Dembski’s Five Questions: Number One.

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Gary S. Hurd, Dave Mullenix

Scientific Creationism wholeheartedly embraced fundamentalist Christian dogma, particularly the notion of a six-day creation week with the inference that every ‘kind’ of life was directly and uniquely created, that a global flood covered the entire Earth in which only those life forms rescued on Noah’s Ark survived, and that the ‘ages’ associated with various biblical genealogies could be summed to obtain a chronology of creation. In the face of repeated legal losses, which excluded religious indoctrination from public schools in America, the Scientific Creationists asserted that they could use purely scientific means to “prove” that their specific biblical interpretation was literal truth. Thus, they argued their creationism was different from simple fundamentalism, and deserved to be taught as science in public schools. The origin, and (lingering) decline of Scientific Creationism are very sympathetically studied by Ron Numbers in his 1993 book, [u]The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism[/u] (Berkeley: University of California Press). Scientific Creationism never made good on the promise to use science to ‘prove’ that their biblical interpretations were empirically correct, although there are a small number of individuals still trying. They have been reduced to making ‘scientific arguments’ more bizarre than accepting miracles, and lame efforts to attack evolution such as denying fossil evidence of evolutionary transitions, or equating “Darwinism” simultaneously with Nazis, Communists, and recently Al Qaeda. Throughout the 1980s Scientific Creationists lost legal battles. Scientific Creationists were turned away from public schools by the courts. This set the stage for the emergence of a new version of creationism, Intelligent Design.

[u]Intelligent Design Creationism[/u]

William Dembski is a prominent Intelligent Design Creationist (IDC). He sports two Ph.D.s, one in Philosophy, and one in Mathematics, as well as a Masters degree in Theology. Intelligent Design Creationists have taken a strong position that they are entirely unlike other creationists in their motivation, practice or goal. Particularly, Dembski is known to insist that ID is a scientific project, and is not merely reduced to lame arguments against “Darwinism,” however defined. Further, Intelligent Design Creationists insist they are not to be viewed as primarily motivated by fundamentalist Christian ideology even when they have clearly acknowledged this is their motivation. We have been struck by the effort of scientific critics of IDC, and Dembski in particular, to generally address the ‘theory’ of Intelligent Design on its own terms. Specifically, recent books have nearly bent over backwards to be “fair” in their critical analysis of Intelligent Design’s many failures*3. If it were not for these facts, Dembski’s short article “Five Questions a Darwinist Would Rather Dodge” would draw little attention, as it is a fairly ordinary rehash of standard young earth creationist (YEC) distortions of science. It is remarkable that Dembski has published such a stereotypical piece of creationist writing. It seems that the ID movement is reverting to type.

[u]Quote Mining[/u]

The false, or out-of-context quote is the favorite tactic of professional young earth creationists’ efforts to undermine science education. The creationist causes it to appear that there are some grave doubts about evolution among scientists, and independent of the creationist’s a priori rejection of evolution on religious grounds. This is so widely recognized among those who follow these efforts that it has come to be called “quote mining” and compilation of many examples, and their corrections has been published on-line at The Quote Mine Project. The Answers in Genesis Ministries, formerly the Creation Science Foundation of Brisbane, Australia, even produced a book of quotes called [u]The Revised Quote Book[/u] (1990) that has been debunked at Cretinism or Evilution? No. 3. Further “quote-mine” information and examples dating as early as 1905 are found in Numbers (1992, pg. 50-53), and an large library of quotes are analyzed at Quotations and Misquotations.

We find many of the quotes used by Dembski in his Citizen Magazine article, if not his actual sources, in creationist quote mines and earlier Discovery Institute publications. For example, Dembski’s introduction used a Simon Conway-Morris quote popular in such creationist quote mines as “General Evolution of life Quote Collection:” (See page 48) by the Apologia Project, “a Christian research organization whose aim is to present the unadulterated view of the Christian faith.” We also find it on page 9 of the Discovery institute’s QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE DISCOVERY INSTITUTE’S BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SUPPLEMENTARY RESOURCES FOR OHIO SCIENCE INSTRUCTION2. Dembski is fond of it, as he has used it before in William Dembski Testimony for Textbook Hearing, Austin, Texas, September 10, 2003.

An additional feature of ‘classic’ quote mining is the absent or incorrect citation. For example, the quotations used in Dembski’s “Five Questions…” are all unreferenced making it difficult to learn the actual intent of the original author.*1 The Conway-Morris quote, for example, was from the opening sentences of his review paper Evolution: Bringing Molecules into the Fold (Cell, 7 January 2000, Vol. 100 pp. 1-11) and, unlike Dembski’s misuse, the article cannot be read as a rejection of evolutionary biology. Conway-Morris, even though he is a theist, is dismissive of creationism (see PZ Myers on Conway-Morris).

[u]William Dembski’s Trip to the Quote Mine:Question 1[/u]

The first question Dembski claims “Darwinists” dodge is the paleontological support for evolutionary theory. More specifically, he claims that there are no transitional fossils that demonstrate the relatedness of ancient or living species, and that scientists try to avoid this. Dembski has no experience or expertise in paleontology, and is thus forced to rely on the authority of those who do. It is fascinating, and infuriating that he blatantly ignores their actual opinions to cull bits and pieces he can use to mislead the readers of his article. Dembski handles the tools of quote mining like a seasoned professional. But this mode of argument is fatally flawed for Dembski, because to accept the authority of the sentences he quoted demands he also accepts their authority when correctly cited.

Dembski’s first quote victim is Darwin himself. In fact, Darwin devoted an entire chapter to fossils in his [u]Origin of Species[/u]. For a topic that “Darwinists” try to doge, according to Dembski, there has been an inordinate amount of ink and forests of paper used in this discussion. And what scientists call answers, Dembski calls a “dodge.” But, what then is the advice Dembski gives his readers, should they actually pursue this on their own?

Dembski Wrote:

“Don’t get lost in the details.”

In other words, Dembski says to just ignore the data. If that wasn’t enough, he admits that, “Yes, the fossil record contains organisms that can be placed in a progression suggesting gradual change.” But, either due to ignorance or malice, he then claims this is the “result from arbitrary picking and choosing.” The science, and practice of taxonomy has received the benefit of thousands of researchers for even longer than creationists have rejected the evidence for evolution; it may be incomplete, and it may even be mistaken at times, but it is not arbitrary. Paleontological taxonomy specifically is structured by time more than any other consideration. To ignore this obvious constraint is to be ignorant in a way that can only be willful.

Dembski, “ Also, such progressions invariably come from organisms with the same basic body plan.” And a bit later, “For instance, there is no fossil evidence whatsoever that insects and vertebrates share a common evolutionary ancestor. The challenge that here confronts evolution is not isolated but pervasive, and comes up most flagrantly in what’s called the Cambrian Explosion.

Consider for a moment these observations from Conway-Morris, an authority that Dembskii accepts,

“In making that connection, we were moving toward resolving a fundamental problem in evolution: How are body plans constructed, and how do new phyla actually emerge? To get from halkieriids, well represented as Lower Cambrian fossils, to Wiwaxia, which thrived in the Middle Cambrian, there is no need to postulate macroevolutionary jumps or some sort of genetic revolution. The haleeriids are not only older than Wiwaxia but also clearly more primitive. In life, halkieriids crawled across the seabed, their scales forming a beautifully arranged protective armor. Wiwaxia looked somewhat similar, but as Butterfield showed, its scales evolved into chaetae. So is Wiwaxia an annelid? It is really a matter of definition, but in my opinion, Wiwaxia is a member of the annelid stem group–a creature still in the process of becoming an annelid. Once scrutinized, the wiwaxiids and the haleeriids, despite their seemingly great differences, are closely related. They may be connected by two simple steps: the scales of halkieriids are transformed into wiwaxiid chaetae, and lobate, leglike extensions develop so that the style of locomotion changes from crawling to a kind of stepping.”

Conway-Morris Wrote:

“New discoveries and interpretations have altered our view of arthropod evolution as well. The biggest surprise is Hallucigenia, exemplar of the bizarre. Or is it? Recent finds from the Chinese deposit of Chengjiang reveal that my original reconstruction of this odd-looking, spiky animal had but one simple mistake: I had envisioned it upside down. Hallucigenia (a name coined by a colleague and me in an attempt to capture its dreamlike appearance) may still look strange, but with new discoveries, especially from southern China, Hallucigenia is now seen to belong to a group of primitive arthropods. And what about the famous Anomalocaris, another of Gould’s star oddballs? “Nothing…about Anomalocaris suggests a linkage with arthropods,” he writes (in 1989). Now we know better. The discovery, in different species, of lobopod-like legs and jointed appendages along the length of the body not only establishes a link between Anomalocaris and the more primitive Hallucigenia but also is crucial for understanding the appearance of the first arthropods–a group that would eventually radiate into crabs, spiders, and the millions of species of insects. (Conway-Morris and Gould 1998)

In short, the Ediacarian, and Cambrian fauna show, as a scientist that Dembski accepts as authoritative points out, just the evidence that Dembski denied existed. Dembski also cites Stephen Jay Gould as an authority, and Gould agreed in principle that all life shares common ancestry, but he argued that the tempo of evolutionary change was neither fixed, nor consistent.

Now, I suspect that Dembski knew full well that the fossil evidence is clear that the “fundamentally different body plans” evolved in the Pre-Cambrian. Does Dembski propose that there should be a starfish to horse sequence? In that case he should surrender all pretence of understanding the sciences he is criticizing. That his ignorance is feigned, and his real intent is deception is clear when he moves directly to a discussion of the Cambrian “explosion” where he tells a very direct lie,

“In a very brief window of time during the geological period known as the Cambrian, virtually all the basic animal types appeared suddenly in the fossil record with no trace of evolutionary ancestors.” (emphasis added)

Now, a lie is quite different from merely being wrong. In order for a false statement to be a lie, one must know that the statement is false prior to making it. We can even allow Dembski to have been honestly ignorant of any writing other than those he has directly quoted. We can turn to Dembski’s familiarity with the popular writing of Peter Ward. Dembski quotes Peter Ward,

“If ever there was evidence suggesting Divine Creation, surely the Precambrian and Cambrian transition, known from numerous localities across the face of the earth, is it.”

Dembski quoted a bit more in an email responding to our request for his reference,

“The seemingly sudden appearance of skeletonized life has been one of the most perplexing puzzles of the fossil record. How is it that animals as complex as trilobites and brachiopods could spring forth so suddenly, completely formed, without a trace of their ancestors in the underlying strata? If ever there was evidence suggesting Divine Creation, surely the Precambrian and Cambrian transition, known from numerous localities across the face of the earth, is it. “ (Ward, 1992:29, emphasis added by gh)

The main interest here is that Dembski clearly has the text available. So he could not have missed the point that the single sentence he quotes was a ‘framing’ sentence, and was merely rhetorical. Further, he must be accountable for a least the rest of the section he from which he quoted. Following a historical review, Ward resumes,

“Until almost 1950 the absence of metazoan fossils older than Cambrian age continued to puzzle evolutionists and earth historians alike. Other than the remains of single-celled creatures and the matlike stromatolites, it did indeed look as if larger creatures had arisen with a swiftness that made a mockery of Darwin’s theory of evolution. This notion was finally put to rest, however, by the discovery of the Ediacarian and Vendian fossil faunas of the latest Precambrian age. (Pp 35)”

In other words, we learn that science has known for well over 50 years that the supposed “sudden” appearance of Cambrian fossils was invalid, and Dembski has quoted this 12 year-old book in a basically dishonest manner. Ward goes on to explain that the pre-Cambrian fossil assemblage is entirely consistent with evolutionary theory in the clearest possible language,

“The long accepted theory of the sudden appearance of skeletal metazoans at the base of the Cambrian was incorrect: the basal Cambrian boundary marked only the first appearance of relatively large skeleton-bearing forms, such as the trilobites and brachiopods, rather than the first appearance of skeletonized metazoans. Darwin would have been satisfied. The fossil record bore out his conviction that the trilobites and brachiopods appeared only after a long period of evolution of ancestral forms (Pp 36-37, emphasis added).

So, a paleontologist that Dembski accepts as authoritative (else why quote him?) stated plainly that Darwin’s concern about the fossil record has been satisfied in the same section of the same chapter that Dembski earlier quoted. Recall that it was this concern that Dembski claims “Darwinists” dodge. There is no acceptable excuse for Dembski not to have read and understood Ward’s clear meaning. And, for Dembski to have used Ward’s opening rhetorical flourish as authoritative while denying his obvious meaning expanded throughout the chapter is at best hypocritical.

Dembski next moves on to Stephen Jay Gould. Gould was one of the most widely known scientists, and clearly the best known paleontologist of the late 1900s. He was also the most popular with creationists who were drawn to his many exaggerated, and even bombastic pronouncements concerning evolution appearing in the popular press. Robert Wright has pointed out,

“This particular excess has drawn criticism from Gould’s mentor, the renowned biologist Ernst Mayr. In his book “Toward a New Philosophy of Biology” Mayr insists that any plausible version of punctuated equilibrium is “completely consistent” with the modern Darwinian synthesis, and that the engine of change in punctuated equilibrium is natural selection. Mayr should know. He, more than anyone else, created the theory of punctuated equilibrium, decades before Gould gave it that catchy title.” (1999)

Dembski Wrote:

“To his credit, the late evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould conceded this point: “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.”

This quote from Stephen Jay Gould (1977:181-182) is one of the creationist quote miner’s most basic stock in trade. A Google search of just Gould’s first few words will turn up hundreds of creationist web pages prancing about and cheering over this so-called “concession.” Dembski’s mentor, Phillip E. Johnson has used a distorted version of this quote for years, and it is very likely Dembski took his cue from a Johnson publication that manipulated Gould’s writing, such as [u]Darwin on Trial[/u] (1991: 59) that used this ‘quote.’ Indeed, the first question Dembski poses smacks of Johnson’s 1998 essay on Gould, “The Gorbachev of Darwinism” Phillip E. Johnson, First Things 789:14-16.

As Gould wrote in response, “This quotation, although accurate as a partial citation, is dishonest in leaving out the following explanatory material showing my true purpose - to discuss rates of evolutionary change, not to deny the fact of evolution itself.” Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition (1999) Page 28. NAS

Gould also had this to say

“Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am–for I have become a major target of these practices.”

And,

“Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists–whether through design or stupidity, I do not know–as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.” (1981)

And perhaps we should afford the dead the last word here, as they cannot have it by mere dint of living longest. Gould’s review of Phillip Johnson’s [u]Darwin on Trial[/u] can be taken as a considered opinion of the totality of Intelligent Design Creationism.

Gould Wrote:

“Johnson’s grandiose claims, backed by such poor support in fact and argument, recall a variety of phrases from a mutually favorite source: “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind” (Proverbs 11:29, and source for the famous play that dramatized the Scopes trial); “They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). But Darwin on Trial just isn’t good enough to merit such worrisome retorts. The book is scarcely more than an acrid little puff–and I therefore close with a famous line from Darwin’s soulmate, born on the same day of February 12, 1809. Abraham Lincoln wrote: “‘And this, too, shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!” (1992)

[u]Footnotes[/u]

*1 We emailed and then telephoned Peter Ward to ask him for a citation to this quote. He actually couldn’t recall where he had written this. Ultimately we had to ask William Dembski for the citation, which he promptly provided. We would like to thank him publicly for this courtesy. Professor Ward was not at all pleased, and wished us to convey to Dr. Dembski his displeasure at his writing being manipulated in this fashion. We consider this as done herein.

*2 The use of Conway-Morris’, and other scientists’ writing by the Discovery Institute’s efforts to introduce creationism into public school science is discussed in Analysis of the Discovery Institute’s Bibliography.

*3 Scientists respond to IDC: Robert T. Pennock (Editor) 2001 [u]Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives[/u] MIT Press http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t[…]&s=books

Mark Perakh 2003 [u]Unintelligent Design[/u] New York: Prometheus Press http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t[…]&s=books

Niall Shanks and Richard Dawkins 2004) [u]God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory[/u] Oxford University Press http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t[…]&s=books

Matt Young, Tanner Edis (Editors), (available July 2004) [u]Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism[/u] Rutgers University Press http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t[…]duct-details

Barbara Carroll Forrest, Paul R. Gross 2004 [u]Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design[/u] Oxford University Press http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t[…]&s=books

[u]Acknowledgments[/u]

We would like to acknowledge the editorial assistance of Dick Hoppe and Reed Cartwright. Of course, all errors of fact or inference are the authors’ very own.

References

Conway-Morris, S., and S. J. Gould. 1998. Showdown on the Burgess shale. Natural History 107 (December/January): 48-55. http://www.stephenjaygould.org/libr[…]ambrian.html

Gould, Stephen Jay 1977 “The Episodic Nature of Evolutionary Change” Natural History, Vol. 86(5) May, p. 14. Reprinted in [u]The Panda’s Thumb[/u] 1980, pp. 179-185.

1992. Impeaching a self-appointed judge. Scientific American 267 (1): 118-121. http://www.stephenjaygould.org/revi[…]n-trial.html

_______________ “Evolution as Fact and Theory, May 1981” in Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994, p. 253-262.

Johnson, Phillip E. 1998 “The Gorbachev of Darwinism” First Things 789:14-16. http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues[…]johnson.html

Myers, PZ 2004 “Curse You Simon Conway-Morris” http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/[…]nway_morris/]

Ward, Peter Douglas 1992 [u]On Methuselah’s Trail: Living Fossils and the Great Extinctions[/u] (New York: W. H. Freeman,).

Wright, Robert 1999 “THE ACCIDENTAL CREATIONIST: Why Stephen Jay Gould is bad for evolution.” The New Yorker, Dec. 13. http://www.nonzero.org/newyorker.htm

46 Comments

I wrote a review of the Numbers’ book The Creationists that may be of interest.

Gary, excellent piece!

Footnote update: “Gorbachev of Darwinism” is available online at:

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues[…]johnson.html

Needless to say, Dembski’s questions have been answered many times before, but the answers are ignored or grossly caricatured in Dembski’s article. For what it’s worth, here are some quick answers.

Dembski Wrote:

There’s no evidence that natural selection is up to the task. Natural selection is fine for explaining certain small-scale changes in organisms, like the beaks of birds adapting to environmental changes. It can take existing structures and hone them. But it can’t explain how you get complex structures in the first place.

As Dembski knows full well, computerized evolutionary algorithms have frequently produced complex new designs unforeseen by human engineers. (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/gen[…]/genalg.html)

Dembski Wrote:

Evolutionists admit that intelligent design is scientifically detectable in many areas of science, such as archeology, forensics and cryptography. They even admit that nonhuman intelligence could be scientifically detectable, as with SETI. But they reject out of hand the possibility of detecting design in biological systems.

Not at all. They reject claims of intelligent design in biological systems because there is no evidence of it.

Dembski Wrote:

There is now a growing body of scientific literature that points to the appearance of both complexity and specification as a reliable marker for design.

Nonsense. Except for a few creationist sources like Dembski, no such literature exists. If Dembski insists otherwise, let him give some citations.

Dembski Wrote:

The challenge for evolutionary theory is not to find components of such systems that could be grist of natural selection’s mill. Rather, it is to provide detailed, testable, step-by-step scenarios whereby such components could reasonably have come together to bring about the marvels of engineering that we find in systems like the flagellum.

Ho hum. The old argument from ignorance. Pick one of the least well-explained biological structures (ignoring the many which have been explained in detail) and insist that evolutionary theory must be wrong because it can’t yet give a fully detailed account of its evolution. At the same time, fail to give even an outline account of its origin by intelligent design.

Dembski Wrote:

What evidence would convince you that evolution is false?

As has been mentioned countless times before, finding human skulls in Precambrian deposits would show there is something seriously wrong with evolutionary theory. And here’s a variation of my own: finding the remains of an ancient alien civilization with records of how they manipulated the process of evolution would convince me that evolution has not been a fully natural process.

Dembski Wrote:

Unlike evolution, intelligent design is refutable. All it takes is to offer a specific Darwinian explanation for complex systems, like the bacterial flagellum.

Why? What’s so special about the bacterial flagellum? If and when biologists have a detailed account of the evolution of the flagellum, what’s to stop Dembski from switching to another structure which has not yet been explained?

To add a bit to The Redoubtable Wein’s comments:

Dembski:

Unlike evolution, intelligent design is refutable. All it takes is to offer a specific Darwinian explanation for complex systems, like the bacterial flagellum.

Wein:

Why? What’s so special about the bacterial flagellum? If and when biologists have a detailed account of the evolution of the flagellum, what’s to stop Dembski from switching to another structure which has not yet been explained?

Of course creationists will switch to something else. Weather and the seasons used to the Designer’s literal handiwork.

But there is another switch which the ID advocates are already making here: at first they thunderously claim to have an argument against evolution in principle. Then this fades to insisting that minute details of the distant past must be provided. This is a standard creationist move (sometimes with an appeal to creationist probability along the way). Somehow they never notice that alleged in principle argument is busted. The call for details is accompanied, implicitly, with another standard creationist move: until every detail (of something they don’t like) is known, nothing is known. Since it is not possible to know every detail of molecules a billion years ago, there is no evidence that counts at all for a creationist.

Back to science: The truly remarkable thing is that so much can be plausibly inferred about the distant past. To learn about the flagellum for instance, read “Evolution in (Brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum”, at talkdesign.org or talkreason.org. Note that the main article is preceded by a short background article. All that ID advocates can do is insist that ever more details are needed, and indeed more are forthcoming. Sic transit gaps.

Dr. GH,

Well done! Thanks for taking the time to bring this to our attention.

Dembski’s article demonstrates something I’ve said in various forums for a while: Perhaps the best tactic against IDCists is to allow them to express their “arguments” as often as they wish. As we can see, the more they open their mouths, the more they demonstrate that they’re not all that different from their YEC ancestors. It also gives legitimate science the opportunity to point out the dishonest methodologies and downright ignorance that are standard to the creationism movement.

Thanks to the readers. I edited Dave’s comment into the references (and correctly spelled your name).

Richard’s short answers are probably more generally useful than the ‘full orchestra’ version above. But, I don’t think that there is any wiggle room left for Dembski on at least this question.

The Gould quote from “Evolution as Fact and Theory” is probably worth presenting with even more of the surrounding context, so we can see precisely what Dr. Gould really thought about the presence or absence of transitional fossils:

“The third argument is more direct: transitions are often found in the fossil record. Preserved transitions are not common - and should not be, according to our understanding of evolution - but they are not entirely wanting, as creationists often claim. The lower jaw of reptiles contains several bones, that of mammals only one. The non-mammalian jawbones are reduced, step by step, in mammalian ancestors until they become tiny nubbins located at the back of the jaw. The ‘hammer’ and ‘anvil’ bones of the mammalian ear are descendants of these nubbins. How could such a transition be accomplished? the creationists ask. Surely a bone is either entirely in the jaw or in the ear. Yet paleontologists have discovered two transitional lineages of therapsids (the so-called mammal-like reptiles) with a double jaw joint - one composed of the old quadrate and articular bones (soon to become the hammer and anvil), the other of the squamosal and dentary bones (as in modern mammals). For that matter, what better transitional form could we expect to find than the oldest human, Australopithecus africanus, with its apelike palate, its human upright stance, and a cranial capacity larger than any ape’s of the same body size but a full 1,000 cubic centimeters below ours? If God made each of the half-dozen human species discovered in ancient rocks, why did he create in an unbroken temporal sequence of progressively more modern features–increasing cranial capacity, reduced face and teeth, larger body size? Did he create to mimic evolution and test our faith thereby?

Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am–for I have become a major target of these practices.

.…

We proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium largely to provide a different explanation for pervasive trends in the fossil record. Trends, we argued, cannot be attributed to gradual transformation within lineages, but must arise from the differential success of certain kinds of species. A trend, we argued, is more like climbing a flight of stairs (punctuation and stasis) than rolling up an inclined plane.

Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists–whether through design or stupidity, I do not know–as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.” –from the essay “Evolution as Fact and Theory”, in Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, p.258-260 (emphasis mine)

Suffice it to say that anyone who quotes Dr. Gould in such a way as to suggest that he believed transitional forms are entirely absent, is either profoundly ignorant of Gould’s scientific work or else intentionally dishonest.

And if the ID advocates keep harping on the bacterial flagellum, what do they have to say about the numerous complex molecular systems that have been fully explained by evolution - things like the blood clotting cascade, photosynthesis, the Krebs cycle, or the IC pathways for breaking down toxic man-made chemicals that have evolved in just the past few decades?

http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/[…]n04.html#run

I am continually astounded at the huge amount of intellectual power brought to bear on the question of our huge, invisible hominid pal in the sky. All creationist propwash is logically and mathematically flawed; cannot be defended (no matter how articulate the author) and speaks directly to the inability of humanity to get past the fear of thunder. Maybe someone on staff (I suggest Chris) could correct the spelling at: http://www.ediacara.org/uesymbols.html “Symbol: The ediacaran fossil ‘sea-pen’ Charnodiscus oppositus. Symbolism: Flex~a~bility coupled with perseverance”

Tom B. Associate Professor of Urology, U of E.

is the Bathroom Wall supposed to be an enduring subsite? Is there a link on the homepage to it i’m just not seeing?

Dembski wrote:

“Don’t get lost in the details.”

Since Dembski’s entire premise is flawed, the skewed nonsensical details of it are unimportant and pointless since logic will never convince anyone driven by emotional creationist pap. The assertion that God must exist because (blah, blah, blah) will ALWAYS prove a circular and irrational argument, for the premise of religion is this: If you support me and vote for me; lie for me, die for me and kill for me, I will give you access to a secret and unimaginably powerful entity, who speaks only through me, and will grant you everything you want in another life (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Only my particular church offers the TRUE next life and you must shun, stone or otherwise unimpower anyone who says differently.

That’s all there is. Is this not what Dembski is arguing? For people to willingly become cannon fodder; to believe what they are told to believe?

Steve, Scroll down the left side of the homepage, to the Search window, and type in bathroom wall, then scroll down the index.

Bob

Tom B.,

Yup, you pretty much nailed it on the head about religion. I’m sure a lot of people here have already read Kissing Hank’s Ass, but in case you haven’t, check it out. Alternatively, if you’d rather watch a movie than read, check out the movie version. Just ignore the silly twist ending, which in my opinion doesn’t really work (because the basic point should be, Hank doesn’t exist).

I wish religious fundamentalists could see how spot on the Hank analogy is, and how much that’s what they sound like to non-religious folks.

There is a link to the Bathroom Wall in the Comment Integrity Policy post.

Dembski: The challenge for evolutionary theory is not to find components of such systems that could be grist of natural selection’s mill. Rather, it is to provide detailed, testable, step-by-step scenarios whereby such components could reasonably have come together to bring about the marvels of engineering that we find in systems like the flagellum.

Richard Wein: Ho hum. The old argument from ignorance. Pick one of the least well-explained biological structures (ignoring the many which have been explained in detail) and insist that evolutionary theory must be wrong because it can’t yet give a fully detailed account of its evolution. At the same time, fail to give even an outline account of its origin by intelligent design.

djmullen: This is something that has bugged me for some time. How come the IDists think they’re scoring some kind of point when they hold up some piece of soft tissue that evolved in the hoary past and left no fossils and chide evolution because it can’t provide a detailed explanation of how it was produced. AND YET, ID IS JUST AS MUCH IN THE DARK!

Hey, Doctor Dembski, where is YOUR “detailed, testable, step-by-step scenarios whereby such components” came “together to bring about the marvels of engineering that we find in systems like the flagellum”?

You’re criticizing evolution because it has no detailed knowledge of how the flagellum was produced. Well, at the risk of letting a little reality shine into this argument, NEITHER DOES ID!

Do I have to point out that if such a lack of evidence is fatal for evolution, then it’s just as fatal for ID? After all, everybody agrees that once there were no flagella and now there are. Evolution can’t provide the exact details on how the flagellum came into existence. Neither can ID. Saying that they were produced by a Designer has about the same information as saying they were produced by evolution.

So, when it comes to specifying the EXACT way in which the flagella came to exist, ID and evolution are tied. However, evolution can point out many likely precursors and give a likely scenario of how they came into existence. I’d like to hear the same from ID. I’ll bet you a nickle ID can’t do it.

I understand that Dembski’s response to comments such as yours, Dave, is that evolution is obligated to provide every single detail about how a structure came into being, whereas ID doesn’t have to provide any detail whatsoever because it “isn’t that kind of theory”. For example:

http://www.iscid.org/ubbcgi/ultimat[…]t=000152;p=3

“You’re asking me to play a game: ‘Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.’ ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories.”

Dave Mullinex asked

Hey, Doctor Dembski, where is YOUR “detailed, testable, step-by-step scenarios whereby such components” came “together to bring about the marvels of engineering that we find in systems like the flagellum”?

According to Dembski he’s not required to provide such an account:

ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.

RBH

Adam – That’s a dead heat!

RBH

It’s easy to argue that science is science and religion is religion, it’s harder to compress an accurate argument into the sound bites that so many people and journalists traffic in. I propose a good sound bite could be “ID is not science, it’s philosophy.”

LOL - great minds think alike, RBH. ;)

Steve: I propose a good sound bite could be “ID is not science, it’s philosophy.”

You give ID too much credit. How familiar with it are you? ID is an attempt to resurrect the argument from apparent design to God aka the Designer by means of antiscience propaganda. The leaders of the crusade seem to believe that there are just two possibilities: either science is right or the Discovery Institute is right. If they can discredit science in the public mind (using bogus arguments since that is all they have) then the DI gains great power, everyone can be converted to God of the gaps (finding God in gaps in present knowledge – and gaps look very impressive if science is discredited) and Western Civilization is saved. “ID is not science and not philosophy. It is religious politics” is your true sound bite.

I did not say it was good philosophy, or that it passed any kind of quality test. Lots of philosophy is garbage. ID is garbage philosophy, it’s not a set of falsifiable statements based on evidence, it’s speculations from principles and religious beliefs. And a form of it has been held by many philosophers over centuries. This seems to me to be an irrefutable argument that ID is not science and should not be taught as such.

What is the specific threat posed by ID theorists? Whence the fear that people will be “converted” to a non-existent God?

Why, when you of all people know that the span of a human life is virtually nil, stacked against the life-length of the universe, do you spend so much time rehashing Gould’s work of decades ago? The points have been made- the thing had less than a flamingo’s leg to stand on in the first place.

Is this a heated or a tired debate? I hope for all your sakes’ that it is just a petty rhetorical amusement and that the present session does not reveal your own doubts as to the veracity of your doctrine, which, of course, has its flaws, including its remarkable inability to prove that you yourselves exist.

Your “discussion” reads like a catechism- I mean that in a bad way. Where there are no nay-sayers, science ceases to exist, religion ceases to exist; either becomes truth.

Where there are no nay-sayers, science ceases to exist, religion ceases to exist; either becomes truth.

Naysayers are welcome here, Shh. There are plenty of them. Someday maybe a naysayer will come here with actual scientific evidence that evolution did not occur and propose a useful alternate theory. Until then, the naysayers are going to have to be content with standing on the sidelines and throwing paper cups, as they have been, until they are ejected by the management for their rudeness and poor sportsmanship.

Shh,

Personally, I have a tremendous respect for the truth. Note well that is “truth” - small ‘t.’ And, I have found that I share this with nearly all scientists.

Also, I accord respect to the product of rational discourse far over the product of dreams, hallucinations, or revelations.

So, regardless of anyone’s emotional or political commitment to creationism, the performance by Dembski that we exposed in our little examination is indefensible.

It is inappropriate that you associated ID with worship in two respects. First, The vast majority of scientists who are Jews, Christians, or Muslim (Abrahamists all) give no credence to creationism of any sort, including ID. Second, (and weaker) the intelligent design creationists prefer that you don’t point out their hypocritical denial that they are motivated by the same fundamentalism as the so-called Scientific Creationists.

Now, as there was nothing else of substance in your comment, perhaps you’ll favor us with your justification for Dembski lying to his readers? Do you favor Martin Luther’s justification for “good lies”, or go the post-modernist, “there is no truth” route?

I am sorry to say that I don’t know a whole lot about truth.

I don’t think that I am alone in that failing, and I also believe that in order to be called a liar, a person must have knowledge of the truth which he or she is willfully concealing.

Is this Dembsky guy motivated to deceive the public, or has he himself been deceived? I would lean toward the latter explanation, and further enquire as to the impact of his arguments on the grand scheme of things, or on your own reality. Why do you pay such attention to him? Is he harming you in some way? Financially? I can’t imagine that a paper-cup tosser is doing much damage to anything. This forum is like the kicking of a cripple.

As for me, I am sure that there is a god and that I am too stupid to understand more than that.

Science is a good tool for looking at things, and evolutionary theory is beautiful when it is clearly explained. Not as beautiful as a blade of grass, though, and only useful when interpreted metaphorically. Can Science add a paltry decade or two to my life? It can’t make me immortal, and it should be granted no higher rank in the educational system than any other art or literature.

I am sorry to say that I don’t know a whole lot about truth.

I don’t think that I am alone in that failing, and I also believe that in order to be called a liar, a person must have knowledge of the truth which he or she is willfully concealing.

Is this Dembsky guy motivated to deceive the public, or has he himself been deceived? I would lean toward the latter explanation, and further enquire as to the impact of his arguments on the grand scheme of things, or on your own reality. Why do you pay such attention to him? Is he harming you in some way? Financially? I can’t imagine that a paper-cup tosser is doing much damage to anything. This forum is like the kicking of a cripple.

As for me, I am sure that there is a god and that I am too stupid to understand more than that.

Science is a good tool for looking at things, and evolutionary theory is beautiful when it is clearly explained. Not as beautiful as a blade of grass, though, and only useful when interpreted metaphorically. Can Science add a paltry decade or two to my life? It can’t make me immortal, and it should be granted no higher rank in the educational system than any other art or literature.

Is this Dembsky guy motivated to deceive the public, or has he himself been deceived?

If I had to guess, I’d say both. Does it matter?

… Why do you pay such attention to him? Is he harming you in some way? Financially?…

All these questions could equally well be asked about Rev. Sun Myung Moon, for instance. When Rev. Moon starts crafting your kids’ science course (or art, or history) to accommodate his theology, I guess you’ll stand up and firmly say “Whatever”.

This forum is like the kicking of a cripple

In what sense? You see the ID crowd as beleaguered and persecuted minority? I’m guessing (a) you don’t live in Ohio, Kansas or any of the other states currently being targetted, (b) you don’t have kids, (c) you see no problem with state-sponsored religion, or (d) all of the above.

for the premise of religion is this: If you support me and vote for me; lie for me, die for me and kill for me, I will give you access to a secret and unimaginably powerful entity, who speaks only through me, and will grant you everything you want in another life (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).  Only my particular church offers the TRUE next life and you must shun, stone or otherwise unimpower anyone who says differently.

Well, that’s not my view of religion. It’s a valid viewpoint, I guess, but it’s remarkably uninformed about theology. It also doesn’t describe Eastern religions such as Buddhism. But regardless, this is the kind of thing that gets Creationists so up in arms, while not lending any support to good science. If you like belittling other people’s beliefs and making them angry, then carry on. But if you would like to see the creation/evolution debate proceed with more comity, perhaps a little less simplistic sneering would be in order.

Mike S Wrote:

this is the kind of thing that gets Creationists so up in arms, while not lending any support to good science. If you like belittling other people’s beliefs and making them angry, then carry on. But if you would like to see the creation/evolution debate proceed with more comity, perhaps a little less simplistic sneering would be in order.

Uh oh… I find myself in agreement with Mike S.

It’s a valid viewpoint, I guess, but it’s remarkably uninformed about theology.

Hmmm. I dunno. It is certainly a more accurate summary of fundamentalist Christianity (the well from which the most annoying Creationists in this country tend to spring) than the statements about science typically made by fundamental Christians.

It’s worth remembering that it’s the religious right’s “belittling” of millions of scientists that started this “debate.” And that’s really all the Creationists have brought to the table. When the Creationists (including ID creationists) start taking science seriously and stop making obnoxious statements about scientists’ “belief system”, then it won’t be necessary to point out the blatant ugliness of their own belief system (at least as it has been institutionalized in the United States).

Phillip E. Johnson Wrote:

If we say that naturalistic evolution is science, and supernatural creation is religion, the effect is not very different from saying that the former is true and the latter is fantasy.

(Darwin on Trial, p.7.)

Johnson had a choice of how to spend his time and energy. He could work to improve the epistemology of theology so that its perceived status of delivering reliable knowledge was increased, or he could work to force science to adopt the same faulty epistemology that had resulted in theological knowledge being generally considered as suspect.

Guess which Johnson chose…

shh: “Can Science add a paltry decade or two to my life? It can’t make me immortal, and it should be granted no higher rank in the educational system than any other art or literature.”

djm: How old are you? I assume you’re an adult and you’re obviously still alive. That means you didn’t die in infancy of measles, mumps, whooping cough, lockjaw, rubella, polio or any of the other diseases you were vaccinated against as a child. Who do you think discovered how vaccination works? Bill Dembski?

If you make it to thirty, you can thank science and good luck. If you make it past thirty, you can largely thank science for every day you live beyond that point.

Regarding immortality, I personally put achieving immortality as the number one goal for future science. I think it will take less than a century to achieve. There’s even a small chance that you and I will live to benefit from it. (If so, I’ll bet you say, “Thank God!”) Religion has been promising immortality without result at least since the Egyptians were embalming their dead three or four thousand years ago. So far, everybody still dies.

It occurs to me that if the world was arranged so that everybody who rejected science for religious reasons was denied the benefits of science and those who rejected religion for whatever reason were denied the benefits of religion, it would take about three generations for religion to die out.

As for the “art and literature” comment, that’s been addressed.

… I personally put achieving immortality as the number one goal for future science. …

Really? I see it as bizarrely out of sync with nature. Pursuit of this goal strikes me as one of - perhaps the most - off-putting things about fundies.

Upping the geezer:kid ratio sounds depressing to me. (But I work at a Children’s Hospital, so I may not be a disinterested party).

Imagine converting playgrounds into stacks of intubated Reagan-bodies. [shudder]

Wesley Wrote:

Johnson had a choice of how to spend his time and energy. He could work to improve the epistemology of theology so that its perceived status of delivering reliable knowledge was increased, or he could work to force science to adopt the same faulty epistemology that had resulted in theological knowledge being generally considered as suspect.

Very well put, Wesley. However, I for one believe that the former option is doomed to failure. And Johnson apparently agrees with me.

Dave Mullenix: “It occurs to me that if the world was arranged so that everybody who rejected science for religious reasons was denied the benefits of science and those who rejected religion for whatever reason were denied the benefits of religion, it would take about three generations for religion to die out.”

Great quote, Dave! It belongs up on the wall.

Wesley Wrote:

Johnson had a choice of how to spend his time and energy. He could work to improve the epistemology of theology so that its perceived status of delivering reliable knowledge was increased, or he could work to force science to adopt the same faulty epistemology that had resulted in theological knowledge being generally considered as suspect.

Richard Wein Wrote:

Very well put, Wesley. However, I for one believe that the former option is doomed to failure. And Johnson apparently agrees with me.

I’m probably wading into deeper waters than I’m qualified to swim in, but here’s my thoughts anyway…

I agree with Wesley that Johnson chose poorly. However, I think that the alternatives are not to either ‘improve the epistemology of theology’ or ‘force science to adopt the same faulty epistemology that had resulted in theological knowledge being generally considered suspect.’ I think a more accurate choice would be between accepting the view that empirical evidence is the only valid basis for an epistemology and working to show that this view is false. The Creationists have essentially bought into the former view, and thus attempt to demonstrate that their faith has an empirical basis. But the fallacy is in thinking that truth is only accessible via empiricism. The common modern view is that science is the only way to get at universal truths. Other truths may exists (moral, spiritual, etc.), but they are considered relative to the individual, and not universal.

I’m not sure if Wesley meant this, but one way of interpreting “he could work to improve the epistemology of theology” is “he could work to put theology on a more empirical footing”. This is essentially what Johnson thinks he is doing. I agree with Richard that this is for the most part a doomed enterprise (there are some archeological and historical aspects to the Bible, at least, where empirical study is relevant), but that doesn’t mean that I think theology does not address universal truths.

However, Wesley’s statement could also be read as “He could work to improve the proper understanding of epistemology; namely, that theology and science operate under different epistemologies, each appropriate to its proper sphere.” It is when one attempts to use empirical evidence as a basis for faith, or revealed truth as a basis for science, that problems arise.

Dave Mullenix: I personally put achieving immortality as the number one goal for future science.

Russell: Really? I see it as bizarrely out of sync with nature. Pursuit of this goal strikes me as one of - perhaps the most - off-putting things about fundies.

Actually, I totally agree with Dave Mullenix on this one. Since I believe that this life is the only one we get, I’m all for concentrating on prolonging this life as long as possible. Immortality is my number one goal, too. Just not the bogus, “spiritual” immortality that the fundamentalists go on about.

Dave Mullenix: It occurs to me that if the world was arranged so that everybody who rejected science for religious reasons was denied the benefits of science and those who rejected religion for whatever reason were denied the benefits of religion, it would take about three generations for religion to die out.

Lovely thought (not religionists dying out, but religion itself dying out - I’m not totally heartless). Thing is, we’re talking about people who have no concept of birth control. I’ve seen this quote from a fundamentalist:

So material things and how much of these material things you can provide to one or two kids is more important than having a large family that God has blessed you with? I’m sorry, Lori, but your attitude is exactly what is wrong with society today.… Who cares if they can’t send their 15 children to montessori school, girl (and boy) scouts, summer camp, have math tutors, dance lessons, and whatever other materialistic things that other people think are so important and that their children just have to have. Huge families like this used to be the norm.

So with all the dozens (yeah, maybe a slight exaggeration!) of kids a single fundamentalist family could have, figure maybe half of them die in the womb or during childhood because of lack of medical science, we’ve still got, say, an average of 10 kids per fundamentalist family. So it might take a long time for religion to die out.

I should have confessed earlier that I, unlike Gary Hurd, do not have “tremendous respect for the product of rational discourse”- for me the discourse itself is the only worthwhile thing and it is the reason I’m here.

This is why I made the remark about kicking a cripple- yes, you are right, Biblical and ID explanations are logical failures, and you reiterate well the scientific, reasonable arguments against them, but you have nothing to add. Nothing that hasn’t been covered. If religious people could be won over by pure logic, it would have been done by now.

However, the whole point of most Judeo-Christian ideology is that participants believe in what has been proved impossible, and so by repeating your bulletproof rational argument against intelligent design, you are only providing them with a more rugged cross to bear and thus making their irrational faith more impressive. These people are proud to be fed to the lions- what can you do in the face of that?

I did not mean to imply that I would want to live forever. No, thank you, Science. I have not yet made thirty, but Socrates lived seventy-something years without the benefit of a tetanus vaccine, perhaps because he wasn’t living in an overpopulated world where weak genes were coddled and encouraged to perpetuate themselves by sentimental science- you all know that this sort of thing cannot be for “the greater good of the species”- you know that mutation and selection have led to what you would loosely term progress. As an individual organism, I of course would seek vaccinations for my offspring, but if you scientists were using your noggins you would distribute such advantage in a less Christian fashion.

I don’t live in Kansas or have any children, but I should hope that my offspring will not be nitwits who need to be protected from hearing nonsensical opinions- I don’t assume that my worldview is absolutely correct, nor do I doubt that my children will be qualified to judge the world for themselves at least as well as I can.

There is nothing to fear, in short, is all I meant. Darwin must have been raised Creationist, and he got over it.

Mr. Harvey,

The exchange of view points is an amusement, to be sure. But, conversation is not rational discourse which has more the flavor of dispute and argument. In the sciences, this rational discourse takes place in journals, books, and conferences (and the nearest bar of course).

ID Creationists have determined to skip the reasoned discourse part, and go directly for a political win. I suspect that this is because 14 years after Johnson wrote Darwin on Trial there is still no science for the IDistas to try to publish.

From some of your remarks I have formed the opinion that you are neither particularly well informed about creationism, or science. This is not an indictment, merely an observation that could be in error. If so please correct me. But, on that assumption, I would point out that William Dembski is one of the handful of prominent Intellignet Design creationists touted as a “source” for a science justification for IDC.

As far as I know, Dembski is entirely unaware of our little expose of his effort to deceive the public. Having read his responses to other people that have exposed other errors (equally gross), I don’t consider Dembski as a candidate for reasoned discourse. To be able to participate in what I call reasoned discourse, one must have a commitment to the truth greater than egotism, and the honesty to (if not admit error) at least modify one’s position in light of evidence. Dembski merely denigrates those he sees as opponents and then ignores the substance of their arguments.

So, why did Dave and I write this? Why do we bother to respond to you?

Basically, I see this as an effort to provide the honest counter point to Dembski’s deceptions. Earlier you questioned whether Dembski was deceptive or merely misinformed, and you opted for ‘misinformed.’ That is insupportable as we only demanded that he honestly report the content of the scientists, and works he himself referenced.

Dr. G. Hurd

Shh: … I should hope that my offspring will not be nitwits who need to be protected from hearing nonsensical opinions- Very close to half of Americans believe the biblical account of creation is about right. I’m sure your offspring will be highly superior, and immune from the ambient proselytizing that accounts for these statistics, but for those of us with just regular kids, I’d like to keep the Rev. Moons and such a safe distance from curriculum decisions, if that’s OK.

Shh wrote:

“I don’t live in Kansas or have any children, but I should hope that my offspring will not be nitwits who need to be protected from hearing nonsensical opinions- I don’t assume that my worldview is absolutely correct, nor do I doubt that my children will be qualified to judge the world for themselves at least as well as I can. There is nothing to fear, in short, is all I meant.”

All students should hear these opinions and use their critical thinking skills to decide what is true. The political/philosophical evolution vs. ID debate should be taught in comparative religion or social studies class. ID should not be taught in biology class because it has no scientific standing. The distinction between what is and is not a scientific conclusion is crucial and to ignore that distinction is something to fear.

Shh wrote: “If religious people could be won over by pure logic, it would have been done by now.”

We do not argue to change the minds of fundamentalists, but, due to ignorance and common misconceptions, ID has gained a foothold with the general public and school boards. It is people “on the fence” that we hope to enlighten for the good of all.

Thank you, Ralph Jones, for that explanation, which sounds reasonable to me.

Thank you, too, Russell, for your compliments to my unborn children. I don’t doubt that yours also will be capable of seeing through silliness as well as you have; however, if you have reason to suspect that your offspring will have less mental capacity than you do yourself, I would strongly urge you to reconsider procreation.

And Dr. Hurd, how clearly you have seen through me. I am not a creationist, and as you accurately deduced, I am also no scientist.

However, it has been my understanding that the scientific method forbids making assumptions which are not based on the empirical observation of facts. This makes me wonder at your grasp of the method, since my knowledge of the anatomical sciences, though meager, is sufficient to allow me this assertion: You have been altogether too hasty in addressing me as ‘Mr.’

I came to this site because I enjoyed Gould’s eponymous book; found you all in a lather and beating up straw men, singing to the choir; inquired as to the purpose of your activities, and have found little beyond Jones’ concern that the masses are being kept in the dark as to evolutionary theory. But whom does this website reach? You might do better to stand out with the Gideons and distribute copies of ‘The Pelican’s Smile’… (Just a thought, facetiously submitted, as I feel quite certain that the truth can fend perfectly well for itself.)

Thank you, Ralph Jones, for that explanation, which sounds reasonable to me.

Thank you, too, Russell, for your compliments to my unborn children. I don’t doubt that yours also will be capable of seeing through silliness as well as you have; however, if you have reason to suspect that your offspring will have less mental capacity than you do yourself, I would strongly urge you to reconsider procreation.

And Dr. Hurd, how clearly you have seen through me. I am not a creationist, and as you accurately deduced, I am also no scientist.

However, it has been my understanding that the scientific method forbids making assumptions which are not based on the empirical observation of facts. This makes me wonder at your grasp of the method, since my knowledge of the anatomical sciences, though meager, is sufficient to allow me this assertion: You have been altogether too hasty in addressing me as ‘Mr.’

I came to this site because I enjoyed Gould’s eponymous book; found you all in a lather and beating up straw men, singing to the choir; inquired as to the purpose of your activities, and have found little beyond Jones’ concern that the masses are being kept in the dark as to evolutionary theory. But whom does this method reach? You might do better to stand out with the Gideons and distribute copies of ‘The Pelican’s Smile’… (Just a thought, facetiously submitted, as I feel quite certain that the truth can fend perfectly well for itself.)

Shh:

if you have reason to suspect that your offspring will have less mental capacity than you do yourself, I would strongly urge you to reconsider procreation.

Many rude things have been said in comments in the history of comments at Panda’s Thumb, but I think this tops them all. I have an autistic son, Shh. I guess you think he should be euthanized?

I’m definitely crossing Shh off my list of people to take seriously.

I came to this site because I enjoyed Gould’s eponymous book; found you all in a lather and beating up straw men, singing to the choir; inquired as to the purpose of your activities, and have found little beyond Jones’ concern that the masses are being kept in the dark as to evolutionary theory. But whom does this method reach? You might do better to stand out with the Gideons and distribute copies of ‘The Pelican’s Smile’ … (Just a thought, facetiously submitted, as I feel quite certain that the truth can fend perfectly well for itself.)

Gould wrote a book named Gould? I have missed it entirely. It’s not on Amazon.com.

For the second, do you perhaps mean Flamingo’s Smile?

Ben Franklin is reputed to have said that truth wins in a fair fight. The key is in keeping the fight fair. Thomas Jefferson observed in 1782, “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” Across this nation there is a concerted, well-financed campaign to get government to support creationism/intelligent design, to decree it science by fiat rather than by experiment.

Who was it who said, “The less they know, the less they know it?”

Shh,

Your assertion that you have earned a doctorate is unimpressive. If you are, as you imply a physician, I suggest residencey in anesthesiology as this will allow you a good income without any personal interaction with patients or demand much anatomy. You clearly need to avoid conscious patients.

Twenty years ago when I taught medical students, I recommended that we rename MD to Masters in Disease. Just one of many great suggestions ignored by the rest of the faculty.

I’ll take one more stab at explaining why we posted this analysis of Dembski’s lying: Dembski is viewed as one of the leading “theoreticians” of intelligent design creationism, intelligent design creationism is making a strong political showing, opponents of creationism and/or supporters of State/Church separation need people with the time and training to expose these non-scientific posturings.

Panda’s Thumb per se has two functions: First as a venue for comment and discussion regarding specific entries/posts. These comments will hopefully lead to improvments to the entries. Note that this is not a discussion board, the list of those eligable to post ‘blogs’ is restricted, while comments are not. This has facilitated creationist comment, which is an advantage over a closed group.

Secondarily, some people my find the entries and comments helpful in of themselves.

We expect that the improved entries will be posted to Talk Design, or Talk Origins as may be appropriate. Those websites are widely used as resources for scientific responces to creationism.

Now, as it seems that comments to this entry have run their course, I am going to close this discussion.

Thank you to those who have provided cogent remarks. I and my co-author will revise our short article appropriately.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Hurd published on June 4, 2004 10:10 AM.

Under the Weather was the previous entry in this blog.

Is it Unconstitutional Not to Teach ID? is the next entry in this blog.

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