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Hoyle & Intelligent Design

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2007 07:54:57 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2007 07:54:57 -0500
Subject: Hoyle & Intelligent Design

Source: Evolution News & Views - Seattle, Washington, USA


February 19, 2007

Hoyle Uses The Term "Intelligent Design" In A 1982 Work Making
A Design Inference For The Origin Of Life

Posted by Jonathan Witt

Hoyle Uses the Term "Intelligent Design" in a 1982 Work Making a
Design Inference for the Origin of Life


[Edited] Bilbo of Telic Thoughts ... [references] an early,
notable use of the term "intelligent design," this one by one of
the 20th century's leading scientists, agnostic Fred Hoyle:

On January 12th, 1982, Sir Fred Hoyle delivered the Omni Lecture
at the Royal Institution, London, entitled Evolution From Space,
which was later reprinted in a book by the same title... In it
he discussed the overwhelming improbability of getting the
enzymes needed for even the simplest form of life to function by

The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of
words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely
random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a
number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare's plays
with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and
straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a
fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives
at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure
or order must be the outcome of intelligent design [my
emphasis]. No other possibility I have been able to think of in
pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have
anything like as high a possibility of being true. (27-28)


[The Hoyle passage] renders all the more implausible the anti-ID
claim that intelligent design is just creationism repackaged
after a 1987 Supreme Court ruling against biblical creationism.
First, like the seminal work of intelligent design, The Mystery
of Life's Origin (1984), Hoyle's design argument predates the
1987 ruling by several years. Second, Hoyle wasn't a Christian.
He wasn't a Jew. He wasn't even a theist. He was an agnostic who
thought the intelligence responsible for first life must have
come from within the universe.

Third, and also like The Mystery of Life's Origin, Hoyle based
his design inference purely on physical evidence and neither
appealed to, nor attempted to reconcile his argument with, a
particular reading of the Genesis account of creation. Thus,
even if it came to light that Hoyle secretly wore bad shoes,
attended a Holy Roller congregation in the back woods of
Alabama, and peppered all his private conversations with "Praise
Gawd!" it wouldn't matter: the substance of his design argument
was based on physical evidence rather than Scriptural authority
and therefore should be judged on the physical evidence rather
than on any hidden motives he may or may not have had.

Hoyle also contributed to the revival of design thinking in the
modern era through his work on, and discussion of, the fine
tuning of the physical constants of nature. I discuss his
contribution, and the history of intelligent design, here.
Bilbo's Telic Thoughts piece is here.

The irony, of course, is that "Bilbo" ... [called attention to
the Hoyle passage] - a Telic Thoughts contributor forced to
adopt a pseudonym so that he can proceed, to borrow Hoyle's
words, "directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without
being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific
opinion." Scientists of good will, on every side of the origins
controversy, need to fight to restore both academic and
intellectual freedom to origins science.

In particular, evolutionists who prize academic freedom - those
occupying secure industry positions, tenured positions, or full
professorships - need at last to put those positions to use,
even if it means an uncomfortable moment or two at the next
cocktail party. Will a true liberal from the ranks of prominent
evolutionists please stand up and defend the rights of academic
scientists who see a role for intelligent causation in the
history of life and the universe?

Note: The original mistakenly described Bilbo as having
"discovered" the passage.

[Thanks to Stuart Miller of http://uforeview.net/ for the lead]

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