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Intelligent Design By Jack Oughton

“Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.� Theodosius Dobzhansky

Evolution by natural selection in a nutshell

• Proposed by Charles Darwin • All organisms compete to survive. Favorable random variations in the genetic code allow certain creatures to do better than others, and thus these creatures dominate, preserving their successful genetic features, with transience comes a gradual change. • Evidence comes from many sources, principally the fossil record, which is continually being filled. • Natural selection can also be observed today in the newly emerging ‘superbugs’ etc, and minute variances between certain species, related to distance. • Genetic Drift is the random aspect of evolution, naturally occurring changes in genes over time that are not as a result of natural selection, but can still effect the course of evolution.

Watchmaker •The premise of Intelligent Design is that the universe is so unimaginably complex that it can’t have arisen randomly. •William Paley wrote in his book, Natural Theology that if you were to find a watch lying isolated on the ground you could tell something created it, as it is too complicated to have arisen on it’s own.

+Now apply this metaphor to an entire belief system and you have the basic tenet for intelligent design!

What is intelligent design?

• BASICALLY “It does not challenge the idea of evolution defined as change over time, or even common ancestry, but it disputes Darwin's idea that the cause of biological change is wholly blind and undirected”[1] – Steven C Meyer – Theologian and a founder of the Discovery Institute • A updated form of creationism? Both involve an intervening deity, but ID is more vague about what happened and when. • Note how they didn’t call it intelligent creation? • An attempt to integrate a supernatural ‘explanation’ into science. Assigning human spiritual meaning to natural processes, a reaction to spiritually devoid naturalistic materialism. Eg. “However successful physical science has been in explaining some of the physical world, it does not follow that the physical is everything in nature or creation.” • A scientific dead end. If we accept the belief that certain things we created by an intelligent designer, what do we gain from this apart from some kind of spiritual relief? Arguing from and for ignorance.

• A scientific parasite, seeking out academic blind spots as a way of bolstering its own strength; The God of The Gaps; basically using God as a filler for supposed inconsistencies in human understanding • “What’s being pushed is to have Darwinism critiqued, to teach there’s a controversy. Intelligent design itself does not have any content.”[2] - George Gilder: writer, co-founder of the Discovery Institute • “Genes must not be anywhere near as important as we have been led to believe. If there were that great a commonality between chimps and humans, it ought to be relatively easy to breed chimps and come up with a human being, or by genetic engineering to change a chimp into a human. We ought to see humans occasionally being born to chimps or perhaps chimps born into human families.”[3] –Phillip Johnson: professor of law, co founder of the Discovery Institute WHAT • Not necessarily Christian, as it’s only religious tenet is a belief in a designer. However most of it’s proponents happen to be Christians.

Arguments for Intelligent Design (and why they fail)

• Dembski’s Information Theory/Specified Complexity[]: When intelligent agents act, it is observed that they produce high levels of "complex-specified information" (CSI). High levels of CSI are always observed as the role of an intelligent creator because it is improbable they will occur on their own. • “If there is a way to detect design, specified complexity is it.“ –No Free Lunch, p19. • Apart from mathematicians picking apart his theory completely for failing mathematically (some figures being 10^500 off the mark[4]), artificial life simulations using simulated DNA languages have produced repeatedly, the example of very nonspecific organisms adapting very ‘specified complex’ traits over time.

Arguments for Intelligent Design (and why they fail) • In Darwin's Black Box (The Free Press, 1996), biochemist Michael Behe claims that many biological systems are "irreducibly complex", in order to evolve, multiple individual systems would have to arise simultaneously and combine to create an “irreducibly complex” system. He claims that such systems exist in biology and for these to come about they had to have an Intelligent Designer. • Behe gives the example of a mousetrap; (i) wooden base(ii) a metal hammer, (iii) a spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer, (iv) a sensitive catch, (v) a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back. • The mousetrap is completely useless unless all of these components are in place?

• The implicit suggestion is that all the parts of a mousetrap would have had to come into being at once, an impossibility unless there were an intelligent designer • Not necessarily, Kenneth Miller used a mousetrap which was missing the catch and the metal bar as a tie clip. • From this he demonstrates that these ‘irreducibly complex’ systems can arise out of more simple ones which serve different purposes, as a gradual process.


Bacterial Flagellum; Irreducibly complex?

Behe argued that the Flagellum, a propulsion system for certain bacteria, is an something too complicated to arise alone…

• The type III secretory system (TTSS) is basically the hypodermic needle certain pathogens use to inject you. • It is essentially a stripped down version of the flagellum, missing certain proteins.


• The flagellum contains within it a smaller functional set of components - the TTSS, the flagellum itself cannot be irreducibly complex – by definition • Other examples of ‘irreducibly complex’ systems that have been disproven include the generation of biological information and the blood clotting cascade, all using the same cumulative approach as the flagellum. • Nothing has been proven to be irreducibly complex.

The Eye; irreducibly complex? • As we know, the eye is a particularly complicated arrangement; a shape-shifting lens, an aperture-adjusting iris, and a lightsensitive image surface, all housed in a sphere that can shift its aim in a hundredth of a second and send megabytes of information to the visual cortex every second for years on end. • But as we learn more and more about the history of the genes involved, and how they work — all the way back to their predecessor genes in the sightless bacteria from which multicelled animals evolved more than a half-billion years ago — we can begin to tell the story of how photosensitive spots gradually turned into light-sensitive craters that could detect the rough direction from which light came, and then gradually acquired their lenses, improving their information-gathering capacities all the while.[7]

Karl Popper’s Swans • Popper created the concept of falsifiability. • Under the concept of falsifiability, a theory cannot be considered a scientific theory if it does not contain within it the conditions under which it can be proven false. • An example of a theory that is falsifiable is a theory that all swans are white. Observing a few white swans proves nothing, but if one could observe a swan that is not white, you would be able to prove the theory false, so it is falsifiable. • Since the existence of God is improvable, ID is not falsifiable. Therefore using Popper’s definition ID is not a valid theory, and not a science.

Why Intelligent design is NOT science • NOT because it is a challenge to evolution, just because it’s not actually a challenge.. Criterion that exclude it from accepted science: • There is no testable hypothesis. Nobody has yet proven God’s existence. The idea that the universe exists without creation is not statistically impossible if you consider the infinite amount of things that could have happened but did not (reverse anthropic principle?). • It cannot be tested by experiment, and therefore cannot generate predictions and be built upon. • Essentially it can’t be used as a science to advance anything. • It cannot refine previous theories nor formulate new ones. • It is not correctable and cannot be modified. • It hasn't explained anything. • No research in support of ID has ever been published in a peer reviewed journal!

Who’s the intelligent designer?

• Always unspecified to try and disassociate from the stigma associated with God and religion. • "Although I find it congenial to think that it's God, others might prefer to think it's an alien – or who knows? An angel, or some satanic force, some new age power. Something we don't know about yet."-Micheal Behe[8] • All leading ID proponents have stated identifying or characterizing the designer is beyond the scope of intelligent design. • "Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools." -- Phillip E. Johnson, American Family Radio, January 10, 2003[9]

What's the fuss about?

• “A recent CBS News poll found that 55 percent of American respondents did not believe in the theory of evolution at all”[10] • Since it is not a science it can’t be taught in science classes. • The U.S. Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to believe the religious theories of creation (as well as other theories) but it does not permit religious theories to be taught in public school science classes, therefore teaching it as a science is unconstitutional (and is therefore against everything America was founded upon!) Kitzmiller vs Dover • Scientists didn't want to dignify it by speaking out against it, because most of the scientific community doesn’t see it as a competing scientific theory. This backfired, allowing ID proponents to take a 'what are they scared of?' approach. • ID apologists claim that suppression of ID in the science classroom goes against America’s libertarian principles.

• We’ve learnt now that we have to be aggressive to deal with it. • Educated creationism is good for public image. Many proponents of ID are very well qualified, which makes it appear more credible than your average angry Christian fundamentalist, it "appeals to peoples' sense of unease about science and technology“ – Kenneth Miller. • George Bush supports the ID policy to ‘Teach the controversy‘; to teach both evolution and some form of ID in classrooms. • “Intelligent design isn’t science, even though it pretends to be” Rev. George Coyne, a chief scientific figure and astronomer in the Vatican.[11] • Even the Catholics hate Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design in the UK • An ID organization called Truth in Science has sent resource packs to all UK secondary school science departments. 59 heads of science have responded favorably.

• Horizon’s poll of the beliefs of 2000 British found[12] 22% chose creationism 17% opted for intelligent design 48% selected evolutionary theory • More extremely, creationism is taught quite openly in biology classes as an alternative to Darwin in the trio of Vardy Foundation schools in the north of England, which are controversially funded by a local evangelical Christian businessman. • CONCLUSION: If people wish to teach Intelligent Design, it should be taught, but NOT as a science.

• [1] • [2],,1567967,00.html • [3] /the_evolution_of_george_gilder/?page=3 • [4] • [5] • [6] • [7] • [8] • [9 • [10] telligent_design.html • [11] • [12] ALL IMAGES AND WEBSITES ACCESSED 13/12/07

Jack Oughton - Intelligent Design Is Not Science  

“Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.” Theodosius Dobzhansky By Jack Oughton Evolution by natural selection in...