Evolution Intelligent Design

University of Iowa Petition to Unseat Intelligent Design

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From: “Biosciences” [biosciences @mail.medicine.uiowa.edu]
To: [select U of Iowa faculty — ID proponents were bypassed]

Dear colleagues:

The issue of “Intelligent Design” has received a great deal of attention in recent months. Local interest in this issue spawned a recent panel discussion “Intelligent Design: in your classroom?” sponsored by the student group, U of I Freethinkers. The substantial attendance and lively discussion at this event indicates a strong interest by the University of Iowa community in this important topic.

You may be aware that 120+ of our colleagues at Iowa State University recently signed a statement denouncing Intelligent Design as having no scientific basis http://www.biology.iastate.edu/STATEMENT.htm. This statement was reported widely (e.g., http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/08/2005082605n.htm) and has spurred many other such statements from across the country. In particular, 100+ faculty at the University of Northern Iowa have released a very similar statement http://faculty.cns.uni.edu/~demastes/UNI_statement.htm in which they join the ISU faculty in rejecting Intelligent Design as science.

In an effort to stand united with our colleagues at the other Iowa Regents Universities on this critical issue, we propose a similar statement from interested faculty at the University of Iowa. This statement derives substantially from those signed by our colleagues at ISU and UNI:

We, the undersigned faculty members at the University of Iowa, join our colleagues from Iowa State University (http://www.biology.iastate.edu/STATEMENT.htm) and the University of Northern Iowa (http://faculty.cns.uni.edu/~demastes/UNI_statement.htm) in rejecting all attempts to represent Intelligent Design as a scientific endeavor.

Advocates of Intelligent Design claim the position of our planet and the complexity of particular life forms and processes are such that they may only be explained by the existence of a creator or designer of the universe.

Such claims, however, are premised on: 1) religious commitment rather than a serious effort to produce a hypothesis that is cogently reasoned and competitive with modern evolutionary biology in scope, explanatory power, and productivity of a rich array of research questions; 2) assumptions about the wishes and desires of the designer that are not independently verifiable and generate almost no predictions; and 3) an abandonment of methodological naturalism.

Methodological naturalism, the view that natural phenomena can be explained without reference to supernatural beings or events is, by far, historically the most successful research strategy of the natural sciences. The goal of science is to form hypotheses to explain the natural world around us. Scientific hypotheses must be falsifiable and tested by the evaluation of evidence obtained through observation and experimentation. The history of science contains many instances where complex natural phenomena were eventually understood only by adherence to methodological naturalism. However, we know of no instance in which a competition between two theories, one naturalistic and the other supernaturalistic, has been in the end won by the latter.

Whether one believes in a creator or not, views regarding a supernatural creator have not been developed by defenders of Intelligent Design in a manner that brings the hypothesis within the scope or abilities of good science. We, therefore, urge all faculty members to uphold the integrity of our university, and convey to students and the general public the importance of methodological naturalism in science and reject efforts to portray Intelligent Design as science.

If you would like to sign the statement, please send the following information to: idstatement@gmail.com by November 1 .

Your Name
Your Title
Your Department(s)
Your email (for verification only; will not be included in document)

Thank you for your attention to this important matter and please forward this message to other interested colleagues.

Sincerely,

John Logsdon, Biology
Mark Blumberg, Psychology
Scott Robinson, Psychology
Tara Smith, Epidemiology
Evan Fales, Philosophy
Jonathan Adrain, Geosciences
Russell Ciochon, Anthropology

37 Replies to “University of Iowa Petition to Unseat Intelligent Design

  1. 1
    Bombadill says:

    Unbelievable.

    Witch Hunt.

  2. 2
    jboze3131 says:

    Advocates of Intelligent Design claim the position of our planet and the complexity of particular life forms and processes are such that they may only be explained by the existence of a creator or designer of the universe.

    So, we have this guys on record as saying that there’s no creator of designer of the universe. (Wait, I thought BioEvo never dealt with the origin of life or the origin of the universe.) Also, their claim is clearly atheism- which is clearly not a scientific claim.

    They later contradict themselves and say whether you believe in a creator or not…

    They just said that they want to suppress thought based on a creator and designer.

  3. 3
    Bombadill says:

    And the Darwin Machine moves onward, with it’s hands placed in strategic locations.

  4. 4
    jboze3131 says:

    btw-

    Whether one believes in a creator or not, views regarding a supernatural creator have not been developed by defenders of Intelligent Design in a manner that brings the hypothesis within the scope or abilities of good science

    They bring up the bogus argument that ID posits a supernatural creator when in fact ID doesn’t posit ANYTHING about the creator.

    Proving, once again, that college professors, even those in sciences, don’t necessarily have common sense or integrity.

  5. 5
    mentok says:

    We the undersigned don’t like ID, it’s really not up to snuff. So we want all of you to know that it’s a waste of time to even think of taking it seriously. We are the authority. We tell you what is truth. No need to think for yourself. Universities are not places for free thinking, they are places of indoctrination. All your base are belong to us.

  6. 6
    Bombadill says:

    LOL!!!!! YES!

  7. 7
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  9. 9
    Benjii says:

    They should no longer be considered open-minded scientists anymore.

  10. 10
    Bombadill says:

    aaahhhh, mentok… priceless.

  11. 11
    DonaldM says:

    We the undersigned don’t like ID, it’s really not up to snuff. So we want all of you to know that it’s a waste of time to even think of taking it seriously. We are the authority. We tell you what is truth. No need to think for yourself. Universities are not places for free thinking, they are places of indoctrination. All your base are belong to us.

    This would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that what these academics are up to is pretty scary when you think about it. What will be next?

    I’m still waiting for any of these scientists to tell me how they know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in artifacts or phenomenon of nature can not be actual design, even in principle.

  12. 12
    Tiax says:

    “So, we have this guys on record as saying that there’s no creator of designer of the universe. (Wait, I thought BioEvo never dealt with the origin of life or the origin of the universe.) Also, their claim is clearly atheism- which is clearly not a scientific claim.”

    Actually, I don’t read this as saying that there’s no creator. I read it as saying that science does not point to a creator (which is different than saying that science points to the inexistence of a creator). This statement is really more of a defense of the principle of methodological naturalism than it is a condemnation of the belief in a creator.

  13. 13
    jasonng says:

    Funny that none of these statements quote any scientific study that rules out design as a possible explanation. Many people have already seen through these “petitions” as desperate attempts to stop ID from gaining further momentum and many more will continue to do so. In fact I encourage other universities to do the same, they’ll all get embarassed immensely in the end for their scientific inquisition anyway.

  14. 14
    Tiax says:

    “Funny that none of these statements quote any scientific study that rules out design as a possible explanation.”

    Since the statement is attempting to dismiss Intelligent Design as being unfalsifiable (That’s what I read as the implication behind the sentence: “Scientific hypotheses must be falsifiable…”) it would not make sense for them to also cite a study that is intended to falsify the idea of design.

  15. 15
    anteater says:

    Would any of these scientists like to be cross-examined?

  16. 16
    jboze3131 says:

    too bad far too many ID critic scientists out there have claimed to have falsified IC, for example. matske still claims ID is religion, yet he wrote a paper where he claimed to show a darwinian process to build the BF. tho, his paper was based on no empirical evidence, just a just-so story of what might have possibly, maybe, could have happened if maybe this and that were true and possibly this was the case and that was the case.

  17. 17
    jasonng says:

    “Since the statement is attempting to dismiss Intelligent Design as being unfalsifiable (That’s what I read as the implication behind the sentence: “Scientific hypotheses must be falsifiable…”) it would not make sense for them to also cite a study that is intended to falsify the idea of design.”

    Like jboze just said, they’re trying to claim that ID is unfalsifiable yet they’re trying to falsify it at the same time. If there was indeed a study that falsified IC, they would be publishing that instead of these unsubstantiated claims of unfalsifiability aimed at the ignorant public in a desperate attempt to conjure up some much needed public support.

  18. 18
    jboze3131 says:

    matske cant even get his honesty straight, let alone his science. and ken millers ic ‘refuting’ was even a bigger joke.

    tho, ive heard BOTH men proclaim that ID is religion and not science. so, in their own minds theyre basically scientists who have tried to falsify religion. which means theyre REALLY confused.

    most ironic is that the majority of americans support ID, and even a large percentage even support creationism. sure, these polls are of the general population, not scientists…but a non-scientist can often have more knowledge in a field than a practicing scientist himself. most americans, the polls show, dont agree with the claims that ID is religion. and arent buying into these bogus claims. it seems the fringe left and academia are the only ones pushing the disinformation.

  19. 19
    Tiax says:

    I think the key difference here is that the claim “Darwinian evolution cannot create irreducible complexity” is not the same as “irreducible complexity implies design by an intelligent agent.” The first of the two has been falsified (to the extent which computer models are capable of doing so, since making labratory observations of the requisite number of generations is rather unfeasible) in an experiment out of Michigan State in which digital organisms were seen to ‘evolve’ the ability to carry out irreducibly complex operations. On the other hand, the claim that irreducible complexity implies design by intelligence seems to me to be harder to falsify. I can’t think of an experiment which would disprove that claim. What makes this claim so difficult to disprove is the very fact that we cannot make any statements about the nature of the designer or the mechanisms which it might use. We cannot, for example, rule out the possibility that this agent uses natural selection as one of it’s mechanisms.

    The text of the article from Discovery Magazine which details the aforementioned experiment can be found here:
    http://www.carlzimmer.com/arti.....Avida.html

  20. 20
    jboze3131 says:

    you cant use computer simulations and claim that the idea is falsified in the real world. simulations are designed. information is input into them. to falsify the claim that evolution cannot build IC systems, it has to be in the real world. real world experiments show that no such systems will ever develop in this manner.

    these simulations are all flawed in that theyre not even realistic to begin with. theyre designed (which might account for a front loaded system), and input is fed into the system constantly.

    these guys (who discuss the simulation you mentioned) are more adept in the science than i am, so ill link to this thread-
    http://www.arn.org/cgi-bin/ubb.....002382;p=0

  21. 21
    DaveScot says:

    “to the extent which computer models are capable of doing so”

    That extent is essentially zero.

    I beg to differ that the requisite number of generations cannot be repeated in a lab. Chemicals and radiation can and are used in the laboratory to accelerate mutation rate many orders of magnitude above the natural rate. Unnatural selection can be and is used in the laboratory to accelerate the process of natural selection. Countless scientists have been trying for decades with these techniques to get mutation+selection to produce a useful novel cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan. None have succeeded. That’s the bottom line. None have succeeded.

  22. 22
    Tiax says:

    I think you’re underestimating the potential of a detailed computer model. The point of the experiment in question is not to show that the way in which the digital organisms involved proves that real organisms developed in the same way. The interesting point is that an irreducibly complex system was formed via a mutation and selection process. Does this prove beyond doubt that a similar process is responsible for the emergence of irreducible complexity in nature? Certainly not. What it does demonstrate is that the existence of irreducible complexity is not, by itself, a stumbling block for darwinian mechanisms. If it is to be shown that darwinian mechanisms cannot result in the various systems we see in nature, an additional road block would have to be discovered.

    When dealing with the debate of darwinism vs. Intelligent Design, I am not particularly impressed by the fact that irreducible complexity has not been generated in real organisms in the lab via a mutation selection process. I am not aware of an experiment which demonstrates this phenomenon occuring as a result of an intelligent agent either.

  23. 23
    jboze3131 says:

    “The interesting point is that an irreducibly complex system was formed via a mutation and selection process.”

    were talking about an intelligently designed computer program that doesnt even truly represent nature. the organisms are given treats to get to their goal- yet in nature evolution, as its claimed to have occurred, has no goal. and there are no treats. and there is no design beforehand. and the paramaters are totally different. so, because a computer program has done what its been programmed to do- that hardly means that an IC system formed via mutation and selection.

  24. 24
    PaV says:

    Whether one believes in a creator or not, views regarding a supernatural creator have not been developed by defenders of Intelligent Design in a manner that brings the hypothesis within the scope or abilities of good science.

    And this from Darwin himself:

    There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

    THE END

    If anyone wants to know who the Designer is, well, I say we use this quote.

  25. 25
    Tiax says:

    I’m not sure I understand your point here, PaV. Darwin’s statement about ‘the Creator’ falls outside the scope of the theory of evolution. He is presenting his personal beliefs about the question of abiogenesis. On the other hand, ‘the Creator’ or designer, is central to the theory of Intelligent Design, which is the basis for the quoted criticism.

  26. 26
    DaveScot says:

    Computer simulations – let me know when a computer generates a gene using purely random mutations that when spliced into a living organism improves fitness.

    Computer simulations are cool and all but they have to be tested against reality. You can model the atmosphere to predict the weather but unless the model’s predictions match what actually happens in reality you don’t have a working model. I shouldn’t need to explain that to anyone with a triple digit IQ.

  27. 27
    mentok says:

    The main difference between the “digital organisms” and cells are that cells do not have computation skills. Cells cannot compute. They can read information based on molecular bio-chemical reactions and then react to that, but there is no real computation going on. They can’t figure things out and make decisions. The “digital organisms” are computer programs which utilize the computational capacities of the computer to figure things out and make decisions, i.e they have a brain.

    Evolution based on mutation is theorizing that mutations are random and occur by chance. Over time these random blind mutations form complex organs. Organs which have no use and are therefore a detriment until the organs are fully functioning. Organs which are used for specified complex tasks are gradually being built over millions of years by chance mutation upon chance mutation. At no step along the way is their any computation going on. At every step purely random events are taking place. Evolution does not theorize that cells are making decisions to evolve in one way or another because everyone knows cells can’t think.

    So comparing the computational skills of computer programs to evolution is retarded. Clearly many scientists will say any stupid thing to get their names known.

  28. 28
    DaveScot says:

    “Cells cannot compute.”

    Is there some physical law that prevents them from being able to compute or are you making an argument from ignorance?

  29. 29
    mentok says:

    Physical laws have nothing to do with it. Cells do not have the ability to compute like a computer because they do not have the necessary computational technology. It’s a technological limitation. Cells are little machines, they are not computers though. How does a program in a computer work? In simplest terms there is a database, there is a processor which utlizes the database, and there is the code which tells the computer how to use the processor and database. In a cell there is no processor, and there is no computer. There is a database and there is a program. There is no real computational potential like there is in a computer because there is no way for the program to utilize the database for any other purpose beyond simple biochemical reactions for which it is programmed to do. The program cannot scan all of the information in the database and then make analysis and computation because it has no technology to do so. A cell is a machine without the necessary parts which would be needed to make a comparison between how a computer program works and a cell works analogous.

  30. 30
    DaveScot says:

    “Physical laws have nothing to do with it.”

    Yes, it does. The first question to be asked is whether something is physically possible. In the case of cells being able to compute it is physically possible.

    “Cells do not have the ability to compute like a computer because they do not have the necessary computational technology.”

    That is simply wrong. All computer logic elements and memory can be constructed of NAND gates which may physically implimented in many ways including mechanical and chemical. Computers at the nanometer scale, really fast computers, can be constructed entirely of levers and gears. That’s because at the nanometer scale levers can move from one position to another in fempto seconds.

    Ribosomes are processing units, by the way. RNA (which is code transcribed from DNA) is fed through it like a paper tape. The ribosome reads the instructions in classic von Neumann fashion and builds proteins to specification.

  31. 31
  32. 32
    mentok says:

    Dave you miss the point.

    I said

    “Cells do not have the ability to compute like a computer”

    And also

    “cells do not have computation skills. Cells cannot compute. They can read information based on molecular bio-chemical reactions and then react to that, but there is no real computation going on”

    What does the word “compute” mean?

    1. To determine by mathematics, especially by numerical methods.

    2. To determine by the use of a computer.

    Like I wrote, the cell or RNA reads information, also the entire cell works by “reading” information based on biochemical reaction, there is no computing going on, no math, no real computation, no “number crunching”, no calculating, because there is no technology in a cell which can calculate information. Again I use calculate in the mathematical sense in the way that computers work.

    If you want to use the word “compute” in an non precise way, then you can say that there is a type of compuation going on in cells, but since the so called computation is really chemical reactions and not mathematical calculations (where is the calculator in the cell? where is the “brain” or processor?), if you wanted to be precise in your word selection you wouldn’t use the word compute to compare what goes on in a cell and what goes on in a computer. Cell “compuation” and computer computation are totaly different. A computer is in fact computing through mathematical calculation using a database and a processor and a computing language, a cell functions through chemical reaction, not by mathematical calculation because there is no technology in a cell which can perform mathematical calculations. It may appear to be doing things based on numbers, but it’s not, it done through chemical reaction.

  33. 33
    mentok says:

    Here is a good read if you want to understand in detail where I am coming from.

    http://alf.nbi.dk/~emmeche/cePubl/compnolife.html

  34. 34
    DaveScot says:

    “there is no computing going on”

    Yeah, yeah, yeah… and last year genes were in control of everything.

    Spare me the arguments from ignorance. In your previous posts you denied cells had the ability to perform numerical computations. Now that you know better than you’re reduced to pedantic arguments about the meaning of compute.

    Sure mentok, there’s no evidence that cells are competing with us to see who can the prime number with the most digits in it. Other than that they’re already storing code and information, retrieving instructions and data from storage, and processing the coded instructions and data. Given the immense complexity of what they’re already doing if a cell had a need to compute large prime numbers it’s a rather simple job buy comparison.

    By the way, I was designing computer hardware and software for 25 years before I retired so I’m pretty sure I know what computing is and is not and don’t need to be told by neophytes like you.

  35. 35
    mentok says:

    Dave you clearly don’t know what I wrote. Read the link I provided. You can get all mister-know-it-all-everyone-else-is-an-idiot if you like. I don’t care. Good luck with that.

  36. 36
    DaveScot says:

    Mentok, you didn’t write anything sensible. It was just a bunch of blithering based on falsehoods about computers and cellular machinery. Sorry.

  37. 37
    mentok says:

    Yet there is an expert on the topic who agrees with me and you who can’t even comprehend what it is I wrote, funny how that is. Maybe you should spend less time thinking you know something and more time trying to learn things you don’t.

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