Sunday, February 25, 2007

Phillip Johnson assesses current ID and Biology

Misrepresentation by omission:

The claim that evolutionary science has discovered and verified a mechanism
which can account for the origin of biological information and complexity by
involving only natural (unintelligent) causes is supported by an immense
extrapolation from limited evidence of minor, cyclical variations in
fundamentally stable species. The current leading textbook example of the
standard neo-Darwinian mechanism involves a species of finch on an island in the
Galapagos chain. Two scientists named Grant published a famous study of
variations of the beaks of these birds, later popularized in a book titled The
Beak of the Finch, by journalist Jonathan Weiner.The Grants had been measuring
finch beaks over many years. In 1977 a drought killed most of the finches, and
the survivors had beaks slightly larger than before. The probable explanation
was that larger-beaked birds had an advantage in being able to eat the last
tough seeds that remained. A few years later the rains returned, and the average
beak size went back to normal. No new organs appeared and there was no
directional change of any kind, just a back-and-forth cycle from small beaks to
slightly larger beaks and back to small. Nonetheless, that is the most
impressive example of natural selection actually observed making changes that
Darwinists have been able to substantiate after nearly a century and a half of
searching for evidence that the mechanism of random variation with differential
survival has the transformative power that it would need to have to accomplish
everything that the textbooks ascribe to it. To make the story look better, the
National Academy of Sciences improved on some the facts in its 1998 booklet on
Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science. This version of the story
omits the beaks’ return to normal and encourages teachers to speculate that a
“new species of finch” might arise in 200 years if the initial trend towards
increased beak size continued indefinitely. When our leading scientists have to
resort to the sort of distortion that would land a stock promoter in court, you
know they are having trouble fitting their evidence to the theory they want to

Free-thinking not allowed. Darwinist turn to authoritarian coercion despoiling the academy:

… Darwinists were so alarmed by the publication of Meyer’s article that they
mounted an angry campaign of protest against it. The governing Council of the
Society was so overwhelmed that it repudiated the article as inappropriate for
publication in its Proceedings, citing the AAAS policy, and reassuring critics
that “the topic of design will not be addressed in future issues.” Following
this disavowal, Darwinists mounted a furious campaign to discredit the editor
who had approved Meyer’s article for publication, accusing him of being a closet
“young earth” creationist.The near-hysterical brouhaha over Meyer’s article did
have some positive aspects. Darwinists have persistently criticized the
theorists of the Intelligent Design Movement for taking their arguments directly
to the public, implying that these theorists are trying to avoid the
professional scrutiny that accompanies publication in scientific journals. The
truth is otherwise. ID theorists have been eager to pursue any opportunities
they can find to publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The history of
the publication of the Meyer article and its aftermath demonstrates that such
publication would be a real possibility if it were not for the enforcement of
doctrinal polices barring publication of articles supporting intelligent design,
and the consequent professional and public intimidation of editors who might
allow such publication. The Darwinist case for opposing public consideration of
Intelligent Design amounts to saying that “You have to publish in the
professional journals before taking the theory to the public, and we have a rule
that doesn’t allow you to publish in the professional literature.” So there is
no way critics of evolutionary naturalism can get started. If journal
publication were allowed, there is reason to believe that scientists would be
highly interested in pursuing the subject. Over 60 scientists from around the
world requested copies of the Meyer article and an accompanying packet of
reference materials. Because a gag order is in force, ID is not discussed in the
scientific literature. This enforced silence tells us nothing about what would
be happening if individual scientists and editors were free to act on their own
judgment, without fear of punishment for addressing forbidden topics…

Those who are not obedient in their thoughts to the doctrine of philosophiocal naturalism, those who have the courage to examine questions for themselves, may be rare but the truth is worth the solitariness if that is where it may lead:

…One early sign of the way the world is headed came in December 2004, when there was much comment in newspapers and internet discussion groups about famed
atheist philosopher Anthony Flew. Flew had just announced that he had converted
to philosophical theism (though not to Christianity or any other specific
religion, at least as yet), on the basis of scientific discoveries and related
reasoning, which had convinced him that there is an intelligent designer of the
natural universe. Flew seems to have investigated the phenomenon of design in
the natural world for reasons similar to my own. He wanted to decide for himself
whether evidence and logic point in the direction of a creating intelligence, or
whether God is nothing more than a subjective idea created by human imagination.
Perhaps these questions about the reality of god are religious in nature, but
they are important questions that deserve to be investigated dispassionately
instead of being barred from consideration because powerful groups define
“science” as committed a priori to naturalism. ....Those who insist that science
is by definition dedicated to seeking out and endorsing naturalistic
explanations for all phenomena dismiss any questioning of their basic premise as
“religiously” motivated and hence irrational--and even unconstitutional in the
USA (where a majority of the population is nevertheless inclined to question the
premise). But religious questions may be reasonable and important questions.
Here is an example: I’ve repeatedly posed the question, “Is God real, or
imaginary?”. Evolutionary naturalism classes god among the subjective products
of the human brain, and thus among the products of evolution itself. If God is
truly real, however, and really our creator, then to enforce a definition of
knowledge based upon the assumption that ONLY nature is real, and that God
exists only in the human imagination, would be to make a big mistake. Surely it
is rational for people who believe that God is or may be the creator to
challenge those who insist that we assume that a mindless nature did all the
creating. It is rational to argue instead that we should evaluate the evidence
impartially, with the goal of coming to the truth about whether it was necessary
that there be a creator in order to accomplish the creating of all the marvels
of the living world. If the Darwinian mechanism or some other combination of law
and chance isn’t able to create the necessary information, then we should
acknowledge the inadequacy and move on to consider alternatives. What we should
not do is to stick with an inadequate answer because we are afraid that
recognizing the inadequacy will tend to lead us back in the direction of
Token proofs and other mock-reasons are all that the exertions that the authoritarian in power generally bothers to perform and for the obedient they are content to not have their minds excercised on questions of foundation:

… In the end, the only important question is not how numerous or powerful are
the people who hold a certain position now, but who is right about what is true
and what isn’t. If evolutionary naturalists are right that unintelligent causes
produced all the complex and diverse forms of life we know without the
assistance of intelligence, then surely our very determined and intelligent
scientists will find a more convincing demonstration of the process and
mechanism than cyclical variation in the beaks of a finch species . On the other
hand, if further investigation tends to confirm that life requires prodigious
amounts of complex specified genetic information, then eventually the unsolved
problem of where all that information comes from will take its place in the
forefront of scientific and philosophical discussion.

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