Saturday, April 14, 2012

Subject to Ridicule

Michael Behe, famous for his proposal of irreducible complexity (IC), has endured plentiful cynical ridicule. IC proposes, that in a complex functional system such as the blood clotting cascade, or even in a simpler, non-living functional analog like the mousetrap, removal of one key component of the system effectively derails the functionality of the entire system. Behe’s thesis suggests that complex living systems could not have been produced by a successive accumulation of small evolutionary changes driven by random mutation in concert with natural selection. These systems were intelligently designed, Behe suggests.

Secular writers, for the most part, describe the complexity proposals of Michael Behe and William Dembski accurately. But their writings are heavily laced with negative commentary borne of their naturalistic worldview, such as this Wikipedia article: “The (IC) argument is central to intelligent design, and is rejected by the scientific community at large, which overwhelmingly regards intelligent design as pseudoscience.” Another Wikipedia entry on Dembski’s specified complexity (SC) proposal includes this caveat: “A study…states that ‘Dembski’s work is riddled with inconsistencies, equivocation, flawed use of mathematics, poor scholarship, and misrepresentations of others’ results.’”

Objectivity is often in short supply among secular science journalists. The naturalistic tilt of a substantial majority of scientists is evident among those who write on science topics. Authors of biology textbooks commonly sprinkle their writings with the terms “evolution, evolved, and evolutionary,” even when the use of those terms serves no instructional purpose. Evolutionary terminology creeps into most secular science literature as if the very use of the term is self-proving. The astonishing beauty, complexity, and incredible functional achievements of living things at the cellular and system level are most often explicitly credited to evolutionary processes in these texts.

Most mainstream bio-scientists are dedicated to naturalism and anti-supernaturalism. This dedication is tantamount to a religious commitment. Powerful evidence of the work of an intelligent mind and creative events are brusquely dismissed, fortified by the claim that the great majority of scientists think in terms of evolution. Of course, that statement is true. A significant minority of scientists thinks theistically, but they are required to keep their theistic beliefs under wraps when they “do science.” Theistic evolutionists often cite the disconnect between thinking theologically and thinking scientifically. This disconnect permits naturalistic thinking to gain a strong foothold.

Stephen C. Meyer in Signature in the Cell develops a forceful case for detection of intelligent design and carefully develops the scientific foundations for belief in ID. Meyer establishes the basis for his argument by carefully describing how intelligent design uses “a distinctive method of historical scientific reasoning and investigation.” He summarizes the scientific methods scientists use in this key quote: “Historical scientists have a distinctive objective (to identify the causes of past events); they formulate distinctive types of explanation (in which they cite past events as causes); and they make inferences with a distinctive (abductive) logical form.” I recommend Meyer’s 600-page Signature in the Cell as a brilliantly developed case for the scientific basis of design proposals, particularly the origin of the DNA code.

If an intelligent mind, the mind of God, really acted to produce features of our physical world by supernatural acts at definite points along earth’s timeline, the arguments over whether ID is really science, and whether belief in creation is really religion fade to insignificance. The real questions of importance are, “What is true?” and “What really happened?” The correct answers to these questions help us ground our belief system in truth and reality. For believers in design and creation it is easy to acknowledge an infinitely intelligent, creative deity, the God of the Bible, for the wonders we observe in nature. Our expressions of praise and worship are the logical sequel.