J. Scott Turner Misses the Mark

| 88 Comments

J. Scott Turner, a professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry in Syracuse, New York, has a this dumb opinion piece in the January 19 2007 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Since a subscription is required to read this (your university probably has a subscription), I’ll excerpt a couple of the dumber remarks:

Also amusing is the spectacle of independent-minded scientists’ running to college administrators or the courts for help in defining what is science and what is permissible discourse in their classroom.

Faced with all that hue and cry, I almost want to say: “Friends, intelligent design is just an idea.”

The strain’s very persistence invites the obvious question: If Darwin settled the issue once and for all, why does it keep coming back? Perhaps the fault lies with Darwin’s supporters. Rather than debate the strain on its merits, we scramble to the courts or the political ramparts to expel it from our classrooms and our students’ minds.

Read more at Recursivity.

88 Comments

OK, I went to his web site, read the article and one other that he wrote about design. I think that perhaps you are being a little harsh here in proclaiming it “dumb.” Yes, he gets it wrong about scientists running to the courts – that shows that he knows little about the political aspect of ID. However, I think what he is trying to say is that academia should always embrace ideas. His other publication on biological design approaches it as a philosophical problem concerning how complexity arises in natural systems, and explicitly rejects ID. He opens with a commentary on how the use of the word “design” itself is difficult to deal with when considering the fit between form and function in biological systems. As an academic, I can’t disagree with his sentiments at all (not to say I agree with his arguments – that takes a more careful reading).

What strikes me here is that Turner seems not to be “dumb” but rather very naive about the politics of ID. My own personal stance that I openly take with students is that I am more than willing to discuss creationism and ID on their scientific merits at any time (I was harassed last Spring in a course in exactly the manner he describes, by the way). However, this academic approach is distinctly separate from the political problem wherein ID is a construct intelligently designed as a sociopolitical tool to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools. It is very easy for a busy academic used to a collegial atmosphere of intellectual openness to missunderstand agar plate of sleaze that continues to nourish the ID movement in this country.

My own personal stance that I openly take with students is that I am more than willing to discuss creationism and ID on their scientific merits at any time

Meaning, you find scientific merit in it? Or are willing to expose it for lack thereof?

Sigh. Turner positions ID as a scientific hypothesis, to be evaluated on its scientific merits. Unfortunately, Turner’s position is simply without any merit. ID is creationism re-worded (except during fund-raising) into scientistical gibberish in the hopes of sneaking creationist preaching into public school science classes. That’s what ID was *designed* to do, that’s all it’s for, and the only valid arenas for fighting it are political, legal and religious.

Turner would be well advised to spend a few moments trying to put his case before those forums constructed explicitly to “discuss” ID. He’d only get those few moments before he was banned, which might perhaps bring home to him the “collegial atmosphere of intellectual openness” the ID proponents favor when they get to make the rules. Who knows, after few such experiences he might even understand his subject matter!

Needless to say, anytime that ID (or any creation science claim) is placed openly on the table for scientific discussion it quickly collapses into a steaming heap of crap. I have yet to see anything in ID or traditional creationism smelling of “scientific merit” when examined closely. Nevertheless, the lack of scientific merit can be asserted because the claims HAVE been examined scientifically (or at least been subjected to close scrutiny as in the case of quote mining and similar such things) and either refuted or shown to be meaningless.

I think that it is an important strategy to NOT simply dismiss all creationist and ID claims as “unscientific” without backing your stance. To do so is to effectively “prove” the assertions of the creationists that scientists are arrogant and simply dismiss their claims through bias and prejudice. Rather, as done so effectively in the talk origins archive and here, one needs to actually answer the claims. Remember that most students are not a bunch of DI hacks who should know better after having their arses kicked so many times. They have been told that we are liars and cheats, that there is no evidence for evolution (and lots against), and that we dismiss ID because we are all atheist humanists.

It is worth pointing out that though ID can be easily dismissed as unscientific, every time a scientific paper comes out that directly addresses ID claims about irreducible complexity, the origins of complex mutually dependent systems, or the origins of new information (all hypotheses posited by the ID crowd), the paper is gleefully thrown in the faces of the DI crowd. This suggests that the more scientifically we can address specific DI claims (apart from “God did it” and other such BS), the stronger the case against DI.

I wonder if you would get more serious commentary from the ID side, if the posts and comments weren’t so dismissive.

Just opened for business is http://godvsnogod.blogspot.com. It is a major goal of mine to make this blog a safe place for all sides to debate without anyone feeling that their opinion is somehow not as smart as someone elses.

It is possible to be very smart and have very clever ideas and still be dead wrong. Likewise, some of the greatest truths I’ve ever heard have come from 5 year-olds.

I am a bit perplexed by Turner’s approach. he is not an ID proponant at all. I think he is just using a sort of “taunting” approach, possibly because that is the kind of stuff the Chronicle likes to publish, and he’s trying (justifiably) to get his new book some press.

His book looks very interseting.

I think that’s spot on. On one level, ID _is_ just another idea - and it’s fun and important to play with ideas without any of the barnacles that real life attaches to their hulls. What if all the taboo opinions – especially those held by your sworn enemies – were right? Well worth trying to think that way: at the least you get some insight into the other side, and at the best you realise you were wrong all along.

At another level, ID is a poisonous nonsense that threatens the entire modern world, including computers, light bulbs and dentistry. But you can’t expect a philosopher to make that leap.

Randy Kirk Wrote:

a major goal of mine to make this blog a safe place for all sides to debate without anyone feeling that their opinion is somehow not as smart as someone elses.

The problem, Randy, is that some opinions are not as “smart” as others. There is a physical reality: opinions that match well with it are in fact better than opinions that match poorly with it. And no amount of touchy-feely can change this.

Uh, isn’t this guy a college instructor?

Do we really have a problem with the ID claims being raised at the college level, in a class where the instructor supposedly knows a good deal more about evolutionary biology than the high-school coach teaching general science, and where the students will have presumably been provided some grounding in the scientific method, logic, and the weighing of evidence?

Where the curriculum for any given course in a degree-directed program will be following the well-accepted science, even in undergraduate courses, and will certainly be following the cutting-edge science in graduate courses?

Where the curriculum is determined by Ph.D’s and accreditation bodies?

Our concerns with psuedoscience mandates in publicly-funded secondary and primary schools are legitimate ones of constitutional stature.

At the college level–in any half-ass college, as opposed to jokes and frauds, like BJU–where the students are paying customers and not compulsory attendees, our concerns need to be phrased rather differently.

I think that it is an important strategy to NOT simply dismiss all creationist and ID claims as “unscientific” without backing your stance. To do so is to effectively “prove” the assertions of the creationists that scientists are arrogant and simply dismiss their claims through bias and prejudice. Rather, as done so effectively in the talk origins archive and here, one needs to actually answer the claims.

I think this observation is directed toward creationist anti-evolution claims, which ARE testable, and which can be shown to have failed the tests.

But ID, as I understand it (it’s of course such a slippery notion that anyone who disputes it, no matter what they say, “didn’t understand what it means”), makes the claim that life (or some aspects of life) defy credulity as natural phenomena, which means goddidit. And what can be said scientifically about ID claims, except that they are inherently not testable, that ID proponents have not only performed no tests, but haven’t even been able to suggest one in principle. “Goddidit” isn’t a scientific claim.

Really, how can we test “I just can’t believe this could have happened without God’s intervention.”? Maybe this is just semantic taxonomy, though. ID simply claims intelligent design (in the religious sense, obviously. Febble tried to use Dembski’s definition, and her success got her booted). Claims about information gain, or irreducible complexity, I see as *creationism* claims. ID is the minimal subset of creationism - it makes NO claims beyond “goddidit”.

NJ

It isn’t the question of truth or wisdom that I’m discussing here. The issue is reasoned discourse without ad hominem statements or other techniques that don’t go to the issue. Calling a person or an idea dumb doesn’t do a thing to advance the discussion, it merely creates a negative environment.

When we do brainstorming at our company, we assess a $1 fine to anyone who is dismissive of even the seemingly most inane ideas. We find that a truly outside-the- lines idea commonly leads to something remarkable. We also know that some folks who are more likely to be good at upside down thinking quickly shut up if they feel that they or their ideas have been marginalized.

In addition, such approaches to debate suggest that the speaker is lacking humility, not open minded, and given to looking down his nose at those he doesn’t agree with. These are all the kinds of things that may eventually result in “hate” of the opposed group. In turn, those who, as a group, think this way may begin to advance stereotypes and act prejudicial towards the suspected “ignorant” group. (Failing to hire, promote, or otherwise reward those on faculties who think wrong, for instance.)

Re “makes the claim that life (or some aspects of life) defy credulity as natural phenomena, which means goddidit.”

One thing I don’t get is why they (Creationists and/or IDers) think God would be somehow prohibited from being responsible for stuff that we do understand.

Henry

When we do brainstorming at our company, we assess a $1 fine to anyone who is dismissive of even the seemingly most inane ideas. We find that a truly outside-the- lines idea commonly leads to something remarkable. We also know that some folks who are more likely to be good at upside down thinking quickly shut up if they feel that they or their ideas have been marginalized.

You DO realize that there’s a difference between brainstorming and a scientific research program, right?

gwangung,

Not necessarily. The beginning of any new theory necessarily starts out exactly the same way. Currently we have some folks proposing memes, selfish genes, and random large numbers. All of these could be dismissed as nonsense or added to a pool of possibilities.

To the extent that ID or even God are dismissed as relevant to the discussion, you leave out useful and plausible potential answers.

Fitting right into this question is the comment by Henry. No, I don’t think any ID’r or Christian scientist would automatically assume that because we have evidence of a naturalistic method for arriving at how things appear to work, that it leaves out God or some other intelligent designer still having his finger on the controls (think alien or we are under the microscope of some very large creatures.)

Just opened for business is http://godvsnogod.blogspot.com.

But ID isn’t about God, heh heh.

When we do brainstorming at our company, we assess a $1 fine to anyone who is dismissive of even the seemingly most inane ideas.

Only a fool would pay the fine.

We find that a truly outside-the- lines idea commonly leads to something remarkable. We also know that some folks who are more likely to be good at upside down thinking quickly shut up if they feel that they or their ideas have been marginalized.

Ah yes, it’s such a pity that people who are incapable of getting things right side up tend to quickly shut up. Of course, if your company is an advertising firm, there’s no call to get things right side up. But advertising isn’t science. And if yours is a science or technology company, get back to us when it’s profitable.

Not necessarily.

It’s obvious that you don’t necessarily understand the difference.

The beginning of any new theory necessarily starts out exactly the same way.

Theories begin with evidence, not with throwing up as many inane ideas as possible.

Currently we have some folks proposing memes, selfish genes, and random large numbers. All of these could be dismissed as nonsense or added to a pool of possibilities.

You clearly have no understanding of science or research. On your website you suggest that morality and beauty are similar to “rules” of the universe and ask “Why are squirrels cute, and rats not? Why are monarch butterflies considered beautiful, while moths are not? Why not quartz as the prized stone instead of diamonds?” This is the most pathetic argumentum ad ignorantiam. Don’t you know how to do more than ask questions? Or are you well aware that even a little bit of research would yield answers that undermine your “rules of the universe” thesis?

Also amusing is the spectacle of independent-minded scientists’ running to college administrators … for help in defining what is science and what is permissible discourse in their classroom.

It’s nice to know that Turner is amused by his hallucinations.

“To the extent that ID or even God are dismissed as relevant to the discussion, you leave out useful and plausible potential answers.”

Mr. Kirk, even to a layman like me, it’s clear that ID is neither “useful” nor “plausible” as a viable alternative to the Theory of Evolution (ToE). At best it is an interesting philosophical concept.

If its proponents would engage in actual research, and encourage open debate and review of their ideas, then I would be inclined to give them the benefit of doubt. But they don’t.

They quote out of context to support their position. They boast of conducting research and then refuse to even describe its nature. They lie in court under oath. They demand defenders of ToE provide “enough” evidence to satisfy them, but when asked to do likewise assert that ID “doesn’t have to match your pathetic level of detail”.

Admittedly an idea is more than its proponents. But with “help” like that, ID faces an uphill struggle and then some.

To the extent that ID or even God are dismissed as relevant to the discussion, you leave out useful and plausible potential answers.

you mean we leave out useless and completely untestable irrational conceptualizations?

youbetchya.

judging by your rampant campaign to advertise your new site, I’d say you have a vested interest.

care to define exactly what that is?

no lies, now.

Randy, I hate to say this, but your site will NOT attract those of us with a scientific bent. You see, for us, reality matters. ID/Creationism are not reality, so we just don’t care. Asking us to patiently explain just how wrong-headed people’s ideas are, over and over and over and over and over again, without at least having the pleasure, from time to time, in a bit of public humiliation for the peddlars of misinformation is really just a little bit too much to ask. Particularly when the other side is willing to lie…

Anyway, I wanted to make you stop and think just a little about your brainstorming analogy. One could imagine that a brainstorming session was held (over the centuries) for possible explanations of the diversity of life. We’ve had Darwinism, Lamarkism, Intelligent Design, Goddidit, and any number of religious first cause myths from around the world. All were put on the table.

Now, the brainstorming session is finished (actually, it’s not, science is always open to new ideas, but so far those are what we have come up with). Let me ask you, what happens with the ideas at your company after the brainstorming? If you do brainstorming like every other company I’ve ever worked at/heard about/read about, the next phase is to reject the unworkable ideas “No, that won’t fly, it’s too expensive”, “This one’s no good, we’d need an office in Madrid, and couldn’t get the paperwork done before the deadline”, “No, that product will result in a battery life of 3 seconds”, “No, although pretty, the bridge will fall done the first time a semi-trailer drives across it”.

In the whole Evolution Vs Crank Ideas debate, we’ve already done this stage, and all the other ideas have been tossed out (with the possible exception of Lamarkism, which is having a little bit of a revival in a modified form). They just don’t work when put face-to-face with reality. Perhaps this is a little sad, as it reduces the amount of magic in the world, but hey, that’s not our fault, blame the universe (or God, or the FSM or [insert diety/first cause of choice here]).

Flint:

I agree that ID as an overarching concept is indeed untestable, but ID folks do make some specific (and important) claims that are testable. For example, Behe is now famous for having made several falsified assertions about the number of essential proteins comprising the bacterial flagellum (well, “a” bacterial flagellum), the absence of functional homologues in other systems, and so on. Likewise, Dembski’s fundamental (largely unstated) assertions about protein function that form the foundation of his calculations are almost trivially falsifiable. And so on. This is why they have to both ignore so much material and constantly move their goalposts where the weight of facts becomes so great that even they can no longer seriously deny them.

Uh, isn’t this guy a college instructor?

Do we really have a problem with the ID claims being raised at the college level, in a class where the instructor supposedly knows a good deal more about evolutionary biology than the high-school coach teaching general science, and where the students will have presumably been provided some grounding in the scientific method, logic, and the weighing of evidence? …

That sounds reasonable, but like Turner’s, it is a naive view. We are not dealing with honest people.

Any discussion of ID by legitimate instructors will be taken as validation by ID proponents. I have seen this happen. (e.g. Allen MacNeill)

Instructors who are not qualified, but who back ID for religious reasons will get involved. I have seen this happen. The faculty advisor of the local IDEA club is a professor of engineering.

Instructors who should be qualified, but let their religious beliefs override their scientific judgment will get involved. (Example: John Sanford, inventor of the gene gun who testified at Kansas and who is now pushing his book)

Legitimacy will be sought and claimed through the mere existence of student clubs, ignoring the fact that requirements for student clubs are minimal and pretty much any organization that applies will be approved.

Turner takes Hunter Rawlings to task, but Rawlings was absolutely correct: ID is not “just another idea.” ID is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a cynical attempt to advance a religious-political agenda being advanced in the guise of legitimate academics.

Turner fails to address or even acknowledge the inherent dishonesty of the ID cause.

Not necessarily. The beginning of any new theory necessarily starts out exactly the same way. Currently we have some folks proposing memes, selfish genes, and random large numbers. All of these could be dismissed as nonsense or added to a pool of possibilities. To the extent that ID or even God are dismissed as relevant to the discussion, you leave out useful and plausible potential answers.

Um, no.

I think it’s clear that you DON’T understand what scientific research is all about, and you DON’T understand how scientific research begins or how it gets a foothold in science.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. But ideas don’t make up science. It’s ideas backed up by evidence that makes science. And excluding ideas without evidence is PRECISELY what science is all about.

What you’re doing here is trying to elbow out a place for intelligent design without doing the hard work of finding evidence that would support its ideas. Come back when there’s evidence (factual findings, phenomena that is better explained by ID, things other than negative argumentation) and THEN we can talk about ID as an answer.

You’re making the all-too-common mistake of confusing rhetoric with scientific research.

Randy Kirk Wrote:

When we do brainstorming at our company, we assess a $1 fine to anyone who is dismissive of even the seemingly most inane ideas.

So what are your brainstorming sessions like at your company? You’re discussing the needs for a new power supply in your widgets, and along come some rightwing Christian nutcases who keep saying “God will provide”, and whenever someone tries to explain that meanwhile, you need a new power supply, they keep up their “God will provide” chorus? And anyone who tries to provide engineering details is drowned it as trying to suppress “free speech” and “outside the box thinking”?

If that is how your company does its brainstorming sessions, then I can see where you are coming from. (Please share the name of your company, too, so intelligent people know not to do business with a bunch of morons.) Otherwise, you’re just pandering to the nutcases. ID is not an idea. It is complete, absolute drivel, and nothing more than a rightwing political cause.

Turner’s article in the Chronicle is clearly not an endorsement of ID. I believe he’s being deliberately provocative —using the ID argument to show how scientifically minded individuals can injure their own cause by closing off a particular debate in the interest of science. One can easily imagine the circumstances that brought Turner, a renowned biologist whose scientific inquiry centers on the issue of design, to write this article. One doesn’t have to look further than this blog to imagine how his carefully thought out ideas have been greeted with scientific hysteria and scorn because he dares to mention, oh science save us, design.

Also amusing is the spectacle of independent-minded scientists’ running to college administrators or the courts for help in defining what is science and what is permissible discourse in their classroom.

Yes, does this happen?

Faced with all that hue and cry, I almost want to say: “Friends, intelligent design is just an idea.”

Do you? Why are you too damn ignorant to recognize that the IDiots are fighting primarily in order for ID to be taken as more than “just an idea”? Are you stupid, or just dishonest?

The strain’s very persistence invites the obvious question: If Darwin settled the issue once and for all, why does it keep coming back?

The haunting question is, do you have any concept of what context is? We tell people to whom the issue is not settled that the issue is settled scientifically. Apparently that modifier has no meaning to you, dolt. We have explained over and over the reasons why it keeps coming back, and you just blithely ask without bothering with the answers.

And no, it wasn’t Darwin who settled it, cretin. It was a variety of people working through the issues. You seem to have read some of the IDiots’ lying claims, and swallowed them whole, believing that we’re just following some dead white male’s authority.

Perhaps the fault lies with Darwin’s supporters.

Perhaps the fault is with ill-educated academics who write articles without researching the issue they’re “discussing”.

Rather than debate the strain on its merits, we scramble to the courts or the political ramparts to expel it from our classrooms and our students’ minds.

We “debate” it on the merits, and guess what? Morons like you don’t pay attention to the debates, nor to the fact that debates do nothing but make IDists scramble for new “proofs” that evolution “could not happen”, or they simply ignore what we say. If they could be argued down from stupid claims, we’d have won long ago. Because they can’t begin to debate us honestly, they turn to legislation to try to force bankrupt notions into the schools when they haven’t begun to prove themselves in the lab.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Not necessarily. The beginning of any new theory necessarily starts out exactly the same way. Currently we have some folks proposing memes, selfish genes, and random large numbers. All of these could be dismissed as nonsense or added to a pool of possibilities.

Here’s a thought: why don’t you find out how and why ideas in science are dismissed as nonsense, or considered to be possibilities? It seems that you think of every idea as being equal scientifically, and that adding things to the list of “possibilities” in science is the equivalent of a BS session. Perhaps if you’d consider further education to be a possibility, you’d learn to discuss matters that you understand, rather than blithering on about what you know so little.

To the extent that ID or even God are dismissed as relevant to the discussion, you leave out useful and plausible potential answers.

Here’s where even a company BS session might teach you something, if you thought instead of rambling away cluelessly. Suggest to your company that fairies make your product, that God ought to be your designer. You’re going to be treated like a dolt, if not in the BS session, at least once you’re out of the session. This is because companies actually want viable cause-effect processes to be used in their own businesses, and also why the vast majority of corporations defer to actual science (like geology and evolution) and not to complete nonsense like ID.

Again, tell your company to invest in ID research, and just see how truly open hard-nosed businessmen are to pseudoscience. Then tell us why scientists ought to be more open to exploded nonsense.

Had you a good education in science, or even a reasonable grasp of what goes on here, you’d know that the ad hominems came after the analysis, and they are in fact not ad hominems, they are conclusions from experiencing the dearth of evidence and intelligence coming from the ID side. We call them IDiots and ignoramuses because they reveal themselves to be so (some may not be naturally stupid, I understand, however they almost uniformly fail to argue ID intelligently). Such a conclusion is a reasonable judgment and a necessary conclusion in many cases.

God and the relatively intellectually honest ID of Paley were considered by scientists, however these failed to explain taxonomical patterns, homologies, or even analogies, let alone the vast array of evolutionary data being revealed at this time. What is more, there was no real causal mechanism proposed in any ID, with only the hope for one in the earlier version of ID (Paley probably hoped for none, however scientists who bought in to some extent presumably thought that God’s mechanisms might be elucidated in time). The present version wants to abolish actual cause and effect mechanisms and to replace them with a Black Box admitting of no explanation. This is one reason why you’d be laughed at if you suggested to your company that ID be considered, if not at the BS session, then behind your back.

One does not forever treat the intellectually dishonest and the imbeciles with respect that the honest and the intelligently-seeking deserve. Indeed, that would be intellectually dishonest.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Ivy, your points are appreciated.

Indeed, I have been, to some extent, a critic of MacNeill’s overly-accomodating civility toward ID.

My perhaps inadequately-articulated point was not that we should turn a blind eye to all college-level considerations of ID, but that a different critical context is required than in our more-typical “ID in the (high school) classroom” discussion: simply ruling ID “out of bounds” will not work at the college level.

I agree with Shallit and with many of the commentators here that Turner made some needlessly obtuse and naive remarks and should be sent back to class himself for a little seasoning.

Randy Kirk wrote:

I wonder if you would get more serious commentary from the ID side, if the posts and comments weren’t so dismissive.

Their performance at the Dover trial strongly implies an answer of “no.” They had their chance to put forth their best arguments and evidence in a debate whose moderator was, if anything, biased toward their side; and they lost, fair and square. Since then, they’ve become completely unhinged in their attempts to discredit the ruling.

(Besides, one of their most basic and longstanding arguments against evolution is that it leads to atheism and evil – which pretty clearly implies that the dispute is not scientific, it’s political and religious.)

When we do brainstorming at our company, we assess a $1 fine to anyone who is dismissive of even the seemingly most inane ideas. We find that a truly outside-the- lines idea commonly leads to something remarkable. We also know that some folks who are more likely to be good at upside down thinking quickly shut up if they feel that they or their ideas have been marginalized.

You are speaking of a situation where all participants are working toward the same clearly-understood and honestly-articulated goal: find ideas that benefit the company. In the evolution-creationism debate, the goals are clearly different, and the creationists blatantly misrepresent their goals as routinely as they fart.

In addition, such approaches to debate suggest that the speaker is lacking humility, not open minded, and given to looking down his nose at those he doesn’t agree with. These are all the kinds of things that may eventually result in “hate” of the opposed group.

This is how the creationists hide from honest debate: make idiotic statements, have their stupidity shoved in their faces, get embarrassed and pissed off as a result, then pretend they’re being “persecuted,” circle the wagons, and henceforth treat their critics as enemies to be fought off, not scientists who interpret the facts differently. The creationists use this phony victim mentality as their standard excuse for their lack of actual scientific work in support of ID.

Note that phrase in italics: actual scientific work. It’s what separates real science from the phonies, including “cdesign proponentsists.” All their efforts are devoted to PR and political activism, none to actual science.

Oh, and…

When we do brainstorming at our company, we assess a $1 fine to anyone who is dismissive of even the seemingly most inane ideas.

Would a participant be fined for pointing out that a certain idea had already been tried and had failed?

We find that a truly outside-the- lines idea commonly leads to something remarkable.

HOW do you find this? By testing which ideas work and which don’t?

What’s the fine for repeatedly flogging an idea that has already been offered, discussed, and conclusively debunked? The creationists have been doing this since Darwin was alive.

I just want to reiterate that I’m fairly sure that Turner is not an ID creationist. A careful read of his commentary shows this. A look at his books also shows this, I think. Is there any evidence to the contrary other than a) his use of the word “design” and b) his own seeming ambiguity (which I do think is problematic) in writing about this issue in this manner?

Please consider that people are doing exactly what he is accusing people of doing: Painting reasonable scientists as creationists than descending on them like ferrets after a dying porcupine.

Yes, we should go after the ID creationists and all the other creationists, vigorously. But Turner is not one, as far as I can tell. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Greg,

Exactly what do you mean by “go after” creationists?

What if I were to post that we should “go after” atheists or naturalists or unbelievers?

This is the end result of the kind of discourse I see in some of the posts and comment. The attitude comes from a base of anger or something.

We have people saying the debate is over and that weathermen who don’t agree with global warming should be stripped of credentials.

I don’t think any of us should be going after any of the rest of us. The debate can be fun, useful, and move the issue forward. Otherwise, we show ourselves to be either immature or just plain uncivilized.

In answer to some of Randy’s questions:

Exactly what do you mean by “go after” creationists?

Identify and attack their falsehoods, and oppose their attempts to inflict their (minority) interpretation of Christian doctrine on other people’s children in the guise of “science” – or any other guise.

What if I were to post that we should “go after” atheists or naturalists or unbelievers?

It would be nothing new to us. People in your camp, and the politicians and preachers you support, have been spreading lies about people like us – people who dare to question this or that established or majority creed du jour – for centuries.

This is the end result of the kind of discourse I see in some of the posts and comment. The attitude comes from a base of anger or something.

“Or something?” You don’t sound very eager to learn the specifics here.

In fact, we have tried to explain, on this blog and elsewhere, exactly why we’re angry; and people like you keep on pretending you can’t see our reasons, and asking the same question over and over, and ignoring or forgetting the answers.

Remember that article I cited in post #155694 above? You yourself agreed that the behavior described was wrong. Do you not consider this good cause for anger on our part? Aren’t YOU angry about it? Incidents of this sort have been happening long before this country was even founded, and many people like us have suffered and died as a result.

We have people saying the debate is over and that weathermen who don’t agree with global warming should be stripped of credentials.

We also have political appointees (Republican) with absolutely no science background or credentials of their own, “editing,” rewriting and erasing the words of respected scientists to fit a pro-business, pro-fundamentalist political agenda (i.e., in NASA).

Any more questions?

I don’t think any of us should be going after any of the rest of us. The debate can be fun, useful, and move the issue forward. Otherwise, we show ourselves to be either immature or just plain uncivilized.

Once again, your attempts to “rise above the issues” have betrayed your self-righteousness and constitutes an ad hominem attack against the people you’re having such a good time “debating.”

I’ll repeat my request for you to answer the criticism leveled at you, so that you can enter this debate. Because so far you’ve done nothing but assert.

Well, at least poster ‘Randy Kirk’ provides an amusing diversion…

into vanity, etc.

Randy Kirk bloviated: However, the point of this argument (survival rates of believers in god) may be true even for those who have an understanding that there is more to this universe than them, and they are anxious to learn and serve that potter.

Damn, and I thought the entire universe was me. Thanks for showing me the light. [eyeroll]

The basic problem you have Sr. Kirk, is that you think you can find more truth merely thinking about issues than you can doing science. That war was fought and won long ago, and science won…by a long shot. Not only are the people here aware of that, but many of them are the ones getting their hands dirty and actually doing the work over countless thankless years. Now can’t you see how it might piss them off for someone like you (or me) who hasn’t done all that work, to come in here pontificating to them about all things biological merely because we gave it some thought musing on our experiences in bicycle repair and music? Can’t you see how insulting that is?

I think my varied experiences at massage therapy, mathematics, and performing the Rubic’s cube at world class levels gives me special insights into how to run a bike shop. I think it is better if the wheels are round. Black rubber works well too. And have you thought about putting a shifter on the handlebars?

Sound ridiculous to you? That’s how you sound to them. Really.

I just want to reiterate that I’m fairly sure that Turner is not an ID creationist. A careful read of his commentary shows this. A look at his books also shows this, I think. Is there any evidence to the contrary other than a) his use of the word “design” and b) his own seeming ambiguity (which I do think is problematic) in writing about this issue in this manner?

Please consider that people are doing exactly what he is accusing people of doing: Painting reasonable scientists as creationists than descending on them like ferrets after a dying porcupine.

What the eff are you talking about? No one anywhere in this thread suggested that Turner is an ID creationist. Please consider that you are being a strawman-wielding jackass.

The basic problem you have Sr. Kirk, is that you think you can find more truth merely thinking about issues than you can doing science. That war was fought and won long ago, and science won…by a long shot.

In any case, no one is going to find much truth thinking with Randy’s brain; it simply doesn’t work very well.

Mark,

Once again, I don’t suggest that I am more knowledgeable than you in your specific area of expertise. However, I would be surprised if those of you who are biologists are just as knowledgeable in physics or math or astrophysics. But that doesn’t stop you from going outside you specific discipline to comment on these.

I am pretty certain that none of you are experts on comparitive religion or theology, but that won’t keep you from offering an opinion that science is superior in its wisdom than Christianity.

And, quite frankly, most of the things that we have discussed since my first comment, have had less to do with the details of biology,etc., than they do with philosophy. And I do have a serious amount of education in that sphere.

Raging Bee,

So if those are the reasons your angry, then why would you want to contribute to an increase in negative discourse by responding in kind. There are plenty of folks on both sides of this or any issue who don’t play nice. Millions of Christians and Jews are dying in 2007 just because of their beliefs.

So, this takes us back to my original reason for commenting. Put aside the anger. Attack the issues, make your case, intend to prevail.

Then, if you ever do prevail, be prepared to handle the responsibility of leadership. The promise of naturalism and humanism has always been that we will create a better society when God is out, and science leads. Show me now.

You’re still not getting it, are you, Randall?

The promise of naturalism and humanism has always been that we will create a better society when God is out, and science leads.

No. The results of real scientific investigation are better, more accurate, more predictive, and more useful explanations of the universe than Aristotlean mind-wanking.

And the people who do the real work are tired of the liars and thugs who want to smuggle their particular religion into schools, under the pretense of science.

Randy Kirk said: I would be surprised if those of you who are biologists are just as knowledgeable in physics or math or astrophysics. But that doesn’t stop you from going outside you [sic] specific discipline to comment on these.

Comment, yes. Go onto a cite populated by physicists and telling them that our experience in math and music gives us special insights into their area of expertise, no.

I am pretty certain that none of you are experts on comparitive religion or theology, but that won’t keep you from offering an opinion that science is superior in its wisdom than Christianity.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

fnxtr

So you seek knowledge only for its own sake? There is no expectation that the results of the inquiry will improve anything?

RK:

You don’t think a more useful explanation of the universe is an improvement?

You place no value on clear understanding?

Are you one of those new age flakes who would prefer existence to be shrouded in superstitious mystery? That things are real just because you want them to be?

If I was this rock – sorry, crystal – in the sea under a full moon and then rub it on my ankle it’ll cure hemorrhoids? Bury a potato in the back yard and my warts will go away?

Is that the kind of “improvement” you’re talking about?

And you competely avoided the part about liars and thugs.

was -> wash. mea culpa.

Regarding J. Scott Turner’s opinion piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education: The original comment in this thread exposes the fact that those who take political positions consistently relinquish their objectivity in exchange for advocacy. Who here is not aware that politics and truth are seldom bed mates?

Turner’s well-taken point is that scientists who quash the concept of intelligent design based on dogma or political advocacy rather than evidence corrupt the principals of both academic discourse and empiricism. I cannot see any credible Darwinist questioning that position…Some of the posts here seem to be written by people whose ancestors were likely proponents of the silencing of Galileo.

Scott Turner is a Darwinist, not a promoter of Intelligent Design. What he seeks to explore in his new book - The Tinkerer’s Apprentice - is whether the “apparent” design in nature (which every thoughtful child over six can observe) might suggest that the neo-Darwinist position about evolution might not be all there is to it.

He isn’t promoting a big white bearded man in the sky - but rather the possibility the systemic processes in body, specifically processes that involve homeostasis, might actually be in a dialog with genetic processes to produce the final result of a phenotype…at least in my humble understanding of his work.

My first suggestion to those who wish to promote political agendas is that they send money to the Union of Concerned Scientists as opposed to debasing credible researchers who are frankly beyond their pay grade, and in this case, promoting reason and discourse.

My second suggestion is that they read Turner’s actual works…and try to understand his revolutionary and very well documented positions. This is a man who knows physiology, is an entertaining and capable communicator, and a very creative thinker.

In his brilliant first book - The Extended Organism - he built on the ideas in Dawkin’s The Extended Phenotype, (though I am clear he came to similar ideas independently)and provided significant evidence that the boundaries of an organism’s physiology can extend beyond its “skin”. He provided many examples of this ground-breaking idea from a position as credible as any Darwinist out there.

Truth comes from a dialectic. I understand that both witch burners and religious ideologues need to be met on the field of battle. However, we don’t want to flame our best in the process.

Take a deep breath, please.

RK Wrote:

I am pretty certain that none of you are experts on comparitive religion or theology, but that won’t keep you from offering an opinion that science is superior in its wisdom than Christianity.

Science is verifiably superior in its knowledge.

Please define “wisdom”.

If it is the “ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight” so yes, science discerns lasting facts and truths, but its theoretical constructs are provisional, and the facts may be contingent.

If it is “good judgment”, again yes. Science is based on tested methods of judgment. (Though as usual, in society we may not have much time to spend until making judgment, so it is not what we primarily use here.)

In these cases, science is also our most reliable source of wisdom.

CT Wrote:

Scott Turner is a Darwinist, not a promoter of Intelligent Design. What he seeks to explore in his new book - The Tinkerer’s Apprentice - is whether the “apparent” design in nature (which every thoughtful child over six can observe) might suggest that the neo-Darwinist position about evolution might not be all there is to it.

I’m at a loss to understand how a Darwinist can suggest that the neo-darwinist position isn’t enough, since it contains Darwin’s theory as a subset in the synthesis. Unless of course you are using creationist mislabeling of evolutionary theory.

Turner’s work on homeostasis may or may not result in additions to evolutionary theory, as may evo-devo and similar theories. But he is a physiologist, and the effects from the mechanisms he models may also have been accounted for in other ways already.

Specifically, IIRC homeostasis has been discussed a long time. So if it isn’t included as necessary for evolutionary theory at this time I would not hold its chances high.

CT Wrote:

those who wish to promote political agendas

Again, I’m at a loss. How can opposing a religio-political agenda (creationism) in science and education of science be conflated with a promotion of an agenda? What is the political agenda of skeptics in noting that Turner is naive about the anti-scientist creationist agenda?

CT Wrote:

Truth comes from a dialectic.

Truth in science comes from discarding false hypotheses. It is likely the political arena could also benefit from this proven method.

fnxtr,

All of your writing suggests you have clear agenda in mind. Thus it is a bit hard to imagine that your research or analysis of research is not colored by the lens you see through.

My question was whether that lens includes using science to better mankind. It is possible that you have other uses for science. Power, personal wealth or success, etc. Everyone who argues with as much passion as you must also be passionate about the end game of their work.

THugs and liars. Plenty everywhere I turn. Lawyers, politicians, teachers union, college and university faculty committees, regigious leaders, scientists, etc. Some in each group.

RK: My ‘agenda’ or lack thereof is irrelevant to the issue at hand (see the thread title), which is the scientific vacuity and moral bankruptcy of the “Inteligent Design” scam.

Stop trying to derail the thread.

Randall Kirk wrote:

Millions of Christians and Jews are dying in 2007 just because of their beliefs.

Millions? Dying where? Not here in Christendom, and most certainly not as a result of any policy advocated here. What are you on about? Do you think that mentioning the persecution of Christians somewhere else justifies persecution by Christians here? Sorry, it doesn’t. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

So, this takes us back to my original reason for commenting. Put aside the anger. Attack the issues, make your case, intend to prevail.

Um, that’s what I’ve been doing in response to your posts. I specified SOME of the issues, and you had nothing to say about them. Do try to keep up, won’t you?

Then, if you ever do prevail, be prepared to handle the responsibility of leadership.

Better than the vapid phony Christians who are currently trying to tell others how to raise our kids and live our lives? That’s not exactly a high bar you’re setting.

The promise of naturalism and humanism has always been that we will create a better society when God is out, and science leads.

No, the promise has always been that people are most free, and make the most progress on all fronts, when we’re free to practice religion as we see fit, and no sect has a monopoly on state power. We don’t have to show you anything – just read a history book.

Randy Kirk: if your website includes “Why are monarch butterflies considered beautiful, while moths are not?” you are in desperate need of a copy of Joseph Scheer’s ‘Night Visions: The Secret Designs of Moths’, which is a book containing astoundingly beautiful pictures of eastern North American moths done with a high resolution scanner.

Randy (I censor comments on my blog) Kirk Wrote:

All of your writing suggests you have clear agenda in mind. Thus it is a bit hard to imagine that your research or analysis of research is not colored by the lens you see through.

My question was whether that lens includes using science to better mankind. It is possible that you have other uses for science. Power, personal wealth or success, etc. Everyone who argues with as much passion as you must also be passionate about the end game of their work.

THugs and liars. Plenty everywhere I turn. Lawyers, politicians, teachers union, college and university faculty committees, regigious leaders, scientists, etc. Some in each group.

You continue to fail to make any point. So what? People are imperfect: theists most of all. Deal with it. And as fnxtr points out - get back to the topic of the thread.

Randy Kirk Wrote:

All of your writing suggests you have clear agenda in mind. Thus it is a bit hard to imagine that your research or analysis of research is not colored by the lens you see through.

My question was whether that lens includes using science to better mankind. It is possible that you have other uses for science. Power, personal wealth or success, etc. Everyone who argues with as much passion as you must also be passionate about the end game of their work.

Personally, I hope my research does benefit mankind - I’m currently working on Parkinson Plus.

Which changes my analysis and research not at all.

RK’s purpose is the old creationist/cdesign proponentist schtick of trying to get polite discourse going with the science supporters and then claim that their YECism (as is apparently RK’s position) or IDism is being taken seriously as science. Fundamentally dishonest.

I wonder what attitude RK’s company takes to an employee whose idea has been tried repeatedly and failed for decades but who goes out and takes out ads in the media promoting his idea and calling the company dogmatic, arrogant, dishonest and cult-like and claiming they are trying to ram their ideas down his throat? How about if he engages in a political campaign to get his idea imposed on the company or to require that the company use his idea just as much as any other (‘equal time’)?

Quick points

I’m sorry that the thread is not being maintained. I merely dropped by, felt that the tone was pretty out there, and decided to comment. No agenda, no plan, just a visceral response.

I have not, to date, even monitored my blogs, much less censored them. However, it is my intent to try and maintain civility.

I have removed offensive material from Christianclassics.blogspot.com

I’m not 100% sure I understand Mike’s last question fully, but I desire open forums in all arenas. I do not believe that radio stations or Internet sites, or cable TV stations owe equal time to anyone.

Raging Bee:

I appreciate much of your thinking and your way of expressing things. But in this last post you use this huge broad brush with regard to Christians teaching folks how to raise kids. What better advice than unconditional love, forgiveness, establishing clear rules, teaching discipline, and promoting wisdom. These are the basic tenants of most who I follow, and I have a huge library of both Christian and secular authors on this subject.

Maybe you preferred Dr. Spock or Freud or that greatest of all non-agenda scientists Kinsey.

But in this last post you use this huge broad brush with regard to Christians teaching folks how to raise kids.

No, I did not use such a broad brush – I referred specifically to “vapid phoney Christians” who were trying to use state power to enshrine certain narrowly held beliefs in public schools – beliefs such as creationism and homophobia, which are not held by a majority of Christians, aren’t even central to Christian doctrine, and have, in fact, caused rifts within the Christian community.

Raging Bee

Point taken.

What is the “Selfish Gene” thing?

Genes Are Primal And Genomes Are Evolved Organisms

A. In view of the information we now have about life and its evolution:

Earth Life: 1. a format of temporarily constrained energy, retained in temporary constrained genetic energy packages in forms of genes, genomes and organisms 2. a real virtual affair that pops in and out of existence in its matrix, which is the energy constrained in Earth’s biosphere.

Earth organism: a temporary self-replicable constrained-energy genetic system that supports and maintains Earth’s biosphere by maintenance of genes.

Gene: a primal Earth’s organism.

Genome: a multigenes organism consisting of a cooperative commune of its member genes.

Cellular organisms: mono- or multi-celled earth organisms.

B. Update of life sciences conceptions is now feasible and urgently desirable:

- Earth’s biosphere phenomenon is a distant relative of black holes, a form of constrained energy pocket.

- First were independent individual genes, Earth’s primal organisms.

- Genes aggregated cooperatively into genomes, multigenes organisms, with genomes’ organs.

- Simultaneously or consequently genomes evolved protective and functional membranes, organs.

- Then followed cellular organisms, with a variety of outer-cell membranes shapes and functionalities.

This conception is a scientific, NOT TECHNOLOGICAL, life-science innovation.

It is tomorrow’s comprehension of life and its evolution.

IT EVOKES INTRIGUING DARWINIAN IMPLICATIONS.

IT IS FRAUGHT WITH INTRIGUING TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS POTENTIALS.

Suggesting,

Dov Henis

http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81p[…]BbHgtjQjxG_Q–?cq=1

Dov Henis said:

[A lot of blather.]

- Earth’s biosphere phenomenon is a distant relative of black holes, a form of constrained energy pocket.

[Another lot of blather.]

Black holes aren’t energy pockets any more than particles are, they are GR phenomena of mass-energy. Nor are they constrained, as seen from far away, any more than a self-gravitating particle cloud or cohesive mass would be.

In fact, one could make a case that the correct description is that a black hole lacked constraints that prohibited its formation.

Earths biosphere is a complex phenomenon of geology, chemistry et cetera, but ultimately a consequence of evolution. Black holes as a phenomenon is a consequence of GR. No relation.

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This page contains a single entry by Jeffrey Shallit published on January 15, 2007 12:17 PM.

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