Plantinga, Intelligent Design, and Uninformed Opinions

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One of the better posts mentioned in yesterday’s Tangled Bank can be found over at Adventures in Science and Ethics. In that article, Janet provides a clear and detailed explanation of the limits of scientific expertise. As she reminds us, scientists are not near-omniscient beings, endowed with some sort of infailable ability to assess ideas across all the fields of scientific research. Scientists are primarily qualified to comment on matters within their own field. If a scientist is not an expert in an area of science, he or she should give the scientists within the other field the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they have a better understanding of their own area. As Janet points out, scientists (and other adademics) should be responsible enough to know their own limitations.

This sense of responsibility seems to be somewhat lacking among some of the more prominant proponents of Intelligent Design. It’s shown up in any number of places, including a recent article by well-known philosopher Alvin Plantinga.

Read more (at The Questionable Authority):

86 Comments

I wonder if Plantinga’s religious connections are what motivated him to write this defense of ID?

I wonder if Plantinga’s religious connections are what motivated him to write this defense of ID?

How could you suggest such a thing? I’m sure he has nothing but the integrity of science at heart.

Would you like to buy a bridge?

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Only “gentile[s]” chase wild geese? Oh, I know, it was only tangenital to your main point. Forgive me.

This is pretty thin stuff– Plantinga seems entirely devoted to axe-grinding on this issue. He never addresses the dualism point (which the judge got exactly right), ignores (as pointed out above) the contents of the text that was proposed as a resource, and doesn’t consider the arguments for methodological naturalism based on the lack of empirical content of ‘supernatural’ hypotheses (which, as Darwin pointed out a very long time ago, means that appeal to them to ‘explain’ observations really contributes nothing to science beyond what the observations themselves say…) As for Newton, I’m not very impressed- the notion that God fiddles with things to keep the planets on track never did serve any useful purpose in science (it’s as ad hoc as a hypothesis could possibly be). I prefer Galileo’s view: If and when we really get the math right, everything we observe (correctly) will fit perfectly… it’s a powerful regulative ideal for what a scientific account should be like, and one that keeps us focused on a constructive account of the phenomena rather than an appeal to empirically empty metaphysics.

As someone commented at “The Questionable Authority,” Plantinga has always been very explicit about his goal of defending (what he calls) a Christian position against scientific discoveries. As a consequence, he necessarily must butcher much of the science and ignore many of the legal issues in order to make himself sound more plausible than he really is. Here is one article describing his overall approach: http://newsinfo.nd.edu/content.cfm?topicid=10275

One one famous essay, he describes what “Christian intellectuals should tell the rest of us.” Basically, it amounts to anti-science, pro-fundamentalist apologetics of the overly-familiar type. in: Christian Scholar’s Review 21 (1991) pp. 8-32

When was the last time a theologian/Creationist was asked his religious opinion on how to perform rocket science.

Was that a jab at Mark Psiaki, rocket scientist and faculty advisor to the IDEA Club at Cornell?

C.J. (blush) Thanks for that quick correction ‘gentile’ is not part of the southern hemisphere vernacular, absolutely remote in fact, my apologies. genteel dang

ivy privy Yikes! Someone should take those guys on a seal hunt THEN they would know what relativism is, *rs*h*l*s! Actually scratch that he would probably enjoy it. Masters of the Universe indeed. Talk about an appeal to insouciance. The dilettante creationist, do they have to dress up in cloaks to get in the IDEA Club at Cornell? .

Plantinga discussed much more in his paper, none of which caught my attention long enough to do more than scan. But on to the “conflation” of ID with creationism, which Plantinga thinks is so wrong:

The fact is that one runs into many of the exact same problems with YEC as with ID, though I allow that there are differences in detail. This is what leads IDists to attack well-known intermediates like archaeopteryx, for they have no ability to address the demarcation problem.

The YEC doesn’t know what a kind is. The “sophisticated” IDist doesn’t fall for naive terms like “kind” or “baramin” (with the exception of Sternberg, though he claims to be neither YEC nor IDist (and no, I’m not buying his well-watered Florida land)). But it’s exactly the same thing all over again anyhow, since there is absolutely nothing to distinguish between created organelles and “molecular machines”, and the evolved structures of life.

They try to use “looks designed” and mathematical probabilities to show that some things must be designed, but it is all negative, and at its very best it does not tell us how to draw a line between created and evolved structures and organisms.

IDists have moved the “kinds” problem up the taxa, but have not in the least addressed the problem. This means that YEC IDists like Jonathan Wells can deny bird evolution all they wish, while someone like Behe probably believes in some kind of evolution via a bird much like (and related to) archaeopteryx. Who is right and who is wrong, according to ID? We’ll never know, because the IDists aren’t working with any visible difference between “designed” and “evolved”, rather they’re claiming that certain apparently evolved structures could not have evolved.

The heuristics of science alone argue against such a silly set of notions, while the bigger problem that IDists pose to students is to undermine the practice of proper inference.

Of Pandas and People can be used as an ID text mainly because ID and YEC make essentially the same distinctions without differences–which also stem from the same lame a priori beliefs. No IDist can say that birds must have evolved from dinosaurs, because they have no evidence for any difference between “designed” and “evolved” characteristics.

Which means that although there are differences between ID and YEC, the overlap between the two is considerable. IDists even harbor within their tent those who deny that the earth is old–well, why not? If one is going to deny the practices of science in one area, why not just deny the evidence for an old earth as well? The point is not that Behe believes that the earth is young, the point is that he has so undermined science (or tried to, anyway) that he hardly has any excuse for chastising the idiots who claim that the earth is young.

Pseudoscience is pseudoscience. Naturally there are differences between the pseudosciences. How could there not be differences between people who don’t base their “scientific claims” on the evidence? There is nothing new about fissures and differences among the various creationists, as anyone with a modicum of knowledge of the history of the movement knows, yet there is precious little reason for “outsiders” to distinguish between them, and there is especially little reason to distinguish between the movement that welcomes creationists of all stripes “into its tent” from the congregation within its tent. If they’re not going to make the distinction, is it incumbent upon us to always note the distinction without a difference?

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Don’t worry Glenn they can’t even agree what ID is, let alone what the meaning is behind the word made up of the three letters “G”, “O”, “D”.

They have picked what they think is a “soft target” to distract their minds from their nihilistic view of the world compounded by their literal reception of the so called “Truth” from their parents, that does not agree with nature programs on TV.

” Jones rules, among other things, that:

* ID is just warmed-over creation science * ID tries to change the very definition of science * The scientific community has refuted the criticisms of evolution brought by the IDers * ID involves a kind of dualism and that this dualism is doomed.

But how can one hope to settle these matters just by a judicial declaration?”

Shouldn’t ID scientists get to decide if what they are doing is science? And is the only reality that which you can see with your eyes? What of the reality of how you feel?

George said: What of the reality of how you feel?

Indeed the so called “oceanic feeling” Freud’s friends described to him that he never felt himself (possibly as the result of copious amount of cocaine) and accurately described as the “Super Ego” or what Huxley called the “Mind at Large” for all you George’s of the world the vernacular is “circle jerk”. Just ask any Ayatollah.

Shouldn’t ID scientists get to decide if what they are doing is science?

Shouldn’t astrologers get to decide if what they are doing is science?

Indeed, Michael Behe, a paradigmatic IDer and the star witness for the defense, has repeatedly said that he accepts evolution. What he and his colleagues reject is not evolution as such. What they reject is unguided evolution. They reject the idea that life in all its various forms has come to be by way of the mechanisms favored by contemporary evolutionary theory — unguided, unorchestrated and undirected by God or any other intelligent being.

When stated that way, Plantinga makes it sound like Behe is being forced into believing that evolution is unguided. But, that’s not quite it. Behe says that evolution is divinely guided AND he’s got the evidence to back it up, claiming that his position is scientific. But, if the evidence falls through, he’s still allowed to believe in divinely guided evolution - except now his belief becomes a philosophy. Nothing wrong with that, provided that the philosopy isn’t called “science”. But, of course, they can’t get it into schools without calling it science. And isn’t that what Kitzmiller was all about – what can you teach in the schools and what can you teach as “science”?

Second, and connected with the first, he said that ID isn’t science because the claims IDers make are not testable — that is verifiable or falsifiable.

Plantinga spends a lot of time on this point. Unfortunately, he never quotes Judge Jones saying this. Maybe he (Jones) did. I don’t know, but if Plantinga is going to spend half the article arguing against this point, he should at least substantiate the claim that Judge Jones actually said it.

according to Newton’s own understanding of his theory, the planetary motions had instabilities that God periodically corrected. Shall we say that Newton wasn’t doing science when he advanced that theory or that the theory really isn’t a scientific theory at all?

The general path of science history to to change things from “god did it” to “we understand the mechanistic forces behind this phenomena”. Newton’s idea that ‘God sometimes intervened’ was still more mechanistic than current theories of the day. Now, imagine this situation: a scientist *today* says that the gravitational theories aren’t quite right in explaining the motion of the planets, and therefore, we should accept that God sometimes alters things. That would seem rather unscientific to me - even moreso than when Newton proposed the same thing. Why? Because Newton’s ideas were moving from the unexplainable to knowledge. If a scientist did that today, he’s be moving from knowledge to the unexplainable. It would seem like a step backwards and would shut-down searching for actual, mechanistic explanations. So, YES, claiming that God fiddles with the motion of the planets would be unscientific.

“Of Pandas and People can be used as an ID text mainly because ID and YEC make essentially the same distinctions without differences—which also stem from the same lame a priori beliefs. No IDist can say that birds must have evolved from dinosaurs, because they have no evidence for any difference between “designed” and “evolved” characteristics.”

You’re forgetting a devastating point that came up at trial – early versions of “Pandas” used the word “creationism” throughout the text so the publisher simply cut and pasted “intelligent design” in place of “creationism” in later editions! If the people who wrote and edited “Pandas” felt that “scientific creationism” and “intelligent design” were completely interchangeable terms, who are we to argue?

ah k.e., my soliloquially challenged freind, freud was as crazy as you appear to be.

And Steve, Astrologers, as misguided as they may be, are doing science.

George your solicitude (A cause of anxiety or concern) is a solo projection of oedipal onanism,hot air and completely without merit and your appeal concerning astrologers ironically proves it.

George writes: “And Steve, Astrologers, as misguided as they may be, are doing science.”

Astrologers are doing only one part of science: they observe the world and seek correlations, “When a head of state met an untimely death recently, I saw Planet A near Star Y”. Unfortunately, the Astrologer then concludes that, “Every time Planet A is near Star Y, a head of state will meet an untimely death.” More unfortunately, the Astrologer further concludes, “Planet A being near Star Y will *cause* a head of state to meet an untimely death.”

1. It is not “science” to confuse correlation with causation. 2. It is not “science” to infer the wrong thing from a logical implication: “If A is true, then Y is true. Y is observed to be true, therefore A must be true” 3. It is not “science” to ignore observations that do not agree with the hypothesis.

George - If astrologers, creationists, IDers, etc. are all doing science, then just about any activity counts as science and the term loses all meaning.

Real science involves much more than just something that kind of looks like some sort of research. More than just some vague notion of “testing” things. More than just making predictions. And certainly much more than just insisting that is science.

George, george, slow down. I’ve never seen a guy who could hang himself with a foot and a half of rope. We were prepared to dole out plenty more. You are a mighty effecient creationist.

qualitative judgments about science miss the point. Yes, the ID sciences may not yet be mature enough to stand on their own and challenge existing paradigms, and perhaps they lead to naught, but you are judging them on the quality of output, input and methodology and etc. Is there “great” science, “good” science, “science”, “bad” science, “atrocious” science and “the worst” science? Does ID fall into one of those categories or somewhere along the continuum? I think it does. I am reminded of a scene in “Pirates of the Caribbean” where the British guy says “That is the WORST pirate I’ve ever seen!”

but you are judging them on the quality of output, input and methodology and etc.

Of course we’re judging them by those standards! Those are the standards that determine if something is science!

George– Again, if we call these things science, then everything counts as science.

But then…if everything counts as science, then ID, etc. all count as empty, fruitless, obstinate, narrow-minded science. So I guess that puts them in the “worst” category.

Anyway, science *at least* involves an effort to figure things out. ID, on the other hand, is an effort to prevent people from figuring things out. Your efforts to put creationism, astrology, ID, etc. all on an even playing field with good science just cannot be made to work.

And Steve, Astrologers, as misguided as they may be, are doing science.

And you can feel free to carry on believing that if you so wish. Those of us in the reality-based community, however, prefer a less… postmodernist attitude to life.

qualitative judgments about science miss the point. Yes, the ID sciences may not yet be mature enough to stand on their own and challenge existing paradigms, and perhaps they lead to naught, but you are judging them on the quality of output, input and methodology and etc. Is there “great” science, “good” science, “science”, “bad” science, “atrocious” science and “the worst” science? Does ID fall into one of those categories or somewhere along the continuum? I think it does. I am reminded of a scene in “Pirates of the Caribbean” where the British guy says “That is the WORST pirate I’ve ever seen!”

Well, personally I’d say that ID falls onto the continuum of science in roughly the same place that Will Turner’s blacksmith boss falls onto the continuum of pirates. Whether you’re a good pirate or a bad pirate, there’s an implicit assumption that you’re attempting to attain some Platonic ideal of piracy. Likewise with science. ID, on the other hand, doesn’t even bother to strive towards that ideal.

That’s the root of the problem that the scientific community has with ID - they try to borrow science’s vaunted credibility without behaving in a scientific fashion. If science and non-science were functionally indistinguishable this wouldn’t really be a problem, but as things stand science has proven very effective at helping us analyse the world around us. They’re watering down that trademark with their crappy pseudoscience.

Here’s some ID “science” for ya:

Discussing the recent scientific analysis of the “Double Helix Nebula” (for which the PDF of the paper can be found HERE) Dr. Mark Morris, one of the authors of the paper, apparently drops by Uncommon Descent Into Madness, and comments thus

The nebula we have found with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope is a remarkable example of something that can be accomodated by the scientific enterprise as readily as we can account for hurricanes. Although there is much to be learned yet about the nebula, what we do know can be well explained in terms of existing and well-supported scientific hypotheses about the Galaxy and its contents. Consequently, I am dismayed that it has been brought up in an ID blog. Logically fitting natural phenomena that display order and/or beauty into the scientific superstructure of self-consistent ideas about the universe about us are what makes science so satisfying, and so meaningful. Not everything is a God-induced miracle.

Comment by MRMorris — March 16, 2006 @ 10:50 pm

Then there’s some of the usual Dave bluster, then a comment or two, but Davie just can’t bring himself to let this go by without further assininity.

Determined not to be upstaged by an actual scientist, Davie chimes in with

I think you’re being too accomodating to Doctor Morris who appears to have forgotten his place in the scheme of things. We the taxpayers paid for this research including Morris’ time and the instruments he used. We didn’t pay for nor ask for his opinion about whether or not God had anything to do with this nebula’s formation although he’s free to give it in an unofficial capacity on his own time. The data belongs to us as much as does him as we’re all taxpayers and if we want to interpret it as a sign of design in the universe that’s our business.

Comment by DaveScot — March 17, 2006 @ 10:56 am

Nope, nothing at all to do with religion. “Qualitative judgements about science miss the point.” Yeah, uh-huh..ok

This thread at Uncommon Stupidity is going to be a classic, I think

I think the term your looking for George is pseudo-science. ID and YEC are definately pseudo-science.

“And Steve, Astrologers, as misguided as they may be, are doing science.”

Actually, they are using engineering. They take formulas developed by someone else, and apply them to the problem at hand.

. Yes, the ID sciences may not yet be mature enough to stand on their own and challenge existing paradigms, and perhaps they lead to naught, but you are judging them on the quality of output, input and methodology and etc.

Emphasis added.

Not to burst your bubble, but that is precisely how science is judged. “Output”, in the form of research, theories, and the like, is the entire point of science.

If your output is junk, your science is junk.

But, to be fair, perhaps we are wrong:

George, can you direct me to any place posting research studies, data sets, and testable hypothesis based on ID?

Darn, hypothesis.

Willing suspention of disbelief. (Cain’s wife)

Scientist catagorize ID as “not science”, not because it doesn’t get past your step three, but precisely because it leads to God (in the most likely scenario).

Why, did Landa say that it leads to God? And how come the IDists sporadically deny that ID is theistic?

The fact of the matter is that one of the complaints made against ID is that it does posit a God, or at least a very good copycat of God. We all know that, despite the aliens and time travellers thrown at us, because the “designer” has no attributes (much like Maimonides’ God). We are not opposed to design theories (though we so far lack any reason to infer design in biology, apart from our own doings), rather we are opposed to transcendent designers whose characteristics and goals are completely unknown being invoked in “science”.

Clouser sounds like nothing other than a conspiracy theorist who blames “atheists” for covering up the evidence for Noah’s ark. Why yes, we “atheists” are so dedicated to our Satanic ways that we would refuse fame, fortune, and an everlasting name for ourselves in order to cover up the evidence that shows the ark and God to exist. I simply didn’t know we were so unselfish, but by God, we are.

Let’s see, for centuries people have been trying to “prove God”, and even the clever insufficient arguments (like Anselm’s) are admired in a way. Useless crap books claiming to prove God sell by the millions, making charlatans rich. And we are such pious “atheists” (I hardly think of myself as an “atheist”, but I’m sure I’d fit the IDist “definition”) that instead of trying to do ID better (which surely must be possible, if it is science, since Behe and Dembski are so unconvincing), thus to legitimately gain the rewards that others illegitimately claim, we nonetheless dogmatically stick to our “atheism”.

Even more strangely, theistic evolutionists like Ken Miller also refuse to follow the ID “line of reasoning”, rather than take a bold new step to showing theism’s relevance. Now I realize that some theists might be too stuck in their ways even to promote a good new idea that leads to God, however I seriously doubt that all sound theistic biologists would be so foolish (note that I do not include the present ID charlatans in that class).

And you may expect scientists to continue to do so with any other theory to come up about anything else.

Try for a coherent thought next time.

This is contrary to your claim and supports the ID proponents claim that science is biased against God.

Why yes, your blank, unsupported assertion once again “supports” IDist claims of bias, though only in the “let’s repeat what we can’t demonstrate until people believe it” sort of way. This seems to be the one way you have to try to convince people of your meaningless repetitions.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Flint Wrote:

I think you need to emphasize that this distinguishes ID from scientific creationism, which DOES identify design based on a description of the designer.

A good point that I failed to make clear. But I would also argue that the scientific creationists have defined their designer in such a fashion that She is logically equivalent to “unknown designer”, since no constraints can be placed upon Her actions.

Their designer is described in some detail - looks like us (we were designed in His image), has an emotional makeup indistinguishable from ours (so we solicit His good will exactly the same as we do with people), and has a clear purpose (to create us to worship Him).

But no limit on mechanism.

Carol seems to fall into the straightforward creationist camp - she doesn’t try to pretend the Designer is anyone other than the God she happens to believe in, warts and all. And her god’s characteristics are described in all the detail that she requires - whatever it takes in terms of powers and purposes to create her directly. If the evidence indicates otherwise, we are misinterpreting it. If we persist in misinterpreting it in the face of Carol’s manifest Truth, we must be part of a conspiracy. What other explanation could there possibly be?

But that’s not what she appears to be arguing. I must re-read (yuck) her posts on this point.

Carol appears to be arguing that if we would just go out and buy Landa’s darn book, she might be able to help him get the next one published by a real publisher.

Just thought I’d link to a source discussing fields in QED, and especially “color fields” in QCD:

http://www.fuw.edu.pl/~dobaczew/mau[…]w/node9.html

Of course the “ontological” status of these fields is not clear, nor is it truly relevant to physics.

Where did Carol get her “knowledge” anyhow? And how many times does she wish to be wrong?

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Where did Carol get her “knowledge” anyhow? And how many times does she wish to be wrong?

Since Carol’s limited knowledge of science is highly inconsistent and idiosyncratic, I’d suggest that she had no formal training of any kind. Certainly she has had no training in the philosophy and practise of science.

As for the other… how does “infinitely many” strike you?

Carol Wrote:

The reason ID is problematic as science, Lenny, is not because it cannot get past step three. It is because scientists do not think it has any standing even in steps one and two. It is the same old God idea they are accustomed to rejecting for centuries, as Judge Jones, your hero, so eloquently summarized.

You are partially correct, it’s a God of the Gaps argument based on our ignorance that that which we cannot explain should be seen as evidence for God.

The problem with ID is that it is scientifically vacuous. And it is fundamentally so because it relies on an eliminative approach and does not provide ANY scientifically relevant understanding beyond the obvious that we do not understand.

Carol Wrote:

One of the examples I gave above was the ether. There never was a shred of direct evidence for its existence. It was invented to provide an absolute velocity. When it was discovered by Michelson/Morely that the speed of light is the same in all directions, scientists did not discrad the ether right away. Instead, they fought tooth and nail to save it. They (Lorents and others) tried dragging and stretching the ether to make it fit the data. It took some doing (Special Relativity) to finally put this beast away.

First of all the ether made predictions and could be relatively simply be falsified. What’s your point here? That science is fallible? Is that the hope you have for ID? How would science being fallible resolve the scientific vacuity of ID?

At this point scientists had postulated a hypothetical medium that they called the “ether” (also spelled “aether”) that was thought to be all pervading, or penetrating any enclosure with ease. However, if that were true, the motion of the Earth around the Sun would result in a noticeable motion of the Earth relative to the ether. Much like a boat cruising over the ocean, this motion should be measurable. Earth’s velocity in its orbit is substantial at about 30 kilometers per second (18.6 miles per second), but it is still only 1 ten-thousanth of the speed of light. Therefore, any measurements of this effect had to be extremely accurate.

Link

The surprising result of this experiment, and it has since been repeated over and over again with very high accuracy, is that there is no measurable motion of the Earth relative to the ether. This result left physicists stunned for many years and some of them postulated that the ether, while real, was in principle unobservable. Albert Einstein finally took a brave step forward with the publication of his theory of special relativity in 1906. His apparently innocent and reasonable argument was that, if the ether was unobservable, or in other words that there was no experimental proof of it whatsoever, the simplest explanation was that it did not exist.

A wise suggestion by Einstein

Michelson received his nobel prize for physics in 1907.

I disagree with Rilke’s granddaughter, as far as Carol’s science goes, she occasionally seems to have some sophisticated knowledge. The problem is, she bends and squeezes it to accomodate her crazy religion.

Posted by Carol Clouser on March 20, 2006 02:05 AM (e)

One of the examples I gave above was the ether. There never was a shred of direct evidence for its existence. It was invented to provide an absolute velocity. When it was discovered by Michelson/Morely that the speed of light is the same in all directions, scientists did not discrad the ether right away. Instead, they fought tooth and nail to save it. They (Lorents and others) tried dragging and stretching the ether to make it fit the data. It took some doing (Special Relativity) to finally put this beast away…

Carol, The “ether” was used as a model IIRC because at that time waves needed a medium to travel. EM radiation was best described as a wave. Therefore some medium was required for it to travel.

So the idea of an “ether” was based on empirical evidence.

It was also testable, hence GR showed it could be done-away with.

All in all that means the “ether” hypothesis was definitely scientific.

God on the other hand, I doubt could ever be considered science. How could you ever disprove the idea?

On the subject of ID proponents as liars. Why would you think otherwise? Dembski is definitely a liar, no two ways about it. He proves it repeatedly on his own blog.

I would grant that some Innocent people could be taken-in by ID, but the behaviour of most proponents definitely backs-up Lenny’s assertion.

Carol, do you not consider the “wedge” as damning evidence?

Plantinga, Intelligent Design, and Uninformed Opinions

well, Carol certainly has that part down.

The basic unanswered question is whether there are some characterstics of a ‘designed’ object which are unique to design - and can we determine those characterstics without any knowledge of the designer?

The answer is no. The ID movement claims the answer is yes, but has been unable to support it.

Of course this gets back to Carol’s claims about ID depending upon “complexity” alone to show design, despite the fact that IDists actually resort to purpose. The IDists are trying to have it both ways, of course, and their only difference from Paley is the fact that they try to claim that complexity by itself shows purpose (though it depends upon day and mood how they’ll argue), thus design. The idea being that only intelligence could be behind the “purposes” which they insist are inevitably behind integrated complexity.

They do sometimes try to get away from purpose, since the purpose of creating vestigial organs, failure to adapt bird “design” to bat “design”, and the expected unique evolutionary effects utilized by cladistics to follow unique evolutionary divergences, make no sense to either purpose or design. Only a designer could purpose to use bird “design” in bats (the Wright brothers did use bird characteristics in their design, suggesting that they had more sense than the IDists’ God), despite evolutionary divergence, while we repeatedly fail to observe the sorts of borrowing in biology (aside from horizontal transfers) that known designers rely upon.

So once they decided that God was an engineer, Behe and Dembski thought back to some of their schooling and thought, hey, we were told that God is beyond human understanding. What they didn’t do then was to recognize that if God is all that, beyond our understanding, etc., then God is not actually an engineer.

Being the poorly educated “thinkers” that they are, they stuck by the human analogies of designed integrated complexity to claim that God or some other designer must be responsible for life. What they didn’t recall from their religious training is that this God beyond human understanding is also said to be simple, and indeed, that the human soul is another simple “being”.

That is to say, even through simple metaphysical thought, ancient philosophers recognized that there was no link between complexity and God. No doubt this is because God had become a simple thought, having been stripped of relevant predictions in His relationship with our complex world, but at least they did recognize the simplicity of the putative “greatest intellect” and could not and did not predict complex solutions (not that they claimed these were impossible with God, but weren’t generally expected) coming from God’s actions within the world.

The IDists and Carol only “predict” integrated complexity as the result of God’s actions because it is the one aspect of biology that remains analogous with some of our creations. All of the other marks of human design are missing. But unfortunately for IDists, real science isn’t much concerned with complexity as a mere concept, rather it is interested in the details of complexity.

Having utterly failed to match up life with human design, or with the simplicity of God, IDists wish to match up the inscrutability of God with the inscrutability of the complexities of life. The trouble is that they have no curiosity regarding life as a subject in its own right, thus they are interested in the simple concept of “complexity”, try to reduce complex life down to absurdly restricted search spaces (using the a priori concept that similarities in life are due to “design”, not ancestry), and to ignore all of the relevant details that indicate to science the complex history of life. Baptizing life’s complexity into God’s inscrutability, they then ignore the details–indeed, ID virtually demands that the details of life be ignored, except as present-day chemical and physical interactions.

What I’m saying is that we don’t really care about “complexity” itself, rather we’re only interested in the meaning of the particulars of complexity–and even of simplicity. The simplicity of DNA acting as the genetic basis for non-viral life appears to be explicable via the last common ancestor, while the complexity of the huge number of DNA variations is explained by mutation and natural selection (short version) since the last common ancestor. The whole pattern is quite consistent with evolutionary predictions, while we know enough about other potential genetic material to know that DNA isn’t ubiquitous due to necessity per se.

We want to know why the flagellum has its particular complexities, some of which are traceable to other organelles/processes. Is it not curious that the same genetic material is to be found behind both the flagellum and the type III secretory system? Not to the IDists. They want unfathomable complexity, which by a rather simple psychology becomes equal to their preferred cause, the unfathomable God.

The upshot is that the IDists don’t even have a scientific view of complexity, since they aren’t actually concerned about the complex details of complexity, only reveling that it “exists”. Not only can’t they and Carol point to any linkage between God and complexity (St. Augustine was inclined to explain variety through evil, btw), they are using the meaninglessness of their theological beliefs to confer meaninglessness upon biological complexity.

We tend not to focus on the threat to science (unlike the threat to science education) from ID because ID has virtually no traction within the scientific community. Yet as we sometimes note, ID cannot provide answers, come up against intriguing problems, or explain the complexity of life. This is not, however, necessarily due primarily to its being pseudoscience, rather it has been deliberately made meaningless in order for the empty concept of complexity to match up with their empty conception of God. This produces a psychological symmetry between the unknowns of life and their unknown “Great Engineer”.

I was just going to make a few comments about the unknowability of said “designer” in this post, but ended up with more of an essay on their lack of concern for the details of life. But why not? About the only thing that is interesting about Carol is her lack of curiosity regarding Bible, the universe, and biology. And I think it is quite plausible that, no matter the lack of any sound ties between God and complexity, the real psychological linkage is the unfathomability of both in the IDists’ mind. Life will continue to be unfathomable to them as long as they need it to be.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Since Carol’s limited knowledge of science is highly inconsistent and idiosyncratic, I’d suggest that she had no formal training of any kind.

I’m certainly inclined toward your take on it. Steve s. has a point in that she seems to have more knowledge than your average IDist slob, but the inconsistencies are glaring. My own education in physics is limited (I had a year of calculus-based physics, and I read beyond that level), but I can recognize some of her claims to be quite bad. And I also generally know where my knowledge of physics fails, a useful sort of knowledge that I wish more would gain.

Certainly she has had no training in the philosophy and practise of science.

None that has done her much good, in any event.

As for the other… how does “infinitely many” strike you?

It is, perhaps, the most interesting aspect of the bulk of IDists, or of whatever she claims herself to be (she seems to be edging toward biological ID, after having previously appeared to be a cosmological IDist–makes sense, though, considering that the same kinds of disconnected leaps have to be made either way).

Lou FCD: DaveScot’s stupidity is getting more laughable every day. When’s his brain just going to explode and get it over with?

I love his latest blowhard routine: “We paid taxes to support this research, so we have the right to believe it says whatever we want it to say, and we also have the right to heap verbal abuse on the people who get our tax money!” Yeah, that’s real science for you…

Before I call people liars I would rather accuse them of milder offenses, such as being disingenuous.

Liars are liars, Carol. IDers are liars. When they claim the IDer isn’t God, they are lying. Flat out lying. Deliberately, calculatingly, and with malice afrorethought.

Sorry if you don’t like that. (shrug)

BTW, Carol, I am not an atheist. So your silly “science hates God!!!!!” BS just strikes me as being strident, shrill, and stupid, as well as dishonest. Just like IDers.

But thanks for once again confirming for everyone that (1) ID is just religious apologetics, (2) IDers are lying to us when they claim it’s not, and (3) Judge Jones was entirely correct when he ruled that it is.

In case you haven’t noticed, Carol, it’s illegal to teach religious opinions in public schools. Sorry if you don’t like that either. Perhaps you’d be happier living somewhere where there is no separation of church and state, and where political authority is used to enforce orthodox religious opinions. May I suggest Iran?

I do confess that I find it awfully amusing to hear someone who is JEWISH, of all things, arguing in favor of theocracy and using state power to enforce religious opinions. Perhaps you are unaware of what happened every time in the past that political authorities attempted to enforce their religious opinions upon Jews. Does the name “Torquemada” ring any bells for you, Carol?

But then, I guess that *any* religious nut, like you, would indeed find a theocratic police state far more desirable, as long as *you* get to be the police . …

PvM and Stephen,

A few corrections regarding the ether.

Basing the ether hypothesis on the perceived need for a medium for light does NOT constitute empirical evidence in support of the idea. It does constitute an invention whose sole purpose is to satisfy a perception or assumption, later proven totally unwarranted, that light needs a medium. Sounds like ID to me.

The ether idea was not falsifiable nor was it ever falsified. All the difficulties with light were resolved in some fashion by Lorents and others. It was merely discarded as uneccesary after Special Relativity. Your own quote, PvM, is very telling. “This result left physicists stunned for many years and some of them postulated that the ether, while real, was in principle unobservable.” Sounds very much like ID to me. Just replace the ether with the designer.

The need for a medium for light was actually more than just the need for a medium. That is a superficial, shallow understanding of the situation. The deeper meaning is that the speed of light as it emerged from Maxwell’s equations needed a frame of reference. In other words, the velocity of light needed to be an absolute quantity. The ether provided that frame. But that still does not render the ether empirical in the absence of direct detection.

Lenny,

Your post above is so off the wall irrelevant even by your standards that I am actually surprized at you.

Carol:

Again, I think you have misunderstood:

Basing the ether hypothesis on the perceived need for a medium for light does NOT constitute empirical evidence in support of the idea.

Of course not. We observe something for which we have no explanation. We propose an explanation. We test, and find that our explanation was incorrect. We go with the correct explanation.

Consider the claim of dark matter. We have no direct evidence of dark matter, so it’s just like the ether. It satisfies the need for something to make the theory work. Now, let’s say there’s no such thing as dark matter; what we’re seeing is an aspect of known forces not fully understood. Of course, we can never prove there IS no dark matter; we can’t ever prove that something does NOT exist. We would simply discard the idea as no longer necessary. Same with dark energy. Same with the ether.

And in general, proposed causes for anything at all can never be falsified in the sense you are using. If the proposals are correct, they become solid theories. If subsequent evidence supports some alternative explanation far better, then the initial guesses become obsolete. This is not like ID in any way.

UNLESS, of course, you can suggest any conceivable body of evidence in support of anything that (in your opinion) would render your supernatural “explanations” moot and obsolete. So far, I’ve seen no sign of such an ability on the part of any creationists. I fail to see how discarding useless or incorrect proposals in favor of superior ones “sounds like ID” in any way.

Flint,

The ether is ID-like in the sense that a perception or assumption leads to a need for an hypothesis which in turn leads to an invented entity that people are willing to accept (for a significant period of time) despite the fact that it appears to be “in principle unobservable.”

Dark matter may very well end up like the ether. Time will tell.

Some other posters, you know who you are,

Insults, stupidity and ignorance DO NOT an argument make.

Carol Clouser Wrote:

The ether is ID-like in the sense that a perception or assumption leads to a need for an hypothesis which in turn leads to an invented entity that people are willing to accept (for a significant period of time) despite the fact that it appears to be “in principle unobservable.”

The ether was in principle and in practice observable; had it been present, Michelson and Morley would have observed it.

Well, Carol, that certainly eliminates 99% of your effluent. Thanks for contributing, go away.

hugs, Shirley Knott

Insults, stupidity and ignorance DO NOT an argument make.

Insults, stupidity and ignorance DO NOT an argument make.

Insults, stupidity and ignorance DO NOT an argument make.

Insults, stupidity and ignorance DO NOT an argument make.

Insults, stupidity and ignorance DO NOT an argument make.

Insults, stupidity and ignorance DO NOT an argument make.

now carol, go write that down 100 times on the chalkboard.

Carol Wrote:

PvM and Stephen,

A few corrections regarding the ether.

Basing the ether hypothesis on the perceived need for a medium for light does NOT constitute empirical evidence in support of the idea. It does constitute an invention whose sole purpose is to satisfy a perception or assumption, later proven totally unwarranted, that light needs a medium. Sounds like ID to me.

You are being disingenous; you were corrected on the reason the aether concept arose, not whether or not the perceived need constitutes evidence.

You were wrong. Admit it honestly.

The ether idea was not falsifiable nor was it ever falsified.

Factually incorrect. The Michelson-Morley experiements falsified the existence of the aether.

Your ignorance of both science the history of science is duly noted.

All the difficulties with light were resolved in some fashion by Lorents and others.

No. These were, in essence, stop-gap measures. YOU ADMITTED THIS YOURSELF IN YOUR EARLIER POST. Remember that you said,

When it was discovered by Michelson/Morely that the speed of light is the same in all directions, scientists did not discrad the ether right away. Instead, they fought tooth and nail to save it. They (Lorents and others) tried dragging and stretching the ether to make it fit the data.

You should remember that all the nonsense you post can still be found on the threads.

Your own quote, PvM, is very telling. “This result left physicists stunned for many years and some of them postulated that the ether, while real, was in principle unobservable.” Sounds very much like ID to me. Just replace the ether with the designer.

Since everyone is agreed that this is poor science, then you are AGREEING THAT ID IS POOR SCIENCE.

I’m glad that you concede that we are right.

The need for a medium for light was actually more than just the need for a medium. That is a superficial, shallow understanding of the situation. The deeper meaning is that the speed of light as it emerged from Maxwell’s equations needed a frame of reference. In other words, the velocity of light needed to be an absolute quantity. The ether provided that frame. But that still does not render the ether empirical in the absence of direct detection.

This is, of course, factually incorrect and represents your ignorance of science and the history of science. Perhaps you should read up on it?

Lenny,

Your post above is so off the wall irrelevant even by your standards that I am actually surprized at you.

Lenny continues to point out that you are dishonest, inconsistent, and ignorant of both science and theology. How is that off-the-wall?

Carol are shure you are not on some sort of chemical ? Your own quote, PvM, is very telling. “This result left physicists stunned for many years and some of them postulated that the ether, while real, was in principle unobservable.” Sounds very much like ID to me. Just replace the ether with the designer.

THE designer .…oh really ? Who.….Ferdinand Porche? He’s dead. How about ace spaliens, LGM, cosmic turtles, gaps between atoms,muons,bosons, trillionths of seconds, Baal, Osiris, Moloch, Ashtaroth?

If you are going to factualize your feelings and desire for the temporal existance of something more than ignorance then by all means provide a wave model and call the old fella refered to in the “True” Detective/History Stories of the old testament, ether.

Ether you is or ether you ain’t proposing a naturalistic alternate theory for RM + NS. So lets have it NOW. This is your BIG chance to save the WHOLE ID movement. Your entry into the promised land would be guaranteed, regretfully however not instantaneous

Here is a quick tip… They have enough loonies on the job now, I don’t think they want anymore. They are looking for the right meme to add to Newspeak Ingsoc B vocabulary, reality as far as they are concerned should not be allowed to exist , and is merely a linguistic impediment amenable to postmodernist redefinition.

Carol a part time ID fluffer, does have part of the plan worked out, promote religiuos obsurantism as “objective fact”. The real IDeologists just have to keep up their blizzard of BS to have reality “tweaked” .…..its already happening.

From this blog “Frank Luntz: The Devil In Disguising Language”.

If you have ever wondered why a bill that allows more pollution into the air is called the Clean Skies Initiative, the answer is Frank Luntz.

Rilke’s Granddaughter and others have alluded to this, but I think it is important to make the point more explicit…

When defending the scientific status of ID, the proponents want to be able to point to historical examples of hypotheses that were accepted as scientific, and then claim that since those hypotheses are in some way analogous to ID, then ID should likewise be deemed scientific.

Aside from the big problems with the specific examples and analogies, it is interesting to note that the examples used by IDers are always of FAILED hypotheses. No examples of SUCCESSFUL hypotheses can ever be used because then there would be no chance for the analogy to seem at all plausible, even to the non-experts. I suppose that ID proponents recognize this, hence their preference for failed historical examples.

Further, we should note that after the example hypotheses were shown to be mistaken, they were always discarded by all but the fringe scientists and the cranks. In this sense, at least, the analogy with ID seems to work.

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T. Scrivener Wrote:

I disagree with Plantingia on most points, but his critique of verifiability is warranted, positivism is over man.

Haven’t you been told? Philosophy is useless. Most folk here at PT haven’t even heard of Carnap or Schlick, much less Haack. And the idea that the practice of SCIENCE (said in a hushed tone) might depend on philosophical commitments is surely absurd. Truth, meaning, verification, model, cause… these are all obviously transparent. The scientist only need gape at the facts and reality reveals itself (so there Rorty and Foucault).

Positivism may be dead for those who know what it means, but it is very much alive in the heads of scientists.

I’ve managed to save up roughly $74408 in my bank account, but I’m not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Dunford published on March 16, 2006 10:09 PM.

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