Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Steve Reuland Slays a Straw Man

Over on Panda’s Thumb Steve Reuland uses Darwinian methodology to dispute the notion that medical doctors tend to accept ID in greater percentage than scientists in general. So what’s the first thing ole Steverino does to make his case? Why, he trots out a strawman – ID and “evolution” are mutually exclusive. Here’s a clue for Stevie. You can accept ID, descent with modification from a common ancestor, and a 4 billion year-old earth all at the same time. Not all IDists do but many of us do including me. What you can’t accept if you accept ID is that random mutation filtered by natural selection turned mud into man or bacteria into baboons. Got that? Write that down. I Read More ›

Why does it take engineers to do “synthetic biology”?

Here is one of Discover’s top 6 genetics stories of 2006. Not only are these people doing intelligent design research — they are engineers! 6 Biologists Crack Open Life’s Tool Kit Intelligent design became a scientific reality this year with the report that researchers had custom-made a lifesaving microbe—one that helps make a much-needed drug against malaria. The feat is one of the first concrete applications of synthetic biology, an emerging field in which scientists reshuffle the components of cellular life in order to produce precisely tailored results. Cobbling together the genes of three different species, chemical engineer Jay Keasling of the University of California at Berkeley transformed a metabolic pathway in yeast that allows the engineered microbe to produce Read More ›

Plotting “Random” Mutations on a Fitness Curve

Recently and many times in the past I’ve remarked that life doesn’t have the illusion of design. Design is real. It has the illusion of chance and neccessity. Over at ATBC I noticed a couple members of the anti-ID peanut gallery clucking to themselves that mutations plotted on a fitness curve have a random distribution. IOW there is no predictability in where any one mutation will fall on a fitness curve (harmful/neutral/beneficial). It will be a scattershot plot without any pattern. Thus even if the universe is deterministic and no mutation is truly random they appear random when plotted on a fitness curve. This is just utter dreck. You can predict with almost 100% confidence that any given mutation will Read More ›

For Every 1000 Species That Has Ever Lived…

Fun facts you should know. For every 1000 species that has ever lived during the history of our planet, 999 of them became extinct in an evolutionary dead end street (no species descended from them). Estimates range up to 5 billion species that have walked, crawled, swam, flew, rooted, or slimed our planet in the past. About 10 million are alive today and we have names for about 1 million of those. The average lifespan of a species is about 10 million years. Most species enter the fossil record abruptly and disappear abruptly looking mostly the same at both entrance and exit. The next time you’re thinking of how random mutation and natural selection works keep in mind that in Read More ›

If the horse is dead, why keep beating it?

Here are still two more anti-ID books, recently off the press: Philip Kitcher’s LIVING WITH DARWIN: EVOLUTION, DESIGN, AND THE FUTURE OF FAITH http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195314441/ref=pe_pe_5050_3468500_pe_snp_441 =-=-=-=-=-=- Francisco Ayala’s DARWIN AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN: http://www.amazon.com/Darwin-Intelligent-Design-Facets-Francisco/dp/0800638026/ref=pd_sim_b_1/105-1985473-5492415

Ron Numbers in Salon

There’s an interesting interview with Ron Numbers in Salon: http://www.salon.com/books/int/2007/01/02/numbers. Here’s an excerpt. . . . More recently, we’ve had the intelligent design movement. I know some people just see this as a new version of creationism, stripping away all the talk about God and religion so you can teach it in the schools. Is that true? RN: There’s a little bit of evidence to support that. But I think that both demographically and intellectually, it doesn’t hold a lot of water. The intelligent design leaders are people, by and large, who do not believe in young earth creationism. So they would accept the Earth’s being four-and-a-half billion years old. RN: That’s not an issue with most of them. They Read More ›

The Cost of Mistakes

In the comments of Gil’s article about why a greater percentage of engineers vs. scientists are open to the idea of life being a result of intelligent design I remarked that medical doctors are another occupational outlier in there being a larger than expected percentage open to ID. I asked the MDs here if they could comment on that because while I can understand the POV of engineers and mathematicians I couldn’t figure out why MDs would also be an exception. After thinking about it a while it occurred to me that medical doctors, like engineers, understand the cost of mistakes in complex systems better than academic scientists. Orthodox evolution theory is based on the notion that sometimes a mistake Read More ›

Stephen Meyer on Engineers and ID

In this, Part 2 in a series of posts based on the Q&A section in the recently released DVD, Case for a Creator, I offer the text of Meyer’s response to the question, Why are many engineers intrigued by intelligent design theory? As a software engineer — in both the artificial-intelligence and aerospace research and development fields — I recognized that there were huge problems with the thesis that natural selection and random variation could produce complex information-processing systems, because designing such systems is what I do. Here are Meyer’s comments in answer to the question posed to him above: The origin of a new structure, of a miniature machine, or an information-processing system, or a circuit, is an engineering Read More ›

The Emerald Cockroach Wasp

The Emerald Cockroach Wasp The emerald cockroach wasp (Ampulex compressa, also known as the jewel wasp) is a parasitoid wasp of the family Ampulicidae. It is known for its reproductive behavior, which involves using a live cockroach (specificially a Periplaneta americana) as a host for its larva. A number of other venomous animals which use live food for their larvae paralyze their prey. Unlike them, Ampulex compressa initially leaves the cockroach mobile, but modifies its behaviour in a unique way. As early as the 1940s it was published that wasps of this species sting a roach twice, which modifies the behavior of the prey. A recent study using radioactive labeling proved that the wasp stings precisely into specific ganglia. Ampulex Read More ›

Richard Dawkins: The Final Scientific Enlightenment

Dawkins on enlightenment: I am optimistic that the physicists of our species will complete Einstein’s dream and discover the final theory of everything before superior creatures, evolved on another world, make contact and tell us the answer. I am optimistic that, although the theory of everything will bring fundamental physics to a convincing closure, the enterprise of physics itself will continue to flourish, just as biology went on growing after Darwin solved its deep problem. I am optimistic that the two theories together will furnish a totally satisfying naturalistic explanation for the existence of the universe and everything that’s in it including ourselves. And I am optimistic that this final scientific enlightenment will deal an overdue deathblow to religion and Read More ›

Quote of the day — Finally some closure on monkeys typing Shakespeare!

“We’ve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.” –Robert Wilensky HOMEPAGE: http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~wilensky SOURCE: http://www.jimpoz.com/quotes/speaker.php?speakerid=855

ID in the UK

I’d like to encourage people on the ground in the UK to comment on this and what it is likely to mean. Senior academics support Truth in Science Monday, 01 January 2007 As reported yesterday in the Sunday Times, twelve senior academics have written to the Prime Minister and Education Secretary in support of Truth in Science. The group was lead by Norman Nevin OBE, Professor Emeritus of Medical Genetics, Queen’s University of Belfast and included Antony Flew, former Professor of Philosophy at Reading University and a distinguished supporter of humanism. “We write to applaud the Truth in Science initiative,” the letter said. Empirical science has “severe limitations concerning origins” and Darwinism is not necessarily “the best scientific model to Read More ›

Uncommon Descent Ended the Year with a Bang!

December was a record month for Uncommon Descent traffic. New Record 12/06 Average Daily Visits: 5,311 Old Record 06/06 Average Daily Visits: 5,262 New Record 12/06 Total Visits: 164,646 Old Record 08/06 Total Visits: 161,799 September is when we got nicked by Google delisting and traffic declined. We’ve finally recovered from that and are setting new records again. And for icing on the cake, in October we switched over to the Cutline for WordPress format which streamlined our website and so we got our new record number of visitors with barely half the bandwidth we were using for the previous records! Thanks everyone for a great 2006 and here’s to an even better 2007!

2007 — Buckle your safety belts!

Happy New Year to all UD regulars. I expect 2007 to be a bang-up year for ID. Here are three things in particular I’m looking forward to in the coming year: A new ID friendly research center at a major university. (This is not merely an idle wish — stay tuned.) The publication of Michael Behe’s book with Free Press: THE EDGE OF EVOLUTION. The publication of the sequel to OF PANDAS AND PEOPLE, authored by Jonathan Wells and me and titled THE DESIGN OF LIFE: DISCOVERING SIGNS OF INTELLIGENCE IN BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS. P.S. I would also say that I’m looking forward to debating Barbara Forrest, but I’m giving 5 to 1 odds that she won’t even start negotiations for Read More ›