Irony Design in Utah

| 211 Comments

Set your irony meter on max. Imagine if someone had pro-ID talking points from someplace like the Discovery Institute, but transposed them to Utah’s new proposal for “divine design” legislation in 2006. The result:

Some will argue that this is an inappropriate mixture of science and religion, but again, divine design does not purport to say who or what the designer was. “Survival of the fittest theory,” The Spectrum (southern Utah)

Looks like another trip to the irony meter store for me…

211 Comments

It should be remembered that evolution is a scientific “theory” - meaning it is the best hypothesis scientists have to explain their observations in the natural world. Theory is a long way from scientific “fact.”

Is it customary in Utah to enquote words one does not understand?

Is the Spectrum a parody site or is the unnamed author of that piece (and any editor overseeing it) an idiot?

Divine design is an even more stupidly transparent name than intelligent design. In the first dictionary I pulled off the shelf, definitions 1 and 2 for divine are god and god-like. The 3rd is an informal usage meaning splendid (ie should be grand design). The 4th is religious again but this time a human priest theologian - which is ironically appropriate given that the idea of ID/DD was made up by religious extremists. The 5th definition is even funnier - being about discovering via intuition, guessing or waving around of rods.

Do explain for us again, Sen. Chris Buttars, just how this god-based guessing is not religion but science. :-D

Up until now, evolution has had no competition in the classroom. Now it’s time for the theory to enter into a contest of survival of the fittest - theory that is.

Does he not realise that this is how science works? A theory becomes established because it is better and has outcompeted the other ideas

That competition isn’t supposed to take place in the classroom in order to confuse non-experts who aren’t even trusted to have an opinion on a political vote, drinking or driving though. It’s supposed to take place among informed scientists in peer review. IDists just aren’t in the same league as real scientists and have no credibility (among informed people) as their peers. So instead they try to appeal to the lowest common denominator (the least scientific people they can find) - politicians, lawyers and school-children. It’s dishonest and despicable.

It’s like an incompetent sportsman turning down professional matches to go and beat up a pre-schooler because (s)he’s an easier target. Once they’ve impressed the school kids this way, they hope the intellectual elite will applaud them for their display of prowess rather than condemn them for their cowardice.

Just another bunch of riders on the Sitchin and Von Daniken Railroad.

They’re honestly saying that “divine design” could have been done by ET and still be divine?

They’re as confused about what “divine” means as they are about what “theory” means.

Does he not realise that this is how science works? A theory becomes established because it is better and has outcompeted the other ideas.

Actually what Buttars wants is not science at all, he wants a popularity contest.

Some will argue that this is an inappropriate mixture of science and religion, but again, divine design does not purport to say who or what the designer was.

BOOM! Steve’s Roommate: “Dude, did you hear that transformer explode?” Steve: “That was no transformer. That was my brand new Dumbometer.”

di·vine ( P ) adj. di·vin·er, di·vin·est

Having the nature of or being a deity. Of, relating to, emanating from, or being the expression of a deity: sought divine guidance through meditation. Being in the service or worship of a deity; sacred. Superhuman; godlike.

Supremely good or beautiful; magnificent: a divine performance of the concerto. Extremely pleasant; delightful: had a divine time at the ball. Heavenly; perfect.

n. A cleric. A theologian.

most people understand divine as “from god”, but we’re not saying who the creator was!

Simpletons.

In order for designed to be a useful descriptor, we would also need some examples of items that are not designed. Do the IDers point to any? (I haven’t been following this as closely as some of you so I apologize in advance if the answer to my question is well known.)

I would love to be there when the DI receives that phone call:

Buttars: “Hey, you are the design theorists, how bout you come to Utah. We’re trying to get your design theory inna tha curriculums.” DI: “Good, good, glad you called us early. The most important thing to do is to make sure you avoid any and all references to jesus, god, the designer, our lord, etc. We have to pretend there’s nothing about any divine being in this. That’s what we’ve spent millions of dollars here at the DI doing–creating a creationism without the bible. After we get this generic creationism in, then we can move on to “ Cultural Confrontation & Renewal” like it says in the Wedge Document. Buttars: “Oh yeah, good, yeah, we haven’t said anything about jesus at all, in our legislation for Divine Designer Theory.” DI: “The-…uh…the what theory?” Buttars: “Divine Designer Theory.” DI: “Is that what you’re calling it?” Buttars: “Yep. That’s what’s on the bill. Divine Designer Theory.” DI: “And…uh…and this is already public?” Buttars: “You bet.” DI: “Um…uh…wrong number. No speeka the english.” click! Buttars: “Hello? Hel-lo-o?” (taps that plastic thingy in the phone cradle)

We may ridicule Intelligent Design (ID) and its proponents, but the ridicule fails to address the ID argument. Publicly, many people may remain silent amid our insults, but privately, since evolutionists tend to leave the ID argument almost completely untouched, more people than we think perhaps believe the ID position is not as “stupid” as we claim.

Apparently significant majorities in America subscribe to some form of Intelligent Design, with surprisingly large numbers of Americans thinking life began pretty much as Genesis describes. http://www.unl.edu/rhames/courses/c[…]vol-poll.htm. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/e[…]d=1000728154

What is striking about this is that Americans believe as they do despite nearly a century of being taught the “empirical facts” of evolution from the time they are small children in schools, well into college adulthood. After nearly a century of ridicule, much of it unfair, dishonest, propagandistic and quite vicious (SEE http://www.gennet.org/facts/scopes.html and http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/inherit/dif.html ), Americans still largely reject evolution and accept creationism.

Clearly then, while Darwinians have almost completely commandeered the minds of academia, they have failed to win the minds of the public. Though they frequently insult and caricaturize creationists and ID proponents as ignorant, theistic goofs, the majority of Americans still sense the creationists are correct.

What the ID’ers are about to offer America is an intellectual justification for what most Americans by faith now think is true. Americans think as they do mostly because they just cannot fathom that ‘all of this happened by chance!’ Intuitively they sense the existence of an Intelligent Creator within the things they see around them. Darwinists have not been able to shake this faith.

But what ID’ers seem near to accomplishing is an intellectual framework wherein the average American can entertain, seriously ponder, and even defend creationism at least to himself. If after the study of ID Americans cannot defend creationism, they perhaps will at a minimum be able to confidently reject Darwinism.

I think Darwinists kid themselves and do their own positions a grave disservice by using essentially mere bluster and haughtiness to attempt rejecting the power of the ID position. Up to now Darwinists have merely used the courts, ridicule, academic exclusion, the press, flawed movies, plays and other propaganda against ID, and none of it has worked. Some scientists are trying to fight back, but ID seems as mighty a threat as always.

I have read a fair amount of this debate and I am impressed that despite Darwinian haughtiness, ID’ers continue building their edifice while systematically destroying the foundation of the Darwinian paradigm.

For example, here is a stunning exchange between Kenneth Miller and Bill Dembski. Read the two papers very closely. Read them honestly—without attempting to hold onto your pet theory. Then try to honestly tell yourself the ID’ers are really and truly the kooks darwinists typically claim them to be.

http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/e[…]article.html http://www.designinference.com/docu[…]Response.htm

We see Miller fails to assault the argument before him. Indeed, it almost appears he is on the run, grasping for something, anything, to use as a weapon against his opponents. He assumes, for example, that a sub-structure removed from a super structure, which sub-structure has little or nothing to do with the Irreducibly Complex (IC) portions of the super-structure, and that therefore leaves the super-structure functioning as always, proves that the super-structure has no IC portions. Miller is quite obviously wrong here, as Dembski incisively points out. If the IC structure falls after having >>ITS>IT

(continued from above…)

Miller is quite obviously wrong here, as Dembski incisively points out. If the IC structure falls after having ITS parts removed, and no explanatory mechanism exists in all the scientific literature showing how IT, not an infinitesimal fairly unrelated piece of it, could have developed in the first place, then the Darwinian model for this structure obviously does not work to explain it. And if macro forms depend upon micro IC structures, the Darwinian model is left powerless. Darwinism must first explain what has not yet been explained (and apparently cannot ever be explained, according the the ID’ers).

It is a fascinating debate and the ID part in it has teeth, perhaps big sharp teeth. I think we can only bluster our way out of this for so long. Eventually, normal Americans are going to understand the issues here and their children are going to begin defying our attempts to prop Darwinism up by running and lying and petty ridicule.

Apparently, Buttars thinks it’s perfectly OK to teach that “a god” might have been involved, as long as you don’t specify which god.

As an aside, what if you believe a god exists, but you don’t believe He/She/It should be worshipped? Is that a religion?

(No, that’s not my personal belief. Just idle curiosity.…)

susan makes a good point (and one that a few people here have mentioned before). Are the IDers saying that rocks and oceans and the planet weren’t designed? If a clump of rocks is designed, where’s the CSI in that? Where’s the IC? If a clump of rocks is designed, what won’t your detector beep at? Alternately, if a clump of rocks, the oceans, whatever, wasn’t designed, why are they here? How can you say that god created it, but didn’t design it?

IDers can’t win for losing.

As an aside, what if you believe a god exists, but you don’t believe He/She/It should be worshipped? Is that a religion?

I’d say yes. I’d call any belief in magic conscious beings a religion.

Um, Simon, it looks like your post ended mid-sentence. Please do continue.

But, please read the links at this page at talk.origins, the two PT posts listed as “Must read” on the PT front page, and these two recent posts on the evolution of the immune system (one, two), showing how Behe has given up on his “irreducible complexity” argument and now requires infinite detail, before continuing on about how we don’t address the scientific arguments.

As for the flagellum, IDists originally claimed that IC systems that were missing parts would have no function, and therefore partial systems would be unselectable by natural selection, and therefore gradual evolution couldn’t produce such systems. The Type III secretion system, whether or not it is derived from the flagellum, shows that a partial system does have a function. Various other homologies are well-documented in the literature (see references here) and they show that yet more flagellum parts have other functions.

In that Dembski article you proudly cite, Dembski commits exactly this error, cluelessness about the literature:

The TTSS contains ten or so proteins that are homologous to proteins in the flagellum. The flagellum requires an additional thirty or forty proteins, which are unique.

This is false, most of these proteins are known to not be unique; they are related to each other or to nonflagellar proteins.

The proper response would be to forthrightly admit (1) that most of the flagellum parts can function without a fully-assembled flagellum, and therefore (2) the premises of the IC argument are incorrect. But instead, the ID advocates are either in denial, as in the Dembski quote above, or they move the goalposts right out of the football stadium:

Proteins change single mutation by single mutation, amino acid by amino acid, so that’s the level of explanation that is needed. What part of “numerous, successive, slight” is so hard to understand?

And not only a list of mutations, but also a detailed account of the selective pressures that would be operating, the difficulties such changes would cause for the organism, the expected time scale over which the changes would be expected to occur, the likely population sizes available in the relevant ancestral species at each step, other potential ways to solve the problem which might interfere, and much more.

And if not, we’re supposed to conclude “IDdidit,” and no questions about the details of “IDdidit” are allowed. Yeah, right.

BTW, that spectrum article is pretty crappy:

It should be remembered that evolution is a scientific “theory” - meaning it is the best hypothesis scientists have to explain their observations in the natural world. Theory is a long way from scientific “fact.”

The same crap comes up over and over, we really need to start sending these journalists prepared statements in response to the cliche errors.

Surely, people like Sen. Buttarse do things like this on purpose, just so we can attain a new peak of witticism. Or perhaps he had in mind a specific Intelligent Designer, the late Divine, star of “Pink Flamingos?”

I predict that ID will eventually flop among the Mormans. It just isn’t nutty enough for their taste. Indeed, compared to the fraud, symptomology, and science fiction that comprises the LDS faith, ID is as sensible as a dictionary.

Well, I have read most of these posts and I think my point still stands, namely, that the essential ID argument is not adequately being addressed. Surely, for scientists convinced in the truthfulness of Darwinism, the explanations here would undoubtedly be sufficient to confirm their paradigm. But for those of us not hindered by Darwinism or its opponents, far more evidence is required. This is to say nothing of those of us who are trapped in the creationist paradigm. Some scientists are trying to respond appropriately and I for one certainly appreciate it; but the lion’s share of the responses are so filled with bluster and other fallacies, those of us who are trying to treat the matter fairly, are being put off.

Now, contrary to your claims, Behe is not moving the goalposts, and I think it is unfortunate that we must attack his view by such dishonorable means. I myself read the demands to which you are referring by implication ages ago, when Behe first released his book. They made sense to me then and they still do. Indeed, the demand is not new, at least not with me because I intuitively have long sensed that if one wishes I should believe certain remarkable structures of amino acids developed step-by-step without any guided assistance, then it is not too much for me to ask one to provide evidence for the gradual development, at least at the critical steps, explaining the pressures that gave rise to them. I don’t demand it because I wish to set impossible goals for Dawrinists. I demand it because, my goodness, without it, my believing your view sincerely becomes as much a matter of faith as belief in ID.

The point of my post is to say that ID’ers are about to give an intellectual framework to people, much like me, who either already believe by some means in ID or who are at least prone to believe it were their doubts not so severe. And all the lies, bluster, running and insults from the scientific community and its supporters will simply not help them see how ID fails. I think ID is doing quite a lot better on the popular front than its opponent and that it will continue to excel unless it is confronted honestly, calmly and deliberately, using no fallacious devices at all. ID is rapidly acquiring (and has perhaps already done so) enough credibility that it now deserves to be heard without the traditional and unfair hindrances scientists have placed upon it. I think when scientists belittle its proponents or use all manner of tricks to stomp upon it, other than dispatching it openly and fairly, they imply weakness in their own views - not in those of the ID’ers.

Simon, you state that biologists have failed to win the mind of the public, as if that means there isn’t enough evidence out there for the descriminating layman to accept evolution. The public does not accept scientific theories on the evidence, they basically decide which authorities to believe. Do you honestly think that if the majority of Americans found quantum mechanics religiously distasteful, they wouldn’t reject it just as quickly as evolution? The reason there is no public controversy over quantum mechanics is NOT because most people find the evidence convincing - they have no clue, but they haven’t been given religious reasons to doubt.

The situation in Utah could explode with a strong statement by a member of the LDS church hirearchy in support of ID - millions of Mormons would push for its inclusion in school after that. The BYU biology department uncompromisingly teaches evolution, but many other faculty on campus are strongly creationist, and if you bring up evolution in a positive context in a Sunday meeting (as I did before becoming an ex-Mormon), you’re quickly silenced. Most Mormons I know do not accept evolution (and I know a lot of Mormons).

Many Mormons are already primed to listen to the pseudoscientific garbage that ID peddles - Mormon apologists with PhD’s sound a lot like ID’ers when they attack mainstream archaeologists in order to defend the claim that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient American Israelites.

Simon,

I don’t understand why you and Behe think that in order to explain something by evolution one has to describe every mutation that took place, every selective pressure, etc. - as someone else mentioned before, that’s like asking for a year-by-year account of how the Grand Canyon was formed before accepting that it formed the way geologists say it was formed.

Furthermore, it’s more than a little ironic that Behe demands this level of detail, yet refuses to go into detail about the designer he postulates? Behe states that he doesn’t reject all of evolution, but neither Behe nor any other ID advocate will explicitly state just exactly when the bacterial flagellum was put into bacteria, what were the precursors, how the designer did it, which parts were there before, why the designer made different flagella for different bacteria for no apparent functional reason, etc., etc.

While we may not be able to reconstruct, mutation by mutation, how the flagellum evolved, there are many studies that look at fitness effects of single amino acid mutations and we do observe how evolution occurs at this level of detail in current scientific research. To go back to the Grand Canyon analogy, we may not be able to give a year by year account of how the thing was formed, we can study the effects of erosion over the course of a year and gain a good understanding of what happens over the short term. ID advocates seem to want it both ways - when scientists study short-term evolutionary change at the level of single mutations, IDers dismiss it as “microevolution” and insignificant, but when scientists talk about long-term evolutionary change, IDers criticize them for not explaining things at the single mutation level.

As in a fairly recent thread, I must correct the widespread misconception that Behe hasn’t provided a mechanism used by his intelligent designer.

Be careful, reading the following may shock you out of your narrow minded worldview and shake the foundations of your Darwinian religion.

revolutionary science

Well, I have read most of these posts and I think my point still stands, namely, that the essential ID argument is not adequately being addressed.

Ironically, I’d say from most of the writings coming out of the DI, that the ID argument isn’t being adequately addressed there either. In fact, I’m not sure where it is actually being adequately addressed, because so far nobody has put forward a theory of Intelligent Design.

All we hear are claims that DI will show people how the world was created, or that it will give us a new understanding of the world, or some such hyperbole. It actually reminds me of those commercials that one car company (Infiniti, IIRC) used to run in which they didn’t actually show the car. They had the sound of the ocean in the background, and voice-over saying “Infiniti, a luxury car for the discerning buyer,” or something of that nature. I can imagine the press conference for this car probably went a bit like a DI press conference:

“So, what kind of gas mileage can we expect from this car?” “Our car will offer consumers a very pragmatic fuel efficiency.” “Will this car have two doors or four?” “Our newest Infinit will offer customers a car to meet their needs.”

Intelligent Design is similar: It doesn’t actually show us the theory, just claims that the theory will revolutionize science. There’s nothing wrong with having a theory that is still being formulated, physicists certainly are still looking into a number of as-yet-unfinished theories regarding superstrings and quantum gravity, but you don’t see them touting the superiority of these theories before they’re finished. Furthermore, asking people to accept a theory which has not actually been articulated, as the DI people are doing, is just like trying to sell that car without actually showing it. Sure, the hype might create some curiosity and interest, I don’t doubt that, but at some point people are going to want to see what it is exactly that they’re buying into. There are plenty of people out there who would sure love to see a theory that unites biology with their theological world-view, just as I’d love to see a unified field theory that unifies Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, but that doesn’t mean that anyone who claims to have the answers without actually putting forth a coherent theory and demonstrating supporting evidence should just be taken at face value.

Science is not philosophy. “I think, therefore it is” is not a valid scientific argument, and never will be. Furthermore, you cannot expect scientists to realistically debate something such as ID when there isn’t even a theory to debate. It’s seriously like asking a question that has a subject but no predicate. When there is a coherent theory of intelligent design, then I fully expect that it would be debated by scientists, but until that happens, what would you like them to debate?

We may ridicule Intelligent Design (ID) and its proponents, but the ridicule fails to address the ID argument.

Scientifically, they don’t HAVE any argument. There is no scientific theory of ID, they are l;ying to us when they claim there is, and they know it just as well as we do.

What they have is their religious opinions, which science does not NEED to address.

Apparently significant majorities in America subscribe to some form of Intelligent Design

Significant majorities in America subscribe to LOTS of stupid ideas, such as “flying saucers are real”, “psychics can predict the future”, and “Iraq really had WMDs”.

A large proportion of Americans don’t know how long it takes for the earth to revolve once around the sun – or even THAT the earth revolves around the sun.

About one in eight Americans can’t even find the United States on a world map.

We are, in short, a nation of ignoramuses.

Ignorami.

Whatever.

I agree with whoever it was who said “In a democracy, we get exactly the sort of government that we deserve”. If we get a government run by pig-ignorant con artists, it is because we, as a nation, deserve it.

Well, I have read most of these posts and I think my point still stands, namely, that the essential ID argument is not adequately being addressed.

And what, again, is this “essential ID argument”? Other than “God – uh, I mean, The Unknown Intelligent Designer – dunnit!!!”?

Can you give us a scientific theory of ID and tell us how to test it using the scientific method?

Why not?

It is a fair point that Darwinism meets public resistance largely because it poses a threat to many established religious ideas. And I think you are correct that the public is not generally so philosophical that it will seek evidence, ponder it and then make decisions based upon what it sees. Nevertheless I don’t think people are anti-philosophical. In other words, they do not choose their authorities randomly. They do so for a variety of reasons. And few of these reasons appear in Darwinist circles.

Even if evidence for Darwinism is as powerful as you appear to think, when we employ exclusion, ridicule, and a host of other fallacious treatments of Darwinism’s opponents, we do not present the evidence for Darwinism. We actually appear as if we have something to fear from the competition. Meanwhile, ID marches onward, building its edifice on a now impressive foundation, presenting its irreducibly complex objects to average people who marvel over them and whose children will be the professionals of tomorrow. These people already tend to believe in ID even without the intellectual support. I suspect should ID’ers succeed in getting their views a wide hearing, the public effect will be stunning even to them. It will be stunning because Darwinists claimed to have evidence for their views, but never effectively presented it.

Having once lived in Salt Lake, I, Like you, happen to know quite a lot of Mormons and not a little about the LDS religion. Though I summarily reject Mormon claims, I would not begin to confront those claims by telling Mormons they are a bunch of idiots. Were I to do this, the folks at FARMS would do to me what the ID’ers now do to you (ha ha).

Which brings me again to the point. In essence you (not you particularly) are equating the ID’ers to people at FARMS. You are claiming the ID’ers are so kooky, so ridiculous and weird, that they do not deserve open and respectful engagement. That is just not true and anyone who reads the literature can see this. Moreover, you are in effect claiming that I am an idiot merely because, after reading as much of the literature as honestly as I can, I think ID has a strong position. You write books that dismiss my beliefs and then pass laws forcing my children to study your books. No one likes to be insulted, even if indirectly, and no one likes to be forced to do anything. The minute you call me an idiot, a fundie, a kook, or any of a monstrous number of pejorative terms Darwinists typically heap upon their opponents, I will tend to get hung up on the insult, losing the thrust of your argument. Ken Miller does this frequently, albeit a lot more artfully than I have presented here.

The solution is to calmly meet ID point-for-point (making sure to stay on each point), even inviting it into discussion. It is going to be heard whatever you do, so you may as well bring it on anyway. It has now acquired a position such that it now deserves a lot more respect than Darwinists are giving it. If Darwinists insist on an over reliance on fallacy, they will eventually shoot themselves in the foot.

…must run

Even if evidence for Darwinism is as powerful as you appear to think, when we employ exclusion, ridicule, and a host of other fallacious treatments of Darwinism’s opponents, we do not present the evidence for Darwinism. We actually appear as if we have something to fear from the competition. Meanwhile, ID marches onward, building its edifice on a now impressive foundation…

I think at this point, we have seen enough. The conversation has been:

us: Here is our evidence. It is overwhelming, enormous, internally consistent. Where is yours:

ID: Your evidence is weak and falls short. It doesn’t support your theory.

us: What is your theory?

ID: Darwinism is a religion, and darwinists use ridicule rather than evidence to defend it.

us: We presented a mountain of evidence. We can present more. Now, WHAT IS YOUR TYEORY?

ID: A majority of people reject darwinism because darwinists have something fear.

us: What evidence do you have to support anything OTHER than evolution?

ID: You are complaining that your opponents are kooks. You aren’t presenting your side well. ID now has an impressive foundation.”

us: Can you understand why we get frustrated? You have simply ignored every request for a theory and for evidence. Please, pretty pretty please, even provide a HINT, any suggestion at all, supporting this “impressive foundation.” Can you do that much?

ID: You must meed ID point-for-point. Stay on point. ID deserves your respect.

us: (tearing out our hair) WHAT ARE THESE POINTS? Do you have ANY theory? ANY evidence? ANYTHING?

ID: Sorry, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Gotta run along now. I win, you lose. Next time, try debating the theory itself, rather than ridiculing those who understand it.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on June 12, 2005 9:10 AM.

Kansas Kangaroo Court transcripts are up was the previous entry in this blog.

To explain ID, *don’t* look up the homologies is the next entry in this blog.

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