What’s New in ID
Seriously. I saw a comment today on a forum that ID has no staying power. But it goes much farther than that.
Stephen Meyer’s latest book, Darwin’s Doubt, is just a book length treatment of his 2004 ‘review paper’, that Sternberg slipped into the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.
Meyer’s first book, Signature in the Cell (2009), was really just an extension of Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box (1996). The two books are nothing more than a teleological argument that god exists because we see humans designing complicated things and living things are complicated, therefore a designer must exist. We can’t design living things (mostly), therefore the designer is more ‘powerful’ than us… therefore god (or deity of choice).
This argument goes back in time through William Paley who published the “watchmaker” analogy in 1802 and all the way back to Greek philosophy. The earliest reference of this argument appears to be Socrates. So, this idea of an intelligent designer isn’t new.
But what about ID research? There are some pro-ID people who do research, but they aren’t investigating ID. They are trying to show that evolution can’t do the things that are claimed. Douglas Axe and Ann Gauger have been working “in a lab” since 2005. What’s truly funny is that Gauger presented at a creationism conference in 2007. Here’s a detailed report, that I will provide one small quote from.
She [Gauger] was then prompted by one of her colleagues to regale us with some new experimental finds. She gave what amounted to a second presentation, during which she discussed “leaky growth,” in microbial colonies at high densities, leading to horizontal transfer of genetic information, and announced that under such conditions she had actually found a novel variant that seemed to lead to enhanced colony growth. Gunther Wagner said, “So, a beneficial mutation happened right in your lab?” at which point the moderator halted questioning. We shuffled off for a coffee break with the admission hanging in the air that natural processes could not only produce new information, they could produce beneficial new information.
Back in 2005, the Templeton Foundation provided an opportunity for pro-ID researchers to get a grant to do… well.. research. Not that this was the same year that the Biologic Institute was founded (the one mentioned previous with Axe and Gauger).
The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.
“They never came in,” said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.
The pro-ID Access Research Network has a notable lack of… well… research. For example, I click on Michael Behe’s name and there are clusters of links for articles, reviews, responses to critics (larger than the others), but no links to Behe’s research. Same with Meyer… no research. Dembski to0. No research articles, many responses to critics and his latest post seems to be from 2002.
The Center for Science and Culture has a list of supposed peer-reviewed papers supporting Intelligent Design. One thing that’s curious is that many of these papers are available on the internet, why doesn’t CSC link to them? Probably because they don’t want people reading them for themselves.
The first paper on that list is Dissecting Darwinism by Joseph A. Kuhn (2012). In reviewing the “paper”, I find that it does not discuss any research at all. Indeed, it’s more of an opinion piece. It does not explicitly mention intelligent design or any supporting evidence for a designer. It ONLY attacks evolution, using the typical and debunked attacks of ID proponents all over. Evolution can’t explain the origin of life, irreducible complexity, and transitional fossils. All of which have been shown to be wrong… even within this very blog.
The next paper is David L. Abel, “Is Life Unique?,” Life, Vol. 2:106-134 (2012). This one as well makes no explicit reference to intelligent design. Like the first, I can find no references to data or experiments on the subject. This paper seems to be defining life in such a way that it must be designed. But it does nothing to support ID or disprove evolution.
The next one is from BIO-complexity, which is a pro-ID “journal” which seems to publish two or three articles per year. This one is here. There are no references to intelligent design. And unlike the first two, this one actually contains data. This paper talks about a simulation of genes and the like. But it cannot address self-replication. Anything that attempts to model evolution without reproduction is flawed and that’s all there is to it.
The next three articles are all in BIO-complexity, which, honestly, is about as peer-reviewed as the local high school newspaper. The next, non-BIO-complexity paper is in 2010 and is a review paper (i.e. no new research), by Michael Behe.
So far, none of the papers… even those published in a pro-ID journal have explicitly said anything about intelligent design. In the first three papers (covering the last 3 years), only one has any actual data and that one is an incomplete model of evolution, but it is still used to attack evolution.*
Feel free to pursue that link and review some of those papers yourself. I predict that you will find more of the same. No explicit mention of supporting Intelligent Design and little to no actual research.
In conclusion, there is nothing new in ID. There hasn’t been anything new in ID for decades. It’s all a reinterpretation of work someone else has done or experiments that don’t match reality well enough to be supportive of anything.
* As an experiment, I went to PNAS and searched for evolution (title and abstract) in the last three years. There were 1025 hits. The first page lists things like the evolution of episodic memory, human brain evolution, and more. And that’s just one journal.