    al,

    You are very welcome for the response.

    As far as I can tell, most folks at the Panda’s thumb have probably read as much of the scholarly material from ID proponents as I have read Sanskrit (none).

    Because ID doesn’t suppose that the Designer is omniscient, that the events leading up to evolution might have been Intelligently Designed, such as the laws of physics and biology upon which the theory of evolution is based, but that evolution might still be true (in the way that evolution proponents state), in that the Designer might not have known that evolution would have occurred from these laws, which would make the theory of evolution viable in the ID mindset.

    This scenario would make ID completely false. If the origin of life was all an accident, AND AT THE SAME TIME the forces of nature are not fine-tuned for life, ID is epistemically sterile. ID would still be useful instrumentally, as we have seen with the birth of science, molecular biology, information theory, and many other fields and methods. But given your scenario, ID would be totally bogus on evolution.

    Those on the Panda’s Thumb say that I’m incorrect to base such a conclusion on the concepts of CSI, but presuming that ID is valid, is the idea that the designer isn’t omniscient a downfall for the ID proponents’ opposition to the theory of evolution.

    The idea that the designer isn’t omniscient is NOT a downfall for the ID proponents’ opposition to the theory of BLIND evolution. (Remember that ID is not opposed to the concept of evolution as biological change, ID is only opposed to the idea that life originated or diversified by blind necessity and chance.) The idea that the designer isn’t omniscient is an attempt at direct honesty about the empirical evidence we have at hand. What physical evidence do we have at hand that shows the cause of the origin of life is omniscient? What physical evidence do we have at hand that shows the cause of the Big Bang is omniscient? Even with the Big Bang, one may infer that the cause of the universe is outside of it, but what physical evidence do we have that the cause of the universe is omniscient? Intelligence is one thing, omniscience another. Only the use of philosophy and theology can help one arrive at a conclusion of omniscience.

    This is why ID is a scientific concept; it is an inference from the evidence we have at hand. We have no physical evidence that directly indicates omniscience, but those open to ID do think that we have truckloads of evidence that indicate that what we see in the universe and in life is a concert of necessity, chance, and design of the intelligent type.

  15. Al,

    The ID movement has not (thankfully!) let itself be drug into the philosophical domain of the supernatural—into basing the theory on concepts like omnicience, omnipotence, omnipresence. You can get lost in there and never come out! It is possible, as others have noted, to detect design apart from some final philosophy as to what it takes to produce design. Is it soul? And is the soul supernatural?

    Do the SETI folks have to address such issues before their search gets under way? Of course not! But from the looks of it they evidently think they must—in favor of epistemological materialism with the proclamation of a religious holiday.

    Why would “the idea that the designer isn’t omniscient [be] a downfall for the ID proponents’ opposition to the theory of evolution”? Isn’t it enough merely to detect design in biological organisms in order to sound the death knell of Darwinism? After that we’ve got other legitimate issues to argue—philosophical, scientific, religious.

    As for a supernatural front loading of the laws of physics such that chance and necessity would produce design—that’s theistic evolution. Michael Denton seems to be promoting a kind of platonic forms theory whereby the world is wired such that proteins fold properly—that’s another story. If you’re interested, Angus Menuge addresses the question of agency, and if you want to venture into the esoteric world of vitalism there is Rupert Sheldrake.

    I guess what concerns you is whether living things represent a completely different class of design than automobiles and aircraft. Well, maybe living things do have a soul, but what biologists have been studying is their design, and Darwinism is the atheist’s explanation which says that this is merely the appearance of design—not anything akin to human technology. So this is the crux of the disagreement. Design is design is design. If you say it isn’t you gotta show me. Darwinism has failed miserably on that account.

  16. “have decided it’s time to help science educators fight back against the strong pressure creationists are exerting on public education.”

    I am so sick (read, to the point I feel nauseous every time I see it) and tired of seeing so-called “intelligent” people willfully equating “creationism” with ID. How stupid do they think people are? I believe there is a God, but I admit my faith is very weak, almost to the point I could be considered an agnostic. But that’s the very reason I love the idea of ID. It doesn’t try to explain the entire world or force round evidence into a square paradigm. It doesn’t try to tell me there is or isn’t a God. I know from my own experience that matter doesn’t do a darn thing without the input of intelligence. It does not organize into self-replicators – by itself. This seems easy enough to grasp, but what’s even easier to understand is that ID is not the same thing as Biblical creationism, yet somehow both these facts have escaped all these Darwinist “luminaries”.

    “a world-renowned evolutionary biologist and a highly skilled and sophisticated science high school teacher”

    Oh for the love of…

  17. The reason they want to make ID equal creationism is because they twisted the Constitution into saying it’s illegal to teach anything about creation in the science class.
    The pressure they are feeling from creationists is where we are not falling down and worshipping their idol. Kind of like pressure Nebuchadnezzer felt when the three Jews wouldn’t fall down and worship his golden image.

  18. “The pressure they are feeling from creationists is where we are not falling down and worshipping their idol. Kind of like pressure Nebuchadnezzer felt when the three Jews wouldn’t fall down and worship his golden image.”

    Ouch :D

  19. So let me get this straight.
    A father and son duo dedicated
    to defending Darwin against Creationists and Design Theorists?

    Hollywood couldn’t make this stuff up.

    *Niles and Greg Eldredge Darwin’s Rescue Rangers*

  20. They’ve decided it’s time to make some money off of fear mongering by promoting atheism, I mean evolution as humanities last best hope. Please support them with your donations, grants, etc, so they can stop the fundamentalists from turning back the hands of time from which we will lose all the glorious benefits evolution has brought us. What were those again?

  21. Al the theory you have outlined is not entirely new. It is more or less the same theory that has been taught at universities the world over by a lecturer and ex vatican astronomer George Coyne. Coyne is a philosophical disciple of Teilhard De Chardin. Coyne teaches that God somehow set in motion the universe but that there was no plan after that, that evolution was destined to happen because of the inherit drive towards complexity (which violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics btw). The problem with your theory and Coynes theory is that there is no way to examine any data which would support that theory. Any type of theory on how the designer built life forms is purely speculative because there is no data to study on how that occured. The same for evolution. No one has ever seen macroevolution. How it is supposed to have happened is purely speculative and not worthy of being taken seriously as evolutionists would like everyone to take it (for anti-religious reasons). ID is not about trying to imagine how things could have happened in order to satisfy peoples predetermined outlooks. It is about taking all the data we have on biology, chemistry, physics, etc and then letting the data guide us to a theory which fits the data best. By following this methodology we come to the conclusion that life forms as found in our world are simply impossible to come into existence without a mechanism that consciously arranged and designed them to exist the way they do. Evolutionists take the same data and theorize that it is possible although they have never been able to replicate it nor show it as happening in the past. They ignore all the major holes in their theory because they have a predetermined outcome which they are trying to prove. Any hole in their theory is just another obstacle to overcome in the future. They approach the entire topic as if there is only one possible answer to the mystery of life. Therefore evolution is true to them regardless of the evidence for or against it. They hate ID because it exposes their ontological sense of reality as nothing more then an exercise in denial, a gigantic edifice of delusion masquerading as rational free thinking “science”.

  22. Everyone who has responded to my posts seem to just instill me with further questions :-) Everyone seems to say that the distinction I’m making is just a metaphysical representation of the facts and only asks about the Designer (Which is something ID says I can’t do (yet)), but it seems to me that the difference is either evolution was intelligently designed or not. Could the Designer have simply designed something unrelated to the theory of evolution, which creates the seeming result of evolution being designed, whilst keeping evolution the naturalistic function that the theory claims to be? It seems to me that it can, as ID sates that the Designer wouldn’t have to know that it’s creation (Whatever that is) would result in evolution, and evolution doesn’t make any claims about the nature of reality, simply that the results of evolution are a mixture of chance and naturalistic laws

  23. Al you wrote:

    “It seems to me that it can, as ID states that the Designer wouldn’t have to know that it’s creation (Whatever that is) would result in evolution”

    Al I think by what you have written that you have a misconception about ID. Some ID theorists believe that evolution occured but that it was specifically designed to occur, it was not random but rather “front loaded” much in the same way that a completely automated factory is designed to produce a product. In that paradigm every species is designed but came into existence through an evolutionary schema. Evolution for them is a guided process by an intelligent designer and controller of life. Most ID theorists believe that there was no evolution at all (macroevolution i.e. one species evolving into a new species which evolved into a new species ad infinitum) but rather that all life was designed without macroevolution.

    Either way if you take out the purposeful design of life forms then what you have is not ID. You can come up with a wide variety of other theories which incorporate some type of higher intelligence at work in the universe, but if you take away it’s purposeful design and building of life forms then it is not any variety of ID. ID means designed by an intelligence, not that life is a chance byproduct of some other design. The basic argument of ID is that life is too complex at all levels from the micro to the macro to have come into existence by any other process then a carefully designed plan. Chance combination of chemicals interacting with the environment cannot create computer factories or auto factories. Life forms are far more difficult to build then computers or cars, in fact even the building blocks of life have never been created by the concerted effort of modern science. They claim to have done so but all they have done is to take already existing building blocks and then keep them in very controlled situation, otherwise they fall apart if exposed to earths actual environment. Yet in a non controlled earth environment subjected to the extremes of climate, somehow not only the building blocks of life are found in abundance but life forms as well which are far more complex then anything man has ever created. So the question is: can life exist without an intelligence to build it from our own experience of looking for a way to make that happen? Even with our intelligence and technology we can’t even get off the starting block. Yet evolution tells us that what we cannot even come close to doing happened and happens regularly by chance interaction of dirt and water. Science is supposed to be about accepting what is rational and rejecting what is irrational. Because evolutionists cannot accept that an intelligence which could create life can even possibly exist, they then accept the irrational theory of evolution even in the face of it’s impossibility. It’s a philosophical bias which blinds them to the irrational nature of evolutionary theory. Some theists accept evolution but that is because they are simply uneducated in the pros and cons of evolution, they are making uninformed decisions based on argument from authority i.e 100,000 scientists can’t be wrong. But as history shows us new scientific paradigms have continually forced the entire scientific community to reject presviously held truisms.

  24. 24

    al,

    Yes, it is certainly hypothetically possible that “The designer could have simply designed something unrelated to the theory of evolution, which creates the seeming result of evolution being designed, whilst keeping evolution the naturalistic function that the theory claims to be.”

    If I understand you correctly, this would basically be a view where the design work is done way back in time, perhaps with the circumstances of the Big Bang and the formation of the natural laws. In my understanding, this is something like what Michael Denton is exploring.

    Another possibility is that the quantum world is some kind of back channel where design occurred. In my understanding, this is roughly what Kenneth Miller has discussed in the past, although I don’t think he has any commitments to the idea, research or otherwise.

    As a teaser: I think ID as heuristic views are much more tractable and powerful scientifically, especially since these heuristics are already used as the epistemic underpinnings for the natural sciences in general, and molecular biology and information theory in particular.

  25. 25

    Blog moderator(s),

    Sorry for all of these off-topic comments. I think this type of hypothetical exploration is worthwhile and necessary. If we should take it to a different thread, please alert us.

  26. trystero57:

    I am not a big fan of Ken Miller, or of those people who try to reconcile strict evolutionism with a religious view of the world. Frankly speaking, I love more Dawkins, who at least is consistent, than Miller and similar.

    In full respect of anybody’s point of view, I still can’t understand:

    1) How can the mechanism of RM + NS not be deterministic, if it is defined as the only causal explanation of biological information (that is, ruling out any intelligent intervention)?

    2) How can so many evolutionists (of all kinds) go on repeating nonsenses like “evolution is intelligent”, or “natural selection is an algorythm”, or similar things. Maybe I am a little bit dense, but my understanding is that “natural selection” is only a trendy way of describing a mechanism which is supposed to happen in total blindness, without any intelligence of anybody, because of some “natural” (that is, deterministic) arrangement of existing “things” under the (deterministic) agency of natural forces (that is gravity, electro-weak and strong interaction). The “selection” part derives exclusively from blind chance, so that “replicating” entities should be “selected” (passively) because of their stronger or weaker ability to cope with environmental resources. Define it as you want, there is nothing conscious, intelligent, organized or else in the classic view of “natural selection”. Only particular arrangements of chance and natural laws.
    All those people who speak of “natural selection” as though it were a goddess, or a new force in nature, or a “self organizing process”, or a unicorn, or anything else, should please explain what they really mean. Any of these options can be easily rejected (unless, perhaps, the unicorn one), provided that they are explicitly defined.
    To me, there are only two basic logical options: either the universe is non intelligent, deterministic, and very, very lucky, or the universe is much more complex and rich than today’s science thinks, and includes a lot of things that science for some strange reason refuses to see: conscious beings, life, intelligence, design, and, who knows… unicorns?

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