Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
----------------------------------------------

Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

BEST VIEWED IN LARGE FONT
Expanded GUIDE TO SITE PURPOSE AND LAYOUT is in the lower blue section at the bottom of every home page.

ID over in Dover, but not the war, despite repression

The price paid for limiting debate

With a unanimous voice vote, Dover’s newly reconstituted school board yesterday (Jan 3 Tues) finally expunged ID from its science curriculum. But it is presumably still landed with considerable costs in the court case. That seems unfair, since the pockets of the Discovery Institute and other supporters of ID who caused them so much trouble are deep.

“I tried … to warn the board that we were facing a disaster and obviously I was not persuasive enough,” said Jeff Brown, a former board member who resigned in protest after the policy passed. He said the costly court battle could have been avoided.

(show)

Board Rescinds ‘Intelligent Design’ Policy

By MARTHA RAFFAELE

The Associated Press

Tuesday, January 3, 2006; 10:57 PM

DOVER, Pa. — Dover’s much-maligned school policy of presenting “intelligent design” as an alternative to evolution was officially relegated to the history books Tuesday night.

On a voice vote, and with no discussion beforehand, the newly elected Dover Area School Board unanimously rescinded the policy. Two weeks earlier, a judge ruled the policy unconstitutional.

“This is it,” new school board president Bernadette Reinking said Tuesday, indicating the vote was final and the case was closed.

A different group of school board members had been in control when the policy was approved in October 2004. The policy required that a statement be read to Dover public school students about “intelligent design” before ninth-grade biology class lessons on evolution.

The statement said Darwin’s theory is “not a fact” and has inexplicable “gaps.” It also referred students to an “intelligent-design” book, “Of Pandas and People.”

Eight families sued, and on Dec. 20, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III sided with their argument that the concept of “intelligent design” _ which attributes the existence of complex organisms to an unidentified intelligent cause _ is religious, not scientific. The judge said that violated the establishment clause in the First Amendment.

Dover biology teacher Jennifer Miller was relieved Tuesday night to know the policy was officially off the books.

“I will feel comfortable again teaching what I’d always felt comfortable teaching,” she after the meeting, attended by a crowd of about 100 people.

School board members declined to comment after the vote.

Most of the previous board members who had defended the policy were ousted in the November election, replaced by candidates who pledged to eliminate the policy.

Policy defenders had said they were trying to improve science education by exposing students to alternatives with the policy. But the judge said the board’s real purpose was “to promote religion in the public school classroom,” and said intelligent design could not be taught as an alternative to evolution in biology classes.

“I tried … to warn the board that we were facing a disaster and obviously I was not persuasive enough,” said Jeff Brown, a former board member who resigned in protest after the policy passed. He said the costly court battle could have been avoided.

The Dover policy and high-profile lawsuit added fuel to a national debate over “intelligent design.”

In Kansas, where state officials have been arguing over the teaching of evolution since 1999, education officials recently approved science standards that treat evolution as a flawed theory.

In Georgia, the state schools superintendent drew protests in 2004 for proposing a science curriculum that replaced the word “evolution” with “changes over time.” Last year, a federal judge ordered Cobb County schools to remove from biology textbooks stickers that called evolution a theory, not a fact.

© 2006 The Associated Press

Perhaps they should appeal to John Templeton, who has insisted that his large foundation is not dispensing funds with any bias toward the Deity end of things.

Meanwhile, ID may have lost a battle but the war is still on:

In Kansas, where state officials have been arguing over the teaching of evolution since 1999, education officials recently approved science standards that treat evolution as a flawed theory.

The point is that ID continues to bring to bear some fairly heavy firepower in its cause, and won’t be put down lightly. Just ask Nightline:


“Nightline,” the ABC News program, … broadcast a segment in August about intelligent design that the Discovery Institute, a conservative clearinghouse for proponents of intelligent design, did not like very much. The next day, the institute published on its Web site the entire transcript of the nearly hourlong interview that “Nightline” had conducted a few days earlier with one of the institute’s leaders, not just the brief quotes that had appeared on television

That’s from the NY Times piece, “Answering back to the News Media, Using the Internet” by Katherine Q. Seelye yesterday, which highlights the new ability of media sources to get back at reporters that they think malign or misquote them, by posting the entire interview and even the private email correspondence that went on between them on the Internet for all to see.

(show)

The New York Times

January 2, 2006

Answering Back to the News Media, Using the Internet

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, or so goes the old saw. For decades, the famous and the infamous alike largely followed this advice. Even when subjects of news stories felt they had been misunderstood or badly treated, they were unlikely to take on reporters or publishers, believing that the power of the press gave the press the final word.

The Internet, and especially the amplifying power of blogs, is changing that. Unhappy subjects discovered a decade ago that they could use their Web sites to correct the record or deconstruct articles to expose what they perceived as a journalist’s bias or wrongheaded narration.

But now they are going a step further. Subjects of newspaper articles and news broadcasts now fight back with the same methods reporters use to generate articles and broadcasts – taping interviews, gathering e-mail exchanges, taking notes on phone conversations – and publish them on their own Web sites. This new weapon in the media wars is shifting the center of gravity in the way that news is gathered and presented, and it carries implications for the future of journalism.

Just ask “Nightline,” the ABC News program, which broadcast a segment in August about intelligent design that the Discovery Institute, a conservative clearinghouse for proponents of intelligent design, did not like very much. The next day, the institute published on its Web site the entire transcript of the nearly hourlong interview that “Nightline” had conducted a few days earlier with one of the institute’s leaders, not just the brief quotes that had appeared on television.

The institute did not accuse “Nightline” of any errors. Rather, it urged readers to examine the unedited interview because, it said, the transcript would reveal “the predictable tone of some of the questions” by the staff of “Nightline.”

“Here’s your chance to go behind the scenes with the gatekeepers of the national media to see how they screen out viewpoints and information that don’t fit their stereotypes,” Rob Crowther, the institute’s spokesman, wrote on the Web site.

The printing of transcripts, e-mail messages and conversations, and the ability to pull up information from search engines like Google, have empowered those whom Jay Rosen, a blogger and journalism professor at New York University, calls “the people formerly known as the audience.”

“In this new world, the audience and sources are publishers,” Mr. Rosen said. “They are now saying to journalists, ‘We are producers, too. So the interview lies midpoint between us. You produce things from it, and we do, too.’ From now on, in a potentially hostile interview situation, this will be the norm.”

All these developments have forced journalists to respond in a variety of ways, including becoming more open about their methods and techniques and perhaps more conscious of how they filter information.

“To the extent that you know there’s someone monitoring every word, it probably compels you to be even more careful, which is a good thing,” said Chris Bury, the “Nightline” correspondent whose interview was published by the Discovery Institute. “But readers and viewers need to realize that one interview is only one part of the story, that there are other interviews and other research and that this is just a sliver of what goes into a complete report.”

Posting primary source material is becoming part of public relations strategies for interest groups, businesses and government. The Pentagon and State Department now post transcripts of interviews with top officials on their Web sites or they e-mail them to reporters, as does Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.

An early example of turning the tables occurred in 2001, when David D. Kirkpatrick, who then covered the publishing industry for The New York Times, wrote an article about Dave Eggers, author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.” Mr. Eggers posted a 10,000-word response on his Web site complaining about the tone of the piece, and included their e-mail exchanges, which Mr. Kirkpatrick had asked be kept private.

Individual newspapers and television stations generally reach a wider audience than individual blogs, and Mr. Eggers touched on this lopsidedness when he explained on his Web site why he was reprinting Mr. Kirkpatrick’s e-mail messages: “It’s the only remedy commensurate with the impact you enjoyed with your original piece.”

But the power of blogs is exponential; blog posts can be linked and replicated instantly across the Web, creating a snowball effect that often breaks through to the mainstream media. Moreover, blogs have a longer shelf life than most traditional news media articles. A newspaper reporter’s original article is likely to disappear from the free Web site after a few days and become inaccessible unless purchased from the newspaper’s archives, while the blogger’s version of events remains available forever.

In another case involving The Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin, a business reporter, interviewed Mark Cuban, the technology billionaire, via e-mail last summer for a column about Mr. Cuban’s investment in an Internet company. Mr. Cuban was unhappy with the column and posted their e-mail exchanges, touching off an extensive discussion on the Internet about, among other things, the value of seeing a reporter’s raw material.

Many bloggers said reporters should publish such material as a matter of course; others questioned the need to be inundated with every scrap of unorganized, unedited information and wondered where it would stop. (Just two weeks ago, Mr. Cuban posted another e-mail exchange with Randall Stross, another writer for The Times.)

While the publication of raw material is often aimed at putting the journalist in a bad light, it can sometimes boomerang on the source. The Pentagon got into a dispute with Bob Woodward of The Washington Post in 2004 over quotations in his book “Plan of Attack” that were attributed to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld about the invasion of Iraq. The quotations had not appeared in the Pentagon’s official transcript of Mr. Woodward’s interview with Mr. Rumsfeld. But they appeared in full in Mr. Woodward’s transcript, and the Pentagon had to admit that it had deleted those portions from its transcript.

Sometimes the subjects of news articles even post such material on the Web in advance of an article or broadcast, scooping the reporter and getting their version out first. Earlier this year, Edward Nawotka, a book critic based in Austin, Tex., described in The Texas Observer an interview he had conducted via e-mail with Ann Coulter, the conservative writer, a couple of years ago. She sent him a 2,000-word response by e-mail, which he then asked her to trim so he could include it in a daily e-mail newsletter – only to discover that she had already posted her entire response on her Web site.

Another example occurred in 1999, when “20/20,” the ABC News program, interviewed officials from a company called Metabolife International. The company acquired footage of the interview and posted it on its Web site before the program was shown. This was so unusual at the time that the company bought advertisements in newspapers urging readers to watch the footage.

“People do it all the time,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, a former CNN correspondent who is now a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, where she studies the effect of blogging on journalism.

Interview subjects are “annoyed that they’re quoted out of context, or they did a half-hour interview and only one sentence got used. Or sometimes they’re just flattered that a reporter called them,” she said. “If you’re one of a growing number of people with a blog, you now have a place where you can set the record straight.”

Danny Schechter, executive editor of MediaChannel.org and a former producer at ABC News and CNN, said that while the active participation by so many readers was healthy for democracy and journalism, it had allowed partisanship to mask itself as media criticism and had given rise to a new level of vitriol.

“It’s now O.K. to demonize the messenger,” he said. “This has led to a very uncivil discourse in which it seems to be O.K. to shout down, discredit, delegitimize and denigrate the people who are reporting stories and to pick at their methodology and ascribe motives to them that are often unfair.”

Thomas Kunkel, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, said reporting on reporters had created a kind of “Wild West atmosphere” in cyberspace.

With reporters conducting interviews more frequently by e-mail, he said, “You have to start thinking a couple of moves ahead because you’re leaving a paper trail. And the truth squad mentality of some bloggers means you are apt to have your own questions thrown back at you.”

Posting of original material may be somewhat less common in the corporate world than among individuals representing themselves. Steven Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein Communications, the New York public relations firm, said that posting raw material was “another tool in the tool chest” and that if a corporate client had been damaged, “you’ll certainly want to get something out that’s Google-able.”

But, he said, a corporation must also consider whether publishing such material would alienate an influential beat reporter as well as an entire news outlet and possibly reporters for other outlets. “You have to balance the incident over the long-term relationship,” he said. “But you can get your side out in a benign way. It doesn’t have to be antagonistic.”

Reporters say that these developments are forcing them to change how they do their jobs; some are asking themselves if they can justify how they are filtering information. “We’ve got to be more transparent about the news-gathering process,” said Craig Crawford, a columnist for Congressional Quarterly and author of “Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media.” “We’ve pretended to be like priests turning water to wine, like it’s a secret process. Those days are gone.”

Some news outlets are posting transcripts of their interviews with newsmakers, and some reporters are posting their own material. Stephen Baker, a senior writer at BusinessWeek, has posted not only transcripts from his interviews but also his own notes on his Web site, saying he likes to involve his readers in the journalistic process.

“Sometimes I say to my readers, Here’s my interview. What story would you have written?” said Mr. Baker, who writes about technology. Journalism, he added, used to be a clear-cut “before and after process,” much like making a meal; the cooking was done privately in the kitchen and then the meal was served. Now, he said, “every aspect of it is scrutinized.”

And many journalists say they now expect that whatever they say or write to a source, even trivial chit-chat, will be made public.

“I don’t carry an expectation of privacy anymore,” said Bill Toland, a reporter for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who said his e-mail messages had cropped up on various Web sites. “I think it’s fair game, as long as you’re fair with the people you’re dealing with.”

While some say they are learning to accept the new interactivity, they also worry that the view of many bloggers – that reporters should post their raw material because they are filtering it through their own biases – ignores the value of traditional journalistic functions, like casting a wide net for information, coaxing it out of reluctant sources, condensing it and presenting it in an orderly way.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN’s senior correspondent at the Pentagon, said the traditional skills of sifting through information and presenting it in context were especially vital now because there were so many other sources of information.

“With the Internet, with blogs, with text messages, with soldiers writing their own accounts from the front lines, so many people are trying to shape things into their own reality,” he said. “I don’t worry so much anymore about finding out every little detail five minutes before someone else. It’s more important that we take that information and tell you what it means.”

Ms. MacKinnon predicted that traditional journalism and the art of distilling information would not vanish. “Most people don’t have hours and hours every day to read the Web, and they want someone who can quickly and succinctly tell you what you need to know,” she said. “But it’s great the raw materials can be made available to those who have the time.”

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Meanwhile the Discovery Institute has already posted a few texts claiming that their position was shortchanged by the trial.

Dover Decision on Intelligent Design “Legally Irrelevant for Ohio’s Critical Analysis of Evolution Model Science Curriculum,” Says Legal Scholar

(show)

Discovery Institute News

1511 3rd Ave Suite 808 – Seattle, WA 98101 – (206) 292-0401 x107

Dover Decision on Intelligent Design “Legally Irrelevant for Ohio’s Critical Analysis of Evolution Model Science Curriculum,” Says Legal Scholar

By: Staff

Discovery Institute

December 22, 2005

“Judge Jones’ decision about teaching intelligent design is legally irrelevant for Ohio’s Critical Analysis of Evolution model science curriculum,” says legal scholar and Gonzaga University law professor David DeWolf, in response to calls from critics that the lesson plan should be repealed by the state board of education.

“The U.S. Supreme Court laid down the foundation for this body of law nearly 20 years ago when they wrote that “scientific critiques” of “prevailing scientific theories” may be taught in public schools,” said DeWolf, also a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “Not only is Ohio outside of Judge Jones’ legal jurisdiction, but the Ohio State science education standards explicitly acknowledge that they do not require the teaching of intelligent design, so his determination that intelligent design is not science doesn’t affect the actions of the Ohio Board of Education.”

Ohio’s “Critical Analysis of Evolution” model lesson plan was created to implement a benchmark in the Ohio state science standards which requires students to be able to “describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” The standards also clearly state that they do not endorse teaching intelligent design.

The Ohio lesson plan does not discuss religion or alternative scientific theories such as intelligent design. Created with input from a science advisory committee that included teachers, science educators, and scientists from across Ohio, the lesson plan was defended by a number of scientists in public testimony before the state board of education adopted it in 2004.

Some Ohio critics of intelligent design are now talking about limiting the state’s teaching of scientific evidence which challenges Darwinian evolution.

“Unlike the ACLU, we want students to learn more about evolution, not less,” said Dr. John West, associate director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “Students need to learn Darwinian evolution because it is the dominant theory of biological evolution. But, they also need to learn about some of the scientific evidence that challenges parts of the theory.”

“Judge Jones thought he could write the definitive opinion that would spare the rest of the country the need to think further about these issues ,” added DeWolf. “ But our governmental structure provides for a multiplicity of voices, including the United States Congress, state boards of education, and legislatures, whose views are quite different from Judge Jones’ about the value of teaching the controversy. To borrow from Mark Twain, the reports of the death of the controversy have been greatly exaggerated.”

Discovery Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy think tank headquartered in Seattle and dealing with national and international affairs. For more information, browse Discovery’s Web site at:

http://www.discovery.org.

The Discovery Institute tag claims impartiality in its musings, which doesn’t seem quite right. But perhaps they mean only political impartiality.:

Discovery Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy think tank headquartered in Seattle and dealing with national and international affairs. For more information, browse Discovery’s Web site at:

http://www.discovery.org

What is odd is that now they insist that ID does not mean suggesting that there is anything supernatural at work in evolution. A letter to the Times defending ID against the judge’s characterization of it, also from a Discovery fellow, Robert Crowther, made this claim:

It mischaracterizes ID as a supernatural explanation even though it isn’t and even though expert scientists testified that this isn’t the case.

(show)

Intelligent Design Letter to New York Times

By: Robert Crowther

The New York Times

December 23, 2005

NOTE: This is the full text of the letter submitted to the New York Times. The Times published only an edited version of the letter here.

To the editor:

Judge Jones’ ruling on intelligent design is rife with false assertions and mischaracterizations of the theory of intelligent design. Here are just a few:

It mischaracterizes ID as a supernatural explanation even though it isn’t and even though expert scientists testified that this isn’t the case.

It falsely states that a key ID argument, irreducible complexity, has been refuted. It has not. Indeed, in just the past year Cambridge University Press published an entire volume titled “Debating Design” which shows the issue is still very much under discussion.

It asserts the factually false claim that ID proponents haven’t published peer reviewed papers. A number of peer-reviewed papers and books are listed on the Discovery Institute website at www.discovery.org/csc/.

Most incredibly, this lower district court decision describes itself as the final answer for all courts, behaving and talking like it was handed down from the Supreme Court. A judge’s order doesn’t change the fact that there is digital code in DNA, that the laws of physics are finely tuned and that there are miniature machines in cells. Intelligent design research will go on and the scientific evidence will win out in the end.

Discovery Institute Logo

Discovery Institute — Center for Science and Culture

1511 Third Ave., Suite 808 — Seattle, WA 98101

206-292-0401 phone — 206-682-5320 fax

email: cscinfo@discovery.org

Have we shortchanged ID in viewing it as an unscientific appeal to the supernatural, then? The Institute offers a list of peer-reviewed articles and even peer reviewed books here, insisting that it is a peer-reviewed scientific viewpoint.

Even Copernicus is mentioned as one who promulgated his heretical theory in book form, a strained parallel in this case, perhaps, since Copernicus was arguing from evidence, not from lack of it. And if ID proponents feel that mere lack of explanation for something is evidence for their own imaginative answer, this is surely something any peer reviewer worth his or her salt would have to quarrel with:

Some of the most important and groundbreaking work in the history of science was first published not in scientific journal articles but in scientific books, including Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus, Newton’s Principia, and Darwin’s Origin of Species (the latter of which was published in a prominent British trade press and was not peer-reviewed in the modern sense of the term). In any case, the scientists who advocate the theory of intelligent design have published their work in a variety of appropriate technical venues, including peer-reviewed scientific journals, peer-reviewed scientific books (some in mainstream university presses), trade presses, peer-edited scientific anthologies, peer-edited scientific conference proceedings and peer-reviewed philosophy of science journals and books.

(show)

Discovery Institute News

1511 3rd Ave Suite 808 – Seattle, WA 98101 – (206) 292-0401 x107

Peer-Reviewed, Peer-Edited, and other Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated)

By: Staff

Discovery Institute

December 21, 2005

Editors’s Note:: Critics of intelligent design often claim that design advocates don�t publish their work in appropriate scientific literature. For example, Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, was quoted in USA Today (March 25, 2005) that design theorists “aren’t published because they don’t have scientific data.”

Other critics have made the more specific claim that design advocates do not publish their works in peer-reviewed scientific journals�as if such journals represented the only avenue of legitimate scientific publication. In fact, scientists routinely publish their work in peer-reviewed scientific journals, in peer-reviewed scientific books, in scientific anthologies and conference proceedings (edited by their scientific peers), and in trade presses. Some of the most important and groundbreaking work in the history of science was first published not in scientific journal articles but in scientific books, including Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus, Newton’s Principia, and Darwin’s Origin of Species (the latter of which was published in a prominent British trade press and was not peer-reviewed in the modern sense of the term). In any case, the scientists who advocate the theory of intelligent design have published their work in a variety of appropriate technical venues, including peer-reviewed scientific journals, peer-reviewed scientific books (some in mainstream university presses), trade presses, peer-edited scientific anthologies, peer-edited scientific conference proceedings and peer-reviewed philosophy of science journals and books. We provide below an annotated bibliography of technical publications of various kinds that support, develop or apply the theory of intelligent design.

Featured Articles

Stephen Meyer, �The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories� Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2004):213-239.

Meyer argues that competing materialistic models (Neo-Darwinism, Self �Organization Models, Punctuated Equilibrium and Structuralism) are not sufficient to account for origin of the information necessary to build novel animal forms present in the Cambrian Explosion. He proposes intelligent design as an alternative explanation for the origin of biological information and the higher taxa.

L�nnig, W.-E. Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and the origin of irreducible complexity, Dynamical Genetics, Pp. 101-119. PDF(2.95MB)HTML

Biology exhibits numerous invariants — aspects of the biological world that do not change over time. These include basic genetic processes that have persisted unchanged for more than three-and-a-half billion years and molecular mechanisms of animal ontogenesis that have been constant for more than one billion years. Such invariants, however, are difficult to square with dynamic genomes in light of conventional evolutionary theory. Indeed, Ernst Mayr regarded this as one of the great unsolved problems of biology. In this paper Dr.Wolf-Ekkehard L�nnig L�nnig Senior Scientist in the Department of Molecular Plant Genetics at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research employs the design-theoretic concepts of irreducible complexity (as developed by Michael Behe) and specified complexity (as developed by William Dembski) to elucidate these invariants, accounting for them in terms of an intelligent design (ID) hypothesis.

Jonathan Wells, �Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force? Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98 (2005): 37-62.

Most animal cells contain a pair of centrioles, tiny turbine-like organelles oriented at right angles to each other that replicate at every cell division. Yet the function and behavior of centrioles remain mysterious. Since all centrioles appear to be equally complex, there are no plausible evolutionary intermediates with which to construct phylogenies; and since centrioles contain no DNA, they have attracted relatively little attention from neo Darwinian biologists who think that DNA is the secret of life. From an intelligent design (ID) perspective, centrioles may have no evolutionary intermediates because they are irreducibly complex. And they may need no DNA because they carry another form of biological information that is independent of the genetic mutations relied upon by neo-Darwinists. In this paper, Wells assumes that centrioles are designed to function as the tiny turbines they appear to be, rather than being accidental by-products of Darwinian evolution. He then formulates a testable hypothesis about centriole function and behavior that�if corroborated by experiment could have important implications for our understanding of cell division and cancer. Wells thus makes a case for ID by showing its strong heuristic value in biology. That is, he uses the theory of intelligent design to make new discoveries in biology.

Scott Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer, �Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits,� Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece, edited by M.W. Collins and C.A. Brebbia (WIT Press, 2004).

This article underwent conference peer review in order to be included in this peer-edited proceedings. Minnich and Meyer do three important things in this paper. First, they refute a popular objection to Michael Behe�s argument for the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum. Second, they suggest that the Type III Secretory System present in some bacteria, rather than being an evolutionary intermediate to the bacterial flagellum, is probably represents a degenerate form of the bacterial flagellum. Finally, they argue explicitly that intelligent design is a better than the Neo-Darwinian mechanism for explaining the origin of the bacterial flagellum.

Peer-Reviewed Books Supportive of Intelligent Design Published by Trade Presses or University Presses

W.A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

This book was published by Cambridge University Press and peer-reviewed as part of a distinguished monograph series, Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction, and Decision Theory. The editorial board of that series includes members of the National Academy of Sciences as well as one Nobel laureate, John Harsanyi, who shared the prize in 1994 with John Nash, the protagonist in the film A Beautiful Mind. Commenting on the ideas in The Design Inference, well-known physicist and science writer Paul Davies remarks: �Dembski�s attempt to quantify design, or provide mathematical criteria for design, is extremely useful. I�m concerned that the suspicion of a hidden agenda is going to prevent that sort of work from receiving the recognition it deserves.� Quoted in L. Witham, By Design (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2003), p. 149.

Michael Behe, Darwin�s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (The Free Press, 1996).

In this book Behe develops a critique of the mechanism of natural selection and a positive case for the theory of intelligent design based upon the presence of �irreducibly complex molecular machines� and circuits inside cells. Though this book was published by The Free Press, a trade press, the publisher subjected the book to standard scientific peer-review by several prominent biochemists and biological scientists.

Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, Roger L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life�s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories (Philosophical Library, 1984, Lewis & Stanley, 4th ed., 1992).

In this book Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen develop a seminal critique of origin of life studies and develop a case for the theory of intelligent design based upon the information content and �low-configurational entropy� of living systems.

John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer, Darwinism, Design, & Public Education (Michigan State University Press, 2003)

This is a collection of interdisciplinary essays that addresses the scientific and educational controversy concerning the theory of intelligent design. Accordingly, it was peer-reviewed by a philosopher of science, a rhetorician of science, and a professor in the biological sciences from an Ivy League university. The book contains five scientific articles advancing the case for the theory of intelligent design, the contents of which are summarized below.

Books Supportive of Intelligent Design Published by Prominent Trade Presses

Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery (Regnery Publishing, 2004).

Gonzalez and Richards develop a novel case for the theory of intelligent design based on developments in astronomy and planetary science. They show that the conditions necessary to produce a habitable planet are extremely rare and improbable. In addition, they show that the one planet we are aware of that possesses these characteristics is also a planet that has characteristics uniquely adapted to scientific exploration, thus suggesting not simply that the earth is the recipient of the fortunate conditions necessary for life, but that it appears to be uniquely designed for scientific discovery.

William Dembski, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot be Purchased without Intelligence (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002).

Dembski refines his scientific method of design detection, responds to critics of his previous book (The Design Inference) and shows how his method of design detection applies to the kind of molecular machines analyzed by Michael Behe in Darwin�s Black Box.

Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Adler & Adler, 1985).

Denton, an Australian molecular biologist, provides a comprehensive critique of neo- Darwinian evolutionary theory. In a penultimate chapter, entitled �The Molecular Labyrinth,� he also develops a strong positive case for the design hypothesis based on the integrated complexity of molecular biological systems. As a religiously agnostic scientist, Denton emphasizes that this case for design is based upon scientific evidence and the application of standard forms of scientific reasoning. As Denton explains, while the case for design may have religious implications, �it does not depend upon religious premises.�

Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals

S.C. Meyer, �The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,� Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2) (2004): 213-239.

This article argues for intelligent design as an explanation for the origin of the Cambrian fauna. Not surprisingly, it created an international firestorm within the scientific community when it was published. (See Klinghoffer, The Branding of a Heretic, WALL STREET JOURNAL, Jan. 28, 2005, as well as the following website by the editor who oversaw the article�s peer-review process: http://www.rsternberg.net.) The treatment of the editor who sent Meyer�s article out for peer-review is a striking illustration of the sociological obstacles that proponents of intelligent design encounter in publishing articles that explicitly defend the theory of intelligent design.

M.J. Behe and D.W. Snoke, �Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues,� Protein Science, 13 (2004): 2651-2664.

In this article, Behe and Snoke show how difficult it is for unguided evolutionary processes to take existing protein structures and add novel proteins whose interface compatibility is such that they could combine functionally with the original proteins. By demonstrating inherent limitations to unguided evolutionary processes, this work gives indirect scientific support to intelligent design and bolsters Behe�s case for intelligent design in answer to some of his critics.

W.-E. L�nnig & H. Saedler, �Chromosome Rearrangements and Transposable Elements,� Annual Review of Genetics, 36 (2002): 389-410.

This article examines the role of transposons in the abrupt origin of new species and the possibility of a partly predetermined generation of biodiversity and new species. The authors� approach is non-Darwinian, and they cite favorably the work of design theorists Michael Behe and William Dembski.

D.K.Y. Chiu & T.H. Lui, �Integrated Use of Multiple Interdependent Patterns for Biomolecular Sequence Analysis,� International Journal of Fuzzy Systems, 4(3) (September 2002): 766-775.

The opening paragraph of this article reads: Detection of complex specified information is introduced to infer unknown underlying causes for observed patterns. By complex information, it refers to information obtained from observed pattern or patterns that are highly improbable by random chance alone. We evaluate here the complex pattern corresponding to multiple observations of statistical interdependency such that they all deviate significantly from the prior or null hypothesis. Such multiple interdependent patterns when consistently observed can be a powerful indication of common underlying causes. That is, detection of significant multiple interdependent patterns in a consistent way can lead to the discovery of possible new or hidden knowledge.�

M.J. Denton & J.C. Marshall, �The Laws of Form Revisited,� Nature, 410 (22 March 2001): 417.I.

M.J. Denton, J.C. Marshall & M. Legge, (2002) �The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law,� Journal of Theoretical Biology 219 (2002): 325-342.

This research is thoroughly non-Darwinian and teleological. It looks to laws of form embedded in nature to bring about biological structures. The intelligent design research program is broad, and design like this that�s programmed into nature falls within its ambit.

Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Anthologies

L�nnig, W.-E. Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and the origin of irreducible complexity, Dynamical Genetics, Pp. 101-119. In i>Dynamical Genetics by V. Parisi, V. de Fonzo & F. Aluffi-Pentini, eds.,(Research Signpost, 2004)

Biology exhibits numerous invariants — aspects of the biological world that do not change over time. These include basic genetic processes that have persisted unchanged for more than three-and-a-half billion years and molecular mechanisms of animal ontogenesis that have been constant for more than one billion years. Such invariants, however, are difficult to square with dynamic genomes in light of conventional evolutionary theory. Indeed, Ernst Mayr regarded this as one of the great unsolved problems of biology. In this paper Dr.Wolf-Ekkehard L�nnig L�nnig Senior Scientist in the Department of Molecular Plant Genetics at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research employs the design-theoretic concepts of irreducible complexity (as developed by Michael Behe) and specified complexity (as developed by William Dembski) to elucidate these invariants, accounting for them in terms of an intelligent design (ID) hypothesis.

Five science articles from Darwinism, Design, & Public Education, edited by John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (Michigan State University Press, 2003) (hereinafter DDPE):

Meyer, S. C. DNA and the origin of life: Information, specification and explanation, DDPE Pp. 223-285.

Meyer contends that intelligent design provides a better explanation than competing chemical evolutionary models for the origin of the information present in large bio-macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins. Meyer shows that the term information as applied to DNA connotes not only improbability or complexity but also specificity of function. He then argues that neither chance nor necessity, nor the combination of the two, can explain the origin of information starting from purely physical-chemical antecedents. Instead, he argues that our knowledge of the causal powers of both natural entities and intelligent agency suggests intelligent design as the best explanation for the origin of the information necessary to build a cell in the first place.

Behe, M. J., Design in the details: The origin of biomolecular machines. DDPE Pp. 287-302

Behe sets forth a central concept of the contemporary design argument, the notion of “irreducible complexity.” Behe argues that the phenomena of his field include systems and mechanisms that display complex, interdependent, and coordinated functions. Such intricacy, Behe argues, defies the causal power of natural selection acting on random variation, the �no end in view� mechanism of neo-Darwinism. Yet he notes that irreducible complexity is a feature of systems that are known to be designed by intelligent agents. He thus concludes that intelligent design provides a better explanation for the presence of irreducible complexity in the molecular machines of the cell.

Nelson, P. & J. Wells, Homology in biology: Problem for naturalistic science and prospect for intelligent design, DDPE, Pp. 303-322.

Paul Nelson and Jonathan Wells reexamine the phenomenon of homology, the structural identity of parts in distinct species such as the pentadactyl plan of the human hand, the wing of a bird, and the flipper of a seal, on which Darwin was willing to rest his entire argument. Nelson and Wells contend that natural selection explains some of the facts of homology but leaves important anomalies (including many so-called molecular sequence homologies) unexplained. They argue that intelligent design explains the origin of homology better than the mechanisms cited by advocates of neo-Darwinism.

Meyer, S. C., Ross, M., Nelson, P. & P. Chien, The Cambrian explosion: biology�s big bang, DDPE, Pp. 323-402.

Meyer, Ross, Nelson, and Chien show that the pattern of fossil appearance in the Cambrian period contradicts the predictions or empirical expectations of neo-Darwinian (and punctuationalist) evolutionary theory. They argue that the fossil record displays several features�a hierarchical top-down pattern of appearance, the morphological isolation of disparate body plans, and a discontinuous increase in information content�that are strongly reminiscent of the pattern of evidence found in the history of human technology. Thus, they conclude that intelligent design provides a better, more causally adequate, explanation of the origin of the novel animal forms present in the Cambrian explosion.

Dembski, W.A., Reinstating design within science, DDPE, Pp. 403-418.

Dembski argues that advances in the information sciences have provided a theoretical basis for detecting the prior action of an intelligent agent. Starting from the commonsense observation that we make design inferences all the time, Dembski shows that we do so on the basis of clear criteria. He then shows how those criteria, complexity and specification, reliably indicate intelligent causation. He gives a rational reconstruction of a method by which rational agents decide between competing types of explanation, those based on chance, physical-chemical necessity, or intelligent design. Since he asserts we can detect design by reference to objective criteria, Dembski also argues for the scientific legitimacy of inferences to intelligent design.

Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Edited Scientific Anthologies and Conference Proceedings

Four science articles from W. A. Dembski & M. Ruse, eds., DEBATING DESIGN: FROM DARWIN TO DNA (Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2004) (hereinafter DEBATING DESIGN)

Dembksi, W.A., The logical underpinnings of intelligent design, DEBATING DESIGN, Pp.

311-330.

In this article, Dembski outlines his method of design detection. In it he proposes a rigorous way of identifying the effects of intelligent causation and distinguishing them from the effects of undirected natural causes and material mechanisms. Dembski shows how the presence of specified complexity or �complex specified information� provides a reliable marker or indicator of prior intelligent activity. He also responds to a common criticism made against his method of design detection, namely that design inferences constitute �an argument from ignorance.�

Bradley, W. L., Information, Entropy, and the Origin of Life, DEBATING DESIGN, Pp. 331-

351.

Walter Bradley is a mechanical engineer and polymer scientist. In the mid-1980’s he co-authored what supporters consider a seminal critique of origin of life studies in the book The Mystery of Life�s Origins. Bradley and his co-authors also developed a case for the theory of intelligent design based upon the information content and �low-configurational entropy� of living systems. In this chapter he updates that work. He clarifies the distinction between configurational and thermal entropy, and shows why materialistic theories of chemical evolution have not explained the configurational entropy present in living systems�a feature of living systems that Bradley takes to be strong evidence of intelligent design.

Behe, M., Irreducible complexity: obstacle to Darwinian evolution, DEBATING DESIGN, Pp. 352-370.

In this essay Behe briefly explains the concept of irreducible complexity and reviews why he thinks it poses a severe problem for the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection. In addition, he responds to several criticisms of his argument for intelligent design from irreducible complexity and several misconceptions about how the theory of intelligent design applies to biochemistry. In particular he discusses several putative counterexamples that some scientists have advanced against his claim that irreducibly complex biochemical systems demonstrate intelligent design. Behe turns the table on these counterexamples, arguing that these examples actually underscore the barrier that irreducible complexity poses to Darwinian explanations, and, if anything, show the need for intelligent design.

Meyer, S. C., The Cambrian information explosion: evidence for intelligent design, DEBATING DESIGN, Pp. 371-391.

Meyer argues for design on the basis of the Cambrian explosion, the geologically sudden appearance of new animal body plans during the Cambrian period. Meyer notes that this episode in the history of life represents a dramatic and discontinuous increase in the complex specified information of the biological world. He argues that neither the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations nor alternative self-organizational mechanisms are sufficient to produce such an increase in information in the time allowed by the fossil evidence. Instead, he suggests that such increases in specified complex information are invariably associated with conscious and rational activity�that is, with intelligent design.

Scott Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer, �Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits,� Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece, edited by M.W. Collins and C.A. Brebbia (WIT Press, 2004).

This article underwent conference peer review in order to be included in this peer-edited proceedings. Minnich and Meyer do three important things in this paper. First, they refute a popular objection to Michael Behe�s argument for the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum. Second, they suggest that the Type III Secretory System present in some bacteria, rather than being an evolutionary intermediate to the bacterial flagellum, is probably represents a degenerate form of the bacterial flagellum. Finally, they argue explicitly that intelligent design is a better than the Neo-Darwinian mechanism for explaining the origin of the bacterial flagellum.

MERE CREATION: SCIENCE, FAITH & INTELLIGENT DESIGN (William A. Dembski ed., 1998).

This book contains fifteen scientific and philosophical essays supportive of the theory of intelligent design written by Ph.D.-level scientists and philosophers. The book was edited by William Dembski, who holds two Ph.D.�s, one in mathematics from the University of Chicago, and one in philosophy from the University of Illinois.

Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Philosophy Journals

Behe, M.J., Self-Organization and Irreducibly Complex Systems: A Reply to Shanks and Joplin, PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 67:155-162 (March 2000)

Craig, W.L., �God, Creation, and Mr. Davies.� British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37 (1986): 168-175

Craig, W.L., �Barrow and Tipler on the Anthropic Principle vs. Divine Design.� British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (1988): 389-395.

Craig, W.L., �The Anthropic Principle.� In The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition: an Encyclopedia, pp. 366-368. Ed. G. B. Ferngren.

Craig, W.L., �Design and the Anthropic Fine-Tuning of the Universe.� In GOD AND DESIGN: THE TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT AND MODERN SCIENCE, pp. 155-177. (ed. Neil Manson. London: Routledge, 2003).

Discovery Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy think tank headquartered in Seattle and dealing with national and international affairs. For more information, browse Discovery’s Web site at:

http://www.discovery.org.

But then we see that the Times edited the gentleman’s letter, which is a pity if he enlarged on these points. So where is the full version, then? The Institute pioneered the fight-back response to editorial highhandedness by printing the entire Nightline interview on the Web, so why have they not published the entire text on their site?

Indeed, according to this article by a Discovery man, Idea not based on religion, in USA Today, the evolution crowd is being fairly suppressive in their politics, as is usually the case in paradigm wars, at least according to the heretics. So it seems the public is not being treated to the full debate that would take place if the principle of free speech was properly observed, and honored as the lynchpin of good science.

Evolutionists used to style themselves the champions of free speech and academic freedom against unthinking dogmatism. But increasingly, they have become the new dogmatists, demanding judicially-imposed censorship of dissent.

Now, Darwinists are trying to silence debate through persecution. At Ohio State University, a graduate student’s dissertation is in limbo because he was openly critical of Darwin’s theory. At George Mason University, a biology professor lost her job after she mentioned intelligent design in class. At the Smithsonian, an evolutionary biologist was harassed and vilified for permitting an article favoring intelligent design to be published in a peer-reviewed biology journal.

(show)

Posted 12/21/2005 8:12 PM

Idea not based on religion

By John G. West

Pyrrhic victory.

It’s a phrase proponents of Darwin’s theory might do well to ponder as they crow over the decision by a federal judge in Pennsylvania “permanently enjoining” the Dover school district from mentioning the theory of intelligent design in science classes.

Contrary to Judge John Jones’ assertions, intelligent design is not a religious-based idea, but instead an evidence-based scientific theory that holds there are certain features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by an intelligent cause. No legal decree can remove the digitally coded information from DNA, nor molecular machines from cells. The facts of biology cannot be overruled by a federal judge. Research on intelligent design will continue to go forward, and the scientific evidence will win out in the end.

Still, Darwinists clearly won this latest skirmish in the evolution wars. But at what cost?

Evolutionists used to style themselves the champions of free speech and academic freedom against unthinking dogmatism. But increasingly, they have become the new dogmatists, demanding judicially-imposed censorship of dissent.

Now, Darwinists are trying to silence debate through persecution. At Ohio State University, a graduate student’s dissertation is in limbo because he was openly critical of Darwin’s theory. At George Mason University, a biology professor lost her job after she mentioned intelligent design in class. At the Smithsonian, an evolutionary biologist was harassed and vilified for permitting an article favoring intelligent design to be published in a peer-reviewed biology journal.

Those who think they can stop the growing interest in intelligent design through court orders or intimidation are deluding themselves. Americans don’t like being told there are some ideas they aren’t permitted to investigate. Try to ban an idea, and you will generate even more interest in it.

Efforts to mandate intelligent design are misguided, but efforts to shut down discussion of a scientific idea through harassment and judicial decrees hurt democratic pluralism. The more Darwinists resort to censorship and persecution, the clearer it will become that they are championing dogmatism, not science.

John G. West is associate director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, andassociate professor of political science at Seattle Pacific University.

Without endorsing the ID proposal that there is an intelligence of some kind nudging evolution along when it hesitates before a big leap, we regret that this kind of repression is going on. Whence the lack of confidence on the part of the theorists of evolution? With so much on their side (all the evidence is for evolution, only the gaps allow ID a hearing) one would think that they wouldn’t fear anything, even from the Jesuitically canny Dembski, for all his logical embroidery. But no, evolutionists are characteristically fearful of the debate.

At the recent press preview of the thrilling Darwin exhibition at the American Natural History Museum, the proud curator and evolutionary theorist Niles Eldridge was noticeably averse to the endless questions about ID in schools, a hot topic but one he had almost entirely omitted from his otherwise complete celebration of “the most important human being who has ever lived” (as James Watson later described Darwin to Charlie Rose).

And yet Eldridge is one of the most disdainful dismissers of intelligent design, as he shows in his well phrased book which accompanies the exhibition. Asked by us why he feared ID in schools, since it would have barely a sentence to say for itself, Eldridge explained that it would be a foot in the door for creationism in science teaching.

In other words, evolutionists seem to feel that merely admitting the gaps in the explanatory power of Darwinian natural selection (random mutation plus survival of the fittest still doesn’t seem to do the full job of creating new species and complexity, despite additional evidence for it in the last decade which is well presented in the current issue of the Museum’s magazine Natural History) allows creationists to drive their loudspeaker truck through the gates of science.

Surely this is a loss for science and for those interested in the exciting prospect of one day filling in the gaps of explanation in evolution with something more scientific than “an intelligence at work”? At the very least it would spur all of us, especially children, to a new awareness of exactly where those gaps are and attract fledgeling scientific geniuses to fill them in.

Trying to ignore ID may not be good politics, either. Whether the Discovery Institute is really impartial in spirit or not, it seems that the well funded institute and its fellows will continue to wage their fight across the spectrum of US public life. Apparently it is even trying to make inroads into the Jewish community, with William Dembski appearing at the Sixth Miami International Conference on Torah and Science, which ran from December 13 to 15.

According to the Miami New Times on Thu Dec 29, they made inroads with students such as Annale Fleisher, a seventeen-year-old senior at Miami Beach’s Hebrew Academy. “Saying life comes from evolution is like saying a library was made by someone spilling a bottle of ink,” according to Annale.

The “Otherwise what’s the point to life?” argument appealed to one of her elders, Sholom Lipskar of the Shul, an influential Miami rabbi.

“The fundamental question the theory answers is, accidental or intentional?” he explained. “If it’s accidental, then what’s the point? But if there’s design, we’re here for a reason.” Lipskar also advocates bringing intelligent design into Jewish classrooms. “It should be taught together with chemistry and physics,” he says.

(“If there’s design, we’re here for a reason”? Sounds good, but does this line of thinking stand up to inspection? Seems to us that it is rather like saying the world rests on the back of a huge turtle. What kind of reason does Lipskar have in mind? The purpose of the supranatural ID force in putting us on this planet, one presumes. But what purpose would this be, exactly? If we are all the equivalent of divinely created toys, would this actually add purpose to our numerically trivialized existence? Six billion humans alive now, and counting, would seem as individuals to overtax the attention even of an Almighty God.

We ask merely for information.)

But those who might have expected that Dembski and Moshe Tendler, an influential Orthodox rabbi and Yeshiva University biology professor who has quietly embraced the theory, faced an uphill battle in proselytizing ID in a world wide community renowned for its historical contribution to science would be right. There was such an uproar that Lipskar never got his time to speak.

The contentious Q&A lasted 25 minutes. When it was done, dozens of scientists rushed to the front to pelt Dembski with questions. The hubbub lasted so long that Sholom Lipskar of the Shul was pushed off the agenda.

(show)

Discovery Institute News

1511 3rd Ave Suite 808 – Seattle, WA 98101 – (206) 292-0401 x107

Darwin This

By: Mariah Blake

Miami New Times

December 29, 2005

Original Article

On a recent Tuesday evening, Moshe Tendler, an influential Orthodox rabbi and Yeshiva University biology professor, ambled onto the stage at Kovens Conference Center in North Miami. A stately figure with a wispy white beard and heavy glasses, he surveyed the 300-strong crowd of scientists and intellectuals — most clad in yarmulkes and dark suits with tallith tassels dangling about their waists — and urged them to spread the word that Darwin was wrong. “It is our task to inform the world [about intelligent design],” he implored. “Or the child growing up will grow up with unintelligent design…. Unintelligent design is our ignorance, our stupidity.”

This may seem an unlikely message from a prominent Jewish biologist. After all, intelligent design theory — which holds that life is too complex to be a fluke of evolution — has been crafted primarily by evangelical Christians and spurned by most scientists.

But some Jewish leaders, like Tendler, have begun to quietly embrace the theory. And several of them went public with their support during the Sixth Miami International Conference on Torah and Science, which ran from December 13 to 15 and was hosted by Florida International University’s religious studies department, the Shul of Bal Harbour, and B’Or Ha’Torah journal of science. In an area with the second highest concentration of Jews after New York — there are 113,000 in Miami-Dade alone — the event attracted about 1000 Jewish researchers, intellectuals, teachers, and students. There was also one prominent evangelical: Intelligent design luminary William Dembski was among the event’s featured speakers.

The conversation proved divisive. Tendler kicked off the conference by attacking the idea that complex life could flow from “random evolution.” “That is irrational,” he said.

As soon as Tendler finished speaking, biologist Sheldon Gottlieb rushed to one of two microphones perched in the aisles. “We all know evolution is not random,” he grumbled. “It goes through the filter of natural selection…. You cannot use those arguments with this audience.” Tendler and Gottlieb sparred for about five minutes. Meanwhile long lines began to form at the mikes. But the moderator cut the question-and-answer session short and sent the crowd home.

Dembski, a slender man in a tweed blazer and a forest green oxford shirt, spoke the following morning, and more than 400 people packed in to see him. Besides Jewish scientists and intellectuals, the crowd included students from the Hebrew Academy and the Lubavitch Educational Center, as well as a busload of girls from Orthodox Beis Chana School, who arrived with Pumas and Nikes tucked beneath their ankle-length skirts.

Much of Dembski’s talk concentrated on the evidence of design in nature. He offered the classic example of the tiny flagella that bacteria use to propel themselves through their environment. “They can spin at 100,000 rpm,” Dembski marveled. “And then in a quarter-turn, they’re spinning the other direction. Imagine if a blender could do that…. Is it such a stretch to think a real engineer was involved?”

After about 45 minutes, Dembski wrapped up his talk, and dozens of attendees swarmed the microphones again, many of them eager to air their objections. “Our speaker has fuzzied the main issue,” complained Nathan Aviezar, who teaches physics at Bar Ilan University in Israel. “The whole enterprise of science is to explain life without invoking supernatural explanations. Intelligent design is not science, it’s religion, and it shouldn’t be taught in science class.”

The contentious Q&A lasted 25 minutes. When it was done, dozens of scientists rushed to the front to pelt Dembski with questions. The hubbub lasted so long that Sholom Lipskar of the Shul was pushed off the agenda.

Lipskar, a soft-spoken man with a thick charcoal beard and wire-rim spectacles, ranks among Miami’s most influential rabbis. And like Tendler, he believes Jews should back the intelligent design movement. “The fundamental question the theory answers is, accidental or intentional?” he explains. “If it’s accidental, then what’s the point? But if there’s design, we’re here for a reason.” Lipskar also advocates bringing intelligent design into Jewish classrooms. “It should be taught together with chemistry and physics,” he says.

In fact much of the debate at Torah and Science turned to whether intelligent design should be integrated into Jewish-school science classes; Miami’s Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education even signed on as a sponsor. The organization’s president, Chaim Botwinick, says the event is a harbinger. “Many Jewish schools are beginning to discuss making intelligent design an integral part of their curriculum,” he explains. Among them, he adds, are a handful of schools in Miami, a city that has long been a stronghold of traditional Judaism.

What do the students think? Many of those who heard Dembski speak said they would like to study his ideas in class. “His words make sense,” commented Annale Fleisher, a seventeen-year-old senior at Miami Beach’s Hebrew Academy. “Saying life comes from evolution is like saying a library was made by someone spilling a bottle of ink.”

Nathan Katz, who heads the Center for the Study of Spirituality at FIU and was one of the conference organizers, says the enthusiasm some Torah devotees express for intelligent design reflects a growing alliance between traditional Jews and evangelical Christians. The two groups have found themselves on the same side of many culture war battles. And evangelicals have funneled tens of millions of dollars into Israel. “The monstrous evangelical support for that country has led some Orthodox Jews to be willing to listen to evangelicals on other issues,” Katz explains.

For his part, Dembski hopes the conversation that began at the Torah and Science conference will continue, and that some Jewish scientists will eventually lend their talents to the intelligent design movement. “It would be huge in terms of PR because it would give lie to this idea that this is just a conservative Christian thing,” he explains. “It would also expand our talent pool immensely.”

But critics in the audience at the conference chafed at the prospect of Jewish scientists contributing to a movement that has stated as its goal the “overthrow” of “scientific materialism.” “We would be helping to eliminate science as a discipline,” said Aviezar. “And that would put us back in the Fifteenth Century. It would be a disaster.”

Mariah.blake@miaminewtimes.com

Some might suppose that any analytical mind can dispense with the arguments for ID as explanation of evolution’s gaps in short order (if the design is so intelligent, how come it makes so many mistakes. and why didn ‘t it do it right in the first place? etc etc), but with the level of emotional confusion that attaches to most public debate about ID currently it seems to us that the issue is likely to stay alive for a long time.

After all, it is part of an overall trend. Religion in general is making a strenous bid for a merger with science in education at all levels, from Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Science and Religion to Jewish schools:

In fact much of the debate at Torah and Science turned to whether intelligent design should be integrated into Jewish-school science classes; Miami’s Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education even signed on as a sponsor. The organization’s president, Chaim Botwinick, says the event is a harbinger. “Many Jewish schools are beginning to discuss making intelligent design an integral part of their curriculum,” he explains.

Who would have thought it?

But what has all this to do with the HIV?AIDS debate? We would suggest that it has a lot to do with it, because it forms another and more obvious example of how politicized and emotional what should be a factual scientific debate becomes in a society that so often puts preferences and feelings before facts and evidence. Both sides in this debate are allowing wishes and fears and political strategy to cloud truth and objectivity, it seems to us – the Discovery Institute by claiming to be purely scientific and the evolution establishment by trying to quash debate.

Full and free speech is written into the constitution of the United States for a very good reason, for it is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy. Surely it is the lifeblood of good science as well.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Bad Behavior has blocked 144 access attempts in the last 7 days.