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A truly excellent op-ed by Robert Sprackland appeared in today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It’s definitely worth reading.

113 Comments

not bad at all.

covers the bases in a nice, concise manner.

I sent him an email commending his article.

thanks mike.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060118[…]hBHNlYwM5NjQ-

Not only are these animals new to science, but they’re adapted to very specific environments — some of them, to a single room in one cave.

I see over on the York Daily Record Dover Biology page( http://www.ydr.com/doverbiology/ci_3413427 ) that the issue of cloning has come up and may be leading to another strange controversy.

Great article.

All he left out was the fact that the Discovery Institute and its employees are notorious unrepentant lying idiots.

“If it’s talking about the ramifications about genetic engineering, that’s important,” said Judy McIlvaine. She doesn’t believe teachers are going to tell ninth-graders how to make a human being

I think most 9th graders know how to make a human being. When I was in 9th grade, I spent a lot of time trying out potential, um, lab partners.

The proposed curriculum states “students will be able to discuss the ramifications of using DNA to design their own children and cloning.”

In Part II of the course, students will discuss the ramifications of using the concepts of eternal damnation and paradise to brainwash their own children.

For the other side of the controversy, here’s Schönborn, spouting shit.

Ahem, Dr. Sprackland, SUV’s couldn’t have possibly been made by God. Maybe by Satan, however.

Shonborn

Philosophy is the “science of common experience” which provides our most fundamental and most certain grasp on reality. And, clearly, it is philosophical knowledge of reality that is most in need of defense in our time.

Sure, Card. Clearly. Whatever you say. Amen. Huzzapo-guapo with sleigh bells and fifteen tiny rain gear. In fact, it’s a gas.

One flaw is that it refers to ID as not being science since it invokes a supernatural cause. However, a creationist could counter that this is just an arbitrary rule enforced by the scientific elite, and means that evidence of design would be ignored or missed. One further paragraph explaining the differences between science and religion (that religious and philosophical views such as “design” and god cannot be tested, etc) and that evolution is not in conflict with religion would have made it more convincing to a creationist.

Just as my estimate of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was going up, I found the balancing op-ed there, Why we care about Darwin wars. It is by David Klinghoffer, and published with the same date.

Amazingly, he claims religion is the primary inspiration for scientific inquiry and those who defend ‘Darwinism’ will be the downfall of American scientific supremacy.

I don’t suppose it will last, but 100% of the 7 comments so far on the P-I site are critical of Klinghoffer’s effort. Yes, I had to register so I could join the pile-on.

It goes like this: I own an SUV, but am not a mechanic. I know that when I turn the key in the ignition, the engine starts. I do not know how the engine works, but I accept that (today at least) it does. According to “irreducible complexity,” the fact that I don’t know how the engine works doesn’t mean that someone else might know. Instead, I am supposed to believe that God made the car. And therein lies the hubris.

Brilliant!!!

Some comment on the newspaper article by a guy called Steve E. I just HAVE to show it here, it is REALLY funny.

The evidence for evolution comes from numerous diverse lines of evidence in geology, paleontology, ecolology, taxonomy, organismal biology, genetics, botany, zoology, biochemistry, etc.

To paraphrase the above post: A city slicker visits his farmer cousin in the country. Not having the proper foot gear, he notices as he attempts to walk across the barnyard that he is up to his knees in this yucky stuff he has never seen before. “S**t” he yells, thereby naming the phenomenon. “Where could this huge amount of S**t have come from,” he wonders? He thinks hard on this for a minute, but reaches no suitable answer, for S**t is outside of his experience or reasoning. Therefore, he logically concludes that it must demonstrate the existence of God, for there could be no other rational explantation. He then sits down to meditate on what he has done to deserve this affliction.

Thus is Intelligent Design (copyright and trademark applied for) proven.

From the article cited by Mike Elzinga: After the meeting, board members Judy and Rob McIlvaine, both said they would take a look at the wording of the curriculum.

I wonder when the state of education in this country reaches the point that the “wording of the curriculum” contains all the words of the curriculum; ie, the curriculum is nothing but a script that the teachers are supposed to follow complete with all the answers to all the questions the students are going to (supposed to) ask, as determined by the publicly pressured and politicized committees writing the curriculums. Could it ever get that bad?

Sincerely, Paul

Instead, I am supposed to believe that God made the car.

For some reason this amused me to no end.

And I think a more telling point:

According to “irreducible complexity,” the fact that I don’t know how the engine works doesn’t mean that someone else might know.

Which led me to think - just because we don’t currently understand something, doesn’t mean we won’t in the future - heck, maybe even tomorrow. Is this the infamous “God of the Gaps” I keep reading about? If so, a better name might be “God of the Filling in the spots I’m ignorant about because I’m too lazy to learn anything new”.

Paul,

It’s called state mandated standardized testing. Please feel free to run screaming in terror, because yes, it really is that bad. We are rapidly becomeing a nation of “teach the test” rather than a nation of students.

I couldn’t resist. The intelligent designer made me register and reply to the nutty David Klinghoffer.

Greg H Wrote:

Which led me to think - just because we don’t currently understand something, doesn’t mean we won’t in the future - heck, maybe even tomorrow. Is this the infamous “God of the Gaps” I keep reading about?

That’s the one.

I particularly liked this part:

Robert Sprackland Wrote:

Nevertheless, facts and truth are not determined by opinion polls, and the reality is this: Evolution is a fact. Darwin’s theory is an explanation of how evolution works, so dumping Darwin still leaves the reality of evolution as a process.

Trouble is, evolution isn’t as present and obvious a reality as, say, a speeding train. We would rightly doubt the sanity of someone standing on the tracks, looking right at the oncoming train as it blared its whistle, and insisting that this whole idea of locomotives is “just a theory”. But that same person might have earplugs and be looking in another direction. He would have that luxury for a time. The result would be the same.

I think it’s time we had a national ad campaign, or a new slogan for our money: “Reality does not care what you think.”

We are rapidly becomeing a nation of “teach the test” rather than a nation of students.

From which I suppose we can conclude that the word ‘becomeing’ was on the test!

Were standardized tests imposed through ignorance, laziness, stinginess, or the dynamics of uncontrolled bureaucracy? Well, no, they were created in response to the rather obvious inadequacy of some schools and school systems. Before standardized testing, the (few) truly excellent schools were as good as anything today, but the lousy schools were completely useless. I’m old enough to remember when the top graduate of Silage County High School had no chance of passing any courses even at Parsons College.

So we have a tradeoff. Without any standards, Johnny never learned to write his name. With standardized tests, everyone learns to spell ‘Johnny’ (the name on the test). Presumably, this is an improvement. After all, standardized tests do not require that good schools dumb down their curricula. And I don’t think that happens much, either.

It’s also the case that standardized tests facilitate the task of evaluating a teacher. How many graduates go on to college and how well they do is pretty uncontrolled; too many factors involved. How well students do on the standardized test is pretty clear: the better the students do, the better the teacher must be. So the motivation to teach to the test can be very strong.

By and large, I think the cure is somewhat better than the disease. But of course, since we no longer suffer the disease, the cure is all we have to bitch about.

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) presents his argument that “evolution is not completely true”… good for a chuckle.

http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_[…]n_not_c.html

I have to chime in with Havermayer. I wish people would stop saying things like this:

[ID] violates the No. 1 rule of science by invoking supernatural entities…

As Havermayer points out, it’s too easy to dismiss such a statement as just some arbitrary rule.

A much better statement is that ID violates the No. 1 rule of science by invoking untestable, unpredictable entities.

Of course, many (most?) would say that supernatural entities are untestable and unpredictable by definition. But not everyone thinks of it that way. Even those who do may fail to understand the relevance.

I’m sure most people would classify prayer as supernatural, even those that believe that prayer can truly heal the sick. Yet we can readily test whether prayer predictably heals the sick under controlled conditions. We’ve done so, and found that it doesn’t.

The problem, of course, is that some will argue that prayer doesn’t work that way. It’s unpredictable, and can’t be tested under controlled conditions. That’s what really moves it out of the realm of science.

The same is true for ID. Calling it supernatural misses the critical point.

I actually believe that, in a way, the same problem that causes standardized testing causes this evolution debate. We, as a society, routinely fail to instill intellectual curiosity in the members of our society. Without the desire to understand issues (and, more so, the resulting ability to understand bogus arguments), everyone is much more likely to buy some half-assed insane explanation because it is convenient, ties in with what they already think, etc…

How many people really think critically about anything?

I guarantee that if most creationists truly sat down and thought openly and objectively about their ideas, they would be forced to reject them. Likewise, I know a few “scientists” who might have to do the same, however. The thought of one particular astronomy teacher of mine who proclaimed, in class, that the big bang was evidence that atheists were correct comes to mind.

We’re surrounded by illogical idiots! Unfortunately, one group of them is unusually loud and well-financed.

Comment #73473 posted by Renier on January 19, 2006 07:49 AM

“It goes like this: I own an SUV, but am not a mechanic. I know that when I turn the key in the ignition, the engine starts. I do not know how the engine works, but I accept that (today at least) it does. According to “irreducible complexity,” the fact that I don’t know how the engine works doesn’t mean that someone else might know. Instead, I am supposed to believe that God made the car.”

Brilliant!!!

“Brilliant” ? More like stupid. The writer shows that he has absolutely no understanding of the concept of irreducible complexity – just like former Dover school board member William Buckingham showed when he testified in the Dover trial – see page 12 on http://www2.ncseweb.org/kvd/trans/2[…]day16_am.pdf The fact that the writer is a Ph.D. zoologist makes his show of ignorance about ID even more appalling.

What the principle of irreducible complexity says is that if you remove the spark plugs, or remove the fuel injectors, or remove the battery, or remove any of a host of things, the car won’t start or run. And if the car was to be built in a string of factories, with each factory adding just one part, and furthermore if it was necessary to drive the car from one factory to another during assembly, the car could not have been built. THAT is the correct analogy for biological irreducible complexity.

This op-ed article is such a disgrace that if I were pro-evolution I would try to hide it rather than flaunt it.

Larry just posted something to the same effect as I was reviewing my post in “preview”, but I’ll post this anyways…

Actually, it does present Behe’s argument incorrectly. Not that I give Behe any credibilty at all, but I’d rather it be shot down on its own lack of merits not on what its assumed incorrectly to mean.

believed that certain biological structures were too complex to have evolved by chance. He called this premise “irreducible complexity.”

Behe’s definition of IC is not that its too complex to have evolved, but that an IC system the interrelating parts produce a system which breaks down if any one of those parts is broken or missing. His definition of IC is fine and anybody can acknowledge it as a reasonable definition; in engineering its obvious (its also considered evidence of a flawed design possessing no fail-safes).

Behe is wrong in that 1) many of his cited examples of IC aren’t really IC (yet he rarely changes his arguments in the face of such facts), and 2) he asserts that IC implies design and can’t have evolved on through natural processes (also disproved on numerous occasions, yet he still uses his same discredited examples).

adendum: I should have added “in nature” to my Behe is wrong #1. IC in engineering (especially software) is all over the place, but many of his IC in nature examples aren’t.

Larry is a crack up to be sure, but reading him first thing in the morning is not advised.

Joe Shelby Wrote:

Behe’s definition of IC is not that its too complex to have evolved, but that an IC system the interrelating parts produce a system which breaks down if any one of those parts is broken or missing.

Of course Behe’s premise is that IC systems are too complex to have evolved by mutation and natural selection, otherwise he would have no point at all. Simply arguing that IC = “absence of parts means the thing won’t work” is not much of a revelation; it could apply to almost any biological structure. The question Behe asks is, if a thing is IC, how could it not be the work of a designer? The mistake he makes is in assuming IC based on facts not in evidence, and plugging in the gapgod for an explanation.

Just as my estimate of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was going up, I found the balancing op-ed there, Why we care about Darwin wars. It is by David Klinghoffer, and published with the same date.

Klinghoffer was the columnist in the Wall Street Journal who got all the facts wrong about the Sternberg case.

The line the vast majority of news outlets use to describe ID is that “some aspects of life are too complex to have evolved by chance [or Darwinian evolution].” I think Dr. Sprackland’s analogy is spot on in light of this. However, I still think it leaves the door open to creationists pointing out that the SUV *does* have a designer.… He didn’t go far enough in his assertion of facts at the bottom - IMO, just mentioning bacterial resistance would have driven home the evolution is fact statement. But now Larry will claim that micro-evolution (bacterial resistance) is uncontested - macro-evolution (speciation) is. … Bah!

Cudos to Dr. Sprackland.

Cheers!

“Brilliant” ? More like stupid. The writer shows that he has absolutely no understanding of the concept of irreducible complexity

On the contrary, the writer has honed in on the central point without becoming bogged down in the details. Behe’s argument really is “I can’t understand how this structure could have evolved, therefore it did not evolve, therefore goddidit.”

In the Dover trial, as Judge Jones’ decision makes perfectly clear, Behe’s definition of IC was defined away to total uselessness. Behe disallows scaffolding. He disallows exaptation. He disallows any intermediate steps that lack an essentially infinite level of detail. And as Jones pointed out, what Behe is left with is the claim that “this structure, lacking any of its parts, couldn’t possibly perform the *same function* it performs now, so it couldn’t have evolved.” And Jones points out that (1) a structure can arise by LOSING parts as well as by adding them; (2) a structure serving one function can be co-opted to serve a different function; and (3) ample evidence was provided to show that organisms exist lacking one or more of Behe’s listed “parts” and still function just fine, doing the *same thing*. In other words, Behe’s claims are refuted.

So, skipping over all this, WHY would Behe (in the face of actual refuting evidence, and forced to redefine himself into irrelevance) not abandon his claims of IC? Alternatively, why would he make no attempt to support his claims through any research? Jones saw the obvious as clearly as anyone else: Behe WANTED his claims to be true as a matter of doctrine and not science.

What the principle of irreducible complexity says is that if you remove the spark plugs, or remove the fuel injectors, or remove the battery, or remove any of a host of things, the car won’t start or run.

Except of course there are running cars which lack spark plugs, lack fuel injectors, lack batteries, and indeed one would be hard pressed to name ANY part such that no possible cars could run without it. IC simply breaks down on examination, in Larry’s example just as surely as in Behe’s testimony.

Wow, Donald and Heddle on the same thread.

Where’s Carol?

And Larry! He’s here too!

Have you guys ever noticed that aside from a few comments back and forth between Heddle & Carol, the trolls here never talk to each other? They all seem to studiously ignore each other. I wonder why?

They all seem to studiously ignore each other. I wonder why?

guilt by association?

or maybe each and every one is absolutely convinced that they alone know THE TRUTH™, and are wont to prove that they independently derived it all by themselves?

The trolls don’t talk to, much less argue with, one another because it would be like some ugly, fat guy staring as himself in a full-length mirror while both (rare as it would be) sober and naked: depressing and yet embarrassing.

Farfaman writes:”Brilliant” ? More like stupid. The writer shows that he has absolutely no understanding of the concept of irreducible complexity — just like former Dover school board member William Buckingham showed when he testified in the Dover trial — see page 12 on http://www2.ncseweb.org/kvd/trans/2005_1027_day1… The fact that the writer is a Ph.D. zoologist makes his show of ignorance about ID even more appalling.

What the principle of irreducible complexity says is that if you remove the spark plugs, or remove the fuel injectors, or remove the battery, or remove any of a host of things, the car won’t start or run. “

Diesel engines do not require spark plugs or a host of other things..

Have you guys ever noticed that aside from a few comments back and forth between Heddle & Carol, the trolls here never talk to each other? They all seem to studiously ignore each other. I wonder why?

Because they all hate each other and think that everyone but themself is going to hell. (shrug)

Except for Larry. Larry is just a crank.

Comment #73941 posted by Stuart Weinstein on January 20, 2006 04:55 AM Farfaman writes: “ What the principle of irreducible complexity says is that if you remove the spark plugs, or remove the fuel injectors, or remove the battery, or remove any of a host of things, the car won’t start or run. “

Diesel engines do not require spark plugs or a host of other things..

Diesel cars are just a different kind of animal. So what is your point?

Some cars – electric cars — don’t even have engines.

If Larry is now reduced to using man-made objects like cars, which everyone SEES are designed and manufactured, to illustrate “irreducible complexity” in living things – which aren’t very similar to man-made things – that should be taken as an indication that he can’t convincingly make the concept work for living things. Probably because every single example of irreducible complexity in living things cited so far, has been explicitly proven not to be so.

Yet more “de-facto recognition” on Larry’s part that ID/creationism is an empty sham.

Diesel cars are just a different kind of animal. So what is your point?

Dang, another irony meter! I suppose if we call a car an “animal” and then say this animal has its own “kind”, then the point (that the complexity is not irreducible) somehow vanishes. Removing the spark plugs changes the “kind”, and since one kind can never become another kind, IC is true. Or something like that.

Thin entertainment, perhaps, but better than nothing.

Comment #73987 posted by Raging Bee on January 20, 2006 08:32 AM If Larry is now reduced to using man-made objects like cars, which everyone SEES are designed and manufactured, to illustrate “irreducible complexity” in living things — which aren’t very similar to man-made things — that should be taken as an indication that he can’t convincingly make the concept work for living things.

Excuse me, I was not the one who introduced the car analogy for irreducible complexity – it was introduced by the author of this op-ed piece. If you think the analogy is not valid, you should complain to him. His email address is [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

Sheeeesh. It takes all kinds.

Chatfield writes:

Why is it pointless? ‘God works in mysterious ways’?

The question is asking why something is designed one way instead of another. But, that is not the issue, the issue is whether it is designed in the first place. In that sense the question is a pointless red herring.

Of course, what I think you mean in asking the question is to try and use this as an argument that sub-optimal design means no design at all. But no one has yet given a precise, scientifically verifiable answer to what ‘sub-optimal’ means with respect to biological systems, so there’s no scientific way to determine what sub-optimality actually is.

Lenny:

Here, Donald, let me repeat my questions for you once more, just in case you missed them the first dozen times:

—snipped the rest of Lenny’s red herring, irrelevant questions —

It’s real simple, I’ve haven’t said anything about ID, so the only point I can see to your questions is to change the subject. In other words, a red herring. Same goes for your comment about philosophical materialism.

You are a liar, Donald. A bare, bald-faced, deceptive, deceitful, deliberate liar, with malice aforethought. Still.

I love you, too, Lenny!

It’s real simple, I’ve haven’t said anything about ID

and you wonder why Lenny calls you a liar??

hilarious!

It would be like saying you are talking about 8 cylinder combustion engines, tires, doors, axels, windshields, seatbelts, and transmissions, but no… you of COURSE aren’t talking about a motor vehicle.

no sireebob.

It’s real simple, I’ve haven’t said anything about ID

Don’t bullshit us, Donald.

—-snipped the rest of Lenny’s red herring, irrelevant questions —-

Which Donald KNOWS better than to try to answer . … .

But then, my questions make their point all by themselves. I don’t need Donald’s cooperation. (shrug)

Robert Sprackland Writes:

He called this premise “irreducible complexity.” It goes like this: I own an SUV, but am not a mechanic. I know that when I turn the key in the ignition, the engine starts. I do not know how the engine works, but I accept that (today at least) it does.

After looking at the postings I did not see one mention of the fact that an SUV is designed and made by engineers and others in a factory. It’s entire manufacture actually supports the ID concept, i.e. it was purposefully designed and put together by an outside agent(s).

SUV’s, of course, do not have sex and reproduce. (shrug)

SUV’s, of course, do not have sex and reproduce. (shrug)

hmm. didn’t i see a commercial recently where a robot and a giant monster mated and produced an SUV as a child?

of course, that child could be sterile, like a mule.

“SUV’s, of course, do not have sex and reproduce. (shrug)”

If that’s the crux of your argument then Sprackland should not have used an SUV as his anti-ID example.

Take it up with Sprackland. (shrug)

I was referring to YOUR silly argument that SUV’s incidcate deisgn of biological organisms.

SUV’s don’t have sex and reproduce. They are not subject to natural selection. Living organisms are.

Comment #74792

Posted by Steve C. on January 22, 2006 12:25 PM (e)

“SUV’s, of course, do not have sex and reproduce. (shrug)”

I bet Optimus Prime got it on.

After looking at the postings I did not see one mention of the fact that an SUV is designed and made by engineers and others in a factory. It’s entire manufacture actually supports the ID concept, i.e. it was purposefully designed and put together by an outside agent(s).

ok, let’s say for arguemnt’s sake one agrees with you on this point.

how is it that you identify the outside agent responsible?

can you delineate the goal of postulated responsible agent by looking at the end product?

how?

I bet Optimus Prime got it on.

hmm. i don’t recall any offspring…

I suppose we would be looking for ‘Optimus Second’?

I can’t believe it, my co-worker just bought a car for $86228. Isn’t that crazy!

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Dunford published on January 18, 2006 11:10 PM.

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