|Feature Article - August 2009|
|by Do-While Jones|
There are some questions Intelligent Design advocates can’t answer.
Someone who calls himself “Wowbagger” has posed some questions on the web that he says Intelligent Design advocates can’t answer. It is true that ID advocates can’t answer these questions; but not because they don’t have good answers. They can’t answer these questions because evolutionists have gone to court to prohibit them from answering them in American public schools. If not for censorship, Wowbagger would know the answer to these questions. But groups like the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Center for Science Education think that scientific knowledge can be increased through forced ignorance.
Science Against Evolution does not endorse creationism or Intelligent Design—but as you can see from the title of our newsletter, we disclose “things evolutionists don’t want you to know.” Evolutionists would like you to believe that evolution must be true because there are no answers to Wowbagger’s questions. Those answers are things evolutionists don’t want you to know. Therefore, we feel duty-bound to disclose them.
Wowbagger’s questions fall into five general categories that we will address one at a time.
The first set of questions are all different ways of asking, “What practical value is there in studying Intelligent Design?”
Part 1: The Practical Issues
1A. How can I.D. be applied to medical science, to help us fight diseases?
1B. How can I.D. be used as a framework for solving problems in any scientific field?
1C. If I.D. were to completely replace Evolution as the standard theory taught in U.S. schools, how would that give our students a competitive advantage in understanding the science of biology, on the world's stage? 1
We could turn the question around and ask, “How can evolution be applied to medical science, to help us fight diseases?” You might be surprised to learn that evolution is not currently part of standard medical school curricula, and is not likely to become part of it.
When George Williams and Randolph Nesse made their first pitches for Darwinian medicine in the early 1990s, they turned some heads, but not the right ones. Reviving and building on European traditions that melded medicine and evolutionary biology, the duo argued that diseases could be best understood from an evolutionary perspective. Their first meeting on the subject in 1996 attracted 60 enthusiasts but few practicing clinicians, probably because physicians couldn't envision practical applications. … Although a better understanding of the evolution of drug resistance has helped shape the use of antibiotics, when it comes to evolution, "medical schools are mostly oblivious," says Nesse, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 2
Despite the intellectual appeal of adding evolution to the medical school curriculum, medical schools are already straining from an explosion in information and technology, and clamors for change come from many directions. "Medical schools have a lot on their plate," says James Lupski of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. And, notes Harvard evolutionary biologist David Haig, "Evolutionary thinking is not going to give cheap medical solutions." 3
Do you want to go to a doctor who believes that your lung disease can be cured by holding you underwater to make you evolve gills?
Seriously, ophthalmologists don’t waste time speculating about how a light-sensitive spot could have evolved into an eye. They don’t believe random changes will, in the long run, make things better, so they don’t treat your vision problem randomly. Instead, they treat eye diseases based on the notion that the vision system has been carefully designed, and each component of the vision system has a specific purpose that must function properly.
Question 1A is based on the faulty premise that Darwinian evolution is vital to medical science, and rejection of evolution would prevent doctors from curing diseases. ID isn’t going to replace evolution in medical research because evolution isn’t currently in medical research.
Let us emphasize that by “evolution” we mean real Darwinian evolution, not variation and changes in demographics. Evolutionists intentionally confuse drug resistance (which is simply a change in the proportions of an existing bacterial population) with evolution. DRUG RESISTANCE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ORIGIN OF NEW FORMS OF LIFE. Just because drug resistance is called, “evolution,” doesn’t mean it has anything to do with the evolution of new forms of life.
Generally speaking, many fine hospitals and medical research facilities are run by religious organizations that reject evolution. Specifically, the Loma Linda University Medical Center is run by a bunch of young earth creationists (Seventh-day Adventists). If you have a serious disease that requires cutting-edge technology to save your life, Loma Linda should be at (or near) the top of the list of places to go for treatment.
Evolutionists want you to believe that if evolution isn’t taught in the public schools, then doctors won’t be able to cure you when you get sick. The attempt to tie the theory of evolution to medical research is just simply fear-mongering.
Questions 1B and 1C both ask how viewing problems from an ID point of view is better than using an evolutionary point of view. Let’s look at the simple question, “Why do birds sing?” from three different points of view.
The evolutionary answer is that bird songs are the result of chance filtered by natural selection. It is pointless to look for the designer’s purpose because there is no designer.
The creationist is likely to focus on the emotional aspect of “why.” That is, a creationist would interpret the question to ask, “What emotional reason would God have for making birds sing?” Therefore creationists would emphasize God’s love and the beauty of the Earth, made for man’s enjoyment.
The Intelligent Design advocate would look at the practical aspect of “why.” That is, he would hear the questions as, “What practical reason would an intelligent designer have for making birds sing?” Therefore, he would look for the social benefits (warning of danger, location of food, attraction of a mate, etc.) of bird songs.
Which of these three points of view has the most practical value? It seems to us that the evolutionary point of view is clearly the least useful. From an evolutionary point of view, there is no reason to study bird calls, so why study them?
But wait! Don’t evolutionary scientists study bird calls? Well, yes—maybe.
The general (but false) assumption is that all scientists are evolutionists. According to evolutionists, anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution isn’t a real scientist, so it must be true that all real scientists believe in evolution. But there are lots of scientists who don’t believe in evolution without expressing their disbelief in order to keep their jobs.
Any scientist who is studying bird calls to discover their function must (at least subconsciously) believe that the bird calls have a purpose. The foundation of the theory of evolution is that life has no meaning or purpose. Therefore, these scientists can’t really be evolutionists.
True evolutionists who study bird calls do so in order to discover evolutionary relationships. Their premise is that birds with the most similar bird calls share an ancestor who acquired that call by accident. So, they can build evolutionary trees based on similarity of bird calls. Furthermore, since they think bird calls are accidental, they spend a lot of time trying to calculate probabilities. Speculating about the probability of mutations, they can guess how many generations would be necessary for a specific bird call to evolve.
So, let’s return to the question at hand. Which framework has more practical value? Is it more useful for a scientist to assume that bird calls were designed on purpose, and attempt to figure out what purpose (or purposes) the bird calls serve? Or is it more useful to speculate about how bird calls might have originated by accident?
It seems to us that the assumption of Intelligent Design is much more helpful to scientists trying to understand how living things operate than the assumption that there is no purpose behind biological processes. The assumption of Intelligent Design has great practical value, whereas the assumption of purposeless evolution has no practical value at all.
Part 2 consists of several questions about the designer. Although creationists care a lot about who the designer is and what the designer is like, these questions are totally irrelevant to Intelligent Design advocates. These questions would be better posed to creationists. But evolutionists have tried to paint ID advocates as creationists in disguise, so it is understandable that these questions are based on a false understanding of ID. If ID were allowed to be discussed in American public schools, these questions would not even be asked.
Part 2: The Designer
2A. Where is the evidence that a Designer exists? And, why do so many Creationists act like this question is not even important, when they claim they are doing science? 4
The existence of something that must have been designed is evidence that a designer exists. The existence of Mount Rushmore is evidence of one or more sculptors. One can’t determine the name of the sculptor, or how long it took him (or his team) to sculpt Mount Rushmore simply by looking at it, but it should be obvious to anyone that the four faces are not the result of random erosion.
The second part of the question is ridiculous. It is a question about creationists, not ID advocates. Furthermore, creationists believe the question is vitally important!
Question 2A is a perfect example of how ignorant the questioner is. We aren’t saying Wowbagger is stupid. We are just saying that he is woefully uninformed and misinformed. The fault is not with his intelligence. The problem is that he is the innocent victim of propaganda and censorship.
2B. How are we to assess the engineering skills of the Designer? Can we determine what constraints existed for the Designer, in terms of materials, labor, and so forth? (This would seem important, if we are going to replace Evolution for use in medical research, for example.) 5
One can assess the skills of the chief architect of Mount Rushmore by how well the faces actually resemble former presidents of the United States. We can assess the skills of the ancient Egyptians by studying the pyramids, tombs, obelisks, and temples they built. Granted, it is difficult to assign a numerical value to the skill of the Mount Rushmore architect and the skill of Egyptian pyramid builders in order to compare their skills; but the fact that they each had great skill cannot be denied.
Similarly, the marvelous capabilities and complexities of living things attest to the engineering skills of the designer.
As we have already seen, evolution is irrelevant to medical research, but he brings it up again. Therefore, it is necessary for us to repeat that drug resistance is called “evolution,” but it isn’t the kind of evolution that is controversial. Wowbagger has been confused (intentionally) by people who want the fact of variation to be confused with the fantasy of evolution. Nobody is talking about replacing evolution in medical research because evolution isn’t in medical research, and never has been.
2C. Why are certain characteristics commonly found in many designed products absent in most life forms? (such as detachable and easily replaceable parts, or "maker" labels, for example) What prevented the Designer from giving us these things? 6
This is actually a good question. If you cut one arm off a starfish, it will grow back. If you cut one arm off a person it won’t. Why? If you take the evolutionary attitude, the answer is, “There’s no reason—that just the way it happened by chance.” If you take the ID attitude, you naturally wonder how the design of starfish differs from the design of humans. What mechanism allows cells to differentiate in adult starfish but not in adult humans? The purposeful design assumption naturally leads to cellular research with practical application which could help doctors regrow damaged limbs or organs in human beings.
2D. How can we deduce the motives of the Intelligent Designer? 7
ID advocates have no interest in deducing motives. Wowbagger would know this, if not for censorship.
2E. Does I.D. claim that there is supposed to be a specific purpose for life on Earth? If so, how do you know what it is? (Or what they are? There could be more than one purpose.) 8
Yes, ID presumes life has one or more purposes, which naturally leads to an attempt to discover what those purposes might be. Evolution presumes no purpose, so scientific inquiry into the purpose of life would be foolish.
Suppose there is a purpose to life. Should not a scientist want to find out what that purpose is?
2F. Some people are under the impression that life looks as though it was either 'designed by committee' or perhaps 'competing contractors'. But, some insist that there was only one Designer. Can you develop a test to determine which is more accurate? 9
Intelligent Design advocates have no interest in this topic. In this respect they are no different than evolutionists. If one is going to criticize ID advocates for not having a test to determine how many designers there are, one can criticize evolutionists for exactly the same thing.
2G. If I were to claim that the "deducing of an Intelligent Designer" was nothing more than a type of paredolia [sic] phenomenon, how could you demonstrate otherwise? 10
We presume he means “paranormal phenomenon.” [Our presumption was wrong. Click here to read our correction.] We can only wonder what is going on in his head that would cause him to ask such a question. Without knowing that, it is tough to answer, but we will try.
In the 1960’s, there was great scientific interest in Extra Sensory Perception (ESP). Scientific studies were done to confirm or deny the existence of mental telepathy by testing to see if one subject could correctly tell shapes (star, circle, square, etc.) printed on special playing cards viewed by another subject. That was real science, regardless of whether or not ESP really exists. Carefully controlled experiments were conducted and the results were statistically analyzed. That’s how real science works.
Suppose the ESP experiment allowed the subject viewing the card to say the name of the shape out loud to determine if vocal transmission of information really occurs. We would expect the blind subject to be able to tell the shape on every card correctly because he could hear what the other subject said. We consider spoken communication “normal” and mental telepathy “paranormal.” But, when you think about it, we just consider spoken communication normal because we know it happens all the time. Mental telepathy is considered paranormal because we think it isn’t normal. Does Wowbagger think we should not study things we think aren’t normal?
There are some things in quantum physics, string theory, and cosmology that seem downright spooky. Should scientists not study them? What is the value in declaring certain subjects to be off-limits to science? Just because a subject is called “paranormal” doesn’t mean it can’t be studied scientifically.
Part 3 is a grab-bag of unrelated shotgun accusations.
Part 3: The Science
3A. Scientists are often motivated by the thrill of discovering new things [italics his]. If you want more scientists to take Intelligent Design more seriously, how would you appeal to that? 11
Some of the greatest scientists of all times (Newton is just one example) were motivated by a desire to figure out how God made things work. Are we really supposed to believe that the notion that everything happened by chance is thrilling and inspirational?
Suppose I give you two cryptograms. One is a real cryptogram that says something interesting. The other is just a bunch of random letters. Which one would you rather try to figure out? Even if you can find some substitution of letters that makes the random cryptogram say something coherent, what’s the point?
Science is based on the notion that things happen for a reason, and we would like to know what that reason is. The theory of evolution is based on the notion that there is no underlying reason, which really kills the motivation to discover the reason.
One famous evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, apparently realizes that there must be a reason, so he postulates a “selfish gene.” That is, life has evolved because genes have some selfish motivation to reproduce themselves. In his view, a chicken is simply the means by which an egg produces more eggs. The purpose of life is to fulfill the reproductive desire. But what is the reason for the reproductive desire? Apparently, there is none. The desire just arose by chance.
3B. Could you define your technical terms, (and other words or expressions), that are likely to be misunderstood? For example: What is I.D.'s working definition of "Intelligence" or "Design"? In what ways do they differ from forces that are not intelligent and things that are not designed? (In other words, we are aiming for empirical definitions.) 12
Of course the technical terms can be defined as easily as evolutionary terms, but ID advocates can’t define them (in American public schools) because of a court order. It would be really interesting and useful to be able to discuss intelligence and design in an academic environment. But such discussions invariably lead down paths evolutionists don’t want to go. Therefore, the discussions have to be prohibited.
Engineers have the freedom to talk about information and complexity when it comes to inanimate system design. Information and complexity can be defined in technical terms useful for analyzing data transmission and system complexity. Applying those concepts to biological systems results in some interesting observations and conclusions pertinent to design principles; but evolutionists won’t allow students to hear them.
3C. Why do so many I.D. proponents often (but not always) get scientific concepts wrong, such as: junk DNA, macroevolution, thermodynamics, Big Bang Theory, and the whole concept of Natural Selection, etc.? How come so little effort has been made to "do your homework, and "know your enemy" better, before debating these issues on scientific grounds? 13
This is just nonsense. Clearly he hasn’t done his homework and doesn’t know his enemy. And speaking of “debating these issues on scientific grounds,” why are evolutionists so unwilling to debate evolution on scientific grounds? Why do they always try to turn the discussion to religion?
3D. What observations were originally predicted by your theory? 14
What observations were originally predicted by evolution? There are observations that evolutionists make after the fact, which they claim “could” have been predicted by evolution, but weren’t. Evolutionists’ “predictions” are nothing more than fanciful tales used to explain observations.
Suppose one believes that birds evolved into mammals. What transitional form would that theory predict? A bat. It looks like a bird losing feathers, turning into a mouse. Suppose one believes that mammals evolved into birds. What transitional form would that theory predict? A bat. It looks like a mouse growing wings. A bat fulfills two contradictory “predictions.”
This whole notion of evolutionary “predictions” is a perversion of science. Real scientific predictions involve experiments that have never been done before with observable results. If we mix this chemical with that chemical we predict a particular result. Then we mix the chemicals and see if we get the expected result. That’s a real prediction. Looking for a tooth that looks intermediate between an ape and a man isn’t a real prediction because that tooth could have come from a pig. (That is exactly what happened when Nebraska Man was discovered.)
3E. Can you design an experiment that could invalidate (or "falsify") Intelligent Design, depending on the results? 15
He’s right. We know of no experiment that has ever falsified Intelligent Design. If Wowbagger knew of one, we are sure he would have mentioned it. On the other hand, we have been disclosing scientific evidence that falsifies the theory of evolution every month for the past 12 years and 11 months.
The theory of evolution depends on the notion that small variations can accumulate without limit. Experiments with fruit flies and bacteria show that no matter how hard one tries to force evolution, fruit flies remain fruit flies and bacteria remain bacteria. There is a limit to how much a species can vary. (Some species can vary more than others, but there always is a limit.) The discovery of these limits falsifies the theory of evolution.
Finding fossils in the “wrong” layer should falsify evolution, but every time fossils are found in the “wrong” layer evolutionists just explain them away.
Whenever a discovery falsifies evolution, the conclusion is ignored.
3F. Why has Evolution, even in its provisional form, been powerful enough to change what I.D. proponents think, over time. But, I.D. has not been powerful enough to change what Evolution proponents think, so far? 16
That’s because ID proponents are more reasonable and fair-minded than evolutionists.
Seriously, that’s a stupid, loaded question. It implies that evolution (even in its PROVISIONAL form) has changed what ID proponents think. Specifically, what have ID proponents changed their minds about?
There have been evolutionists who have become creationists, and there are creationists who have become evolutionists. It proves nothing either way.
The “question” is just an unfounded assertion that evolution is so much more obviously correct that ID advocates have accepted it, and that there is nothing of value in the Intelligent Design theory.
3G. How come it always seems to be the evolutionary biologists who are publishing new, innovative results and findings, and not I.D. researchers? (If it is "luck", then why do they get all the "luck"?) 17
It isn’t luck—it is well documented censorship. Everybody in the academic community knows what happens to people like Richard Sternberg if they dare publish an Intelligent Design article. 18 The fact that evolutionists censor all opposing views does not prove that evolutionists are right.
3H. If I were to claim that Intelligent Design studies do nothing but "affirm their conclusions", how could you demonstrate otherwise? 19
If I were to claim that evolutionary studies do nothing but "affirm their conclusions", how could you demonstrate otherwise? If a paleontologist has a grant to go to Africa to find the missing link between apes and man, do you really think he will publish a report saying he found fossil evidence that there is no connection?
Wowbagger apparently has never heard any non-evolutionary explanations, so he naturally thinks there aren’t any. (That’s the goal of censorship, isn’t it?) Consequently, he doesn’t know the answers to these next few questions.
Part 4: The Competition
4A. Can your theory explain why the present distribution of plant and animals in the world came about, the way it is? Why are tomatoes and potatoes only native to the Americas, for example? Why are monotremes and a few placental [he no doubt means, “marsupial”] mammals restricted to Australia? Why could they not have been distributed anywhere else? 20
Why do penguins live in Antarctica and roadrunners live in the desert? Maybe roadrunners think lizards taste better than fish. Maybe roadrunners aren’t very good at catching fish. Maybe penguins aren’t fast enough to catch lizards. Who knows? Who cares?
It is hard for us to take this argument seriously, but since it seems so compelling to evolutionists, perhaps we should. But, our 6-page newsletter is already 10 pages long, so, next month we will devote an entire essay to the subject of biogeography, giving it all the attention it deserves. (Actually, we will give it a lot more attention than it deserves.)
4B. Can your theory explain endogenous retroviruses? 21
Creationism and ID explain endogenous retroviruses just as well as evolution does. Creationism and ID don’t deny random changes in DNA. They just have different explanations. (The creationist explanation has to do with sin, and the ID explanation has to do with entropy.)
4C. For every example of Intelligent Design given so far, how come Evolution has also discovered a possible way for it to emerge, naturally? And, how come the natural method is usually the one making better predictions about the example's behavior? (For example: Evolutionary theory predicted the behavior of mal-formed bacterial agents, better than Intelligent Design.) 22
Evolution has not discovered a possible way life began, or breasts evolved, or eyes evolved, or (on and on). The premise of his question is wrong. He thinks evolution provides a better explanation simply because he has never heard any other explanation. He has never heard any other explanation because of censorship.
We are sometimes asked, “If science is against evolution, why don’t all scientists reject it.” The short answer is that their acceptance of evolution isn’t based on science. Politics, religion, and philosophy trump science.
Part 5: Politics and Values (These are not as important as the other four sections, though.)
5A. Why is it so difficult for I.D. proponents to distance themselves from religious fundamentalists? 23
Why is it so hard for evolutionists to keep religion out of the argument? It’s because evolution is the creation myth of their atheistic religion. Evolution is more about religion than science to an evolutionist.
It is hard for ID advocates to keep religion out of the discussion because, no matter what they say, evolutionists counter with, “It’s just religion in disguise!”
5B. Why has so much of the resources spent promoting I.D. been used to fight court battles and school boards, and virtually nothing on labs or new research? 24
There are two fallacies in this question. First, it is the evolutionists who are filing lawsuits to censor the science curriculum. ID advocates are forced by evolutionists to spend money in court to fight censorship.
Second, Loma Linda University (for example) spends a lot of money on research (but, strictly speaking, they are creationists, not ID advocates).
There are lots of research studies into metabolic pathways and cellular biology that don’t mention either evolution or Intelligent Design. How do you know that the majority of them aren’t conducted by Intelligent Design advocates who don’t admit their views for fear of losing their jobs?
The Intelligent Design framework is based on the notion that everything (or nearly everything) has a purpose. This framework, stated or not, is the basis of most scientific studies. The evolutionary framework (that everything is an accident) is not as conducive to studying anything other than how accidents might happen.
5C. Many creationists claim that Evolution is all a hoax, and a conspiracy theory. Why has there been virtually no effort, on the part of legitimate I.D. researchers to point out how Evolution science has already impacted our lives in positive ways? (Such as in the fields of medical research, agriculture, animal conservation, oil drilling, and organic materials research, etc.) How do you answer the accusation that you are "endorsing madness through inaction"? [italics his] 25
Evolution has nothing to do with medical research, agriculture, conservation, oil drilling, or materials research. Therefore, it hasn’t positively impacted our lives in any of those ways.
The development of hybrid corn is the result of conscious design, not random chance.
Animals can be hunted to extinction regardless of whether they evolved or were created.
The correlation of oil deposits with certain kinds of rocks has nothing to do with fables about how or when the rocks were formed.
ID advocates aren’t “endorsing madness through inaction.” It is the evolutionists who are endorsing madness by wasting valuable scientific resources trying to figure out how unrelated species are related, and how complex systems arise by chance, instead of trying to understand the design principles that permit them to live.
5D. Some people are under the impression that the values behind the Intelligent Design movement are only based on fear, oppression, and guilt. Can you demonstrate otherwise? 26
Some people are under the impression that the values behind the evolutionary movement are only based on fear, shame, and guilt. Can you demonstrate otherwise? Can Wowbagger prove that the theory of evolution is not motivated by fear of eternal judgment resulting from the shame and guilt of living a selfish, wicked life?
Intelligent Design has nothing to do with fear, oppression, or guilt. ID simply strives to find the purpose behind biology and natural law.
Does it matter if the scientist who finds a cure for cancer does it because he believes in evolution, or believes in creation, or just wants to get rich? It doesn’t matter what the motivation to do science is, as long as there is some motivation.
Forty years ago, the United States landed men on the moon. For some, the motivation was to prove that capitalism is better than communism. For some, the motivation was to find proof that life had evolved on the moon. Regardless of the motivation, there was motivation, and so science was advanced. That’s all that really matters.
The people who have incorrect impressions about the ID movement are the victims of propaganda and censorship.
Can we demonstrate that propaganda and censorship in the American public schools exist? Of course we can. The whole reason we are having this discussion is because public schools present only one side of the issue because of court decisions.
We want to remove the arbitrary limits placed on science by evolutionists. Examine all the possible explanations for how (and why) living things exist.
Unanswerable questions can be answered if one is allowed to speak.
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2 Pennisi , Science, 10 April 2009, “EVOLUTIONARY MEDICINE: Darwin Applies to Medical School”, pages 162-163
18 Disclosure, November 2005, “Conspiracy Proof”, http://www.scienceagainstevolution.org/v10i2n.htm