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Another University President Weighs in Against ID — This Time Princeton’s

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Shirley L. Tilghman, Princeton University’s president, happens also to be a molecular biologist. Now she joins the ranks of Cornell’s Hunter Rawlings in attacking ID.

Tilghman criticizes intelligent design
By Matt Davis

In a lecture at Oxford University last week, President Tilghman
pointed out potential clashes among science, politics and religion and
defended Darwinian evolution against the challenges presented by
proponents of intelligent design.

Her remarks at the prestigious annual Romanes Lecture mark the
second time in the past month that Tilghman has publicly criticized
intelligent design. In an interview Wednesday, she explained why she
passionately and frequently defends the scientifically accepted theory
of evolution.

“It’s one of the two monumental pillars on which modern biology
rests,” Tilghman said. “When you have a group of people challenging one
of the central tenets of biology, it’s very serious.”

Tilghman said opposition to Darwinian evolution began with “a small
group of evangelical Christians” who, after creationist theory failed to
gain popularity, “went back to the drawing board” and started pushing
intelligent design as an alternative to Darwinism.

Proponents of intelligent design assert that Darwinian evolution is
only a theory and that their theory is an alternative and equally valid
explanation of the same observed phenomena.

Tilghman, however, said the approach lacks the substance of a
scientific theory.

“Evolution is a theory that has arisen in the scientific field and
has been tested and challenged for 150 years,” she said. “Intelligent
design is a philosophical position that can be taught in social science
classes or philosophy classes, but it’s not science.”

She also noted that advocates do not follow standard scientific

“The proponents of intelligent design are not working in the
mainstream of modern biology,” Tilghman said. “They don’t publish
papers. They don’t do experiments.”

According to Tilghman, the methods of intelligent design supporters
are comparable to an attack on Einstein’s famous E = mc^2 equation from
an opponent who suggested a new relationship among mass, energy and the
speed of light without any experimental evidence.

When asked what she thinks of those who support teaching evolution
and intelligent design in the same classroom, Tilghman responded, “I
think they’re undermining scientific education.”

She argued that an academic comparison of evolution and intelligent
design would “require you to compare apples and oranges.”

Tilghman noted that intelligent design supporters have played
politics effectively. Because voter turnout for school board elections
is typically very low, for instance, a small minority can have a
significant influence.

But she praised the recent election in Dover, Pa., in which school
board members who supported teaching intelligent design were voted out
of office.

“I think it is a very positive sign that the voters of Dover,
Pennsylvania, showed up in force … and voted for the teaching of
evolution,” she said.

In Oxford last week, Tilghman pointed out that discrepancies between
scientific and religious thought are not a recent phenomenon.

“From the very beginning, science and politics, especially
religiously inspired politics, had the potential to become ‘strange
bedfellows,’ by which I mean working at cross purposes with one another
rather than in harmony,” she said. But she added that the “potential for
conflict seems greater now than at any time in my career.”

This is especially disturbing, she said, because of the extreme
importance of Darwinian evolution in biology.

“It is virtually impossible on the problem at hand,” Tilghman said.
“Time and again in the course of my career, I have encountered a
mysterious finding that was explained by viewing it through the lens of
evolutionary biology.”

In addition to addressing intelligent design as a potential source
of academic conflict, Tilghman’s speech also touched on political
influence in American space exploration.

The Bush administration, she said, has ignored the analysis of
scientists and the progress made by unmanned space vehicles, such as the
Voyager missions and the Hubble telescope, pursuing instead the
“tangible — even romantic” goal of manned space exploration.

As for religion- you can't attack the religion for the actions of a small minority within it. You can look at Christ and see his character and teachings, and if that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, you'll have a problem with ANY moral system. Josh Bozeman
It doesn't lead to the abadonment of morals, it just denies it from the start. If morals are merely evoloved behaviors that evolve themselves over time, then they're not morals. Morals are absolute- evolving "morality" is merely opinion. NDE theory teaches us that morals somehow arose from nothing out of blind chance and selection along with everything else in the world. To take NDE theory to it's logical conclusion we SHOULD kill off those who are the weakest- what tells us not to do so? Blind unthinking processes don't think, and they surely don't care what we do as long as we continue the species. So, Singer is right, according to NDE theory to call for this behavior among parents. I just don't agree with NDE theory, which is why I don't agree with his take on things. In the case of social order among animals, these can hardly be called morals. Baterica that work together do it out of simple instinct that is used merely to survive and work to better the situation to simply reproduce more genes. Human social order is different than any other- we do things out of compassion, not because we can better propagate the species in some manner through these actions. Altruism isn't really altruism if it's done merely out of instinct without thought- which is what you mention with lower species. They're not practicing altruism, but mere instinct based on survival of the whole. They're not refusing to kill their own kind or others because they care or have emotion- they're refusing to do so because their basic instincts instruct them not to. I don't think you could easily argue that bacteria or a species of worm shows concern, care, compassion, or anything even remotely close. Animals are ultimately indifferent so suffering and the likes. Few would argue altruism based solely on reproductive success which is the type of altruism you're speaking of. Reproductive success and nothing more- that's a lame definition for altruism in my book. With survival of the fittest- there's no reason to have morals. Morals without a moral lawgiver are opinions since they're not set in stone...as I mentioned, many darwinists argue that rape is a normal male behavior in survival of the fittest, and that makes perfect sense. If we're here for no purpose to merely survive and reproduce, then there's no logical reason to deny us the behaviors/instincts. If no absolute moral law exists, then our choices and actions are merely based on brain chemicals that are out of our control...which means no free will, no true control over our actions, and no reason not to act out in the ways our bodies and our brains tell us to. With NDE and survival of the fittest, I see no obvious reason why I should follow any law, for if all is simply a meaningless struggle for survival then there's no logical reason to even think that any moral or law is anything but a subjective opinion among the less evolved...morals are merely opinions that, themselves, evolved from my lower ape cousins, which means I'm nearly free to do anything. Josh Bozeman
Josh I mostly agree with Keith. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting and religion of various flavors has certainly inspired its share of human carnage and Christianity is not the least of those. Too bad most Christians can't be more Christ-like in their behavior. If they were they'd all be peaceful vegetarians. Instead of focusing on the example Christ set for how to lead a good life they focus on the forgiveness offered for doing sinful things. That's a horrible distortion in my opinion and is why many object to Christianity - it's too easy to be forgiven for doing evil. It's patently false that evolution leads to abandonment of "morals" because of selfish genes. There's quite obviously a selfish species role being played as well. Many species actively avoid killing their own kind. As well, there are many instances of symbiosis where two species cooperate for the benefit of both. Altruism is quite evident in nature and can be found between individuals of the same species and well as between individuals of different species. Social order isn't limited to humanity and certainly not to humanity with religious convictions. DaveScot
you can hardly deny that darwinism, being based on purposeless and ultimately meaningless changes/mechanisms, doesnt lead directly to this sort of thing. most NDE's state that morality is an illusion- there is no true right and wrong, that were all just glorified apes who evolved the illusion of free will, morality, right, wrong, etc. of course NDE theory speaks of morals- if you take the theory to its logical conclusion you have to conclude that morals are actually nonexistant- they are, themselves, constantly evolving merely in an attempt to carry on the change...morals are whatever makes it easier to reproduce and evolve some more- tho human emotions and morals contradict this, because many of our morals makeit harder to keep the status quo. morals tell us you dont sleep around, bioevo tells us that men DO sleep around (actually many neodarwinists have written books that say men raping women is merely evolution/survival of the fittest in action and should be accepted as part of the struggle to survive and spread our seed/genes). the problem is- darwinists refuse to fully carry out the theory. most of them stop at a certain point, abandoning the theory itself for a more civilized approach. survival of the fittest is, indeed, the basis of NDE- so, why SHOULD we care about inferior genes? why should we care about saving the weakest among us when theyre merely holding back progress? i dont believe any of this- its nonsense, but youre gonna have a hard time arguing that survival of the fittest doesnt say that very thing- the fittest (retarded children surely wouldnt be classified anywhere near 'fit' based on NDE theory). if im a glorified monkey who has illusory morals and ethics that were merely evolved and are relative- why should i not kill those who get in my way? why should i not kill off weak children who will taint my line of genes? etc. dawkins is wrong- why accept evolution but refuse to carry it to its logical conclusion? thats because dawkins realizes that carrying it to the conclusion is horrifying, so he pretends that darwinism doesnt demand as such. hes a darwinist when it comes to biology and such, yet when it comes to relationships, emotions, etc. he tosses the theory aside (which is what nearly ALL darwinists do). Josh Bozeman
Russ takes a cheap shot at evolution: "This view seems perfectly compatible with an evolutionary worldview. Why, after all, should inferior genes be allowed to replicate themselves?" Some opponents of evolutionary theory try to smear it by claiming that it entails Social Darwinism, eugenics, and other nefarious doctrines. This tactic is a classic case of the Humean is-ought fallacy. Evolutionary biology is a descriptive science which no more dictates morals than chemistry does. You might as well vilify geologists because a rock to the head can kill a person. Consider what ID's favorite whipping boy, Richard Dawkins, has to say on the moral implications of accepting Darwinism: "But at the same time as I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs... There is no inconsistency in favoring Darwinism as an academic scientist while opposing it as a human being, any more than there is inconsistency in explaining cancer as an academic doctor while fighting it as a practising one." Amen. Pseudo-critics should redirect their energies from hatchet jobs into constructing actual arguments. Until then, one hopes they're at least consistent and don't balk when someone points out religion's connection with the pogroms, the Inquisition, and al Qaeda. Honest critics of evolutionary theory, please take no offense. My indignation is not directed at you. keiths
This is the dirty little problem that materialist methodology produces as a natural course of reasoning. A randomly produced collection of order (should it exist) is inherently without meaning if systematic logic is employed as the tool for judgement. In pure logic we assert that something cannot come from nothing--by simple definition. To deal with the problem of societal ethics as an evolutionist one must either ascribe to an ethical leap of faith that "there is still some basis for right and wrong", even if that ethical leap denies a basis for ethics, or one must ascribe ethics as a product of natural selection--an even more problematic approach. What we see in the comment above is patently obvious to an honest evolutionist. Equally valid is any position (from ethnic cleansing to pedophilia) that is aberrant to civilized morality. What is even more interesting is that morality (which leads to ethics) is a direct consequence of theological belief in every society that I am aware of. It was his observation of the fruit Western morality that started C.S. Lewis on his path from hard atheism to Christianity. What is also interesting is way that theology has direct effect on the genesis of scienctific thought. Western Judeo-Christian heritage, for example, provided a fertile ground for the growth of the Aristotelian maxim "A is not non-A"--which had its impact in the early understanding of a scientific process. Now that the concept scientific process is codified, however, no one would argue that Judeo-Christian thinking is required or necessary to understand or investigate natural processes. The evolutionists almost seem to be attempting to turn the clock back and appear to me to embrace the [ridiculous] concept of post modernistic narrative truth. Post moderism defines its systemology with labels which are used to then create the definition. Evolutionists are engaging in a similar slight of hand be denying evidence which may not meet their label of methodological materialism. They remind me of a story I once read by a missionary in an eastern country. He observed a native stringing bits of every organ of a pig on a string to place before an idol. When asked the native replied that he promised the idol a sacrifice of a whole pig if 'such and such' happened. Since it had happened he was following through with the bargain. The observer commented that he was not really meeting the requirements of the bargain since he had stipulated a whole pig, whereas he was only giving pieces of the entrails. The native replied, "The idol cheats me, why should I not cheat the idol." coffeedj
Princeton University, home of Peter Singer, the bioethicist who says parents should be given 30 days after the birth of their child to decide whether that child should live or die. This view seems perfectly compatible with an evolutionary worldview. Why, after all, should inferior genes be allowed to replicate themselves? russ
I was looking at this darwinist site, pandas thumb, I think and there was this guy absolutely attacking this lady about what her credentials were, how do you design an ID experiment, DOes she think that ID is scientifically sound, and more. I was thinking, "would they be asking einsein the same questions? Sheesh, as if ID needs any more proof. Bling Bling
Tilghman said: “When you have a group of people challenging one of the central tenets of biology, it’s very serious.” tenet n : a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof [syn: dogma] Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University dougmoran
Excellent observation PaV. RussellBelding
I find the statements about theoretical proof of evolution incredulous. One of their own, Karl Popper, exposed the lack of formal underpinnning for evolution. Why is it so difficult to admit that evolution is a belief system based on world view + incomplete evidence, and that it will never rise to the level of tested theory. The comment on Einstein is instructive. Had the famous gravitational lens experiment with the solar eclipse failed--relativity would be unknown today except as a historical anecdote. The point is that the theory was tested which led to acceptance. Should we meet Popper's criteria for falsification of relativity--it would be gone in an instant. On the other hand, there are many inductive experiments for evolution, which to my mind, leave it firmly in the realm of a belief system--not a tested theory. coffeedj
Telighman: "According to Tilghman, the methods of intelligent design supporters are comparable to an attack on Einstein’s famous E = mc^2 equation from an opponent who suggested a new relationship among mass, energy and the speed of light without any experimental evidence." Yet, that's exactly what Einstein did. He had no experimental evidence when he proposed his general theory of relativity--his theory applied differential geometry to Einstein's intuition that even in accelerated frames of reference the laws of physics had to work the same. He proposed how his theory might be validated experimentally; but he, in fact, did not have that evidence in hand when he proposed it. This is a small point; but it illustrates how uncritically the Darwinists think and speak. PaV
"She also noted that advocates (of ID) do not follow standard scientific procedures." --i.e. the "lens" of evolutionary biology: philosophical materialism and methodological naturalism. "...why she passionately...defends the...theory of evolution. “When you have a group of people challenging one of the central tenets of biology, it’s very serious.”" --Which is more important: rigorous discovery or status quo? Would she have opposed or defended Copernicus? Red Reader
“The proponents of intelligent design are not working in the mainstream of modern biology,” Tilghman said. “They don’t publish papers. They don’t do experiments.” More nonsense from academia. Is this how science works now? You have to be part of the "mainstream"?? And hello- you cannot publish papers if even the mere publication of a paper means your job, your career, your life, and your reputation! Sternberg anyone? They don't do experiments? You're telling me that Mr. Behe has never done an experiment as a scientist? Other ID supporters who are active scientists haven't done any? Anyone know of experiments regarding the big bang? Heck, for that matter, does anyone know of any experiments where scientists have observed a fly mutate into a mosquito? I didn't think so. Also- more of the regular nonsense that ID is creationism worked over by Christians (as mentioned, Denton, who started a lot of this, isn't a Christian as far I know.) Finally, as I have said in other posts- evolution is hardly important. Outside of trying to defend NDE, there's very little use of claiming common descent in any field of science- science would, in no way, be affected if tomorrow everyone tossed aside the idea of macroevolutionary change. Adaptation in regards to resistance to pesticides and anti-virul drugs and such isn't evolution in this sense, it's mere adaptation that everyone has recognized for many years. Josh Bozeman
Is Michael Denton one of the "small group of evangelical Christians" who initiated opposition to Darwinian evolution? He'd be surprised to learn that. TomG
Email her and ask her, Dave. Seriously. It must be incredibly fashionable amongst the "academic elite" to take this position on ID. How else do you explain the complete misrepresentation and ignorance replete in these treatments? It must be about peer pressure and fashion. Sad. Just give me that old time religion [evolution] and don't bother me with the facts. *sigh. Looks like us ID proponents have yet another email to send. People like Tilghman need to know we are watching and listening. Bombadill
I wonder if she might be more specific about her mysterious findings that were explained by the lens of evolution. I've yet to hear of a single thing that was explained by rm+ns supposed ability to create complex specified information. This bit about nothing in biology making sense except in the light of evolution is nothing but hyperbole. DaveScot

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