by Kevin Wirth
ARN Director of Product Development
I guess this year's top 10 Darwin and Design news stories are blindingly dull for some folks. I got a rather silly email from someone today, and thought I would share his thoughts and my response. I won't reveal his actual name here...so I'll call him Smitty.
Hello Kevin, happy holidays. I just read your list of top ten news stories and listened to the podcast on "ID the future." It looks like another year and absolutely nothing has been learned about the intelligences behind intelligent design, nor anything new about the process of design. I've been saving these for the last few years and as I look them over, I see that the trend continues. There are no discoveries about either intelligence or the design process. Instead, the subjects you've selected are either intelligent design PR, intelligent design persecution, the politics of ID versus evolution or genuine science stories that you re-interpret to somehow imply support for ID.
For yet another year, there is absolutely nothing new that's been discovered about the intelligences or about the process of design. Is there anyone even working on those subjects? Even the Biologic Institute doesn't seem to be working on those topics. Their most newsworthy result is publishing software! How can anyone claim that ID is a science if no one is working on proving the central claims? If it were really a science then wouldn't the major share of the research funding be spent finding out who the intelligent designers are? I can't imagine there would be a more interesting question to answer. But after years of following this field, I can find no evidence of anyone past or present who's conducting any research to identify the nature of the intelligences. How do you explain that?
Happy Holidays right back at you. Thanks for reading our Top 10 stories and also for listening to our podcast recap.
If you'll permit me to be a bit brash, your questions don't indicate to me that you've been seriously thinking very hard about the implications of what we reported in our Top 10 news stories.
No new discoveries? Sure, we included all the usual suspects you identified. But you need to think about this a bit more. We gave you far more value than you claim. Part of what we do with these stories is underscore and remind folks that we need to be looking at evidence, not just speculation. Your tweaking shows how shallow your powers of analysis are, and it deserves a response.
1) I think the clutch feature of the flagellum (news story #6) was pretty nifty (you didn't include that one in your list...). The discovery of a clutch system isn't impressive to you? Wow, then I guess if we could somehow make the whole state of Alaska disappear that wouldn't be a very big deal for you either. I think we should continue to feature a new characteristic for this poster child every year until the expanded explanation of this little organelle is pretty much an overwhelmingly obvious example of a mind behind the scenes. Don't know how much more complicated it needs to be before you'll get the point, because if it's not convincing now, there's not much more that could be said.
This is a great example of what many Darwinians would call "Apparent design," only, it's pretty obvious to most observers that trying to explain how the flagellum came about via purely naturalistic processes has yet to be DEMONSTRATED by science. Until that time, you can claim IDers are chasing the "God did it" theme all you want, but most reasoning people recognize that the Darwinian answer (ie, "Evolution did it") is not compelling evidence either. Neither explanation can be presented empirically, and both are based on faith. Not only that, but if one must choose between chance and intellgence being the cause, then logic dictates that the flagellum was engineered by a brain. Chance has no chance of looking very convincing in this matter, no matter how much time you allow.
2) If you were paying attention, you'd see that the focus of many of our Top 10 stories revolves around the common thread of of cellular complexity. The movie "Expelled" (our #3 story) features one of the most amazing animation sequences of the cell one could imagine. And it barely scratched the surface. Go rent the movie and look at that sequence again, and then come back and explain to me how evolutionary processes demonstrate that all of those cellular components could originate with their specific functions and interrelationships via evolutionariy processes.
3) Continuing with molecular biology and the theme about the impressive complexity of the cell is our #8 story about the Ribosome. We provided a link, did you actually READ the transcript? No? I thought not. Consider the new paradigm shift proposed by John Brockman in his opening remarks:
"We are moving rapidly into the post-Darwinian era, when species other than our own will no longer exist, and the rules of Open Source sharing will be extended from the exchange of software to the exchange of genes. Then the evolution of life will once again be communal, as it was in the good old days before separate species and intellectual property were invented." (Life: What a Concept!, EDGE Foundation, 2008, p. 6)
The lofty goal of creating molecular machines is heralded here as the next big deal. That would be nice, except to achieve this requires synthesizing (among other things) ribosomes. Contributor/participant Dyson refers to the ribosome as the "central mystery" to the explanation for the origin of life. He talks about the ribosome as being "invented," which is hardly a Darwinian concept, since evolution cannot possibly be called on to "invent" anything. It makes much more sense to theorize that a brain invented something as complicated as a ribosome. You don't need to know HOW something was invented by a brain to deduce that it was. So far there is no evolutionary explanation for the origin of the ribosome, but Darwinists are confident, even without any evidence, that it somehow evolved.
Venter notes (p. 51)
"The lay press likes to talk about creating life from scratch. But while we can create and develop new species, we're not creating life from scratch. We talked about the ribosome; we tried to make synthetic ribosomes, starting with the genetic code and building them - the ribosome is such an incredibly beautiful complex entity, you can make synthetic ribosomes, but they don't function totally yet. Nobody knows how to get ones that can actually do protein synthesis."
This might not be particularly newsworthy to most Darwinians, or even the "lay press," but it is worth pointing out to folks who care to think about the issue. Dyson notes that "Once the ribosome was invented, then the two systems, the RNA world and the metabolic world, are coupled together and you get modern cells."
There is no evidence, and no compelling explanation for HOW this specualtive evolutionary development all took place, only the specious confidence that it somehow did. Sounds about as "God of the gaps"-sensical as any ID explanation, right? This is a great example of where we remind folks that evidence is not the same as speculation. Brilliant conjecture, no matter how well endowed with persuasiveness, is never a good substitute for compelling evidence. Yet this is the stock and trade of Darwinians.
Aside from that, your critique about a focus on those other issues is really rather hollow, considering that evolutionists put a pretty big stake in those same topics you rattled off ("intelligent design PR, intelligent design persecution, the politics of ID versus evolution or genuine science stories that you re-interpret to somehow imply support for ID.").
You really should re-examine each of these items, because I can provide you with a bunch of examples of how Darwinists focus on these very same targets all the time.
So, I don't understand what your objection is. If Darwinians can talk about these issues, why can't IDers? What's good for the goose should be good for the gander, unless of course, you're suggesting that we should be playing by a different set of rules than our critics. In which case I'll be waiting for your explanation with great anticipation. We think it's newsworthy stuff, and you don't. Fine with me. You say we're guilty of hijacking "genuine science stories that you re-interpret to somehow imply support for ID."
AS IF Darwinians never do this.
Ha! They do it EVERY SINGLE TIME they find a new fossil. Every new fossils find is assumed to be evidence for evolution, even if they can't figure out how just yet. Talk about who hasn't been coming forth with the evidence! I've been waiting all my life for Darwinians to explain how fossils provide overwhelming evidence for evolution. All I keep reading about from the expert paleontologists is speculations piled upon conjectures surrounded by extrapolations. They "think this happened", or "we suppose that occurred", and "we can't imagine (yet) what critter preceeded this one," and so forth. So, please spare me your prattle about how ID isn't producing any answers. Darwinians haven't been doing such a great job either. So let's just call it a draw, shall we?
The consensus about Darwinism isn't as tight as Darwinists claim, and the supporters of ID are not all a bunch of Bible thumping religious nuts. Let's see, Antony Flew is a good start. Then we have David Berlinski, and others in story #2 indicating that hmmmm, maybe there IS a rational way to look at ID if these agnostic and atheist folks can see it. This IS news for many Darwinians who somehow missed this story.
You say that "For yet another year, there is absolutely nothing new that's been discovered about the intelligences or about the process of design. Is there anyone even working on those subjects? Even the Biologic Institute doesn't seem to be working on those topics."
Hmmm. Let me ask you something: Have you contacted the Biologic institute and asked them if they're working on this stuff? And if YOU were an IDer, what peer-reviewed journal would you tell them to submit their research findings to?
The process of design isn't important to ID research. You don't need to explain HOW something was designed or engineered to detect that it was. Nor is it really important to know anything "about the intelligences" to detect design. So maybe that's why you haven't heard anything about that from Biologic lately.
You asked a spate of other questions, so I'll respond to them in turn:
You: Their most newsworthy result is publishing software!
Me: OK, did you indicate the same level of surprize when the Darwinians publish their little evolutionary software tools? And we never said that the software story was the "most newsworthy result," you did.
You: How can anyone claim that ID is a science if no one is working on proving the central claims?
Me: Who says no one is working on this? Not ARN. Not me. Not anyone I know within the ID community. Oh, let me add that I'd be delighted to accept any research funding on behalf of the ID movement -- we can produce lots of research on this problem with a little more coin.
You: If it were really a science then wouldn't the major share of the research funding be spent finding out who the intelligent designers are?
Me: So how do you know anything about who and how much research funding is or is not being spent? And anyway, as I mentioned earlier, the research wouldn't focus on who the "intelligent designers are." ID doesn't seek answers to that. What ID does is postulate that we can detect whether something was designed or not, period. It's agnostic about Who might have done the designing. You don't need to know anything about the designer to detect engineering or design.
Let's not overlook the fact that Darwin waited 20 years to publish his Origin of Species. ID hasn't been doing research anywhere near that long. Be a little more patient. If you
just can't wait any longer, I suggest you look a little deeper. If our Top 10 news stories don't get you excited, then heck, who are we to stand in your way? I'm pretty sure if you cared to, you could find even better stories. We don't own the market on 'em. If you can find a better one, I'll consider publishing it.
On the one hand I'm tempted to say you'll get your nickel's worth if you just hang in there a little longer. But on the other hand, if you continue to wait for someone else to show you the light, you'll never find it. I sugges that you stop "following" our Top 10 stories and start digging for a few on your own. Go find the answers yourself instead of waiting for others to "prove" it to you. ID isn't a cosmological vending machine for answers you think ought to convince you. It looks to me like you think others are responsible for providing you with the compelling evidence, and if none of it pleases you, that lets you off the hook, right? Sorry, but I don't think it works that way. If you're not convinced, then start digging. And if you're really serious, you won't be sending us any more of your prattle and tweakage about how disappointed you are (oh really?) that ID hasn't come up with anything convincing for you this year, or in previous years. Heck, I've met some pretty glorious pontificators who could learn volumes from your subtle approach.
You: I can't imagine there would be a more interesting question to answer.
Me: And, I would agree with you on that point. Meanwhile, Behe and Dembski should have given you plenty to chew on for now. Have you written any critiques about their work yet? I'd love to read it. If not, then start there.
You: But after years of following this field, I can find no evidence of anyone past or present who's conducting any research to identify the nature of the intelligences. How do you explain that?
Me: ID isn't concerned about the "nature of the intelligences" as you put it. It is only concerned with demonstrating that intelligence is a reasonable explanation for what many Darwinians refer to as the "apparent design" found throughout nature. IDers would suggest it's not "apparent design" at all, but rather evidence of "actual" design. Obviously engineered structures imply that a mind was at work, and is a logical and rational explanation.
I guess you didn't think any of those poor dissenters in the recent HIV-AIDS controversy over the past 25 years had anything useful or convincing to say either, right? I'm thinking of the dismissal of those darn pesky dissidents who've been insisting that HIV doesn't cause AIDs. How dare they challenge the findings published in a peer-reviewed journal! The refusal of Big Science to even take a whiff of their concerns was based on an article in that mainstay of scientific empiricism, Science magazine. And of course, no research funding was spent going down that rabbit hole of an idea. Big Science is hesitant to fund irrational notions that go against established findings.
But gee, this must be old hat for many Darwinians who already knew IDers like Phil Johnson never saw that one coming.
You need to read my blog post at:
Big Science took a Big Hit on this one, and you KNOW they're never going to say "Gee, that silly old Berkeley Lawyer/Dissidenter/Philosopher Phil Johnson knew it all the time and we dismissed him so cavalierly. Maybe he has some OTHER ideas we ought to listen to."
As if that'll ever happen.
Seattle area writer and Darwin skeptic Kevin Wirth is a founding member of ARN (formerly Students for Origins Research). He is also the Senior editor, contributor, and publisher of the book "Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth About Killing the Careers of Darwin Doubters" by Dr. Jerry Bergman (2008). This is the most comprehensive book published to date documenting the extent and types of discrimination against Darwin Dissidents. He is also the publisher of Caroline Crocker's upcoming book about her experience as an Expelled University professor which is scheduled to be released sometime in early 2009. He is also the publisher of Caroline Crocker's upcoming book about her experience as an Expelled University professor which is scheduled to be released sometime in early 2009.
To read more essays by Kevin Wirth, click here.
Copyright (c) 2009 by Kevin H. Wirth, all rights reserved. Quotes and links are permitted with attribution.
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