Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Walking Whale and the Collapse of Intelligent Design
Did you know whales once walked the earth? Back then, they were called Ambulocetus. Well, we call them that now, but that's what they were, they just didn't know it yet. Ambulocetus is remarkable because it has an internal ear system that could hear just as well underwater as well as land, suggesting the animal was transitioning from a land-locked to more aquatic lifestyle. Fairly solid evidence that whales originally lived on land (though those ancestors had ancestors who lived in the ocean).

This is one of the many cool subjects mentioned in Ken Miller's lecture on evolution, and how it aught to be taught in the classroom. What I love about Mr. Miller is that he is a theist who, like me, goes to church and believes in the Christian concept of God and intelligent design (or ID), but sees that it is different from science. ID cannot yet be tested or proven through observation so it is by definition not a science. All around our country, folks are arguing otherwise, and men like Ben Stein are creating films lambasting the scientific community for keeping perspective, so it is important to take a long look at what we define as science and the importance of keeping education as objective as possible.
Anyway, for those of you who are curious about life, the universe, and everything, check out Ken's lecture (it's entertaining, I promise)!


Tool said...

I totally agree Austin. Evolution fits into everything. There's change over time in human affairs, biology, the earth, the stars. I prefer the idea that God made a dynamic, progressive universe.

Team Diana said...

Dude! You should listen to this Radiolab episode called "(So Called) Life" because it will blow your mind.

I know I've told you to listen to Radiolab before, but for reals, go to itunes and find that episode. It's one of the best things I've ever heard.

Khylov said...

Heheh, welll... I broke the text rule (under 500 words?) and commented on your comment back on my page (and interestingly enough, over this same topic! Who'd've thought!)

For a counterbalance, I'd recommend reading anything from Phillip Johnson or Michael Behe on this topic.

Munchanka said...

Brother, I have enough trouble reading Tolkien.

Josh (musarter) said...

I only heard a little but this guy seems to know his science well. I tend to be able to see it both ways, theologically and scientifically. This is a divisive topic where both sides will never be objective. If either side encounters evidence contrary to there ideology it will always be written off as false because of presupposed suppositions.

Not all agree, but both sides take quit a bit of faith to completely believe. I personally think that believing, whole heartedly, that life came from a rock takes more faith than just saying God created it.

Heidi Gilbert said...

Hey Austin! I know this has nothing to do with what your post was really about...but the walking whale reminded me. Have you seen the real life "unicorn" they found in Italy? Ha ha check it out!

Jeremy Spears said...

I'm not going to prove evolution is wrong or creation is right in my comment...just getting that out of the way. Oh and please excuse the spelling, I'm writing quickly.

To begin with... I found this on good ol' wikipedia. Talking about what scientific theory is as opposed to regular theory.

---Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature that is supported by many facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena.

Gravity is a great example of a scientific theory, we know it's something, there is overwhelming evidence for it, we can test it etc...

So is the theory of "origins" according to evolution so well established that it can be called a scientific theory? I mean after all we have no overwhelming evidence for where Gravity came from, how it formed, how it was made, or when it came to be.

I've heard Dr. Millers argument, I watched this video when you sent it to me, so I know where he is coming from. He talked about Monkeys and Whales and transitional species, but not so much about evolution origins, which is at the heart of the issue with this whole ID debate. We need to talk about origins!!! Don't get confused, ID is all about origins, ...not proving evolving creatures true or not, that is another debate.

You being a "theist" and a believer in ID, do realize that by keeping science as "objective as possible in schools"...this objective way of thinking only teaches one way...that it was random accident. Only things testable can be talked about in schools. This objective reasoning you tote around teaches that a God or other being had absolutely no hand in creation and no place in the discussion (in schools)because it takes faith.
Am I accurate about what your saying so far?

I know you think any religous conversation only has a place in the home or in the church walls and Dr. Miller talks about how you'd have to teach all viewpoints of ID if you were to teach it, and that its not a good idea to do so(you'd have to teach ideas such as Mysticsm etc...)

I disagree. This is why I think ID has some meret. If you teach it objectively not picking out one religion or another, but teaching the SINGLE viewpoint that it could have happened by an intelligent designer, I think it would be quite objective. You could then teach it right along side the viewpoint that it possibly happened by random chance too. You could give a general overview of some key concepts in ID, say for example, a world wide flood, or a localized flood(as you believe my friend)and evidence found in our fossil record that could support the claim... can teach the "idea" of ID and leave it up to the students to conclude in there home or in there church, or other places ,which if any of the ID ideas make sense or make more sense than the evolutionary explanation for origins. I think that is a pretty fair idea, don't you?

I'm really trying to speak objectively here about this topic, because I don't have all knowledge, so I just want to be as well informed as possible when making my decisions.

If you really wanted to keep science truly objective, the theory of evolution could be taught but with alot more emphasis on the fact that evolutionists do not know the origins of this evolution they theorize should be left open for discussion because they don't know for sure how we all got here. That seems pretty objective to me.

I personally believe that the God of the Bible created the world in 6 literal days...that is my presupposition, I just see the facts, the fossil evidence, the same stuff the evolutionists are studying...differently. I don't start with a presupposition that it was an accident and that there was no intelligent designer.
It's okay to have differing presuppostions, right?

I'm open to hearing what evolutionists think, I'm open to hearing what ID people think. That's pretty objective don't you think?

Ultimatley if the scientific theory is as rock solid as they say, than what are evolutionist afraid of to open it up to other possiblities when talking about origins. Let rational people see the evidence, hear the ideas out there for origins, and make up there own mind. By saying that ID has no part in the discussion in schools(the place where they encourage open minds and forward thinking) than what does that say about ID? That is the point guys like Ben Stein were talking about in the film Expelled.


Munchanka said...

Hey Jerm, we meet again!
You're being completely objective and I agree, there are ways to introduce ID as an objective concept. RNA and DNA are languages and codes of information. No where else in the natural world does randomness generate codes (though it often generates patterns).
The core dilemma is this: how do you teach origins of any kind in a classroom? Big Bang theory is certainly flawed, but we have observed the universe expanding from a central point, so that is observable. There is (as of yet) no evidence for raw creation, or species spawning from nothing.
If it comes from observation of the natural world, teach it in the science classroom. If it comes from faith or inference, teach it elsewhere.

Highflyin' V said...

This might be your most interesting post to date.

Khylov said...

Well, another tome of Tolkien down... 500^2 words this time.

Thanks again for dropping by giving your input and new thoughts on the subject.

Moro Rogers said...

"There is (as of yet) no evidence for raw creation, or species spawning from nothing.
If it comes from observation of the natural world, teach it in the science classroom. If it comes from faith or inference, teach it elsewhere."

I mean, I think that there are logical reasons to believe in God, the necessity of an 'unmoved mover' and so on, but I also think that the original act of creation is something so far removed from anything we can observe that it has no place in science. (Or...that science has no place in *it.*)
Sorry for that horribly stilted sentence up there. I could probably come up with something neater and simpler if I had more time.=p

tamela said...

interesting post, austin. i took some anthro classes last semester which led me to struggle with the question of evolution and faith. (see my post: The essential question)

Lo said...

Austin, you mention that ID is not testable. Neither is evolution. Also, keep in mind that evolution is by definition a Godless process. I of course don't want to discourage your belief in God... just want to point out that the two appear to be incompatible.

Munchanka said...

Evolution is very testable! There's an entire field called evolutionary biology where experiments are being done with every organism from algae to humans. Check out the article I posted on bird genetics. We've found that birds carry the genes to grow teeth, scales, and tales. Hand-me-down dino genetics? Possibly.

More evolutionary testing/research:

Unfortunately, there's currently no way to test for Intelligent Design. One can't force God to show himself any more than he already does.

As for the definition of evolution, it doesn't mention God (existing or not existing) at all, it simply reads: "change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift."

It doesn't say that there is no God, it just doesn't mention Him, because there is no testable evidence for the presence of God.

To be clear, this does not make evolution a superior concept to God. Science can never deliver salvation, and cannot explain love, grace, or righteousness. It is just more testable, thus more scientific.

Moro Rogers said...

LO- How are God and evolution incompatible? (I mean...I know that evolution and certain straw man mischaracterizations of God are mutually exclusive...)