Friday, June 30, 2017

And There is Still Nothing Religious about Intelligent Design

I decided to quit numbering these, because there have been too many posts exploring the religious nature of the Discovery Institute (DI) and Intelligent Design (ID).  Instead of numbering, I am simply going to continue reminding folks about the those religious underpinnings.

This time around the DI is hawking someone else's book.  Little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer wrote this post: "Scott Turner’s Purpose and Desire — An Important New Voice in the Evolution Debate".  Before getting into the post, I was wondering who Scott Turner is and whether or not he is actually a 'new voice' in the cultural debate between religion and science.

So, I hit my usual sources and found that while Scott might be new to klingy, he's not new to this debate. Like klingy, Wikipedia also mentioned Scott's last book "The Tinkerer's Accomplice, How Design Emerges from Life Itself" and the Harvard University Press Catalog says a few interesting things:

"Physiologist Scott Turner argues eloquently and convincingly that the apparent design we see in the living world only makes sense when we add to Darwin’s towering achievement the dimension that much modern molecular biology has left on the gene-splicing floor: the dynamic interaction between living organisms and their environment. Only when we add environmental physiology to natural selection can we begin to understand the beautiful fit between the form life takes and how life works."
It also mentioned something klingy seemed to ignore, Scott's last book was in 2010.  Now I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound very new to me.  But that's only one issue with the above quote.  I have to ask, how did Darwin, and subsequent researchers, left 'the dynamic interaction between living organisms and their environment' on the cutting room floor?  Doesn't the very idea of Natural Selection get driven by how an allele affects the survival/reproductive opportunity within the environment?  How environmental changes affect evolution within a population?  The environment is, and always has been, a key factor in the study of evolution.

Here is where I start to suspect Scott's leanings.  By wording it this way, he seems to think there has to be a guide, a map, an . . . dare I say it . . . an intelligence, behind it all.  Instead of the environment causing natural selection, there is some sort of symbiosis between the environment and the population that drives evolution.  Ah, yes, from Scott's Wikipedia page we can see he is a proponent of the Gaia Hypothesis, something not very well supported by science.

OK, let see what klingy has to say.  He starts off with this little tarnished gem:
"The crisis of evolutionary biology is spoken of openly here and by scientists who are professed advocates of intelligent design."
'Crisis'? Really?  I understanding klingy wishing it was a crisis, but he's overstating things by a ton.  We don't have a crisis because within evolutionary biology, this barely a blip on the screen.  The debate is cultural, not scientific.  For years science pretty much ignored it until groups like the DI started threatening science education with their marketing and politicking.  If you remember the landmark lawsuits (Kitzmiller v Dover Area School DistrictSelman v. Cobb County School DistrictEdwards v. AguillardMcLean v. ArkansasLemon v. KurtzmanScopes Trial) were all focused on education, not science.  What does that tell you?  It tells me that we aren't talking about a crisis here.

OK, next up, klingy says:
"The latest biologist to come out swinging at Darwinism, Turner is not an ID proponent. He teaches at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry."
However, is Scott a biologist?  His own website says:
"I am a physiologist by training, but with a deep interest in the interface of physiology with evolution, ecology and adaptation." (SUNY: Bio)
I am not knocking Scott, I just wish klingy would stop mis-representing people. By referring to Scott as a biologist, you assume a much stronger background in biology.  Physiology is a branch of biology, but it's only a small part.  Here is the definition of Physiology:
"the branch of biology dealing with the functions and activities of living organisms and  their parts, including all physical and chemical processes." (
Now contrast it with the definition of biology from the same source:
"the science of life or living matter in all its forms and phenomena, especially with reference to origin, growth, reproduction, structure,and behavior." (
See some significant differences, don't you?  When you look at Scott's curricula vitae, you can call him Dr. Turner, he is a Doctor of Philosophy. not biology . . . but klingy calls him a biologist.  What I wish he would do is his homework and honestly represent folks!  This is a habit of the DI, do you remember some of the other times they mis-represented the facts:
So we know klingy is using one of the comment tactics of the DI -- the misrepresentation of the facts . . . or as I was taught to call it -- lying, even lying by omission is still lying.  Next klingy quotes the preface of Scott's book -- and it shows Scott is making the same mistake that the rest of the ID proponents do.  Here, read this:
"Instead of a frank acknowledgment of purposefulness, intentionality, intelligence, and design, we refer to “apparent” design, “apparent” intentionality, “apparent” intelligence."
Now, has anyone -- anywhere -- in the past 150+ years provided any actual scientific evidence for purposefulness, intentionality, intelligence, or design?  Without such evidence, all you have is the appearance of those things.  Science is all about accuracy and when all you have is the appearance, you do not make frank acknowledgements!

The whole modern intelligent design movement started with the assumption that the appearance of design was the same as the actuality of design.  This assumption is used to not only in an effort to tear down actual science, but to push a religious agenda that is not shared by the majority of the world.  But since that movement started, no one had offered anything other than conjecture and wishful thinking to support that assumption.  Scott appears to be making that same assumption.  That might work well for philosophy, but when it comes to hard sciences, like biology, assumptions do not cut it.

So, what do we have . . . is someone who is not new to the cultural debate, whose credentials are mis-represented by the DI and someone who shares the same assumption that the appearance is the same as the fact.  So nothing new at all, just another one who drank the kool-aid and ignored the lack of substance.  I may read his book, but only if it shows up in the religious section of the local library.  

Oh yea, did I forget to mention Scott's new book is being published by Harper-One -- which, as we have pointed out before, is the religious imprint of Harper-Collins.  So if I see the book, it will most likely be in the religious section of the library or bookstore.

No comments:

Post a Comment