Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Testing ID

There's an interesting article in the New York Times on the great clash between the magisteria of religion and science at the first Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships in Science and Religion.

Whatever the arguments may be for rejecting evidence of intentional design in the biosphere, it seems that one must be not only unable but a forteriori unwilling, to see the evidence that the cosmos itself is the product of purpose and intelligence. Even if only half of what Michael Denton says in Nature's Destiny or Stephen Barr writes in Modern Physics and Ancient Faith is true, the evidence for a telic universe is simply astounding.

The atheist, I suppose, can always fall back on the old chestnut that no amount of evidence is sufficient to constitute proof that the universe was created by a mind and that it is incumbent upon the one who asserts the existence of something to prove that the entity exists.

What this ignores, however, is the fact that proof is person-relative. What constitutes proof for one who is willing to be persuaded will not constitute proof for the man who is unwilling to be moved by it. There is, as Pascal said, enough evidence to convince any man who is not dead set against it, and Denton and Barr have written books which bring that evidence into bold relief. There is indeed sufficient evidence to convince all but the most obdurate that something besides randomness and coincidence were at work in the crafting of this universe.

The writer of the Times article, George Johnson, states that "If the God hypothesis [i.e. the Designer hypothesis] is meaningful, it should be subject to a test. But the theistic gloss Dr. Polkinghorne and others give to science is immune to this kind of scrutiny. It has, by design, no observable consequences."

Whether this is true for Polkinghorne's work or not we cannot say, but it is hardly true for the work of others. Denton, for example offers this test:

If any fundamental force or physical law or chemical property were found which could have been other than what it is and not make the existence of higher life forms impossible then the teleological interpretation of the world would be discredited. If higher forms of life were to be discovered elsewhere in the universe thriving in environments significantly different from our own, there would be no grounds for maintaining the opinion that our world is uniquely suited for life. The argument from cosmic design rests on the conviction that our world is so exquisitely fine-tuned for life that if it were structured just a little bit differently than it is life would be impossible. If that conviction were to be falsified the argument from cosmic design would lose its force.

Having said that, it should be pointed out that the criterion of testability as a measure of meaningfulness is a two-edged sword. If an assertion must be testable to be scientifically meaningful then what are we to make of the Darwinist claim that life arose and evolved to its present state through purely mechanistic, blind, and unguided processes acting over long periods of time? The task of contriving a test of this assertion would baffle the finest minds in science, yet it's considered by all hands to be a perfectly meaningful claim.

There are many similar claims in science that defy testing, but which are considered meaningful propositions. If we are to dismiss the claim that the universe is the product of intentional design because of an alleged inability to be tested then we're going to have to also throw out a great deal of evolutionary biology and modern physics.

The American Soldier

Yesterday we posted an account of the toughness and courage of American soldiers and Marines. Today we direct you to this story which illustrates another side of the American soldier.

Despite the Left's steady focus on the mistreatment of prisoners that occured over a year ago at the hands of a relative few sadists, the average American G.I. is more like these guys in "Deuce Four" than they are like Lynde England.

The Peculiar Story of Judith Miller

The Judith Miller story is more than a little odd (See here for a complete account of the affair). Miller, you will recall went to prison rather than reveal her sources for a story - which she never wrote - on the matter of how Valerie Plame's identity as a covert operative for the CIA came to be made public.

The source she was ostensibly protecting was Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby, but Libby told her over a year ago that she had his permission to testify about any conversations she had had with him.

He then wrote a letter last month repeating his permission to reveal anything she wanted to the grand jury investigating the matter. Even so, she chose to remain in jail for another ten days before agreeing to testify.

Why? PowerLine has the details of the story and offers these three possibile answers to the question:

1) Miller went to jail because she wanted to pose as a martyr, and she just needs an excuse for why she now wants to go home. That's plausible as far as it goes, but it doesn't explain why Miller stayed in jail for another week and a half after getting Libby's "clarification," while her lawyer negotiated with the prosecutor. 2) Miller went to jail because she didn't want to answer questions about her tipping off a terrorist-supporting group [for whom] the FBI was about to execute a search warrant, an episode that also could have come before Fitzpatrick's grand jury. She and her lawyer laid the blame on Libby so that the public wouldn't learn about the other episode, which is pretty much unknown. Plausible, and consistent with what we've been told about her lawyer's deal with the prosecutor--if, indeed, the terrorist tipoff was something that Fitzgerald could have pursued. I'm not sure whether that's correct or not. 3) The third alternative is the most sinister: Miller went to jail to protect not Libby, but another source or sources, and the prosecutor has agreed not to ask her about those other sources. If that's true, it suggests that someone in the administration--presumably, either Karl Rove or Scooter Libby--is being set up.

Whatever the answer her behavior is strange, and it will be interesting to see what she has to say to the grand jury. Our hunch is that this investigation is going nowhere, at least nowhere that the enemies of Karl Rove would like to see it go. All of the excitement that rippled through the MSM last spring and summer as they eagerly anticipated seeing Rove brought low and maybe even led out of his office in leg irons, has evaporated away like a morning mist. Just another case of a great deal of left-wing sound and fury signifying nothing. Next up, Tom DeLay.