Friday, December 23, 2005

Clarification on ID Letter

My letter to The Philosopher Magazine lacked an important nuance. The Discovery Institute folks (whom I generally endorse on the ID issue) only want the public schools to allow ID as a challenge to Darwinism. They do not want to mandate that both be taught, partially because ID is not an full-fledged theory as yet. This was one of the problems in the Dover case, which would have made a statement about ID mandatory in the classroom. That statement also refered to a book that may have not been the best for the public schools. The Discovery Institute was not behind the strategy used in the Dover case.


Ed Darrell said...

ID is allowed under current law. All that is required is that the published research be used to back up the lesson plan and additions to curricula.

That has been the suggested law since the Arkansas decision in 1982, reified by the Supreme Court's decision on the issue in 1987.

All an ID advocate would need to do is collect the best 25 or so research articles published and combine them into a lesson plan.

No change in law is required for that.

So it rings a bit hollow when the Discovery Institute now claims that is all they seek.

Douglas Groothuis said...

The science journals typically freeze out ID articles (given the Darwinian orthodoxy), so it is very difficult to get anything published in peer review journals. However, there are a number of such publications, as the Discovery web site makes known. Moreover, peer review has its limits; it is not an absolute standard.

Ed Darrell said...

No, science journals don't "freeze out" ID articles. So far as anyone can tell, every ID article ever submitted has been published. Both of them.

Peer review does indeed have limits. Peer review cannot created research articles on ID that do not exist. ID advocates must do some research and actually submit it to journals. Behe can't, Dembski won't, no one else is trying.

The fault of ID is not in the stars, nor in the bias of journals: It is in the ID advocates' failure to do any science.

Douglas Groothuis said...

Where does Ed get the idea that all the ID submissions have been published? This is nonsense. Ask Behe. Moreover, the Discovery Institute has an annotated bibliography on more than two peer reviewed publications. Ed seems to be bluffing more than arguing.

Ed Darrell said...

I'll call your bluff: Ask Dr. Behe to send you a copy of any article on research he has ever submitted, supporting ID, that has not been published. There are none.

Look, this was litigated in 1981. Given the opportunity to produce, for the court, articles that had been rejected on creationism, creationists were completely unable to find a single such article.

It's still true. A creationist-leaning-though-denying-it editor sneaked one into a minor biology journal last year, and there is one other. But to the challenge of producing such articles for the record, IDists in Dover were no more successful than the other creationists in Arkansas in 1981.

Ask Behe? I have. He stated flat out that he has no such articles to submit, that he has no such research in the can or on the table.

Ask Behe yourself. Don't take my word for it. Go find the research that IDists claim hasn't been published. I dare you.

Jon Kirwan said...

During his voir dire, Michael Behe started to claim (he wasn't allowed to finish, due to a sustained objection) that he has had an article on ID rejected by the Journal of Molecular Evolution. He wasn't allowed to expand on the reasons he believed led to the rejection. I think I'd encourage Douglas to attempt to contact Behe and ask for this information. It might be interesting to debate, though I wonder if we'd be able to do much more unless Behe is also willing to provide the complete manuscript.

By the way, under later cross examination, Behe admitted that there are no articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals arguing for the irreducible complexity of complex molecular systems -- at least, ones mentioning the concept by name; including his own article with David Snoke in Protein Science in 2004 called "Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues."

Something interesting I gathered in reading Behe's testimony in Dover is that Behe said in his expert report to the court at Dover, that "Intelligent design theory focuses exclusively on the proposed mechanism of how complex biological structures arose," but also said quite clearly that it doesn't deal with or make any claims about "the theory that every group of organisms descended from a common ancestor and that all groups of organisms, including animals, plants, and microorganisms, ultimately go back to single origin of life on earth" or that "the evolutionary change takes place through the gradual change of populations and not by the sudden, saltational, production of new individuals that represent a new type." (See pages 61-65 of 10/18 afternoon session.)

Behe appears to admit under cross that Of Pandas and People wasn't well written in places (see pages 70-77+ of 10/18 afternoon session. The book selectively proposes certain ideas in isolation that are admittedly consistent with creationist values and, of course, not inconsistent with Behe's view of ID. But the book does so without fairly presenting alternatives which are also entirely consistent with Behe's view of ID. My reading of this part of what Behe says about Of Pandas and People is that the book's text was written to advocate a particular, religious viewpoint which isn't at all just the narrow definition of ID according to Behe, but is far more expansive and pointedly religious in effect.

I think this is effectively admitted in the book Of Pandas, on page IX, where it says "Of Pandas and People is not intended to be a balanced treatment by itself. We have given a favorable case for intelligent design and raised reasonable doubt about natural descent." But according to Behe, natural descent isn't a proper part of ID, itself. So the book is clearly going beyond Behe's concept of ID and admits as much.


Jon Kirwan said...

Michael Behe specifically describes ID this way: "Intelligent design theory focuses exclusively on the proposed mechanism of how complex biological structures arose." I thought I should also offer a comment on this narrow point.

Science theory is about quantitative prediction, not just some hand-waving explanation. You can hand me any detailed list of circumstances and events or effects and I can offer you a unique explanation for them in minutes. But my explanation won't be the least bit useful in predicting the next event from given circumstances; because my explanation will include no mechanism by which you can predict from specific circumstances.

I would be very interested to see any "proposed mechanism" for ID, leading rigorously to quantitative prediction; deduced to specifics. Although saying "some intelligent designer did it" may make a great-sounding explanation of sorts, I don't think it can help in predicting anything.

I don't see how any ID 'theory' can be anything more than an pleasing explanation without mechanism.