Friday, December 11, 2009

Microscopic Beauty

Here are some beautiful pictures of living things so tiny that most of us never see them.

Here's one of my favorites. It's a unicellular algae called Penium:


This Year's Daniel

Stephen Meyer has been awarded World magazine's "Daniel" award for 2009, presented to the man or woman who withstands intense opposition, often in the form of personal assaults, with grace and resolve:

This fall Meyer came out with a full account of what science has learned in recent decades: Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (Harper One, 2009) shows that the cell is incredibly complex and the code that directs its functions wonderfully designed. His argument undercuts macroevolution, the theory that one kind of animal over time evolves into a very different kind. Meyer thus garners media scorn for raining on this year's huge celebration of the birth of Charles Darwin 200 years ago and the publication of On the Origin of Species 150 years ago.

From his office Meyer has ventured forth to debate at least nine prominent Darwinians on CNN, NPR, FOX, the BBC, and other venues. In it he has written numerous newspaper and magazine columns in defense of Intelligent Design (ID), as well as an academic article that became notorious five years ago when Richard Sternberg, a Smithsonian-affiliated scientist, agreed to publish it in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. Darwinian higher-ups demoted Sternberg for allowing the other side to have its say. They interrogated him about religious and political beliefs.

ID proponents regularly receive that type of harassment: No lion's den, but denials of tenure and media depiction as anti-science. Ironically, scientific advance is now backing ID, which starts with the idea that - in Meyer's words -"certain technical features in a physical system reveal the activity of an intelligence or a mind. A simple example might be Mount Rushmore: You drive into the Dakotas and you see carvings of the presidents' faces up on the mountainside, and you immediately recognize that you're dealing with a sculpture, an intelligence, rather than an undirected process like wind and erosion."

Our new ability to peer into cells also shows ID: Meyer says, "We don't see little faces but we do see other indicators of intelligent activity, such as the digital code that's stored in a DNA molecule, or the tiny little miniature machines, the nanotechnology, the sliding clamps and turbines and rotary engines that biologists are now finding inside living cells." Darwin did not know any of that and Meyer, 51, did not always know it. His career shows the four-stage pattern that is common among intellectual Daniels: Questioning, discernment, courage, and perseverance.

The article goes on to trace Meyer's journey through those four stages, and it's quite interesting. Also interesting is the note that the author, Marvin Olasky, appends to the end of the essay:

This year atheistic biologist Richard Dawkins refused my offer to schedule a debate in New York between Meyer and himself: Dawkins, who says that Darwinism makes for "intellectually fulfilled atheism," apparently does not want to lose his sense of fulfillment. But theistic evolutionist Francis Collins also attacks ID and is unwilling to enter into a public discussion with Meyer.

For all their bluster and bravado about slaying the dragons of superstition and exposing the ridiculousness of theistic belief the atheistic Darwinians, and even some of their theistic allies, really want nothing to do with the ID people (see the post below this one). They know such battles, especially if held in public fora, would be as hard on their scholarly reputations as they'd be on their egos.



Bill Dembski at Uncommon Descent introduces the brief video clip below with these words:

William Lane Craig is not only one of the world's leading Christian apologists but he has actually made outstanding original contributions to philosophy. Yes, Craig publishes popular-level books. Unlike Dawkins, however, who in 20-years plus has been purely a popularizer (of Darwinian evolution, materialist science, and atheism), Craig continues to publish at the highest levels of the academy addressing scholars of the highest caliber (and gaining their respect). Dawkins, by contrast, increasingly appeals to the lowest common denominator. It's in this light that Dawkins glib dismissal of Craig should be viewed:

This is another example of how the smack-talkers among the new atheists would prefer to attack straw men in the comfort of their study rather than venture out to wage face-to-face combat with a real opponent. One wonders what rank and file atheists must think when they see their champions eager to embarrass liberal bishops who don't know what they believe or why they believe it but flinching from encounters with formidable Christian thinkers like Craig.