Intelligent Design

Templeton Request for “ID” Research Proposals

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In commentary under the article about predictability of evolution there was some discussion of the Templeton “ID” RFP (request for proposals). I found the whole thing has a dedicated webpage here.

Grants made under the program are listed here.

In short the RFP was on the table from May 2005 to May 2006 and all the grant money was awarded. Since this was a call for both pro and con ID research the actual grants should be examined. In that light I’d like commentary generally restricted to discussion of the awarded grants and whether or not any of them can be fairly characterized as ID research. As you can see here I’m not afraid of exposing the truth. I only insist that it is indeed the verifiable truth.

25 Replies to “Templeton Request for “ID” Research Proposals

  1. 1
    DaveScot says:

    There were 18 grants made covering $3M total funding. That’s an average of $166K per grant. A question this raises is what productive lines of research into ID can be conducted for such a small sum? In my decades of experience working in commercial R&D in the computer field $166K barely covers the salary of one top notch researcher for a year to say nothing of lab overhead. This sum for serious fundamental research in my field would be a joke. But since I have no experience in academic research I’ll leave it to someone else to explain how this sum could finance getting results in serious fundamental research.

  2. 2
    DaveScot says:

    For instance when Dell introduced the first-ever notebook powered by a lithium-ion battery in the mid-1990’s the internal funding at Dell was many millions of dollars. A whole team of engineers worked on it for a year with extensive lab space and equipment dedicated to the project. I can’t even begin to count the millions spent by the manufacturers of the batteries. And that’s just a stupid battery not research into the possible intelligent origins of life.

    It is for that reason that I think Harvard’s OOL project requires funding in the billions to have a reasonable chance at producing results that definitively refute the Biological ID hypothesis.

  3. 3
    Chris Hyland says:

    In the UK I guess that would be one post-doc for a couple of years if it was an experimental project or more if it was a computational project. I dont know about the philosophical research but i suspect it would fund more people due to the lack of funds needed for equipment.

    Here’s an advert for one of the positions: http://www.philosophy.leeds.ac.....ociate.htm.

  4. 4
    mjb2001 says:

    That isn’t all that small (it isn’t great but it isn’t small). Most laboratories are already funded and a project like this would undoubtedly be part of the research protocol. No lab head would pay his own salary off of something like this. You could easily get a couple of years funded in a computational lab with a couple of hundred thousand dollars. You’re not going to be able to by a confocal microscope but I doubt your ID research would necessarily need large pieces of equipment.

  5. 5
    pegase says:

    Have you ask JTF people about ID ?
    They seem to be rather allergic to it. You may call theit research program pro-ID, but that’s just another mistake 🙂

  6. 6
    Jehu says:

    This sounds like a teleological or fine tuning type argument:

    Dr Matthew Carrigan, Prof Steven Benner
    Purpose in the Cosmos as Indicated by Life’s Origins
    Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution (FfAME), Gainesville, Florida, USA

    But it could easily be against teleology or fine tuning depending on the intentions of the researcher.

  7. 7
    rb says:

    Other than Schaefer, I don’t see any ID big names. I would be curious to know if Behe, Minnich, Dembski, Nelson, Myer etc. submitted proposals.

  8. 8
    jpark320 says:

    From just the list of questions it sounds very very anti – ID. Those are the types of questions Darwinist throw out there as bait and than “crush.”

  9. 9
    Charlie says:

    Dr. Dembski blogged on this at ID the Future and at UD last April
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....rchives/19
    The date of his entry is April 22/05 and the cut-off date for proposals is May 9/05.

    The NY Times article saying no proposals came in was December 2005.
    Witt blogged on the NY Times piece here

  10. 10
    rb says:

    so besides schaefer, any ID folks submit a proposal? I didn’t see an answer to that question in the blogs listed by Charlie

  11. 11
    Jehu says:

    rb,

    Here is what one of the blogs said

    Design theorists have not only submitted research proposals to Templeton-funded research initiatives, Templeton has funded some of those proposals.

    • Templeton funded a proposal by astrobiologist Guillermo Gonzalez to research the hypothesis that discoverability correlates with measurability (Go here for further description). The research led to The Privileged Planet, a book endorsed by Cambridge’s Simon Conway Morris and frequent Templeton speaker Owen Gingerich of Harvard.

    • William Dembski submitted a research proposal that led to No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot be Purchased without Intelligence, a book endorsed by Frank J. Tipler, a leading cosmologist and co-author of The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.

    • Templeton funded a proposal by Discovery Institute fellow Robin Collins to research fine tuning. Some of Collins’ work will appear in an upcoming issue of Philosophia Christi.

    Does that help?

  12. 12
    late_model says:

    It appears plenty of research from people already looking to refute ID are being funded by Templeton. In searching for who received grants under the Biochemistry and Fine Tuning category it is interesting to see who received funding for the question of “Becoming Fully Human: Social Complexity and Human Engagement with the Natural and Supernatural World”.
    Robert Pennock
    Richard Lenskie
    Alex Rosenberg
    Christoph Adami
    Here’s the link
    http://www.cambridge-templeton.....s_made.php

  13. 13
    late_model says:

    Correction – The category was “Evolutionary History and Contemporary Life: Evolution, Ecology, Ethology” not “Becoming Fully Human”.

  14. 14
    rb says:

    NO! I meant a RESEARCH proposal to the cambridge templeton group to actually INVESTIGATE and TEST testable hypotheses related to some sort of ID theory. Not book deals and other philosophical meanderings.

  15. 15
    Jehu says:

    rb,

    I see, you claimed you couldn’t find any evidence of research proposals that were submitted from big names in ID. After the names were shown to you, you add the requirement of a proposal testing a hypothesis. This is called moving the goal posts. Research into things like fine tuningy of the universe or the mathmatical probabilities of information or functional proteins forming by chance is valuable scientific research and it does relate to ID.

  16. 16
    Art2 says:

    A couple of comments.

    1. 18 grants out of more than 150 proposals! That’s a pretty competitive program – on a par with NIH, NSF, etc.

    2. If indirect costs are not taken out of the sum, then $166K would be enough to fund work not unlike what Douglas Axe does, for a couple of years. This assumes that the PI’s own salary is not coming out of this, and that (s)he will be paying a postdoc a reasonable (if not competitive) salary.

    That’s the view from an academic’s chair.

  17. 17
    shaner74 says:

    I’m just and ex-software developer turned remodeler so take this with a grain of salt, but wouldn’t it be possible to predict and test for genetic mutation on an ID basis? That is, mutation considered to be not random, but rather built-in adaptability of the organism? I remember reading something on here a while back, of an experiment done on bacteria in which the same “mutation” (solution) happened twice – “evolution” was repeated. Couldn’t many more experiments like this be done, but with ID in mind? If confirmed, wouldn’t this lead to an understanding of the relation between environmental factors and biology that far surpasses what we know now? Just a thought.

  18. 18
    bj says:

    shaner74,

    “I’m just and ex-software developer turned remodeler so take this with a grain of salt, but wouldn’t it be possible to predict and test for genetic mutation on an ID basis? That is, mutation considered to be not random, but rather built-in adaptability of the organism?”

    I don’t know how such an experiment would be done, but I think your suggestion is on the right track. Experiments which test inherent ability vs randomness. That is the essential matter-proving that this process is not random. I think it probable that organisms have limited but real ability to “create” their own variations in an attempt to respond to the environment. Isn’t that what we do each day? We just have higher abilities.

  19. 19
    rb says:

    jehu, no it was called clarification. I thought I had asked (sorry to confuse you) if Behe, Demski et al had submitted research proposals to that particular program highlighted by davescott in the OP, which was a request for research proposals. I wasn’t loooking for a listing of previous old fundings that templeton gave folks.

  20. 20
    pegase says:

    Why not just read what JTF has to say about supporting ID?
    Simple enough, isn’t it?

    http://www.templeton.org/about_us/about_us_faq/#07
    http://www.templeton.org/newsr.....nt_Design/

    Their position is quite clear.

    Assuming that the DI could have some research projects, it seems it isn’t willing to share them with others. Read Chapman’s opinion on that:
    “I keep getting asked about the scientific research projects underway that relate to Darwinism and intelligent design. So why aren’t we talking more about them publicly? For several good reasons:

    The most important is that the Darwinist establishment would like nothing better than to “out” research programs before they are finished. The idea is to shut down damaging evidence as early as possible. Strangle the infant in the crib. Demand answers now to questions still being explored.
    Paranoia? Hardly. There are too many examples of ID scientists and other scholars who have been hassled and harassed by the Darwinist Inquisition” (via http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....esear.html).

    So, one have as much evidence about ID related scientific research going on, as of the existence of the Intelligent Designer and his nature: none.

  21. 21
    Joseph says:

    pegase:
    as of the existence of the Intelligent Designer and his nature

    The existence of the designer and his nature are irrelevant to ID. And reality demonstrates that the ONLY way to make ANY determination about the designer, in the absence of direct observation or designer input, is by studying the design in question. Stonehenge is a perfect example of this.

    And again I say that people are missing the point- which is scientists should be able to conduct scientific research and come tro a design inference if that is what the data affords.

    As a contrast what sheer-dumb-luck experiments are being conducted? IOW what experiments are being conducted tyhat would demonstrate we aren’t here via design nor Creation, but rather via sheer-dumb-luck, ie the materialistic alternative to ID?

  22. 22
    Joseph says:

    I wonder if they granted anyone any money to try to determine if the transformations required by evolutionism are even possible via any mutation/ selection process.

  23. 23
    Chris Hyland says:

    “This sounds like a teleological or fine tuning type argument:

    Dr Matthew Carrigan, Prof Steven Benner
    Purpose in the Cosmos as Indicated by Life’s Origins
    Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution (FfAME), Gainesville, Florida, USA

    But it could easily be against teleology or fine tuning depending on the intentions of the researcher.”

    Alternatively they could have put the phrase “purpose in the cosmos” in there to get the grant and the work has nothing to do with fine tuning.

  24. 24
    DaveScot says:

    Most laboratories are already funded and a project like this would undoubtedly be part of the research protocol. No lab head would pay his own salary off of something like this.

    Then that’s the difference between a business and a university. When a research proposal is made at a business all overheads must be included including the full cost of employee time. Just because staff are already employed doing other things doesn’t mean they’re free. If their time is taken up on a new project some other project is left wanting. Often when staff time devoted to any one project is not full time then they record billable hours (like an attorney) they’ve put into various projects. And just because a lab with all the equipment already exists, someone still has to pay for it. A million dollars worth of equipment is a million dollars in capital that could be sitting in the money market earning prime rate if it isn’t tied up as depreciating lab equipment. The lab itself is real estate that has a cost associated with it. If it isn’t tied up for one project another project could be utilizing it. In order to know what something is going to cost the company so it can be prioritized and budgeted for all these things must be taken into account.

    In order to make sense of all this a lot of businesses lease equipment and facilities which makes it easy to do the cost accounting. Dell leases virtually everything from buildings to lab equipment to office furniture. That practice really pretties up the financial statements as it makes for a very high return on invested capital (ROIC). The downside is it lowers the book value (the amount of money an investor would get back if the company liquidated all assets and distributed the proceeds amongst the shareholders). Many investors won’t touch a stock if the book value is considerably less than current market price. On the other hand a company that has an awful lot of fixed assets is hard pressed to show that their ROIC is beating safer ways of investing the money by a large enough margin to justify the risk. But I digress…

  25. 25
    devilsadvocate says:

    I would like to see some research done on the great lakes. Many invasive species of both plants and animals have produced no end of problems for great lakes states. Genomes of the transplanted species could be compared with that of the species in their original habitat over time. Founder events such as these should result in a more rapid differentiation in the transplants than experienced by the original population. This should shed some light on the ability of founder events and punctuated equilibrium to actually produce speciation. At the same time maybe some insight could be gained in how to manage or eradicate these invasive species. More bang for the buck. A little practical application never hurt anyone.

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