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Author Topic:   Is this another witchunt?
randman 
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Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 1 of 15 (239333)
09-01-2005 1:26 AM


On his face rests a wearied expression. It's the face of a 41-year-old man fighting for his reputation as a legitimate scientist.

Why would the world care about a little-known astronomy professor at a public university in Iowa? It's because of the 2004 book he co-authored with theologian Jay W. Richards called "The Privileged Planet."

The book claims that Earth is so unique, it must have been created by an "intelligent designer." Most scientists say there's no way to test that theory as opposed to Darwin's theory of natural selection so it belongs in religion or philosophy courses, not in science classes.

Fearing ISU's reputation was at stake, more than 120 faculty members signed a petition this month against representing intelligent design as science. The petition doesn't mention him by name, but Gonzalez believes it's a threat to his place among the Ames intelligentsia.

http://www.dmregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050831/LIFE/%20508310325/1001/LIFE

Once again, we see a scientists struggling due to the hysteria over his daring to publish Intelligent Design ideas.


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AdminNosy
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From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Message 2 of 15 (239976)
09-02-2005 1:57 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
PaulK
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Joined: 01-10-2003
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Message 3 of 15 (239990)
09-02-2005 2:14 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
09-01-2005 1:26 AM


Discovery Institute Smear machine strikes again
The Discovery Institute can't openly admit to the failure of ID as science so they have to make groundless accusations of a "witchhunt" to distract attention from the actual content of the statement.

The only hysteria is coming from the ID side as they try to suppress criticism.


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nwr
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Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 4 of 15 (240008)
09-02-2005 2:59 PM


Publicity stunt?
I don't have any inside info on what is happening at Iowa State. However, the "witch hunt" account does not ring true. What it describes is not the way that faculty react. I'm wondering if Gonzalez is putting on a paranoia act as a way of getting publicity for his book.
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dsv
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Joined: 08-17-2004


Message 5 of 15 (240011)
09-02-2005 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
09-01-2005 1:26 AM


The book claims that Earth is so unique, it must have been created by an "intelligent designer."

Unique compared to what? The other planets in our solar system? The gas giants that we can see in distant solar systems?

It's a bit premature to call Earth unique when logically there could be hundreds of thousands of planets in the same conditions as Earth throughout the unseen galaxy.


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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1808 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
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Message 6 of 15 (240014)
09-02-2005 3:08 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
09-01-2005 1:26 AM


Gonzalez believes conditions are so strict for habitability that complex life does not exist in the Milky Way galaxy other than on Earth. He says he wouldn't be surprised if we are alone in the universe

I can sympathise with that position. I expressed similar sentiments in my thread dealing with the possibility of other civilisations. BUT this does not lead to an ID conclusion. The most simple Weak Anthropic argument knocks this on the head, and everyone else knows this. To suggest that this points to an IDer is weak science at best, and not worthy of consideration. This is worse than evolutionary ID. Here the mechanisms are known and he is simply appealling to low probability events "requiring" an ID origin.

In my faith there is design in the universe: it is the fact that there is a universe and it is glorious. God does not have to tinker with it for it to behave in the way he designed...


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PaulK
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Message 7 of 15 (240017)
09-02-2005 3:11 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by nwr
09-02-2005 2:59 PM


Re: Publicity stunt?
The text of the letter may be found here.

http://www.iowastatedaily.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/08/23/430a8680abec8?in_archive=1


We, the undersigned faculty members at Iowa State, reject all attempts to represent Intelligent Design as a scientific endeavor.

Advocates of Intelligent Design claim the position of our planet and the complexity of particular life forms and processes are such that they may only be explained by the existence of a creator or designer of the universe.

Such claims, however, are premised on 1) the arbitrary selection of features claimed to be engineered by a designer; 2) unverifiable conclusions about the wishes and desires of that designer; and 3) an abandonment by science of methodological naturalism.

Methodological naturalism, the view that natural phenomena can be explained without reference to supernatural beings or events, is the foundation of the natural sciences. The history of science contains many instances where complex natural phenomena were eventually understood only by adherence to methodological naturalism.

Whether one believes in a creator or not, views regarding a supernatural creator are, by their very nature, claims of religious faith, and not within the scope or abilities of science. We, therefore, urge all faculty members to uphold the integrity of our university of science and technology, and convey to students and the general public the importance of methodological naturalism in science and reject efforts to portray Intelligent Design as science.

Hardly the "vicious attack" Gonzalez refers to.


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Chiroptera
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From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 8 of 15 (240018)
09-02-2005 3:14 PM


I am not at Iowa State, nor am I privy to what is happening in the astronomy community, but there is really nothing in the Des Moines Register article that indicates something untoward is happening. Maybe Dr. Gonzales is being hounded or ostracised or something, but this particular article doesn't support that.
  
Nighttrain
Member (Idle past 2159 days)
Posts: 1512
From: brisbane,australia
Joined: 06-08-2004


Message 9 of 15 (240119)
09-02-2005 9:47 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
09-01-2005 1:26 AM


Witchhunt
"Is this another witchhunt"

Don`t you think it a bit rich to use the term for a practice perfected by Christians?


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DominionSeraph
Member (Idle past 2919 days)
Posts: 365
From: on High
Joined: 01-26-2005


Message 10 of 15 (240337)
09-04-2005 2:12 AM


"It occurred to me - the best place in the solar system to view a solar eclipse is also the best place in the solar system to support complex life," Gonzalez says. "Is that just a coincidence?"

WTF??
He's asking if it's a coincidence that the best place to view the Moon blocking the Sun is from within the umbra? And that the best place to view that the Moon's apparent size is equal to the Sun's, and completely blocking it, and as the tip of the umbra intersects the Earth, is on the Earth?

Somebody please shoot me.


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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1808 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 11 of 15 (240344)
09-04-2005 5:22 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by DominionSeraph
09-04-2005 2:12 AM


The standard way of expressing surprise at this "cosmic coincidence" is "why is the apparent size of the Moon and the Sun the same?" Anthropic considerations have then looked for a conenction between this and the life-promoting features of the Earth.
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Chiroptera
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Posts: 6623
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 12 of 15 (240379)
09-04-2005 12:35 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by cavediver
09-04-2005 5:22 AM


Of course, with the billions of facts that are available, it wouldn't be surprising that there should be a few surprising coincidences. Clearly Gonzales never took a statistics class that I have taught.
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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1808 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 13 of 15 (240385)
09-04-2005 1:01 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Chiroptera
09-04-2005 12:35 PM


Was it Adams or Pratchett that said "1 in a million probabilities happen 9 times out of 10" :)

I don't think anyone in ID has been in either of our statistic classes!


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tsig
Member (Idle past 1074 days)
Posts: 738
From: USA
Joined: 04-09-2004


Message 14 of 15 (240488)
09-05-2005 2:59 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by dsv
09-02-2005 3:03 PM


nothing special
It's a bit premature to call Earth unique when logically there could be hundreds of thousands of planets in the same conditions as Earth throughout the unseen galaxy.
This message is a reply to:

Yes, this tosses the ball right back to the theist who use the "you haven't looked everywhere" defense against athiesm.

This message has been edited by DHA, 09-05-2005 03:00 AM


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DominionSeraph
Member (Idle past 2919 days)
Posts: 365
From: on High
Joined: 01-26-2005


Message 15 of 15 (241212)
09-08-2005 1:54 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Chiroptera
09-04-2005 12:35 PM


Chiroptera writes:

Of course, with the billions of facts that are available, it wouldn't be surprising that there should be a few surprising coincidences.

And much of it isn't a coincidence. Life exists, so it's not surprising that the conditions allow for it -- just like how there's ice at the poles, so it's not surprising that it's cold there.


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