Behe at the MacLaurin Institute

| 35 Comments

Michael Behe was in my neck of the woods last night, and gave a talk titled "Toward an Intelligent Understanding of the Intelligent Design Hypothesis". There was absolutely nothing new in it, no evidence, no hypotheses, no nothin'…so don't trouble yourself to read my account of the event unless you are obsessive about seeing what the anti-evolutionists of the Discovery Institute are up to.

35 Comments

“Toward an Intelligent Understanding of the Intelligent Design Hypothesis”

Hmm, even in the title of his lecture Behe is advocating a unfortunately widespread misconception of ID, that it is a hypothesis, I have an alternative idea that makes ID something altogether different. I think we should best see ID as the result of the conjunction of the following.

1- All objects over a threshold of complexity are designed ( Hypothesises) 2- Parts of the universe and biology reach this threshold level ( Auxiliary hypothesis)

This generates the crucial conclusion

3- parts of the universe and biology are designed. ( Consequence of hypothesises.)

I think this formulation is a boon for critics of ID and supporters. It makes it easier to conceptualise and order the objections to ID as objections to different parts of the syllogism.

For example, Humes attack on the teleological argument, because it’s an argument from a weak analogy could be described as an attack on using evidence for 1- holding in the naturalistic realm, and extrapolating from this to the idea that this evidence must hold in the cosmic realm.

The argument that Darwin does it fine ( i.e the most common argument against ID) could be conceptualised as an attempted exception to rule 1.

These are just two examples, using this 1,2,3 Aristotlean syllogism system allows us to classify virtually every argument for and against ID, making the whole debate neater and more manageable.

Hiya Hiy’all,

I tend to prefer the more precise Horatio’s Hypothesis as a base:

1. All objects over a threshold of complexity whose causal history is known are known to be the result of intentional human design. (Hypothesis)

2. Parts of the universe and biology reach this threshold level. (Auxiliary Hypothesis)

3. Therefore parts of the universe and biology are the result of intentional human design. ( Consequence of Hypothesis.)

I don’t know if I am going to read your “Behe at the McLaurin Institute” peice or not, but I just want to say thanks for slogging through so much dreck.

You would be well suited to (at least) a seat on one of your local Boards or Committees.

School Board, perhaps? If not, perhaps the Zoning Board.

Isn’t Behe supposed to be a witness for the defense in Dover, or did all the DI IDiots get the boot? Behe is probably the worst guy that they could have as a science witness. Even the other Discovery Institute scam artists try to ignore him. You get the impression that they would just like him to shut up and stop bringing up the fact that ID is a bogus concept. It is because of this that I don’t lump Behe with guys like Meyers and Dembski. Those two have to know how dishonest that they are. They are too slimy and obfuscation is their trade. Behe just seems to be incompetent. He seems to have the same mental defect that you see in a lot of creationists that post at talk.origins. They might change their arguments, but they never admit that they were wrong. It is some type of weird pathology. Behe is the Energizer Bunny of stupid ID arguments. When the other guys like Dembski and Meyers are laying low and trying not to draw very much attention to their bogus arguments that they know they can’t support, Behe just keeps on running. His fellow IDiots know how worthless his junk is or they would be out there trying to support teaching it instead of claiming that the rubes that were fooled by the ID propaganda are “confused” for wanting to teach ID at this time.

Behe just seems to be oblivious that the Wedgies dropped ID for a new scam. It seems that they forgot to tell Behe and quite a few of their supporters that they decided to go in a new direction around 1999. Behe should just have to look at what the new scam is and that it doesn’t even mention that ID exists to know how much faith the ID scam artists have in what he is doing. The guy seems to be clueless.

I think we should best see ID as the result of the conjunction of the following.

1- All objects over a threshold of complexity are designed ( Hypothesises) 2- Parts of the universe and biology reach this threshold level ( Auxiliary hypothesis)

This generates the crucial conclusion

3- parts of the universe and biology are designed. ( Consequence of hypothesises.)

We can understand ID *much* better if we view it this way:

(1) ID is religious apologetics (2) it’s illegal to teach religious apologetics in public schools

which generates the conclusion

(3) IDers think they can teach their religious opinions in public schools if they lie to us by claiming their religious apologetics are really “science”

I have even warned Christians about this.

Scopes II! Scopes II! Scopes II!

They are going to lose so bad. It might help break the back of the new rising fundamentalism.

JS Narins wrote: “Scopes II!…They are going to lose so bad.”

Didn’t that biology teacher lose and have to pay a fine? Aren’t a lot of people in Dayton still proud that he lost?

Somehow a movie replaced actual history.

Better start working on “Inherit the Wind” part two

Didn’t that biology teacher lose and have to pay a fine? Aren’t a lot of people in Dayton still proud that he lost?

Scopes appealed. The conviction was overturned on a technicality (the jury was supposed to set fines of $50 or more, not the judge). And, yes, plenty of people in Dayton thought it a fine thing that Scopes lost both the case and the ability to take the review of the Butler Act to the Supreme Court.

All jolly good stuff especially to observers like me who view the sight of atheists kicking six bells out of theists with huge amusement seeing as both sets of *believers* can only hold their unprovable beliefs on the basis of faith, not science.

However, the pity of it is that in all the hullabaloo, no-one concentrates on dealing with the myriad, and growing, holes in Darwin’s theory.

no-one concentrates on dealing with the myriad, and growing, holes in Darwin’s theory.

Who’s stopping you?

”…no-one concentrates on dealing with the myriad, and growing, holes in Darwin’s theory.”

Could you give an example?

However, the pity of it is that in all the hullabaloo, no-one concentrates on dealing with the myriad, and growing, holes in Darwin’s theory.

Such as . …?

However, the pity of it is that in all the hullabaloo, no-one concentrates on dealing with the myriad, and growing, holes in Darwin’s theory.

Last time I checked, the theory of Evolution had changed quite a lot since Darwin’s time. This might explain why people tend to focus on the current theroy, rather than the one proposed 150 years ago.

However, I bet you can’t mention any holes in neither the original theroy nor the current theory.

When Behe gave a talk at UC Davis back in the spring I asked him how he accounted for various sea mammals not having the Hagemann factor. He weaseled out by saying that some animals may have compensating mechanisms that we don’t understand yet. Unfortunately I didn’t think to follow up with asking him why mouse blood is ok to substitute for how human clotting works but whale blood apparantly isn’t good enough for us.

Scopes appealed. The conviction was overturned on a technicality (the jury was supposed to set fines of $50 or more, not the judge). And, yes, plenty of people in Dayton thought it a fine thing that Scopes lost both the case and the ability to take the review of the Butler Act to the Supreme Court.

All true, as far it goes. However, as fiercely anti-creationism/ID as I am – and I am – I am uncomfortable with the standard Inherit the Wind presentation of the Scopes trial, because the omissions are so significant as to create a false picture. Among the books one could refer to in order to understand that that trial was not so clearly one between benighted religionists on the one hand, and enlightened scientists on the other, see Terry Teachout’s bio of H. L. Mencken, The Skeptic.

The ACLU was handling Scopes’ defense and it reached out to Mencken as a resource to advise about the mindset of the Bible belt, because Mencken was widely known to analyze and ridicule this sector of the country. Mencken claimed that he persuaded the ACLU to “sacrifice” Mr. Scopes, that is, to let him lose, in order to get William Jennings Bryan on the stand and expose the vacuity of his religious beliefs. Mencken hated Bryan, for reasons far exceeding anything to do with evolution or religion per se. (And, in fact, Mencken believed the teachers in Dayton or anywhere should teach as the school board orders them to, and that they have no free speech rights in their capacity as teachers.)

Bryan was a populist who hated big business and stood up for “the little guy,” unions & etc. Mencken, by contrast, was not just an evolutionist, but a Social Darwinist who despised Bryan’s political views across the board. The textbook that Mr. Scopes was using in Dayton (according to, among others, Teachout) endorsed eugenics, and included these sentences, which referred to epileptics and other infirm people: “If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have a remedy of…preventing intermarriage and the possibility of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race.”

While it has long ceased to be the case, as Teachout notes: “Such talk was common among American intellectuals in the twenties.” Populists like Bryan strongly objected to such views.

Mr. Scopes technically lost, but Mencken won by putting Bryan on the stand to be cross-examined about biblical literalism by a genius like Clarence Darrow. Humiliating Bryan and destroying him as a political force is what Mencken wanted, and is what he got.

However, the pity of it is that in all the hullabaloo, no-one concentrates on dealing with the myriad, and growing, holes in Darwin’s theory.

Are you by any chance the same ‘Dave’ that failed to back up his statements in this thread recently? Hint: saying it’s so does not make it so.

Lenny

“I think we should best see ID as the result of the conjunction of the following.

1- All objects over a threshold of complexity are designed ( Hypothesises) 2- Parts of the universe and biology reach this threshold level ( Auxiliary hypothesis)

This generates the crucial conclusion

3- parts of the universe and biology are designed. ( Consequence of hypothesises.)

We can understand ID *much* better if we view it this way:

(1) ID is religious apologetics (2) it’s illegal to teach religious apologetics in public schools

which generates the conclusion

(3) IDers think they can teach their religious opinions in public schools if they lie to us by claiming their religious apologetics are really “science””

I fail to see how your “understanding” of ID is more then a violent rejection, you can’t reject rationally what you don’t understand, doing so is one of the roots of fundamentalism. As I have arguged before it wouldn’t matter if ID was invented seven thousand years ago by a completely insane seven legged poodle who thought the intelligent designer was a giant seven legged poodle and who wanted to build a time machine so he could change the American thingamabob, I think it’s called the pledge of allegiance to the seven legged poodle’s prayer. All that matters is the idea, considered in terms of empirical consquences.

What you are doing with all of your steps is bringing normatvity into a postivstic disscussion, i.e talking values when you should be talking facts, it wouldn’t matter if ID was eventually going to create a theocracy, all that matters from the standpoint of assesing it is it’s factual claims, and I think my schemata allows a far better analysis of the idea’s internal structure then your arguement which could almost be summed up using words from the game pandamonium “Intelligent design is an attempt by the religous right to establish a theocracy, OH NO!”

I am going to write more about the seven legged poodles adventures on my website if I ever get one, so stay tuned for more adventures demonstrating the futility of normative dissucsion about factual issues and the pointlessness of ad homeien arguements.

Hiya Hiy’all,

I tend to prefer the more precise Horatio’s Hypothesis as a base:

1. All objects over a threshold of complexity whose causal history is known are known to be the result of intentional human design. (Hypothesis)

2. Parts of the universe and biology reach this threshold level. (Auxiliary Hypothesis)

3. Therefore parts of the universe and biology are the result of intentional human design. ( Consequence of Hypothesis.)

That’s actually an intresting idea, there is some geniune ( if very odd) disscusion about the possibility that the human race created itself using a time loop (i.e a time machine). However one major problem with your hypothesis is that there are objects which reach the threshold of complexity which weren’t designed by humans, i.e objects designed by nethendals ( anyone heard of the nethandal theory of the autism spectrum by the way, I’ve got apsergers and I think it might be correct.) Also, one can imagine various possible counter examples to 1 in your syllogism, while arguably it’s impossible to imagine reasonable counter examples to 1 in my syllogism. Though your’s seems like valid reasoning I think I can imagine various extensions of your hypothesis that “invalidate” the whole of science (I got to bed at 4 am however, so I haven’t been able to check my reasoning with a whole mind). But still, consider

1- There’s a space ship coming towards earth It’s made of sophisticated technology 2- Everything we have ever observed made of sophisticated technology was built by humans 3- Therefore the space ship was built by humans.

I think this analysis proves that we can’t conclude that evidence for (1) implies that all complexity was made by humans, I am too tired to think about it in any depth but it seems that evidence for a sort of conceivability requirement.

and I think my schemata allows a far better analysis of the idea’s internal structure then your argument which could almost be summed up using words from the game pandamonium “Intelligent design is an attempt by the religous right to establish a theocracy, OH NO!”

Except that, one cannot read and understand The Wedge document as anything other than a desire to displace empiricism with a privileged role for supernatural explanations in the world of science and beyond. Especially considering who funds the DI, it is not a stretch to believe that, in combination with The Wedge, theocracy-like thinking is afoot.

Now, of course, any theory or fact claim of an IDer might be backed up by evidence; quite independent of the motives of its proponent such claims could be true. The problem is,however, there is no coherent theory to assess offered, and none of the fact claims of various IDers have withstood the analyses of competent scientists or mathematicians.

If any ID notions have scientific validity, let the IDers offer them to peer-reviewed journals in the appropriate field corresponding to the particular claim. For example, if Dembski’s NFL ruminations are worthy, he should seek publication in an information theory journal, so that that community of scholars may consider his arguments.

But he doesn’t do that. Why? Why does he instead remain affiliated with the DI and its theocratic-leaning Wedge?

I fail to see how your “understanding” of ID is more then a violent rejection

You are quite right — I utterly reject ID.

you can’t reject rationally what you don’t understand

But I understand ID perfectly. It’s a political strategy to get around recent Supreme Court rulings and force religious apologetics into classrooms. Says so right in the Discvoery Institute’s own “Wedge Document”. You HAVE read that, right?

As I have arguged before it wouldn’t matter if ID was invented seven thousand years ago by a completely insane seven legged poodle

That’s right. ALl that matters is if ID can offer any useful predictions about the world around us that can be tested using the scientific emthod.

It can’t.

So ID simply doesn’t matter. It’s of no use at all, whatsoever — other than as a religious apologetics. Which is, of ocurse, it’s only intended use.

Mona, I don’t doubt that the DI does indeed plan to overturn empircism and create a theocracy, but I don’t see how that is relavant to understanding ID from a philosophical perspective. I’d much rather analyse ID then the sociology of ID, ID philosophically brings up many issues including the role of theory and falsification in science, the concept of parsimony, arguement from analogy, the role and necessity of mechanisms, etc etc, it’s a testing ground for many wonderful and exotic ideas in the philosophy of science. The DI doesn’t have a hope in hell of creating it’s theocracy, just ignore it and try engaging with ID considered in the abstract, try bracketing out politics and morality and deal with the structure of ideas alone.

By the way, where can I find some stuff of netheandals, I am trying to assess the neathendal theory of autism.

Folks around here sometimes assume that ID is a perfectly reasonable topic for a philosophy class even if it has no place in biology. But ID isn’t really very interesting from a philosophical point of view either. Like other natural theology arguments, the argument from design was long in the tooth in 1800. By now it is a historical curiosity.

“Folks around here sometimes assume that ID is a perfectly reasonable topic for a philosophy class even if it has no place in biology. But ID isn’t really very interesting from a philosophical point of view either. Like other natural theology arguments, the argument from design was long in the tooth in 1800. By now it is a historical curiosity.”

Really, it doesn’t seem like one from where I am standing, Hume for example has been declared dead quite a few times now, and I can’t help agreeing. Philosophers of religion are once again coming to the telelogical arguement, I predict it’s going to become ever more relavant in the post analytic age which seems to be coming up, swinburne, flew, even Plantingia in a way, have all presented design arguements, and these three are probably the foremost living philosophers of religion, and don’t try to dissing the popularity of the philosophy of religion as a way out, it’s the most popular course among philosopohy students, after the philosophy of language.

To add to my last post classical theism is on the rise again in philosophy, after the death of that awful beast positvism ( i.e quentin smith, the metaphilosophy of naturalism). How you can possibly imagine the Telelogical arguement is no longer relavant I don’t know.

———————————————————————-

Cause I am out of my mind, my mind, my mind ( James blunt, out of my mind).

Apologies for my brief, not to say, minute comment which indeed left a question hanging, but alas, I’m just off to France for a few days. However, as some of you have discovered, I have just raised the first of my doubts concerning Darwinism on my own site. Of course, I don’t want to detract attention away from this excellent site which is now book-marked by me under ‘Favourites’.

doubts concerning Darwinism

What the hell is “darwinism”? Is it anything like “newtonism” or “lavosierism”?

I have just raised the first of my doubts concerning Darwinism on my own site

I have major doubts with Darwinism too: it completely fails to explain the mechanism by which heritable information is passed on between generations, and how random variation in the individuals occurs. Because of these two major problems, I consider Darwinism to be seriously incomplete.

David’s posts so far on his blog have only really indicated a lack of understanding of evolution rather than any problems with it.

By the way, where can I find some stuff of netheandals, I am trying to assess the neathendal theory of autism.

This is the first I’ve heard of this. I assume you’ve seen all the stuff that comes up on Google when you search “Neanderthal AND autism”. My first reaction is it sounds pretty far-fetched, but - like I always say - sometimes you never know. Having an “autistic”(1) son myself, it’s of some interest to me. But this is way, way off topic, so if there’s some other forum where this is being discussed, please let me know.

(1) Diagnosed at 2-3 years old as “autistic”, “pervasive development disorder”, “autistic spectrum”, various other not-very-precise terms. He’s 14 now, and pretty darn functional - but still requiring special attention in school.

I attended the event and was (mis)quoted in the University of Minnesota student newspaper, “The Minnesota Daily.” I specifically and intentionally never used the term “theory” in reference to ID, but always used the word “pseudoscience.” Nevertheless, I suppose my point was made:

October 3, 2005

Alternative to evolution theory develops debate and discussion By Emma Carew

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

Michael Behe, biochemistry professor at LeHigh University, used “inducktive” reasoning as one explanation in his intelligent design lecture Friday.

“Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts,” Behe said.

Students and community members gathered Friday in the Tate Laboratory of Physics to hear Behe’s lecture, which is titled “Toward an Intelligent Understanding of the Intelligent Design Hypothesis.”

The audience, which packed the lecture hall, was made up of supporters, skeptics and flat-out opponents of Behe’s hypothesis.

Some came armed with Behe’s book “Darwin’s Black Box;” copies of the Aug. 15 Time magazine, which covered a court case in Dover, Pa., involving intelligent design in public education; and other periodicals on the subject.

The lecture was sponsored by The MacLaurin Institute and the Mars Hill student group.

Mars Hill is a student organization committed to “thinking about how faith and reason work together,” group president Matt Kaul said.

Kaul said he hoped the lecture would get the arguments both for and against intelligent design out in the open.

Computer engineering sophomore Kent Thomson said he attended a previous lecture on the subject and found little evidence behind the speaker’s argument.

He hoped to hear facts from Behe because intelligent design must be testable if it is to be a true scientific theory, Thomson said.

Greg Peterson of Brooklyn Park, father of a University student, said he is a strong opponent of the intelligent design movement.

He said “pseudo sciences, such as the ID theory, are a threat to our competitive edge in the world.”

Peterson said he attended the event because he wanted to hear the current state of the concept, especially with the Dover case now all over the news.

The Dover case involves parents who are suing the Dover Area School Board for a decision that included offering the intelligent design hypothesis as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

In his presentation, Behe outlined the case for intelligent design.

“Design is not mystical,” Behe said. “It is deduced from the physical structure of a system.”

Behe said there are structural obstacles to Darwinian evolution and many Darwinian claims rest on undisciplined imagination or urban legends.

There are problems with Darwinian evolution, especially at the molecular level, he said.

Behe argued that systems did not, as Darwin suggested, evolve over time through random mutations and modifications, but rather are “irreducibly complex” and therefore designed.

The parts in a mousetrap are all necessary, Behe said. The trap cannot function without the catch, the platform or the spring, and therefore they were all included in the design for a reason.

Behe also used Mount Rushmore as an example. The faces on the mountain are not products of unintelligent forces, and this is something which we all can recognize, he said.

The peaks and the divots were all placed as part of a grand design, he said.

Behe also addressed some of the criticisms and responses to his work.

He said the bottom line is “there is strong evidence for design, but little evidence for Darwinism.”

Mechanical engineering graduate student Josh Quinnell said the theory is a “sham,” but said Behe is “the best thing the movement has going for it.”

University alumnus David Thompson said he believes in the theory and had read Behe’s book.

Thompson said learning about human origins is very important, especially when it comes to ethical decision-making.

Comment #50604

Posted by David Duff on October 2, 2005 12:06 PM (e) (s)

All jolly good stuff especially to observers like me who view the sight of atheists kicking six bells out of theists with huge amusement seeing as both sets of *believers* can only hold their unprovable beliefs on the basis of faith, not science.

However, the pity of it is that in all the hullabaloo, no-one concentrates on dealing with the myriad, and growing, holes in Darwin’s theory.

A. What holes? (And by this I mean actual holes, not silly discredited arguments continuously re-hashed by the next group of creationist suicide troops.)

B. Who is stopping you?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

The Brown and White Wrote:

Biology professor defends intelligent design By Katy Jacobson Online News Writer 9/15/2005

Online Exclusive Six Lehigh professors agreed to disagree about the controversial theory of intelligent design at a chaplain’s forum held in Maginnes Hall Wednesday afternoon.

The intelligent design theory argues that life shows signs of having been deliberately designed by some creator, that living things are too complex to have simply “happened” as a result of nature. The theory competes with the theories of Evolutionism and Darwinism, which have both been commonly accepted by the science world.

Michael Behe, professor of biological sciences, was the only professor to argue in favor of intelligent design. …

Greg Peterson Wrote:

I attended the event and was (mis)quoted in the University of Minnesota student newspaper, “The Minnesota Daily.” I specifically and intentionally never used the term “theory” in reference to ID, but always used the word “pseudoscience.” Nevertheless, I suppose my point was made:

October 3, 2005

Alternative to evolution theory develops debate and discussion By Emma Carew …

Here’s a link to the online version

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on October 1, 2005 10:21 AM.

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