I Was a Token Darwinist

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I was the “Opposing View” at last week’s Darwin, Design and Democracy V conference, held on September 24th and 25th in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The title of this post is derived from one of the videos sold at the conference, “I was a Teenage Darwinist”, which in turn was derived from the 1957 Michael Landon horror movie “I was a Teenage Werewolf.”

I didn’t get to attend the whole conference, as I was tied up with a wedding of one of my brothers (not a blood brother, but a “brother” in the sense of “Band of Brothers”). That was a hoot, but prevented me from seeing the Behe and Dembski keynote addresses, alas.

My presentation was titled “The Top Ten Myths of Intelligent Design,” and is on-line here. William Dembski attended the morning session. He didn’t react too much when I said that “Dembski’s NFL (No Free Lunch) claim, ‘Evolutionary (Genetic) Algorithms perform no better than Chance (when averaged over all possible fitness functions)’ has been found irrelevant by many reviewers. Evolution isn’t averaged over all possible environments - why should genetic algorithms?” (See Myth # 2.) However, when I discussed Hoppe’s “Multiple Designers Theory”, Dembski was quite emphatic that Intelligent Design (ID) was open to that possibility, and cited Hindus who were very interested in ID in support of that claim.

Michael Behe attended my afternoon session. Like Dembski, he didn’t react to my declaration that new work on coral evolution has clearly overthrown Behe’s concept of “Irreducible Complexity” as an obstacle to natural evolution of complex structures. I spent quite a bit of time on this topic, showing in detail that the ancient coral pigment, green, is caused by a protein that catalyzes two chemical reactions (a cyclization and a dehydrogenation), whereas the red pigment that this study showed evolved from the green, in a step-by-step fashion, is more complex, catalyzing three reactions (a cyclization, a dehydrogenation , and another dehydrogenation).

Neither Dembski nor Behe spoke to me after my talk, but they did pick up my handouts with the references for the key papers I cited. Whether or not they decide to correct their disproved hypotheses remains to be seen. From past experience, I’ll not be holding my breath.

I had more interaction with John Calvert, who talked with me about a movie called “Murder on a Sunday” during the lunch break. His point was that the movie described a murder, wherein an innocent boy that matched the suspect’s profile [black, male, and in the wrong place at the right time] was unjustly charged by police. The defense won an aquittal by showing that the police were too quick to accept their initial hypothesis, and that they should have been more willing to consider “alternative” hypotheses. Then, Calvert declared that failure to consider alternatives actually weakens the support for any hypothesis, and thus that science should allow discussion of ID in schools, lest it be weakened by failing to do so. Had I had more time (the afternoon sessions started about this time), I would have responded that I agreed, provided that the “alternative hypotheses” could actually be tested. I had touched on this very topic earlier that morning, when I said that science doesn’t deny the supernatural, but that it can’t do any tests on vaguely defined “miracles” like ID. (I also offered a counterexample, the Bible Code, which has been defined explicitly, and indeed allows for testing of the concept that a supernatural Deity has encoded secret messages into the Torah. By the way, it didn’t pan out).

I also had a cordial talk with Paul Nelson, who had talked about molecular re-creations of known viral phylogenies that were totally distorted by convergent evolution. I’ve sent Paul the info about a study that showed excellent recreation of known phylogenies, and we’re discussing it over e-mail.

I’ll have to listen to the tapes before I can summarize other talks. There were some memorable schizophrenic moments, though. During my talks, I was repeatedly asked “what will it take to stop calling us (IDer’s) creationists?” Outside, however, the Creation Research Society sold books, including the ID Favorite “Of Pandas and People.” CD’s of creationist symposia, and copies of creationist books like Walter ReMine’s “The Biotic Message” were also available.

Perhaps these IDers have been denying they’re creationists for so long that they’ve lost the ability to parse what their eyes are seeing.

13 Comments

The elusive Teenage wherewolf-darwinist split finally revealed…ROFL! Now that’s a cladogram!

Dembski was quite emphatic that Intelligent Design (ID) was open to that possibility, and cited Hindus who were very interested in ID in support of that claim.

Too funny.

“600 Scientists for Biblical Creation” and only 481 Steve’s for evolution?

Well, that settles it.

What settles it for me is that beautiful ray of light shining down on the creationist’s book table. Surely THAT was no accident!

Dage said

However, when I discussed Hoppe’s “Multiple Designers Theory”, Dembski was quite emphatic that Intelligent Design (ID) was open to that possibility, and cited Hindus who were very interested in ID in support of that claim.

That’s (at least) the third time IDists have brought up Hinduism in connection with MDT. The big tent just grows and grows!

It does illustrate (once again, as if it needed further illustration) the primacy of theology in ID: the first response to MDT almost always refers to religion, not science. Why do those IDists always impute religious meaning to scientific theories?? You’d almost think they were part of the Evil Secularist Conspiracy!

RBH

Give me a hypothesis. Give me one! And the data you think supports it.

What happened? For example, what organisms, if any, did the deity or extraterrestrial proximately cause? Did the deity or extraterrestrial turn inert matter – poof! – directly into two elephants, one male and one female? Did the deity or extraterrestrial turn inert matter into the first aardvarks? T-Rexex? Humans? Brontosauruses? And what evidence, if any, suggests that a deity and/or extraterrestrial did this? At least on the surface, this scenario is ridiculous. Ludicrous. It didn’t happen, right? But give me a hypthesis.

The thing about evolution is that we’re overwhelmingly justified in believing that the proximate cause of billions and billions of organisms was sexual reproduction or cell-division. For example, I’m pretty sure that’s how I got here. I was born.

I always keep my eyes open for elephants just popping into existence. But I’ve never seen anything remotely similar to that.

Why do those IDists always impute religious meaning to scientific theories??

Silly question. IDists’ lives are founded on religion, which informs everything they encounter. For them, anything that doesn’t have religious meaning has no meaning at all. Religion gives their lives purpose, something science can never do.

That’s true. More often than not, dissent from evolution is based on things like “Well if evolution is true, then isn’t it okay to kill people be immoral etc.…”

Um, guys, that was irony, or cynicism, or rhetorical, or something like that.

RBH

The elusive Teenage wherewolf-darwinist split finally revealed … ROFL! Now that’s a cladogram!

That’s you evil evolutionary education speaking. We all know the darwinist could not POSSIBLY had evolved from the werewolf. Where are the transitional fossils? Did anybody ever see a half-werewolf half-darwinist???

So THERE! In reality, God created the werewolfs and the darwinists seperately, ex nihilo, on the last day of creation, together with a lot of other creatures doomed to hell from the start, like liberals and stuff.

Dave Thomas Wrote:

Whether or not they decide to correct their disproved hypotheses remains to be seen. From past experience, I’ll not be holding my breath.

There’s nothing to correct, as they don’t really make specific alternative hypotheses. Whatever the speciation or abiogenesis mechanism they have in mind – and I suspect that we’ll never know – Behe at least accepts the common descent part. And while Dembski refuses to commit either way, it’s a good bet that he doesn’t think that corals and humans are the product of independent abiogenesis.

Dave Thomas Wrote:

During my talks, I was repeatedly asked “what will it take to stop calling us (IDer’s) creationists?”

I already stopped calling them “creationists.” Yes, I know that it’s more tactical than a courtesy. But if they really want most of their critics to stop calling them creationists, they need to (1) specifically endorse Behe’s old-earth, common decent model, (2) occasionally criticize other models, especially YEC, and (3) give up the quote mining, bait-and-switch terminology, and of course, the false dichotomy (design vs. “Darwinism”). Actually they might not have to do all that. Christian Schwabe and Periannan Senapathy wrote books denying common descent, but I don’t think that they are typically referred to as “creationists” because they do not invoke the false dichotomy.

I have had an exchange with Dave Thomas about Dembski’s claim of support from Hindus for MDT and ID. It is true that some ISKCON types have talked of ID like hypothesis. But BD would not want to buy some of their other assertions re religion and theology. So that’s neither here nor there. Further if Michael Cremo and ISKCON is the best BD can claim by way of “Hindu” support for ID, I guess he’s found the Hindu counterparts/intellectual equivalent of Kent Hovind and Ken Ham. This is one train wreck that I am cutting loose from asap!!

I have had an exchange with Dave Thomas about Dembski’s claim of support from Hindus for MDT and ID. It is true that some ISKCON types have talked of ID like hypothesis. But BD would not want to buy some of their other assertions re religion and theology. So that’s neither here nor there. Further if Michael Cremo and ISKCON is the best BD can claim by way of “Hindu” support for ID, I guess he’s found the Hindu counterparts/intellectual equivalent of Kent Hovind and Ken Ham. This is one train wreck that I am cutting loose from asap!!

Periannan Senapathy talks of the scientific possibility of simultaneous speciation. To compare that with creationism is missing the point entirely. PS’s views have no “wedge” component, but plenty of science however flawed it may be. The parallel of the PS/neo Darwinian synthesis difference is to be found not in the ID vs. evolution non-debate but more in some of the classic scientific tussles Huygens vs. Newton or Bohr vs. Einstein. PS also is not about to throw the “Darwinian materialsists” back into the “Stone Age”.

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on October 1, 2004 2:05 PM.

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