Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Second Rate Opinion?

A prominent doctor goes around humping Intelligent Design … no, not Michael Egnor. This time it is John Marshall, professor of internal medicine and gastroenterology and also the associate director of education at the Missouri University School of Medicine. Marshall is open about his reasons for supporting ID, however:
Marshall began to look into what he said were holes in the theory. And after becoming a Christian, Marshall found it hard to reconcile evolutionary theory with Genesis, the biblical account of how God created the earth and everything on it in six days. Marshall has since become a proponent of the view that there are some natural systems that cannot be adequately explained by natural forces, and therefore must be the result of intelligent design, or ID.
Marshall argues:

A scientist should be open to new evidence and to new ideas, even when they arise outside the box of naturalism. There’s no reason we can’t at least look for evidence. But one of the tactics of people who control mainstream science is, you don’t publish intelligent design material.

What Marshall omits or doesn't know is that scientists have, starting well over 200 years ago, looked at the "evidence" for a designer and found it wanting as science. That doesn't mean that the arguments put forward by IDers are wrong or even impermissible intellectually, just that they are not science. It is a simple category error, like studying English literature but trying to apply French grammar to it. This is easy enough to see in the description of the lecture:
Marshall said his lecture, "Intelligent Design: Is it Religion or Science?," will question the origin of the first living cell and raise what he called problems with the fossil record, which scientists have used to understand how species evolved.
Gaps in scientific evidence are not evidence against evolution. Except in limited circumstances where a well-designed experiment must render a certain result or the hypothesis under study is itself brought into question, "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Furthermore, the absence of evidence for evolution can never itself be evidence for design.

Dr. Marshall then repeats the Discovery Institute's blather:
Marshall said teachers should have the right to discuss both Darwinian evolution and intelligent design in the classroom. However, he said, teaching ID should not be required until it becomes better established in the scientific community.
This boils down to an assertion that teachers should be able to teach their own religious views to their students. Why the doctor's religious views should be taught with my tax dollars is not explained. But maybe this does explain in a way:

While his conversion to Christianity explains his skepticism of evolution, Marshall said that belief in intelligent design does not necessarily require adherence to a religious doctrine.

And, despite the setbacks in court and the skepticism of an overwhelming majority of scientists, the intelligent design debate isn’t going away anytime soon, Marshall said. Many states are considering legislation that would require schools to teach that Darwinian evolution is just one of the theories on the origins of the earth, he said.

"In the end, we have to ask: Has Judge Jones really given us the final answer on whether ID is science?" Marshall said. "I think it is safe to say that his ruling won’t be the last word on the ID."

You see, I know why the court case was brought to prevent a governmental body from promoting what many people saw as a sectarian religious program but I don't have any clue why people would think that a science, if that is what ID is, would need legislation to require schools to teach it. If and when they build the scientific case, then the schools will come and teach it.

Whoa, Darwinian evolution is supposed to explain the origin of the earth?

Who knew?
Sure! Didn't you know that the Big Bang was evidence against evolution? Sheesh! What turnip truck did you fall of?

(Do I need a smilely face?)
"But Marshall began to look into what he said were holes in the theory. And after becoming a Christian, Marshall found it hard to reconcile evolutionary theory with Genesis,...".

Evolution is hard to reconcile with genesis? Well, duh! Has that got anything to do with holes in evolutionary theories or is that just the way the reporter makes it sound like, I wonder?
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