10 Questions to Ask your Biology Teacher

Friends,

I’m having a blast at Dembski’s website. There is so much there. I’m not going to print the entire essay here, but I will post his ten questions for you to consider.

1. Design Detection

If nature, or some aspect of it, is intelligently designed, how can we tell?

2. Generalizing SETI

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a scientific research program that searches for signs of intelligence from distant space. Should biologists likewise search for signs of intelligence in biological systems? Why or why not?

3. Biology’s Information Problem

How do we account for the complex information-rich patterns in biological systems? Where did they originate?

4. Molecular Machines

Do any structures in the cell resemble machines designed by humans? How do we account for such structures?

5. Irreducible Complexity

What are irreducibly complex systems? Do such systems exist in biology? If so, are those systems evidence for design? If not, why not?

6. Reusable Parts

Human designers reuse designs that work well. Life forms also repeat the use of certain structures (the camera eye, for example). Is this evidence for common descent, evolutionary convergence, common design, or a combination of these?

7. Reverse Engineering

In trying to understand biological systems, molecular biologists often need to “reverse engineer” them. Is this evidence that the systems were engineered to begin with?

8. Predictions

Do intelligent design theory and neo-Darwinian theory make different predictions? Take, for instance, junk DNA. For which of the two theories would the idea that large stretches of DNA are junk be more plausible?

9. Following the Evidence

What evidence would convince you that intelligent design is true and neo-Darwinism is false? If no such evidence exists or indeed can exist, how can neo-Darwinism be a testable scientific theory?

10. Identifying the Designer

Can we determine whether an object is designed without identifying or knowing anything about its designer? For instance, can we identify an object as an ancient artifact without knowing anything about the civilization that produced it?

Now, I’m not suggesting these questions cannot be answered; they can, and they should be. I’m curious to know how differently they will be answered by Darwinists and creationists. Better, go over to Dembski’s essay and read his answers. Dembski concludes this way:

Phillip Johnson has written an insightful book titled The Right Questions: Truth, Meaning and Public Debate. In that book he shows that truth is best served not by having all the answers but by knowing the right questions, especially the tough questions suppressed by the intellectual elite of our society. In particular, truth demands that we ask the tough questions about Darwin and evolution. As Richard Halvorson has aptly remarked, “We must refuse to bow to our culture’s false idols. Science will not benefit from canonizing Darwin or making evolution an article of secular faith. We must reject intellectual excommunication as a valid form of dealing with criticism: the most important question for any society to ask is the one that is forbidden.” Intelligent design doesn’t have all the answers. But it is asking the right questions—questions forbidden by the Darwinian establishment. For a more thorough examination of the questions posed here, as well as many others, consult my new book The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design (InterVarsity, 2004).”

Kind of makes one wonder if perhaps the evolutionist establishment in the scientific community has something to hide doesn’t it? Kind of makes one wonder why they don’t want dissent doesn’t it? Kind of makes one wonder who the real conspiracy theorist are doesn’t it?

jerry

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  1. Joe

    Welcome back jerry. I was sad to read that I wasn’t as friendly as Jeff apparently is. 😉

    I’d like to post my response to these questions though.

    “If nature, or some aspect of it, is intelligently designed, how can we tell?”
    This is a question that anyone claiming that some system was intelligently designed would have to answer first. Since mainstream science is not entertaining any such claims there is no rigorous definition of “intelligently designed”.

    “The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a scientific research program that searches for signs of intelligence from distant space. Should biologists likewise search for signs of intelligence in biological systems? Why or why not?”
    Scientists do look for intelligence in biological systems. They see it in humans, many of our primate relatives, aquatic mammals, rodent and even birds. The closer we look at the intelligence in nature the more we see that our intelligence is not fundamentally different from animals, just better.

    “How do we account for the complex information-rich patterns in biological systems? Where did they originate?”
    The biological theory of evolution accounts for such patterns.

    “Do any structures in the cell resemble machines designed by humans? How do we account for such structures?”
    Some do, some don’t. No accounting is necessary, form follows function.

    “What are irreducibly complex systems? Do such systems exist in biology? If so, are those systems evidence for design? If not, why not?”
    There is no rigorous scientific definition of irreducibly complex. This is not a scientific concept outside of ID literature.

    “Human designers reuse designs that work well. Life forms also repeat the use of certain structures (the camera eye, for example). Is this evidence for common descent, evolutionary convergence, common design, or a combination of these?”
    It fits the theory of common descent which is supported by multiple independent converging lines of evidence.

    “In trying to understand biological systems, molecular biologists often need to “reverse engineer” them. Is this evidence that the systems were engineered to begin with?”
    No, this is simply a colloquialism for a particular way of studying organisms.

    “Do intelligent design theory and neo-Darwinian theory make different predictions? Take, for instance, junk DNA. For which of the two theories would the idea that large stretches of DNA are junk be more plausible?”
    Yes they do make different predictions. Since the ID theory is not well-specified I could not answer the last question. So called junk DNA does not contradict the theory of evolution, however.

    “What evidence would convince you that intelligent design is true and neo-Darwinism is false? If no such evidence exists or indeed can exist, how can neo-Darwinism be a testable scientific theory?”
    Those are two different questions wrapped into one. There are plenty of things that could falsify evolution (modern rabbit fossils in the pre-Cambrian). I do not know what might support the idea of intelligent design because it is not well specified and the methods for discerning design in nature is not clear.

    I want to emphasize though that the falsifiability of the theory of evolution is entirely separate from the falsifiability of ID, putting them together in this question is a rhetorical attempt to make an unanswerable question and therefore “prove” their point by creative use of grammar.

    “Can we determine whether an object is designed without identifying or knowing anything about its designer? For instance, can we identify an object as an ancient artifact without knowing anything about the civilization that produced it?”
    If we have experience with similar object that have been designed, we can. Any object that we do not have similar objects that we understand the design we cannot say. It is up to the person claiming they have found design in nature to define what it looks like and how they tell the difference. None of the explanations coming out of the ID movement have been convincing.

  2. “Should biologists likewise search for signs of intelligence in biological systems?”
    Surly you misquoted the man. Of course intelligence has been found in biological systems. One of which is typing this message. If you mean “search for intelligence DESIGN…” I suggest a religious study rather than a scientific one.
    Regards……. jim

  3. Michael G.

    Please check at the following to find a discussion of these 10 questions: http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/4412_responses_to_jonathan_wells3_11_28_2001.asp

  4. Michael,

    I’m not sure the ten questions I posed are the same as the ten your post answers. I could be wrong, but they seem to be two different sets of 10.

    jerry

  5. Joe,

    I have to leave for one of my jobs right now. I’ll get back to your post later. Thanks for patiently writing out a response, I am genuinely interested to see what you have written. PS–I give you a hard time Joe, but you just moved up the scale a bit because of a new contender name Ron. You might help him learn some manners. Later.

    jerry




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