ID’s minor success

| 21 Comments

It seems that ID proponents are at least mildly successful in coaching ID supporters in what to say and not to say and when to say it…

Tim Borseth Wrote:

Well, my arm was twisted. Rather than working hard on campus ministry stuff, I was coerced into writting a letter to the editor of the D.M. Register regarding the Intelligent Design debate. It went through a major revision after Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez himself advised me multiple times as to what to say and what not to say.

At least he puts an end to the myth that Gonzalez was somehow singled out

Tim Borseth Wrote:

I have personally interacted with 15 professors at Iowa State who seriously doubt Darwinism and have offered their assistance in helping college students work through the role of faith in science. Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez is by no means alone.

21 Comments

You’ve fluffed the link, it leads back to the main page.

I wonder what those 15 are professors of.

-Schmitt.

I would expect that the teachings of “Intelligent Design” would go much the way that Darwin’s teachings did for the first 50-100 years or so. Since it (Intelligent Design) is more of a foundation for beliefs, rather than 100% scientific theory, then it will most likely be a “thorn in the flesh” of biologists for some time to come.

But if all thoughts and theories are just someone’s best guess about the nature of how things work, then “Intelligent Design” will have to come up under the same scrutiny as anyone’s else thoughts or theories about the subject, very much like Darwin’s thoughts and theories did and do.

In the last 5 years in science there has been a general shift in the “we-know-everything-because-we-are-scientists” mentality, to a “we-don’t-know-anything-for-certain, but-this-is-what-we-assume-to-be- true-so-far” mentality; which is comforting for the average person, rather being as daunting and as overwhelming as it use to be. Scientists can come across as a-bit-too-big-for-their-intellectual-britches, as it were, when they give the impression that it is they, and they alone, who are the only ones who can grasp intricate concepts or come up with original thoughts.

So people, or perhaps a number of people, have come up with thoughts that challenge the theory of evolution? Big deal. If people can question the existence of God, and no one blinks an eye, it is safe to say all other subject areas are also up for debate. And it speaks shame for the evolutionary biologists, the biologists, or anyone else calling themselves a true scientist, if they feel that they are not to be questioned. The very essence of how science even developed was by people who “questioned” and explored and raised challenges to existing lines of thought. Who are the evolutionists that they feel they are being “dumped on” just because they are being questioned? Correct me if I am wrong, but the very nature of “science” as an entity is to question and continue to question until a grain of truth is found. Right now “Intelligent Design” is a thought, a question, and a supposition that may eventually work into a theory. And who cares who comes up with a challenging thought, if the end result is supposed to be the uncovering of truth? For the record, creationism is not a theory. And it should not be seen or taught as such. It is a foundational truth of a particular belief system. Period. And very much like science doesn’t want to be seen as a religion; neither does creationism want to be seen as a theory. It is sad that there are people who call themselves scientists who come across like they care more for being “right” than they do for finding “right”. I have first hand knowledge that what is being taught in science rooms today about evolution is dramatically different than it was 25 years ago and even 10 years ago. Why is that? Because people are not just teaching Darwin’s postulates, they are also teaching “other thoughts” that supposedly stem from Darwinian theory. So they teach such “complimentary” thoughts that they say are what Darwin was really trying to say; and they do this until which time somebody either proves they were “wrong” or else someone else comes up with their own particular brand of “I think” about what they think Darwin was really trying to say. And so it is safe to say that “evolution” itself has, in fact, evolved. Perhaps evolution itself would not be on the front lines of this apparent “war” if scientists/teachers would simply teach Darwin independently from subsequent lines of thought that were launched after Darwin. Darwin was brilliant. But so too are a number of scientists who have followed. Teach each theory, and each line of thought, independently, and let the “challenge” begin…or at least let it continue. And so who cares who was “right”… as long as whoever finds “right’ shares it with the entire world…because after all, isn’t that what a true scientist would do?

Michelle:

You state: “And it speaks shame for the evolutionary biologists, the biologists, or anyone else calling themselves a true scientist, if they feel that they are not to be questioned.”

This would appear to represent a common misconception about science and the scientific method. Scientists have absolutely no problem with being challenged, as long as the challenge is made on scientific grounds. This is precisely where Intelligent Design fails. It is not science, plain and simple.

And, of course, as has been noted many times in this forum, evolutionary theory does adapt and “evolve”. This is how science works at the fundamental level. A scientific theory that adapts to new discoveries is not cause for concern.

Michelle, you have no idea what you are talking about. For instance

In the last 5 years in science there has been a general shift in the “we-know-everything-because-we-are-scientists” mentality, to a “we-don’t-know-anything-for-certain, but-this-is-what-we-assume-to-be- true-so-far” mentality;

Is just utterly wrong. I mean cluelessly wrong. How you could even think that is beyond me.

Michelle Anderson Wrote:

Correct me if I am wrong, but the very nature of “science” as an entity is to question and continue to question until a grain of truth is found.

You are wrong. Your statement would be a little more correct if you had instead said “the very nature of philosophy…”

Most of the time, science works exactly the opposite of what you propose. Most scientific progress is made not by questioning, but by doing experiments. Furthermore, most progress is made when these experiments are used to rule out one or more competing theories.

The very nature of science as an entity is to experiment and continue to experiment until all grains of falsehood can be eliminated.

ID is not a scientific theory because it makes no hypotheses that can be tested experimentally. It must rise to at least that level if it is to deserve any time in a science class room.

One of the things that makes it difficult for scientists or even well informed laypeople to argue with ID folks is the gross disproportion between the weight of evidence on the evolution side, which is pretty much all of biology and a good deal of geology and the feather lightness of the “evidence” on the ID side, which is pretty much four or five rhetorical talking points backed up with a hell of a lot of money from dubious millionaires.

In this forum, as in the public debate in general, it isn’t really possible to give people an idea of the mass and intricacy of the science that stands behind the modern view of life–that’s a monument far too large to take in at a glance or even a month of glances. Meanwhile, if you’ve been working in the sciences and reading the journals for years or decades, it is exceedingly difficult to imagine why anybody could entertain the outlook of ID, which is not only unsupported by any discernable data but is actually remarkably thin and unsatisfying even when considered formally or asethetically as a structure of concepts. To pull that trick off, one needs a lot of what the poet Keats called Negative Capacity. Or maybe we could take some lessons from the anthropologists.

Michelle,

I don’t wish to be too critical, but I get a very strong feeling that you have jumped into a debate without knowing much of the background. Your statement that science has changed over the last 5 years from dogmatism to caution is quite simply wrong.

For instance, Konrad Lorenz, when accepting his Nobel Prize said, “Truth in science can be defined as the working hypothesis best suited to open the way to the next better one.” That was in 1973.

Alfred North Whitehead, a mathematician (an enterprise more associated with proofs than experimental evidence) said, “There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.” He died in 1947.

JBS Haldane (a geneticist) once said “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we *can* suppose.” In other words, we simply don’t have the mental capacity to understand everything. Most quoters substitute “strange” for “queer” to avoid confusion with the modern meaning of the word – and this is because Haldane was writing in 1927.

Or how about this from Claude Bernard, a French physiologist: “[Those] who have an excessive faith in their theories or in their ideas are not only poorly disposed to make discoveries, but they also make very poor observations.” That quote is from 1865. He also said, “True science teaches us to doubt and, in ignorance, to refrain.”

I can provide many more swuch quotes from scientists and philosophers of historic importance. It is true that there have been dogmatic authoritarian scientists (being humans, it would be extraordinary it if were otherwise), but I have no idea where you got the idea that science was uniformly authoritarian until the magic figure of 5 years ago. What happened in 2000? I must have missed it.

And as for the topic at hand, ID, I would think Claude Bernard’s first quote hits the nail on the head. IDists entire argument rests on ignorance. That is, “I can’t see how biological structure X could have evolved, and therefore my ignorance of mechanism is proof of an intelligent designer.” Bernard, as quoted above, would advise “in ignorance to refrain,” but our friends at the Discovery Institute not only refuse to refrain but insist on not refraining to schoolchildren.

Please, Michelle, we’re always ready to talk to new people, but it helps if you show the courtesy of having a basic understanding before casting aspersions.

You are having a common misconception about science and “Darwinism” in that you transfer concepts from organized religion to it. Science does not work in the way that prophets write down their insights and the one with largest amount of followers wins. Or have you ever heard of “Einsteinism” vs. “Newtonism”? Or Copernicanism? Or Lavoisierism? No, each of these worked by building on the foundations laid by others and checking against reality along the way. To keep with the language of Evolution, science is not a tree with unconnected branches, but a web, a mosaic, where old insights are incorporated in new. So, nobody is trying to figure out what Darwin “was trying to say”. Scientist are not busy with exegesis, but with developing new, original thoughts. If the prior scientists did sound work and reality did not change in the meantime, of course the new work is consistent with the old, expanding its scope and strengthening its validity. It really does not make any sense to teach the original theory as proposed by Darwin and the subsequently added extensions and refinements separately. It would be as if you teach the atomic model starting with Demokrit, add Dalton, Rutherford, Bohr and the quantum mechanic view and say these are just theories about what Demokrit was trying to say. These are ever expanding theories about reality, not a person. And: The challenge does not have to begin, it is ongoing and no scientist ever was in possession of the TRUTH and I bet you couldn‘t cite a single one with saying he was.

Michelle, I wish to be critical. Your post rings out loudly that while you may not know everything, you know everything that matters, whethe about ToE, the methods of science, how it is and has been taught, what scientists and science teachers believe and do, what a theory is, what people who think the Bible as abused by people like yourself is a crock of shit, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.…

I pray, in my own non-theistic fashion, that people like you break open the armored fear and idiocy in which you have been welded. Your “beliefs” as they are now are clearly unfit for any human being, theist (in the real sense), agnostic, or atheist.

OTOH– this guy seems not to have gotten the memo.

In the last 5 years in science there has been a general shift in the “we-know-everything-because-we-are-scientists” mentality, to a “we-don’t-know-anything-for-certain, but-this-is-what-we-assume-to-be- true-so-far” mentality; which is comforting for the average person, rather being as daunting and as overwhelming as it use to be. Scientists can come across as a-bit-too-big-for-their-intellectual-britches, as it were, when they give the impression that it is they, and they alone, who are the only ones who can grasp intricate concepts or come up with original thoughts.

I think back to Victor Frankl’s story of the fellow who, ill with typhus, clung to life in a Nazi concentration camp. The fellow was convinced the war would end on the coming March 31, just a couple of weeks away. Frankl wrote, drily and sadly, that for that fellow, the war did end on March 31.

I would wager that in the last five years your familiarity with science has increased significantly. Knowledge, like politics, often is quite local.

Keep reading (and working) in science, please.

But if all thoughts and theories are just someone’s best guess about the nature of how things work

I see.

Here’s a challenge fro you. Near my house is a very tall bridge over Tampa Bay (the Sunshine Skyway bridge). I hereby offer you the opportunity to publicly test your idea that “all thoughts and theories are just someone’s best guess”. I hereby offer to drive you to the top of the Sunshine Skyway bridge, where you can boldly and publicly announce your conclusion that the theory of gravity is “just someone’s best guess about the nature of how things work”, then announce that YOUR best guess is that gravity is a godless lie made up by atheists. Then, you can step off the bridge to see whether you are correct or not.

Are you game?

Michelle Wrote:

So people, or perhaps a number of people, have come up with thoughts that challenge the theory of evolution? … The very essence of how science even developed was by people who “questioned” and explored and raised challenges to existing lines of thought. Who are the evolutionists that they feel they are being “dumped on” just because they are being questioned?

There are many, many people who “questioned” that have claimed to invent free energy machines and quack cures–are we obliged to give their “theories” equal time in our schools? There is an image of a mythic hero, an individual who goes against the prevailing theories and accepted knowledge; but mostly, such people are just con artists or simply deluded. We need to look, not at the aspects of the individual, but at the evidence that individual presents. ID proponents have presented no evidence that stands up to scrutiny or explains the world any better that what has been presented by scientists.

If people can question the existence of God, and no one blinks an eye,

What a complete load of carp. If someone so much as refuses to participate in paying homage to a monotheistic God in what should be a secular civic setting, people not only blink, they hold a recall election to remove the ‘offender’ from office. In case you’re totally clueless, I’m referring to David Habecker.

Does your chosen faith have prohibitions about bearing false witness? If so, please comply.

I don’t even see how a comparison can be made between analyzing evidence on the one hand, and “questioning” something for which there is absolutely no evidece on the other hand.

Jim Wrote:

The very nature of science as an entity is to experiment and continue to experiment until all grains of falsehood can be eliminated.

Just a minor nit-pick here. I would change ‘experiment’ to ‘observe:’

The very nature of science as an entity is to observe and continue to observe until all grains of falsehood can be eliminated.

An experiment is just an arrangement that lets a scientist perform a desired observation. A scientist sets up certain conditions so that he can observe what happens under those conditions.

Not all sciences use experiments, though. Some, like astronomy, geology, and paleontology, mostly make observations without the benefit of controlled experiments.

Walter Brameld IV Wrote:

Just a minor nit-pick here. I would change ‘experiment’ to ‘observe:’

Agreed.

Well hey guys. I’m surprised by the hubbub over my letter. I haven’t read through all the comments you have made yet, but I will in hopefully a day or two. I am by no means a newcomer to this issue. After holding to an evolutionary view of origins since grade school, I was challenged to consider the evidence from a different perspective after attending a Dr. Gish - Dr. Patterson debate at Iowa State University in 1984.

My letter to the editor is indeed my own. The coercion I speak of was tongue in cheek since my typical readers know that I have an avid interest in creation/evolution issues. It was actually the Iowa Family Policy Center that contacted me multiple times to write a letter. If they hadn’t done that, I would have stayed as an observer of this latest debate.

Since I was coming to the defense of ID and, by association, Dr. Gonzalez, I figured it would be wise to make sure my letter was something he would find beneficial to the cause. That is how it came to pass that I asked his opinion on my letter and he suggested some revisions in content and emphasis. In doing so, Dr. Gonzalez never told me what to say. My letter was completely my words, my research and my viewpoint. Hope that helps. You’ll want to check my ID web entry around Labor Day for my responses to the many comments that I’ve received.

Tim Borseth:

The discerning reader needs to catch the underlying question here: can a person believe in a god that is, to varying degrees, actively involved in the natural world still practice viable science? Or, does one have to believe in no god or an impotent god to be considered a reputable scientist?

I find it objectionable that ID advocates must miscast the debate in such a blatant way. Borseth’s claim effectively denies the sincerety of the religious belief of a host of Christians, Muslims, Hindus etc who also have sufficient scientific integrity to by Darwinists.

What discerning readers should realise is that the underlying question is, is cloaking your theology “in the language of information theory” enough to turn it into science? The obvious answer is no. To be science, a theory must be able to make emperically observable predictions, and test those predictions - neither of which ID shows any inclination towards doing.

You’ll want to check my ID web entry around Labor Day for my responses to the many comments that I’ve received.

Will it contain a scientific theory of ID, and tell us how to test it using the scientific method?

Why not?

Dan said

This would appear to represent a common misconception about science and the scientific method. Scientists have absolutely no problem with being challenged, as long as the challenge is made on scientific grounds. This is precisely where Intelligent Design fails. It is not science, plain and simple.

Correction Dan, in an ideal world scientists would have no problem being challenged, in the real world their just like the rest of us and hold onto their beliefs “Like a tribe defending it’s idols” as federybrand put it.

Consider for example the emotional reactions, the scorn, to Einsteins theory of relatvity, to the theory of continental drift, even to Newtonian views of gravity.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on September 1, 2005 10:28 PM.

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