Friday, June 01, 2007

Francis Collins and Guillermo Gonzalez

Not only has Guillermo Gonzalez gotten praise from Owen Gingerich and Simon Conway Morris, but he gets support from the writings of Francis Collins as well. Many people do not realize that Collins believes that the fine-tuning of the universe is scientific evidence of intelligent design. Even though Collins does not call it "intelligent design" in his book, he makes most of the same arguments as Gonzalez.

For more, take a look at Jonathan Witt's review of Collins' book The Language of God. Here is a portion:

The mainstream media have emphasized two aspects of the book: Its insistence that Darwinism is no threat to Christianity, and its argument that Darwinism better explains a range of physical evidence than either creationism or intelligent design. What has gone begging for ink, however, is a feature of the book hidden in plain sight: Francis Collins makes a scientific case for intelligent design.

According to the theory of intelligent design, which extends from the origin of matter to the origin of mind, an intelligent cause is the best explanation for certain features of the natural world. In chapter nine Collins argues against intelligent design in biology, and this the media have picked up. But in chapter three, “The Origins of the Universe,” he argues that an intelligent cause is the best explanation for certain features of the natural world, in this case, features that existed before the origin of life.

. . .

His appeal to the Big Bang and the fine-tuned cosmos form two of his key design arguments. (The third, discussed below, looks at the moral law found across cultures and the fact of human altruism, features that Darwinism fails to explain but which are explained well by the claim that humans were created in the image of God.)

In our present intellectual climate, where scientists have been harassed and even fired for advocating intelligent design, and the idea is routinely attacked in news stories and the popular books of writers like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, the fact that the head of the Human Genome Project makes a scientific case for intelligent design should stand out before all the others.

It certainly looks like Francis Collins would have been one of the people targeted by Hector Avalos and his McCarthy-like statement. It also looks like Francis Collins would have had a hard time getting tenure at Iowa State University.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sam Brownback: What I Think About Evolution

Sam Brownback on "What I think About Evolution":

The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

There is no one single theory of evolution, as proponents of punctuated equilibrium and classical Darwinism continue to feud today. Many questions raised by evolutionary theory — like whether man has a unique place in the world or is merely the chance product of random mutations — go beyond empirical science and are better addressed in the realm of philosophy or theology.

The most passionate advocates of evolutionary theory offer a vision of man as a kind of historical accident. That being the case, many believers — myself included — reject arguments for evolution that dismiss the possibility of divine causality.

Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves. There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species. Yet I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation — and indeed life today — is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him. It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.

At the least, he is helping to frame the debate by addressing the issue of philosophical presuppositions and emphasizing the need to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Rather than asking the candidates to raise their hands or not, I think each one should be asked to take my plausibility survey.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More Evidence of Intellectual Insecurity at Iowa State

The Evo News blog has more evidence to support my theory that the faculty at Iowa State is intellectually insecure here and here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hector, Say It Ain't So! Avalos Accuses Telic Thoughts of Starting the "Atheist Plot" Rumor

Hector Avalos has now revealed the source of the conspiracy theory that he "spearheaded an atheist plot in Iowa." And he has provided the smoking gun link. The shocking truth, according to Avalos, is that it was none other than "bipod" at the Telic Thoughts blog!

Of course, the post to which he cites says nothing about any dastardly Atheist Plot. And the humor of this allegation is apparent to anyone who is familiar with the Telic Thoughts blog. Here is what the post actually says:
Most of us here at telicthoughts would rather there not be a political issue so that we could get on with the fun of exploring scientific questions. With that said, I cannot stand back as a wussy religious instructor leads a religious crusade against a legitimate astrophysicist.

So let's get this straight. Hector Avalos, an atheist at Iowa State University, is leading a crusade of Scientific McCarthyism against Guillermo Gonzalez. The stated reason by Avalos: ""We certainly don't want to give the impression to the public that intelligent design is what we do." Now Avalos and the other 120 signers of the document will deny that they're doing anything inappropriate, but let's be serious.This is Scientific McCarthyism in a cheap tuxedo;-)

"Mr. Avalos said the statement was not intended to silence Mr. Gonzalez, or to get him fired…"

Sure. Then why single him out?

"A crusade of Scientific McCarthyism" is quite different from an "atheist plot." A "plot" suggests a secret plan or scheme [or conspiracy] to accomplish some purpose, esp. a hostile, unlawful, or evil purpose. A "crusade" is usually quite public. The key element of the alleged "crusade" was "Scientific McCarthyism," not atheism. The post only mentioned in passing that Avalos was an atheist, and in no way suggested that all who were part of the "crusade" were atheists.

If that is the best that Avalos can provide, I can only view it as confirmation that Avalos himself started the "atheist plot" conspiracy theory rumor.

Note as well that Avalos does not explain why his actions should not be viewed as "Scientific McCarthyism." He invents a straw man accusation and addresses that, rather than addressing the real points made in the post to which he cites.

We are getting irony upon irony here.