The evolving clash of Darwinists and doubters

The International Herald Tribune has published a story about the growing debate in America over the idea of Intelligent Design. The article entitled "The evolving clash of Darwinists and doubters" By Kenneth Chang of The New York Times, dated Tuesday, August 23, 2005. The article begins by casting a rather favorable light on intelligent design focusing on the work of Michael Behe. The article also gives a good description of the more standard arguments from the proponents of evolution. It notes:

But mainstream scientists say that the claims of intelligent design run counter to a century of research supporting the explanatory and predictive power of Darwinian evolution, and that the design approach suffers from fundamental problems that place it outside the realm of science.

"One of the rules of science is, no miracles allowed," said Douglas Erwin, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian Institution. "That's a fundamental presumption of what we do."

That does not mean that scientists do not believe in God. Many do. But they see science as an effort to find out how the material world works, with nothing to say about why we are here or how we should live.

And in that quest, they say, there is no need to resort to otherworldly explanations. So much evidence has been provided by evolutionary studies that biologists are able to explain even the most complex natural phenomena and to fill in whatever blanks remain with solid theories.

This description comports fully with my own understanding of the arguments being raised by the advocates of evolution only. It basically says: "science is a discipline that assumes that there are naturalistic explanations for the universe and the diversity of life we see in the universe. It is possible that there may be non-naturalistic causes, but those causes (if they exist and we doubt they do) are certainly not something that should be considered in the realm of science." The article notes this ojection by proponents of intelligent design:

But mainstream scientists, design proponents say, are unwilling to look beyond the material world when it comes to explaining things like the construction of an eye or the spinning motors that propel bacteria. Design proponents question why scientists, who are presumably seeking answers, would exclude one explanation.

"If we've defined science such that it cannot get to the true answer, we've got a pretty lame definition of science," said Douglas Axe, a molecular biologist and the director of research at the Biologic Institute, a research center in Seattle that looks at the organization of biological systems including intelligent design issues. He would not name the source of financing for the institute.

Stephen Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, compared the design approach to archaeologists investigating an ancient civilization.

"Imagine you're an archaeologist and you're looking at an inscription, and you say, 'Well, sorry, that looks like it's intelligent, but we can't invoke an intelligent cause because, as a matter of method, we have to limit ourselves to materialistic processes,"' Meyer said. "That would be nuts.

"The fact remains that the materialistic view is a truncated view of reality."

I think that this appears to be an excellent discussion of some of the issues and recommend that it be reviewed by those interested in the controversy.


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