Professor Bradley Monton presents an argument against ID, based on the notion that there is current empirical evidence that our universe is infinite in size. (By the way, I've now met Prof. Monton, and can say he's a really nice guy. So I won't tolerate any personal attacks against him, though you're free to disagree with the content of his paper).
Archive for February, 2010
It may be argued that what man believes himself to be determines not only his conduct, but the substance of what he feels is possible, thus determining the scope of art and culture. The ostensible purpose of science is to serve man through the ever-expanding knowledge of facts, and yet as science has ascended, many scientists have mounted a purposeful attack on the ancient concept of man in order to diminish him in his own estimation. The feeling among scientists seems to be that man does not deserve a privileged place in the universe.
I'm enjoying Victor J. Stenger's (emeritus professor of physics and astronomy) book, Quantum Gods; Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness. However, he presents the philosopher in me with a puzzle:
From atheist and professor emeritus of physics and astronomy, Victor Stenger's book, Quantum Gods; Creation and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness:
The story of Galileo's trial by the Inquisition of 1633 for teaching the Copernican system is often presented as a classic example of religion and science coming into conflict. But the story is also part myth and part fact. Historians now largely agree that Galileo was not tried for teaching heliocentrism, but for disobeying a Church.
(Cross-posted at Evolution Engineered)
For the first time, scientists have synthesized RNA enzymes – ribonucleic acid enzymes also known as ribozymes – that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components.
If true, this could help shed light on the RNA-World and create many different and intriguing lines of research.
That said, there's an obvious caveat: these RNA molecules were designed. Read the rest of this entry »
Science, many scientists say, has been restored to her rightful throne because progressives have regained power. Progressives, say progressives, emulate the cool detachment of scientific discourse. So hear now the calm, collected voice of a scientist lavishly honored by progressives, Rajendra Pachauri.
He is chairman of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the 2007 version of the increasingly weird Nobel Peace Prize. Denouncing persons skeptical about the shrill certitudes of those who say global warming poses an imminent threat to the planet, he says:
"They are the same people who deny the link between smoking and cancer. They are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder — and I hope they put it on their faces every day."
Do not judge him as harshly as he speaks of others. Nothing prepared him for the unnerving horror of encountering disagreement. Global warming alarmists, long cosseted by echoing media, manifest an interesting incongruity — hysteria and name calling accompanying serene assertions about the "settled science" of climate change. Were it settled, we would be spared the hyperbole that amounts to Ring Lardner's "Shut up, he explained."…
If you are blinded, it is not by science, but rather by the politicization of it.
In the comment section of Barr's piece he wrote this in response to another commenter's remark:
To Francis Williamson, who says, "He assumes without argument at all that Intelligent Design itself is not science." ID is not "natural science" as that has been understood for a long time. Science is often subdivided in the "natural sciences", such as physics, chemistry, astronomy, and geology, and the "social sciences" or human sciences, such as psychology, anthropology, and economics. Different types of explanations are accepted as reasonable in different fields. The social and human sciences certainly explain phenomena by attributing them to the decisions of rational agents — specifically human beings. That is not the kind of explanation that has been used in natural science for a long time. Let's take an example. Suppose someone thought stonehenge was a natural geological formation. He might try to explain it by various natural processes, such as wind erosion, or the movement of large rocks by glaciers, and so forth. He would be doing geology, a natural science.
"Misusing Protistan Examples to Propagate Myths about Intelligent Design", in case anyone wanted to comment on it. No flame wars, please. Charlton Heston is watching.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation is complaining about the 2010 Mother Teresa stamp. Actually, their charge against her is exactly right—you can’t separate her faith from her humanitarian actions. It was that faith that gave her the strength and grace to carry on loving the least of these.
Stephen Barr's essay The End of Intelligent Design? was the object of a prior blog entry. I had left off where Barr was about to discuss natural theology. Continuing where I left off and quoting from paragraph four:
The older (and wiser) form of the design argument for the existence of God—one found implicitly in Scripture and in many early Christian writings—did not point to the naturally inexplicable or to effects outside the course of nature, but to nature itself and its ordinary operations—operations whose “power and working” were seen as reflecting the power and wisdom of God.
Epigenetics, which literally means “above genetics,” refers to the study of heritable changes in gene function that occur because of alterations in the epigenome rather than mutations in the genome. To make this easier to understand, I will use a computer analogy. Think of the genome—the DNA sequence—as being like the hardware of a computer, while the epigenome is like the software that tells the computer when, where, and how to work.
Thanks to Olegt, I can now refer readers to what I consider to be an excellent essay by Michael Behe, at the same place that Stephen Barr published his.
Some of my favorite passages:
Stephen M. Barr is a scientist, a Christian, a fine thinker who has written prior essays I have read and learned from and at times is profoundly wrong. He authored The End of Intelligent Design? at First Things. He begins with an opening barrage directed at the "intelligent design movement." Like so many others he is naive about the real movements swirling about him. If you are going to run a movement emulate the pros- those whose influence has established the unwritten but understood strictures we have come to know as political correctness.
I'll spend at least two blog entries on the essay and the second will focus on his theological arguments so kindly refrain from addressing those in the comment section. There will be ample opportunity to do that soon. Barr's theological points begin with paragraph four. Quoting the second paragraph:
Very few religious skeptics have been made more open to religious belief because of ID arguments. These arguments not only have failed to persuade, they have done positive harm by convincing many people that the concept of an intelligent designer is bound up with a rejection of mainstream science.
Most skeptics are not open to the message of Christianity for reasons that have nothing to do with ID. Barr's argument is speculative and perhaps dependent on those he rubs elbows with. My experience is counter to this.
The ID claim is that certain biological phenomena lie outside the ordinary course of nature.
Nick Matzke is fond of pointing out that Michael Behe's support for common descent is lukewarm. For example, in his comments on Stephen Barr's thread, he wrote:
Behe is the only significant exception, although he is much-touted by those who wish to portray ID as a moderate position. Even Behe's support is lukewarm; in 2005, he wrote that “my Intelligent Design colleagues who disagree with me on common descent have greater familiarity with the relevant science than I do” (66)