Monday, August 22, 2005

Talk about the Animals

From a New York Times story involving the debate between evolution and intelligent design:

"By studying the evolutionary tree and the genetics and biochemistry of living organisms, Dr. Doolittle said, scientists have largely been able to determine the order in which different proteins became involved in helping blood clot, eventually producing the sophisticated clotting mechanisms of humans and other higher animals ...

"For example, scientists had predicted that more primitive animals such as fish would be missing certain blood-clotting proteins. In fact, the recent sequencing of the fish genome has shown just this.

" 'The evidence is rock solid,' Dr. Doolittle said."

Now I'm as inclined to subscribe to evolution as the next monkey, but does the scientific world really gain credibility from a guy named Dr. Doolittle who says we can learn a lot from the animals?


At 12:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a side note sparked by your post on ID...

I'd be curious to read what various Okie bloggers -- and/or readers of this blog, right, left and everything in between -- have to say about various other ID theories that have nothing to do with evolution or Darwinian biological theory.

It seems to me that media outlets have focused on the narrow band debate of ID theory on evolution (perhaps because members of the MSM find the implications of the larger theory so disturbing to their worldview).

Meanwhile most reporters have ignored other scientific disciplines such as cosmology, cosmogenesis (the implications of a Big Bang versus "infinite" universe theories that led to widespread atheism in the modern world), quantum physics (suggesting supernatural realities beyond our comprehension), astrophysics, theories about a holographic universe (also suggesting a reality behind our "reality"), genetics, molecular biology, the "anthropic" principle of physics, "Rare Earth" theories, and emerging theories of the mind and consciousness (such as recent research at places like the University of Pennsylvania - see the book, "Why God Won't Go Away" written by a Pennsylvania researcher and M.D. or the more basic question, "How did consciousness and sentience arise from inert matter?").

All of these disciplines seem to be intersecting in one way or another with the realm of theology and intelligent design.

It's easy to dismiss ID theory when the media sets up a Scopes Monkey Trial straw man -- but much more difficult to grapple with when taken in its totality.

For example, there's the continuing astounding nature of patterns that repeat (or were purposefully placed?) in nature at the micro and macro level (such as spirals, orbit patterns, honeycombs and so on). Even NOVA on PBS did a special on this strange and wondrous aspect of nature a few years back. Take the precise spiral pattern: We see it in the Milky Way galaxy, in nautilus shells, even in the flight pattern of moths drawn toward flames. Another example: Many species of flora assert a Fibonacci mathematical sequence as they blossom.

For some odd reason, we're not reading much about these things in the news lately, even though they comprise the totality of ID theory...

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

Hmm... I wonder who this could possibly be? I would submit to you that regardless of what you contend is the totality of ID theory, its prunary allure for most of its adherents is its rejiggered creationism - at the very least, THAT is what is fueling its controversy (the ridiculous anti-evolution disclaimors in Kansas and Dover, Pa., for instance). Do you disagree that the ID take on evolution is what has given it momentum? After all, it is with the origin of the cosmos that ID theory has actually conceded to scientific evidence...

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Chase had me stumped on that one, and I had to go look it up.

I would agree that evolution is at the center of the current debate, which is entirely my point.

But I would disagree that ID is "rejiggered creationism." And ID theorists who point to the Big Bang are not "conceding," but rather embracing the evidence -- just as many ID theorists seek to look at the evidence, or lack thereof, for Darwinian evolution in a balanced way.

By the way, it's the atheists who are scrambling to find a way around the evidence of the Big Bang right now -- not the theists. The Big Bang leads down a logical road, and atheists don't like where that's headed. So they've come up with alternative theories such as the "multiverse theory" and more to help them do an end run around the spark that led to you and me.

Science begins to degenerate when it declares a theory as unquestionable and permanently carved in stone. On the other hand, faith does not degenerate when it does the same thing, which is an interesting outcome.

Not even Newtonian physics has entirely held up under the new theories of quantum physics.

Today's NY Times ran a story (actually disproving my dissing of the MSM's coverage on these issues) that respectfully explored the interesection of faith and science for many reputable scientists.

The story began with a revealing anecdote about a Noble Prize Winner loudly who recently denounced belief in God.

The Nobel Laureate, Herbert Hauptman, said of belief in God: "this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race."

Such is the current terrible orthodoxy that holds sway within most scientific circles -- as the NY Times story goes on at length to explore.

The subtextual message to most scientists in the West is: Do not even whisper utterances about God.

It's the elephant in the room they don't want to see.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

"Prunary" was a typo gibberish thing on my part. I meant "primary."

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Conrad Spencer said...

'The Nobel Laureate, Herbert Hauptman, said of belief in God: "this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race."'

I'm sure that more people have died defending their God (or gods)than have died defending evolution or Newtonian physicis.

The problem is that we're talking about what should be taught in science classes, "science" being roughly defined as the study of the natural world. ID fails by requiring a higher, supernatural power to be involved at some stage in evolutionary development. Once you add supernatural elements, it ceases to be science and becomes, for lack of a better word, myth.

Every scientific answer leads to new questions (the same is true in theology), but it's a cop-out to throw up our hands and explain away the dark corners of evolutionary theory instead of returning to observation and experimentation. You can say, "Because God said so" about every natural phenominia, but it doesn't further our understanding of God's world much.

I believe in God, and in evolution, and I believe that God accomplishes His will through the natural world and natural law, not in spite of them.

At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Once you add supernatural elements, it ceases to be science and becomes, for lack of a better word, myth."

I'm sorry, but that demonstrates a lack of understanding of what ID theorists propose. And it seems to reflect the very problem I referred to in the first comment -- that the media is ignoring the fundamental evidence that is beginning to pile up in various scientific disciplines.

Ignore the evolutionary critique if you want -- but to throw up a wall of complete denial to ID theory also requires recent breakthroughs in quantum physics, astrophysic, cosmology, cosmogenesis theory, genetics, psychoneuroimmunology and more.

I suppose since the idea of a metaphysical reality is so threatening, that would preclude any student viewing of the successful film, "What the Bleep Do We Know?" - a cult hit described as "a lecture on mysticism and science mixed into a sort-of narrative."

In an era of men without chests, we wouldn't students exposed to anything of the sort.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Conrad Spencer said...

What, then, do ID theorists propose if not that a supernatural being is required to take up the slack left by natural law?

At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually many of them say it doesn't have to supernatural at all -- it could merely be a higher alien intelligence at work, though I think that's a cop out.

The bottom line, though, is "intelligent."

Based on the totality of the evidence -- and again not just limited to the narrow band of the debate over Darwin -- ID theorists propose that there is a preponderance of evidence in various disciplines (a smattering of which I listed above in my first post) that suggests intelligence is at work in designing the universe, that it was designed, that there are mechanisms (fine-tuning of our physics to permit life), codes (DNA, patterns and so on) & machines that operate our reality, and that at an purposeful intelligent stamp is on all of these things.

That's not very far from what the very intelligent Deists who founded our nation thought.

And the atheists struggle to answer the core questions about our reality. There are many of such questions, such as "How did sentience arise from inert matter?" "If every effect must have a cause, what caused the Big Bang?"

As to the cause of the Big Bang, we cannot rely on the explanations of naturalism -- physics, time, space , matter, energy -- to point to a cause, because the Big Bang arose from a singular point beyond those things.

I'm not sure why some are so troubled by the idea of introducing such questions as "If every effect has a cause, then what caused the Big Bang?" and then going on to discuss all the implications of that question in a classroom setting. After all, don't we want to test and develop young minds, expand awareness and enhance human consciousness?

Discussing and considering such ideas as part of a young person's education is how we ended up with the minds of Plato and Aristotle millennia ago.

Doesn't seem like such a bad outcome.

At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. By the way, the Big Bang was itself a supernatural event -- that is, it happened outside the boundaries of our natural world.


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