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Author Topic:   Intelligent Design Class to be taught at Cornell University
Minnemooseus
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Posts: 3246
From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 1 of 168 (306203)
04-23-2006 9:36 PM


The following was submitted by Carol, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evolutionversuscreationism/message/20563:

http://www.syracuse.com/newsflash/national/...

ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) - Cornell University this summer will offer a class
on intelligent design
(http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2006/04/evolution-and-design...),

a theory that has sparked heated debate around the country on whether
alternatives to evolution should be taught in public schools.

The course will include texts that oppose and support the theory of
intelligent design and will be offered through the undergraduate
biology program. It will be a history of biology class that looks at
ethics and philosophy.

"I'm not going to be bashing (intelligent design), but I'm also not
going to be advocating it," said lecturer Allen MacNeill
(http://www.blogger.com/profile/18378908), an evolutionary biologist
who will teach the course. "I'm going to be using it - and
evolutionary biology too - to think about these very complicated ideas."

Cornell President Hunter Rawlings III in an Oct. 21 speech
(http://www.cornell.edu/president/announcement_2005_1021.cfm)
condemned the teaching of intelligent design as science, calling it "a
religious belief masquerading as a secular idea."

Intelligent design is a theory that argues that life is too complex to
have developed through evolution, implying a higher power must have
had a hand. It has been harshly criticized by The National Academy of
Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
which have called it repackaged creationism.

Around the country, attempts to introduce public school students to
alternatives to evolution such as intelligent design have largely failed.

Hannah Maxson, president of the Intelligent Design Evolution Awareness
Club at Cornell
(http://designparadigm.blogsome.com/2006/04/10/evolution-and-design/),
said she is glad the issue is being taken seriously.

"We'd just like a place at the table in the scientific give-and-take," she said.

Other than fixing a URL, shortening the display form of two URL's, and tweeking the formatting a bit, the material is as presented by Carol.

If the first link within the quote box doesn't work correctly, you may wish to try this (the printer friendly version).

Submitted to the "Intelligent Design" forum.

Moose


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Message 2 of 168 (306215)
04-23-2006 10:54 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
kalimero
Member (Idle past 307 days)
Posts: 251
From: Israel
Joined: 04-08-2006


Message 3 of 168 (306269)
04-24-2006 9:42 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Minnemooseus
04-23-2006 9:36 PM


I dont understand what exactly is it that this course is supposed to teach that wouldnt have been taught anyway and that has any relevance to the science of biology.
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Percy
Member
Posts: 13187
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 4 of 168 (306285)
04-24-2006 10:38 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Minnemooseus
04-23-2006 9:36 PM


minnemooseus quoting Carol quoting article writes:

The course will include texts that oppose and support the theory of intelligent design and will be offered through the undergraduate biology program. It will be a history of biology class that looks at ethics and philosophy.

I wonder if this might be less a science course and more a "socio/religious/philosophical impact of the theory of evolution" course.

Or is it an attempt to sneak ID into the curriculum under the cloak of a supposedly social studies type of course.

ID's history concerning self-promotion (the BSOW fiasco comes to mind) would indicate the latter is more likely, but I don't think we need be concerned about ID penetration at the college level. Academic and research institutions are where examination of these ideas is supposed to take place. Moving ID into the college classroom while it still has no evidence is premature, but university faculty has a great deal of influence over course curiculums, and there's a long history of professors promoting pet ideas in their classrooms. If there are ID professors out there who want to duke it out against evolution in the halls of science then I am all for it.

What I am against is teaching ID in public school science classrooms as if it were an accepted view within science. Since ID is not accepted within science, saying that it is would be equivalent to teaching a lie.

--Percy


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sidelined 
Inactive Suspended Member


Message 5 of 168 (306291)
04-24-2006 11:16 AM


IDEA club
I don't suppose anyone is familiar with this club as yet but perhaps they have something to to with the implementation Intelligent Design at Cornell.

The website is http://www.rso.cornell.edu/idea/.

The Cornell IDEA club is a representative of this parent organization. http://www.ideacenter.org/

Yet another head of the hydra rises up.


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melatonin
Member (Idle past 2637 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 6 of 168 (306298)
04-24-2006 12:37 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Percy
04-24-2006 10:38 AM


The academic who is teaching it (Allen MacNeil) is quite anti-ID and has been publicly critical of Dembski (he called him a liar I think)

Here's his blog, it has course outline etc

http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com

and in this pandas thumb entry, Allen MacNeil talks about the course.

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/04/_riding_the_evo.html

The ID side did originally hold this up as a success, until they understood how MacNeil was approaching the course.


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melatonin
Member (Idle past 2637 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 7 of 168 (306300)
04-24-2006 12:56 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by sidelined
04-24-2006 11:16 AM


Re: IDEA club
Dembski talks of 30 IDEA clubs around the US. They used to have a christian only officer rule until earlier this year. Guess it kinda caused problems for the "ID is not religious" argument. The officer at Cornell is a junior triple major (maths/chem/phys). Here's one of her press releases courtesy of the IDEA center...

Intelligent Design (ID) is a scientific theory which holds that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and are not the result of an undirected, chance-based process such as Darwinian evolution. It follows the principles of the scientific method, scorns the biases of either religion or naturalism, and attempts to follow all the available evidence to a valid conclusion. ID is testable and falsifiable, and so far its predictions have repeatedly been shown accurate.

The IDEA Club at Cornell holds that the problems with Neo-Darwinian evolution can no longer be ignored, and it is time for true research and debate about the issues surrounding the beginnings of life to take place at universities across the country.


http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1395

Lucky she isn't a biology major then.

The IDEA advisory board is made up of the likes of Behe, Dembski, Luskin -but apparently (according to them) they receive no funding from the DI.

Edited to add linky

This message has been edited by melatonin, 04-24-2006 01:10 PM


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sidelined 
Inactive Suspended Member


Message 8 of 168 (306307)
04-24-2006 2:28 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by melatonin
04-24-2006 12:56 PM


Re: IDEA club
melatonin

I fired off an e-mail to the Cornell IDEA club pointing out in no uncertain terms some of the errors they have at their website and have recieved a reply

Richard,

Thank you for your letter. Unfortunately it is finals season here at Cornell, so we won't be able to join you in debate at your forum. But to answer some of your questions:

Cornell IDEA website writes:

Isn't intelligent design theory completely unproductive?

No; in fact, intelligent design has already demonstrated itself as an extremely productive element of science. (Are you surprised?)
Belief that the universe was intelligently designed spurred Kepler on to make sense of the previously very confusing astronomical observations. Likewise Newton did not believe that "mere mechanical causes" could give rise to the solar system but declared that "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." Time and space is not sufficient to name all those including Copernicus, Boyle, Faraday, Maxwell and Einstein who acknowledged a designer and were motivated to uncover that design.
In general intelligent design expects that as our understanding of biology grows, information-rich and irreducibly complex structures will continue to be discovered, and predicts, for example, that there are purposes for "junk-DNA".

sidelined email writes:

I am surprised by the curious lack of clarification on the last sentence wherein you state that there are purposes for junk DNA. Please specify what the the actual purposes of junk DNA will be that we may be assured that the statement is not suspect by way of generality. You made the claim please back it up.Since junk DNA is already recognized as being that DNA for which no function has yet been identified the statement that functions will be found does not constitute a prediction.

Cornell IDEA response writes:

The statement in question isn't meant to be anything more than general; this is a one paragraph answer in a faq response to a very involved question. To quantify it one would determine the amount of "junk" expected from a natural process and contrast that with the amount expected from an intelligent process (and yes, we have intelligent processes available to us to examine). Our prediction would be that the amount should be found closer to that of a designed object than one which was undesigned.

sidelined email writes:

Onto the next question answer unit here

Cornell IDEA website writes:

Isn't intelligent design circular reasoning?

Intelligent design begins with observations about the type of information which intelligent agents tend to produce when they act. Â Therefore, when we find that type of information in the natural world, we have confirmed our observation-based predictions about what we would expect to find had an intelligent agent been at work.

sidelined email writes:

Excuse we but are you suffering from a logic impairment? This is indeed circular reasoning because the conclusion includes the premise. You state. " ID begins with observations about the type of information which ID agents tend to produce."

What type of information do intelligent agents produce? Those observations that ID begins with. You do not tell us what those observations entail without referencing the thing you are trying to establish by observation as valid in the first place!

Cornell IDEA response writes:

No; the step you are missing is in our initial observation, we are looking at the sort of intelligent design we are all familiar with and no-one needs to prove, i.e., the kind where we have an independent evidence of a designer at work. An example here might be a textbook someone wrote, or a machine designed by an engineer.

So, to go slowly: ID begins with observations about the sort of information produced by things known to be intelligently designed. This would primarily be observations of the sort of information produced by human designers. We also make observations of the sort of information produced by natural processes; so we can tell what are the distinguishing features of the intelligently-designed sort. Then we go and bring this knowledge to bear on "information" of unknown origin, such as that present in the bacterial flagellum.

Does this make any more sense?

Hannah
IDEA Cornell

Anyone care to comment?


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BMG
Member (Idle past 591 days)
Posts: 356
From: Southwestern U.S.
Joined: 03-16-2006


Message 9 of 168 (306308)
04-24-2006 2:56 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by sidelined
04-24-2006 2:28 PM


Re: IDEA club
Cornell IDEA writes:

ID begins with the observations about the sort of information produced by things known to be intelligently designed.

From what little I understand, if that statement isn't an example of circular reasoning, then what is?

abe: then

This message has been edited by Infixion, 04-24-2006 02:57 PM


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melatonin
Member (Idle past 2637 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 10 of 168 (306311)
04-24-2006 3:17 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by sidelined
04-24-2006 2:28 PM


Re: IDEA club
I like the way she put it simple language for you. heh.

She sounds quite a fan of Dembski with all the 'information' blah - explains her liking of tautologies...

a system exhibits specified complexity if it's complex and you can describe it without looking at the system to derive the description

http://goodmath.blogspot.com/2006_04_01_goodmath_archive.html

The good math, bad math blog pulls apart a few of dembski's arguments.

This message has been edited by melatonin, 04-24-2006 03:18 PM


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Percy
Member
Posts: 13187
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 11 of 168 (306325)
04-24-2006 5:40 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by sidelined
04-24-2006 2:28 PM


Re: IDEA club
About junk DNA, recent research over the past few years has revealed that it isn't as non-functional as first thought. In some cases the evidence is direct, in that some kind of function has been identified, and in other cases it is indirect, such as exhibiting a degree of preservation of nucleotide sequences unexpected in non-functional DNA. This is an area of active research.

From the IDist perspective I thought her answer was pretty good about trying to detect the degree of correspondence between the amount of actual non-functional DNA versus what one would expect in a design by humans.

Of course, from a scientific perspective this approach has a few significant and inherent problems. The quality of human designs varies all over the map. Since it depends on the talent and expertise of the particular person doing the design, it seems problematic for deciding what kind of quality we should expect of an unspecified intelligent designer. And finding no function doesn't mean something isn't designed. For example, the operating system on my computer comes with a complete set of fully non-functional programs that don't do a single constructive thing - they're system tests. And finally, there's no reason to expect that designs by people would have any correspondence to the designs by an unknown intelligent designer.

The IDist claim of finding correspondences in nature of human types of designs is hard to fathom. Hannah used the example of a textbook or a machine, but there are no examples of things like this in nature. IDists also like to draw analogies, for instance between boat propellers and the bacterial flagellum. Its difficult to explain the fallacy of implying design from similarity of function. Its such a foreign concept for those of us accustomed to a pragmatic chain-of-evidence approach that its not clear where to even start in a rebuttal, which is one of the qualities of ID that gives it its power.

Despite the difficulties, at heart ID fails for easily understood reasons, because its foundation is built from analogies and interpretations instead of from evidence.

Hannah said it was finals season at Cornell, which seemed a bit early, so I checked the schedule that can be found at http://www.cornell.edu/academics/calendar/. Exams start May 11. Hmmm.

--Percy


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pink sasquatch
Member (Idle past 2451 days)
Posts: 1567
Joined: 06-10-2004


Message 12 of 168 (306326)
04-24-2006 6:31 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Percy
04-24-2006 5:40 PM


Re: IDEA club junk
About junk DNA, recent research over the past few years has revealed that it isn't as non-functional as first thought.

Although I can't provide the historic details off-hand, it is my understanding that the "first thought" of geneticists in the face of "junk DNA" was that it must have some function in order to have been maintained during evolution. That was the initial prediction based on evolution.

Later, the evolutionary detritus/"junk" hypothesis was used as an explanation for why scientists couldn't immediately find function amidst the "junk".

After geneticists did find function in the "junk", and only after, did the ID folks claim that purpose in the "junk" DNA was a prediction of ID theory (that somehow the evolution folks got wrong). In reality, the theory of evolution immediately predicted some function in the "junk" DNA, while the "theory of ID" only "predicted" such after it was found.

It irks me quite a bit to see the usual claim that Intelligent Design "predicts, for example, that there are purposes for "junk-DNA", as usual with no explanation for how the theory leads to that prediction, and as if the Theory of Evolution somehow did not make such a prediction.

The attempt at experimental design, quite frankly, cracks me up:

To quantify it one would determine the amount of "junk" expected from a natural process and contrast that with the amount expected from an intelligent process (and yes, we have intelligent processes available to us to examine). Our prediction would be that the amount should be found closer to that of a designed object than one which was undesigned.

Doesn't Hannah see the horrible contradiction in her experimental design? In order to demonstrate that everything is designed, she proposes experiments to compare natural (non-designed) objects to designed ones in order to establish trends.

Where the hell are we going to find a non-designed object for comparison if all objects are designed?

Perhaps rather than trying to teach the ID-proponents biology or geology, we should be teaching them simple logic...


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iano
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 6163
From: Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Joined: 07-27-2005


Message 13 of 168 (306327)
04-24-2006 6:37 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Percy
04-24-2006 5:40 PM


Re: IDEA club
Of course, from a scientific perspective this approach has a few significant and inherent problems. The quality of human designs varies all over the map. Since it depends on the talent and expertise of the particular person doing the design, it seems problematic for deciding what kind of quality we should expect of an unspecified intelligent designer. And finding no function doesn't mean something isn't designed. For example, the operating system on my computer comes with a complete set of fully non-functional programs that don't do a single constructive thing - they're system tests.

But looking at the products of known intelligent designers (us) isn't a bad place to begin ones route of comparing in order to develop the..er..idea. If the intelligence did design and was a completely different type to our own then I imagine it will be imperceptable as intelligence. Or looking at it another way: only in so far as it shares attributes of our own intelligence would we be able to recognise it as intelligence. We have our own intelligence as a benchmark of sorts with which to compare its to ours

And finally, there's no reason to expect that designs by people would have any correspondence to the designs by an unknown intelligent designer

With ID being touted by many (correctly for all I know) as "creationism through the back door" then there might be all the reason in the world. "Made in his image and likeness" if believed would narrow down the searchpath. If one know which haystack the needle is in then it might motivate one to find it. There is no harm in starting out with a presumption then seeing if the science can be stitched together to demonstrate that the presumption is a highly probable affair

Whilst I agree that the quality of human designs varys wildly, this can be used to indicate to us on which part of the quality scale the hypothetical intelligent designer is operating. Does the designer share the kind of sloppy, loose-ended characteristics of mans worst yet patently designed efforts. Or does the designer exceed our best

Despite the difficulties, at heart ID fails for easily understood reasons, because its foundation is built from analogies and interpretations instead of from evidence

If there was no such thing as ToE then ID would have enough circumstantial evidence to warrant further enquiry. Hannahs one is such area to enter the game. To want to carry out an abortion on such an embryonic quest (as so many seem bent on here) strikes me more as a curious attempt to maintain status quo than anything else.

Its very early days yet and the opposition is immense.

Hannah said it was finals season at Cornell, which seemed a bit early, so I checked the schedule that can be found at http://www.cornell.edu/academics/calendar/. Exams start May 11. Hmmm.

Exam season. The time when everybody is focussed on that impending climax for which both student and teacher have been working for years. Love making usually involves a little more than the sweaty frantic bit at the very end ( a VERY intelligent design in my humble opinion)

This message has been edited by iano, 24-Apr-2006 11:38 PM


My avatar shows a thief-on-the-cross view of Jesus. One thief said "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom". The other remained firmly nailed (spiritually) to the sin that had hung him (physically) there - even as he stared eternity in the face. Who do YOU say that Jesus is? Will you continue to mock him, spit on him and deny him. Or will you call on his name and be saved? "Lord...."
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pink sasquatch
Member (Idle past 2451 days)
Posts: 1567
Joined: 06-10-2004


Message 14 of 168 (306329)
04-24-2006 6:57 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by iano
04-24-2006 6:37 PM


Re: IDEA club
If there was no such thing as ToE then ID would have enough circumstantial evidence to warrant further enquiry.

In order to have "further enquiry", ID would have to present testable hypotheses/predictions. Because ID fails to do so, it fails as science, regardless of whether or not it is in "competition" with the Theory of Evolution.


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Percy
Member
Posts: 13187
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 15 of 168 (306334)
04-24-2006 7:29 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by iano
04-24-2006 6:37 PM


Re: IDEA club
iano writes:

To want to carry out an abortion on such an embryonic quest (as so many seem bent on here) strikes me more as a curious attempt to maintain status quo than anything else.

The objection isn't to the pursuit of ID. I don't think anyone on the science side objects to the pursuit of any science.

The objection is to the IDist preference for offering analogy and conjecture as evidence, and for claiming status as legitimate science when it hasn't been conferred. I guess we think scientific validity should be obtained the old fashioned way, by earning it.

Evolutionists have to continually remind ID advocates that it isn't the idea of ID that we object to. No one would be more excited than scientists if true evidence were found of an intelligent force at work in the universe. The objections are to ID's emphasis on promoting itself as science instead of actually doing science. ID will never be true science because the IDist pursuit isn't one of science, but of religion. Ironically, this means that if an intelligent designer is actually out there somewhere, he'll be found by accident by a researcher investigating something else completely, and not by anyone in the ID movement.

--Percy


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