Design network, inc.
P.O. Box 14702, Shawnee Mission, Kansas
(913) 268-0852; (913)-268-0852 (fax); IDnet@att.net
REBUTTAL TO "INTELLIGENT DESIGN THE NEW STEALTH CREATIONISM"
BASED ON TALK TO BE GIVEN IN LAWRENCE, TOPEKA, AND WICHITA, KANSAS,
SEPTEMBER 22, 25, 26 2000," by
Emeritus, University of Hawaii
at the invitation of the
Kansas Citizens for Science (1)
" Science is not dogmatic
about purpose, or anything else. It will go wherever the data lead." [Victor
J. Stenger, p. 21 of his "paper"].
"With the advent of modern
scientific thinking, teleology [design] HAD TO BE DISCARDED,
to remain in the realm of religion. [Noam Lahav, Biogenesis - Theories
of Lifeís Origins, p. 114 (Oxford University Press 1999)].
" He [a computer scientist]
is generally insensitive to the UNWRITTEN RULES of scientific
conduct, one of which is to scrupulously avoid even the faintest teleological
[design] overtones." [Robert Wright, Three Scientists and Their
Gods, 70-71 (1988)].
"Science is the human
activity of seeking [only] NATURAL explanations of what
we observe in the world around us." [Kansas Science Education
Standards, Fifth Working Draft, June, 1999, p. 5].
A General Observation
Professor Stenger would have
the public believe that his remarks are those of an unbiased investigator
dedicated to a search for the truth. But his commitment to the "unwritten
rule" to censor the evidence of design is evident, not only in the
remarks contained in his paper but in his prior writings. These are focused
on the promotion of the "unwritten rule" by unreasonably discrediting
the evidence of design rather than by giving any objective consideration
Professor Stengerís misinformation
begins with the title to his paper: "INTELLIGENT DESIGN THE NEW
ID is not "new". ID
has been around since the beginning of the civilized world. Essentially
a design inference is one which is intuitively drawn from the astounding
complexity observed in nature. Darwinists claim the "design" we
see is merely an illusion. ID theorists develop empirical evidence
which tends to show that the apparent design is real and not merely
an illusion. Aristotle, Plato and Socrates argued for intelligent design
in the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. while the Epicureans argued,
as modern science argues today, that life and its diversity result
only from chance and necessity (natural law).
The ID Movement has no "stealthy" hidden
agenda. However, modern scienceís use of the unwritten rule to "scrupulously
avoid even the faintest" of design inferences is stealth censorship. The
existence and enforcement of the unwritten rule against design inferences
is admitted by the Scientific community. However, it is a rule that
generates obvious discomfort and embarrassment among its members.
Therefore, the rule is not advertized. Instead modern science tries
to lead the press and the public into believing that its naturalistic
explanations are based on the evidence rather than on a philosophy
which exempts Darwinism from testing by the competing design hypothesis.
This behavior is stealthy. The primary purpose of the Intelligent
Design movement is to encourage the abandonment of the rule as it
applies to origins science because it is a rule that conflicts with
logic, the scientific method, our culture and the U.S. Constitution.
Although the ID movementís effort to stop the censorship supports
theistic beliefs, ID has no "hidden agenda" to take the
bible or any other religious text into schools or the government.
If a hidden agenda exists, one would look more profitably at why
modern science operates surreptitiously to hide the evidence of design.
ID is not "creationism." Creationism
is fixed in the minds of most of the public as referring to young earth "Creation
Science." Creation science has been declared by various courts
as religion focused on proving the Genesis account of origins. The
Intelligent Design movement is not focused on proving the Genesis account
or any other religious precept or doctrine. It has no sacred texts
or doctrines. Its primary focus is to remove the scientific censorship
of the evidence of design so that origins research can proceed without
religious or philosophic bias. The ID objective is that origins science
be a logical and truly scientific search for the best explanation rather
than a search only for evidence that will promote a Darwinian explanation.
The Introductory Portions
of the Stenger Talk
ID is not focused on incorporating
supernatural explanations in science. Professor Stengerís paper
misrepresents ID as focused on incorporating supernatural explanations
in science. ID, is focused only on stopping the censorship of evidence
which indicates that the universe and living systems may have been
designed. This is not a religious effort, rather it is an effort
aimed at ending the censorship of evidence, scientific inquiry, ideas
and thought. Although it is a movement that supports theistic beliefs,
intellectually it is no different than the desire of many scientists
to be free of any censorship of Darwinism, which is supportive of
atheistic beliefs. ID believes that it is not the job of science
to deal with religious issues. The job of science is to find and
logically analyze evidence or scientific data. It is the job of theologians,
philosophers, sociologists and politicians and the personal responsibility
of individuals and parents to use the evidence to help shape personal,
religious, philosophic, ethical and spiritual beliefs and legal systems.
When science philosophically censors the evidence of design it improperly
enters a variety of realms, including religion, that it does not
belong in. It is the scientific censorship of design inferences which
has had the effect of making Darwinism a religion as has been recently
acknowledged by Michael Ruse ["How Evolution Became a Religion," (May
13, 2000)]. The pervasive nature of the religion of Darwinism is
explained by Ernst Mayrís recent assertion that it provides an adequate
foundation for our ethics and morals ["Darwinís Influence on
Modern Thought," Scientific American, p. 79 (July 2000)].
ID does not claim that
scientific data can only be understood by reference to some divine
purpose or God. Although a design inference supports theistic beliefs,
it does not require a "supernatural entity." Professor
Stenger is incorrect in his statement that ID claims that "scientific
data cannot be understood naturally, that is, without gods or spirits,
but requires the additional element of divine purpose." Obviously,
much data can be explained by reference to natural law. A design
inference merely recognizes that certain observed patterns that occur
in nature appear to result from a mind - an information processor.
Nature is filled with minds - both human and non-human. The SETI
project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is focused on
finding alien minds. Francis Crick postulates that alien minds are
responsible for seeding the earth with life. The purpose of any such
mind that may be responsible for the design, is one better explored
by theologians, philosophers and politicians.
ID is not "an attempt
to insinuate the particular sectarian belief of a personal creator
into science education," as has been claimed by Professor Stenger. The
ID movement is aimed at the removal of "stealth censorship" of
design that is practiced by modern science to promote a purely materialistic
and naturalistic agenda. It is a movement aimed at stopping modern
science from philosophically denigrating theism through a systematic
censorship of the evidence of design and embarrassing and disenfranchising
legitimate scientists who openly discuss the evidence.
The Burden of Proof
Due to the enormous amount
of apparent design that exists in nature, the burden to disprove
design should rest with the naturalists. By admission, Professor
Stengerís Arguments fail to carry that burden. Professor Stengerís
argument seems to assume, and in some places state, that the burden
of proof should be with those advocating objective consideration
of the evidence of design. However, this ignores the fact that most
biologists admit that biological systems appear to be designed. This
includes Richard Dawkins, one of the most ardent ID critics:
"Biology is the study
of complicated things that GIVE THE APPEARANCE of having
been designed for a purpose." (Richard Dawkins, The Blind
Watchmaker, at 1., (WW. Norton & Company, 1996)
Furthermore, the science
community has yet to introduce even a coherent hypothesis as to how
the very basis for life, the genetic code, and its associated information
processing systems came into being without the aid of a mind.
As acknowledged by Professor
Stenger, numerous cosmological constants are extremely fine tuned.
This is also strong evidence of design. We intuitively infer design
on a daily basis. We submit that this enormous collection of evidence
of design shifts the burden of disproving it to the naturalists. However,
the Stenger paper ignores this abundance of apparent design and trivializes
the problems raised by critics. Instead he focuses on pure speculation
regarding "possible" multiple universes and religious and
philosophic arguments to make his case. Instead of refuting the evidence
of design with scientific evidence, the paper merely urges us to place
our faith in "possible" theories as to how chance and necessity
might alone explain everything. This approach is seriously lacking
and does not begin to address the abundant observable evidence of design
that exists in nature.
An evidence of design that particularly
undercuts the ability of chance and necessity to arrange and assemble
many biological mechanisms, systems and machines is the irreducible complexity
of those systems and machines. The concept has been explained by a biochemist,
Michael Behe, in his 1996 book: "Darwinís Black Box: The Biochemical
Challenge to Evolution." An irreducibly complex system is one
that requires multiple, well-matched parts in order to function, where
the removal of any of the parts eliminates the function. An example
is a bacterial flagellum. Dr. Behe challenges science to explain and
demonstrate how natural selection can account for the gradual assembly
of such machines and systems without the aid of intelligence, since their
individual parts in isolation have no selective value until fully assembled.
Professor Stenger avoids any
response to this serious claim by simply waiving off Dr. Beheís claim
with the off-hand comment that it has been "convincingly refuted." Of
course he fails to mention that, to date, no scientist has provided any
substantive rebuttal to the many responses that Dr. Behe has provided
to his critics and which may be found at www.discovery.org/crsc/
( Click on "Response to CRSC Critics"):
Michael J. Behe, "Self-Organization
and Irreducibly Complex Systems: A Reply to Shanks and Joplin," (August
Michael J. Behe, "Philosophical
Objections to Intelligent Design: Response to Critics" (July
Michael J. Behe, "In
Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade:
Response to Russell Doollittle, Ken Miller and Keith Robison" (July
Michael J. Behe, "Irreducible
Complexity and the Evolutionary Literature: Response to Critics," (July
Michael J. Behe, "A
Mousetrap Defended: Response to Critics," (July 31,
Professor Stenger spends three
pages arguing against the claim by William Dembski that chance and natural
law alone are not sufficient to create biological information. In doing
so he fails to provide his own definition of information. He seems to
equate it merely to "Shannon information." Shannon information
is merely a quantitative measure of the syntactic order (2) in a message.
The difficulty with his argument is that he completely ignores and thereby
fails to explain the origin of the qualitative or semantic character
of biological information - the meaning carried by the symbols. This
semantic character (meaning) has been recognized by leading scientists,
including Paul Davies:
"To explain life
fully, it is not enough simply to identify a source of free energy,
or negative entropy, to provide biological information. We also
have to understand how semantic information comes into being.
It is the quality, not the mere existence, of information that
is the real mystery here. All that stuff about conflict with the
second law of thermodynamics was merely a red herring." ("The
Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life," p.
60 (Simon & Schuster, 1999).
Thus, it is this semantic character
of biological information, which Dembski refers to as Complex Specified
Information, that has not been explained by chance and natural law. Although
symbols such as the nucleotide bases along the DNA backbone and dots
and dashes in the morse code, may carry meaning, only information processing
systems or intelligence have been shown to create the meaning that is
carried by the symbols. Natural selection acting on postulated random
mutations, being a purposeless and unguided mechanism, is, by definition
incapable of creating meaning. The recognized existence of "meaning" in
biological systems is evidence of design that has not been successfully
disproved by the Stenger paper.
Fine Tuning of the Universe
Professor Stengerís arguments
against the evidence of design that is reflected in the exquisite fine
tuning of the universe appears to rely primarily on a purely speculative
hypothesis based on unobserved multiple universes and the unexplained
appearance of electrons and positrons in a vacuum. As pointed out by
Guillermo Gonzalez of the University of Washington in the attached article
(3), "Invoking an infinitude of unobservable universes to explain
the one observable universe is a grotesque violation of Occamís razor."
Those interested in further
exploring the position of Intelligent Design network, Inc. on these issues
should visit our web site at www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org. The
position of IDnet is particularly spelled out in its June 8, 2000 letter
to each of the 304 Kansas School Boards, which may be found at the publications
page of the web site.
John H. Calvert, J.D., (B.A.
Geology), Managing Director
William S. Harris, Ph.D., Managing Director
Jody F. Sjogren, M.S., CMI, Managing Director
(1) A copy of the paper was
obtained at www.phys.hawaii.edu/vjs/www/Stealth.pdf
(2) "Syntactic information
[Shannon information] is simply raw data, perhaps arranged according
to rules of grammar, whereas semantic information has some sort of context
or meaning" (Paul Davies, The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the
Origin and Meaning of Life," p. 60 (Simon & Schuster, 1999).
(3) Nancy Pearcey, "Our
'tailor-made' universe: New scientific study begs the philosophical
question, "Who's the tailor?", p. 17 (World, September 2,