Monday, December 20, 2010

The problem with Intelligent Design


  1. ID is bunk, but there's something important to note about the ID movement: The movement's rock star is Michael Behe. He's a biochemist. Perhaps the scientist most universally despised by his colleagues for promoting ID silliness, but a real biochemist. Michael Behe accepts common descent of humans and chimps. Your haredi brethren have a problem with that. The "debate" with IDers is about whether certain things -- like Behe's favorite, the bacterial flagellum -- popped into existence and weren't reducible to normal evolutionary mechanisms. They want to teach in public schools that maybe some stuff just popped into existence.

    The debate with your haredi brethren isn't over bacterial flagellums or what should be taught in public schools, it's quite simply whether man and chimps are of common descent. If you're going to argue with them, I'd advise you to keep the debate there. Sometimes Wikipedia can be quite useful (particularly when a page has a lot of links) and this is one of those times:

    Baruch Pelta

  2. Thanks for checking in, Baruch. I am actually not interested in debate for its own sake, but rather understanding the creationist paradigm - call it the "הוה אמינא"

    Your tip on Behe is indeed quite interesting. Even he concedes common ascent. Rabbi Coffer has a different twist in his bid for rationalism. As I understand it, his line of reasoning is:

    1. Life itself points to the Creator due to its complexity etc. (his version of the watchmaker analogy / ID).
    2. We therefore should base our entire understanding of the physical universe on the Creator's literal revelation as conveyed to us by our sages.

    Now at this point I don't know if he is actually literate on the ID arguments, which is why he is overwhelmed by his protein example. That is, he doesn't understand that this is a formulation of "irreducible complexity". I myself am just beginning to research the subject. If indeed he understands less than me, then that is quite sad.

    Keep in touch!