This series of posts was written in response to Zack Kopplin's well-organized campaign to repeal the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act. I have argued that the Act is fair and reasonable, as it expressly forbids the promotion of any religious doctrine in the classroom, while allowing teachers to encourage the open and objective discussion of scientific theories, including evolution and origin-of-life theories.
In my first post, I answered Zack Kopplin's challenge to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who had claimed that "hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design." In his poker challenge, Zack put forward a list of Nobel Laureate scientists (originally 43 in total, but now numbering 75 altogether) who have personally endorsed his effort to repeal Louisiana Senate Bill 374. Zack dared Congresswoman to meet that challenge. In response, I put forward my own list: (i) seven living and dead Nobel Laureate scientists who either endorsed some form of Intelligent Design, or who denied the adequacy of evolution as a biological theory, plus (ii) twenty-one Nobel Laureate scientists who apparently accepted evolution as a biological theory, but did not believe that the human mind could be explained by the theory of evolution, plus (iii) thirty noted scientists from history (twenty of whom were very famous scientists) who openly flouted the so-called "rule" (known as methodological naturalism) that you're not allowed to cross the line from the natural to the supernatural, when you're doing science. (I listed these scientists in my second, fourth and sixth posts, respectively.) That makes 58 eminent scientists altogether. I also whittled Zack's list of 75 Nobel Laureates down to 57, by disqualifying 16 of them for endorsing an anti-religious version of evolution in a previous petition they'd signed in 2005, and unmasking two more of them as holding views on the human mind which put them at odds with the tenets of neo-Darwinian evolution. (I discussed Darwin's views on the human mind in my third post.)
In my fifth post, I also demonstrated that methodological naturalism, far from being a hallowed scientific principle, has only been an accepted rule for doing science since the late nineteenth century. Before then, there were literally dozens of scientists who made open reference to the supernatural in their scientific writings. The Intelligent Design movement today is far more modest in its objectives: all it seeks is free and open discussion in scientific circles of the possibility that life and the cosmos may have been intelligently designed by an unknown Intelligent Agent. Attempts by opponents of Intelligent Design to rule such a discussion out of court on methodological grounds are based on a mis-reading of history.
My seventh post was addressed to the 75 Nobel Laureate scientists who endorsed Zack Kopplin's petition to repeal the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act. I invited these Nobel Laureate scientists to answer a seven-part quiz, which was designed to ascertain whether or not they had an ideological agenda that they wished to push in American high schools: namely, the promotion of materialism and determinism under the guise of "science." I strongly suspect that the answer is in the affirmative, for the majority of these scientists. If that is their aim, fine; but they should at least be open about it.
The key point at issue between Intelligent Design theory and neo-Darwinian evolution, which I discussed in my eighth post, relates to the alleged ability of natural selection to create large amounts of functional information. Intelligent Design theorists maintain that natural selection is good at shuffling existing information, but incapable of creating large amounts of new functional information.
In any discussion of what natural selection can and cannot do, it is absolutely vital to quantify. Without numbers, you cannot do science. In my ninth post, I highlighted the failure of neo-Darwinian evolutionists to quantify the amount of time required for "blind" processes (chance and/or necessity) to generate even the simplest chemical entities (proteins) which are capable of performing a biological task, or function, within living cells. Neo-Darwinian evolutionists are also incapable of estimating the amount of time required for protein A to evolve into protein B. Proteins are the workhorses of the cell. Since all life-forms on Earth require these proteins for their biological functions, the failure of contemporary evolutionists to quantify the time required for unguided mechanisms to either create new proteins or transform one protein into another calls into question the "scientific" status of neo-Darwinian evolution as a theory. By contrast, Intelligent Design proponents are able to quantify the threshold at which the likelihood of a system capable of performing a biological function arising by "blind" processes is so low that it is rational to infer that the system is the work of an Intelligent Agent.
Arguments for neo-Darwinian evolution or Intelligent Design are often couched in terminology which is formidably technical, leaving laypeople feeling like spectators at an aerial ping-pong match. In my tenth post, I deliberately attempted to strip away the jargon and keep the math to an absolute minimum, as I put forward two simple arguments for Intelligent Design: first, that "blind" processes are incapable of generating proteins (which are required by all living organisms) or of transforming one kind of protein into another; second, that there isn't enough time for neo-Darwinian evolution to produce organisms (such as whales) in which multiple traits have to evolve "in sync". These arguments both point to life having been designed by an Intelligent Agent. It might be argued in reply that if a massive amount of "biasing" information were inserted into living things from the very beginning, that would constrain their subsequent evolution, allowing even blind processes to generate new functional traits; but such finely-tuned biasing (or front-loading) would itself require an Intelligent Agent. Thus the inference to Design is inescapable.
Nevertheless, there are several popular objections to the notion of Intelligent Design which are widely regarded as unanswerable, which preclude it from serious consideration as a scientific theory, regardless of the demerits of neo-Darwinian evolution. In my eleventh post, I endeavored to answer these objections, showing that they rested on bad metaphysics rather than sound science.
In my twelfth post, I put forward a principle which I called the STOMPS principle, which (in my opinion) best encapsulates why laypeople instinctively regard living things as having been intelligently designed. According to the STOMPS principle, if I observe a complex system which is capable of performing a task in a manner which is far more ingenious than anything our best and most promising scientists could have ever designed, then it is rational for me to infer that the system in question was intelligently designed. I also argued that while I argue that while genetic algorithms were good at optimizing existing functions, they were not so good at creating new ones. In any case, such algorithms work only because they contain a certain amount of search-biasing information, which was inserted into them by intelligent agents.
In my thirteenth post, I provided an example of what a fair and open-minded science lesson on Intelligent Design might look like, in order to rebut claims by Zack Kopplin's Nobel Laureate supporters that the teaching of Intelligent Design in the science classroom was tantamount to teaching religion.
In my fourteenth and final post, I rebutted Zack Kopplin's claim that Louisiana's 2008 Science Education Act was harming education in that state, or costing the state jobs.