ID “Scientific Research and Scholarship”

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Yesterday Pim noted that the Discovery Institute prevented Eugenie Scott from quoting from online material, stating that the material did “not do justice to the complexity of ID”. Now - somewhat ironically - the DIs Center for Science and Culture has had a make-over and the very articles Scott was using are filed under “Scientific Research and Scholarship”. Hard to know what to say really. If the DI/CSCs “scientific research and scholarship” does “not do justice to the complexity of ID” where are we to go to get the truth about ID? Well, the Thumb, of course :)

50 Comments

Perhaps the DI understands this debate and how you fellas (anti-id people and scientists) like to place the best of anti-ID arguments up against the most trite popular level pro-ID articles written for the general public. (I don’t mean to say that the DI’s articles are trite but that there is a diversity of audience that the try to appeal to) I doubt Eugenie would contain exerpts of Dembski’s (a DI fellow) latest article (“Information as a Measure of Variation”) in a book that probably (haven’t read it yet so excuse me for this prediction) states that ID theorists are not real scientists or intellectuals etc, who don’t actually do any real work and so forth. Eugenie and the NSCE just don’t paint the debate in the right light. And actually neither does the Pandasthumb. In conversations about ID and whether or not its science I read sitations of Carl Baugh and Dr. Dino. This is confusing and flat out deleterious to real discussion. Also, anti-ID works have been known to place older ID articles up against brand-spankin new anti-ID articles. (Pennocks “IDC and its Critics”) ID is allowed to change, grow, and develope, and actually be wrong from time to time. (like all other research projects) I am greatly anticipating Cambridge’s “Debating Design” edited by Ruse and Dembski. I think that will be awesome. A book about “Evolution vrs Design” edited and controlled by members of both parties, who’d a thought.

Basically, I think this is what the DI has in mind when rejecting someone like Eugenie from going through and setting up the debate however they want to.

Russ- Thing is, the IDists have been using the same strategy you suggest against the anti-ID movement for years. Dembski and others constantly set up evolution to be a straw-man, leaving out contemporary evidence or grossly misrepresenting it. I challenge you to name ONE significant and reproducable finding that ID supporters have found that presents a real problems for evolution. Just one. You say that ID is allowed to be wrong from time to time, and you’re right, that is true with all research projects. But the fact is, ID has yet to to be “right” about anything, or at least anything that would actually stand in the way of current evolutionary thought. It’s their cultural influence and political clout that keeps the movement on the same plane of discussion as evolution, not scientific findings. Also, the ID movement is notoriously uncohesive in regards to what it believes. There’s not exactly a leading authority (for the reasons listed above), so it’s difficult for anti-IDists to argue against ID on any kind of universal basis.

T. Russ: you fellas like to place the best of anti-ID arguments up against the most trite popular level pro-ID articles written for the general public

Interesting perspective. Tell you what: give us your best shot. Give us one argument from the best, most recent, most “scholarly” ID work, and if it’s true that it has not been thoroughly addressed by critics here and elsewhere, your point stands.

T. Russ Wrote:

Perhaps the DI understands this debate and how you fellas (anti-id people and scientists) like to place the best of anti-ID arguments up against the most trite popular level pro-ID articles written for the general public.

As John mentioned, those “trite” articles written for the general public are now listed under the heading of “scientific research”. Although out of the 8 articles listed there (there are 12 listings, but two are listed twice, and one is listed three times), only one of them deals with an obstensibly scientific subject. And I’m sure that one doesn’t contain any original research. So if those articles are too poor to represent ID, then apparently everything is too poor.

T. Russ Wrote:

Basically, I think this is what the DI has in mind when rejecting someone like Eugenie from going through and setting up the debate however they want to.

I think what they have in mind is erecting as many roadblocks as possible to prevent someone from critiquing them. And, more generally, they don’t want to be associated with creationism. Afterall, the YECs had no problem with giving permission.

“Also, anti-ID works have been known to place older ID articles up against brand-spankin new anti-ID articles.”

What exactly are these “new” ID advances you’re talking about? ‘Intelligent Design’ has not added to our knowledge or understanding of the natural world in any way. It has generated no data. Like all ‘Creation Scientists,’ ID theorists rely on revealed scripture for their knowledge of the world, and scripture tends not to change over time.

T. Russ Wrote:

Perhaps the DI understands this debate and how you fellas (anti-id people and scientists) like to place the best of anti-ID arguments up against the most trite popular level pro-ID articles written for the general public.

Perhaps. OTOH it seems that the DI regularly ignores the more technical rebuttals.

For example, Robert Pennock has edited a book called Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics” (MIT Press 2001). Dembski’s contributions to this book include his essays “Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information” (originally published in Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith 1997 v49 n3 pp. 180-190) and “Who’s Got the Magic?” (Metanexus: The Online Forum on Religion and Science 2000 n42, http://www.metanexus.net). Pennock includes rebuttals of these essays in the book, but apparently Dembski has never addressed these rebuttals.

Also, anti-ID works have been known to place older ID articles up against brand-spankin new anti-ID articles. (Pennocks “IDC and its Critics”) ID is allowed to change, grow, and develope, and actually be wrong from time to time.

Well that’s not true. Furthermore, If the logic and the premesis of the older articles were originally valid, then the older articles would stand up just fine. You can still read Origin of the Species and find it valid today. If the older articels had a kernel of truth in them they would stand up well.

Instead, the older ID articles have been demonstrated to be ridiculous, and in some cases the authors have conceded that, and then moving the goal posts, have promised updates which also have been disproven. The best discussion of ID is Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box.” It was written in 1996, eight years ago. Apparently he has done no published research since that time. If ID wants to be taken as serious science it will have to allow its work to be analyzed and critiqued by scientists, just as scietists in any discipline have their work crtiqued by others.

Going off of Joe’s comment, there really seems to be very little work being done by ID proponents to try and prove the existence of a creator or some intelligent designer. Instead, you have arguably ID’s biggest name, Behe, whose biggest contribution was writing a book trying to disprove evolution rather than trying to prove intelligent design. The logic for IDists seems to be that if evolution is not correct, then it naturally follows that creationism/intelligent design MUST be the correct answer. Even setting aside the mountains of evidence, that is a logical fallacy. Maybe IDists know that their core argument has no valid scientific base (because, let’s face it, the very definition of a supernatual, all-powerful Creator lies entirely outside the realm of empirical science), they must in turn attack the science that does reach a valid conclusion. ID theory is by its very nature assumptive. It grounds itself on a foregone conclusion and works from the top down, which flies in the face of the scientific method. ID has a long ways to go before it can be taken seriously as a science.

T. Russ Wrote:

Eugenie and the NSCE just don’t paint the debate in the right light. And actually neither does the Pandasthumb.

They link to the original articles whenever possible. IMO, no one tries harder to avoid quote mining. See:

http://bostonreview.net/BR22.1/coyne.html (scroll down to paragraph numbered with a “4”)

Is inserting periods in a sentence “painting it in the right light”?

T. Russ Wrote:

In conversations about ID and whether or not its science I read situations of Carl Baugh and Dr. Dino. This is confusing and flat out deleterious to real discussion.

I’ll be the first to say that my fellow “evilutionists” need to exploit the differences between ID and YEC more, and the similarities less. But where are the IDers in challenging YEC? If it’s supposed to be about the science, why aren’t they doing a “critical analysis” of those “alternative” positions that they know have failed?

YEC is an accepted part of ID. ID is not a scientific theory aimed at replacing evolution. It is instead a political movement aimed at at influencing school curricula. They need their YEC footsoldiers and they can’t alienate them by coming out against YEC beliefs.

Perhaps the DI understands this debate and how you fellas (anti-id people and scientists) like to place the best of anti-ID arguments up against the most trite popular level pro-ID articles written for the general public.

The problem is that the articles/books which present the alleged evidence for ID are all at the popular level. The masterminds of ID have failed to produce any technical exposition of their arguments, probably because they realize how vacuous their arguments would appear when written in a concise, methodical way, and how much more difficult it would be to practice their usual bait-and-switch tactic once they had presented their arguments unambiguously. Note that Dembski’s published monograph (The Design Inference) is only about an alleged method of detecting design, and contains no argument for design in nature. The new paper you cite does not mention ID at all.

I would be interested to know whether Eugenie Scott wrote back to the DI asking “well, which articles do do justice to the complexity of ID?” I doubt the DI would have been able to answer.

On reflection, I must withdraw part of my previous comment. Publishing The Design Inference as a technical monograph did not prevent Dembski from presenting his material in a vague and ambiguous manner. He merely cloaked his equivocations in an obfuscatory mass of pseudomathematical mumbo jumbo. And, in general, I suspect it’s not too difficult to give any old nonsense the form of a technical paper. So this does not explain why the leading ID advocates have not yet put their main argument (the argument from “irreducible complexity”) into such a form. Risking another attempt at explanation, I would suggest that this is considered to be Behe’s baby, and other ID advocates are leaving the job to him. But Behe has more sense than they, and realizes now just how weak his argument is. Remember, he admitted his definition of “irreducible complexity” was defective and said he hoped to come up with a better one, but has gone very quiet since then.

Richard,

Could you provide a cite or link for Behe’s admission about irreducible complexity? It would be useful in a debate.

Here’s the passage:

After defining the term in Darwin’s Black Box, I went on to argue that irreducibly complex systems are obstacles for Darwinian explanations.

“An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional (Behe 1996: 39).”

However, commentary by Robert Pennock and others has made me realize that there is a weakness in that view of irreducible complexity. The current definition puts the focus on removing a part from an already-functioning system. Thus, seeking a counterexample to irreducible complexity, in Tower of Babel Pennock writes about a part in a sophisticated chronometer, whose origin is simply assumed, which breaks to give a system that he posits can nonetheless work in a simpler watch in a less demanding environment.5 The difficult task facing Darwinian evolution, however, would not be to remove parts from sophisticated pre-existing systems; it would be to bring together components to make a new system in the first place. Thus there is an asymmetry between my current definition of irreducible complexity and the task facing natural selection. I hope to repair this defect in future work.

Michael J. Behe, “Reply to My Critics: A Response to Reviews of Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution”, Biology and Philosophy, 16 (5): 683-707, November 2001

Shortly after the publication of this paper, Behe published another reply to critics on the web: “A Response to Critics of Darwin’s Black Box” (http://www.iscid.org/boards/ubb-get[…]-000010.html) in which he did offer a new definition of IC:

Envisioning IC in terms of selected or unselected steps thus puts the focus on the process of trying to build the system. A big advantage, I think, is that it encourages people to pay attention to details; hopefully it would encourage really detailed scenarios by proponents of Darwinism (ones that might be checked experimentally) and discourage just-so stories that leap over many steps without comment. So with those thoughts in mind, I offer the following tentative “evolutionary” definition of irreducible complexity:

An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.

That definition has the advantage of promoting research: to state clear, detailed evolutionary pathways; to measure probabilistic resources; to estimate mutation rates; to determine if a given step is selected or not. It allows for the proposal of any evolutionary scenario a Darwinist (or others) may wish to submit, asking only that it be detailed enough so that relevant parameters might be estimated. If the improbability of the pathway exceeds the available probabilistic resources (roughly the number of organisms over the relevant time in the relevant phylogenetic branch) then Darwinism is deemed an unlikely explanation and intelligent design a likely one.

But he seems never to have referred to this “tentative” definition again, and has not attempted to show that any actual biological system is IC in this new and very different sense.

Thanks, Richard,

That’s priceless! He acknowledges a weakness, assymetry, and defect in his “current definiton,” and indicates a “hope to repair this defect in future work.” So he comes up with a tentative “evolutionary” definition of IC and then, in the interests of “promoting research,” invites “Darwinists” to stop coming up with “just-so stories” and to propose scenarios that meet HIS requirements, so he can judge their worth. Any that fall short will then be considered evidence for ID. I didn’t notice any mention of HIM doing any research.

Amazing! Does that pile of cowpies qualify as chutzpa or unmitigated gall - or some combination of both?

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Sorry, guys I forgot I was posting on this thread. Forunately, it was brought to my attention in anothere thread here. Back in Comment #4917 Russell asked… “Give us one argument from the best, most recent, most “scholarly” ID work, and if it’s true that it has not been thoroughly addressed by critics here and elsewhere, your point stands.”

I didn’t really want to get sucked into this thread when I first posted what I thought was a possible explanation for the DI’s actions. I think my reason given in post #4914 is still a most likely explanation for the DI’s refusal. And that is regardless of whether I can provide any technical, unadressed, so on and so forth, arguments for you guys to chew on.

Sorry for my absence.

T.Russ Wrote:

you fellas … place the best of anti-ID arguments up against the most trite popular level pro-ID articles written for the general public.

I don’t think you can defend this. I contend that there are no pro-ID articles that stand up to serious technical scrutiny.

Further, for you to make such blanket unsupportable assertions strikes me as either sloppy, or not entirely honest (perhaps with yourself, first and foremost), or some combination of the two.

Well, I guess we disagree about whether there exists any Pro-ID articles that stand up to scrutiny. Good Point.

Have you read Bohlin and Lester’s “The Natural Limits to Biological Change” or David Swifts “Evolution under the Microscope”?

T. Russ: Well, I guess we disagree about whether there exists any Pro-ID articles that stand up to scrutiny.

That’s bound to be a tricky point, isn’t it? Let’s make a stab at it though.

I’d say if the article in question becomes part of the “dialog of science” - i.e. it is found useful and cited as such by scientists doing ongoing research and publishing in peer-reviewed journals that are generally respected in their disciplines, that would clearly be standing up to scrutiny.

If the article in question (or data or logic or conclusions therein) are found to be faulty by most or all reputable critics, and the authors are not able to effectively rebut that criticism, that would clearly not be standing up to scrutiny.

One could imagine grayish areas in between, but I can’t think of any ID that doesn’t fall squarely within the “doesn’t stand up” category.

That said, I haven’t looked at the Bohlin & Lester or Swift. I’ll check them out if my local library has them.

But I’m going to make this confession up front: I’m not going to read them all the way through if I find that I’m wasting my time with repackaged creationist arguments that have been painstakingly debunked countless times but keep coming back like a bad penny.

RE: Bohlin & Lester, and Swift books.

Nope, local library doesn’t list them. (That’s not a good sign in terms of “significance”, or bearing scrutiny)

Moreover, do you understand why this information persuades me that B&L would be a waste of time?

About RG Bohlin From http://www.probe.org/docs/bohlin.html Raymond G. Bohlin is President of Probe Ministries. He has addressed issues in the creation/evolution debate as well as other science-related issues such as the environment, genetic engineering, medical ethics, and sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Bohlin, his wife Sue, a professional calligrapher and Christian speaker, live in Garland Texas, a suburb of Dallas, and they have one son in the Air Force and the other in college. Dr. Bohlin is an elder at Firewheel Bible Fellowship in Garland, Texas

Publications: Bohlin, Raymond G. 1981. “Sociobiology: Cloned from the Gene Cult.” Christianity Today, January 23, 25(2):16-19. Bohlin, Raymond G. 1981. “Evolution Society Digs In Against the Creationists.” Christianity Today , September 18, 25(16):41. Bohlin, Raymond G. 1996. Up a River Without a Paddle: A Review of “River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life” by Richard Dawkins. Creation Ex Nihilo: Technical Journal. 10(3): 322-327.

Lectures: … Why We Believe in Creation A biblical apologetic for a creationist position based primarily on the nature and character of God and the centrality of creation in the Bible. … Anderson, J. Kerby and Bohlin, Raymond G. 1983. Genetic Engineering: the Evolutionary Link. Creation Research Society Quarterly, 19: 217-219. … A Christian Environmental Ethic Christianity provides the only real basis for ecological concern.….. POSITION STATEMENT ON CREATION/EVOLUTION 1. That God is Creator is clearly taught in Scripture: Genesis 1 and 2, Job 38-41, Psalm 104, Romans 1:18-20, and Col. 1:16,17. The suggestion that life and man are the result of chance is incompatible with the biblical concept of intelligent creative activity. Theistic evolution is not a viable option in my opinion. …

About LP Lester: From http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/1184.asp

Dr Lane P. Lester is Professor of Biology at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia. He serves on the board of directors of the Creation Research Society and is the managing editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly .

See his article from Creation magazine, Genetics: No Friend of Evolution.

Do the Discovery Institute consider Swift’s writing to be significant ? Better than Dembski, Behe, Wells or Johnson ? Because if not Swift’s book can’t be what they were thinking of.

And that reminds me, you were going to post a description of Swift’s arguments on the forum. What happened to that ?

Well thanks for the info on Bohlin and Lester, but the fact that these guys are Christians doesn’t mitigate against their argument that there is limits to biological change. You also failed to mention that Bohlin for instance has degrees in Population Genetics and Molecular Biology.

I only brought up this work because I wanted to know if their argument has ever been adressed. i’m no to keen on trying to type their argument out in full so I wanted to know if anyone here had read it. Then I would be able to respond to the prior question concerning the existence of any arguments whihc have gone overlooked.

The same thing goes for the Swift book. I was going to summarise his argument elsewher on PT a while back but as i started to do this I realized that it would be quite long and technical. (Swifts book is really one long argument concerning advances in microbiology and whether or not the currently held mechanisms of information generation can account for protein synthesis, transcription and translation, so on and on and on.) I couldn’t begin to contain his argument in any just manner. So, i am now asking whether anyone here has read it. If so, then we can discuss it. Apparently, all the good arguments for ID or arguments against Evolutionary theory have already been adressed. But I can’t find anyone who has even read Swift.

Just looking for something concrete to discuss.

ps. i don’t know what the DI thinks about Swift. Personally, I find his argument to be more pleasing than those provided by Behe and the gang.

Comment #5081 Posted by Russell on July 14, 2004 02:31 PM

RE: Bohlin & Lester, and Swift books.

Nope, local library doesn’t list them. (That’s not a good sign in terms of “significance”, or bearing scrutiny)

Moreover, do you understand why this information persuades me that B&L would be a waste of time?…

As a scientist from another field (synoptic meteorology), and a recent acquaintance of Panda’s Thumb, I find some of the discussion on the website difficult to follow, logically. I gather a feel from a number of threads that a person’s chosen lifestyle, religious beliefs, and personal endeavors are considered pertinent information when giving value to his or her hypotheses and theories. If I may present “the way it ought to be” without further justification, someone who worships ink pens ought to be able to discuss probabilities and molecular compositions of fossilized trilibites with someone who believes clowns from alternate dimensions are the creative impetus of the universe. I do not understand how ground is gained when real scientific information, progress, and discovery are on the line and foremost attention is given to the people behind the information…much like the modern political scene. It appears that a lot of bluffing is going on, smokescreening if you will (“my argument is factual because its true”), and all the cards simply must be called to show at some point. Unless a Mississippi flush (any card hand and a gun) is enacted to rule the outcome, the facts should begin to settle out. A person’s academic endeavors and personal beliefs may lead them to use their skills and knowledge on multiple fronts, especially if one area is pertinent to the other. Again, I do not think this should discount a piece of information or an idea from being heard, as both sides of the evolution/design debate do this regularly, but it is simply a measure of the person’s influence and personal conviction about the evidence presented them. A scientist who views facts to support his or her atheism may use their knowledge to support an atheistic fellowship, while a scientist who is a theist will do the same.

In reference to Mr. Russell’s post (afore quoted), I do not believe you should be quite so presumtuious, regardless if you have firsthand knowledge of previous work…especially if personal beliefs are on the line. Dig deeper, and do not assume, then come out with the real facts, not a presuppositional view of them.

Bohlin and Lester look like a couple of raving religious wacko’s! i bet you anything that they think the earth is flat. I bet you that bohlin guy bought his degree’s online. Swift,…what a stupid name. I bet his parents were religiously motivated to name him that.

I refuse to read books by anyone that religious. even if these guys were claiming something that was true, i would reject it. christians and IDiots are incapable of getting anything right because they checked their brains at the church house door. In fact that’s how i judge wether someone is right or wrong, by whether they’re christians.

And Joe B. what do you know? Your not a biologist. I know that I am not a biologist myself but I at least agree with 99.99% of the biologists out there who believe in evolution.

Mr. Russ, I find it rather odd that you are “looking for something concrete to discuss” when all you had to do was to produce an example of the papers assumed in your original response. If you aren’t aware of any at all, how can your explanation be considered “likely” ?

Joe B. Wrote:

If I may present “the way it ought to be” without further justification, someone who worships ink pens ought to be able to discuss probabilities and molecular compositions of fossilized trilibites with someone who believes clowns from alternate dimensions are the creative impetus of the universe.

In principle it ought to be that way. In practice, however, creationists have great difficulty in arguing rationally when discussing evolution because their creationist religious beliefs are at stake.

Besides, very little of the discussion in these comments is about the technical aspects of evolution, especially in comments from creationists. If you want to see refutations of creationist arguments, I recommend you visit the www.talkorigins.org and www.talkdesign.org web sites.

Joe B. Wrote:

I do not understand how ground is gained when real scientific information, progress, and discovery are on the line and foremost attention is given to the people behind the information … much like the modern political scene.

There is no scientific value to the creationist arguments. They are pseudoscientific nonsense propounded by religious apologists. If one has already read many creationist tracts and seen them for what they are, there is no need to read every new one that comes along, any more than an astronomer need read every new tract that attempts to justify astrology.

T. Russ,

You said, “Apparently, all the good arguments for ID or arguments against Evolutionary theory have already been adressed.”

Forgive my potential ignorance here, but what exactly were those good arguments for ID? Irreducible Complexity had a halflife of about 30 seconds, and CSI was dead on arrival.

Hey Joe, Hey Russ, Hey “Casper”: The deal is, we each get a finite length of time in this life. We all have to use some criteria to judge what is a waste of that time, and what is not. I just asked, nicely I thought, if you understood why I judge Bohlin & Lester to be a poor bet. I guess not.

the fact that these guys are Christians doesn’t mitigate against their argument…

No, there are lots of Christians that seem to take a pretty open-minded approach to nature. But none of them associate themselves with organizations that pre-commit to the notion that nature has to conform to their bible.

When someone says “Christianity provides the only real basis for ecological concern … “, I’m sorry, I make the tactical decision that my time is better spent on something else. If you think that’s narrow-minded, so be it.

When someone says “Christianity provides the only real basis for ecological concern … “, I’m sorry, I make the tactical decision that my time is better spent on something else.

I agree.

What do you guys think of the basic Argument given by Steve Meyer (DI CSC Director)in “DNA and Other Designs,” an essays included in the DI’s “Scientific Research and Scholarship” section. There are, as I have mentioned above, more technical lengthy versions of this argument in the Michigan State journal “Darwinism, Design, and Public Education” by Meyer and John Angus Cambell, as well as a newer version in Dembski and Ruse’s forthcoming “Debating Design” from Cambridge press. But since the question is concerning the articles at the DI… what do you guys think of this one.

It’s pretty short and at least worth your reading.

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php command=view&program=CSC%20-%20Scientific%20Research%20and%20Scholarship%20-%20Science&id=200

That is unless, Meyer doesn’t make your ‘worthy of reading’ list. If he doesn’t, you might should consider opening up your filter just a bit to include Cambridge Phds. Even if they work for the DI.

Meyer is one of the DI members who refused to allow reproduction of their articles. Are you using this essay as an example of the “trite popular level pro-ID” arguments that you assume would be the only ones selected by Scott ?

No.

I think it a pretty decent article although their are more technical and lengthy versions of it in the Michigan State publication “Darwin, Design, and Public Education” and the fourthcoming “Debating Design” from Cambridge.

I do not think this article is trite but it is written at a more popular level than other presentations of the same argument printed elsewhere. And yes, I think it more likely that Eugenie would use this article to represent Meyer rather than his more recent version in “DDandPE.”

However, I think the article is pretty good for it’s length and audience. If you read it we could discuss it as I am unaware of any good arguments against Meyers basic argument concerning the origin of amino-acid sequence specificity.

Although Meyer would deny it it is clear that his case is primarily an argument from ignorance. But then he also claims that he will develop a design hypothesis in the essay - but makes no attempt to do so.

To make a strong case he would need to rule out the very real possiblity that it is simply a very hard problem - made harder by the very limited information we have available. I do not see any reasonable way that he could do that. If he had genuinely produced a design hypothesis that offered a better ecplanation than all the current abiogenesis research then that would not matter - but without even an attempt to generate such a hypothesis Meyer is left relying heavily on negative argumentation and must show that he has truly accounted for all the possiblities.

This is an interesting thread, and worth some time I do believe. Richard, I’m sorry, but I do not believe that I referenced “creationists” in my comment, but I do think I understand what you meant. If I may, I would like to mention something about a couple things you said…

Richard Wein said:

“In principle it ought to be that way. In practice, however, creationists have great difficulty in arguing rationally when discussing evolution because their creationist religious beliefs are at stake.”

Do you think it is possible that some design theorists may have legitimate claims about some aspects of evolutionary theory, but find it difficult to root their arguments due to naturalistic, materialistic, or otherwise atheistic religious beliefs at stake in their audience? I gather this may not be a phenomenon unique to evolutionary theorists…

Richard Wein said:

“There is no scientific value to the creationist arguments. They are pseudoscientific nonsense propounded by religious apologists. If one has already read many creationist tracts and seen them for what they are, there is no need to read every new one that comes along, any more than an astronomer need read every new tract that attempts to justify astrology.”

I will admit that I know nothing about astrology, nor its attempts to hijack astronomical knowledge for whatever purposes it may have. Does astrology take up to date knowledge and refit it to its claims, or does it do its own research and rebel against the scientists of the day? It would seem to me that astrology introduces no claims into the academic realm about the nature of the cosmos (I could be wrong.…it may), but takes whats there and runs with it where it may. It is interesting to note in the design theorist case, if you make a connection, that they do make quite a show in the academic scene about what IS and what IS NOT and their view of plausibilities.

Another thing I would quickly mention is that if I were to desire to understand the atheist/theist debates I would go to the foremost, most learned, most credentialed individuals on both sides for information. Hopefully there would be a taped debate (the famed Flew/Craig debate comes to mind at the moment)so I could see one side pitted against the other. In making a major claim about astronomy, I would probably not reference how “dumb” I thought the layman astrologist case was, nor how good I thought another might be…if the astrologist was also an astronomer, that would be another issue, certainly requiring more attention. Similarly, I probably would not reference “creationist tracts”, nor “anti-creationist tracts” at all if I were attempting to make an academic claim about microbiology, nor look to them for any measure of information about the opposing viewpoint’s microbiological argument. I do not suggest that you do use your reference of “tracts” to sweepingly discount biological theory from someone who holds “a religious view”, but am otherwise unsure as to your purpose for the statement.

Joe, you seem to be missing my point. You suggested–if I understood correctly–that people should not dismiss an article based on its source, but should address the content. My point is that the source is often a very good guide to the content. Based on our experience, many of us here know that, if the source is a religiously-motivated anti-evolutionist, it’s a pretty safe bet that the content is of little value.

T. Russ said:

There are, as I have mentioned above, more technical lengthy versions of this argument in the Michigan State journal “Darwinism, Design, and Public Education” by Meyer and John Angus Cambell, as well as a newer version in Dembski and Ruse’s forthcoming “Debating Design” from Cambridge press.

Referring to Meyer and Campbell’s book:

1. Can you explain why the only serious science discussions of intelligent design would be found in a book (not journal) in a series on rhetoric in public issues? This book is not a science book, but part of a series on public affairs and rhetoric.

2. Can you point me to any serious science in the book that advances an intelligent design argument that has not already been soundly thrashed? I bought the book (so I have purchased the right to grouse about it), and I cannot find such an article. Please provide a map for me.

3. Can you explain, with a straight face, why John Angus Campbell, a professor of rhetoric with no discernible background in any science, should be the editor of a book on science? Or, since we know it’s not a book on science since it’s in the catalog as a rhetoric book, can you explain why the Discovery Institute’s press release should not be considered deceptive when it claims the book is “peer-reviewed science?”

There is design in that book – but it is a design to deceive by ID advocates. I’m not very good at advanced math, but when I apply an explanatory filter, it comes back that this book is just a propaganda exercise orchestrated by ID advocates funded by the $2 million PR budget of the Discovery Institute.

Oh, and,

4. Can you explain why the Discovery Institute alone spends on public relations, one million times the total research budget for all ID labs? This might be compared with the PR budget Einstein used between 1905 and 1920, or the PR budget total for T. H. Morgan for his entire life.

Err… Okay. Umm, I don’t work for the DI, so I can’t really answer many of your questions. Sorry.

What about the articles that will be apearring in the new Ruse/Dembski reader from cambridge. Will pro-ID and Anti-ID people allowed to discuss those?

Posted by Richard Wein on July 16, 2004 07:34 AM

Joe, you seem to be missing my point. You suggested—if I understood correctly—that people should not dismiss an article based on its source, but should address the content. My point is that the source is often a very good guide to the content. Based on our experience, many of us here know that, if the source is a religiously-motivated anti-evolutionist, it’s a pretty safe bet that the content is of little value.

Creationists love accusing scientists of Ad Hominem fallacy when they’re dismissed without endless painstaking discussion. But this is as it should be. Time is precious. Scientists in 1850 did not waste time arguing with the flat earth holdouts, and at this point, they shouldn’t be arguing with the creationism holdouts.

Richard Wein writes:

“Joe, you seem to be missing my point. You suggested—if I understood correctly—that people should not dismiss an article based on its source, but should address the content. My point is that the source is often a very good guide to the content. Based on our experience, many of us here know that, if the source is a religiously-motivated anti-evolutionist, it’s a pretty safe bet that the content is of little value.”

It could be that I’m missing your point…I’m not conceding, mind you, but there is always that possibility. I was referencing design theorists (the scientists), however, and likely not the “religiously-motivated anti-evolutionists” that you are referring to. I could be wrong on that, but I’d appreciate your response. I completely agree that religious motivation CAN cause issues. I will not concede, however, an authoritative position stating that it DOES. I am curious, what methods or criteria are used by the evolutionary theorists and design theorists to ensure that no “religiously-motivated evolutionists” are given a reputable standing.

Steve writes:

Creationists love accusing scientists of Ad Hominem fallacy when they’re dismissed without endless painstaking discussion. But this is as it should be. Time is precious. Scientists in 1850 did not waste time arguing with the flat earth holdouts, and at this point, they shouldn’t be arguing with the creationism holdouts.

Thank you for your reply, Steve. I suppose I was unaware that there was ever a legitimate holdout of flat-earthers, whatever religion, at any time on the planet. But I do suppose if this was the case that it couldn’t have been too far from the belief that rotting meat turned into flies, held widely by scientists. Honestly, though, if there were a number of flat-earthers, it pales in comparison to the incredible number of people believing in Hinduism, which entirely denies the material world. If you are specifically referring to Christianity, Christians have arguably had a more significant influence on the advancement of science than any Hindu society. So maybe some are better than others, and flat earthers ≠ creationists ≠ design theorists, which I was referring to.

Well you can check out the Flat Earth Society here:

http://members.aye.net/~rms/fltearth.html

and you can check out geocentricism and get $1000 merely by demonstrating that the earth orbits the sun, extra bonus points for observing the similarities between the flat earth, geocentricism and ID:

http://www.catholicintl.com/epologe[…]allenge.html

I especially like the reliance on the “scientific method” that is rejected when convenient by ID proponents:

By “proof” we mean that your explanations must be direct, observable, physical, natural, repeatable, unambiguous and comprehensive. We don’t want hearsay, popular opinion, “expert” testimony, majority vote, personal conviction, organizational rulings, superficial analogies, appeals to “simplicity,” “apologies” to Galileo, or any other indirect means of persuasion which do not qualify as scientific proof

Joe B: I was referencing design theorists (the scientists), however, and likely not the “religiously-motivated anti-evolutionists” that you are referring to

Can we be specific here? Many, if not most, self-described “design theorists”* deny that they are religiously motivated, but a lot of us find their denials unconvincing. Which, exactly which, “design theorists” are you referring to?

*(I will continue to use that term in quotes till I actually see a “design theory” that has more substance than “I don’t see how evolution could have happened”)

Re: the Geocentric Catholics

Yikes! Doesn’t the Vatican have some way of stifling these embarrassing buffoons? Don’t they excommunicate, or anathematize, or inquisition, or something… people who make The Church look foolish?

Joe, that flat earth page was hilarious. I will take a mental note, however, for all of your future comments that you used a lunatic from California to support your case. Just kidding. Goodness sakes…that page was a good laugh, but I get the feeling it was a hoax. Likely a profitable one, but a hoax nonetheless. Do you believe that what he spoke of is legitimately demonstratable in design theory? Do you believe legitimate ID proponents, and it seems to claim there are NONE would be as brash as the gentleman you referenced, (microbiology PhD’s, for example)take the podium and preach “Science is a false religion, the opium of the masses.” As the flat-earth gentleman did?

I suppose that no legitimate ID proponents that I have yet been exposed to, to my knowledge, have violated scientific methodology in their justifications. This would likely cause my view of their case to be impacted somewhat. I don’t know what to comment about the Catholic site, but it was my understanding that men in the mid 1800’s promoted the idea that anyone ever thought the earth was flat. Also that no church official, scientist, or legit astronomer believed it at any point in history. And that the widely held belief that “Christians thought the earth was flat” is as disasterous to historical truth as “Nebraska Man” and “Piltdown Man” were to the advancement of evolutionary theory.

Thanks for the laugh, Joe!

Hi Joe B, you seem to be new to the whole area of discussion. What is throwing you off is that for others, the various brands of creationism are neither new nor mysterious. Several people here are not operating at the ultra hypothetical level of ‘my next door neighbor might be a space alien’. This may lead you to either misunderstand or discount voices of experience.

Also, to simplify a group of comments that you complicate for some reason, when someone announces that evolutionary biology is all wrong, and says this for misguided religious reasons, what Richard is telling you is that as matter of empirical fact their anti evolution arguments have been false in the past. NB this applies to antievolutionists who state falsely that religion has nothing to do with their arguments, perish the thought as well as to those who are honest about it. NB the leading ID advocates are decidedly and misguidedly religiously motivated. God gave E. coli a flagellum to help it make us sick? What gets me is that some people think this is fundamentalism.

… creationists ≠ design theorists,.…

Experience with both would lead you to say that ID advocates are creationists, and are not ‘theorists’ in any scientific sense of the word. There is no scientific theory of ID itself. A few silly empirical claims are made in the name of ID, but that is not the same thing. You might read Creationism’s Trojan Horse to catch up on a few things.

Do you think it is possible that some design theorists may have legitimate claims about some aspects of evolutionary theory, but find it difficult to root their arguments due to naturalistic, materialistic, or otherwise atheistic religious beliefs at stake in their audience?

You try to head off the right answer by throwing in the word ‘possible’, but realistically …

No. You need to get straight about this. Religion does not come into science. Meanwhile the ID arguments are dumb on their own. This has nothing to do with any audience, jeering or adoring (the main kind). Bad arguments are bad arguments.

Pete writes:

“Several people here are not operating at the ultra hypothetical level of ‘my next door neighbor might be a space alien’. This may lead you to either misunderstand or discount voices of experience.”

I’m sorry, Pete. I didn’t understand a word of that.

Pete writes:

“No. You need to get straight about this. Religion does not come into science.”

I’m not so sure about this, though. Secular Humanism (atheistic), the vessel by which all public education in the U.S. is presented, is very strict on teaching only evolution and claims that any view outside their own is an attack on science itself. They are pretty clear on their intentions to teach only a view that is consistent with their religious beliefs…and if they have basic control of the public educational system, its a pretty good vessel for transmission of ideas.

Some of the great Christian scientists of the past claimed that God was their source of inspiration in their discoveries.

I think people are inseparably tied to their religious beliefs, and the folks who claim they are not, Evolutionists and ID’er alike, are not being truthful. Evolution is VERY important to Atheism just as ID is VERY important to Christianity. Would you agree?

Evolution is VERY important to Atheism just as ID is VERY important to Christianity. Would you agree?

Nope, on both counts. And, the question is backwards. The real question is whether Christianity is important to ID. The answer is, “It’s nearly indispensable.” But it’s absolutely false to say that ID is remotely important to Christianity.

My question to you is, “Do you believe evolution is essentially correct?”

Joe B Wrote:

Evolution is VERY important to Atheism just as ID is VERY important to Christianity. Would you agree?

Like Joe M. I disagree on both counts.

Atheism is comfortable with any “naturalistic” origins theory, not just evolution. And a few authors have proposed “naturalistic” hypotheses that deny not only evolution, but even common descent, and thus fit most “creationist” models.

Evolution is now important to mainstream Christianity because alternate “theories” can only be defended by bearing false witness. Mainstream Christians who understand science overwhelmingly oppose the ID strategy as both bad science and bad theology.

Unlike Joe M., however, I would not say that Christianity is indispensable to ID. What is indispensable to ID, or to any pseudoscience for that matter, is a general public that is both science-illiterate and selectively incredulous. But that includes most fundamentalist Christians, which constitute a large chunk of the population. If that’s what Joe M. meant, then I agree.

Joe B., in answer to your puzzlement: in various comments you seem to be thinking of something that might be called ID in an alternate universe, and perhaps through lack of familiarity don’t notice that others are talking about known entities (DI, ID) with known characteristics.

The major relevance of ID to religion is this: theologically, ID amounts to ‘God of the Gaps’, the idea that God just happens to have acted where there is a gap, or purported gap, in present scientific knowledge. This is not too bright and is not the position of any major churches so far as I know. The DI’s big argument is really with the churches, and they mean to win.

Let’s all drop the idea that one must reject science, or even just evolution, in order to be religious. It ain’t so, as a matter of empirical fact. You might enjoy these personal stories or these myths about conflict between evolution and Christianity or take a look at this review of an ID book, or or read this whole book. Or you might just note that the churches are much more grown up theologically than God of the Gaps.

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This page contains a single entry by John M. Lynch published on July 11, 2004 6:58 PM.

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