Evolution Intelligent Design

“Intelligent Design Has No Place in the Science Curriculum”

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Harold Morowitz is the lead author in a disappointing article in the latest Chronicle of Higher Education: go here. I say disappointing because Morowitz spent three days at a seminar on ID that I organized at Calvin College back in summer of 2000. In other words, he should know better. Take the following remark in reference to Mike Behe’s concept of irreducible complexity: “Intelligent-design argument contains a hidden assumption: that all parts of a complex structure must have had the same function throughout the history of the development of the organism.” Behe explicitly repudiates this assumption (see Darwin’s Black Box, p. 96).

11 Replies to ““Intelligent Design Has No Place in the Science Curriculum”

  1. 1
    scordova says:

    This is heart breaking to hear. I was Trefil’s student not too long ago. He is the most wonderful professor….

    This is the same James Trefil who wrote “Are We Alone?” a pre-cursor to the work, Privileged Planet. Trefil wrote:

    “If I were a religious man, I would say that everything we have learned about life in the past twenty years shows that we are unique, and therefore, special in God’s sight.”

    And this the same Morowitz who wrote:

    “We study God’s immanence through science. Deep within the laws of physics and chemistry the universe is fit for life. This fitness we identify with God’s immanence…The present study of this fitness take place under the rubric of ‘design’…What emerges from all this is the return of “mind” to all areas of scientific thought. This is good news from the point of view of all varieties of natural theology. For a universe where mind is a fundamental part of reality more easily makes contact with the mind of god than does a mindless world.”

    I don’t get it, Bill. These gentlemen have my highest respect, and I’m surprised they took the position they did.

    Salvador Cordova

  2. 2
    Lurker says:

    From the article:
    “Was the origin of life a miracle, or did it conform to natural law — and how can we tell?”

    The question is, where did the natural law come from? Saying natural law can come to exist by itself is just as ridiculous as saying a computer can program itself to follow instructions without any input from an intelligant source.

  3. 3
    Aquila says:

    Were grades issued for the 2000 seminar? If so, perhaps you should retroactively change Morowitz’s to an ‘F’.

  4. 4
    jzs says:

    I admit I believe(d?) a good criticism of Behe was that he assumed that all parts of a complex structure had the same function throughout the history of the organism. Behe should probably state that he is not assuming that sooner than page 96. 😉

    My bad though; I’ll have to read the book again.

  5. 5
    Srdjan says:

    From the article: “Although the motive of some ID proponents may be to re-introduce God into the debate about the origin of life, their arguments can be met with scientific, not legal, rebuttals. That is good news: They are playing on our field.”

    Yes indeed, good news. If only for this, they should be congratulated. Now debate with (at least with these people) can be conducted on scientific grounds.

  6. 6
    mynym says:

    Now debate with (at least with these people) can be conducted on scientific grounds.

    Apparently scientific grounds and arguments consist of, “Darwinism is just like the theory of gravity or somethin’….and denying that is just like saying the earth is flat! Ah the science of me, I feel downright scientific now since I said the word gravity and stuff.”

    A cynic might think that some scientist might be making such ignorant arguments to manipulate public opinion “just like” the methods and modes of associative argument typically used in propaganda. Yet I think that many Darwinists are stupid and ignorant enough to actually believe in some sort of revisionist history about “religion,” “science” and progress. They seem to mistake a fruitful dialectic and dialogue for an unfruitful contradiction or war. Based on the notion of a war with science on the side of progress and religion on the other they seek ways to avoid the dialectic of dialogue. There is to be no dialectic, no controversy and so no dialogue can be allowed. For “That’d be just like discussing things with a flat-earther….or somethin’.” I would note that the reason that everyone believes that the earth is round now is because when you actually have the empirical evidence or even a theory encoded in the language of mathematics that has actually been used to make testable empirical predictions then it is very easy to convince and educate people. It’s when you don’t actually have empirical evidence yet want to convince people anyway thanks to your psychology that you may begin to try to indoctrinate with “just like” arguments instead of educate with the science and empirical facts. The way that Darwinists act might make one think that they don’t have much empirical evidence for their theory or a very scientific theory.

    Physicists don’t seem to feel the need to argue to the public that the theory of gravity is just like Darwinism, at any rate.

  7. 7
    mynym says:

    When I said that everyone believes the earth is round now, it is not that all the ancients thought it was flat anyway. It is part of the myth making typical to progressives to believe that the ancients knew less than they did or that knowledge has always been progressing on a steady track towards the exponential increase it is coming to now.

  8. 8
    scordova says:

    Morowitz, Page 22, “Emergence of Everything”:

    “Though the laws are timeless, if there is a beginning, then the state the system evolves to is subject to its laws. The Origin of Species, Creative Evolution, Emergent Evolution, and the Phenomenon of Man are a collection of evolutionary works that, while philosophically disparate, share a directionality in viewing the history of the cosmos. There is thus a teleolocial-like feature of trying to understand God’s mind that scientists have perhaps been too hasty to reject. After all, we start with observations, and if the evolving cosmos has an observed direction, rejecting that view is clearly nonempirical…..

    As a matter of taste, I don’t like to focus on limits of thought, as do some of my colleagues. We are only at the beginning of understanding and should be wary of narrowing our possibilites prematurely.”

    Page 46:
    “The Big Bang makes creationists of us all, although not necessarily of the fundamentalist sort.”

    from his book, Cosmic Joy:

    “[it is] hard
    not to see design in a universe that works so well”

    I suppose one would put Morowitz kind of in the category of Paul Davies, someone sympathetic to cosmological design, but not too friendly toward biological design.

    Morowitz mentions McLean vs. Arkansas. He testified against the creationist in that trial. Ironically, the 50 years of research Morowitz has done on the origin of life have helped the ID case. His valuable research was quoted frequently in the book that began the ID movement, “Mystery of Life’s Origin”.

  9. 9
    scordova says:

    The article was about insertion of ID into science curriculums. I’m not aware that the Discovery Institute or any major ID proponent is lobbying for that outcome in an urgent way. I would presume they were discussing some sort of mandatory ID insertion. If that is the case, then there is not even an argument from the major proponents of ID….

    I deeply respect the professors who authored the article. Trefil is an inspiration, and I would hope that any student of science has the privilege of learning from someone like him.

    The article associated ID with bad science, with “flat earth”. I think is a bit unfair, and I would hope they would not think that ID leaning students are incapable of making it through a science curriculum.

    I was, after all, one of Trefil’s students and further I have 3 degrees in science (Computer Science, Electrical Engineering with a minor in Music, Mathematics with a minor in Physics) from his school. That is something I hope he and his colleagues will consider.

    Salvador Cordova

  10. 10
    scordova says:

    Oh, and if you all will indulge me, we have 3 ID leaning PhD biologists from Morowitz’s school

    Timothy Standish, PhD class of 1996
    Gordon Wilson, PhD class of 2002
    Caroline Crocker, PhD professor of cellular biology (that is until she was go).

    I would hope that is proof that a person’s inclination toward ID has little bearing on their ability to make it through a science curriculum. Though the article was about insertion of ID into the science curriculum, I don’t think one could make the case, on the other hand, that someone’s belief in ID will hinder their ability to do science.

    One might get that impression from reading that article, but I don’t think that can be substantiated.

  11. 11
    Benjii says:

    Where did Morowitz go wrong?

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