Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

ASA’s Executive Director to Visit Baylor September 9th

arroba Email

Randy Isaac, the executive director of the ASA (i.e., the American Scientific Affiliation — an organization of evangelical Christians largely committed to theistic evolution) will give a talk titled “Science: A Misused Weapon in a Religious War” at Baylor on September 9th. I’m fifteen minutes from the school, so I’ll probably be there. For details, see below.

From his talk description, Isaac seems to have things exactly backwards. For Isaac the science-faith problem is a clash of competing religious perspectives. In fact, the problem is a clash of two competing scientific conceptions of biological and cosmological origins, one that incorporates real teleology, the other that eschews it. These two scientific conceptions have radically different implications metaphysically. Hence the enormous stakes in this debate.

If Isaac and the ASA seriously want to turn back the conflict over ID in that organization and in the wider culture, they need to start by admitting that ID begins as a scientific alternative to materialistic approaches to biological and cosmological origins and stop psychoanalyzing ID and its proponents.

Dr. Randy Isaac
ASA Executive Director
Science: A Misused Weapon in a Religious War

Tuesday, September 9th, 5:30 PM
Roger Engineering Rm. 109
Baylor University, Waco, Texas


If science and Christian faith are in ultimate harmony, why is there so much conflict today in our school boards, churches, classrooms, and courtrooms? The metaphor of war has been used since the late 19th century to describe the severity of the conflict. The real war is not between science and Christianity but between different religious perspectives, with science misused as the weapon of choice. Evolutionism, creationism, and the Intelligent Design movement are some of the combatants in this religious war between metaphysical naturalism and theism. By examining the motivation behind these movements, we can derive a better understanding of the relationship between science and our Christian faith. Science and religion must be presented in the proper perspective in our educational system.

The best place to park is in the parking garage at the corner of University Parks and Dutton. This is a map from the Baylor website. The parking garage is bldg 69 and the Engineering bldg is 70. http://www.baylor.edu/map/index.php?id=10789

You will let us know how it went won't you Dr Dembski? reluctantfundie
"And why so angry?" I think I was a bit scathing in my earlier responses, sorry. GCUGreyArea
Jack Krebs: Thanks, exactly right, hence my reference to radiation and toxic chemicals earlier. Borne: I'm not defending Darwinism at all costs, I was just pointing out that you had the whole mutation selection thing the wrong way round. You are right in that environment is supposed (according to EvoBio) to affect evolution, but selection - the variance in probability of an organism reproducing - does not generate mutations, it just exploits them. GCUGreyArea
Mutations are a result of the immediate environment (radiation, chemicals, etc.) Mutations are not a result of the environment in the sense that they are not caused by selection pressure on the survival/reproductive success of the organism. This is the distinction GCU is making. And why so angry? Jack Krebs
GCUGreyArea: You're one of those guys who just has to get in the last word huh? You just have to be right or die huh? And defend Darwinism at all costs to reason. No matter the patently absurd constructs of it's claims. As for env and mutations; temperature, ultra-violet light, diet and a lot of other things besides nuclear radiation and toxic chemicals influence mutations. Sounds like env. to me. And I've heard lots of Darwinist, wannabe evo biologists, say or imply that env. does affect the genome's evolution. Now if you want to discuss the difference between mutation and modification that's another story. Your angst bugs me so debate yourself. Borne
Borne @ 11 “So if the env has zero effect on whether mutations occur, the famous ’selection pressures’ Dawinist so often refer to are non-existant?” Mutations don’t occur in response to changes in the environment, your idea that selection pressures would suddenly ‘cause mutations’ is daft. Mutations are a fact of biological reproduction, they happen regardless of selection pressures. Selection acts on mutation, mutation doesn’t happen because of selection. Whether or not the article is any good is certainly up for question but as you said “this Darwinist junk?” I assumed you were referring to the science and not its media portrayal. As for whether the research is of any value, well if they presented their findings as evidence for design I’m sure you would think it of great value. GCUGreyArea
Yes, Stephen, and then they exploit the First Amendment of the United States which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." The original intent---as it was in my youth---was that there would be no state sponsored church at the federal level. Now it means that there is one state sponsored church at all levels---that of Secular Humanism. Rude
Nope - didn't get the tongue in cheek. Now I understand what you actually mean. Jack Krebs
-----Rude: "Yes, there’s plenty of passion in the materialist camp—but of course there’s no ulterior motive as in the ID camp." Not only is the passion there, the religion is there as well. The religion of Secular Humanism, as expressed in the Humanist Manifesto, promotes the passion of evolutionary materialism and the worship of chance under the guise of disinterested science. Meanwhile, its churchgoers renounce all religions except their own and carry on as if they had no dog in the fight. StephenB
You didn't get my tongue in cheek? Oh, OK, you did. Yes, there's plenty of passion in the materialist camp---but of course there's no ulterior motive as in the ID camp. Rude
self-proclaimed passionless materialist
??? Why would you think that materialists aren't passionate, much less that they proclaim themselves as such? Jack Krebs
Science as a weapon in the culture war? Duh! Wasn’t that Darwin from day one? Even Einstein—whether or not Einstein was correct or whether he ever intended his theory to be so used—so used his theory was according to Paul Johnson in Modern Times. And why shouldn’t it be? Don’t we want to ground our ideologies in reality? The problem is the difficulty of getting the ruling elites to concede that their materialism is anything but “science”. Rude
Two things: We all want good science, do we not? And there really is a culture war, is there not? So let’s keep science honest—no little task, especially in this postmodern “how does that make you feel” age. All inspired scientists are driven by passion, a passion to know, which was a passion to know God in many if not most of science’s founders. Let’s not kill the passion! But we have to be honest. We have to really want to know—not just deceive ourselves. And shouldn’t trust but verify be as important for the self-proclaimed passionless materialist as for the one whose passion is purpose? And then there are the life and death issues that churn in the culture war. And here some facts and some scientific theories loom larger than others. The theory of relativity, say, may not be as important to the question of morality as the origin of life and the origin of species—should we ignore this? Why should this be so difficult? Are scientists passionless people in pursuit of fact and theory which has no relation whatsoever to the larger issues of life, culture, war and peace? And is it that those who wonder about Purpose must be motivated by unreason and thus incapable of serious science? Could it be that the modernist and postmodernist enterprise—which denied the soul and turned us into nothing but mechanism—is incapable of seeing the importance of passion and honesty and of discerning the difference between the two? Rude
GCUGreyArea: "semantics aside did you understand the point behind the research" Of course not. I'm an "IDiot". We "don't understand science". Sheesh... can you get any more condescending? yep; "you do understand the difference don’t you" Duh! "Not if you are an evolutionary biologist" Well there's the whole problem. EB's believe sludge ("called soup to make it more palatable") turned into 13 something million different, highly complex, unique life forms so anything goes. "The only environment likely to ‘trigger mutations’ is one with lots of nuclear radiation or toxic chemicals." So if the env has zero effect on whether mutations occur, the famous 'selection pressures' Dawinist so often refer to are non-existant? Whatever, the article is poor and whether or not the research is of any significant value is debatable. Borne
Correction: Hollinger teaches American history at Berkeley, not Stanford. Ted Davis
A lot of historians, including this one, would say that science has been -- and is being -- used as a weapon in culture wars. For example, David Hollinger (Stanford) wrote an essay with pretty much that very title in the journal "Isis" in 1995. Dawkins would be a prime example of this very point, and the late Henry Morris another (except that a lot of the "science" Morris employed wasn't accepted by mainstream scientists). I submit that this is what Randy Isaac is getting at. That each of the perspectives he mentions (evolutionism, creationism, and the ID movement) has a strong religious component seems undeniable to me, and to many others. Ted Davis
On the subject of the OP, "Evolutionism, creationism, and the Intelligent Design movement are some of the combatants in this religious war between metaphysical naturalism and theism." Perhaps it's just me, but this strikes me as a bit wrongheaded. 1) I don't think most of the people on the side against theism are strict metaphysical naturalists, or even materialists. They simply don't like religion, for a variety of reasons - usually political, or social. The recent rant by Cortunix illustrates this beautifully - for him, science is a distant second concern when it comes to evolution or Intelligent Design. It comes down to politics, again and again. 2) Again, what 'war' between metaphysical naturalism and theism? Yes, the two worldviews are absolutely conflicting. But that fundamental disagreement isn't what's driving any conflict. The war is about what kind of perspectives are considered either scientific or an abuse of science, and what the scope of 'science' should be considered to be - and THAT war is, again, heavily driven by other issues. I don't think a single IDer or even TE cares that there are atheists who see darwinism as confirming their beliefs. The concern is how science is presented at large and to captive audiences, how philosophy and metaphysics tends to be snuck in (Again, see Cortunix's rant), and that after long last, other perspectives are being offered - to the chagrin of those used to having an uncontested soap box. 3) I really hope Randy Isaac addresses the abuse of science by the likes of Victor Stenger, Dawkins, and others. If Michael Behe is somehow harming science simply by publishing a book - where his writings aren't just considered controversial, or even wrong, but downright nefarious because he's suggesting that design is detectable in nature - how come Stenger and others aren't considered engaging in the same abuse when they insist that science shows God does not exist? Better yet, why does it seem - I could be wrong, but it seems - that groups like the ASA, certainly the AAAS, handle these cases in an utterly mismatched manner? nullasalus
Borne: "Well no, you don’t see through the pen at all. " Ok, so you see past it, semantics aside did you understand the point behind the research? "there is almost nothing defining when clutter becomes non-cluttered or vv" What you were reading was not a piece of research, it was a news story reporting on a piece of research - you do understand the difference don't you? Try reading the actual research and you will probably find that they define their terms in detail - if they don't then they are doing bad science. "It is gratuitous to claim that a cluttered environment, somehow triggered mutations" Not if you are an evolutionary biologist ;) But then that's not what they are claiming. The only environment likely to 'trigger mutations' is one with lots of nuclear radiation or toxic chemicals. GCUGreyArea
Dr . Dembski, I believe the whole of methodological naturalism is now shifted into the Theistic camp: Quantum Teleportation - With God All Things Are Possible http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=8ba4033f5f97a10486ef Move over Energy and Matter, There is a new sheriff in town; Information is its own physical entity with dominion over matter/energy. Matthew 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." The Quantum Teleportation experiment is truly a wondrous experiment. The experiment goes to the very foundation of what is currently known, scientifically, about reality and dramatically restructures our understanding. In the experiment, through some very clever manipulation, scientists have the entire information content (properties) of one photon of energy being teleported, instantaneously, onto another photon of energy. The second photon of energy assumes the complete identity of the first photon, while the first photon loses its complete identity. Yet, the shocking thing is, scientifically, energy is currently understood to be the ultimate foundation of all matter in this universe. From Einstein's equation of E=mc^2, we know that all matter was ultimately created out of energy, and is theoretically reducible to energy. From Einstein's equation we can also gather that time, as we understand it, comes to complete stop at the speed of light (Light is understood to be eternal). And From James Joule, the author of the First Law Of thermodynamics, "Conservation of energy", we understand that energy can not be created nor destroyed by any known material means. These facts give some impressive weight to energy as the ultimate and irreducible basis of reality, yet here we have information, which is completely transcendent of any energy/material basis, telling energy exactly what to be/do in these teleportation experiments. Anton Zeilinger, a top notch scientist in quantum research, went so far as to, very unscientifically, quote Bible scripture in trying to get a handle on this revelation from quantum teleportation. Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe? By A. Zeilinger, Paul Davies http://www.metanexus.net/magazine/ArticleDetail/tabid/68/id/5896/Default.aspx excerpt from article: "In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: "In the beginning was the Word (Logos)." Needless to say, when I read Dr. Anton Zeilinger quote John 1:1 from the Bible, my ears perked up immediately. And as I have mulled this experiment over during the past few months, I've realized that there is a overwhelming line of logic that solidifies this inference of Dr. Zeilinger's to the Word (Logos) of John 1:1-3. It may be stated that since energy cannot be created or destroyed, anything displaying control over energy cannot be created of destroyed also. (this experiment is actually the establishment of the law of Conservation of Information in science since the information is shown, unlike simple quantum entanglement experiments, to be completely independent of any possible energy basis) That is to say; All logically true information that can possibly exist, which would most likely be infinite information, can and does exist completely free of any known energy/material basis and as far as the energy/material of this universe in concerned can be said to precede it. Or to put it in more concrete terms we may more readily understand: All things that can possibly be known are already known by the Infinite mind of God. It may also be stated; since information is enforcing this "teleported" control completely free of any known energy/material basis, that information must of necessity be foundational, in some major and significant way, to energy/matter just as energy itself is found to be foundational to matter and to exert control of matter in a major and significant way (producing work and force in matter). Indeed the Genesis account of creation; And God said, Let there be light: and there was light, just gained a tremendous amount of credence as far as the methodological naturalism of hard science is concerned. This revelation also dramatically changes the whole fight between atheistic evolutionists and Theistic creationists. Atheistic evolutionists have always chided Theistic creationists for being out of the scientific scope of the methodological naturalism of science, yet here we have transcendent information being brought into the very foundation of reality and science and into the center of the scope of methodological naturalism. Indeed, now atheistic evolutionists have had their feet taken completely out from under them, scientifically speaking, and now they must defend why should science (as practiced in methodological naturalism) presuppose that information can arise by totally energy/material means in an organism's genome when information is now known to be foundation to energy/matter in the first place. Indeed since the fossil record shows a sudden appearance of fossils with much required rich information content, especially in the Cambrian explosion, and the DNA molecule is now also known to be the "richest information storage device" known to man (far surpassing mans ability to do as such in computers), as well as the universe is now known to have suddenly appeared with "preset information" parameters (fine-tuned transcendent constants) that defy definition to any energy/material basis, Why should science be forced to presuppose that energy/material is generating this hyper-rich information content in any of the parent species genomes of living organisms (especially since all concise mutational studies to genomes are known to be overwhelmingly negative). No Indeed, since information is now shown to be foundational to energy/matter the burden of proof is now shifted to Atheistic Evolutionists and they now must defend why they are out of the scope of methodological naturalism and why are they being "unscientific" as far as requiring information to be generated by something information is shown to be foundational to. Indeed if it can be clarified that "information" is actually producing "real force" upon the photons in these teleportation experiments then materialism will have lost its last remnant of credibility in methodological naturalism. I would like to point out that gravity has failed to be defined to any known energy/material basis: The abstract of the September 1006 Report of the Dark Energy Task Force (which, was established by the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee [AAAC] and the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel [HEPAP] as a joint sub-committee to advise the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation on future dark energy research) says: 'Dark energy appears to be the dominant component of the physical Universe, yet there is no persuasive theoretical explanation for its existence or magnitude. The acceleration of the Universe is, along with dark matter, the observed phenomenon that most directly demonstrates that our (materialistic) theories of fundamental particles and gravity are either incorrect or incomplete. Most experts believe that nothing short of a revolution in our understanding of fundamental physics will be required to achieve a full understanding of the cosmic acceleration. For these reasons, the nature of dark energy ranks among the very most compelling of all outstanding problems in physical science. These circumstances demand an ambitious observational program to determine the dark energy properties as well as possible. Thus since information is now shown to be "foundational" to energy/matter, it seems the correct answer will be in correctly discerning gravity to a "information" basis instead of a material basis. bornagain77
Right, the main problem is the use of 'X-ray' which simply doesn't apply.
If you open both eyes, however, you can see through the pen to the world behind it.
Well no, you don't see through the pen at all. Of course, another problem in the article is with the 'fitness' assumptions. It is gratuitous to claim that a cluttered environement, somehow triggered mutations that caused eyes to shift from the side to the front - never mind the assumption that eyes ever shifted in the first place! The observations made in the article as to clutter/body size are just a few generalalizations and there is almost nothing defining when clutter becomes non-cluttered or vv, - how much clutter makes a cluttered env etc.. Also the article does nothing to explain how insect vision fits in this 'clutter' scheme. Very low quality as a sci article imo, Darwinist or not. Borne
"This has nothing to do with X-rays. It’s hard for me to understand how anyone let his article get published." Their use of the term X-Ray vision is unfortunate in hindsight but it should be obvious to anyone with a degree of intelligence that they are not claiming that animals actually use X-Rays to see. In this context it is just a colloquial term used to convey the idea of being able to see past objects in your way. GCUGreyArea
Borne Well its a study of animals and their environments that indicates that binocular vision may be more beneficial in cluttered environments because using both eyes at once makes it easier to see past near field objects. The author assumes that evolution rather than intelligence is the designer but the fact is they were studying real animals and not speculating about evolutionary past history. Their observations seem perfectly reasonable to me but the use of the term 'X-Ray Vision' is just a hook to get attention for their research. I'm sure it they re-wrote it to argue that eye placement was intelligently designed to produce this same apparent advantage then you wouldn't have a problem with the research. GCUGreyArea
Whoever wrote that article didn't know what they were talking about, as everybody in the comments realized. The correct term is stereoscopic vision in which two images, slightly offset, produce a single image with a better sense of depth than image can produce. This has nothing to do with X-rays. It's hard for me to understand how anyone let his article get published. Jack Krebs
OFF topic: Anyone interested in writing on this Darwinist junk? X-ray vision indeed! Borne

Leave a Reply