Skip to main content

On the Evolutionary Road to Damascus - 5



This is the fifth and last in my series of linked blog entries on my experience of being converted (or not) to intelligent design.

The final evidence provided to me is from the DVD 'Where does the Evidence Lead'. Like my first source, the book "What's Darwin Got to do with it?": this is a calm, reasoned argument for intelligent design, rather than a religious rant.

I don't think the DVD provides any additional arguments, going over the same material slowly with pictures. Once again, I am convinced that the reasonable inference argument means that ID needs at least considering, but that there just isn't enough evidence to unseat evolution.

This DVD majors on the bacterial flagellum as impossible to explain without design. We are told that no one can explain how the various different components could have evolved, as none is useful independently. Unfortunately, it appears that the only source for this assertion is the champion of the motor, Michael Behe (who appears prominently on the video). There are good examples already of many of the components of the flagellar motor in action elsewhere. This was highlighted in the 2005 Pennsylvania court case.

So, sadly, nothing more added here.

The outcome of my trip through this material? I am more sympathetic to intelligent design than I was. Because I know it has been used as a 'stalking horse' by some creationists I was suspicious of it, but frankly this is an ad hominem attack, which was unscientific of me. It doesn't matter why someone puts a theory forward if it has some merit.

There is enough  in nature that is suggestive of design to make it worth investigating as a scientific thesis - however, there appears to be no good evidence to accept the design theory, and everything to stick with evolution. This doesn't mean evolution shouldn't be challenged - it always is being - and it doesn't mean we can rule out design - but it has to remain a minority theory to be kept in mind but not in a fit state to challenge mainstream thinking.

POSTSCRIPT - When I thought I was finished, a book called Dissent over Decent dropped onto my review pile. Subtitled 'intelligent design's challenge to darwinism' I thought it might give me a final conclusion. Unfortunately it's a philosophy (or possibly sociology) of science book, so very woffly and intensely dull. I think its conclusions were that both ID and evolution are scientific theories (in that they try to offer an explanation for the existence of something), but both are bad science (because neither can offer any useful predictions about a specific species etc.) So I got nothing useful here, apart from reinforcing my prejudices about philosophy/sociology of science - but that's a whole new debate which I will leave to another day.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope