September 28, 2007
Ben Stein on Intelligent Design
In February, 2008, Ben Stein (yes, that Ben Stein) is coming out with a movie that exposes the scientific community's rather non-scientific silencing of those not towing the line.
Evolution – and the explosive debate over its virtual monopoly on America's public school classrooms – is the focus of the film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed."
In the movie, Stein, who is also a lawyer, economist, former presidential speechwriter, author and social commentator, is stunned by what he discovers – an elitist scientific establishment that has traded in its skepticism for dogma. Even worse, say publicists for the feature film, "along the way, Stein uncovers a long line of biologists, astronomers, chemists and philosophers who have had their reputations destroyed and their careers ruined by a scientific establishment that allows absolutely no dissent from Charles Darwin's theory of random mutation and natural selection."
"Big Science in this area of biology has lost its way," says Stein. "Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-American, it's anti-science. It's anti-the whole concept of learning."
Nice to see someone taking on this issue in what looks to be a funny and informative, Ben Stein sort of way.
July 25, 2006
Codes Within Codes
Codes within the code of life - "Researchers believe they have found a second code in DNA in addition to the genetic code."
The genetic code specifies all the proteins that a cell makes. The second code, superimposed on the first, sets the placement of the nucleosomes, miniature protein spools around which the DNA is looped. The spools both protect and control access to the DNA itself.
The discovery, if confirmed, could open new insights into the higher order control of the genes, like the critical but still mysterious process by which each type of human cell is allowed to activate the genes it needs but cannot access the genes used by other types of cell.
Here's a very interesting paragraph at the end (emphasis mine).
In the genetic code, sets of three DNA units specify various kinds of amino acid, the units of proteins. A curious feature of the code is that it is redundant, meaning that a given amino acid can be defined by any of several different triplets. Biologists have long speculated that the redundancy may have been designed so as to coexist with some other kind of code, and this, Dr. Segal said, could be the nucleosome code.
Yes, I'm sure that they're intending to refer to blind chance over millennia being some sort of designer. But the more they find codes within codes, one wonders how long they'll stretch believability in that regard.
April 26, 2006
Highlights from the SCO Blogroll
- From Virginia Postrel, a short history lesson on what is and isn't a "crisis" with regards to gas prices. Doug Williams at Bogus Gold also explains the economics of oil prices for those that think the government must do something.
- The Mystery Pollster uncovers bias in a Zogby poll about online gambling, with regards to both the questions and the method used to gather the answers.
- The Evangelical Outpost comes out with Yak Shaving Razor #50, a collection of tips and tricks and bits of information culled from all over the net. Very interesting, entertaining and useful. (No, I'm not going to explain the title; click the link to find out.)
- Captain Ed notes that Hamas is finding it harder to live without Western cash than it thought.
- Mark D. Roberts asks "Whither the Renaissance Man?" (This is part 3 of his travelogue "When in Virginia...".)
- Jeremy at Parableman warns about confusing motivation with theory in the Intelligent Design debate. "In defense of the charge that ID is religious creationism, many opponents of ID point out that most people who support ID believe in a creator God for religious reasons. This happens to be true. Actually, they usually say that all who support ID believe in a creator God for religious reasons, and that's false." He explains the error, describes why it's wrong, gives examples, and notes a number of folks using this fallacy.
- Anthony Esolen at Mere Comments talks about the wonders of the ordinary.
December 20, 2005
A Tale of Two Trials
Clayton Cramer, on the Dover "Intelligent Design" trial:
It was a controversial idea of human origins--one that offended many people because of its implications for their religious beliefs. The idea had some worrisome baggage far beyond the area of biology. It scared the people in charge of the society, enough so that they felt a need to prohibit it from being taught in public schools.
Whoops, sorry. He's talking about the Scopes trial. Follow the link for an interesting comparison of the two.
August 10, 2005
Could there be a scientist who has accepted Intelligent Design as being on par with evolution? Dr. Roy W. Spencer says, "I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism."
You might wonder how scientists who are taught to apply disciplined observation and experimentation and to search for natural explanations for what is observed in nature can come to such a conclusion? For those of you who consider themselves open-minded, I will try to explain.
Read the whole thing to discover how much evolution and the physics of the origin of the universe depend heavily on faith (and about how parts of modern explanations of evolution depend on the lack of hard evidence).
August 04, 2005
Where to Hold the ID Debate
Snippets from blogs on Bush's "Intelligent Design should be taught in school" remark. Spot the repeating thread.
Protein Wisdom - "Similarly, I have no problem with Intelligent Design being taught alongside evolution in the context of questions concerning the origin of life-which, whether the President meant to do so or not, is in fact the context into which he placed the question. The origin of life-or first cause-is properly asked within the realm of philosophy or religious studies."
Ballon Juice - "I have no problem with a brief fifteen minute discussion of intelligent design as part of a religious/philosophy class, provided schools offer those courses."
DrivelBlog - In short, let science classes be science classes, and leave theoretical arguments for other classes such as philosophy."
Two Babes and a Brain - "How is this science? How by proving order and adherence to "rules" does this indicate an Intelligent" Design? ... Here is the thing: this theory is taught in philosophy or religion class--not science."
MovieBob - "Matters of faith, spirituality and the supernatural are philosophy, and Intelligent Design belongs in a philosophy class."
Louisiana Libertarian - "Intelligent design is not a serious scientific theory. It is the belief that some "intelligent designer" (ie. God or some space aliens) designed DNA to evolve in a programmed manner. That's not science, that's philosophy. It should be discussed in a religion or philosophy class, not taught as an alternative to evolution."
All these are wonderful suggestions as a potential place to put ID. But of course they're disingenuous because...well, let's let another blogger snippet say it:
L's Simple Observations - "It is a sad day when we are teaching philosophy in our Science classrooms. Maybe we should create an elective in High Schools that simply covers religion and philosophy...oh wait...there's no religion in public schools, but there can be Intelligent Design????"
So thus we have a whole host of people giving a reasonable-sounding suggestion yet which has an absolute zero chance of happening. Religion class? Forget it. Philosophy class? Perhaps as a low-attendance elective.
Any other suggestions? I mean, ones that have a snowball's chance in Havana of actually happening.
My main point here (and I'll admit, it's a little opaque) is that if you don't think ID has any place in school, just say so. That's a debate worth having. But if we're just going to get suggestions that could never happen in today's educational climate, that's not really a debate.
A fair result could be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts on both sides of each question. Oh, that idea isn't original with me. It's a quote from Charles Darwin in the Introduction to "The Origin of Species".
A good blog for keeping up with the ID side of the debate is Intelligent Design The Future.
February 07, 2005
Intelligent Design -- The Sternberg Controversy
A little over a week ago, there was a bit of a blogswarm around this editorial in Opinion Journal regarding biologist Richard von Sternberg. The article noted that von Sternberg's career was in jeopardy because he published a peer-reviewed article on intelligent design in the August issue of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. I wrote about it here.
It must be noted that the article, titled "The Branding of a Heretic," was an editorial in Opinion Journal. And because it was an editorial, we probably shouldn't have expected to get both sides of the story.
Jonathan Coddington, von Sternberg's supervisor at the National Museum of Natural History, responded to the editorial over at my other blog, here, correcting what he saw as errors in the Opinion Journal piece.
Today I discovered Richard von Sternberg's own website through the Grapevine blog. On it he discusses the whole controversy surrounding the publication of the article on intelligent design. The page is dated from September, but like Coddington's response, it sheds more light on the situation.
I suspect there's more to come on this incident as ID is suddenly becoming a hot topic.