Joined: Jan. 2008
DO'L links to an article by Lasey Cuskin about continental drift and how long it took for it to be accepted by the scientific community. Of course, Luskin sees parallels to ID:
|The parallels with intelligent design are obvious: The theory of ID is still maturing, and its advocates face harsh ridicule. Perhaps ID won't be widely accepted by scientists until the 2060s, presumably after Michael Behe, William Dembski, Stephen Meyer -- and all those who ridicule them today -- have already retired from the thick of the battle.|
We might like to think the design revolution will happen sooner, but if the story of continental drift teaches us anything, it's that it may be decades before ID receives "ultimate vindication" -- and we may have to endure a lot of ridicule in the meantime.
The more you think about it, the more ironic it gets that any IDist would compare ID with Wegner's continental drift.
The main factor why Wegner's theory wasn't accepted initially had been that he couldn't provide a plausible mechanism. Wegner imagined that the continents plowed through the ocean floor driven by gravitational pull, and tidal and centrifugal forces. Scientists at that time showed that these forces weren't strong enough to facilitate movement. Additionally, it was criticised that the continents would've had broken apart long ago if that was true.
It was largely unknown what happend under the earth's crust, even the age of the earth wasn't settled by then (although it was already clear that it was much, much older than a few thousand years). Arthur Holmes, a geologist who would later support Wegner's theory, published a book in 1913 (a year after Wegner first published his continental drift proposal) in which he estimated the age of the earth to be 1600 ma. In 1944, he published a book that included a chapter about continental drift that suggested some kind of sea floor spreading as a mechanism but he came up with the idea a decade earlier:
|Around 1930, Holmes suggested a mechanism that could explain Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift: the power of convection. Currents of heat and thermal expansion in the Earth's mantle, he suggested, could force the continents toward or away from one another, creating new ocean floor and building mountain ranges (a theory later clarified by Harry Hess).|
But he also warned that his ideas were "purely speculative" and could "have no scientific value until they acquire support from independent evidence." (Homework assignment: Compare and contrast Holmes approach to that of the IDists.)
Continental drift (or more precisely, plate tectonics) was finally accepted after data about the ocean floor became available:
|Harry Hess was a geologist and Navy submarine commander during World War II. Part of his mission had been to study the deepest parts of the ocean floor. In 1946 he had discovered that hundreds of flat-topped mountains, perhaps sunken islands, shape the Pacific floor. The discovery of the Great Global Rift in the 1950s inspired him to look back at his data from years before. After much thought, he proposed in 1960 that the movement of the continents was a result of sea-floor spreading. In 1962, he added a geologic mechanism to account for Wegener's moving continents. It was possible, he said, that molten magma from beneath the earth's crust could ooze up between the plates in the Great Global Rift. As this hot magma cooled in the ocean water, it would expand and push the plates on either side of it -- North and South America to the west and Eurasia and Africa to the east. This way, the Atlantic Ocean would get wider but the coastlines of the landmasses would not change dramatically.|
|This story has long fascinated me, because I find the evidence for continental drift to be highly compelling, and because it's a classic example of how the scientific community can radically change its mind.|
No wonder Luskin finds the evidence for continental drift compelling. There's a plausible mechanism and myriad of data that support it. No one in his right mind could reject it without providing really compelling evidence and an alternative mechanism or a reason why the proposed mechanism doesn't work, and even then it would be highly unlikely that plate tectonics would turn out to be completely wrong. Kind of similar to evolution, don't ya think.
But of course, there IS a group that still rejects plate tectonics. The YECs, who are happily cohabiting the big tent of ID. So, the scientists who rejected continental drift in the absence of a plausible mechanism are an example of scientists getting it all wrong, presumably out of stubborness and to protect their grant money, while the YEC IDist are perfectly fine and aren't to be criticised. After all, ID doesn't say anything about the age of the earth.
Shame though (for the IDists) that evolution does, and even provides some of the data that supports plate tectonics (and vice versa)...
I probably don't have to point out that the absence of a mechanism and the refusal of IDists to even speculate about one is as valid a reason to reject ID than it had been to reject continental drift initially. Another glaring difference between the story of the final acceptance of plate tectonics and the story of ID is that Wegner and others actually responded to criticism and worked on providing mechanism:
|Wegener took the assault [by critics of continental drift] as an opportunity to refine his ideas and address valid criticisms. When critics said he had not presented a plausible mechanism for the drift, he provided six of them (including one that foreshadowed the idea of plate tectonics). When they pointed out mistakes—his timeline for continental drift was far too short—he corrected himself in subsequent editions of his work. |
We all know how well IDists respond to valid criticism and how eager they're to correct their mistakes.
Also notable how Wegner did not cry persecution and wasn't expelled, and how plate tectonics didn't win out by being pushed into school books or by the workings of a huge propaganda machine directed at the general public but instead by accumulating data and developing a freaking idea how it is supposed to work ie by doing bloody science.
DO'L as always shows a masterful grasp on the subject by captioning:
|“Pseudoscience” sometimes just means research the tenure bores should have done but didn’t|
And now they have to persecute everyone who did.
"Random mutations, if they are truly random, will affect, and potentially damage, any aspect of the organism, [...]
Thus, a realistic [computer] simulation [of evolution] would allow the program, OS, and hardware to be affected in a random fashion." GilDodgen, Frilly shirt owner