I attended a five day Intelligent Design conference to see if it really was 'religion masquerading as science'. I was impressed with the level of scientific evidence supporting ID. The arguments were robust and compelling, but I believe it's all for naught. ID in its present incarnation will not usurp current evolutionary theory for two reasons - one of which I discuss in the post.
ID proponents call their opposition Naturalism and this is their first mistake. Everyone loves Nature, no matter religion or epistemological position, Nature inspires us all. Nature is where we see the glory of God. Nature is where ID finds its evidence. Nature lies dear to all our hearts. To pit yourself against Nature is not the way to win hearts and minds.
And Naturalism has nothing to do with Nature. Naturalism explains our solar system and the life within it as the result of unrelated accidents - one planet smashes into the Earth and the result is the moon, meteors rain down, volcanoes erupt, even the evolution of life is a arbitrary - mutations (accidents) in DNA provide the fuel by which natural selection steers the course of evolution. It is car crash evolution - a car goes through a bush, hits a tree and ends up in a lake - the bush, the tree and the lake are objects of Nature but the car crash is not a natural process.
Galileo was tried for heresy because he could not accept the received wisdom of the day that insisted the sun, the planets and stars rotated around an immovable Earth. He argued that the movement of the stars made no sense with that explanation. He said: God is perfect, God's work is perfect, Nature is God's work. If a natural phenomenon does not make sense, it is not Nature that is illogical, but rather our understanding of its processes. Nature makes sense - mathematical sense. Science, medicine, engineering are only possible because of the intelligibility, predictability and logic of Nature.
If ID is to succeeds it must lay claim Nature. Nature is God's work and ID is a champion for God. By calling its opponent Naturalism, ID is giving credence to an explanation that is not a natural process. Call it what it is - Car Crash Evolution. I believe this will pique the public's interest and allow ID to better explain itself.
First I apologise for not knowing how to copy and paste quotes in those very useful boxes - I hope to figure it out soon.
In response to your questions: The conference was held in the UK in July last year. There were 3 lectures per day over 5 days, including lectures from 2 molecular biologists, a philosopher of science, a lawyer, an astronomer and a professor of thermodynamics. There was only one lecture on religion - 'Religious implications of ID'. The attendees were of different faiths and those of no decided religion, but all were curious about ID.
Without doubt religious people flow to ID like a duck to water, because it holds up evidence for God (intelligence). But water and ID exist on their own. However if you ask a duck about the qualities of water don't be surprised if he shows you his webbed feet. To know about ID ask a molecular biologist, not a Scientologist and you'll hear no mention of God.
In answer to your next comments: Evolution as explained by Naturalism claims to show how 'Nature did it' . And this is where I take exception. Nature does not develop life by arbitrary events but through systems and processes, whether it is seed to sapling to mighty oak, caterpillar to pupal to butterfly, egg to chick to eagle. We live within profoundly complex and layered systems of life, yet we choose to explain this incredible tapestry as the result of accident - cosmic or chromosomal. It simply doesn't make sense and I refer to Galileo's argument in my earlier post. Maybe evolution is a system of development and we can't see it because we're in it - can't see the forest for the trees.
The birth of a child, from conception through gestation until the baby's first cry demonstrates the wondrous hand of God for the faithful, and the intelligibility of Nature for the sceptical - both sides are satisfied. I believe the true explanation for life on Earth will not require a leap of faith for the faithful nor a loss of reason for the rational.
I look forward to continuing this conversation, but I'm going on holiday tomorrow. Hopefully we'll talk again soon.
I don't know whether you are being serious when you say you don't believe there is any evidence supporting ID. Do you mean you are not persuaded by the evidence you've researched or simply that you've never looked? I believe you're being facetious, forgive me if I am wrong.
I explained in my reply to Wounded King that ID is an argument that supports a notion of God, but not religion. Religion is a way of worship, which varies widely between cultures - like language. ID calls itself a theory, but I don't think it is, because it doesn't offer an alternative story of evolution. This is why I think most people call it Creationism. Maybe some ID supporters do believe in the 7 days of creation (or other religious creation stories) but ID has nothing to say on the subject. ID devotes itself to usurping the notion that life is the result of accident. On that I agree.
What would constitute a success for ID? An alternative explanation of evolution that was not a leap of faith for the faithful nor a loss of reason for the rational - wouldn't that make us all happy?
You're right - my personal incredulity doesn't mean that it didn't happen. That is why I argue my case and I hope over time (and in this forum) to argue my case persuasively.
My first argument is against the title of 'Naturalism' to explain a process that has little of anything to do with Nature. Nature does not develop life through accident - an egg is fertilised by a sperm and implants itself in the wall of the uterus where a complex process kicks in to develop the baby. The system is in place before the egg is fertilised. The baby is the result of the system - without a system there is no baby. If the idea of a system is too 'religious' for you, no problem. Like I said: for some the birth of a child is evidence of God, for others it's the wonder of Nature. Both sides are satisfied - I truly believe (and I hope to show) that there is an alternative explanation for the evolution that will be as credulous and wondrous as the birth of a baby. And does not require commitment to any religion.
PS: You say mutation is not arbitrary, but that is the very definition of 'mutation' - accidents in DNA.
Kind regards Vanessa
Edited by Vanessa, : I forgot a few words that were necessary to understand my point
First, thank you for the instructions on using quotes! Second, I am on holiday using my husband's IPad, which takes too long to type. Also I prefer to be out seeing the sights.
You argue that life was much simpler when it first formed. I think you mean that it wouldn't have been too difficult to happen. But that presupposes we know what life is. We don't. We can isolate a cell in a Petrie dish, pierce the side so that the contents spill out and the cell dies. In the dish we have all that is needed for life, or do we? For we can not put it back together again. We cannot bring it back to life. We can not create the simplest life form, so it is premature to say it is simple.
I did not say the universe is completely deterministic. Does anyone? Man has the gift of self determination. Everyone knows that. The argument against a designed intelligent universe, but definition, must claim that it arose by fortuitous accident. By accident I mean no intention, no plan, like a car hurtling through a copse of trees, it will gather leaves, smash it's windscreen, puncture a tire - all arbitrary. I believe that is the position of current evolutionary theory.
The gestation of a baby once embedded in the uterine wall is only possible because a system of growth predates the egg's arrival. I argue it is the same for life on Earth, a system of development is in place before the first cells on Earth first formed. I hold up Nature as evidence. Nature develops life through predetermined systems. You say it isn't necessary, do you have an example do support this claim?
Hello Percy Sorry I can't quote with an IPad. I believe your definition of naturalism is incomplete - 'all phenomenon can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws'. It should add 'and came about by accident.' The definition you gave presupposes the natural laws were in place and came from nothing. Like saying a baby comes from natural causes and laws. A baby is the result of a complex natural system that predates the baby. So too for life on Earth - i argue there is a natural system in place before life formed on Earth. I hold up Nature as my proof. Nature develops life through predetermined systems. If you know of any life that came about without any predetermined system please tell me.
You said: 'why can't it be Zeus? What about Vishu? ... Would you be happy if tomorrow we find out that the designer behind ID is actually the flying spaghetti monster?'
I have no problem with Zeus (the grandson of Gaia, the female creator of the world, who is then governed by her grandson - one of many God stories of a male God coming from or within the female) or Vishnu (blue immortal representing the energy of creation). Spaghetti monster is not so strange, there is a Spiderwoman in the Hopi culture, who is really a Christ figure - she comes to lead her people when a web covers the Earth.
There are apples in almost every country in the world, though they differ in appearance, taste and name. But they are all apples. Their diversity is wonderful and everyone has their favourite. Such is the same with God - many versions, many names and forms but they all expressions of a guided, purposeful creation - God.
Thank you Taz for the video. It is not surprising there is civility between people who agree with each other. The test is civility between opponents, irregardless of side. It is erroneous to say only ID supporters lose their cool and resort to nastiness, both sides bare their teeth all too often.
I must say that scientists in general are a calm, non-confrontational lot, at least the ones I know. I've always appreciated that and aspire to that behaviour.
My IPad experience improves everyday! My poor husband is losing yet another of his favourite gadgets
[Percy says: I understand that you believe processes were designed before they were employed, but no evidence exists if this, and things that actually happened usually leave evidence behind. The evidence that is available indicates a process of gradual change over time ...] (Oops my quoting didn't work.)
Exactly! That is what I believe. I also believe the evidence to support this view is persuasive. I look forward to explaining my position in greater detail as soon as I get home to my own beloved computer with a standard keyboard and I can type at speed again. I hope to hear from you again at that time.
One last thing - our fossil evidence better supports the theory of Punctuated Equilibria which states that biology was static over large periods of time (Equilibria) and then something happens (punctuation) and biology takes a great leap forward in complexity and diversity. Please refer to the Cambrian Explosion as one example.
I apologise if I have not replied to your posts. I did not expect such a response to my initial post!
The title of my post 'Nature Belongs to ID' was meant to be controversial. I hoped to provoke supporters of ID to rethink labelling their opposition 'Naturalism' and so I joined a forum titled Intelligent Design thinking this is where I would find them - how wrong I was!
After consideration of your arguments I formulate my point this way: The labelling of Supernaturalism vs Naturalism is false and misleading.
Both sides attempt to explain Nature. One side says there is something that precedes Nature on Earth and is instructive, controlling and essential for life on Earth, hence the term 'super'. The other side says Nature formed itself, nothing external or preceeding is needed. I prefer to call this Auto-naturalism. I think this is a more accurate label and clearly denotes the two positions.
One side does so in terms of natural processes that we can observe and the other side does so in terms of supernatural miraculous processes that we have never seen.
No, we have never seen life evolve from simple organisms to complex ones through mutation. It is a theoretical statement. This is my point. Nature develops life through systems - in which the organism transforms in it's life cycle - egg to chick, foetus to baby, caterpillar to butterfly. This is how Nature works. This is what our fossil record looks like.
My point isn't civility. My point was about humility.
Watch the video. Throughout the whole video, both scientists admitted many times that they didn't know about this this and that. Whenever someone asked them about something outside their field, they'd say they don't know.
The point is real honest to god scientists are specialists who are fully aware of where their boundaries lie.
Creationists and IDists, on the other hand, seem to know everything about everything.
And yet you make statements as this:
The cambrian explosion was no mystery. Over a span of tens of millions of years, life filled up all the new niches on Earth. What came after were a series of mass extinctions (bubble burst).
See how easy to understand that is?
You seem to know more than paleontologists who are still figuring it out.
No one knows how life formed on Earth. We are all in the same boat trying to figure it out. Perhaps it is premature to start chucking people overboard.
As Ghandi said: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." If you value humility then adapt its principles and you will find that often people respond in kind.
You seem to be suggesting, as so many creationists seem to, that we simply throw up our hands and despair of ever knowing anything about the ancient past. I think that is rather sad.
How little you know about me. How few of my posts you have read.
It seems to me that rather than humility, what you are advocating is a profound lack of intellectual curiosity.
What I am advocating is to put aside prejudice (rife in this forum) and with fresh eyes look to Nature to understand evolution.
Nature develops life through identifiable systems and processes but we choose to explain the evolution of life as the result of arbitrary cosmic events and chromosomal abnormalities. But this is not how Nature works - look at how a plant grows, how a baby gestates, how a butterfly forms - in each case the development of life is part of a system with transformative stages - just like our fossil record. Does this not make you curious?
You dismiss my argument as religiously driven and I am baffled. You seem to prefer an explanation that has little to do with Nature (yet claims exclusive ownership by calling itself 'Naturalism'), cannot make predictions (essential in scientific theories) and views life as a 'one-off', a lucky fluke. Is the birth of a baby a one-off, a lucky fluke?.
Wouldn't it be preferable to view our evolution as a system, like the growth of a flower, in which we could identify where we are in the growth cycle? Isn't that the goal of scientific enquiry to identify patterns and regularities and thereby uncover a process that enables us to make predictions? This is certainly how we approach the study of biological processes in medicine, why not in evolution?
I know what I am saying is unusual, I know science does not look at evolution like this. It is a shame and it certainly was not like this in the 1980's when I began my enquiry. Einstein spent his last years looking for 'the theory of all things', it seems we've given up the cause, the search. And it is our loss.
I embrace Nature, I look to Nature to help me to understand life and you claim I am a creationist. I think this is a way of dismissing anything I say, like calling someone a feminist, a liberal, a socialist, a (fill in your prejudice). Once again I say, how very little you know about me.
I recommend you read James A. Shapiro's "Evolution, a view from the 21st century". Shapiro is a professor of Microbiology at the University of Chicago. His book is a summary of the papers he has written in the past and most of those papers can be accesed from his web site at the Univ of Chicago.
Thank you shadow71, his book and website look very interesting.