Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Intelligent Design Video: 'Unlocking the Mystery of Life'

'Unlocking the Mystery of Life' (67 mins - Amazon Astore UK | US) - The scientific case for Intelligent Design - is produced by Illustra Media:

"Time, chance, and natural selection. Since Darwin, biologists have relied on such processes to account for the origin of living things. Yet today, this approach is being challenged as never before..."

The video starts with the 'landmark meeting' held by Phillip Johnson (TalkOrigins article on Phillip Johnson) in Pajaro Dunes California in 1993 and describes the development of the Intelligent Design movement through contributions from well-known names such as Paul Nelson, Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, William Dembski, Jonathan Wells, and Scott Minnich.

Sample quotations from the 'Unlocking the Mystery of Life' video:

Phillip Johnson:

I sometimes wonder why anybody talks about anything else. Because this is the most interesting topic there is. Where did we come from? How did we get here? What brought us into existence? What is our relationship to reality as a whole?

The argument for intelligent design is based upon observation of the facts. Now that's my definition of good science. It's observation of the facts. And when you observe the facts, as Michael Behe has done, you observe this incredible pattern of interrelated complexity...

Paul Nelson

For Charles Darwin, natural selection explained the appearance of design without a designer. There was no longer any need to invoke an intelligent cause for the complexity of life. In effect, natural selection became a kind of designer substitute.

When we came together at Pajaro Dunes we certainly didn't agree on everything, but we did share a real dissatisfaction with the mechanism of natural selection and the role that it was playing in biological explanation.

The co-option argument doesn't explain this. You see, in order to construct that flagellar mechanism - or the tens of thousands of other such mechanisms in the cell - you require other machines to regulate the assembly in those structures. And those mechanisms, themselves, require machines for their assembly.

When I look at molecular machines, or the incredibly complex process by which cells divide, I want to ask, 'is it possible that these things had an intelligence behind them? That there was a plan and a purpose to this structure?'

Stephen Meyer

It's part of our knowledge base that intelligent agents can produce information-rich systems… so the argument is not based on what we don't know, but its based on what we do know about the cause and effect structure of the world.

We know, at present, there is no materialistic explanation, no natural cause that produces information. Not natural selection, not self- organizational processes, not pure chance. But we do know of a cause that is capable of producing information and that is intelligence. And so when people infer design from the presence of information in DNA, they're effectively making what's called (in the historical sciences) an inference to the best explanation.

So when we find an information-rich system in the cell, in the DNA molecule specifically, we can infer that intelligence played a role in the origin of that system, even if we weren't there to observe the system coming into existence.

Michael Behe

It's really interesting to notice that the more we know about life and the more we know about biology, the more problems Darwinism has, and the more design becomes apparent.

...for the longest time, I believed that Darwinian evolution explained what we saw in biology. Not because I saw how it could actually explain it, but because I was told that it did explain it. In schools I was taught Darwinian biology.

And through college and graduate school, I was in an atmosphere which just assumed that Darwinian evolution explained biology and, again, I didn't have any reason to doubt it.

It wasn't until about ten years ago, that I read a book called, "Evolution, a Theory in Crisis," (critique) by a geneticist by the name of Michael Denton (an Australian). And he put forward a lot of scientific arguments against Darwinian theory that I had never heard before.

...and the arguments, seemed pretty convincing. And, at that point, I started to get a bit angry because I thought I was being led down the primrose path. Here were a number of very good arguments... and I had gone through a doctoral program in biochemistry, became a faculty member... and I had never even heard of these things. And so, from that point on, I became very interested in the question of evolution and since have decided the Darwinian processes are not the whole the explanation for life.

William Dembski

I came to this trying to look at how do we reason about design. What are the logical moves that we have to go through in order to come to a conclusion of design?

And, what I am trying to to establish reliable, empirical, scientifically rigorous criteria for deciding whether something is, in fact, designed.

I was looking at the logic of it, and what I found was that you need improbability and you need specification, the right sort of pattern...

Jonathan Wells

Darwin wanted to explain everything in the history of life in terms of undesigned, unintelligent natural processes.

...and when he looked for an explanation, what he found was that a process he could observe in domestic populations also operates in the wild.

Now, Darwin, himself, was very familiar with domestic breeding. He studies pigeon breeding, and he knew that - for centuries - human breeders had been able to make dramatic changes in populations by selecting only certain individuals to breed. Darwin really suggested that this same process operates in the wild...

Scott Minnich

Howard Berg at Harvard has labeled it [the flagellar motor] the most efficient machine in the universe. These machines, some of them, are running at 100,000 rpms. And are hard-wired into a signal transduction or sensory mechanism so that it's getting feedback from the environment.

The bacterial flagellum - two gears forward and reverse, water-cooled, proton motive force. It has a stator, it has a rotor, it has a U-joint, it has a drive shaft, it has a propeller. And they function as these parts of machines...

It's not convenient that we give them these names. It's truly their function.

Irreducible complexity was coined by Mike Behe in describing these molecular machines. Basically, what it says, is that you have multicomponent parts to any organelle or system within a cell…all of which are necessary for function. That is, if you remove one part, you lose function of that system.


Previous posts include:

"Darwinism's Rules of Reasoning: Phillip Johnson on Pierre Grasse"

"Intelligent Design: 'A War on Science' (BBC Horizon Video - 49 mins)"

"Recent 'Intelligent Design The Future' Podcasts"

"Intelligent Design Defended by Unsolved Genetic Puzzle"

"Scientist Exposes Evolution's Weaknesses in Politically Incorrect Book About Darwinism and Intelligent Design"

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Humanity has been warned repeatedly about the threat to humanity, to life as we know it, to the viability of recognizably frangible global ecosystems and to the integrity of Earth and its limited resources that could be posed to humankind by the unbridled growth of absolute global human population numbers. Because we want human beings to be fed and to have jobs so they can feed themselves and their families, the growth of human numbers has lead great thinkers and scientists to regularly remind the human community of the impacts of unregulated human propagation, unrestrained consumption and rampantly expanding production activities in our planetary home.

Every possible bias, rhetorical device and "spin" appears to have been employed to deny the mounting evidence of the potential for impending ecological calamities and economic disasters from the near exponential growth of human numbers worldwide. Recently, good science about the way the world works has been systematically discredited; leading elders of the political economy have consciously conspired to mislead the public by misrepresenting the science and by turning climate science into a "political football" of sorts; ideological groups sponsored by super-rich, large-scale corporate 'citizens' have spread uncertainty and confusion in discussions about the nature of the biophysical world in which we live; and controversy has been manufactured where none would have otherwise existed.

The illusion of meaningful debate has been foisted upon the public by leaders who are evidently intent on "poisoning the well" of public discourse by knowingly and selfishly fostering disinformation campaigns for the purpose of enhancing their own financial interests........come what may for our children, coming generations, global biodiversity, the environment, and the Earth as a fit place for human habitation.

The elder guarantors of a good enough future for the children appear to be leading our kids down a "primrose path" along which the children could unexpectedly be confronted with sudden, potentially colossal threats to human and environmental health that appear to be derived from human-driven, converging global challenges such as pernicious impacts of global warming and climate change, pollution of the air, water and land from microscopic particulates and solid waste, and the reckless dissipation of scarce natural resources. All the while, these leading elders remain in denial of the fulminating ecological degradation by willfully declining to acknowledge, much less begin to address, humanity's emerging, human-induced predicament. One day, perhaps sooner rather than later, our children could have extraordinary difficulties responding ably to that with which they could soon come face to face; that is to say, because their leaders have so adamantly refused to acknowlege God's great gift of the good science of biological and physical reality, our kids will not even know what "hit" them, much less why it is happening.

Please note the concerns I am trying to communicate are expressed much better yesterday by Cameron Smith at the following link.

As always, your thoughts are welcome.



Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001
Without a doubt, we need new thinking and new leadership and, yes, we need both now.

Hmmm…... ok…... for just a moment let us consider that at least one way to realistically address the challenges posed by global warming and global warming could be by limiting the rate of increase in the unbridled growth of the global economy.

Perhaps we could follow what we already know from good science, sound reasoning and common sense. We can choose to respond ably and differently, in a more reality-oriented way, to the emergent global challenges looming before humanity, the ones that we can certainly manage because these challenges can be seen so clearly now to be spectacularly induced by the unrestrained global growth of human overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities now threatening to ravage the Earth.

Of course, it is fair to ask what the family of humanity could choose to do “ably and differently, in a more reality-oriented way.” Here are several ideas that come to mind.

1. Implement a universal, voluntary, humane program of family planning and health education that teaches people the need for setting a limit on the number of offspring at one child per family.

2. Establish an upper limit on the growth of the individual human footprint.

3. Restrict the reckless dissipation of limited natural resources so that the Earth is given time to replenish them for human benefit.

4. Substitute clean, renewable sources of energy, through the use of substantial economic incentives, for the fossil fuels we rely upon now.

5. Recognize that everything human beings do on the surface of our planetary home utterly depends on the finite resources and frangible ecosystem services of Earth. Perhaps the time is nearly at hand when an endlessly expanding, gigantesque global economy on a relatively small planet of the size and make-up of Earth becomes patently unsustainable.
From my humble point of view and limited scope of observation, a perfect storm is taking shape in the form of a gigantic blast of ‘success’ called economic globalization, that can be seen as a soon to become unsustainable consequence of the selfish politics of neo-conservatism and the unbridled economics of market fundamentalism. How on Earth can the relatively small, finite planet we inhabit be expected to much longer sustain the huge scale and anticipated growth of an endlessly expanding global political economy?

The billionaires are already looking ahead with pleasure and great anticipation to the coming of the first trillionaire among us.

The color of the clouds on the far horizon are ominously turning from white to black. Some kind of impending ecological collapse or else calamitous economic disaster appears to loom in the offing.
If you will, please forgive me for saying that I believe my not-so-great generation of elders is literally on the verge of devouring the birthright of its children and mortgaging their future, while not giving so much as a thought to the needs of coming generations. My generation may be remembered most for having ravaged the Earth and irreversibly degraded its environment, leaving our planetary home unfit for life as we know it or for human habitation or both.

The fiascos in Iraq and on Wall Street will be seen as symptoms of venal administrations.

Unfortunately, many too many of our brothers and sisters as well as virtually all the political leaders, economic powerbrokers and ‘talking heads’ in the mass media are not yet acknowledging the distinctly human-induced predicament looming ominously before humanity, even now visible on the far horizon. Because human overproduction, over-consumption and overpopulation appear to be occurring synergistically, at least to me it makes sense to see and address them as a whole. Picking the most convenient or most expedient of the three aspects of the human condition could be easier but may not be a good idea. The “big picture” is what we need to see, I suppose. At some point we are going to be forced to gain a “whole system” perspective of what 6.6 billion (soon to be 9 billion) people are doing on Earth. That is to say, the human community needs to widely-share a reasonable and sensible understanding of the colossal impact of unbridled production, unrestained consumption and unregulated propagation activities of the human species on Earth….... and how life utterly depends upon Earth’s limited resource base for existence.

If human beings can share an adequate enough grasp of the leviathan-like presence of the human species on Earth, then we can choose individually and collectively to behave differently from the ways we are behaving now, lest my generation could lead everyone to inadvertently precipitate the massive extinction of biodiversity, the irredeemable degradation of environs, the pillage of our planetary home and, perhaps, the endangerment of humanity.
So Scott Minnich is attributing to Howard Berg the words "the most efficient machine in the universe" with respect to the bacterial flagellum.

I have corresponded with Dr Berg, and he has informed me with respect to this "That is not a statement I would make".

So is Scott Minnich being less than truthful or is Howard Berg being less than truthful?
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