I.D. Rigs Its Own Trial

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John Rennie at the Scientific American blog has a pretty good post up explaining the dubious value of the upcoming wannabe “ID on trial” event, Intelligent Design Under Fire: Experts Cross-Examine the Top Proponents of Intelligent Design Theory. It is to be held at Biola University, the apparent academic home of ID (many ID conferences, and the only graduate program that studies ID as far as I know).

I gather that (1) the 1000+ seats for the event are sold out, (2) one of the “critics” is going to be Antony Flew, soon to be the proud recipient of the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth (first winner: Phillip E. Johnson) – he should be good for sidetracking the discussion in useless directions; and (3) the critics are going to get a whole 15 minutes each! I wish them luck, and they (except for Flew) know full well the dubious usefulness of the event they are getting into (see the comments on Rennie’s blog), but I just have to point out that it took months of preparation and a full day of trial, with a lawyer going one-on-one with Behe, and with scientific articles and exhibits ready-to-go up on a big color screen in the courtroom, to really deconstruct the ID arguments in a thorough fashion (thus producing this great New Yorker cartoon). Fifteen minutes is enough time to ask approximately one question and get five meandering answers/excuses in my estimation.

As Rennie notes, the ID movement already had its day in court, and these were the results. Of the eight named experts:

* DI fellows Dembski, Meyer, and Campbell dropped out before their depositions (although Dembski, in his recent talk at Berkeley, described himself as a “witness in the Dover case” without mentioning the minor fact that he backed out!) * Two other ID expert witnesses were deposed but never testified (Carpenter and Nord) * And the three that did testify, Behe, Fuller, and Minnich, ended up hurting their case more than helping.

The other two usual suspects, Jonathan Wells and Paul Nelson, probably were never listed as experts because they are so clearly on record stating that fundamentalist religion came first, then the science PhD (Wells), or that Bible interpretation trumps the evidence for an old earth, no matter how strong the evidence (Nelson). Nelson even has the chutzpah to call this an “open” philosophy of science.

Even the creation scientists did better back in McLean v. Arkansas: they only had two dropouts. See this post-trial wrapup in Science in 1982:

The week was drawing to an end and the defense had time to field one witness, Norman Geisler, from Dallas Theological Seminary. “It is possible to believe that God exists without necessarily believing in God,” he argued. This was the defense’s principal thrust for being able to teach about the product of a creator without necessarily being religious. Judge Overton was clearly interested in this line of reasoning, until, under cross examination, Geisler tarnished his credibility somewhat by declaring that UFO’s were agents of Satan.

The attorney general [defending the 1981 Arkansas creation science bill] presented six science witnesses, two more than had testified for the ACLU, presumably on the grounds that quantity made up for evident lack of quality. There would have been more had not a serious case of disappearing witnesses set in as the second week wore on. Dean Kenyon, a biologist from San Francisco State University, fled town after watching the demolition of four of the state’s witnesses on day 1 of the second week. And Henry Voss, a computer scientist from California, was rapidly withdrawn at the last minute when, in pretrial deposition, he too began to expound on things satanic and demonical.

(p. 34 of: Roger Lewin, 1982, “Creationism on the Defensive in Arkansas.” Science, 215(4528), pp. 33-34, January 1, 1982.)

So apparently, the creation scientists scored 6/8, while the IDists only 3/8. But at least they didn’t talk about demons (although maybe someone should ask Stephen Meyer about that, since in his recent official non-debate until the IDists declared victory debate with Peter Ward he more or less said that the type III secretion system of the bubonic plague bacterium was a corrupted flagellum design, a view which I’m sure bears no resemblance to the original explanations for the bubonic plague).

PS: In that McLean writeup, you may recognize the name of Dean Kenyon. He went on to author the lead expert affidavit in the Supreme Court’s Edwards case on the Louisiana “creation science” bill, was cited a dozen times in Scalia’s dissent, and then by 1989 had helped switch out the creationist terminology in the textbook he was working on, and morphed into an “intelligent design” advocate as one of the (listed) authors of Of Pandas and People, thus bringing us to the present day. History is fun, no?

24 Comments

Contact the Christian Apologetics Department at 888.332.4652 to order tickets or for more information on this exciting event!

Interesting.

So what are the IDiots going to do? Say the Jones trial & decision was “just practice–this is the real thing”? Kind of like what Moussaoui said yesterday, he changed his mind, he wants to change his plea now that the verdict has come in. That was just practice; that one doesn’t count; I wasn’t ready; Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo…

If I were able to attend, I wonder if they’d let me hand out copies of the Kitzmiller decision at the door.

If I were able to attend, I wonder if they’d let me hand out copies of the Kitzmiller decision at the door.

Only if your copy of Kitzmiller was illustrated by Jack Chick.

Oh dear. Might be a repeat of the Kansas Kourt from a few years back.

I like this quote from the ad for the upcoming event: “With many questions still left unanswered about ID theory [after Dover], this event will allow the public access to hear from top ID experts and its critics.”

Unanswered questions? Maybe they should have addressed those at the real trial when they had the chance. Allowing the public access to ID? The Dover trial documents have all been made public, and the Discovery Institute has put great effort into public relations and advertising.

Sorry, but it’s over.

Sorry, but it’s over.

I think that’s well put. It’s now what, ten years since Darwin’s Black Box came out? And I can’t remember when the “Wedge Document” was produced, but it must be at least five years ago.

And to be fair on the IDers, even the Wedge document recognised that ID stands or falls on the science:

Phase I [i.e. scientific research] is the essential component of everything that comes afterward. Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.

It’s now 2006 and, as I understand it, the world is still waiting for the peer-reviewed research that will put ID on a truly scientific footing. Meanwhile, the “irreducibly complex” ID poster-children (bacterial flagella, the blood-clotting cascade).

Of course, human nature means that the philosophical and rhetorical aspects of ID will continue for some time - a number of people have a lot of their lives invested in this - but as a strictly scientific enterprise it looks increasingly as if, as the previous commenter put it, “it’s over”.

(I say all this as a Christian who had been moderately persuaded by ID arguments, particularly Behe’s book, but who, having looked into the scientific evidence more closely, has now swung back to accepting the consensus scientific view on evolution.)

The Biola on-line announcement says “Contact the Christian Apologetics Department at 888.332.4652 to order tickets or for more information on this exciting event!”

And ID has nothing to do with religion. Hmmm! Me thinks the opposite.

as a strictly scientific enterprise it looks increasingly as if, as the previous commenter put it, “it’s over”.

Something doesn’t ring true here. As a strictly scientific enterprise, creationism has always been a non-starter. The goal of indoctrinating our children and introducing theocracy into our government has never even waned. There is certainly no indication that these goals have lost any of their appeal or enthusiasm in the creationist community.

So long as science is regarded as “good” by a scientifically illiterate public, creationists will claim their faith is scientific. If the public should (through equal ignorance) change their affiliation to some other buzzword, creationists will associate their faith with whatever that turns out to be, to use the leverage.

The cure for superstition isn’t merely education, it’s education when it counts. At the age when evidence ceases to matter, superstition becomes inaccessible to any current hopes of effective deprogramming. Maybe someone someday will develop a “rewire major neural brain pathways” pill someday. But I wouldn’t want to swallow one of the damn things.

What I wonder about is that statement from the Wedge.

Five years ago when they developed it, did they really think that scientific support for ID existed or could be found? Did they honestly believe that the observable universe would yield up the fingerprints of God?

Were they actually that stupid?

John H Wrote:

(quoting the Wedge Document:) “Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.”

It’s now 2006 and, as I understand it, the world is still waiting for the peer-reviewed research that will put ID on a truly scientific footing.

Yeah. Things didn’t pan out the way the Wedgies had hoped. What to do? I know! Just redefine “solid”, “scholarship”, “research”, “peer-reviewed” (“up”, “down”, etc.)

RGD:

Did they honestly believe that the observable universe would yield up the fingerprints of God? Were they actually that stupid?

I think what you’re having trouble with here is crediting these people with sincere belief. Yes, they honestly believe there’s a god of their preferred description, who does or did what they believe, whose handiwork can be scientifically established because, dammit, their god is *real*. He *does* this stuff. There is absolutely no doubt about this in their minds.

And good, focused, inspired, genuinely scientific work can AND WILL find incontrovertible evidence of what’s actually real and there for the finding, if science goes about it right. Isn’t science the best process ever devised for determining the nature of reality? Isn’t (their) god the most real thing there can possibly be?

I have no difficulty understanding the supreme confidence with which they anticipated the scientific endorsement and ratification of their god. It’s not stupidity at all, it’s entirely rational. All that’s required is the belief that their god exists and does stuff.

The difficulty science has encountered in finding their god can ONLY be explained by scientists being atheists, determined through sheer blind bias not to see the self-evident. As Behe testified, we *know* there’s an intelligence involved. Why…why, just LOOK AROUND. Nobody could *possibly* avoid seeing Behe’s god unless they had deliberately and maliciously closed their mind to the obvious.

So yes, they sincerely believed science would find what they know is there. It’s not stupid. It’s a necessary implication of their faith.

What was the Dembski statement? Something like he wanted to force evolutionists (well, “Darwinists” in his labeling) to testify in court? Yes, that was it, evolutionists are unwilling to tangle with the profundities of ID theory, and they’ll just collapse when made to testify.

Dover. Well, not that Behe or Fuller were proficient enough in science and philosophy to have the appropriate anxiety and panic when called on their squalid little comments, but they sure looked pathetic even to non-scientists who understand issues of evidence, most notably Judge Jones.

Of course from their standpoint, why shouldn’t they try to recoup their losses, smother over Dembski’s previous boasts, and say, ‘but in the right venue, with the right critics, and in the right amount of time, we can win’? Then Bowdlerize the current debate, when the real debate was properly concluded using masses of writings and many conferences a long time ago, and “equalize” the “two sides”–science and nonsense–thereby setting up a “discussion” that cannot fail to impress Afdave and his ilk that they are indeed possessors of superior knowledge.

I really wouldn’t say that scientists would necessarily be preferable to philosophers, on the other hand. In a random selection of scientists vs. philosophers, yes the scientists would be my pick, but if the philosophers chosen were very aware of science, they might be better than many scientists at countering the anti-science “principles” of ID. The problem of Behe’s inclusion of astrology as science is not a scientific issue, it is a sort of “meta-science” question. Rennie needn’t assume that scientists are unquestionably the better choice, though I’d certainly select the philosophers carefully.

Which means that I do wonder about using a philosopher who questions the use of “fact” for evolution. “Fact” is not an especially well-defined term at best, and although evolutionary theory is not a “fact” per se, that life has evolved fits the definition of “fact” nearly as well as anything. So why fuss about it, other than making the quick distinction that I made here? It just gives the IDists the opportunity to confuse matters, indeed, to raise questions about evolution rather than giving credible answers about ID.

The only useful debate would be one in which ID was the entire focus, and one which had a judge or moderator who forced the IDists to give acceptably scientific or legal answers to demands for evidence that intelligent design has taken place. No “evolution can’t produce the flagellum”, which if true would only be an issue for evolution, not any sort of evidence for ID. No allowance of bizarre “recognition of ID” from purported CSI, but actual evidence for ID from the purposes and constraints affecting actually known designers, such as humans and animals. That is to say, make the IDists provide honest evidence for once in their twisted intellectual lives.

I suspect that Biola would never agree to anything like that.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

I have not been able to get a copy of “Darwin’s Black Box” at the library – it is out most of the time and really do not want to buy a copy … However, it is my understanding that on page 127 or thereabouts, Dr. Behe states that he does accept “common descent” – i.e. that all living things came from the same source. The only difference is that, at certain points, intervention of “intelligence” is necessary in order to account for certain “pieces” in the evolutionary or common descent process. If he accepts the theory of “Common Descent” PLUS “occasional episodes of Intelligent Design”] – does that not mean that he “accepts” the basic premises of Evolution in MOST cases. Can someone please tell me how “accepting evolution” i.e. “common descent” MOST of the time is so very different from accepting it as a workable theory even more often? Acceptance most of the time IS still acceptance of the theory.

Dr. Behe apparently accepts the idea of Common Descent .. “I believe the evidence strongly supports common descent” (p.176) This is, I believe, from page 176 and not from p. 127 as I orginally thought. Mea culpa, mea minima culpa. Gary

So yes, they sincerely believed science would find what they know is there. It’s not stupid. It’s a necessary implication of their faith.

I think that one useful perspective is to look at some of the sincere scientific frauds that have been perpetrated. It seems that some of the frauds have been done by people who were very sure of their hypotheses, and just hadn’t found the evidence needed quite yet. What are they going to do, let the truth die out because unforeseen problems have prevented the evidence from coming to light, and the money is running out?

Of course that’s what they are supposed to do, in fact. But some, in a mostly genuine, yet highly mistaken, “pursuit of truth” plant evidence, fudge figures, and fit graphs. They’re not out to change results, since they’re sure (pretty sure, at least) that their conclusions are sound, they’re just bridging over the present difficulties.

The IDists are not precisely like that. However, they’re starting with God “the Designer”, and trying to show how in fact God must be the Designer. Real measures of design don’t work, however they’re not really hypothesizing that humanoid aliens produced designs like those we know, they’re proposing that God, the inscrutable, has “designed” life. So that if they can show that life is too complex to be produced by evolution, and also that it is too complex to be produced by known designers, they think they have the result that they know is true.

They actually quote Bill Gates with a straight face, something on the lines of life being much more sophisticated than anything we have made. And that’s supposed to be evidence for design, “creations” that are beyond the design capabilities of anything that we have ever observed? Of course there are also the inconvenient facts that life reproduces, and that what we see in life reveals evidence of co-option and derivation via reproduction. But it is one thing for them to ignore the latter inconvenient evidence, it is quite another for them to take evidence of something beyond all presently known design capabilities (to say nothing of past design capabilities) as evidence in favor of design.

We know why this is, of course, something similar to the “honest frauds” in science. They have their conclusions, their truth, and they haven’t even learned how to make proper scientific inferences, at least not in this area. Their use of evidence, and their modeling of their selective evidence, is all conclusion-driven. And because they are focused upon their Truth, the lack of integrity in their use of “small truth” pales in relation to the importance of their conclusions.

They’re committing fraud as much as anyone who plants evidence, or who decides that manipulating the standards of science (without doing the necessary work to show that this is proper) is right and good if it gets the desired results.

In fact, I have to wonder if Behe would escape academic discipline if he pulled the same stunts in an area not associated with religion. Perhaps he would, mainly because he is so clearly not doing any sort of science in his “ID work”. Perhaps he gets away with fraud due to the fact that it is so thoroughly fraudulent that it doesn’t merit academic attention, thus is counted as just another eccentric bunch of BS.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Gary Donovan Wrote:

Can someone please tell me how “accepting evolution” i.e. “common descent” MOST of the time is so very different from accepting it as a workable theory even more often? Acceptance most of the time IS still acceptance of the theory.

I happen to think that all major IDers privately accept all of evolution, and just don’t dare admit it because they have a prior commitment to pseudoscience and the far-right theocracy with which it is associated.

In ID strategy’s formative stages, various proponents admitted certain things, mostly just an old earth, but in Behe’s case, also common descent (if not the evolutionary mechanism). Now, the most you get without prompting is a token “I’m not a creationist” disclaimer, and some friendly, if condescending, pats on the back to YECs. But otherwise it’s mostly “don’t ask, don’t tell” about their position. I hope that the questioners in this trial follow the example of Pedro Iregonegaray (Kansas Kangaroo Court) and get them to elaborate on their position, and not let them get away with their usual bait-and-switch.

There may be some honest belief among classic creationists (YECs, OECs), but ID is all scam. They knew long before Dover, long before Kansas, that they has no science, and nothing to teach except misrepresentations of evolution. So this “trial” is just more PR. To a public in which ~50% swears by astrology.

The Wedge claims some research will be done, in addition to propaganda. Who will do it? A guy named Doug Axe, who strings Disco along somehow and presumably gets a fellowship although he says his work does not support IDC. Behe is not mentioned in connection with research! Disco knew all along that his claim, which is their excuse for talking about biology, was not supported by research. They must also have known that it could not be, since they had no plans to even try.

They have reinterpreted Judge Jones’ opinion, now they are rewriting the trial. The final act will be to replace the real event with the DI manufactured event. Once the DI trial is finished, I suspect Evolution News and Views will only refer to their version of events in their analysis of current events while ignoring reality. Fantasy always beats reality.

The mock trial witness list differs from the Kitzmiller trial indicating the focus will change some, the inclusion of Gonzalez suggests cosmological ID will be a primary component. This will shift the emphasis away from the biological aspects of ID to more nebulous aspects (apologies to astronomers and cosmologists and people that work on really big things). I notice Dembski will not be participating. He is still a leading DI ID thinker and his most recent paper was published under the Discovery Institute. Without Dembski, their lineup seems incomplete and I wonder if they will they still claim there are unanswered questions in the future?

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

A guy named Doug Axe, who strings Disco along somehow and presumably gets a fellowship although he says his work does not support IDC

Didn’t we read a year or two ago that Axe had actually moved into lab space (!?) at the Disco Inst Headquarters in Seattle? Anyone know what’s up with that?

Did they honestly believe that the observable universe would yield up the fingerprints of God? …

…So yes, they sincerely believed science would find what they know is there. It’s not stupid. It’s a necessary implication of their faith.

This is an excellent summary of the most amazing contradiction within the ID movement. For this to become evident, you don’t even have to understand that science and faith are mutually contradictory. All you have to do is ask the meaning of the word “faith.” If faith is a belief which requires no proof, why are they spending so much effort trying to find proof of their faith? Answer: They’re not, they’re simply trying to debunk proof which is contrary to their faith, and they are blind to the implication that their success (if it were possible) would destroy their faith, since if you have proof of something, faith in it becomes superfluous.

Re: Comment #100343

The comment, as written, seems to contradict one of the things that most amaze me about Christian fundamentalists. They really do believe that their faith is proven, already. They believe that historic evidence proves the Christ mythology, that the Bible requires no interpretation, and, of course, that the scientific community is engaged in an atheistic conspiracy against them. Its a very far cry from relying on faith and spirituality.

The creationists have done all the label creating and field defining so far. This must change. We need to start calling them the Doubting Thomases, or DTs for short.

Regardless of their motivations wouldn’t it be interesting if no one showed up to take the “expert” position? Sorta like the “what if you gave a war and no one came” idea.

On the topic of motivations consider http://www.counterpunch.org/davis01082005.html

Regardless of their motivations wouldn’t it be interesting if no one showed up to take the “expert” position? Sorta like the “what if you gave a war and no one came” idea.

Kansas Kangaroo Kourt.

That is EXACTLY what should happen. Let the *IDiots play lawyer by themselves if they want. They’ve already lost the only “court case” that really COUNTS. (shrug)

[Fundamentalists believe] that the Bible requires no interpretation

Thanks, this is another one of my favorites. “No interpretation.” That’s kind of like saying that it’s possible to speak English (or any other language, for that matter) with “no accent.” It’s an extremely provincial and insular point of view which assumes the existence of what Einstein would call an absolute or privileged frame of reference. Contrary to fundamentalist belief, “literal interpretation” is not an oxymoron.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on May 8, 2006 9:57 PM.

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