Friday, June 30, 2006


Hysteria Over ID Lectures at Leeds as study shows 1 in 10 science students don't accept evolution

The Times reports on the latest round of academic hysteria concerning ID, with a report that 'Compulsory lectures in intelligent design and creationism are going to be included in second-year courses for zoology and genetics undergraduates at Leeds University' - despite the fact that these are to be strictly attempts to discredit these alternative theories (which, if experience is anything to go by, will probably mean that they will attack straw men with a fist-full of fallacies). Why is it that 'Despite the clear anti- creationist stance of these lecturers, the move has set warning bells ringing across the UK science community.'? Because: '"It would be undesirable for universities to spend a lot of precious resources teaching students that creationism and intelligent design are not based on scientific evidence,” says David Read, the vice- president of the Royal Society.' You can see the dilemma - ignore ID and creationism on the basis that they don't merit serious engagement, despite the fact the 1 in 10 science students don't believe in evolution (according to a study carried out by Professor Roger Downie, of the University of Glasgow), or spend time trying to refute them, thereby giving these views more publicity (albeit bad publicity) and a foot in the door as legitimate topics of intellectual discussion. Leeds University has taken the latter option. Professor Steve Fuller has some encouraging words: “The scientific establishment prevents dissenting views,” says Professor Steve Fuller, Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. “I have a lot of respect for those who have true scientific credentials and are upfront about their views.” Commenting on the study concerning a tenth of science students not believing in evolution, Professor Downie said: “This gives a very poor prognosis for their understanding of what science is and their ability to be scientists”. From a philosophical perspective, I'd actually say this may give a rather good prognosis for these student's understanding of science and their ability to be scientists! Seeing this sort of hysteria in academia, it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to imagine a day when science students are required to sign a statement of faith in methodological naturalism as an essential ground rule of scientific theorising before they can be accepted onto a course...

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Ken Miller & Francis Collins open to an ID explanation for the origin of life

Just to bring to your attention this fascinating report by William Dembski on how two prominent 'theistic evolutionists' in America have recently made some comments about how God - and therefore how an intelligent design explanation of any type - could have been directly involved in bringing about the origin of life.

Dembski reporting on Ken Miller: 'The most interesting part of the talk for me came at the end when the following question was posed: “Since biologists don’t really have a good grasp on the origin of life itself, and since life has clearly resulted some kind of self-organization to go from a bunch of chemicals to the point where we are today, couldn’t the origin of life be the point at which God’s involvement in creation was direct?” As this question was posed, at least a third of the students in the crowd nodded their heads yes. The professors in the crowd just looked confused; and scared. To my surprise however, Dr. Miller said, “absolutely!” That made the professors look even more confused.'

Dembski reporting Collins: 'Four billion years ago, the conditions on this planet were completely inhospitable to life as we know it; 3.85 billion years ago, life was teeming. That is a very short period—150 million years—for the assembly of macromolecules into a self-replicating form. I think even the most bold and optimistic proposals for the origin of life fall well short of achieving any real probability for that kind of event having occurred. Is this where God entered? Is this how life got started? I am happy to accept that model, but it will not shake my faith if somebody comes up with a model that explains how that the first cells formed without divine intervention.'

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Skeptical Psychologist Trashes ID

In Skeptical Inquirer (volume 30, Issue 3) psychologist Scott O. Lilienfeld opines that ID is:

'an armchair conjecture that has flown under the radar of peer review and has yet to generate a single confirmed scientific prediction.'

But against this:

1. ID is not an 'armchair conjecture', since it is open to empirical confirmation and falsification.

2. ID has not flown under the radar of peer review:

3. ID has generated confirmed scientific predictions.

For example, ID theorists predicted that so-called 'junk DNA' would be less common than Darwinian assumptions led scientists to think. Increasingly, 'junk DNA' is being shown to be no such thing (cf. As biologist Jonathan Wells says: 'It could have saved us 25 years if an ID approach to "junk" DNA had been pursued back when it was discovered.' (

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