Darwinism Versus Intelligent Design
by David Berlinski & Critics Selection below: Paul Gross other sections to get comment later.
This month's commentary has a series of responses to Berlinski's piece on intelligent design. With his usual pomposity Paul Gross intones. I try hard to restrain myself from foaming over the science wars, but mere contact here tends to get me going. Darwinism deserves a kick in the pants.
I am no fan of the design argument, but the arrogant tone of such as Gross is a bit much. What more can he want? Berlinski sensibly critiques Darwin's theory and with intelligent restraint doesn't go to the opposite extreme of seeing the design argument as a simple antithesis.
The facts are clear, there is something wrong with the Darwinian theory.
And it would be nice if this could be understood in mainstream science instead of being pointed out by the Creationist movement.
After tangling with the NCSE (they got me unsubbed from Anthro_L, typical chicanery from that outfit, the archives there have a lot on design issues) I suddenly realized this whole game isn't naivete, it's brazen deception, except for the exceptionally sincere idiots and positivist dinosaurs of Big Science like Gross.
NCSE style education has made idiots of a whole generation, and I am alarmed at the discussions I have on the net with such. What I find appalling is the shallowness of competent sciences in these responses, the rote answers, the lack of any dimension to the argument.
The reasons Gross gives for the failure of intelligent design theory are not correct. Darwin's theory did NOT refute such things.
The question of design is really a spiritual version of something missing/factored out of current science. Indeed, if you read Dembski closely he notes that if something like the argument of the old teleomechanits were true, his argument would fail. He was righter than he knew, but at least he was clear.
The whole Darwin debate has become stultifying. In a sensible culture, the beauty, but the limits of the design argument would be clear, clear in a non-theist version perhaps, without cultural politicians making people stupid trying to suppress the obvious.
Schopenhauer in many ways saw the point before even Darwin, in his remarks on Lamarck. Design is only the Christian version of the question. As Berlinski honestly confesses, it is hard to really arrive at an answer.
It is worth searching for the Schopenhauer version. The design issue should be both the limits of science, and the limits of religion.
All that is needed for this debate is some acknowledgement that the developmental process isn't quite like anything we know, and that the usual scientific conception doesn't fully encompass it.
But that is too much to hope for from this value free jerkoffs.
Propagandists have to have answers, so the whole thing is simply gangbanged by rival factions.
What a strange situation. The whole science estab is lucky here, given the weakness of their opponents theistic obsessions. The two viewpoints seem tailor made to fix public opinion for consevative control of the dialectical wings. It is all rot,
as even a smattering of the eonic model would show.
Time for some real science wars. You don't get to be this mendacious with kids and call it science. The worthlessness of the Creationists' arguments notwithstanding, etc....
PAUL R. GROSS:
Congratulations are in order. In his latest COMMENTARY essay on “Darwinism”—as it is often called by those who do not know much evolutionary biology—David Berlinski seems to have reversed himself [“Has Darwin Met His Match?,” December 2002]. He is now critical of the effort to rehabilitate the ancient “argument from design,” these days holiday-wrapped as “intelligent-design theory.” This change of mind is all the more praiseworthy because Mr. Berlinski is not only the author of “The Deniable Darwin” (Commentary, June 1996) but, according to his current author’s note, closely associated with the Discovery Institute, the conservative Christian think tank that serves as the primary promoter of “intelligent design.” The manner of Mr. Berlinski’s dismissal is less creditable, however. His argument might be paraphrased as follows: intelligent design has failed, evolutionary biology has failed, and therefore nobody has a plausible scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth. This is absurd. The reasons Mr. Berlinski gives for the failure of intelligent-design theory have all been given before—in the professional literature, in the introductory biology courses of all decent colleges, in half a dozen very recent specialist books, on fifty flourishing scientific websites. However well intelligent-design apologetics is doing as politics, there is nothing new about its abject failure as science. On the other hand, none of the reasons Mr. Berlinski hints at for rejecting “Darwinism” stand up. They are the familiar creationist pabulum, supposedly demonstrating the grand flaws and gaps in evolutionary biology. But these arguments, too, have been addressed in the professional literature, in tens of thousands of papers, and in dozens of excellent, best-selling popular science books—and they have been soundly refuted. Unfortunately, a non-biologist reader of “Has Darwin Met His Match?,” innocent of this vast body of knowledge, will have no notion of its content or even, perhaps, of its existence, and may therefore take Mr. Berlinski’s assertions as true as well as deep, which they are not. Mr. Berlinski says that the argument from design has been taken up again in evolutionary biology and mathematical physics. This, if true, would give it some scientific seriousness. But it is not true. There is not one publication in recent biological journals, out of the tens of thousands of articles published annually—a huge subset of them devoted specifically to evolution—that undertakes to rehabilitate the argument from design. None of the intelligent-design “theorists” mentioned in his essay has ever published the claim in an original article in a regular, refereed biological journal. Nor, of course, has Mr. Berlinski himself done so. As for William Dembski’s lucubrations on chance and probability—which even Mr. Berlinski now finds flawed—I know of no professional publications (other than Dembski’s own books and his frenetic responses to critics) that treat them as of interest for mathematical physics. There are, however, a dozen point-by-point refutations of those claims, many of them available on the Internet, by well-known physicists, philosophers, mathematicians, and biologists.
World History and the Eonic Effect