Intelligent Design: The real issue according to Johnson

| 24 Comments

So what has happened to Philip ‘the father of Intelligent Design’ Johnson? While some ID proponents have been arguing that ID has nothing in common with religion, Johnson seems to disagree. Since his stroke in 2001, Johnson’s public appearances seem to have been minimal and given his past statements, I am not surprised that ID is keeping Johnson out of the lime-light.

On UcD Tyke explains why the “confusion” by O’Reilly and Stein about the religious nature of ID is due to a fundamental entanglement with creationism. And while some effort is made to manage the message and pretend that ID makes no claims about the designer(s), ID proponents are very clear that the purpose of ID is to introduce the reality of God into the academic world.

Tyke Wrote:

This may be pessimistic, but I very much doubt ID will ever come close to disentangling itself from creationism and religion. By far the largest block of support for ID comes from the conservative Christian community, and they simply see no merit in pretending that they don’t necessarily mean God when they talk about an intelligent designer. In fact, many of them believe it to be disingenuous to do so.

Even Philip Johnson himself is quite open about his religious motives for supporting ID when talking about it on Christian radio shows. While his lawyerly choice of words may allow him to continue claiming that the science of ID is silent on who the creator is, there is no mistaking the message he is sending to the Christian faithful–that ID enables Biblical creationism as a scientific theory.

Some examples:

Philip Johnson Wrote:

“Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”

(American Family Radio, Jan 10, 2003 broadcast, in which Johnson “discusses his book The Right Questions, encouraging Christians to actively debate issues of eternal value.”)

Philip Johnson is also quoted in “Christianity.ca” while describing the “purpose of the Discovery Institute”:

Furthermore, the purpose of the Discovery Institute is plain. Phillip Johnson, a senior fellow at the Institute, stated last year on a Christian radio talk show that “Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit, so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”

Let’s Be Intelligent About Darwin by Elizabeth Nickson

As early as 1996, Johnson had declared:

Philip Johnson Wrote:

“This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.”

Witnesses for the prosecution Darwin on Trial author brings together anti-Darwin coalition to bring down evolution by Joel Belz in Los Angeles 1996, World Magazine November 30, 1996, Volume 11, Number 28, p. 18.

Why is it that we do not hear much about Johnson anymore from the ID proponents? Has the ‘father of intelligent design’ been expelled? Has he become a liability for being so outspoken about the motivation of Intelligent Design?

Or perhaps, because of statements like these?

Philip Johnson Wrote:

Johnson: There is a relatedness. But what does it mean? Say we have almost 99 percent of our genes in common with chimpanzees. We also have at least 25 percent of our genes in common with bananas. There are these commonalities that exist throughout life. Do they point to a common evolutionary process or a common creator? That is the question for interpretation.

The genes are going to win when people ask me about that great degree of similarity between human genes and chimpanzee genes. I answer that genes must not be anywhere near as important as we have been led to believe. If there were that great a commonality between chimps and humans, it ought to be relatively easy to breed chimps and come up with a human being, or by genetic engineering to change a chimp into a human. We ought to see humans occasionally being born to chimps or perhaps chimps born into human families.

So the real question to me that needs to be explained is the enormous difference between chimps and human beings. That’s what evolutionary science needs to explain and can’t explain.

In defense of Intelligent Design NOVA PBS “Judgement Day: Intelligent design on trial” 2007

Even though Denis Lamoureux exposed the scientific ignorance of Philip Johnson on the topic of evolutionary theory in the book Darwinism Defeated, Johnson still does not show much progress in his understanding of the science of evolution. Not surprising, given his training in law not science, but as a major proponent of ID, one would at least hope that he would familiarize himself with the actual scientific claims. But then again, as Johnson stated himself. this is not really about science, it’s about religion.

On UcD, a poster named Tyke observes, the continued focus of ID proponents on religion is a self inflicted wound, a lethal combination of limited (if any) scientific research and a theology which tries to appeal to Christians through bait and switch techniques.

This has nothing to do with the merits of ID as a scientific hypothesis, but it is certainly contributing to the failure to gain traction amongst the more secular minded, and despite some virulent opposition, the wound is mostly self-inflicted—-a severe, and ongoing case of friendly fire.

Source: Tyke on UcD read also the followup comments such as

Many of the Christian fundamentalists have no use for issues of science since they are already convinced that they know the answer and that science should obviously support their viewpoints. Not only is ID a scientific show stopper from a scientific perspective but also from a theological perspective. After all, why do the research when one already claims to know the answers.

I agree that the facts should be allowed to speak for themselves, but that’s not the problem. The fundamentalist Christian community, by and large, have no patience for a serious and sober debate and inquiry into the merits of and evidence for ID. They believe they already know the answer, that God is obviously the designer.

And given that, so far, the ID output is mostly PR and little science, the ID message is getting lost in the overtly religious overtones of those who would support ID but muddy the waters with overt theology.

Mostly PR and little science, now that is what I call “ID exposed’

24 Comments

And yet, there are still people who cling to the (false) notion that Intelligent Design is a science.

…Johnson still does not show much progress in his understanding of the science of evolution. Not surprising, given his training in law not science, but as a major proponent of ID, one would at least hope that he would familiarize himself with the actual scientific claims.

“He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.”
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), “On Liberty”

Unfortunately they have a machinery of denial in the form of the Disco Institute, so whilst every rational thinking person is in no doubt about the religious connotations of ID they can never publicly acknowledge it. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! It seems to me that they are also getting more conflated with creationists than they would like, which is almost poetic.

I’ll bet money that Tyke will be (is already ?) banned from UcD and that’s the last we will hear from him over there. He is about to reveal the man behind the curtain, and DaveScot don’t take too kindly to that.

SunSpiker:

I’ll bet money that Tyke will be (is already ?) banned from UcD and that’s the last we will hear from him over there. He is about to reveal the man behind the curtain, and DaveScot don’t take too kindly to that.

So far, your prediction does not seem to have been fulfilled. However, DaveScot recent postings on global warming and ‘genetic entropy’ suggest that he is at a ‘breaking point’. Denial is the first step towards recovery and I wish him well

Seems Davescot has reached the ‘anger’ stage

What’s out of line is that 60% of academic scientists self-identify as non-religious. They like to think they are irreligious because they’re smarter than everyone else. The truth is that they’re more dysfunctional than everyone else and have to live in a sheltered little world where they all think alike, act alike, and pat each other on the back constantly about how very smart they are.

:-)

Seriously, though, Johnson only goes a bit beyond what Behe and Dembski have said. They’re kept around because they have the “credentials” that supposedly count, and they can fog up the issue with sciency jargon and questionable “facts”.

Johnson’s just better at telling us why ID never quite steps into the realm of science, which is that it is about religion and (pre-modern) philosophies. You really can’t choose religious and philosophical ideas which are opposed to science, then launch a science off from those practically worthless concepts. Of course.

Johnson seems to know this at some level, he just doesn’t know what it is about science that makes people resist his facile equation of pre-modern ideas and science with its standards, hence he thought that we could be persuaded to unverifiable claims that have never advanced science beyond Ptolemy.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Philip Johnson is slowly declining in his ability to function in this debate. Although he was the architect of the Wedge, his relevance is slipping. But, as long as they continue to prop him up, he’ll continue to confirm everything that has been exposed already about ID, maybe even more. Someday, maybe he’ll say enough to qualify him for an award of some sort?

In case anyone missed it, I interviewed him on my show earlier this year. I did something rather funny when the Disco-very Institute was brought up.

http://www.inoculatedmind.com/2007/[…]/episode-64/

PvM:

Seems Davescot has reached the ‘anger’ stage

What’s out of line is that 60% of academic scientists self-identify as non-religious. They like to think they are irreligious because they’re smarter than everyone else. The truth is that they’re more dysfunctional than everyone else and have to live in a sheltered little world where they all think alike, act alike, and pat each other on the back constantly about how very smart they are.

:-)

I’m guessing that DaveScot doesn’t read many comments from journal article reviewers or go to many scientific meetings. I think if I ever went to a scientific meeting and found everyone “thinking alike, acting alike, and patting each other on the back”, I would start looking for Alan Funt.

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]night-102207

On this comment: 3 DaveScot 10/22/2007 11:14 pm, This DaveScot guy says, “DavidBrennan is no longer with us. His comments and responses to his comments were disappeared along with him.”

What, did they take him out and shoot him for daring to think too much?

Mark Walton:

I’m guessing that DaveScot doesn’t read many comments from journal article reviewers or go to many scientific meetings. I think if I ever went to a scientific meeting and found everyone “thinking alike, acting alike, and patting each other on the back”, I would start looking for Alan Funt.

Presumably, DaveScot has a different notion of “alike” than we do…

After listening to Johnson, I was dismayed at his level of arguments. I understand why he has been ‘expelled’ from ID.

Glen Davidson Wrote:

Johnson seems to know this at some level, he just doesn’t know what it is about science that makes people resist his facile equation of pre-modern ideas and science with its standards, hence he thought that we could be persuaded to unverifiable claims that have never advanced science beyond Ptolemy.

Unfortunately, many of his followers haven’t figured it out either. I was somewhat surprised to find how often he is taken seriously (recall Mark Hausam who, it became clear, had read a lot of Johnson). Of course those who take him seriously seem to have little idea of the progress of science, including those at the “Discovery” Institute. Their particular brand of pseudo-science supports Johnson’s pseudo-philosophical arguments and hence provides the positive feedback loop that sustains their beliefs.

And given that, so far, the ID output is mostly PR and little science…

Those last two adjectives are, respectively, a gross understatement and an extreme exaggeration - so I guess everything balances out.

I think that the author was attempting (perhaps too much) to avoid tedious arguments about the amount of science done by IDists, and of course the fact that it isn’t all PR (there’s planning, administrative debates, stuff like that).

Behe’s books might be considered a part of science, for instance, the discussion part. Sure, it’s badly done and tendentious, but that’s not a first in science, nor unknown among non-IDists non-creos. And then there’s probably a little bit of empirical science done to try to find holes in “Darwinism”, which is not by itself a bad thing to attempt (that we have no reason to trust them makes it less valuable than it could be, even when the results blow up in their faces).

But even if there is some science done, it is all done within the normal evolutionary framework (naturally, including when they’re trying to poke holes in MET). That is, there is no ID research, and nothing at all is done outside of the “materialistic” framework that they claim to oppose above all. No one knows how to do science outside of the misnamed “materialistic science”, least of all do the ignorant IDists recognize any “possibility” for doing so. They just demand it.

So it may be that there is a “little science” done by IDists, but absolutely none is done to find evidence for an ID which has no defined or definable cause (not as it is configured today, for the obvious reasons) for the defined effects that we see, and they have no clue about how to do science outside of the hated “materialistic framework”. ID is all religion, with a bit of dabbling in the science that they themselves despise, but which is the only thing they can use to produce meaningful results–which nonetheless they typically fail to effect.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

In your opening comments, you speculated that the ID movement has been keeping Johnson out of the limelight because of his more overt religious statements.

Don’t you think it odd then that Johnson seems to be the only ID proponent who is being interviewed for this NOVA special on the Dover trial? Johnson did not participate in that court case. And it seems that none of the ID proponents who did testify (Behe, Minnich, Fuller) are slated to appear on this program according to the link.

ck1, I’m not sure I understand what you’re suggesting. You are saying that if the DI were trying to keep Johnson away from the public because he’s become an embarrassment, then we would not expect to see him (as we do) being the only DI affiliate presenting the case to the public in the Nova program?

So personally, regardless of PvM’s analysis, I don’t think I see enough evidence to definitively say the DI has been intentionally keeping Johnson “out of the limelight” for any reason– on the face of it, the whole stroke thing seems the best explanation for his diminished visibility.

However, if the DI is intentionally keeping Johnson “out of the limelight”, then this seems completely compatible with your interesting observation about the Nova program in your second paragraph. After all, it seems to me, if the DI is for one reason or another trying to keep Johnson “out of the limelight”, then this doesn’t mean that they’ve literally got a closet somewhere they’ve shoved him in and locked the door– it just means they will be de-emphasizing him in who they publicly promote. The DI can fail to provide him the PR resources at their disposal, but it is unlikely they can in any way actively shut him up– and indeed, the more they distance themselves from Johnson (if indeed they are distancing themselves from Johnson) then the less influence they have over his behavior. If Johnson and the DI clique are no longer really working with one another, then we would expect to see things like this Nova special happening– fora where the DI attempts to give the cold shoulder, but Phillip Johnson, no longer really in the DI orbit, is free to show up himself.

Alternately, it might not mean anything at all, and might just be purely random. Remember, the DI more or less tried to cold-shoulder Kitzmiller too, but Behe and Minnich showed up there anyway. The amount of coordination in the IDC movement is simply not what it was in the movement’s salad days.

I am disagreeing with the suggestion that the DI has deliberately tried to keep Johnson quiet in recent years. It is more likely that his absence from public ID discussions in recent years is due more to his health and age.

Johnson’s involvement in a NOVA program on the Dover trial seems odd, but I think is unlikely to be because the DI want to distance themselves from both Dover (humilitation) and Johnson (overt religiosity). After all, other DI fellows have stopped hiding their religious motivations. Maybe Johnson was simply available and willing to talk about ID. I do not understand why the producers did not get an ID proponent directly involved in the trial - it is hard to believe that Behe would not have jumped at the chance to do a show like this. It will be interesting to see what the DI have to say about the program once it airs.

I think that one of the reasons why Philip Johnson has been minimized by the other ID scam artists is because he laid the blame for the failure of the ID scam on the “science” guys associated with the scam. He didn’t take any of the blame for starting a scam that didn’t have any science to back it up, he just claimed that the “science” ID perps didn’t hold up their end of the scam and never came up with anything worth teaching.

http://sciencereview.berkeley.edu/a[…]le=evolution

“I considered [Dover] a loser from the start,” Johnson begins. “Where you have a board writing a statement and telling the teachers to repeat it to the class, I thought that was a very bad idea.” The jaw drops further when he continues:

I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world.

And Johnson doesn’t seem to be signing onto the bait and switch scam that the ID perps are currently running, and seems to want to let the schools alone.

For his part, Johnson agrees: “I think the fat lady has sung for any efforts to change the approach in the public schools…the courts are just not going to allow it. They never have. The efforts to change things in the public schools generate more powerful opposition than accomplish anything…I don’t think that means the end of the issue at all.” “In some respects,” he later goes on, “I’m almost relieved, and glad. I think the issue is properly settled. It’s clear to me now that the public schools are not going to change their line in my lifetime. That isn’t to me where the action really is and ought to be.” Whether Dover really was the swan song of intelligent design remains to be seen. Either way, the decision has dealt a serious blow to the cause. The movement that Phil Johnson started may just have run aground on the rocks of Padian’s testimony. Or rather on the fossils in the rocks of Padian’s testimony.

The NOVA program website has an interview with the producer that asks about the ID proponents interviewed for the program. Here is what she said (and sorry, I do not see instructions for generating a quote box):

“Of the three expert witnesses who testified on behalf of Dover—Michael Behe, Scott Minich, and Steve Fuller—only Steve Fuller appears in the program. Why did you not interview the other two, who are among the country’s leading proponents of ID?

Apsell: Michael Behe and Scott Minich, as well as other proponents of ID, were invited to participate in the program. We were committed to presenting the views of the major participants in the trial as fairly as possible. And our preference would have been to have their views presented directly, through firsthand interviews.

However, Michael Behe, Scott Minich, and other ID proponents affiliated with the Discovery Institute declined to be interviewed under the normal journalistic conditions that NOVA uses for all programs. In the midst of our discussions, we even offered to provide them with complete footage of the interviews, so that they could be reassured that nothing would be taken out of context. But they declined nonetheless.”

Seems that the DI is scared that the trick the ‘expelled’ producers played on scientists might be used against them. Don’t they know that science does not have to resort to silly tricks like that.

Ron,

While I agree that Johnson should have at least taken some responsibility (isn’t that a Christian and conservative value?) I actually give him some slack because he is not a scientist. In the early days of ID he may have honestly thought that there was some science that would vidicate OEC if not YEC. With Denton’s “Evolution, a Theory in Crisis” as state-of-the-art and people like Behe trying to get their feet in the door, it must have looked promising to a nonscientist.

My suspicion is this: When “Darwin’s Black Box” came out, it was not Behe’s concession of common descent that alarmed Johnson et al, but the fact that all Behe could muster in place of evolution was half a page of a wild speculation of a “designed first cell.” Also, by then Denton abandoned trying to refute common descent, so what was left? If Behe, or heaven forbid biologist Wells, had found a real scientific alternative to evolution, would they have even needed Dembski’s bait-and-switch explanatory filter, or the evasive “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach?

BTW, to those who think that they might fire Behe after his “Edge of Evolution” embarrassment, I say that since they kept Egnor, they’ll keep anyone who puts down “Darwinism,” however sloppily.

The ID perps may have believed that they might have had an argument when they first got the scam really rolling, but the only thing that they had to cling to was Behe’s black box and Denton’s 10 year old crock. With just that to back up their claims it is difficult to believe that they had honest intent even then. Kenyon probably knew that it was just a name switch, and that it was basically the same old same old when they altered the drafts of Panda’s nearly a decade before the Discovery Institute’s scam outfit was founded. Making Kenyon a fellow was one of the Discovery Institute’s biggest mistakes, as Dover demonstrated.

I used to give them the benefit of the doubt, but once they ran the bait and switch on their own supporters in Ohio in 2002 it just wasn’t worth considering that possibility. You have the first real instance where ID could shine and all the rubes got was a scam that couldn’t even mention that ID had ever existed. It turned out that all ID had been for several years was smoke. Just the come on scam to get the rubes into the store so that they could sell them the switch scam. What is sad is that they still use ID in the same way. All ID is at the moment is something to fool the rubes into thinking that there is some controversy that they want to teach. They just run the bait and switch on any creationist rube stupid enough to pop off about wanting to teach ID.

The science side doesn’t even have to act on the current instances where the creationist rubes want to teach ID. The ID perps have to shut them up as fast as they can so that it doesn’t taint their replacement scam. Any place that pops off about teaching ID is just one more place where the new creationist scam can’t be implemented. I don’t even know why they think it is worth continuing with the dishonest scam. No honest rational person is going to miss the fact that the same guys that perpetrated the bogus ID scam are running the new scam, no matter what they are calling it. They need a pristine batch of scam artists that haven’t been tainted by the dishonest ID scam to make any serious attempt at perpetrating a new scam. Having places like the Discovery Institute and organizations with names like ID Network perpetrating the switch scam just isn’t going to fool anyone no matter what they call it.

That is how sad this whole fiasco has gotten.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on October 29, 2007 6:37 PM.

A Colossal Waste of Time was the previous entry in this blog.

Intelligent Design Flunked: ID Mostly PR and little science is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter