Home » Intelligent Design » Uncommon Descent Contest 4: Can we save physics by dumping the Copernican principle? – Winner announced

Uncommon Descent Contest 4: Can we save physics by dumping the Copernican principle? – Winner announced

The question is here. It looks at “Does Dark Energy Really Exist? Or does Earth occupy a very unusual place in the universe?” by physicist Timothy Clifton and astrophysicist Pedro G. Ferreira, who argue just that: If we give up the Copernican principle, we do not need dark energy to explain the composition of the universe.(Scientific American, March 23, 2009)

The winning entry is by KeithDP:

I liked it because he made a number of pertinent points that less often raised than they should be:

- “The problem with the principle is how do you define special?” The fact that Earth is the only known home of life should cause it to be classified as special, at least for now.

- “Unlike the multiverse, the theory [re the existence or necessity of dark energy] is testable and efforts are underway to confirm or dismiss it.” Indeed. Consider the upcoming SNO+ experiment in Sudbury, Canada, whose awesome facilities I toured recently – which aims to trap a particle of dark matter. That would be a good beginning.

- ” … will we also discover that Earth’s place in the centre of a vast cosmic void is another necessary precondition for life?” That too would be useful, because we could revise current estimates of where to look for life. Too many estimates have been Drake equation-style “choose your own parameters.” Fun, sure, but science fiction.

So KeithDP needs to provide me with a current postal address at [email protected] to receive his free copy of the Privileged Planet DVD.

I will shortly judge Question 5: Darwinian fairy tales: Why middle-aged men have shiny scalps: “What is the down side for serious Darwinists to just cutting the “evolutionary psychology” psychodrama loose, and focusing on what real science can say about evolution?”

Now here is KeithDP’s entry:

Copernicus’ modest proposition was that the solar system is heliocentric and not geocentric. Centuries later came the Copernican principle: the idea that Earth does not occupy any special position in the universe. In the last few decades this principle has been expanded to include the idea that there is nothing special about humans or the Earth. This idea is often called the Copernican principle of mediocrity. In recent years some astronomers have taken the idea further still and have popularized the notion that there is nothing special about our universe, as it is just one among an infinite number of other universes: a multiverse. Although no evidence supports the theory, and as it is not testable no evidence is ever likely to, it is considered the natural and ultimate culmination of the Copernican principle.

The problem with the principle is how do you define special? In the Rare Earth hypothesis, scientists Ward and Brownlee identify no less than a dozen factors that make complex life possible on Earth. In their view these factors make the Earth, if not special, than certainly very rare. Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez goes further and identifies factors that make the Earth particularly suitable for scientific discovery. In his view the Earth is more than a rare planet; it is a privileged one. Recently some astronomers have questioned the standard model of the universe that holds that at least 70% of the universe is composed of mystery material. They propose this material is unnecessary if we ignore the Copernican principle and assume instead that the Earth lies at or near the centre of a vast cosmic void with far lower density than other regions of space.

Unlike the multiverse, the theory is testable and efforts are underway to confirm or dismiss it. Considering what we have learned about what makes the Earth’s particular location in the solar system and in the galaxy especially suitable for life, will we also discover that Earth’s place in the centre of a vast cosmic void is another necessary precondition for life?

Do we have further need of the Copernican principle? Or is it instead merely a personal philosophical position about humanity’s place? Does it tell us more about the belief system of those who hold it than it does about the universe?

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40 Responses to Uncommon Descent Contest 4: Can we save physics by dumping the Copernican principle? – Winner announced

  1. Guillermo Gonzalez and others have hypothesized that the most basic physical constants of the universe (c, G, h, and many others – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_constants), which affect galaxies billions of lightyears from earth in all directions, were all pre-set for the benefit of life on earth.

    The preposterously arrogant hubris of this concept is almost mortally impossible to comprehend. This is worse than the medieval cleric who asked his flock to give thanks to God because He had put a nice river and harbor and ocean right next to their fair city.

    What’s next? Rehabilitation of the Ptolemaic system?

  2. 2

    PaulBurnett,

    ——”The preposterously arrogant hubris of this concept is almost mortally impossible to comprehend.”

    There is nothing arrogant about this at all.

  3. (What evidence is found for the earth’s ability to support life?) we will consider many “life-enabling characteristics” for the galaxy, sun, moon and earth that establishes the earth as extremely unique for hosting advanced life in this universe. Again, the presumption of materialistic blind chance being the only reasonable cause must be dealt with. As opposed to the anthropic hypothesis which starts off by presuming the earth is extremely unique in this universe, materialism begins by presuming planets that are able to support life are fairly common in this universe. In fact, astronomer Frank Drake (1930-present) proposed, in 1961, advanced life should be very common in the universe. He developed a rather crude equation called the “Drake equation”. He plugged in some fairly optimistic numbers and reasoned that ten worlds with advanced life should be in our Milky Way galaxy alone. That worked out to roughly one trillion worlds with advanced life throughout the entire universe. Much to the disappointment of Star Trek fans, the avalanche of scientific evidence that has been coming in recently has found the probability of finding another planet, with the ability to host advanced life in this universe, is not nearly as likely as astronomer Frank Drake had originally predicted.

    Probability For Life On Earth – Michael Strauss – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zfOaXQh2SE

    There are many independent characteristics required to be fulfilled for any planet to host advanced carbon-based life. Two popular books have recently been written, “The Privileged Planet” by Guillermo Gonzalez and “Rare Earth” by Donald Brownlee, indicating the earth is extremely unique in its ability to host advanced life in this universe. Privileged Planet, which also holds the earth is uniquely situated to allow profound discoveries into the deep mysteries of the universe, has now been made into a video.

    The Privileged Planet – video
    http://video.google.com/videop.....5590289530

    There is also a well researched statistical analysis of the many independent “life-enabling characteristics” that mathematically proves the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life. The statistical analysis, which is actually a refinement of the Drake equation, is dealt with by astro-physicist Dr. Hugh Ross (1945-present) in his paper “Probability for Life on Earth”.

    Probability For Life On Earth – List of Parameters, References, and Math – Hugh Ross
    http://www.reasons.org/probabi.....h-apr-2004

    A few of the items in Dr. Ross’s “life-enabling characteristics” list are; Planet location in a proper galaxy’s “habitable zone”; Parent star size; Surface gravity of planet; Rotation period of planet; Correct chemical composition of planet; Correct size for moon; Correct and stable orbit of planet; Thickness of planets’ crust; Presence of magnetic field; Correct and stable axis tilt; Oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere; Proper water content of planet; Atmospheric electric discharge rate; Proper seismic activity of planet; Ratio of carbon dioxide and water vapor in the atmosphere; Many interrelated and complex feedback cycles necessary for a stable temperature history of planet; Translucent atmosphere; Various complex cycles for various elements etc.. etc.. I could go a lot further for there are a total of 322 known parameters which have to be met for complex life to be possible on Earth, or on a planet like Earth. Individually, these limits are not that impressive but when we realize ALL these limits have to be met at the same time and not one of them can be out of limits for any extended period of time, then it becomes “irreducibly complex” and the probability for a world which can host advanced life in this universe becomes very extraordinary indeed. Here is the final summary of Dr. Hugh Ross’s “conservative” estimate for the probability of another life-hosting world in this universe.

    Probability for occurrence of all 322 parameters =10^388
    Dependency factors estimate =10^96
    Longevity requirements estimate =10^14
    Probability for occurrence of all 322 parameters = 10^304
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in universe =10^22

    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^282 (million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion) exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    The following is another very surprising Privileged Planet principle that recently came to light:

    The Protective Boundaries of our Solar System – NASA IBEX – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O0qcQZXpII

    Proverbs 3:19
    “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth: by understanding He established the heavens;”

    The scientific evidence clearly indicates the earth is extremely unique in this universe in its ability to support life. These facts are rigorously investigated and cannot be dismissed out of hand as some sort of glitch in accurate information. Here materialism can offer no competing theory of blind chance which can offset the overwhelming evidence for the earth’s apparent intelligent design that enables her to host complex life. A materialist can only assert that we are extremely “lucky”. This is some kind of fantastic luck materialists believe. The odds of another life-supporting earth “just happening” in this universe (1 in 10^282) are not even remotely as good as the odds a blind man would have in finding one pre-selected grain of sand, which has been hidden in the vast expanses of the Sahara desert, with only one try. Actually, the size of the Sahara desert, the blind man would be aimlessly wandering through trying to find that one pre-selected grain of sand, would be trillions upon trillions of sizes larger than the size of the known universe. These fantastic odds against another life-supporting world “just so happening” in this universe have not even been refined to their final upper limits yet. The odds get far worse for the materialist.

    Search For Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence – SETI receives message from God,,,,, Almost – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiQ8Jr5B2Eo

    I find it strange that the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) organization spends millions of dollars vainly searching for signs of extra-terrestrial life in this universe, when all anyone has to do to make solid contact with THE primary “extra-terrestrial intelligence” of the entire universe is to pray with a sincere heart. God certainly does not hide from those who sincerely seek Him. Actually communicating with the Creator of the universe is certainly a lot more exciting than not communicating with some little green men that do not even exist, unless of course, God decided to create them!

    Isaiah 45:18-19
    For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

  4. To back up my assertion that the odds are getting far worse for the materialist, this following paper came out very recently:

    New Definition Could Further Limit Habitable Zones Around Distant Suns: – June 2009
    … liquid water is essential for life, but a planet also must have plate tectonics to pull excess carbon from its atmosphere and confine it in rocks to prevent runaway greenhouse warming. Tectonics, or the movement of the plates that make up a planet’s surface, typically is driven by radioactive decay in the planet’s core, but a star’s gravity can cause tides in the planet, which creates more energy to drive plate tectonics…. Barnes added, “The bottom line is that tidal forcing is an important factor that we are going to have to consider when looking for habitable planets.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....124831.htm

  5. 5

    Paul, watching your posts has been amusing to say the least.

    1) Hubris in modern action is seeking to codify into the Laws of a free nation (thereby seeking to control and limit the public behavoir of all people under that Law) that Life came about by spontaneous generation, while not having even a shred of positive evidence for the claim – and then ignoring by choice any evidence to the contrary.

    2) Persons who beleive that man and woman are the creation of a God should be expected to give thanks for those things that sustain them (such as a river). This is an action that hardly needs an authority to police, but is far more personal for those who beleive in such things. You will find these concepts throughout human history and across all cultures. Yet, you stand here shaking your fist at their stupidity and using words like hubris to describe them.

    3) Mr Pot meet Mr Kettle.

  6. 1) Hubris in modern action is seeking to codify into the Laws of a free nation (thereby seeking to control and limit the public behavoir of all people under that Law) that Life came about by spontaneous generation, while not having even a shred of positive evidence for the claim – and then ignoring by choice any evidence to the contrary.

    This is a baffling comment. What laws, existing or proposed, would “codify . . . that Life came about by spontaneous generation,” or even attempt to “limit the public behavior of all people”?

  7. PaulBurnett,
    “The preposterously arrogant hubris of this concept is almost mortally impossible to comprehend.”

    This is your response to Gonzales’s hypothesis that the earth is the center of all things etc.

    You’re the only one being irrational. Gonzales is hypothesizing and testing, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when faced with unknowns? What if he’s right? Is there any evidence against it?

    Part of the Atheist naturalist paradigm is: Answers must be mundane, our present agreed upon concept of mundane. Human’s, or spirits, MUST be not allowed to have an important role in ANYTHING, at all costs. Yet no ultimate answers have been found to base this on. I bet some answers are totally bonkers.

    Once you attack hubris, you’re on the hubris to null scale, of your own invention. So all truths will be found to contain in them the opposite of hubris?

  8. 8

    Hand,

    Have you been under a rock since for the past 200 years?

    Actually, I often tend to steer clear of these arguments – simply because they are a sideshow to the evidence for agency involvement in Life. But let’s imagine that going to a public school or sending your children to a public school is a behavior of a citizen. Can you please provide an estimate to the number of public schools in this country that are legally allowed even to discuss the evidence for agency involvement in life? How many are allowed to discuss any problems with the current paradigm? How many are allowed to use textbooks that promote the empirically appropriate (and agnostic) stance on the question of how life arose and came to be as we see it today? How many science programs can legally state that there is anything to debate at all?

    Don’t hold back Learned Hand…let the sideshow begin. Don’t mind me if I decide not to hang around to argue over the historically obvious.

  9. Have you been under a rock since for the past 200 years?

    No, but I spent several of them in law school. When someone claims that there are laws “seeking to codify that Life came about by spontaneous generation,” and “seeking to control and limit the public behavoir of all people,” it occurs to me that I have never seen or heard of such a law. Nor have you identified any.

    Can you please provide an estimate to the number of public schools in this country that are legally allowed even to discuss the evidence for agency involvement in life?

    Depending on how one reads your question, the answer is either zero or all of them. Any school is permitted to “discuss the evidence for agency involvement in life.” If, however, that discussion is used to advance a religious agenda, the presentation would run afoul of the First Amendment. Courts have, to date, concluded that the scientific consensus is that there is no objective, scientific evidence for design, and, in each case so far, that the school board’s attempt to pretend otherwise was rooted in their religious beliefs. A prudent school board would therefore conclude that an ID-based presentation was a First Amendment violation. I could be wrong, but I believe the Discovery Institute concurs with that conclusion.

    Don’t mind me if I decide not to hang around to argue over the historically obvious.

    Alright.

  10. 10

    Hand,

    “Any school is permitted to “discuss the evidence for agency involvement in life.”

    Okay, name one. No really, name one.

    “If, however, that discussion is used to advance a religious agenda, the presentation would run afoul of the First Amendment.”

    As a strategic position; ALL such discussions are attacked in the courts as proselytizing – regardless of the content of the discussion.

    “Courts have, to date, concluded that the scientific consensus is that there is no objective, scientific evidence for design, and, in each case so far, that the school board’s attempt to pretend otherwise was rooted in their religious beliefs.”

    1) Consensus means nothing. (See human history).

    2) A scientific conclusion that is amenable to religious belief is not a religious belief. (See the Big Bang).

    3) The scientific observation that the sequencing of nucleic acids in DNA is physically inert is not a passage in the Bible.

    4) A school board member’s religious belief is irrelevant.

    “A prudent school board would therefore conclude that an ID-based presentation was a First Amendment violation. I could be wrong, but I believe the Discovery Institute concurs with that conclusion.”

    1) The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” No one has ever demonstrated in a court of law that a classroom discussion of the scientific evidence for agency involvement in life impinges on any of the items listed in this clause.

    2) A “prudent” school board would not offer science programs that begin with what must be disallowed on ideological grounds.

    3) What the Discovery Institute thinks is irrelevant to the issue.

  11. 11
    CannuckianYankee

    PaulBurnett:

    “The preposterously arrogant hubris of this concept is almost mortally impossible to comprehend.”

    Gee, Dr. Gonzalez must have got something wrong. Look at this excellent rebuttal, for example.

  12. 12
    CannuckianYankee

    Learned Hand,

    “A prudent school board would therefore conclude that an ID-based presentation was a First Amendment violation. I could be wrong, but I believe the Discovery Institute concurs with that conclusion.”

    I don’t believe that this is how the DI words it. The DI is not opposed to an ID-based presentation, and does not believe that it would be a First Amendment violation. It’s more complicated than that.

    If we’re talking about Dover, for example (here we go again), the DI agreed with the court’s contention because the School Board in Dover demonstrated that it was interested in having a specifically Christian education for the students.

    This was shown to be the case in court testimony. There were several board members who made statements that evolution was against the Christian gospel, and more specifically, anti-scripture.

    So they at first held up the approval of a Biology text – the one by Miller and Levine, because of their Christian ideologically based distaste for common descent and natural selection.

    What happened is that they came to a comprimise, because they were not able to find an appropriate text, which discussed both evolution and ID. The court showed that the new policy developed out of a religious objection to Evolutionary theory.

    DI does not believe that ID should be used to advance any particular religious belief. The DI, however, does not support the contention that ID is necessarily religious, nor that it supports only a Christian perspective. Therefore, it is legitimate to discuss ID in science classes provided that there is no motivation to use it to support a particular religious agenda.

    Furthermore, the DI does not support the requirement of ID to be taught in science classes, because they beleive this will only politicize ID, rather than allow it to present its case as scientific. Here’s their policy statement on Science Education:

    http://www.discovery.org/a/3164

    “As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education. Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory and will hinder fair and open discussion of the merits of the theory among scholars and within the scientific community. Furthermore, most teachers at the present time do not know enough about intelligent design to teach about it accurately and objectively.”

    The DI supports “teaching the controversy” – meaning that the teaching of Evolution should be more detailed in presenting the problems scientists have with aspects of the theory, rather than simply presenting the “confirmation biases,” which are currently presented in science classes.

    “Instead of mandating intelligent design, Discovery Institute seeks to increase the coverage of evolution in textbooks. It believes that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, and they should learn more about evolutionary theory, including its unresolved issues. In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned.”

    So the DI does not in fact believe that teaching intelligent design in science classes is a First Amendment violation.

    “Although Discovery Institute does not advocate requiring the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, it does believe there is nothing unconstitutional about voluntarily discussing the scientific theory of design in the classroom. In addition, the Institute opposes efforts to persecute individual teachers who may wish to discuss the scientific debate over design in an objective and pedagogically appropriate manner.”

  13. 13

    CannuckianYankee (#12) passed on a DI policy stattement: “As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education.”

    The (wink wink nudge nudge) wasn’t visible.

    (continuing) “Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory…”

    Was that written before or after Dover – or Edwards v Aguillard? Or the Santorum Amendment?

    And I won’t even expand on the fact that ID isn’t a theory but a hypothesis.

  14. Learned Hand,

    Science can neither be legislated nor adjudicated.

    To think that the Courts can decide what is and isn’t science is nonsensical.

    Also science is NOT country specific.

    The laws of the USA do NOT apply anywhere else.

  15. PaulB:

    Guillermo Gonzalez and others have hypothesized that the most basic physical constants of the universe (c, G, h, and many others – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_constants), which affect galaxies billions of lightyears from earth in all directions, were all pre-set for the benefit of life on earth.

    That is false.

    It is that those laws were fine-tuned such that they allow for the existence of life in the universe.

  16. 16

    CannuckianYankee,

    Thank you for the information.

    Upright BiPed,

    Any school can present evidence for any position, so long as the “evidence” exists and is not inextricably tied to religious beliefs, and the position being advanced does not violate the First Amendment. Evidence of genetic engineering would be “evidence for agency involvement in life,” and fair game in any public school. I suspect our disagreement is over what constitutes “evidence” supporting ID, and whether such evidence exists. I can’t imagine that one more argument on the subject would be productive.

    Your first four points are either wrong or irrelevant:

    1) Consensus means nothing. (See human history).

    This is incorrect. A court trying to determine whether a school board had a legitimate secular purpose in introducing an ID curriculum may look to see whether that curriculum is accepted by the scientific community. If not, the court might suspect that the school board was not trying to improve the students’ knowledge of science, but trying to indoctrinate them. This is uniquely important in the field of lower-level education, where students are being taught the basics of the subject, rather than selecting among radical and unproven ideas.

    2) A scientific conclusion that is amenable to religious belief is not a religious belief. (See the Big Bang).

    True, but irrelevant. ID is not considered “religious” because it is amenable to religious belief.

    3) The scientific observation that the sequencing of nucleic acids in DNA is physically inert is not a passage in the Bible.

    I don’t understand this sentence. Perhaps “physically inert” is scientific jargon in some way that is opaque to me; I am not a scientist. Assuming this means that there is some observation that you feel supports ID but not YEC, I again don’t see the relevance.

    4) A school board member’s religious belief is irrelevant.

    True (in a complicated way), but also irrelevant. Courts don’t find that creationist lesson plans violate the First Amendment because the board members have religious beliefs. The actual test, to oversimplify a bit, is the Lemon Test. It looks to the effects of their actions, rather than their beliefs.

    As for your second set of points:

    1) . . . No one has ever demonstrated in a court of law that a classroom discussion of the scientific evidence for agency involvement in life impinges on any of the items listed in this clause.

    This, again, turns on whether such evidence exists, and the effects of presenting the arguments to which you refer. You might consider Kitzmiller, although I would ask you (as this has come up in another thread) to please read the entire opinion, cover to cover, before reaching any conclusions about it.

    2) A “prudent” school board would not offer science programs that begin with what must be disallowed on ideological grounds.

    If “prudent” refers to what would survive a constitutional challenge, I’ll note only that creationism, creation science, and ID have all failed in court. I am not aware that mainstream, secular biology has ever done so. A prudent school board would consider that track record.

  17. 17
    William J. Murray

    Learned Hand says: “I’ll note only that creationism, creation science, and ID have all failed in court. I am not aware that mainstream, secular biology has ever done so.”

    Never heard of the scopes trial, then?

  18. 18

    Learned Hand,

    Any school can present evidence for any position, so long as the “evidence” exists and is not inextricably tied to religious beliefs, and the position being advanced does not violate the First Amendment.

    As I said in my previous post: “The scientific observation, that the sequencing of nucleic acids in DNA is physically inert, is not a passage in the Bible.” Neither is the concept of Irreducible Complexity. Neither is the observation that Chance is a mechanism that operates by repeating maximum uncertainty and is therefore incapable of creating sophisticated organization between disparate physical objects. These are unanswered empirical observations, not scripture.

    1) Consensus means nothing. (See human history).

    This is incorrect. A court trying to determine whether a school board had a legitimate secular purpose in introducing an ID curriculum may look to see whether that curriculum is accepted by the scientific community. If not, the court might suspect that the school board was not trying to improve the students’ knowledge of science, but trying to indoctrinate them.

    When I said consensus means nothing, I was referring to what is correct or incorrect about the conclusions that man makes for himself. In that regard, consensus means nothing and I am not compelled to retract one iota from the comment.

    What is true or not true has never been (and will never be) determined by consensus. One only needs to look at human history to understand this. In his country there was once a consensus that a black man was property, and that he could be valued at 3/5th the value of a white man. There was enough of a consensus on such nonsense that learned hands actually wrote it into the Constitution of this country. There was also enough of a consensus that feeble persons could be subjected to the scientific concerns of Eugenics. And, up until just very recently, there was also enough of a consensus that science referred to the unknown and misunderstood regions of DNA as “junk” – when they had absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe so except that it fit what was prescribed by the prevailing scientific consensus. And even today, that same consensus apparently has you arguing its value to man in regards to what can be seen as true or untrue.

    Clearly, the number of people that believe something has never been the arbiter of the truth of an idea, and it never will be. Learned people should know better, and adjust there rationale accordingly.

    “Consensus” is subject to the immediate abuse of men, and given the evidence for ID (which you repeatedly infer is not there without ever addressing it) there is no question that it is being abused now, congratulations.

    This is uniquely important in the field of lower-level education, where students are being taught the basics of the subject, rather than selecting among radical and unproven ideas.

    This is absurdly self-referential to the consensus of an unrepresentative few, and then goes further to brand any belief about Agency as radial, which is presumably both wrong and to be avoided. The fact that there isn’t a shred of scientific evidence that materialism is actually true can then be ignored. Congratulations again.

    2) A scientific conclusion that is amenable to religious belief is not a religious belief. (See the Big Bang).

    True, but irrelevant. ID is not considered “religious” because it is amenable to religious belief.

    You’ve now lost your mind. ID is systematically derided because it is amenable to religious belief (please reference “…for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door”).

    Every website (scholarly or not) on the matter hammers religion constantly, there are published essays from eminent scientists who cannot get off the religious angle and address the evidence, court cases hang on the motivations of those involved – and all the while, Behe has never been answered, Abel has never been answered, Dembski is pelted with crap while the math stays the same. You can deny this all you wish, but it won’t change the reality on the ground.

    The reason that ID is beaten to death over religion is not because it has been uprooted by good empirical science – but exactly because it has not been. I suggest people, such as yourself, who demand that the anti-ID contingent is benignly motivated by the wonderment of science, should try having a more healthy sense of shame. Perhaps the entire world could use a little less rhetorical arrogance.

    3) The scientific observation that the sequencing of nucleic acids in DNA is physically inert is not a passage in the Bible.

    I don’t understand this sentence. Perhaps “physically inert” is scientific jargon in some way that is opaque to me; I am not a scientist. Assuming this means that there is some observation that you feel supports ID but not YEC, I again don’t see the relevance.

    Perhaps it would behoove you to come to an understanding at least some of the issues then.

    What I refer to as “physically inert” refers to the empirically-based claim that the information and language found at the core of life is not dependant upon physical necessity (i.e. material). There is nothing in the physical laws of this Universe that says this information has to exist the way it does, in fact, as far as the physical laws of the Universe are concerned, it doesn’t even have to exist at all. In other words, there is absolutely nothing in the physical laws that makes it exists – but it exists anyway, without physical laws to explain it.

    4) A school board member’s religious belief is irrelevant.

    True (in a complicated way), but also irrelevant. Courts don’t find that creationist lesson plans violate the First Amendment because the board members have religious beliefs. The actual test, to oversimplify a bit, is the Lemon Test. It looks to the effects of their actions, rather than their beliefs.

    You are now just repeating your repetitions, with all the undue inferences intact. As long as you are just oversimplifying your own inconsistencies, can I simply restate that it is irrelevant to the evidence of what is true or not?

    1) . . . No one has ever demonstrated in a court of law that a classroom discussion of the scientific evidence for agency involvement in life impinges on any of the items listed in this clause.

    This, again, turns on whether such evidence exists, and the effects of presenting the arguments to which you refer. You might consider Kitzmiller, although I would ask you (as this has come up in another thread) to please read the entire opinion, cover to cover, before reaching any conclusions about it.

    Honestly. if you do not know whether or not “such evidence exists” then why do you comment on it?

    Kitzmiller? I have already read it, but I must tell you how uninterested I am in it. Firstly, I don’t think that ID proponents should pursue legal classroom battles. At the same time, I think that teachers and administrators should not be subject to punishment by the government (at the behest of ideologues) if they converse on the topic. I think the topic is completely legitimate and should be discussed at length, but I also recognize this is nothing but a cultural battle falsely argued in the name of (S)cience.

    Bottom line: School science curricula should accurately reflect the fullest knowledge of the scientific issues, and it should do so without the ideologically mandated censorship that has become apparent by its defense of itself.

    2) A “prudent” school board would not offer science programs that begin with what must be disallowed on ideological grounds.

    If “prudent” refers to what would survive a constitutional challenge, I’ll note only that creationism, creation science, and ID have all failed in court. I am not aware that mainstream, secular biology has ever done so. A prudent school board would consider that track record.

    May I ask where in your response do you address the claim that scientific issues are being disallowed on ideological grounds?

    Indeed, on this very blog (by your own comments and inferences) you cannot seem to discern what is what.

    Truly, try learning something about what you comment on. It seems like little to ask, but perhaps it’s important.

  19. 19

    In 1972, I asked for, and was granted, permission to speak against evolutionary theory as a biology student in a public high school. To my knowledge, there is nothing that has emerged in federal case law since that precludes students from expressing beliefs that run contrary to the scientific consensus.

    The problem is that free discussion of ID by students in the science classes of American public schools is not good enough for the socio-political activists who aim to “renew” science and culture. The words “ID is a scientific alternative to modern evolutionary theory” absolutely must come from the mouths of science teachers.

    All of IDers’ challenges to the philosophy of science, along with its materialistic accounts of origins, could and should be covered in a high school course in philosophy and comparative religion. Americans’ ignorance of one another’s belief systems is utterly atrocious. Of course, conservative Christians want their children ignorant (i.e., unexposed to “false gods”). And, though they constitute a minority of voters, they are well organized and highly vocal when it comes to hot-button issues in public education.

    My point is that it is not the scientific establishment that is keeping vying ideas about science and origins from being discussed in American public schools, but Christian conservatives. As a point in case, the Los Angeles County schools taught comparative religion for, if memory serves, precisely one year before Christian parents killed the course. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for such pig-heads whining that their ideas are “expelled” from public schools.

  20. 20

    TM, please do tell us why the physically inert nature of nucleic sequencing should only be taught in a comparitive religion class.

  21. 21
    CannuckianYankee

    PaulBurnett

    “CannuckianYankee (#12) passed on a DI policy stattement: “As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education.’

    The (wink wink nudge nudge) wasn’t visible.”

    I fail to see why you offered this criticism. Do you have any knowledge of a case where the Discovery Institute was involved in or supported an effort to require the teaching of ID in public schools? No? I thought so.

  22. 22
    CannuckianYankee

    TM,

    “As a point in case, the Los Angeles County schools taught comparative religion for, if memory serves, precisely one year before Christian parents killed the course.”

    Perhaps they feared that the schools would provide a wacked-out neo-liberal teacher who would deny the historicity of Jesus and quote from the Jesus Seminar.

    Fine – chellenge the Christian kids to set the record straight.

    It’s true, TM, we allow education to be dumbed down when we try to sensor. Christians should be open to listening to other views, and should not be engaged in shielding their children from outside influences. This is not at least the Evangelical thing to do. The Evangelical thing to do is to expose ourselves to the world’s ideas so that we can be “all things to all people.” I can’t do that by hiding in a cave.

  23. 23

    Upright BiPed,

    TM, please do tell us why the physically inert nature of nucleic sequencing should only be taught in a comparitive religion class.

    Please do tell us why it should be taught anywhere. How do you think the corresponding chromosomes pair off in sexual reproduction by diploid organisms? Does an unseen intelligent agent guide the process? Last I read, the electrostatic properties of the chromosomes were crucial. DNA sequences are not physically inert.

    I think you mean to say that deoxyribonucleic acid sequences are more-or-less chemically inert. They would not make very good stores of information otherwise. An article here at UD linked to a reputable source claiming that 70% of DNA is transcribed to short RNA sequences that are chemically active in the cell. That is, the RNA does not function as messenger RNA. The upshot is that most DNA corresponds in an immediate way to chemically active RNA. My understanding — someone tell me if I’ve got it wrong — is that most transcribed DNA is simply “RNA without the oxygen atoms.”

    Lincoln and Joyce recently established that there are self-replicating, evolving autocatalytic sets of RNA molecules. DNA is certainly not necessary to life, though, as John von Neumann pointed out, a stable store is a desideratum for a self-replicator.

    My doctorate is in computer science, and I have taught formal language theory several times. When I look at the nitty-gritty of transcription and translation (e.g., mechanical slippage, the operation of promoters and enhancers), the process looks quite unlike any I’ve seen in a digital computer. The linguistic model of translation of genetic to amino-acid sequences hides a lot of pesky physical and chemical details.

    You and many others are quasi-mystical in your response to the cartoonish linguistic model. It seems that the key ingredient in this is your belief that language requires intelligence. You’ve got things turned around. There are all sorts of systems we may choose to model as language processors. Our modeling decisions do not confer intelligent design on the modeled entities.

  24. 24

    “Lincoln and Joyce recently established that there are self-replicating, evolving autocatalytic sets of RNA molecules.”

    Please check your facts T M:

    Biologic Institute Announces First Self-Replicating Motor Vehicle

    “To get an idea of how little was actually being accomplished (comparatively speaking) by the RNAs themselves, we should see how the total number of chemical bonds in the complete RNAs compares to the number made (one) during “self-replication”. Ignoring hydrogen atoms, which don’t join atoms up into large molecules, each complete RNA molecule had over 1,600 specific chemical bonds. Except for the final one, all of these bonds were pre-made in the process of making the precursors.”

    http://biologicinstitute.org/2.....r-vehicle/

  25. 25

    “So, advertising this as “self-replication” is a bit like advertising something as “free” when the actual deal is 1 free for every 1,600 purchased. It’s even worse, though, because you need lots of the pre-made precursors in cozy proximity to a finished RNA in order to kick the process off. That makes the real deal more like n free for every 1,600 n purchased, with the caveats that n must be a very large number and that full payment must be made in advance.”

  26. TM English,
    I’m not familiar with this inert DNA argument. But if you’re this familiar with it then you probably know about:

    genetic entropy,
    IC structures,
    CSI,
    fossil record discrepancies,
    Cambrian Explosion problems

    You say ID should be taught in philosophy class. It should, but shouldn’t these points be in science class?

    There’s only two points of view which would disqualify these five from science class, ad populum isn’t allowed.

    1. It’s not observed, 2. By the weight of evidence, it can’t be inferred.

    You make the mistake in your examples of sarcastically inferring intelligence is involved in some aspect of dna. Don’t take one example but look at the weight of all the evidence together. THEN you can infer intelligence, and THAT level of inference should be allowed in class.

  27. 27

    CannuckianYankee (#12) asked: “Do you have any knowledge of a case where the Discovery Institute was involved in or supported an effort to require the teaching of ID in public schools?

    Here’s some involvement by the Discovery Institute: “We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula.” – The Discovery Institute’s “Wedge Strategy” – http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

    And surely you will admit the Discovery Institute’s involvement in a certain “biology” text, “Of Pandas and People,” the writing of which involved several Fellows of the Discovery institute.

  28. 28

    When I said consensus means nothing, I was referring to what is correct or incorrect about the conclusions that man makes for himself. In that regard, consensus means nothing and I am not compelled to retract one iota from the comment.

    I would not compel you to do any thing, even if it was within my power. I am not a scientist, or a philosopher; I will keep my opinion on your own merits in those fields to myself. I am an attorney, and assumed we were speaking, more or less, of the law. If you want to discuss “the conclusions that man makes for himself,” you will have to find someone who feels inclined to have that conversation. I think the rest of your comment falls as well under the topic of strangers passing in the night; please do correct me if you think we have some overlap.

    Mr. English,

    In 1972, I asked for, and was granted, permission to speak against evolutionary theory as a biology student in a public high school. To my knowledge, there is nothing that has emerged in federal case law since that precludes students from expressing beliefs that run contrary to the scientific consensus.

    That is an extremely interesting thought. I have no idea what the modern law on student expression is, other than to guess that, if the expression is led or supervised by a teacher, it would be functionally equivalent to a school action. I don’t know what the effect of spontaneous student presentations would be. It seems like there should be some scholarly literature on this, though, and I’ll see what I can find on it. Thank you for the comment.

  29. 29

    TM English,

    Well gee Mr. English, let us formally pass over the pleasantries and cut to the chase, shall we?

    I asked a rather simple question.

    You seemed to suggest that any ID challenges should be taught in a philosophy of science class. I asked why any evidences for ID should be so contained and you returned with 330 words of oblique showmanship that didn’t fair any better at enlightening us to your position than your first post. Actually, for a moment I had hoped you might suggest that both the inferences to agency and those to materialism should be taught side by side in a philosophy of science class, and that the science class itself could then be left to an appropriate level of agnosticism – but you didn’t. And, if you had some other thundering rationale, then you would have presented it – but you didn’t.

    In light of this, let’s look at how you like to play the game instead: you say ”DNA sequences are not physically inert. I think you mean to say that deoxyribonucleic acid [DNA] sequences are more-or-less chemically inert.”

    In honor of Ed McMahon passing away today, I’ll slip a turban on my head, close my eyes, and answer the question in the envelope…you want to argue over words, right?

    Please forgive me, but I am Popperian in this regard. As did Popper, I find it a waste of energy cloaked as a cheap pursuit for clarity. Even more importantly, I understand, again as Popper did, the strategic significance of the maneuver.

    Now in fairness I haven’t given you the context of my word “physically” inert (as opposed to your word “chemically” inert) but even if I had, the strategist in me knows that it doesn’t really matter. You’d argue the point regardless.

    So let’s us take a look at your assumptions:

    “An article here at UD linked to a reputable source claiming that 70% of DNA is transcribed to short RNA sequences that are chemically active in the cell.”

    Yes, and so much for a 35 year stagnation over the value of “junk DNA”, brought on by literally nothing more than the self-serving need of the current paradigm. Very nice, don’t you think?

    The upshot is that most DNA corresponds in an immediate way to chemically active RNA.

    So are you suggesting that RNA sequenced DNA? Please provide the details, and please include a mechanism whereby RNA would chemically express obvious intent to store its information in a separate medium for protection inside the nucleus.

    DNA is certainly not necessary to life

    Again, this bold assertion is a matter of an apparent religious faith on your part. Is there any observable evidence that Life can exist without DNA? Is there any observable evidence that Life has ever existed without DNA? Is there any laboratory that has created Life absent DNA? Any Life at all?

    If not, then on what empirical ground is DNA “certainly not necessary” to Life?

    When I look at the nitty-gritty of transcription and translation (e.g., mechanical slippage, the operation of promoters and enhancers), the process looks quite unlike any I’ve seen in a digital computer.

    I see. So you don’t particularly care for the “digital” lingo that virtually every bioinformatics researcher uses and understands? So be it. Apparently you have computer skills, so you would be in a position to know. By the way, Hoyle had similar hang-ups prior to his death, despite the fact that the rest of science moved on. So you are in good company.

    You and many others are quasi-mystical in your response to the cartoonish linguistic model. It seems that the key ingredient in this is your belief that language requires intelligence.

    I am sure there is a compliment in there somewhere, but let’s go ahead and dig into the details of the cartoon anyway.

    From peer-review: “Genetic algorithms instruct sophisticated biological organization. Three qualitative kinds of sequence complexity exist: random (RSC), ordered (OSC), and functional (FSC). FSC alone provides algorithmic instruction. Random and Ordered Sequence Complexities lie at opposite ends of the same bi-directional sequence complexity vector. Randomness in sequence space is defined by a lack of Kolmogorov algorithmic compressibility. A sequence is compressible because it contains redundant order and patterns. Law-like cause-and-effect determinism produces highly compressible order. Such forced ordering precludes both information retention and freedom of selection so critical to algorithmic programming and control. Functional Sequence Complexity requires this added programming dimension of uncoerced selection at successive decision nodes in the string. Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization.”

    Is there anything in this passage that you’d like to argue? Please feel free, I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

    Continuing: “In life-origin science, attention usually focuses on a theorized pre-RNA World [52-55]. RNA chemistry is extremely challenging in a prebiotic context. Ribonucleotides are difficult to activate (charge). And even oligoribonucleotides are extremely hard to form, especially without templating. The maximum length of such single strands in solution is usually only eight to ten monomers (mers). As a result, many investigators suspect that some chemical RNA analog must have existed [56,57]. For our purposes here of discussing linear sequence complexity, let us assume adequate availability of all four ribonucleotides in a pre-RNA prebiotic molecular evolutionary environment. Any one of the four ribonucleotides could be polymerized next in solution onto a forming single-stranded polyribonucleotide. Let us also ignore in our model for the moment that the maximum achievable length of aqueous polyribonucleotides seems to be no more than eight to ten monomers (mers). Physicochemical dynamics do not determine the particular sequencing of these single-stranded, untemplated polymers of RNA. The selection of the initial “sense” sequence is largely free of natural law influences and constraints. Sequencing is dynamically inert [58]. Even when activated analogs of ribonucleotide monomers are used in eutectic ice, incorporation of both purine and pyrimidine bases proceed at comparable rates and yields [59]. Monnard’s paper provides additional evidence that the sequencing of untemplated single-stranded RNA polymerization in solution is dynamically inert – that the sequencing is not determined or ordered by physicochemical forces.

    Again I ask, has the cartoon been appropriately represented here, or is there something you find distressing about the information so far?

    Continuing still: “Little empirical evidence exists to contradict the contention that untemplated sequencing is dynamically inert (physically arbitrary). We are accustomed to thinking in terms of base-pairing complementarity determining sequencing. It is only in researching the pre-RNA world that the problem of single-stranded metabolically functional sequencing of ribonucleotides (or their analogs) becomes acute. And of course highly-ordered templated sequencing of RNA strands on natural surfaces such as clay offers no explanation for biofunctional sequencing. The question is never answered, “From what source did the template derive its functional information?” In fact, no empirical evidence has been presented of a naturally occurring inorganic template that contains anything more than combinatorial uncertainty. No bridge has been established between combinatorial uncertainty and utility of any kind.”

    At this point please allow me to jump to some conclusions:

    “What testable empirical hypotheses can we make about FSC that might allow us to identify when FSC exists? In any of the following null hypotheses [137], demonstrating a single exception would allow falsification. We invite assistance in the falsification of any of the following null hypotheses:

    Null hypothesis #1
    Stochastic ensembles of physical units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #2
    Dynamically-ordered sequences of individual physical units (physicality patterned by natural law causation) cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #3
    Statistically weighted means (e.g., increased availability of certain units in the polymerization environment) giving rise to patterned (compressible) sequences of units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #4
    Computationally successful configurable switches cannot be set by chance, necessity, or any combination of the two, even over large periods of time.

    We repeat that a single incident of nontrivial algorithmic programming success achieved without selection for fitness at the decision-node programming level would falsify any of these null hypotheses. This renders each of these hypotheses scientifically testable. We offer the prediction that none of these four hypotheses will be falsified.

    The fundamental contention inherent in our three subsets of sequence complexity proposed in this paper is this: without volitional agency assigning meaning to each configurable-switch-position symbol, algorithmic function and language will not occur. The same would be true in assigning meaning to each combinatorial syntax segment (programming module or word). Source and destination on either end of the channel must agree to these assigned meanings in a shared operational context. Chance and necessity cannot establish such a cybernetic coding/decoding scheme [71].”

    In case you are not familiar with the above text, it is a qualitative profile of the mechanisms for sequencing nucleotides (available on the NIH PubMed website). Abel and Trevors:

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g.....id=1208958

    and also

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g.....id=2662469

    By all means, feel free to read the research and provide any details where the information is incorrect.

  30. 30

    One more thing…you might find the following paper (from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) somewhat thought provoking from the standpoint of the rise of information from pre-biophere to life, and again from the onset of life through current levels.

    http://indecs.znanost.org/2005.....p59-71.pdf

  31. 31

    Learned…no, I am quite certain we have no overlap to speak of (unless you have come up with the names of schools that allow discussions of the scientific evidence for agency involvement within their classrooms), otherwise I (like you) see no need to belabor the point.

    Best regards…

  32. bornagain77 (24-25) [off-topic]:

    My statement was entirely correct. Self-replicating autocatalytic sets of RNA molecules exist. I said nothing about how they came into existence.

    Would you like to bet money on whether the overall complexity of autocatalytic self-replicators will be reduced substantially in the next five years? I will wager big bucks that larger autocatalytic sets of much simpler RNA molecules will be discovered within ten years.

    This reminds me of the good ol’ ARN days, when Sal Cordova was utterly sure that the specified complexity of a universal computer was far beyond Dembski’s bound of 500 bits for entirely naturalistic processes. That is, Roger Penrose had not figured out how to encode a particular kind of universal computer in fewer than 5,000 bits, and Sal took this to mean that any universal computer required intelligent design. Then I informed Sal that a universal computer had been encoded in well under 400 bits. And Stephen Wolfram argues that universal computation is actually much simpler than that.

    I trust you see the close analogy to what you and I are discussing here. Do you really want to make much ado of the complexity of the RNA molecules in the “proof of principle” study of Lincoln and Joyce? We’ve seen just the beginning of a new line of research. The elements of the autocatalytic set are going to get much simpler.

  33. 33
    CannuckianYankee

    PaulBurnett,

    “Here’s some involvement by the Discovery Institute: “We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula.” – The Discovery Institute’s ‘Wedge Strategy’”

    Paul, I appreciate this, but this is not what I asked for. What I asked was: ““Do you have any knowledge of a case where the Discovery Institute was involved in or supported an effort to require the teaching of ID in public schools?”

    This ain’t it. All this is is talking about strategy, which apparently the DI abandoned because perhaps they didn’t think it was a good strategy. So besides talking about it, do you have examples where the Discovery Institute actually was involved in a concerted effort to force the teaching of ID in public schools?

    Sorry, perhaps I didn’t make that clear, so it’s entirely my fault.

  34. 34

    TM your words seem to drip with self-assured smugness as well as arrogance, which is quite interesting since you never addressed the clear problem of information generation presented by upright. Have you solved this problem?

    As cbass commented on another thread:

    “The scientists were able to facilitate the quasi-spontaneous creation of ribonucleotides, similarly to the famous Urey-Miller experiment so many years ago. Granted, a ribonucleotide is a more complex molecule than an amino acid, but, essentially, the scientists have succeeded in creating a couple of letters of the biological alphabet (in a “thermodynamically uphill” environment). What they need to do now is create the remaining letters, and then show how these letters were able to attach themselves together to form long chains of RNA, and arrange themselves in a specific order to encode information for creating specific proteins, and instructions to assemble the proteins into cells, tissues, organs, systems, and finally, complete phenotypes.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com...../#comments

    Nice Peer Reviews Upright:

    I especially liked this closing statement in
    “The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity David L. Abel”
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g.....id=2662469

    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it:

    “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut [9]: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.”

    So TM do you want to bet “big” money on that Null hypothesis being falsified?

  35. 35
    CannuckianYankee

    PaulBurnett,

    “And surely you will admit the Discovery Institute’s involvement in a certain “biology” text, “Of Pandas and People,” the writing of which involved several Fellows of the Discovery institute.”

    No, I’m afraid I will not admit that one either. The DI simply published a book about ID for use in public and/or private schools. Let’s not forget, Pual, that this country has many private schools, where it is legal to teach ID alongside evolution. The DI published a book that would enhance that teaching. That public schools also picked up on this text does not necessarily show that the DI supported any kind of requirement whatsoever.

    Now I will grant you, and there is some evidence even from the Dover trial transcripts, that the DI sent copies of the book to school districts and school boards unsolicited. However, this is not a reflection that they were attempting to “require” (and that’s the key word here) the teaching of ID in public schools.

    There is a difference. Lots of publishing companies send copies of their works to school boards. It is common practice. Why shouldn’t the Discovery Institute do the same?

  36. 36
    CannuckianYankee

    PaulBurnett,

    Sorry, I have to clarify. I’m not saying that the evidence is not out there. It’s just that I don’t believe you have produced it here. I’m open to the possibility that there is evidence for this, and if that is the case, then I don’t support it, and it is not the Discovery Intsitute’s current policy based on what they currently have posted on their website.

  37. 37

    CannuckianYankee (#33) wrote: “What I asked was: ““Do you have any knowledge of a case where the Discovery Institute was involved in or supported an effort to require the teaching of ID in public schools?”

    …and in (#36): “…it is not the Discovery Intsitute’s current policy based on what they currently have posted on their website.

    My understanding is that the Discovery Institute has worked with a number of states’ (Missouri, Alabama, Iowa, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Mississippi, others) pro-creationism legislators to enact “Academic Freedom Act” bills (see http://www.academicfreedompetition.com/freedom.php) which support “…presenting scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution.” – which everybody understands opens the door for intelligent design.

    Please let me know where on the Discovery Institute’s website a policy is posted saying they are stopping this meddling.

  38. 38

    bornagain [still off-topic],

    TM your words seem to drip with self-assured smugness as well as arrogance…

    There is absolutely nothing smug or arrogant in saying that the first solution to a problem is almost never the most simple solution that will be discovered. The very fact that Lincoln and Joyce improved their system considerably with a limited amount of directed evolution suggests strongly that further improvement is to come.

    The stunning arrogance is on the parts of those who pretend to establish by empirical science answers to ultimate questions of origins, biological and cosmological. The neo-atheist and the IDist are twin sons of different mothers. My stance is that we need to bring down all the priests of science. Science is grossly overvalued as a way of knowing in our culture.

    No one is going to establish scientifically how life actually originated. There is no fossil evidence. We have no time machine. The experiments we do today apply to the earth of four billion years ago only under the assumption that physics was then as it is now.

    The best mainstream OOL researchers can do is to establish plausible mechanisms of abiogenesis. The best IDers can do is to advertise that the mainstream researchers have failed.

  39. Upright BiPed (29):

    Sorry to be slow responding — got sick.

    Well gee Mr. English, let us formally pass over the pleasantries and cut to the chase, shall we?

    Indeed. You first appeared here at UD, I believe, to lay into Steve Fuller. You seemed like a player in the ID movement. You subsequently stated that it was Michael Denton who got you interested in ID. You are more likely to refer to agency and mind than to intelligence. You post over and over about the design manifest in the genetic code. You told my anima that some of her observations on the philosophy of science were straight out of the textbook. Hmm.

    Want me to work at giving a detailed account of how painfully bad Trevors and Abel are in their remarks about information and computation? Put your real name in a white box out on the home page, and get the exchange moving. I also have some choice remarks about grotesque parodies of falsification — especially Abel’s million-dollar prize. I will not comment on details of biochemistry because, unlike the hoary twain, I make strong statements only in areas I have studied. (Trevors and Abel haven’t even made it through Chapter 1 of the standard text on algorithmic information theory, Kolmogorov Complexity and Its Applications.)

    BTW, I had already read both papers. I excluded Trevors and Abel from my chapter on ID for Design by Evolution because I thought their work was quite weak. The recent tirade by Abel is the most putrid mass of word salad I have ever choked down. I do have to admit, however, that the reference list — all the stuff that Abel rants against, whether he understands it or not — is very good.

    Tom Englishhttp://BoundedTheoretics.com

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