So I'm too broke to get cable or satellite. We'd been debating for a long time whether we should look into getting like a basic package so we could at least get PBS for the little guys. We'll, with the DTV transition only a few months ahead we decided to wait. We went ahead and got the coupons for the converter boxes, went to Wal-Mart, basically got them for free, brought them home, plugged them in, and guess what? We get PBS. Three PBS channels to be exact. (One's in Spanish, but, hey, can't complain).
I like PBS, but I don't love it. I was raised on Sesame Street - the first generation to have been so. Sesame Street is still good (though I would love to strangle that Elmo puppet). And there are other really good shows on for my younger kids. (Sid the Science Kid - I HIGHLY recommend!) But when it comes to much of their other programming, I get leery. For the most part, much of their science programming takes a pro-Darwinian approach that I feel doesn't accurately depict the truth. My religious beliefs on the matter are no question to those who regularly read this blog, but even putting those aside, I haven't seen much in the way of explaining their pro-Darwinian position whilst explain the problems with Darwin's Theories and methods.
But then one day all the planets aligned and things were different, at least for a little while. And what I saw not only challenged Darwinian assumptions, but also solidified my pro-intelligent design position. Let me share a little about my position and then I'll share what I saw and what it taught me.
Intelligent Design, as a theory for the origin of the Universe and life, at heart, basically says "let's follow the science to wherever it takes us, even if it means we find a Creator". Contrary to what others scream about it being "religion in disguise" or "propaganda", what it really is is just another way to approach the evidence we have at hand and admit there may be something out there. (At least that's how I see it, others have "religified" it or taken it to mean "why bother, God made it and that's all there is to it, so don't waste time on research" - I don't agree with that approach and I say keep digging - there's no point at which you should stop and say "well, that must be God")
In my opinion (and this is my blog, so I get to share my opinion, I hope you'll share yours! I'm sharing it as opinion and not defending it as fact - just so we're clear) Intelligent Design provides the best explanation of the evidence. Let me give you two examples:
The Big Bang - most astronomers are in agreement that the Universe had a beginning and that beginning was an explosion of energy an matter from what they call a "singularity" - a point smaller than this period. From that, the Universe expanded, cooled, congealed, and presents the stars and planets and galaxies we see today. Most astronomers will also agree that if the conditions of the Big Bang weren't "just right" the Universe would either have collapsed back onto itself into a singularity again, or expanded too fast to allow for matter to collect into stars and planets - leaving a big empty space of possibly just dust particles that were billions of miles away from each other. The chances of the Big Bang being "just right" by accident are astronomical.
The Fossil Record - Darwin admitted in his writings that the fossil record did not support his theory in his time, however he was certain that future findings would bear him out. However, as time has gone by, we are actually seeing bigger gaps in the record and still no transitional forms (an animal that is clearly the link between one species and another - for example something between dinosaurs and birds if we presume they are related.) Many fossils that were thought to be transitions were either hoaxes or not a true link (in the wrong time period, for example). While this in itself does not necessarily scream "DESIGN", it does show problems with "amoebas to man" evolution.
Those are just two examples, but you get the idea. So you can see why it surprised me that PBS would present programs that, while not intentionally supporting Intelligent Design, provided evidence and explanations that surprisingly DID support it.
The first was an episode of a series called Closer To The Truth. (The site has back programs, but this particular episode was much older and is no longer on the site, here's the link to the TV listing:KNME-HD Listing for October 25, 12:30 PM Closer To The Truth Episode #107 Why a Fine Tuned Universe .)
The episode, as shown above, was about explaining the fine-tuned-ness of the universe and the earth in particular. They spoke at length about what is known as the "Strong Anthropic Principle" which can be defined thusly:
“Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP): the Universe exists with only those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in it’s history.” (The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by John Barrow and Frank Tipler, p. 21)
But can be described to mean not only did the Universe have to produce life, it also had to produce life that was able to study it. Basically, the universe had to produce people because we're the only life form (known so far) that is able to study the workings of the universe.
The show went on to explain that since the Universe produced people so it had something to study it, it had to place those people in a unique place to be able to observe it. And sure enough the earth is placed is just the right place that we are able to use our telescopes to probe the furthest reaches of the Universe. If we were any closer to the center of our galaxy or mixed within other stars within one of our galaxies spiral arms, our view would be diminished.
The program stopped short there of declaring Intelligent Design. The conclusion was that there must be infinite Universes (doesn't "uni" mean "one"?) and we just happen to live in the one that has all these things in place. Yeah.
Ok, so that show was interesting, but surely it was just an anomaly in PBSs programming. Surely they won't air anything else that gives credence to Intelligent Design.
Not so fast.
A few days later, the series Nova presented something that totally blew my mind. Here's the link:
Nova: Hunting the Hidden Dimension
The episode was all about fractal geometry. Now it's a little hard to explain, so I suggest following the link to where you can see the full episode online, but basically fractal geometry allows for very complex shapes and patters to be explained numerically. In other words, things we thought were just choatic are actually very elaboate depictions of mathmatics.
The best example was in the episode where one of the animators at Pixar was trying to find a way to make realistic looking mountains in computer animation. Short of drawing them by hand, he couldn't figure it out. Then he came across a fractal equation. He plugged that into his animating software and viola! realistic mountains complete with nooks and crags and peaks and valleys.
The one that got me was where they went to a particular rain forest to try to describe the amount of oxygen produced by individual trees vs. the forest as a whole. Obviously they couldn't study an entire forest, so they started with one tree then worked out to bigger and bigger sections. They took that one tree and measured it every way they could think of. Then they looked at 10 trees. What they found was a geometric correspondence between the leaves and branches on the one tree the 10 trees. Then the looked at 100, same thing. Then 1000. In every case they found you could describe the measurements of a single tree and many trees with the same equations. The same pattern that governed the growth of one tree is the same pattern that governed the whole forest.
So why don't we hear more about Intelligent Design as science?
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed the movie - available on Netflix instant view if you are a Netflix member.
This movie is not about Intelligent Design, rather it's about those who attempt to talk about it as science and what happens to them. The best part of the whole movie is at the end where host Ben Stein is interviewing Richard Dawkins (probably the world's most vocal proponent of Darwinian theories). You have to see it to believe it, but basically, when asked some very simple questions about the origin of life on Earth, Dawkins just kind of comes unglued.
So, anyway, that's my rant. I'm not asking you to agree with me, just go check these things out for yourself.