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Intelligent Science

Re: Dan Peterson’s The Little Engine That Could…Undo Darwinism:


And yes I am one of those “Bible-thumping, … mostly from the South, or places no better than the South — who voted for Bush,” by design.
M.L. Gilbert
Bristow, Virginia

Be careful here. You are treading on the vast source of financing for all sorts of “scientists” to go out and look for something that isn’t there just so they can deny a creator didn’t do the deed.

Make up a hypothesis then go find funding to look for evidence of evolution. If you can’t find it well then you need more money to keep looking because “everyone knows that is what happened.”

Evolution on the mere surface falls flat on its face. To say that species evolve so that they can live ignores the fact that they must live before they can evolve. I watched one show which said that a certain species of dinosaur had to evolve in order to eat the changing foliage. Well, if you can’t eat then you can’t live, therefore you die and cannot evolve.

You have to throw out reason and common sense to believe evolution. However, if your livelihood depends on it then…

Keep up the good work.

Thanks to American Spectator and Mr. Peterson for his excellent article about intelligent design vs. Darwinism. Admittedly I’m a Christian, but it’s amazing to me that people who will readily agree that something like a wrist watch, or even a simple wooden table, can’t be anything but the product of intelligent design, will argue to the death that living things, which are infinitely more complex, resulted from random forces. They also will not admit that ultimately, their atheism, like the beliefs of those of us who believe in a Creator, is based on some degree of faith, not science.

Also liked the reference to Mr. Peterson as designed to be an attorney living in northern Virginia. Somebody, whether it’s the TAS editors, or Mr. Peterson himself, or both, has a good sense of humor.
R. Kirkman

I am totally dumbfounded that a supposed conservative who pays lip service to objective truth as a mantra could be so completely ignorant about any theory based on strongly supporting experimental evidence.

Where is your experimental evidence for any so-called alternative theory of evolution? You have wandered too far off your path when you challenge strong data with hokum. Stick to political theory, you’ll do much better there; nobody else knows what they’re talking about either.
Richard Bentley

A couple of observations:

– Quoted: “If we wrote a program to run on a supercomputer that would generate random strings 22 characters long, and our supercomputer could run through a trillion tries every second, the odds would still be against producing this exact sequence by chance in 20 billion years. The fact that it’s very improbable to produce this precise sequence by chance is another way of saying, in information theory, that it is highly complex.”

You are making the same mistake Fermi made about cyclotrons generating enough enriched U235 in our lifetime. If a single computer was used (or cyclotron), yes. But what if I used 10 billion computers? Can I not deliver that permutation within but a couple of years? I think you have to answer yes. When you consider that in nature, cells don’t live in singularity, but in the trillions each possible of developing a minute flaw during mitosis then change can come about rapidly.

-Sounds to me like much of the scientific community need to read Origin of Species again. Sir Darwin was addressing the transitional morphology of species and the possible process by which it might occur. His access to science, locked as he was in his era, predates the existence of molecular biology. Science is replete with examples of theories, though perfect for the science it represents, falls completed asunder when applied to another discipline. So in this I agree that the transposition of Darwinism to cellular biology is a fundamental error. But in defense of Darwin, he never made that claim at the molecular level, nor could he.

– The ID theorists may be onto something, or maybe not. One would need to be wary of the concept that something must be complete to be operational. We are early in the gene assessment game. But scientists already know that there are whole sequences of genes that appear to have no function or at least have no function we are currently aware of. That notion could change with time. But as improbable as it may sound, chance rendered quadrillions of times can at time reach something that “clicks” and renders something that is superior to its predecessor.

But the fundamental question will still not be answered even if ID theorists are proven “right.” Till someone can define the big bang event of the living cell or the universe itself we won’t have an answer. Even Darwinism can’t answer that, for fundamentally the theory is a process not a source. I hold out that God has a sense of humor better than Dave Berry. After a couple of more centuries of peeling back the onion Science will reach some singular discovery that leads to the scribbled note on the wall much like Kilroy: “I AM.”
John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

“A lot of influential people in science, the media, the schools, and other institutions don’t much like the notion of the Big Intelligent Agent. Hence the controversy over ID, and the slanted treatment of it that is often seen.”

This sentence betrays the underlying logic upon which this article is based. It is not based on hard analysis of scientific data; it is based on emotional responses to faith and the perceived lack thereof by certain influential people.

When and if Creationists present a theory that explains generally accepted data in geology, biology, chemistry, and other natural sciences without resorting to faith to explain unknowns upon which the theory depends, the simplicity, elegance, and power of that theory will be obvious to most people and will be accepted. Until that time no amount of talking, discussion, emotion, or anything else can replace evolution as the underlying logic upon which human understanding of nature is based.

I believe in God. That is faith.

I observe naturally occurring phenomena, consider them within the constraints imposed by rational thought, test my conclusions in the laboratory, and revise my conclusions accordingly. This process is science.

Science and faith can and do coexist. The one should not be confused with the other.
Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

It takes but a few minutes to flaws in Doctor Dembski’s work. His understanding of Genetic Algorithms (GA’s) is either quite low, or his ability to speak on the subject is so poor as to produce simple, basic flaws in the papers that he has published (that I have reviewed). It is possible, of course, that in his attempt to explain his theories that he has intentionally oversimplified his examples, and therefore inadvertently giving this impression.

Yet sadly, these kinds of flaws in ID are common.

Among the most common is the tendency of ID proponents to refer to Darwin. Darwin’s original theory has been expanded upon many, many times. Referring to Darwin is the equivalent of arguing against quantum mechanics by referring to Aristotle’s work.

Darwin had access to neither the math, nor the advances in science that underpin modern evolutionary theory. We now know that evolution is not restricted to slow, gradual refinements. The effect of such operations as “cross over” (a term used in genetic algorithm papers, but one that has real world analogs) and fusion, as well as the implications of “viral injection” demonstrate the ability of evolution to “leap” from one point in an information space, to another.

The issue of irreducible complexity is yet another sticking point for ID proponents, who fail to understand the implications of fusion (See: The Messy GA), DNA being both program and meta-program, and over specification (junk genes, if you will) on the issue.

As yet another example of the kind of flaw that ID proponents typically make is in, for example, the assertion that the string


has obviously been produced by intelligence. Yet any reasonably well trained information theorist will tell you that a symbol is not, in and of itself, meaningful. I recommend reading some basic papers on semiotics for starters, to understand this crucial point. Symbols are meaningful only in as much as the communicating parties agree that they will act as events that cause the same signifier to be perceived in both sender and receiver. Consider what Hangul looks like to the person who can only knows English, as a thought experiment.

More importantly, intelligence is a very slippery term. Are termites intelligent? If not, then compare the hypothetical alien’s response to Mount Rushmore to, say, a termite mound. On the other hand, if termites are intelligent, then evolution is an intelligent system, and ID ends up being just another way of talking about evolution.

I recommend reviewing the Scientific American article that describes how a GA was used to create new electrical circuits, circuits different enough, “creative” enough to be patentable. In short: “intelligence” is a philosophical term, not a scientific one. Consider the Turing test, then ask yourself what effect anthropocentrism has on your decision as to what is, or is not intelligence.

As for statistical analysis: For a while it was claimed (and demonstrated using what appeared to be valid statistical analysis!) that the most efficient alphabet was binary. Yet DNA is base four. Some time later, a GA paper was published that explained the flaws in the original analysis.

An example of this kind of analytical error is rampant in early attacks on evolution, where a lack of understanding of the way in which evolution worked caused opponents of evolution to claim that it was impossible, due to the time it would take to generate such complexity from random numbers. The evolutionary algorithm can, however, generate answers to extremely complex specifications in times that are hugely lower (40 orders of magnitude or more, for a specific problem, as just one example) than simply generating random numbers.

Finally, it should go without saying that Lawyers and Doctors of Divinity are not neurosurgeons, and you would not go to one if you needed an expert in neurosurgery. Nor are they “scientists” when it comes to such fields of study as evolution, microbiology, etc.

While I respect Dr. Dembski’s training, I would humbly suggest that he go back to square one and explain why he equates the fitness function of evolution with a simple, constant string comparison, instead of with what it really is: a time varying, and extremely complex function we normally refer to as: The Universe.

In closing, I admit to a sneaking desire to see Intelligent Design prove to have some scientific basis. And I would be the first to admit I believe that God set the physical constants of the universe to the values they converged on.

But science, while having an underlying philosophy, is neither religion nor philosophy. So depending on philosophical terms like “Intelligence” raises an immediate red flag when found in any theory advanced as “scientific,” unless and until such time as that word can be demonstrated to have a valid scientific meaning, one that can be proven to be relatively objective and universal, and very specifically, not frame relative.
John Stevens

In the “The Little Engine That Could…Undo Darwinism,” “irreducible complexity” seems to be the linchpin of the ID argument the way the author presents it. But what seems to be a little known fact among ID proponents is that a computer model has all but proved how complex biological systems that are supposedly “irreducibly complex” can and do evolve in organisms. Check this website out:

Found out about this subject here.

ID is not gaining ground but losing it as more details of life are uncovered. But of course, as a conservative publication, you can’t support immoral science that doesn’t include religious implications…that would just be unpatriotic.
Paul Merda
Stow, Ohio

Your article was one of the best I’ve read regarding the basic tenets of ID and why evolutionists must fight it vigorously. I’m an OB-GYN MD and have had a hobby interest in the creation-evolution debate for the past seven to eight years. I first got interested with Hugh Ross (several books on cosmology and physics with emphasis on fine tuning), but the blockbuster for me was Darwin’s Black Box. It sort of crystallized the idea that the Darwinian explanations for life were mostly hot air. I got to you article from a link in Creation Safaris 2004 January set of articles. There are a lot of good articles there but yours was the best at giving the major debate issues in such a direct concise form.

Thank you for your insight, objectivity, and interest in trying to get to the truth.
Dean R. Carpenter, M.D.

Dan Peterson’s “The Little Engine That Could… Undo Darwinism” is the best overview of this controversy within the scientific establishment I have ever read. What really has become obvious to me during this debate is the chutzpah exhibited by leading evolutionists. They spend most of their time attempting to discredit their opponents by insisting that real aim of Intelligent Design advocates is to advance a sectarian religious agenda, all the while contending they seek only to pursue a dispassionate, objective, evidence-based search for truth. However, their own words betray them:

Richard Dawkins, quoted in the article, engages in some specious reasoning by asserting that “biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose” He dismisses anyone who might somehow conclude that there is order and purpose in the world by claiming that “those people are wrong.”

Richard Lewontin of Harvard, another one of evolution’s luminaries has said, “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to understanding the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for the unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism…. materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.”

What could motivate an intelligent, well-educated and highly respected scientist to cling tenaciously to an embattled theory in spite of the evidence? Hmmm…what was that thing about a prior commitment?
Rick Arand
Lee’s Summit, Missouri

I have recently read an article on your website entitled “The Little Engine That Could…Undo Darwinism” By Mr. Dan Peterson Published 8/5/2005. Are you aware that there is another materialistic theory being challenged? Please see the following websites: This website gives an easily understood explanation of the “Electric Universe” theory, which competes with the “Big Bang” theory.

Thunderbolts: This website contains articles concerning ongoing research into the “Electric Universe” theory.

Another website on Intelligent Design you may not be aware of is the Institute for Creation Research, which routinely publishes scientific papers submitted by researchers doing ID work.

The theory of Evolution has been dead for quite some time now. Those who still believe in it, do so as a matter of faith, not reason. They have been left behind — they just don’t know it yet.
Paul Doolittle
Washington, D.C.

Re: John Tabin’s Moving on the Mullahs:

It would appear wishful thinking that ten years is required for Iran to put together a bomb. It took us four years, and the research was new, untried; today, plans, manufacturing techniques are probably available on the internet. Equipment and expertise are available for a price. I lived and worked in Iran (in aircraft) for almost three years over 20 years ago, and though I found their engineering skills to be wanting, reverse engineering does not involve genius. Perhaps wishful thinking should be changed to dumb; besides since when have we decided that our intelligence organizations have credibility. I do not understand why we are dismayed that our intelligence organizations have failed. Look where the agents and bureaucrats are recruited from: liberal colleges with ’60s trash as teachers.
Ken Yamashiro
Alpine, California

Re: Patrick Hynes’s As Goes Ohio:

Hackett may have bashed Bush to his base but when it came to his TV ads, he featured and agreed with a Bush sound bite, seemed to embrace the war in Iraq and neglected to identify himself by using the “D” word.

Perhaps the Democrats should take the position that the Republicans are in trouble because President Bush did not have the “coat-tails” to get Hackett elected in a red district.

Here is the text of one of his ads:

Bush: There is no higher calling than service in our armed forces.

Hackett: I agreed with that, and that’s what led me to serve and fight with my Marines in Iraq. Those words are a part of me. These young men and women — they get it. We’re gonna help these people. We’re all over there because we think America is worth fighting for. You take responsibility for your actions. I think Washington, D.C., needs more of that type of leadership. I’m Paul Hackett, I approved this message, and I respectfully ask for your vote on Aug. 2.


The only thing that could make me vote Democrat is if the Republicans keep acting like Dems. Then I might decide to just cut out the middleman and go with the “real” thing.
Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

Re: Lawrence Henry’s Unintelligent Design:

I would like to add to Lawrence Henry’s list of design betes noires the “lifter” door handles which became standard on American cars some time in the ’80s. These may work fine in temperate climates, but they are lousy here in upstate NY. It is not uncommon for a car door to freeze shut overnight here in winter. It takes an awful lot of force to pull open a frozen door. You don’t get much leverage on that crummy little lifter handle using just four fingertips. Many’s the time I’ve had to use a large screwdriver to pry the door open.

My 2004 Malibu has an old-style “full-grip” handle. Works every time.
Bob Fitzgibbon
Rome, New York

Re: David Holman’s Pork Roundup:

Most of the pork projects share a common pattern: States can’t or won’t spend all of their own money on these projects. The illusion of “free” federal money is created to give the spending the polish of a sweet deal. Infrastructure investment is no different from any other investment. A certain amount of money is required and the investment produces tax money at a certain rate. If the income at least equals the outgo, the infrastructure can be maintained. If the investment under produces gas and transportation related tax revenue, then an unfunded liability is created. Most of the pork produces very little income or even lowers gas tax revenue. There is practically no pork for congestion relief and that is really where the money for infrastructure can be found. One estimate of the value of the pork was $25 billion. Last year, $25 billion was the estimate of the storm damage done in Florida from the Hurricanes. I think of these projects as just another hurricane that happens everywhere in the U.S. The only difference is that we never seem to feel the same sense of entitlement to real hurricanes as we do our man-made disasters from Congress. It is too bad there is not a visual picture available of the $25 billion being sucked out of the trust fund. There is no lack of reporters who would charge down and get in front of a green wall of swirling money as a photo opportunity.
Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

Re: J. Peter Freire’s Democrats of the World: Untie!

“If the Republicans face a weak opposition which is philosophically alveolate and inchoate, then expect party discipline to slacken (see also, Bill Frist).”

Did this guy just get a new thesaurus for his birthday? “Alveolate and inchoate”? Who is he trying to impress?
Stephen Bell

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