Witt reviews Collins

| 24 Comments

Jonathan Witt, fellow for the Discovery Institute’s Center for the renewal of science and culture, has written a review of Francis Collins’ book “ The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”.

Witt objects to Collins’ interpretation of Intelligent Design, arguing that like many before him, Collins just does not get it… Or does he?

It seems that despite the significant efforts from the Media Complaints division and despite the many efforts to educate its faithful about what Intelligent Design is and isn’t the message that any references to creationism has to be avoided has yet to get through to the masses. In addition, it seems that to most scientists the fact that ID is a gap argument based on negative argumentation, is also self evident.

So what is an ID activist like West to do but ‘complain’ that nobody seems to get it.

But this is not the case. Design theorists in biology do offer an extensive critique of Darwinian theory, but they also offer positive evidence for intelligent design.

I’d say, most people are getting it and have come to the simple realization that ID is scientifically vacuous, and that it lacks positive evidence and explanations. In fact, areas where science is successful in applying design inferences do not rely on the limited approach chosen by the ID activists. In other words, next time an ID activist argues that ID is the better explanation or that ID is based on a positive argument, ask them how ID explains a particular ‘designed’ event or system. Marvel at the response which invariably seems to take the form of: We need no … evidence, we need not pathways, we need no mechanisms… All we need is the Truth and we all know what that is.

When that does not convince you, ask yourself the simple question: What has ID contributed to our scientific understanding of said ‘designed’ systems?

The answer may shock many a faithful…

24 Comments

I was tempted to send an email to the webmaster - that being the ONLY way to respond - that the link must be broken because nothing in the article makes any sense. But then I thought, why bother. It would just upset the webmaster, and Witt obviously wouldn’t get it.

BTW - Isn’t it time for the DI to rename itself yet? The Bwa Ha Haa! perhaps? (The Bible Will Always Have All Holy Answers Association).

Re “(The Bible Will Always Have All Holy Answers Association).”

They’ll have answers that have holes in them? :D

Henry J - Yes, that goes without saying! At X-Mas time however, they go with Holly Answers, but their “research” should still be referred to as Bwa Ha Ha!

In our present intellectual climate, where scientists have been harassed and even fired for advocating intelligent design, and the idea is routinely attacked in news stories and the popular books of writers like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, the fact that the head of the Human Genome Project makes a scientific case for intelligent design should stand out before all the others.

1) “scientists harrased and even fired” I do not know of any fired creationists. Gross incompetence should be a cause for being dismissed, and any scientist who is a creationist is grossly incompentent. Sad to say, I cannot bring any examples to mind.

2) The nonsensical idea of IDC has been attacked primarily in scholarly journals, a handful of books by scientists, and saddly given far too much credibility by journalists. The latter deficit is improving. Witt left out the pounding IDC has recieved in federal court.

Maybe he doesn’t want to pick at the scabs.

But this is not the case. Design theorists in biology do offer an extensive critique of Darwinian theory, but they also offer positive evidence for intelligent design.

You’d think that if he was going to write this long article, he could spare a couple of sentences to tell us what that positive evidence for intelligent design is. Especially since he follows that sentence with a multi-paragraph negative criticism of evolutionary study of the eyeball and then a multi-paragraph two-section negative criticism of evolutionary study of the bacterial flagellum.

Or was the idea that the vaguely alluded-to “the eyeball is miswired in a way that causes a blind spot, but provides better oxygen flow” thing was somehow supposed to be positive evidence for design, and we’re supposed to just fill in the explanation ourselves of why this is evidence for a designer? If that is the case, then I would like to help out the ID researchers by proposing the following as even more positive evidence for intelligent design:

* There are eight planets in the solar system.

* Fish of the suborder Anabantoidei have a rudimentary lunglike organ.

* Plants are green.

The suggestion here is that design theorists are hobbled by a failure of the imagination, an inability to imagine how the Darwinian mechanism could have achieved anything as sophisticated as the flagellar motor. But it is the Darwinists who have been unable to imagine, much less demonstrate in the laboratory, a credible Darwinian pathway to the flagellum.

Hm. I imagine that this line has a lot more impact when you read it through the religious magazine that Wells is writing in, instead of on a science blog where this post immediately follows one discussing possible evolutionary pathways for the development of the flagellum.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 2, column 4, byte 65 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Here’s AIG’s view on Francic Collins book: http://www.answersingenesis.org/doc[…]0collins.asp

In the same way, the bacterial flagellum, composed of more than 40 distinct kinds of protein machinery, needs every one in place to function. If it has only 39 proteins, it will not work.

Scheech. Po’ po’ widdle creatos. They just can’t ever get it right. Plenty of flagella flapping away with less than 39 proteins.

(I think that this was killed by Reed’s antispam efforts because of 2 url links).

So much nonsense, so little time.

Jonathan Witt Wrote:

Take two examples from chapter three. First, [Collins] refers to the “backward wiring” of the vertebrate eye—an apparently inefficient structure that forces light to pass through the nerves and blood vessels on its way to the eye’s light sensors [snip].….. However, geneticist and physician Michael Denton has demonstrated that the wiring improves oxygen flow, an important advantage not achievable by the tidier approach demanded by Darwinism.

This is complete and utter nonsense. The increased blood flow is needed because the bad design of the vertebrate retina causes it to overheat. Please read this post for all the detail. I also deal with the oxygen flow argument briefly taking on a post from Witt here. And Denton had nothing to do with this incorrect “Demonstration”.

About those flagella thingies - if they were “designed”, would the designer be a friend, or a foe, of humanity?

Witt says: Also notice how blithely Collins equates the designer’s ongoing involvement in creation with incompetence.

Well he does have a point there. Just because we might imagine that we observe that there is no ongoing involvement from the designer in creation doesn’t necessarily mean that the designer would be incompetent if it had decided to do things differently. Personally I never did understand that line of reasoning.

I mean, let’s say that the designer decided to get involved with the creation to the point where it decided to jump down here and become one of the created, and then jump back up there after making a few necessary points and “sacrifices” and whatnot. Competent designer, or incompetent designer? You be the judge! Let’s say the designer decided that, rather than getting involved with the creation, millions and billions should suffer at the hands of tyrants and earthquakes and so forth. Competent designer, or incompetent designer? You decide! Because the designer sure as hell ain’t gonna tell ya itself.

“the eyeball is miswired in a way that causes a blind spot, but provides better oxygen flow”

LOL

they’re STILL using that lameass bit?

rigghhhhttt.

so if that “design” is so intelligent, why don’t we find it in all organisms that posess good vision?

take cephalopods, for example.

no reverse wiring there.

hmm.

could there be good explanation for the reverse wiring in mammals that doesn’t invoke the “goddidit” meme?

why yes, there are.

Wittless knows all of this of course, but is paid to lie and obfuscate.

go figure.

of course anybody with an ounce of sense who wanted to doublecheck Wittless’ drivel could simply visit the talk origins compendium to view the references for themselves:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/com[…]ection3.html

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

“the eyeball is miswired in a way that causes a blind spot, but provides better oxygen flow”

LOL

they’re STILL using that lameass bit?

Why should they abandon a bad argument just because it’s blatantly false?

The most common cause of blindness through history (and to this day outside the developed world) is detached retina. Detached retina is caused ENTIRELY by by the backwards tubing in the eye. Any slight damage to the retina will be exaggerated with every beat of the heart. If only the blood vessels were on the other side, as they are in cephalopods, then the expansion of the blood vessels wouldn’t pull the retina away from the eye matrix.

God… I mean the Unknown Intelligent Designer who Might Be God, obviously prefers squid to us.

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

so if that “design” is so intelligent, why don’t we find it in all organisms that posess good vision?

take cephalopods, for example.

no reverse wiring there.

hmm.

The distribution of obverse and reverse-wired eyes is quite inexplicable to creationists. When the creationists are using the “better heat distribution” claim, they often point out that cephalopods live in the water and are cold blooded, so don’t need to distribute heat so well. But, wait, fish live in the water and are cold blooded, but they have vertebrate style reverse eyes! So, that explanation won’t cut it. Somewhere along the way, the Unknown Intelligent Designer Who Might Be God goofed big.

My other favorite “explanations” for the reverse eye:

It protects the retina from UV. Um… that’s like celebrating the bullet-stopping power of Kleenex. It also fails to explain the distribution of obverse and reverse eyes in marine life.

Can you design a better eye? I think not! I can’t design a car either, but I can tell a Rolls Royce is better than a Chevy Lumina.

Sheesh! My original comment got eaten with only two blasted URL’s. Witt is dead wrong about the “backwards retina means better bllod flow” thing. See this post for detailed demolition of this notion. Needless to say the rest of his stuff is wrong too.

Long time lurker. I come here to laugh at creationists like everyone else. But one small point about the eye, Michael Suttkus, II. The main cause of blindness is certainly not retinal detachment, it is infectious disease… Onchocerciasis, Trachoma, etc.

In countries where infectious disease is absent, it is glaucoma, diabetes, macular degeneration, hypertension.…

When I was in eye doctor school nobody mentioned the beautiful Design of the retina, or made such dumb remarks as Witt does, by way of Dr. Wells. They did tell us that Chlamydia trachomatis was designed, however.

Just Kidding.

Keep the laughs coming,

pb

Among the usual lying and ineffectual arguing of Witt, I was surprised to see the rare correct statement: “Collins has himself violated the rule of methodological materialism”

Speaking of the mass of lies, one could make a “Witt - less lying” parlor game of his texts. I count 19 outright lies:

  • Collins supports ID (“Francis Collins makes a scientific case for intelligent design.”)
  • theism = intelligent design (“Francis Collins makes a scientific case for intelligent design.”)
  • scientists have been harassed and even fired for advocating intelligent design
  • design theorists offer positive evidence
  • production of information haven’t been shown in evolution
  • production of irreducibly complex systems haven’t been shown in evolution
  • eye design is positive evidence
  • flagellum design is positive evidence
  • mouse traps are irreducibly complex ( http://udel.edu/~mcdonald/mousetrap.html )
  • 40 IC flagellum proteins
  • 30 non-homolog flagellum proteins
  • no credible evolutionary pathway to the flagellum
  • methodological materialism is presupposed
  • the truly scientific approach is without methodological materialism
  • methodological materialism may be discarded
  • a supernatural god means variation isn’t part of evolution
  • evolution is Darwinian only
  • biologists are in majority on DI’s list of supporters
  • biologists rejecting evolution are serious

How many did I miss?

PvM: Marked up with list numbering

Nice going Torbjörn Larsson :)

Personally I was shocked Wells had to sink to “design theorists offer positive evidence” .…what?…after all the hard work creationists put into diminishing positivism.…he is now going to provide natural material positive evidence?

They refuse to provide positive evidence for a creator, mere assertion that a creator exists in extant and meekly published in a church newsletter/P.R. release is all they seem to submit for ‘peer review’.

Since all his readers, the ones he values anyway, assume there is a creator he has no fear of a material proof being required.

But reading further “eye design is positive evidence” wow .….that 100 year plus, old wives tale.

Whew! What a relief.… I thought he had gone sane for a second.

So Torbjörn .… add this to your list.

Wells provides no positive evidence for understanding what positive evidence IS. …Or is just lying.

Good grief! I do believe Michael has found the first evidence of the identity of the Designer - Great Cthulu. May His Squiddiness have mercy on our soles.…(and flatheads)

A neo-Paleyist critiques a neo-Paleyist-once-removed, and still has to lie. Sad, really.

paul b Wrote:

But one small point about the eye, Michael Suttkus, II. The main cause of blindness is certainly not retinal detachment, it is infectious disease… Onchocerciasis, Trachoma, etc.

In countries where infectious disease is absent, it is glaucoma, diabetes, macular degeneration, hypertension.…

Hey! Don’t go messing up my statements with facts! My statements were good ones, the facts need to get themselves in line with what I said!

But seriously, I checked and it seems you’re right. Just another bit of misinformation I picked up somewhere, I guess. Thanks for keeping me honest.

Man, I’ve been making that claim for years. WAAAAAA! It must be easier to be a creationist. Much less fun, though.

Henry J Wrote:

About those flagella thingies - if they were “designed”, would the designer be a friend, or a foe, of humanity?

They don’t say. But it would be nice from time to time if critics take a break from “sneaking in God” accuasations and ask them point blank if their claims on the flagella have any bearing as to whether beetles and Beatles share common ancestors. And if not, why they haven’t challenged Behe on it.

Of course ID contributes to our scientific understanding of said designed systems. Afterall, they spur Darwinists to do reseach! I think they are doing science a favor. Afterall, science is self-correcting - may the most objective win!

Of course ID contributes to our scientific understanding of said designed systems. Afterall, they spur Darwinists to do reseach!

Because, of course, no one ever did any scientific research in biology until the IDiots showed up, right?

BWA HA HA HA AHA HA HAH AHA HA HA HAH AH AHH HA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dude, if THAT is the best argument that IDers can come up with, then ID is well and truly dead, dead, dead.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on November 10, 2006 12:56 PM.

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