Left: 2006 World Series Of Poker main event table. Right: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Images courtesy of http://www.lasvegasvegas.com, The United States Congress and Wikipedia.
(Part one of a series of posts in response to Zack Kopplin.)
Hi, Zack. I’ve been following your very well-organized campaign to repeal the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). In 2011, at the age of 17, you managed to persuade no less than 43 Nobel Laureate scientists to sign a petition urging that the act be repealed, and your most recent list now has 74 signatures from Nobel Laureate scientists, plus one endorsement by Dr. John Sulston (2002 Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine), making an impressive total of 75 Nobel Laureates who have endorsed the repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act. In the spirit of true sportsmanship, I’d like to congratulate you on a sterling effort, Zack, even though I happen to be a strong supporter of the LSEA.
I guess I’d better introduce myself. My name’s Vincent Torley, I have a Ph.D. in philosophy, and I’m an Australian residing in Japan. I’m also an Intelligent Design proponent. I believe the wording of the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act is fair and reasonable, as it expressly forbids the promotion of any religious doctrine in the classroom, and allows teachers to encourage the open and objective discussion of scientific theories, including evolution and origin-of-life theories. I am also highly skeptical of your alarmist claims that the Act will hurt science education in Louisiana and take jobs away from the state, and in a future post, I shall produce statistics that contradict these claims.
Finally, I would like to comment on the assertion made by the 75 Nobel scientists who endorsed your petition, that “the scope of scientific inquiry is consciously limited to the search for naturalistic principles,” since supernatural design is “an explanatory principle that by its nature cannot be tested” and hence “outside the realm of science.” Intelligent Design proponents do not claim to be able to identify any empirical signs showing that an object is the product of supernatural design. Rather, what they claim is that there are tell-tale signs indicating that an object is the product of intelligent design. The monolith from Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey is an obvious example of such an object: even without any knowledge of the identity, purpose or modus operandi of its maker, someone who saw it could still justifiably infer that it was intelligently designed. I see no reason in principle why scientists cannot investigate the question of whether life – or the cosmos, for that matter – had an intelligent designer, whoever he, she or it may be. That’s why I think that the issue of Intelligent Design should be investigated and discussed by scientists in an open forum.
Your poker challenge to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
A game of Texas Hold’em in progress. “Hold ’em” is the most popular form of poker. Photo courtesy of Tom Klassy and Wikipedia.
On your Web site, Zack, you took Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to task for asserting (see here for a video recording) that “there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact … hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design,” and you issued a poker challenge to her, in a post dated May 24, 2011, entitled, 17 Year Old to Michele Bachmann: Show Me Your Nobel Laureate Scientists:
For the next hand, I raise you 43 Nobel Laureate scientists. That’s right: 43 Nobel Laureate scientists have endorsed our effort to repeal Louisiana’s creationism law. … Congresswoman Bachmann, you claim that Nobel Laureates support creationism. Show me your hand. If you want to be taken seriously by voters while you run for President, back up your claims with facts. Can you match 43 Nobel Laureates, or do you fold?
As no champion has come forward to defend Congresswoman Bachmann, I would like to do so. I should state at the outset that I have never met Congresswoman Bachmann; nevertheless, I wish her well from afar. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Michele Bachmann has not only served in the United States Congress since 2007 and previously in the Minnesota State Senate, but she has also raised five children of her own and provided foster care for 23 other children. Anyone who has done all that commands my respect.
Why I’m taking 16 of your cards away from you, Zack
The Cardsharps by Caravaggio, c. 1594. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX. Photo courtesy of Hugh Manatee and Wikipedia. Public domain.
Zack, I see that your poker hand has improved from 43 cards to 75 during the time since you issued your challenge to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in May 2011. Bravo. Now for some bad news. I’m going to take 16 of your 75 cards away from you, leaving you with just 59 cards. On September 9, 2005, 38 Nobel Laureates (most of them scientists) sent an anti-religious petition to the Kansas Board of Education, which urged the Board to vote against the inclusion of intelligent design in the academic curriculum, but which also contained a controversial metaphysical statement that denied the very possibility of a religious understanding of evolution. Sixteen of the Nobel Laureates who signed the anti-religious petition of 2005 also signed your petition of 2011-2012, Zack. They were:
Sir Harold Kroto, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1996) (whose name appears at the top of your petition, Zack)
Alexei A. Abrikosov, Nobel Prize, Physics (2003)
Aaron Ciechanover, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (2004)
Robert F. Curl, Jr., Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1996)
David J. Gross, Nobel Prize, Physics (2004)
Dudley R. Herschbach, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1986)
Avram Hershko, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (2004)
Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1981)
H. Robert Horvitz, Nobel Prize, Medicine (2002)
Wolfgang Ketterle, Nobel Prize, Physics (2001)
Anthony J. Leggett, Nobel Prize, Physics (2003)
Erwin Neher, Nobel Prize, Physiology or Medicine (1991)
Stanley Prusiner, Nobel Prize, Physiology or Medicine (1997)
Horst L. Stormer, Nobel Prize, Physics (1998)
Gerardus ‘t Hooft, Nobel Prize, Physics (1999)
Frank Wilczek, Nobel Prize, Physics (2004)
The 2005 petition contained the following statement:
Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.
Whether you agree with it or not, Zack, the statement that evolution is the result of an unguided, unplanned process is not a scientific statement but a metaphysical one. To say that evolution is unguided is to say that no-one is guiding it, which means that God isn’t guiding it, either. That’s not a scientific assertion, Zack, and it has no place in a science classroom.
What I find especially odd is that the 74 Nobel Laureates who signed your petition approvingly cited a 1987 amicus brief in the Edwards vs. Aguillard U.S. Supreme Court case, which originated in Louisiana after the passage of a 1981 creationist law. The brief included the following statement:
Science is not equipped to evaluate supernatural explanations for our observations; without passing judgment on the truth or falsity of supernatural explanations, science leaves their consideration to the domain of religious faith.
There you have it, Zack. According to the 1987 amicus brief, science cannot tell us whether evolution is guided by God, as many religious people claim, or whether it is an entirely unguided process. The assertion that evolution is guided by God is a supernatural explanation of evolution, but science (according to the signatories of the brief) deals only with natural phenomena; hence it is in no position to affirm or deny the claim. So I find it very puzzling that sixteen of the Nobel Laureates who signed your petition, Zack, also signed an earlier petition in 2005 which upheld an anti-religious view of science: that if we know a process is completely natural, we can rule out Divine guidance. That’s a viewpoint which does not belong in the science classrooms of Louisiana or any other state in the U.S.A., so I’m going to cross the sixteen scientists who endorsed it off your list, Zack. Consistency compels me to do so.
I’d also like to point out that the term “guidance” is very different from “miraculous intervention.” For example, Kenneth Miller, who is a Professor of biology at Brown University, and who is also an outspoken opponent of Intelligent Design, proposed a way in which God could guide the process of evolution without the need for any miracles, in his best-selling book, Finding Darwin’s God (Harper Collins: New York, paperback, 2000):
“To pick just one example, the indeterminate nature of quantum events would allow a clever and subtle God to influence events in ways that are profound, but scientifically undetectable to us. (2000, p. 241)
You tell me, Zack: is Professor Kenneth Miller a bona fide proponent of Darwinian evolution? According to your petition, he is; but according to the 2005 petition that was sent to the Kansas Board of Education, he’s not. Which petition is right?
Contrary to Professor Miller, Intelligent design advocates maintain that a combination of two features – a high degree of specificity coupled with an astronomically low probability of originating as a result of “blind” processes – allows us to legitimately infer that a pattern observed in Nature is indeed the work of an intelligent agent. I’ll explain this more fully in a subsequent post.
That leaves you with 59 cards, Zack. But I have one more big surprise for you. It’s a bombshell. At least one and probably two of the 74 Nobel Laureate scientists who signed your petition don’t believe in Darwinian evolution. You scoff, Zack? Don’t believe me? Read on!
Two of the Nobel scientists who signed Zack’s petition don’t believe in Darwinian evolution!
The British Naturalists Charles Darwin (left) and Alfred Russel Wallace (right) held diametrically opposed views on the origin of the human mind. Two of the Nobel scientists who signed Zack Kopplin’s petition appear to hold views on the human mind which are closer to Wallace’s than to Darwin’s. Images courtesy of Wikipedia. (Public domain.)
Zack, I’m sure you’re familiar with the statement by the renowned evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) that “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.” It’s actually the title of an essay he wrote, which was published in The American Biology Teacher, 1973, volume 35, pages 125-129. What the statement means, in a nutshell, is that evolution is to biology what atomic theory is to chemistry: it’s a theory which accounts for all of the facts in its domain. So if you’re a genuine believer in Neo-Darwinian evolution, you have to believe that it is an all-encompassing theory of living things, which can explain all of their characteristics, and not just most of them. Thus if Darwin’s theory of evolution is true, it has to apply to people too, and it has to be able to explain human consciousness and the human capacity for choice. If it can’t do that, then it’s wrong.
In my third post, which will be entitled, “Why you can’t be a Darwinist and a ‘human exceptionalist'”, I’m going to look at what Charles Darwin wrote about the evolution of the human mind. Here’s a brief summary of what I found:
(a) For Darwin, a good scientific explanation was one that appealed to physical laws which operate in a fixed, deterministic fashion;
(b) Darwin insisted that our thoughts could be explained in terms of law-governed physical processes;
(c) Darwin explicitly rejected the view that there was anything special about human intellectual capacities;
(d) Darwin viewed the difference between humans and other animals as being one of degree rather than kind;
(e) Darwin held that natural selection was fully capable of explaining the origin of human mental faculties, and actively opposed Alfred Russel Wallace’s view that only the guidance of a Higher Intelligence could account for the origin of the human mind; and
(f) Darwin was a thorough-going determinist, who maintained that human choices were also the outcome of blind natural forces. For Darwin, there was no such thing as libertarian free will: whenever you make a decision, you are powerless to decide otherwise.
Zack, two of the Nobel Laureate scientists who signed your petition are “human exceptionalists” who believe that natural selection alone is incapable of accounting for the first appearance of human beings possessing consciousness. You want me to name names? I’m referring to Professor William Phillips and Professor Antony Hewish. I’m going to “out” them on this post, as their views are a matter of public record.
Professor Phillips’ views on human consciousness are unmistakably anti-Darwinian. He doesn’t believe that our choices are the outcome of either deterministic or random processes. Instead, he believes in libertarian free will – the idea that whenever we make a genuinely free choice, we have the power to choose otherwise. This kind of free will makes absolutely no sense, if you accept a Darwinist account of the human mind.
I’m not quite so certain about Professor Hewish’s views, but they also appear to be at odds with Darwinism, as he regards the emergence of consciousness as a scientifically insoluble problem, whereas Darwin maintained that consciousness could be fully explained in terms of law-governed physical processes.
Evidence that two of the Nobel Laureate scientists who signed Zack’s petition are Darwin skeptics
1. Professor William Phillips, Nobel Laureate scientist and “human exceptionalist”
Professor William Phillips. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
William Daniel Phillips is a Nobel Prize-winning American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji in 1997 for his contributions to laser cooling, a technique to slow the movement of gaseous atoms in order to better study them, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Professor Phillips was especially commended for his invention of the Zeeman slower.
However, Professor William Phillips has stated that he doesn’t believe that Neo-Darwinian evolution can account for human consciousness, or for human choices. Professor Phillips made his views on the subject quite clear as far back as 2001, in an article entitled, Ordinary Science, Ordinary Faith, written for the Universite Interdisciplinaire de Paris (copyright, 2010). In his article, Professor Phillips wrote very movingly and candidly about his religious faith. Phillips believes that science and religion have non-overlapping magisteria: “Science can address questions about how things work and what sequence of events led to the present circumstances; religion can address questions about our relationship with God, and how we should behave toward others.” However, he also argues that the methodology of the two disciplines is not so very different, and he sees striking parallels between scientific knowledge, which is based on reason and experience, and religious knowledge, which is based on Scripture and Tradition. As a believer, Professor Phillips writes that his faith in God is strengthened by his appreciation of the order and beauty of the cosmos: “When I examine the orderliness, understandability, and beauty of the universe, I am led to the conclusion that a higher intelligence designed what I see.” Nevertheless, he acknowledges that other physicists, examining the same evidence, have come to the opposite conclusion, and he is inclined to think that “we will never find truly convincing scientific evidence about the existence of God.” Professor Phillips believes in a personal God who answers prayers, but he is leery of performing controlled experiments to test the efficacy of intercessory prayer. He believes that God does not violate physical laws, but he also believes that God may be able to intervene in the world around us in a subtle way – for instance, at the level of quantum probability – without violating any laws.
So far, an orthodox Darwinist would find nothing objectionable about Professor Phillips’ personal beliefs. However, in the article, he goes on to say:
Another place where scientific investigation might make significant contributions to religious belief is the area of human consciousness. I find the fact of human consciousness and free will to be a strong argument for some sort of transcendence. If we truly have a free will, if our actions represent true choice and not just results of biochemical reactions following deterministic or random processes, then where does that will come from? If there is only physics and chemistry, where does decision come from? Of course, it may be that our impression that we have free will is illusory, or it may be that free will emerges from a sufficiently complex system all of whose components are deterministic or random. But I find these possibilities unconvincing and find it simpler to believe in a transcendence that provides something beyond determinism or chance. I call that transcendence God. But, considering the poor state of our scientific understanding of human consciousness and free will, my conclusion about the necessity of transcendence is not particularly well founded. A better understanding of consciousness, which may come from future scientific investigation, could significantly change this situation.
Professor Phillips is aware of the internal tensions between his beliefs, and to his credit, he is willing to change his views in the light of new evidence. But on his own admission, physics and chemistry, and biochemical reactions, are all unable to account for the emergence of free will in human beings. For Darwinists, this is heresy. The old adage, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution”, which was originally coined by the renowned evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975), says it all. What the phrase means is that evolution is to biology what atomic theory is to chemistry: it’s a global theory which encompasses the entire range of phenomena observed. To believe in Darwinian evolution therefore requires one to accept that it can account for all of the characteristics of living organisms, including the human capacity to make choices. For a Darwinist, such a capacity has to be grounded in our biochemistry, for how else could it be explained? On a Darwinian view, life itself is the product of biochemical reactions, and all of the properties of living things – including the human capacity to make choices – have to be ultimately explicable in terms of those reactions. Finally, Darwinism, is a “bottom-up” theory, not a “top-down” theory, as I’ll show in my third post. Both Charles Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley (Darwin’s close friend and champion of his theory of evolution) firmly maintained that our mental processes, including our choices, were fully determined by law-governed physical processes. On Darwin’s theory, there is no room for the kind of free will which Professor Phillips believes in (as do I).
I am heartened to hear that Professor Phillips, like myself, does not believe that either deterministic or random processes can account for free will. I hope that he will now “come out of the closet” and publicly declare that he does not support Darwinian evolution.
2. Professor Antony Hewish, Nobel Laureate scientist and “human exceptionalist”
Professor Antony Hewish was the co-discoverer of the first pulsar in 1967. The photo above is of another pulsar, the Vela pulsar, and its surrounding pulsar wind nebula. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Professor Antony Hewish, FRS, is a British radio astronomer who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 (together with fellow radio-astronomer Martin Ryle) for his work on the development of radio aperture synthesis and its role in the discovery of pulsars. The first pulsar was observed on November 28, 1967, by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish.
Professor Antony Hewish is a committed Christian, who wrote the Foreword to Questions of Truth, a book on science and religion written by the renowned physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne, and his collaborator, Nicholas Beale. Hewish’s publicly declared religious beliefs are handily summarized in a short questionnaire at www.adhrerents.com. In response to the question, “What do you think should be the relationship between science and religion? Why do you think so?” Prof. Hewish gave the following reply, in a letter to the psychologist Tihomir Dimitrov, M.Sc., M.A., author of the e-book, 50 Nobel Laureates and Other Great Scientists Who Believe in God (2007):
“I think both science and religion are necessary to understand our relation to the Universe. In principle, Science tells us how everything works, although there are many unsolved problems and I guess there always will be. But science raises questions that it can never answer. Why did the big bang eventually lead to conscious beings who question the purpose of life and the existence of the Universe? This is where religion is necessary.”
(Letter to T. Dimitrov, dated 27 May 2002.) (Emphasis mine – VJT.)
Evidently, Professor Antony Hewish doesn’t believe that the matter of the early universe, coupled with the laws of physics and chemistry, are sufficient to explain the appearance of consciousness. Instead, Hewish believes that consciousness is something profoundly mysterious, and that science is incapable of answering the question of how human consciousness originated. That’s a perfectly respectable philosophical position, but it puts him at odds with Darwinian evolution. If you’re a Darwinian evolutionist, then you have to believe that the question of why the Big Bang ultimately led to the emergence of conscious beings is a scientifically soluble one.
We can see this more clearly if we break the emergence of consciousness down into two phases: (a) the chemical steps leading from the Big Bang to the emergence of the first living organisms on Earth; and (b) the evolution, over billions of years, of the first life-forms into conscious beings. All Darwinists agree that phase (a) occurred as a result of law-governed physical processes of some sort, while phase (b) can be explained within the framework of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Once the first life-forms appeared on Earth, the winnowing process of natural selection acting on random variations in a changing environment, would have been sufficient to bring about the subsequent appearance of conscious beings. Nothing more was required. Hence for bona fide Darwinists, science is perfectly capable of explaining the emergence of conscious beings, even if the details currently elude us. I conclude that if (as seems to be the case) Professor Antony Hewish really believes that science is incapable of explaining the emergence of conscious beings, then he is not a bona fide Darwinist.
Let me be crystal clear: if you’re a Darwinist, you’re perfectly entitled to regard the existence of the universe as a mysterious fact which science can never explain, if you wish. But given the existence of our universe, which began at the Big Bang, the subsequent emergence of conscious beings is not a mystery, for Darwinists. It’s perfectly explicable within the framework of the laws of Nature, including the processes of natural selection which operate on living things. For Darwinists, the appearance of consciousness is therefore a scientifically tractable problem. Professor Hewish apparently believes otherwise.
Well, Zack, I hope I’ve convinced you that two of your signatories aren’t bona fide Darwinists. But cheer up: you still have 57 cards. Now I’d like to issue a challenge to you.
My challenge to Zack: can you match my poker hand?
Paul Cezanne, The Card Players (Les joueurs de carte), 1892-95. Courtauld Institute, London. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
All right, Zack. Can you match my poker hand? It comes in three parts:
first, a list of seven living and dead Nobel Laureates (Brian Josephson, Richard Smalley, Abdus Salam, John Eccles, Ernst Chain, Wolfgang Pauli and Guglielmo Marconi) who have either endorsed some form of creationism or Intelligent Design, or who have denied the adequacy of evolution as a biological theory, plus two Nobel Prize “runner-ups” who have also done so (Fred Hoyle, and Raymond Vahan Damadian, a creationist);
second, a list of twenty-one Nobel Laureates who were “human exceptionalists”, or as philosopher Daniel Dennett prefers to call them, “mind creationists” (Darwin’s “strange inversion of reasoning”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 16, 2009, vol. 106 no. Supplement 1, pp. 10061-10065, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904433106). The Nobel Prize winners in this category apparently accepted evolution as a biological theory, but they did not believe that the human mind could be explained by the theory of evolution. Indeed, most of these Nobel Laureates held that the human mind transcends matter altogether; while the remainder held that the human mind transcends matter as we know it, and expressed a belief in psychic phenomena, spiritualism and/or life after death. I should add that many of these Nobel Laureates were not religious: some were agnostics, for instance. You want names, Zack? I’ve already mentioned John Eccles, who argued on scientific grounds that the human mind is not a material but a spiritual entity. I won’t count him again, as I’ve already counted him once. Here are the twenty-one scientists on my list: William Phillips, Joseph Murray, Christian Anfinsen, Nevil Mott, George Wald, Charles Townes, Alexander Fleming, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schroedinger, Charles Sherrington, Arthur Holly Compton, Robert Millikan, Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Charles Robert Richet, William Crookes, Joseph John (J.J.) Thomson, Lord Rayleigh (John William Strutt), Marie Curie and Pierre Curie;
third, a list of thirty noted scientists in history, including twenty famous scientists from the past (Andreas Vesalius, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, William Harvey, Robert Boyle, John Ray, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Robert Hooke, (Bishop) Nicolas Steno, Isaac Newton, Carol Linnaeus, Joseph Priestley, Charles Babbage, Richard Owen, Louis Agassiz, James Joule, James Maxwell, Alfred Russel Wallace and Lord Kelvin) as well as ten lesser-known but nonetheless important scientists (Bishop John Wilkins, William Derham, Ruder Josip Boskovic, William Kirby, Thomas Chalmers, William Buckland, Adam Sedgwick, William Prout, Edward Hitchcock and William Whewell) who openly flouted the so-called “rule” (known as methodological naturalism) that you’re not allowed to cross the line from the natural to the supernatural, when you’re doing science.
I should add that most of the thirty scientists I cited above also put forward Intelligent Design arguments in their scientific works, and three of them (John Ray, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and Alfred Russel Wallace) even argued against the possibility of life arising from non-living matter! The funny thing is that these scientists all thought that they were doing perfectly legitimate science when they were arguing against naturalism. One of these scientists (Kepler) even appealed to the supernatural (“God would have done it this way”) when attempting to validate his new scientific theory of how the planets move. Now, you might not agree with these kinds of arguments. Fair enough. But my point is that if these famous scientists from the past thought that both Intelligent Design arguments and arguments for the existence of a supernatural Being belonged in a science book, and none of their contemporaries picked them up for saying that, then the claim made by the scientists who signed your petition, that Intelligent Design isn’t “real science” because it doesn’t stay within the bounds of the natural world, is simply bogus. For the record, I would like to point out that modern-day Intelligent Design theorists are very careful not to claim that the existence of a Supernatural Being can be scientifically demonstrated; instead, their more modest contention is that scientists are entitled to infer the existence of an Intelligent Designer when they detect patterns in the natural world which are not only highly specified, but also extremely unlikely to have come about as the result of “blind” processes – i.e. chance plus necessity. I conclude that there is no reason in principle why Intelligent Design cannot be taught in a science classroom. Regardless of whether it’s right or wrong, it’s a perfectly legitimate scientific endeavor.
The Card Players by Theodoor Rombouts (1597-1637). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
How many cards have I got now, Zack? Well, I’m up to 58: 28 (= 7 + 21) Nobel Laureate scientists who opposed Darwinian evolution either as a biological theory or as an account of the mind, plus 30 noted scientists in history who flouted methodological naturalism. I think it’s fair to say that my list of 58 scientists (28 Nobel Laureate Darwin doubters, plus 30 noted scientists in history who argued for either Intelligent Design or a supernatural Being on scientific grounds) trumps your 57 remaining Nobel Laureate scientists who respect religion, but who oppose a discussion of the serious scientific shortcomings of Darwin’s theory of evolution in the classroom.
My own views, in a nutshell
You’re probably wondering exactly where I stand on the question of origins, Zack. I believe in a 13.7 billion-year-old universe and a 4.5 billion-year-old Earth, and I also accept the common descent of species. However, I’ve yet to see any evidence for the claim that natural processes which lack foresight (i.e. random variation culled by natural selection) are sufficient to explain the major biological innovations that have occurred during the past four billion years. I believe that the universe was fine-tuned to permit the subsequent development of life, and I would also argue that there are certain structures found in living things whose functional complexity indicates that they could only have been designed by an Intelligent Agent, whom I believe on philosophical grounds to be God, the Creator of the cosmos. I’m fairly open-minded about how and when the Designer of life produced the complex designs that we find in the cell. Personally, I’m inclined to believe that the Designer manipulated organisms’ genes at various points in history; however, I realize that there are some Intelligent Design proponents (such as Professor Michael Behe) who suggest that the Designer could have “front-loaded” the universe with the specified information required to produce living things at the Big Bang, thus obviating the need for any supernatural intervention in the history of the cosmos. Who knows? Maybe they’re right.
Well, that’s enough about me, Zack. In my next post, I’ll show you my list of seven Nobel scientists who either believed in Intelligent Design or opposed Darwinian evolution as a biological theory. (One is still alive, by the way!) What’s most amusing is that two of these seven Nobel scientists appear to have been atheists! The example of these seven Nobel scientists demonstrates: (a) that the teaching of Intelligent Design can be completely divorced from the teaching of religion; (b) that you can believe in Intelligent Design on purely scientific grounds, without believing in the supernatural, let alone supernatural intervention; and (c) that Intelligent Design is a genuinely scientific endeavor.