September 14, 2006


Design: Critical deception? (Alan I. Leshner, 9/11/06, Akron Beacon Journal)

The writer is the chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the executive publisher of its journal, Science.

Natural selection, the keystone of evolution science, is really a simple concept: The plants or animals that can most effectively adapt to changes in their environments are the most likely to thrive over many generations. Today, as the political campaign season heats up, we can see the workings of evolution in an unexpected locale: among the leaders of the ``intelligent design'' movement.

In the past year, they have experienced a series of high-profile defeats -- in federal court, in legislatures nationwide and on state and local school boards, including the Ohio Board of Education.

Today, in an effort to adapt, they are shifting to a doctrine they call ``critical analysis.''

Yet, Mr. Leshner objects to teaching kids exactly the analogy he's just made. It used to be possible to think these guys were just being deceiful when they did this, but by now you really have to assume that they just don't understand that they're arguing that evolution proceeds by intelligent design.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2006 6:08 PM

"No, no, no, you've got it all wrong. You're confusing a thing and itself!" --- Marvin Minsky

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at September 14, 2006 6:42 PM

Ok, so you call it "intelligent design" and they (the vast majority of the scientific community) call it "natural selection." What's the problem? Do we have to admit that there is a single, designing intelligence? Is the more scientific view of interacting ecosystems, co-evolution, genetic drift, mutation, horizontal gene transfer saying too much?
Is there a single intelligence that coordinates all of these observable patterns in life's evolution? I don't think it really matters; To scientists it really doesn't; they are much more interested in studying the dynamic patterns of genes interacting with their environment.
So, why is it so necessary to use the word "intelligent design" in classrooms?

Posted by: Godfrey at September 15, 2006 12:04 AM


It isn't necessary to teach Intelligent Design. But as both you and Mr. Leshner argue it turns out that there's nothing Natural about selection. Instead, as you say, the selection is done by some intelligent agent (or agents). Intelligent Design is just as bogus as Darwinism, but no more bogus.

Posted by: oj at September 15, 2006 12:12 AM

Just a thought - who designed the Intelligent Designer? And who designed that Designer?
etc., etc.

And we laugh at the Ancients saying that it was "turtles all the way down"?

If you must jettison reason in order to make room for faith at least admit it.

Posted by: Thomas.Chellew at September 15, 2006 5:41 AM

Totally bass ackwards.

Please,we all know that "intelligent design" does not mean selection by an actor which happens to partake of intelligence.

Selective breeding by human shepherds is not intelligent design from the perspective of the sheep. Rather it is a form of evolutionary stress to which the sheep-organism must adapt.

The shepherd's selection of sheep for greatest wool production is but a accelerated or exaggerated version of stress, comparable to a change in climate toward colder winters. If thick wool protected sheep from predators, then predators would likewise be a stress favoring selection for woolly coats.

The shepherds are no less part of the environment on the sheep than are the cold and the predators. Their selection of the wooliest sheep for breeding is most "natural."

Inteligent design refers to something much more profound. ID would posit a sheep Designer, Who made sheep to conform to His idea of sheep-ness, which idea includes woolyness. The shepherds were only interested in wool to keep themselves warm.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 15, 2006 6:17 AM

Thomas -- where did the sum total of energy in the universe come from?

If it has always been, then it would have dispersed by now... (at least according to reason, right?) But that still doesn't answer the question.

So who created the energy?

Reason is simply faith in oneself, which is pretty stupid considering one has nothing to do with one's own birth.

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 15, 2006 6:41 AM


Sheep breeding is exactly intelligent design (especially from the sheep's viewpoint) and what Darwin based his ideology on. ID is just another ideology proceeding from the same observation.

Posted by: oj at September 15, 2006 7:42 AM

Mr. Chellew:

We can't know, but it's quite natural for you to assume the designers were in turn designed.

More significantly, we must jettison reason in favor of faith in order to believe in Reason:

Reason is a subset of faith.

Posted by: oj at September 15, 2006 7:59 AM