The continued confusion of Intelligent Design Creationists

| 64 Comments

On Uncommon Descent Bill Dembski

Evolutionists continue to be much exercised about evolution being treated as “merely a theory,” arguing that to identify it as such is as disreputable as treating gravity or the second law as “merely a theory.” But consider, as a close colleague recently reminded me:

And continues to quote from two scientists, Niels Bohr and Stanislaw Ulam (both physicists)

about Bohr, he quotes from Mayr’s “Evolution and the Diversity of Life”:

“When I lectured in the mid-1950’s to a small audience in Copenhagen, the great physicist Niels Bohr stated in the discussion that he could not conceive how accidental mutations could account for the immense diversity of the organic world and its remarkable adaptations. As far as he was concerned, the period of 3 billion years since life had originated was too short by several orders of magnitude to achieve all of this.” (Quoted from page 53; the book is online at Google Books.)

Note that Mayr continues:

“His conclusion was of course vigorously opposed by the evolutionary biologists whose painstaking analysis of the facts of evolution led them to confirm the original Darwinian thesis that genetic variability combined with natural selection is indeed able to account for the seeming perfection of the living world.”

In other words, Bohr’s argument was, like the argument of the modern day Intelligent Design Creationist, based on a personal incredulity, a disbelief.

And indeed on page 68-69 we read:

“In the ensuing discussion, he [Bohr] agreed with my conclusions, except for reminding me that an emergence of new characteristics in a system was not peculiar to living systems. He cited chemical elements, which are systems that owe their highly specific properties to the quantity and patterns of their simple unit components, the nuclei and elections. These properties, Bohr said, could not have been predicted in detail on the basis of knowledge of the individual protons, neutrons and electrons. “

What a difference it makes when people are educated in the basics of evolutionary theory. Let this be a lesson to those who object to evolutionary theory being taught in schools.

about Ulam

“[Darwinism] seems to require many thousands, perhaps millions, of successive mutations to produce even the easiest complexity we see in life now. It appears, naively at least, that no matter how large the probability of a single mutation is, should it be even as great as one-half, you would get this probability raised to a millionth power, which is so very close to zero that the chances of such a chain seem to be practically non-existent.” (Ulam’s remark on page 21 of the Wistar conference Proceedings.)

Note how Ulam is abusing mathematics in true Intelligent Design Creationist fashion by assuming that the process of evolution is fully random.

the ‘conclusion’?

In other words, Bohr and Ulam both believed that Darwinism was a false theory. If Darwinism is false, then it cannot be a fact. It can only be a theory.

And again we see how Intelligent Design Creationists confuse the concept of fact and theory. Yes, Darwinism is and will always be a theory of evolution (a status which no ID proposal will likely ever achieve) which best explains the fact of evolution

Bill wonders

Do evolutionists think that Bohr and Ulam were anti-science crackpots? Did they doubt the validity of the law of gravity or the second law of thermodynamics? Were they ignorant of these laws?

No, they were ignorant of the mechanism of evolution. Ironically, this shows that relying on the perspectives on those unfamiliar with evolutionary theory can lead to a false impression that ‘scientists’ reject or object to Darwinian theory as being sufficient to explain the fact of evolution.

Of course, most any biological scientist, including Darwin himself, would agree that Darwinian theory is but one of various mechanisms that have shaped the biological world.

No Bill, your ‘close friend’s’ examples are not really what you believed them to be.

64 Comments

Does anyone care what Dawkins thinks about quantum mechanics?

I wonder if Bill’s “close colleague” is a code phrase for Davescot…Or maybe Denyse O’…

Does anyone have the full context for the Ulam quote? To me it seems that it might be a version of Darwin’s discussion on the evolution of the eye. Ulam says “seems to require” and “naively at least”. Both of these may indicate that later he intends to go into more, non-naive, detail as Darwin did on eyes.

rossum

Thanks for providing the context of Bohr’s quote - I had the feeling that there was something missing…

Instead of quoting second-hand reports of statements from physicists in the 1950’s regarding evolutionary biology, the Discovery Institute ought to publish a peer-reviewed research paper on “intelligent design.” The problem is, ID invokes supernatural causation, which is not testable by the scientific method. When your argument is indefensible, all you can do is make more flawed arguments as stridently as possible.

Mr_Christopher:

I wonder if Bill’s “close colleague” is a code phrase for Davescot…Or maybe Denyse O’…

… or maybe it’s himself. He really is weird like this, always quoting a “close colleague”. What do you think Bill? We never really get his opinion, only in this ass backwards way. Perhaps he is just covering his own ass…

Mr_Christopher: I wonder if Bill’s “close colleague” is a code phrase for Davescot…Or maybe Denyse O’…

Nah, it is the generic “close colleague” who comes to take the fall when Slicky Bill gets caught red handed plagiarizing videos from Harvard or when he gets caught abusing copyrighted certificate images from the web. I have a nephew who had these imaginary friends. He outgrew it when he turned six. At the rate at which our good Bill is proceeding he is expected to reach the mental age of six and shed these imaginary friends, mmm, in about, 20 years.

Wondering what Bill is working on now. May be another hilarious video of a pull-string toy reading Florida Science Standards with creative sound effects added?

“The Quest for Right”: A Creationist Attack on Quantum Mechanics. By Stephen L of the newsgroups.derkeiler.com

Here’s a different take on creationism/ID: “The Quest for Right,” a multi-volume series on science, attacks Darwinism indirectly, by attacking quantum mechanics:

“American Atheists base their reasoning on Quantum Interpretation, hand in hand with Quantum Mathematics. Summoning the dark forces of quantum mysticism, with mathematical incantations, possesses the power to bewilder, and thus con, the average persons seemingly at will, into believing the bizarre and surreal: Z Particles, Neutrinos, Leptons, Quarks, Weak Bosons, etc. Mystics attempt to pass off quantum abuses as legitimate science, by expressing the theories in symbolic fashion. These formula represent the greatest hoax ever pulled upon an unsuspecting public.…The objective.…is to expedite the return to classical physics, by exposing quantum dirty tricks. That is, unethical behavior or acts,…to undermine and destroy the credibility of Biblical histories. These dirty tricks include: Absolute dating systems, Big Bang Theory, Antimatter, and Oort Cloud. These…have no further station in Science.”

http://www.questforright.com A more sophisticated way to argue against Darwin is certainly to argue against modern physics. Without modern physics, you lose astrophysics too, which enables the author to make the case for YEC [young earth creationism]. The author goes on to “prove” that things like red supergiant stars and X-ray pulsars don’t really exist, except in the imagination of scientists.”

SPAM ALERT!!!!!

ravilyn sanders:

Mr_Christopher: I wonder if Bill’s “close colleague” is a code phrase for Davescot…Or maybe Denyse O’…

Nah, it is the generic “close colleague” who comes to take the fall when Slicky Bill gets caught red handed plagiarizing videos from Harvard or when he gets caught abusing copyrighted certificate images from the web. I have a nephew who had these imaginary friends. He outgrew it when he turned six. At the rate at which our good Bill is proceeding he is expected to reach the mental age of six and shed these imaginary friends, mmm, in about, 20 years.

Wondering what Bill is working on now. May be another hilarious video of a pull-string toy reading Florida Science Standards with creative sound effects added?

No, I’m not convinced. Calvin doesn’t wear glasses.

In any case, there is an obvious rational purpose behind the “close colleague” business - it provides a cop-out when the fundamental flaws are exposed.

Even without the use of an Explanatory Filter, it is clear that there is design going on.

Off Topic - Readers should note that C. David Parsons (Comment #143729), who mentions “The Quest for Right”, happens to be author of that series, here promoting his own books. He describes it as “A book that will change the world!” I don’t doubt that it will because debunkers of pseudoscience will have yet another ignorant author to deconstruct. If I had the time, I would calculate Mr. Parsons’ “Crackpot Index”. I’m sure he’d be right up there with Deepak Chopra and other such luminaries. Mr. Parsons promotes “Expelled” on his own Web site, so that gives you some idea of the rarefied intellectual atmosphere he operates in.

C. David Parsons employs the Tinkerbell Approach. If you clap your hands and believe real hard, reality goes away.

Many of his circle think his Soft on Electromagnetism position is heretical. The calculation is that if we eliminate the Theory of Electromagnetism, the Theory of Internal Combustion, and the Germ Theory of disease, we can all go back to living in caves and dying at 40 of infections we don’t even have names for.

Rumor has it that the Texas Theocratic party will adopt this at their next convention.

rditmars:

Does anyone care what Dawkins thinks about quantum mechanics?

No, but there is a reason for this. Physics is a hard science.

William Wallace

Gee - I wonder if Niels Bohr, a physicist, making a comment about biology based on personal belief and 1950’s understanding of heredity would make the same comment in the face of 21st century genetics?

Could there be some reason (he looks out into space with bewilderment, sighs gently) Dr. Dr. quotes out of date material?

rossum:

Does anyone have the full context for the Ulam quote? To me it seems that it might be a version of Darwin’s discussion on the evolution of the eye. Ulam says “seems to require” and “naively at least”. Both of these may indicate that later he intends to go into more, non-naive, detail as Darwin did on eyes.

rossum

“[Darwinism] seems to require many thousands, perhaps millions, of successive mutations to produce even the easiest complexity we see in life now. It appears, naively at least, that no matter how large the probability of a single mutation is, should it be even as great as one-half, you would get this probability raised to a millionth power, which is so very close to zero that the chances of such a chain seem to be practically non-existent.

But, I believe that the comments of professor Eden, in the first five minutes of his talk at least, refer to a random construction of such molecules and even those of us who are in the majority here, the non-mathematicians, realize that this is not the problem at all.”

But not Dembski the IDiot, apparently.

William Wallace:

rditmars:

Does anyone care what Dawkins thinks about quantum mechanics?

No, but there is a reason for this. Physics is a hard science.

William Wallace

Physicist can’t even solve the Schrodinger equation analytically for the helium atom. They must be stupid.

Tim Tesar Wrote:

If I had the time, I would calculate Mr. Parsons’ “Crackpot Index”.

It takes no time at all. Based on just what he posted here it is at the top.

Wanna know what your brain looks like on Parson’s religion? Well, you would be better off having your brain completely removed, scrambled, fried, and shoved up the other end.

Tardis:

Gee - I wonder if Niels Bohr, a physicist, making a comment about biology based on personal belief and 1950’s understanding of heredity would make the same comment in the face of 21st century genetics?

Could there be some reason (he looks out into space with bewilderment, sighs gently) Dr. Dr. quotes out of date material?

Bohr was born in 1885 and was 65 in 1950. He was therefore a “distinguished but elderly scientist” stating that something was “impossible”. This is a situation where Clarke’s First Law very obviously applies so, even without a detailed examination of Bohr’s analysis, we can say that Bohr is “very probably wrong.”

Presumably Bill Dembski would also be of the opinion that, if two prominent biologists expressed doubts about a theory in the field of physics, that would prove something? At least he shows that one has to look to elderly scientists in other fields to find this sort of skepticism about this particular evolutionary mechanism! :-)

Thanks Kevin B - I don’t disagree with your point but I was really trying to address the outdated quote mining issue.

The whole thing is - as usual - silly.

The bottom of WAD’s barrel is starting to look pretty thoroughly scraped, wouldn’t you say?

C. David Parsons:

“The Quest for Right”: A Creationist Attack on Quantum Mechanics. By Stephen L of the newsgroups.derkeiler.com

Here’s a different take on creationism/ID: “The Quest for Right,” a multi-volume series on science, attacks Darwinism indirectly, by attacking quantum mechanics:

Need I point out the immense irony that this whackjob is typing up their drivel on a device that is based directly upon the very scientific laws that he is attacking?

Hey Parson’s: Computers work based upon quantum mechanics, you dolt!!!

“American Atheists base their reasoning on Quantum Interpretation, hand in hand with Quantum Mathematics. Summoning the dark forces of quantum mysticism, with mathematical incantations, possesses the power to bewilder, and thus con, the average persons seemingly at will, into believing the bizarre and surreal: Z Particles, Neutrinos, Leptons, Quarks, Weak Bosons, etc. Mystics attempt to pass off quantum abuses as legitimate science, by expressing the theories in symbolic fashion. These formula represent the greatest hoax ever pulled upon an unsuspecting public.…The objective.…is to expedite the return to classical physics, by exposing quantum dirty tricks. That is, unethical behavior or acts,…to undermine and destroy the credibility of Biblical histories. These dirty tricks include: Absolute dating systems, Big Bang Theory, Antimatter, and Oort Cloud. These…have no further station in Science.”

So now quantum physics is inherently evil & atheistic. Wow, this guy is simply drowning in woo.

I suppose that in addition to swearing off modern antibiotics & vaccines (which result from evolution) this clown is going to throw out his computer, cell phone, MP3 player, and all the other technology in his life that is based upon quantum mechanics.

Of course, his link must work because angels are pushing the messages across the wires, certainly not because of quantum physics…

A more sophisticated way to argue against Darwin is certainly to argue against modern physics. Without modern physics, you lose astrophysics too, which enables the author to make the case for YEC [young earth creationism]. The author goes on to “prove” that things like red supergiant stars and X-ray pulsars don’t really exist, except in the imagination of scientists.”

And geocentrism and the flat earth aren’t far behind. Truly we need this kind of Luddite thinking pervading our public schools as we head into the 21st (11th ?) century.

fnxtr:

The bottom of WAD’s barrel is starting to look pretty thoroughly scraped, wouldn’t you say?

No problem, he’ll just dump in more of… whatever his barrel is normally full of. It’s not hard to come by.

Tim Tesar: Mr. Parsons promotes “Expelled” on his own Web site, so that gives you some idea of the rarefied intellectual atmosphere he operates in.

Yeah, where “Expelled” is described as talking about the “persecution of the many by an elite few.”

ummmmmmm.…yeah

That is, unethical behavior or acts,…to undermine and destroy the credibility of Biblical histories. These dirty tricks include: [snip]…Oort Cloud.

Awww, can’t we at least keep the Oort Cloud? I promise I will use it for only ethical purposes, scout’s honor. Dang those religious guys! But, wait… please tell me Pluto is still a planet? Heck, maybe there is something to this creationism stuff… if we can keep Pluto as a planet.

/facetious

Why is it that when two scientists from a different field say something that Dembski wants so badly to believe in, they’re authorities… yet when 1,000 scientists in the relevant field say something that he doesn’t want to believe, they’re dogmatists?

Oh, right. Dembski is an IDiot, and an increasingly irrelevant one at that.

If it weren’t for Dembski’s droolings and Luskin’s whinings, ID would be entirely forgotten by now. I mean, who needs it anymore? Even the Creationists that once used it as a cover have all but abandoned it. “Expelled” will play to the usual echo chamber and be forgotten, gathering dust as a played-once DVD on a few shelves of a few people who have no impact on the rest of the world.

Seriously, one would have to be pretty stupid to throw one’s lot in with Dembski, to put any stock in anything he says, if one hadn’t already invested themselves in it. Everybody knows he’s an unproductive liar at this point.

I think Dembski’s “close colleague” also holds Dembski’s Secret List of predictions made by ID that were later demonstrated as correct by working scientists.

The fellow answers to the name of “Harvey.”

Doc Bill:

The fellow answers to the name of “Harvey.”

You’re dating yourself…

Speaking of helium, in light of the gargantuan amounts of energy required to turn hydrogen into something as complex as helium how do evolutionists think hydrogen could turn into rocks, rocks into cells, cells into monkeys, and monkeys into humans with so much less energy? Darwinism of the gaps has more holes than god of the gaps?

Tracy P. Hamilton:

William Wallace:

rditmars:

Does anyone care what Dawkins thinks about quantum mechanics?

No, but there is a reason for this. Physics is a hard science.

William Wallace

Physicist can’t even solve the Schrodinger equation analytically for the helium atom. They must be stupid.

Doc Bill:

The fellow answers to the name of “Harvey.”

While it may be Jimmy Stewart’s friend Harvey who advises Dembski. Stewart also weighed in on the ID controversy having this to say: “ID is huge, it is at least this big.”

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

rditmars Wrote:

Does anyone care what Dawkins thinks about quantum mechanics?

No, but there is a reason for this.

Of course there is, fool; that’s why rditmars brought it up.

Physics is a hard science.

Uh, sorry, but everyone except you got the right answer.

not fellow darwin dissenters who had to wait four years for a clean-up PR explanation

Uh, so Dembski posted in 1966, and then had to wait four years for the clarification?

The dishonesty of creationists has no bounds.

Is William Wallace for real?

On his blog, he writes essentially that Ann Coulter is an ‘expert’ on evolution because her book was a best seller…?

Yes, this is the reality of modern intellect that we are faced with. Today this not-all-that-unusual specimen informs us that “Most who strongly advocate teaching the Theory of Evolution (T.o.E.) in secondary schools seem to be motivated out of a hatred for Christianity.”

Up early today, Larry?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 21, 2008 11:18 AM.

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