PvM posted Entry 1422 on August 30, 2005 10:31 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1418

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers reports how the Lehigh Department of biological sciences has taken a position on intelligent design.

Of particular interest is that this is Michael Behe’s university.

PZ Myers reports that, as was the case with Guillermo Gonzalez, “Behe’s academic freedom is fully supported by his department, but this is a loud vote of no confidence in his work. That sounds like an unpleasantly uncomfortable environment to be in.”

First Sternberg, then Guillermo Gonzalez, and now Michael Behe. What is going on here?

Scientists are finally taking a position on the scientific nature of intelligent design (or rather the lack thereof). While for years Intelligent Design has been ‘spreading the faith’, I have found it often hard to get scientists interested or involved in addressing the errors in Intelligent Design arguments. This task was limited to a small group of dedicated scientists who effectively rebutted many of the more common arguments proposed b[y intelligent design proponents. The list includes Richard Wein, Wesley Elsberry, Mark Perakh,] Jeffrey Shallit, John Wilkins, Massimo Pigliucci, Paul Gross, Richard B Hoppe, Ian Musgrave, Kenneth Miller, and many other PandasThumb Contributors. I apologize for missing many of the other names of contributors who I must have missed. Such people as Matt Young, Taner Edis, Gary Hurd, Barbara Forrest, and the dedicated people from the NCSE, Nick Matzke, Glenn Branch, Eugenie Scott and countless more.

But when I contacted scientists for their comments on the usage of their work by ID proponents, the common response: was “I am too busy to deal with creationists. It’s not worth it”.

So what changed? Well several wake up calls have been given. Intelligent Design was introduced in some form or manner in curricula around the country, an Intelligent Design paper finally made it into a peer reviewed paper and more recently Bush made his infamous statement about Intelligent Design.

Finally a wake up call. And what is the response from Intelligent Design proponents? Accusations of harassment, creating an unpleasant work environment and more start flying around.

First Intelligent Design craved to be taken seriously, now that it is, it seems to be uncomfortable with the attention. The reason is self evident and obvious, it lacks scientific relevance and its socio-religious progress has outpaced ID’s contributions to science significantly. In fact, other than some “God of the Gap”-like arguments, ID has contributed little or nothing to science.

All over the country we see both communities, scientists, religious people, educators and media people come to the realization that not only is Intelligent Design scientifically vacuous but also theologically risky.

Let me join in the statement by Lehigh, and ISU that I am committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and that this is exactly the reason why I, and with me undoubtably many others, oppose Intelligent Design.

PS: A whole line of contributors got deleted when I inserted Shallit’s first name. I have tried to reconstruct from memory the missing text and use [] to indicate this.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #45821

Posted by Jason Spaceman on August 31, 2005 12:39 AM (e)

One of Behe’s colleagues at Lehigh, Lynne Cassimeris, wrote this op-ed the other day which was very critical of ID and Behe.

A sample…

More than 10 years ago, my Lehigh University faculty colleague Michael J. Behe asked me to read a chapter of a manuscript that was later published as ”Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.” In this book, Dr. Behe suggested that biochemical systems inside of cells are ”irreducibly complex” and cannot have evolved without the hand of a supernatural designer. Over the past decade, I have had considerable time to ponder the ideas Dr. Behe put forward in his book, and time and again I concluded that his arguments lack scientific credibility and are equally offensive to religious faith.

Comment #45842

Posted by Brett on August 31, 2005 4:23 AM (e)

It’s a bit sad that all 5 of the context-sensitive Google ads attached to the Cassimeris op-ed (at least when I looked) are all pro-ID/creationism. It would have been nice to see some more “uplifting” links in there.

Comment #45861

Posted by Engineer-Poet on August 31, 2005 8:40 AM (e)

The lack of ads is understandable; the pro-science side doesn’t have anything to sell.

Whether this is fortunate or unfortunate depends on your point of view.  After pondering for a second, being able to point to the utter lack of mercenary motives on the part of science compared to the IDC camp is probably a good thing.

Comment #45862

Posted by kay on August 31, 2005 8:41 AM (e)

http://tinyurl.com/b5xaw Eh, don’t worry too much. :)

Comment #45875

Posted by Tom Gillespie on August 31, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

It’s somehow been a detraction for me over the past decade to live only five minutes from Lehigh U. and to partake of the many community opportunites knowing that the university supported (at least financially) a bankrupt such as Behe. I had even considered pursuing another advanced degree in geology there, until I decided to just keep those I have and be content.

I am glad to see that the university has had the chutzbah to publicly take a stand in contradiction to one of its tenured faculty.

I am also glad to see that the Morning Call actual ran the Op-Ed. Most of my letters to the editor of that paper pertaining to IDiocy never see the light of day.

Comment #45890

Posted by Brett on August 31, 2005 11:36 AM (e)

Engineer-Poet:

I see your point, but it’s not necessarily about selling stuff, the ads could be just for websites like PT or TO. It’s not a big deal, the battle won’t be won or lost here, it’s just a minor observation.

kay:

LOL! Yes, but do a google fight between “evolution” and “creation” instead … much less re-assuring. Plus, three more pro-creation google ads on the side :(

Comment #45893

Posted by Bruce McNeely on August 31, 2005 12:11 PM (e)

Brett:
Plus, three more pro-creation google ads on the side :(

Is that a polite way of saying “three more f***ing google ads”? :)
Bruce

Comment #45946

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2005 6:00 PM (e)

I am also glad to see that the Morning Call actual ran the Op-Ed. Most of my letters to the editor of that paper pertaining to IDiocy never see the light of day.

As a former Lehigh Valley-ite myself (go Blue Eagles !!!!), may I suggest you try the Express-Times instead? They always ran my radical leftist commie anti-apple-pie letters. :>

Comment #45966

Posted by the pro from dover on August 31, 2005 7:24 PM (e)

one of the “heads up” issues to all scientists is the realization that intelligent design isn’t a “scientific” alternative to evolution but is a metaphysical alternative to science. Although there isnt a scientific theory of intelligent design there isn’t any way that whatever it is could operate without total control of all natural aspects of the observable universe from quantum mechanics to general relativity. IMHO evolution is the target only because it is the most “hated” of basic science theories. I.D. is in fact an attack on the scientific method and thus impacts far more than biologists.

Comment #45974

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2005 8:12 PM (e)

one of the “heads up” issues to all scientists is the realization that intelligent design isn’t a “scientific” alternative to evolution but is a metaphysical alternative to science. Although there isnt a scientific theory of intelligent design there isn’t any way that whatever it is could operate without total control of all natural aspects of the observable universe from quantum mechanics to general relativity. IMHO evolution is the target only because it is the most “hated” of basic science theories. I.D. is in fact an attack on the scientific method and thus impacts far more than biologists.

You are precisely right, and this is explicitly stated in the DI’s own “Wedge Document”:

Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.

The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the “thin edge of the wedge,” was Phillip ]ohnson’s critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeatng Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe’s highly successful Darwin’s Black Box followed Johnson’s work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

Phase III. Once our research and writing have had time to mature, and the public prepared for the reception of design theory, we will move toward direct confrontation with the advocates of materialist science through challenge conferences in significant academic settings. We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula. The attention, publicity, and influence of design theory should draw scientific materialists into open debate with design theorists, and we will be ready. With an added emphasis to the social sciences and humanities, we will begin to address the specific social consequences of materialism and the Darwinist theory that supports it in the sciences.

GOALS

Governing Goals

* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals

* To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.

* To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.

* To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Twenty Year Goals

* To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.

* To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.

* To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

Comment #46004

Posted by sanjait on September 1, 2005 1:57 AM (e)

Wow- I’ve never read the “Wedge Document,” But from what Lenny Frank quotes, these people aren’t just ignorant jerks, they are completely delusional. I wonder on what date that document was written. It reminds me of the predictions of Rapture that come and go, leaving the predictor utterly discredited. In 5 to 20 years when they are still writing books for the lay public and lobbying school boards, still with absolutely no real scientific credibility, will they admit defeat? I doubt it, but when that day comes I won’t feel any shame in the enjoyment of reminding them of their once ambitious goals.

Comment #46006

Posted by Grey Wolf on September 1, 2005 3:42 AM (e)

Wow- I’ve never read the “Wedge Document,” But from what Lenny Frank quotes, these people aren’t just ignorant jerks, they are completely delusional. I wonder on what date that document was written.

According to this page, the Wedge document was written in 1998. You can read it in its full glory here. Since we’re in 2005, we should be in the middle of the “5 year objectives”. It’s a pity they never managed to create that positive theory of ID they were planning in phase 1, though.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Comment #46013

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2005 4:17 AM (e)

Wow- I’ve never read the “Wedge Document

EVERY anti-IDer should read it, memorize it, and cite it at every available opportunity. It completely shreds the entire ID movement and its motives, and it does it in their own words.

It will, I presume, be Exhibit Number One at Dover.

Comment #46025

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on September 1, 2005 7:19 AM (e)

Gonzalez’s colleagues speak out, and Behe’s…

How long will it be before Dembski’s colleagues at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary make a statement on the scientific vacuity of Intelligent design?

I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.

Comment #46052

Posted by Judith on September 1, 2005 9:27 AM (e)

Interestingly, Dr. Behe’s faculty web page at http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/faculty/behe.html includes a disclaimer as well. As for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I think their Abstract of Principles at http://www.sbts.edu/aboutus/abstract.php says it all.

Comment #46118

Posted by Moses on September 1, 2005 7:51 PM (e)

According to this page, the Wedge document was written in 1998. You can read it in its full glory here. Since we’re in 2005, we should be in the middle of the “5 year objectives”. It’s a pity they never managed to create that positive theory of ID they were planning in phase 1, though.

It was a 5-year plan. What did you expect? 5-year plans don’t work in Soviet-style economies or sports franchises. Why would they work with creationism?

Comment #46125

Posted by John Wilkins on September 1, 2005 9:29 PM (e)

It ought to be noted that never do the ID crowd actually respond to the criticisms made. For example, Wesley Elsberry and my paper was never addressed by Dembski beyond a few throwaway comments. An attempt to deal with the logical issue was made once on ISCID but it too failed to deal with the issue, as Pim van Meurs pointed out there.

What is the more common is that the ID crowd leave the points made behind, make some more, and then assert that they haven’t been shown to be wrong, even when they have.