Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

Intelligent Design vs. Darwinism – A Rational Discourse

Posted by Orrin Woodward on January 3, 2008

Intelligent Design: Unlocking the Mysteries of Life. 

I am going to change subjects in our quest of knowledge.  Socrates, the gadfly of Athens, said his wisdom came from knowing that he did not know all the answers.  I find it interesting that so many scientist and academia behave as if they have all the answers.  In the scientific field, absolute certainty is difficult to obtain since another experiment may prove your studies incomplete or outright wrong.  I love the quote from F. A. Hayek that states, “Nothing is more securely lodged than the ignorance of the experts.”  Have you ever wondered what ignorance might be lodged in our current beliefs in different fields of study?  Imagine living before the Copernican revolution, the starting assumption was that the earth was the center of the solar system and it was dangerous to believe otherwise – I refer you to Galileo.  Imagine before the germ theory in medicine, where a doctor would work on cadavers and then deliver a baby without disinfecting or washing.  Right ideas and wrong ideas both have consequences.  If you begin with the wrong assumptions, it is very hard to arrive at the right answers. 


Socrates genius engulfed the idea of questioning your assumptions to protect yourself from securely lodging your ignorance.  The goal of this blog is not to tell you what to believe, but to help you question your assumptions.  We must study the current dogma poured forth from the academia, media, and ruling authorities to truly think.  I occasionally will get (hate filled) and (thinking empty) comments on this blog.  Why is that?  Most likely, the commenter is fearful of questioning their assumptions and thus losing the certainty of their ruling beliefs.  With less than 40% of Americans reading even one entire book in a year, I am concerned that we will swallow whatever we are told from the experts.  My goal is to get people reading and thinking again.  By providing access to different thoughts through articles, books and videos, perhaps we can turn the tide.  This blog gives me hope that all is not lost.  The comments from people who are reading and thinking inspire me to continue to discuss ideas that have consequences.  Why do you read this blog?  Are you one of the rare Americans with the courage to think?  I have started a list of areas to discuss the beginning assumptions.  Please help add to this list.  Here is my list to date:


1. Economics – Ruling dogma is Keynesian

2. Science – Ruling dogma is Darwinism

3. Medical – Ruling dogma is prescription drugs

4. Political – Ruling dogma is democracy and the rule of 51%

5. Christian – Ruling dogma is post modern theology

6. Philosophy – Ruling dogma is post modern thought

7. Success – Ruling dogma was University education & Corporate job – Breaking down

8. Leadership – Ruling dogma is positional authority – Breaking down in flat world conditions

9. Marriage – Ruling dogma is that love is something you feel not something you do – Added thanks to commenter Matt

10. Law – Ruling dogma is judicial activism vs. Rule of Law

11. Education – Ruling dogma is centralized education


Today’s discussion will be on the dialogue between proponents of Intelligent Design and the proponents of Darwinist (chance plus time).  As I read the discussions on both sides, I am amused at how dogmatic the Darwinists are that there is no room for Intelligent Design.  What is there to fear in genuine discussion?  Their initial assumptions preclude them from rationally discussing or thinking through the case for design.  The Intelligent Design scientists are treated very similar to Galileo, when he had the alleged hubris to question the reigning Ptolemy based (earth at center) hypothesis of the solar system.  Thinking can be dangerous to the reigning assumptions, but I would argue it is much more dangerous to not think.  You don’t have to be a scientist or engineer to enjoy the discussion on both sides.  The attached article and video are explained at a level that will help you grow immensely in your understanding of the issues in the scientific field.


As you read the discussions on all sides, ask yourself what are the underlying assumptions that are beyond question.  Everyone has their initial assumptions and beliefs that build their world-view, but some people have a harder time admitting this.  Very rarely will you find a neutral science because the experimenter’s world-view invades their science.  Only a few researchers are honest enough to admit this.  I have a world-view that states God created the world and created us.  This world-view should not preclude me from a discussion on science anymore than a materialist world-view, that believes we are a random grouping of atoms that can think, precludes them from the discussion.  Discussion and dialogue makes all of us better, name calling and closed mindedness only secures a person’s ignorance.  


Here is an article by James M. Kushiner on the Intelligent Design revolution and some of the key leaders/scientist in the field.  I have also included my favorite video in the field of science that discusses evolution and intelligent design.  Pay particular attention to bacterial flagellar motor in the cell.  Michael Behe states his thoughts on the irreducible complexity of the motor.  As an engineer, I worked on fuel pumps that had a shaft/bearing interface, commutator/brush interface that looks eerily similar to the bacterial flagellar motor assembly.  I received four U.S. Patents for my work on fuel pumps. If anyone would have said that chance plus time could have created the new ideas into a working assembly, I would have thought they were smoking something.   But this is exactly what the Darwinist, by faith, must believe or their ruling assumptions must be thrown out.  Study the design of the motor that is displayed in the video and ask yourself if this level of complexity can be created by chance, regardless of how much time is given.  Enjoy the article and video and please share your thoughts to enhance the discussion, not create new names for me. 🙂  God Bless, Orrin Woodward


The Last Days of Darwin?


A Brief History of the Revolution


by James M. Kushiner


In 1959, Sir Julian Huxley, grandson of “Darwin’s Bulldog” T.H. Huxley, was in Chicago to celebrate the centennial of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Taking the pulpit of Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, he declared that man no longer needed to “take refuge in the arms of a divinized father-figure.” Evolution was the key to reality. The university’s “cavernous, Baroque Mandel Hall was packed for performances of an original showboat-style Darwinian musical, Time Will Tell.”


Here begins Larry Witham’s By Design, a history of “science and the search for God” in the twentieth century. Little did Huxley and the other celebrants know what time really would tell, least of all that 1959 would likely prove to be the high-water mark of Darwinism. But after the festivities ended, continuing developments in science itself, from many quarters, would begin to threaten Darwin’s monopoly and, eventually, his theory.


Witham, an award-winning journalist on religion and society, points out the cracks in scientific orthodoxy that developed well before the intelligent design (ID) movement began in the 1990s.


As early as 1951, biophysicist Harold Morowitz was trying to find the cell’s “information content.” He eventually concluded that it was impossible for life to have arisen without some large infusion of information. Not a theist, he nonetheless created space for an Intelligent Designer.


At the Darwin centennial, naturalist Ernst Mayr and geneticist Sewall Wright could not agree on the mechanism of Darwinism (genetic change or natural selection), yet everyone swore fealty to “gradualism,” even though no one really knew what the gradual steps were. Gradualism was the crucial feature of Darwin’s theory, as it claimed that minute random steps, accumulated over time, eventually produced a wide variety of species.


Unbridgeable Gaps

Mathematicians using the newly invented computer soon threw a monkey wrench into gradualism. Witham recounts the 1966 debate at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia. Both Murray Eden of MIT and Marcel P. Schatzenberger (later a member of the French Academy of Sciences) argued that it was “mathematically impossible for Darwin’s tiny variations to add up to a new organism.” Their opponents “could not explain the major gap in their theory: How does the random shuffling of a one-dimensional string of genetic codes create a highly coordinated multidimensional organism?” Eden and Schªtzenberger declared “this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged within the current conception of biology.”


Wider gaps appeared: The fossil record was not what Darwin predicted. Paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould created a theory of “punctuated equilibrium” to explain the sudden appearance of species in the fossil record and their relative stability over time. It was another direct assault on Darwinian gradualism. Paleontologists, but not the public, knew what the fossil record really showed.


Paleoanthropologists could not (and still cannot) agree on the supposed lines of human descent based on fossil finds. Louis Leakey’s son Richard “acknowledged his father’s tendency to alter criteria to make his fossils Homo, and said the Homo habilis category was ´a grab bag mix of fossils; almost anything around two million years that doesn’t fit the robust [ape] definition has been tossed into it.'”


Witham also reviews the discoveries and emerging debates in physics and cosmology, especially as they inched closer to the “God questions” of purpose and design in the universe.


The understanding of science itself was also evolving. In 1958, chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi published Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, an effective assault on the myth of a purely materialistic and objective science. In 1962, Harvard physics instructor and historian Thomas Kuhn started a great debate among scientists by arguing in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions that, “far from being magisterial in its objectivity, science was conditioned by history, society, and the prejudices of scientists.”


Breaking New Ground

In the 1980s, two books broke new ground. Charles Thaxton, who took a doctorate in chemistry with him when he went to study with Reformed theologian Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri, Switzerland, was quite taken with Polanyi’s claim “that the information in DNA could no more be reduced to the chemical than could the ideas in a book be reduced to the ink and paper: something beyond physics and chemistry encoded DNA,” an observation that suggests an underlying intelligence at work. Together with Walter Bradley of Texas A&M and researcher Roger Olsen, Thaxton published The Mystery of Life’s Origin (1984), which was unique in that it laid out all the current origin-of-life theories and their shortcomings. Also, the epilogue became the opening shot for ID: As a “concrete alternative,” it proposed “intelligent causation.” Mystery appears repeatedly in the footnotes and bibliographies of the ID books published in the last decade.


Then, in 1987, the second book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, by Australian biochemist Michael Denton became a scientific bestseller, and the debate that had been kept mostly between scientists now became public. Though Denton was an evolutionist of sorts, he wrote that claims about Darwin’s tree of life did not match the evidence—and the crisis was that scientists could find no acceptable alternative.


Meanwhile, key relationships for the ID movement were being formed. Dean Kenyon, author of Biochemical Predestination (1969), eventually lost faith in Darwinism and by the 1980s was supporting dissenting views. He wrote the foreword to Thaxton’s Mystery. In 1993, Kenyon, a tenured professor at San Francisco State University, “was stripped of his right to teach biology courses because he criticized some aspects of neo-Darwinian theory.” About a year later, he was reinstated by a full faculty-senate vote after a piece on the affair appeared in the Wall Street Journal by Stephen Meyer, a young geophysicist.


Meyer had been influenced by Thaxton and was studying in Cambridge in 1987 when a mutual friend put him in touch with a Berkeley law professor on sabbatical, PhillipžE. Johnson. Meyer put Johnson onto Thaxton; Johnson had already read both Denton’s book and Richard Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker. Using his lawyer’s training in evidence and rhetoric, Johnson began a public campaign to unmask Darwinism as a fraud.


If T.žH. Huxley was Darwin’s bulldog, Johnson became ID’s pit bull. In 1991, he published Darwin on Trial, which artfully exposed many of the cracks in evolutionary theory and became “a lightning rod for the origins debate.” In 1993, Johnson initiated a “smalltime Manhattan Project for the ID movement” at Pajaro Dunes on Monterey Bay in California, in which a group of young scientists met to strategize on how to break the neo-Darwinian hold on science. These men became the core of the ID movement. Among them was Meyer, whom Bruce Chapman of Seattle’s new Discovery Institute soon hired to head its Center for Science and Culture, which has been instrumental in the success of the ID movement.


A new generation of scientists, many mentored by Johnson, began to participate in public conferences presenting ID arguments, in some cases alongside the responses of orthodox Darwinist speakers. In 1999, Michael Behe, William Dembski, and Meyer gave papers at a conference sponsored by the Wethersfield Institute, collected in Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe, in which they presented what have become signature arguments for design.


Dembski applied developments in the information sciences to argue that “specified complexity” can be used objectively to detect evidence of intelligence in events and artifacts. Meyer dealt with information-rich biological features, including DNA and RNA, which exhibit a level of complexity and specificity that could not have evolved through natural causes. Behe presented some of the material from his acclaimed 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box, arguing that the “irreducible complexity” of some biological mechanisms suggests that they could not have evolved in small steps, since the imagined intermediate phases would not have been functional (survivable) mechanisms.


Behe noted that mainstream scientists often describe biological components as “designed machines,” and then asked: If they “strike scientists as looking like ´machines’ that were ´designed by a human’ or ´invented by humans,’ then why do we not actively entertain the idea that perhaps they were indeed designed by an intelligent being?” Scientists don’t do so because that would “violate the rule,” stated baldly by Christian de Duve in his 1995 book Vital Dust: “All throughout this book I have tried to conform to the overriding rule that life be treated as a natural process, its origin, evolution, and manifestations, up to and including the human species, as governed by the same laws as nonliving processes.”


By Design’s closing chapters on the Human Genome Project and the “mind and brain” debate also make it clear that the ID movement itself is part of a larger revolt against a science rooted in nineteenth-century naturalism.


The growing rejection of Darwinism was the natural result of honestly facing the findings of scientific research. While orthodox Darwinists and materialist science still dominate the scientific establishment, it is clear that a revolution has been in the making.


In the following pages, we have attempted to provide as thorough an explanation as possible of the precise nature of this insurgency, exploring each of the various facets of the intelligent-design movement with the assistance of the very scientists, philosophers, and attorneys who are at the forefront of the battle for scientific integrity.


Are these really the last days of Darwin? In keeping with the precedent established by true ID proponents, we’re content to let the facts speak for themselves.

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