Last night (28/1/07), SBS aired the documentary: ‘Intelligent Design: A War on Science.’
Despite the blatantly biased title, I was impressed by the impartial presentation for the first part of the program. However, there were a few somewhat absurd comments made and misrepresentations were left uncorrected.
Towards the beginning, the documentary featured Phillip Johnson (Emeritus Professor of Law at University of California – Berkeley) who has written a number of books on the issues of ID and evolution. Also, interviewed for the ID side were biochemist Dr Michael Behe, Dr Stephen Meyer and mathematician Dr William Dembski. All seemed to be portrayed fairly (except they were not given the chance of rebuttal).
The main arguments put forward were as follows:
Irreducible Complexity – A bacterial flagellum is ‘a whiplike cellular organelle used for propulsion that operates like an outboard motor. The proteins that make up a flagellum are uncannily arranged into motor components, a universal joint, and other structures…’
Behe argues that the mechanisms involved could not ‘evolve’ in gradual steps because unless all components were present (and assembled correctly) to begin with, the flagellum would be useless.
Numerous examples of such irreducible complexity are found in nature. These include:
Bombardier beetles’ defence mechanisms, the eye, human biological systems, the flight of insects, birds and bats, blood clotting, the adhesiveness of gecko’s feet and insect legs and the ATP synthase motor are just a few examples.
Another argument (put forward by Dembski) is the probability of evolution occurring. Using statistical mathematics and DNA analysis, Dembski provides another weapon against Darwinism.
The program continues to discuss these and other scientific arguments put forward by ID theorists before beginning the inevitable science vs. religion slant.
Richard Dawkins (well-known evolutionary scientist and atheist) begins the avalanche with the following quote:
‘What this does to science is it wastes a lot of time of scientists who could be getting on with their work.’
His other ignorant contributions on the topic of Intelligent Design include:
‘It [ID] is getting a hold only among those parts of the population who don’t know anything.’
Dr Jonathan Sarfati and Russell Grigg in their review of the program:
‘Notice the abusive ad hominem—anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot.’
Dawkins proceeds (towards the end of the documentary) to imply that if ID is taught in schools and American scientists begin to disagree with Darwinism, then the nation will lose it’s scientific ‘soul.’
He is obviously ignorant of the fact that between the Scopes Trial (1925) and Sputnik (1957) a time which evolutionists lament the expunging of the concept from the education system:
‘American schools produced more Nobel prizes than the rest of the world combined. America produced twice as many as all other countries—this was especially pronounced in the biological field (physiology and medicine), supposedly one that can't do without evolution.’
World renowned biomedical expert, Dr Felix Konotey-Ahulu put it this way:
‘But the greatest difficulty Richard Dawkins has is to prove (first) that his brain is sharper than mine, and (secondly) that those of us who were taught by the best brains in the world and who have now revised our evaluation of Darwinian Evolution to concur with that of Cambridge University Professor Fred Hoyle FRS have suddenly gone round the bend.’
Hoyle had this to say:
‘How has the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection managed, for upwards of a century, to fasten itself like a superstition on so-called enlightened opinion? Why is the theory still defended so vigorously?’
‘Personally, I have little doubt that scientific historians of the future will find it mysterious that a theory which could be seen to be unworkable came to be so widely believed.’
Getting back to the program, David Attenborough puts forth his view on Darwinism:
‘…nobody has yet demonstrated a failing.’ (Is he blind?)
Dawkins continues to boost his evolutionary ego with part of his closing statement:
‘Evolution has a massive amount of evidence in its favour, and it explains, let’s say, 99% of what we know about life. The remaining 1% remains to be discovered.’
He remains at odds with the thousands of creationist and ID-believing scientists around the world and many on his own side who recognise how little we know about nature and it's supposed 'evolution.'
Sarfati and Grigg add:
'Presumably the remaining 1% covers such things as the vast gulfs between non-living matter and the first living cell, single-celled and multicelled creatures, invertebrates and vertebrates, pterosaurs and non-flying reptiles; the origin of many complex inter-related structures, consciousness.'
During the program the bacterial flagellum argument is supposedly refuted. Dr Kenneth Miller (along with the narrator) provides an example of a ‘bacterial syringe’ within the flagellum that operates completely on its own. He proposes elsewhere that the components could have evolved separately before they combined to form the flagellum.
The show’s narrator states:
‘For Miller, the prediction of Irreducible Complexity was disproved—the flagellum could be broken down into other simpler biological mechanisms.’
Sarfati and Grigg analyse his claim:
‘Miller again manages to misconstrue irreducible complexity, that is, that the flagellar motor could not function unless all the parts were coordinated. This still fails to account for 80% of its parts, most of which ‘are unique to the motor and are not found in any other living system’, according to Dr Scott Minnich, of Idaho University, the world’s expert on this motor.
Sarfati (in his book Refuting Evolution 2) adds to the discussion:
‘Actually, what Behe says he means by irreducible complexity is that the flagellum could not work without about 40 protein components all organized in the right way.’
This misrepresentation was not corrected. Miller also attempts to dispose of Dembski’s mathematical argument. Basically, the probability of life evolving can not be calculated backwards, because it always seems to be impossible. He does nothing to replace this idea or disprove it mathematically; rather he decrees that because it shows that evolution is statistically impossible, the calculation must be wrong.
So, again the media has biased itself against ‘yapping terriers’ who ‘know nothing.’
Apart from Miller’s failed and flawed attempt at discounting Behe’s work, the highly credentialed, yet obnoxious, opponents of ID completed their appraisal by using only ridicule and references to religious association.
Dr Konotey-Ahulu’s response to a recent Dawkins’ interview here.
All quotations were either taken from the SBS program or the articles mentioned above.
The term ‘evolution’ when used by myself, refers to the concept of chemicals-to-man evolution and not natural selection.