>I don't find anything "sickening" in these statements themselves. Perhaps
>is more behind them that is bothersome, or in how they are interpreted and
>by politicians and religiious pundits. But the concept of intelligence in
>nature is really inescapable for the biologist who is serioiusly interested in
>the subject. The use of such ideas to proove concepts of God is really
>irrelevant - that is a completely different use of the ideas than a scientific
>use. One does not have to alter the concepts in order to use them for
>purposes. Also, if this is an open-minded forum, I think it is not a good idea
>to resort to the playground sort of likes and dislikes, who's in and who's
>etc. - pejorative terms like "sickening" "ridiculous" etc. That's actually
>political approach - the ulgly politics of science. It is better to restrict
ourselves to rational arguments.
Let me first note that John here reacts to a forward by me of a
forward of a forward by Massimo Pigliucci of an original news
statement about "Intelligent Design" theorists lobbying congress. It
was Pigliucci who used the term "sickening". I would not go so far,
but did use the term "frightening". Let me explain why I find this
The problem is not with "intelligent design" which simply isn't
enough of an explanation to be called a scientific theory, although
some of the related concepts are worth debating, as we have been
doing in this forum. The problem is the idea that political powers
(congress) are called upon to intervene in an internal scientific
Imagine that you have some eccentric theory which you would like to
spread to as many people possible, but that you don't manage to
convince your colleagues in the scientific community that your theory
is valuable. Should you then be able to jump "over their heads" and
address yourself to a higher authority (the Pope, the President, the
Prime Minister, ...), who has no expertise in the scientific domain,
but who has the power to force your colleagues to include your theory
in the courses they teach? There may be plenty of reasons
(ideological, political, religious, emotional, ...) why the "higher
power" may prefer your theory to the scientific orthodoxy, but none
of those should be allowed to prejudice a normal scientific debate
Just to show you how dangerous such a political intervention into
scientific debates can be, let me remind you of two historical cases.
When in Soviet Russia, the biologist Lysenko proposed a "Lamarckian"
theory about the inheritance of acquired characteristics, he did not
convince his colleagues to abandon their orthodox Darwinian view.
Yet, because his theory fitted better into communist ideology, he did
manage to convince Stalin, who ordained Soviet biology and
agricultural technology to be reorganized on Lysenkoist principles.
The result was a catastrophe for both agricultural production and
The other classic example is the Catholic Church's intervention to
suppress the heliocentric theory of Copernicus, which forced Galileo
to retract his earlier statements, and led to the burning on the
stake of Giordano Bruno.
I don't imply that the US congress would take such radical measures.
But the whole point of the lobbying exercise is clearly to make
congress intervene in some way, most visibly by reducing the
importance of Darwinian evolution in the school curricula, and by
adding "Intelligent Design" or something along those lines to the
curriculum as a valuable alternative theory. Such an outcome would
not be that different from Lysenkoism. At least, ID theory hasn't
yet proposed an alternative way of doing agriculture or medicine as
far as I know, but with the more radical Creationist alternative, I
am sure those people have plenty of ideas for reforming medicine
(more healing by prayer, I'd guess...).
_________________________________________________________________________ Francis Heylighen <email@example.com> -- Center "Leo Apostel" Free University of Brussels, Krijgskundestr. 33, 1160 Brussels, Belgium tel +32-2-6442677; fax +32-2-6440744; http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/HEYL.html ======================================== Posting to firstname.lastname@example.org from Francis Heylighen <email@example.com>
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