2008: Intelligent Design fail as A pretense to science that tries to set religion and evolution at odds / Steven L Peck, BYU

Obviously, I disagree with Dr. Steven L. Peck’s thoughts about Intelligent Design in this letter to the editor in the Salt Lake Tribune (see the original article there at this link).

As a Computer Science graduate from BYU and the smartest person everyone I know knows, I have devoted enormous effort to understanding the ideas put forward by Intelligent design. I have concluded that the science is first-rate and very convincing. See especially the posts by Dr. Steven C. Meyer at these links:


1996: Explanatory Power of Design / Stephen C Meyer, Discovery Institute

I think the best summarization of the need for design from the perspective of Computer Science and Information theory is this article by George Gilder, one of the pioneers of Information Technology:

Evolution and Me / George Gilder on Intelligent Design

This article by LDS Philosoher Richard Sherlock demonstrates why LDS should give serious consideration to the idea of Intelligent Design:

Mormonism and Intelligent Design / Richard Sherlock

Other Latter-day Saints scholars are beginning to note the importance of looking at intelligent design:

Orson Scott Card: 2006: Creation & Evolution in Schools / Orson Scott Card

Dr. Frank Salisbury, Ph.D.., is certainly the most well-known LDS biological scientist in our history. Dr. Salisbury is a retired professor of plant physiology at Utah State University, whose latest book, The Case for Divine Design, shows that he understands the scientific and philosophical aspects of the debate as well as the best non-LDS scholars. I have given his book to the scholars involved in this subject at Biola University, and they consider him a genius. Dr. Salisbury was also very close with the eminent scientist Henry Eyring, who was the father of Henry B.Eyring, current counselor in the First Presidency, and the father highly recommended Dr.Salisbury’s earlier books.

These are comments about Dr. Salisbury by Daniel Peterson:

He earned his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. Among his numerous publications are such volumes as Truth by Reason and by Revelation (Deseret Book, 1965); Vascular Plants: Form and Function , with Robert V. Parke (Palgrave Macmillan, 1973); The Creation (Deseret Book, 1976); Plant Physiology , 3d ed. (Wadsworth, 1985); and Units, Symbols, and Terminology for Plant Physiology: A Reference for Presentation of Research Results in the Plant Sciences (Oxford, 1996).

In fact, an article that he wrote for the prestigious journal Nature back in 1969 can be regarded as an early harbinger of the contemporary Intelligent Design movement. He had become excited about the complexity of DNA and of proteins, and his Nature essay argued that the probability of any enzyme appearing through mere randomness is vanishingly small.

I (Steve St.Clair) disagree vehemently that intelligent design is a stocking-horse for Christian fundamentalism or the Creationism of past years. I know scholars who are Catholic, secular Jewish, and agnostic who have adapted the ideas of intelligent design. These people are scientists who are followng the scientific evidence where it leads.

I invite Dr. Peck to help me sponsor a public seminar at BYU, to which we will invite leading thinkers defending and opposing Intelligent Design, including Latter-day Saints on both sides. Those who are supporting the idea are not afraid to discuss or debate the issues openly. I have personally met with many of them at conferences, and am sure that I could help with the arrangements and the financing for such a conference. How about it?

Sincerely your brother,

Steve St.Clair
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Intelligent Design fail as a pretense to science that tries to set religion and evolution at odds
By Steven L. Peck
The movie “Expelled” is, once again, unfortunately bringing to the foreground the creationist flanking maneuver of so-called Intelligent Design. First, I want to be clear where I’m coming from. I am a biology professor and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I take particular delight in being raised a Mormon who was taught that education and knowledge are among our highest ideals.

Many are surprised to find that I am also an evolutionary biologist. I am also a member of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the United States’ leading evolutionary science organization, and have published papers in its journal Evolution. I have published numerous scientific papers on the topic of evolution and believe that it is the best explanation for the diversity of life we see around us.

Evolution is at the heart of the biological revolution that has transformed everything from genetics, and medicine, to drug discovery and managing antibiotic resistance. As the great 20th century biologist Dobzhansky said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

As a biologist, I could not agree more. BYU has a number of faithful evolutionary biologists and evolutionary science is taught at Brigham Young University just as it is at any other accredited university.

Intelligent Design has no place in BYU’s science curriculum

Let me be blunt. I find nothing of value in Intelligent Design for both scientific and religious reasons. Intelligent Design posits that evolutionary theory cannot explain the origin of biological complexity. This is nonsense. Evolution is the best explanation for complexity. The purveyors of Intelligent Design argue that complex structures like the eye cannot be explained by bouts of mutation and selection; they call this irreproducible complexity. However, the truth is the eye has been explained exactly in those terms, by many evolutionary thinkers.

The argument is tantamount to saying that skyscrapers are impossible to build because there is no crane large enough to construct one. In fact, the crane was part of the building as it was raised and finally was dismantled when no longer needed. In the evolutionary history of life, this happened again and again. We see the remnants of these “cranes” all over the place. The history of life is full of things being used and retooled, then lost. A whale’s leg being turned into flippers, for example.

My next complaint about the Intelligent Design fiasco is its pretence to science. Exactly what makes it a science is not clear. It offers no testable hypotheses. It has established no research program. The theory of evolution has offered testable hypotheses that have been confirmed again and again. The theory of evolution says that we should find certain things in the fossil record, the genetic code of our genes, the distribution of plants and animals on the earth. We find those things.

Do not be detracted by supposed missing transitional forms. Fossilization is a rare process and we expect to find few transitional forms. But consider the recent lovely fossils coming out of China detailing the evolution of flight in birds from bird-like reptiles.

My last complaint about Intelligent Design is that it sets religion and science against each other. It puts forward a false dichotomy in students’ minds that suggests that evolution and faith are incompatible. It makes people of religious faith suspicious of science. When students genuinely think that science and religion are incompatible, one of two things typically happens. They embrace science and, since it is incompatible to religion, religion is abandoned. The other is that they maintain their faith but remain inappropriately suspicious of science and dismiss its methods and findings, inclining themselves to superstition and pseudoscience.

I have to wonder if the reason science education in the U.S. is falling behind that of other countries is because misinformed people of faith have been dissing science to the point that many students are choosing other paths.

Faith and science need not be enemies. I embrace both fully and without reservation. My religious convictions are part of who I am. My science and faith reciprocate and inform one another. They are part of the way I understand my place in the universe.

Intelligent Design does nothing to promote the search for understanding and cooperation between these two vital ways of knowing. It is a darkening of the mind on every level, both religiously and scientifically. Please do not let it be taught to my children as a science. It is bad for both religion and science.
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STEVEN L. PECK is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Brigham Young University. E-mail: steven peck@byu.edu
Faith and science need not be enemies. I embrace both fully and without reservation. My religious convictions are part of who I am. My science and faith reciprocate and inform one another. They are part of the way I understand my place in the universe. Intelligent Design does nothing to promote the search for understanding and cooperation between these two vital ways of knowing.

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One response to “2008: Intelligent Design fail as A pretense to science that tries to set religion and evolution at odds / Steven L Peck, BYU

  1. THE BIGGER PICTURE IN THE DEBATE ON DARWINISM IS NOT INTELLIGENT DESIGN. The reason is elementary: the Discovery Institute and other ID proponents leave out the Triune God, Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Hence, Richard Dawkins can make the case for “aliens” seeding the earth. A PARAGON OF SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENT! The Quest for Right, a series of 7 textbooks created for the public schools, represents the ultimate marriage between an in-depth knowledge of biblical phenomena and natural and physical sciences. The several volumes have accomplished that which, heretofore, was deemed impossible: to level the playing field between those who desire a return to physical science in the classroom and those who embrace the theory of evolution. The Quest for Right turns the tide by providing an authoritative and enlightening scientific explanation of natural phenomena which will ultimately dethrone the unprofitable Darwinian view. A review: “I am amazed at the breadth of the investigation – scientific history, biblical studies, geology, biology, geography, astronomy, chemistry, paleontology, and so forth – and find the style of writing to be quite lucid and aimed clearly at a general, lay audience.” ― Mark Roberts, former Editor of Biblical Reference Books, Thomas Nelson Publishers. The text begins simply enough, tracing the history of Darwin from an impressionable youth influenced by atheists and agnostics on every hand to a full-fledged agnostic in his own right. The matter may be summed up by the inclusion of Darwin’s sentiment regarding the Creator. In a bitter denial of Christianity, Darwin complained that he “could hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.” Darwin charged his original belief in God to the “constant inculcation” (instruction or indoctrination) in a belief in God” during his childhood, which was as difficult to cast down as “for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake…. Darwin purposed in his heart that he would no longer retain God in his knowledge. And the scientific illiterate upstart sought to entrap the innocents in the classroom in his web of deceit. Once past the history of the Darwinist movement, the architecture of the quantum atom is explored in great detail. This is breathtakingly new! The atom has been compared to a miniature sun-earth system with one or more electrons darting about everywhere at once weaving an electronic shell around the nucleus. 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