Egnor gets it right

| 32 Comments

Michael Egnor seems to have a hard time getting the Discovery Institute’s message that Intelligent Design is not about religion.

In an attempt to show a contradiction in Larry Moran’s position on censorship and educational responsibilities, Michael Egnor makes his usual set of flawed arguments. It does not take a brain surgeon to see the obvious flaws in Egnor’s logic.

First of all, somewhat ironically but refreshingly honest, Michael Egnor explains how Intelligent Design is all about religion.

Dr. Moran believes that students and untenured scientists who accept the possibility of intelligent design in nature and who don’t share his atheist metaphysical beliefs should be investigated regarding their beliefs, should be flunked regardless of their grades if their beliefs are found wanting, and should be denied tenure if they get past the materialist filter and make it through graduate school. Is Dr. Moran genuinely “opposed to censorship of any kind”?

We can all agree here with Egnor that Intelligent Design is a religious concept. However, he is still conflating two very different issues. One is the issue of censorship and one is the issue of providing a responsible education to students, and graduate students. If such students’ metaphysical believes cause a conflict with their ability to do science, then there may indeed be a sufficient reason to ‘flunk them’. And this has nothing to do with atheism but all with sound education. While it is true that atheists are more likely to accept sound science, this should not be confused with science being materialistic or atheistic.

Now about Egnor’s complaints about Moran supporting ‘censorship’. Larry agrees to the following extent that

Larry Moran Wrote:

He get it mostly right. If they are undergraduates who don’t understand that evolution is a scientific fact, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees, then they flunk the course. If they are graduate students in a science department, then they don’t get a Ph.D. If they are untenured faculty members in a science department, then they don’t get tenure.

For instance, Egnor paints the following, somewhat biased picture, of what happened to Guillermo Gonzalez, who failed to meet the department’s requirements for tenure

Egnor Wrote:

He applauded the denial of tenure to Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, the highly qualified Iowa State University astronomy professor who supports intelligent design

Highly qualified is a loaded term which on closer scrutiny seems to be based on a very narrow foundation of the meaning of the word ‘qualified’. By all reports, Gonzalez’s publication records showed a marked decline, he failed in acquiring significant grant moneys, and instead spent much of his pre-tenure time writing a book arguing for the Intelligent Design of our Universe, a theme found in many of his creationist writings as well. As Gregory Geoffroy, President of Iowa State University, observed:

Gonzalez “simply did not show the trajectory of excellence that we expect in a candidate seeking tenure in physics and astronomy – one of our strongest academic programs

While the book itself is flawed in its main premise, it seems that it was submitted to the tenure committee to be considered as part of the record. As such the support for Intelligent Design, a scientifically vacuous concept, can logically be considered as part of the tenure decision. While it seems unlikely that Gonzalez’s support for a scientifically vacuous concept was the only reason for the denial of tenure, it added to the list of problems identified by the tenure committee.

Mike Gene attempts to diffuse the situation by suggesting that Gonzalez had no choice but to mention the grant money and the book

Mike Gene Wrote:

But if you’ll remember, I asked you a question about this. If you wrote a book that was endorsed by someone like Owen Gingerich and Simon Conway Morris, would you really want to hide it?

and

Mike Gene Wrote:

If Gonzalez got the grant to write PP, and ISU used the grant to pay part of his salary for three years, would it be ethical to keep the PP off his CV?

In other words, accepting for the moment Mike Gene’s ‘arguments’, it merely helps understand why Gonzalez submitted the book as part of his tenure request, but by doing so Gonzalez also made ‘Intelligent Design’, a scientifically vacuous concept, part of the tenure decision.

Ed Darell explains the relevance

CEDAR FALLS - Iowa State University Assistant Professor Guillermo Gonzalez was welcomed by a standing room-only crowd in Cedar Falls Wednesday, but his lecture on intelligent design in science was delivered to many already devoutly critical of the theory. Gonzalez used the first 45 minutes of the Sigma Xi lecture to explain the theory of intelligent design, as well as his own theory that says the link between the conditions required for life and the conditions required for doing science on earth are inference for design. While the crowd of students, faculty and local residents had differing views on intelligent design, Gonzalez spent much of the 45 minute-question-and-answer session defending the use of intelligent design in science and arguing for the validity of the theory. “If you eliminate intelligent design as a possibility, if you claim that the universe does not contain objective evidence of design because that is your prior commitment, then you are never going to discover some things,” he said. “Some discoveries may be made more quickly when the scientist is open to the universe being designed for scientific discovery.” While many believe the intelligent designer to be God, Gonzalez argued that studying the intelligent designer itself goes beyond the purview of intelligent design as science.

What I can’t figure is this: Why can’t Gonzalez turn that into real research? What is it about intelligent design that defies hypothesis formation and experimentation to confirm or deny?

Ironically, or perhaps predictably, Egnor gets it ‘right’ again when he observes

Egnor Wrote:

Why should Mr. Durston’s willingness to present his scientific evidence for intelligent design to other scientists require courage? Isn’t the presentation of evidence a routine part of science? Why should presenting evidence for intelligent design put Mr. Durston’s “scientific reputation on the line”?

THe story about Kirk Durston is another fascinating example of the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design, something Egnor seems to understand but perhaps not fully comprehend.

Consider Dr. Moran’s chilling comment about Kirk Durston, a Ph.D. candidate in biophysics at the University of Guelph. Mr. Durston has pointed out that intelligent design theory may be applied to an understanding of the enormous complexities of protein folding, which remains one of the deepest problems in molecular biology. Mr. Durston offered to visit and present his evidence at the University of Toronto. Dr. Moran replied:

I admire Kirk for his willingness to subject his scientific evidence for intelligent design to a group of experts on protein folding. It’s very courageous of him since he’s putting his scientific reputation on the line.

The reason is simple: Intelligent Design by its very nature is unable to present any scientifically relevant hypotheses relevant to the concept of ID other than claiming that science does not yet understand the complexities of a particular system. While scientists are very willing to accept this state of ignorance, realizing that it is likely to be a temporary situation, ID proponents see any state of ignorance as an opportunity to claim ‘design’ where design is merely that which remains when science has attempted so far to explain a particular phenomenon or system. In other words, an argument from ignorance which is then used to equivocate with the more generally accepted meaning of the concept of design. It’s this bait and switch, this equivocation, which makes Intelligent Design a very deceitful approach and since it is so closely tied to Christianity, it tends to drag down not only scientific understanding but also the Christian message.

I can accept that Intelligent Design is doomed to be scientifically vacuous, what is harder for me to accept and comprehend is why ID proponents are so intent on making Christianity look foolish by insisting on an obviously flawed theology which limits the ‘designer (wink wink)’ to live in the shadows of our ignorance.

32 Comments

Moran’s “understand” evolution response is ambiguous. Moran has a right to test the students on their knowledge of evolution and the age of the earth. If they pass, he had better pass them regardless of whether or not they actually believe their demonstrated expertise. If he flunks them because he somehow knows they don’t believe what they mastered, then he could, I suspect, be fired, tenured or not, from most American universities. In addition, he would prove himself a complete jackass.

If I take a class in String Theory, I am responsible for showing that I can solve simple problems in String Theory. If I can, I pass the course. If the teacher is extremely passionate about String Theory, he can’t flunk me if he finds out I don’t actually believe it.

If by “don’t understand” it Moran means they haven’t mastered the material, then, duh, of course they should flunk.

heddle:

Moran’s “understand” evolution response is ambiguous. Moran has a right to test the students on their knowledge of evolution and the age of the earth. If they pass, he had better pass them regardless of whether or not they actually believe their demonstrated expertise. If he flunks them because he somehow knows they don’t believe what they mastered, then he could, I suspect, be fired, tenured or not, from most American universities. In addition, he would prove himself a complete jackass.

If I take a class in String Theory, I am responsible for showing that I can solve simple problems in String Theory. If I can, I pass the course. If the teacher is extremely passionate about String Theory, he can’t flunk me if he finds out I don’t actually believe it.

If by “don’t understand” it Moran means they haven’t mastered the material, then, duh, of course they should flunk.

I agree with Dr. Heddle. Also, I dispute Pim’s assertion that GG’s “cosmological ID” is vacuous.

In more concrete terms, Durston has merely refurbished the old creationist probabilist fallacy on functional systems that Dembski (and now Behe) peddles.

In one of his two papers Durston introduces an “entropy” that merely express the probability that a certain macromolecule, say a protein, is functioning according to some target. Then he asks for the probability for achieving said target from a random state through a minimum change path.

All the usual strawmen of how this works in biological systems is there; forgetting that evolution works on a population with functional traits, forgetting that there is no functional targets; forgetting that proteins can assemble to fold or to perform functions, not allowing for simultaneous evolution, not allowing for drift, et cetera.

I don’t see how the second paper, with more authors, improve on the concept:

The measurement in Fits of the FSC provides significant information about how specific each monomer in the sequence must be to provide the needed/normal biofunction. The functional information measures the degree of challenge involved in searching the sequence space for a sequence capable of performing the function. In addition, Fits can be summed for every sequence required to achieve a complete functional biochemical pathway and integrated cellular metabolism, including regulatory proteins. In principle, it may be possible to estimate a FSC value for an entire prokaryotic cell where the genome has been sequenced and all translated proteins are known. [My emphasis.]

By adding up “Fits” in this way Durston will ask how improbable a certain organism is when assembled by “poofing”. Which, ironically, a question that creationists should consider more often.

I’m sure one can make more informed criticism. The “entropy” measure is nothing but, it is an contingent extension of Shannon information whereas thermodynamical entropy is not constrained.

The entire first paper doesn’t use the purported measure for the probability calculations, so it is not much of a concept or publication. The second paper uses it as a convenient graph measure to explore how much of an amino acid sequence is conserved in related naturally found sequences.

So, um, when was sequence conservation not a feature of evolution?

PvM Wrote:

However, he [Egnor] is still conflating two very different issues. One is the issue of censorship and one is the issue of providing a responsible education to students, and graduate students. If such students’ metaphysical believes cause a conflict with their ability to do science, then there may indeed be a sufficient reason to ‘flunk them’. And this has nothing to do with atheism but all with sound education.

And this conflation is precisely what the ID/Creationists want to keep alive in the minds of their followers.

At the PhD level in the basic sciences, it should never be possible for a student to escape facing the fundamental epistemological issues involved in acquiring and interpreting data. Students should be actively involved in the writing of proposals and thinking through the procedures and techniques involved in the proposed research. In their own dissertation research they should have to grapple with these deep issues.

Too often, however, research takes place in teams where responsibilities are divided up among the team members and the schedule is tight. The research proposal may have been written by others then approved and funded at a time before the entire team was formed. It then becomes possible for someone to take on routine tasks which, while important to the research, do not involve the deeper issues. If an individual with debilitating misconceptions about the science is able to avoid the deeper issues while fulfilling his/her role on the team, such a person could slip by proper vetting of their scientific understanding.

The better teams have regular meetings in which individuals have to present their progress reports, discuss all the issues, and be exposed to the peer-review of their team members and their professors.

This also points to some significant differences between the basic sciences and the applied sciences and engineering. Applied science and engineering projects usually don’t get involved in the deeper epistemological issues of the basic sciences. Engineering projects generally build on well-established science to develop new or improved applications. One can be an extremely good engineer and never have to confront the kinds of issues most scientists in the basic sciences have to grapple with.

I have seen and heard complaints from students in PhD programs in the basic sciences that they have to “waste time” writing proposals for their mentors. No doubt there have been abuses on the part of some professors, but the general idea is to get the students deeply involved in all aspects of research as early as possible. Postponing this to the post doctoral level is risky, and can easily allow improperly vetted understanding to get through. The rules for the formation of dissertation committees should also insure that the students will get a “good working over”.

The bottom line is not what you believe, but what science you do. The problem with ID-ists is that the make up things, which could provide a hypothesis, but they do not do the research to test anything. People are not rejected because of their beliefs but because of the lack of productive work.

I can accept that Intelligent Design is doomed to be scientifically vacuous, what is harder for me to accept and comprehend is why ID proponents are so intent on making Christianity look foolish by insisting on an obviously flawed theology which limits the ‘designer (wink wink)’ to live in the shadows of our ignorance.

Well said, St. Augustine would be so proud.

Robert O’Brien:

I dispute Pim’s assertion that GG’s “cosmological ID” is vacuous.

So then can you do what Professor Gonzalez has been reluctant to do and demonstrate how the hypothesis that says that the universe was specifically designed to house intelligent life can be translated into research?

George:

The bottom line is not what you believe, but what science you do. The problem with ID-ists is that they make up things, which could provide a hypothesis, but they do not do the research to test anything. People are not rejected because of their beliefs but because of the lack of productive work.

Apparently, Intelligent Design proponents refuse to acknowledge the fact that Mainstream Science excludes them because they demonstrate that they have absolutely no motivation to do or even explain any science whatsoever with Intelligent Design “theory.”

Stanton:

I like to think that ID-ists exclude themselves by their own choices. Science is wide open if they want to engage in it. Unfortunately, their tactic now is to redefine science such that science is not needed for “science” (as redefined) - bizarre I know.

Early 20th century Larry would have flunked Einstein and Heisenberg for having the unmitigated temerity to question classical Newtonian mechanics. We do not need this brown shirt approach in science; all that should be required of a student in a science class is the ability to understand and articulate the prevailing scientific paradigms.

george:

Stanton:

I like to think that ID-ists exclude themselves by their own choices. Science is wide open if they want to engage in it. Unfortunately, their tactic now is to redefine science such that science is not needed for “science” (as redefined) - bizarre I know.

I understand: what few attempts they have made in trying to do actual science are perilous voyages between Charybdis and Scylla, in that they either risk exposing how sloppy and bereft of laboratory protocols they really are, like that one scientist who claimed to prove that bacterial flagella are irreducibly complex by creating a knock-out E. coli missing one (vital) protein, but conveniently forgot to make 38 other different knock-out strains to correspond to the 38 other component proteins of E. coli‘s flagellum, or they risk exposing themselves as being huckster-snake oil salesmen who play clumsily rigged shell games, like that buffoon who was touting that “ontological depth” nonsense as a way to disprove Evolutionary Biology.

And the cannier Intelligent Design proponents keep mum about never doing any science. Of course, that’s like playing a fiddle in the hopes that the music you’re making will drown out the fact that you’ve set the city ablaze to collect insurance money.

Robert O’Brien:

Early 20th century Larry would have flunked Einstein and Heisenberg for having the unmitigated temerity to question classical Newtonian mechanics. We do not need this brown shirt approach in science; all that should be required of a student in a science class is the ability to understand and articulate the prevailing scientific paradigms.

And making sure that a science class student learns the ability to understand and articulate the prevailing scientific paradigms would be extraordinarily difficult to do, if not outright impossible, if Intelligent Design proponents, Creationists and their political cronies succeed in passing legislation to not only allow students to protest learning about facts that conflict with their faith, but to force the inclusion of pseudoscience into the science education curriculum, and bar the teaching of evolutionary theory.

Robert O’Brien:

Early 20th century Larry would have flunked Einstein and Heisenberg for having the unmitigated temerity to question classical Newtonian mechanics.

Among other things, Robert O’Brien, Einstein and Heisenberg both understand Newtonian celestial mechanics on an intimate level: that is how they were able to extrapolate new sciences. The typical scientist is more than happy to heavily modify or even abandon an out of date theory when presented with a new theory that can explain anomalous data, like the way Einstein’s theory of relativity was able to explain Mercury’s peculiar orbit-time.

The thing is, it is up to the guy with the new idea to demonstrate how and why the new idea is better than the current idea. And Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents have yet to demonstrate how and why their hypotheses are better than Evolutionary Biology.

Early 20th century Larry would have flunked Einstein and Heisenberg for having the unmitigated temerity to question classical Newtonian mechanics. We do not need this brown shirt approach in science; all that should be required of a student in a science class is the ability to understand and articulate the prevailing scientific paradigms.

This is a patently false statement and does nothing to make the case that ID is “science” - which it tries to insinuate. Both Einstein and Heisenberg worked on aspects of nature not explained by the current models (paradigms). I believe Dr. Moran might have reacted as I would have to say: Interesting idea gentlemen, now prove it by experiment. These great scientists extended our understanding of nature in their hypotheses and these hypotheses were subsequently verified by experiment. That was great science. The situation of ID-ists is nothing like that situation. ID-ists refuse do the experiments to prove their ideas. But then the various ideas made up by ID-ists cannot be tested.

George:

Early 20th century Larry would have flunked Einstein and Heisenberg for having the unmitigated temerity to question classical Newtonian mechanics. We do not need this brown shirt approach in science; all that should be required of a student in a science class is the ability to understand and articulate the prevailing scientific paradigms.

This is a patently false statement and does nothing to make the case that ID is “science” - which it tries to insinuate.

No, it is quite true. This is not about ID; it is about Larry Moran’s absurd desire to play inquisitor. One does not need to accept a concept to understand it and the ability to understand and articulate concepts is all instructors need to concern themselves with.

Robert O’Brien:

George:

Early 20th century Larry would have flunked Einstein and Heisenberg for having the unmitigated temerity to question classical Newtonian mechanics. We do not need this brown shirt approach in science; all that should be required of a student in a science class is the ability to understand and articulate the prevailing scientific paradigms.

This is a patently false statement and does nothing to make the case that ID is “science” - which it tries to insinuate.

No, it is quite true. This is not about ID; it is about Larry Moran’s absurd desire to play inquisitor. One does not need to accept a concept to understand it and the ability to understand and articulate concepts is all instructors need to concern themselves with.

So then can you produce a statement made by Larry Moran that specifically shows that he is not open to new hypotheses that have been formulated in order to solve and understand anomalous data, and can you demonstrate where and when Intelligent Design proponents have been able to solve and understand anomalous biological data with Intelligent Design “theory”?

No, it is quite true. This is not about ID; it is about Larry Moran’s absurd desire to play inquisitor. One does not need to accept a concept to understand it and the ability to understand and articulate concepts is all instructors need to concern themselves with.

Seems to me that you are just making up straw man version of Dr. Moran to satisfy an irresponsible claim. I will not try to speak for Dr. Moran.

However, in my view you do not succeed in science unless you do science. I cannot see an ID-ist getting funding or a research position to pursue ID at a reputable institution, they are too precious to waste on a hopeless cause. The Discovery Institute had better put up the money to fund the research. Given the essence of ID thought to date, I see no prospect for anything of value. But, hey, go for it.

Why do some people equate questioning something with claiming that 100,000’s of experts made it all up without supporting evidence?

Besides, neither Einstein nor Heisenberg claimed that Newtonian mechanics wasn’t a very close approximation; indeed, Newton’s laws are the limiting case for both relativity and quantum mechanics when dealing with directly observable scales in our local environment.

Henry

Robert O’Brien says,

One does not need to accept a concept to understand it and the ability to understand and articulate concepts is all instructors need to concern themselves with.

This isn’t always true. It certainly isn’t true of the concepts that we’re talking about. Take the age of the Earth, for example. Let’s assume that we have someone who truly understands how the age of the Earth is determined and how that age fits in with the age of the universe and how the universe came to be. Could that person ignore the evidence, claiming that the Earth is only 6000 years old, and still be credited with understanding the age of the Earth?

Not in my course.

Moran,

Yes in your couse. (Well, if you were in the US.)

Here, let me paint a picture:

The office phone rings. It’s the provost’s secretary. “Provost Smith needs to see you, now.” *Click*.

Over to his office. The provost says: “Dr. Larry, you know your student from BIO-102, Johnny. These are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jones.” I have a few questions.

“First of all, did Johnny do all the homework assignments satisfactorily?”

“Um, yes.”

“And the labs?”

“Yes, he did all the labs.”

“Did he get an ‘A’ on all exams?”

“Um, yes.”

“Was he disruptive in any way?”

“Um, no.”

“Did he regularly attend class?”

“Well, yes.”

“Great. Now explain to me, and to Johnny, and to his parents why, given that he met all the requirements on your syllabus in an exemplary fashion, for a course that cost them $1500, he failed.”

“Uh, well, you see he doesn’t really believe it. He just mastered the material and did everything I asked.”

The next sentence from the provost would be: “Johnny, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, could you excuse us for a moment?”

Hiring and tenuring faculty is a different matter. There is much more latitude there. You absolutely could refuse to hire a science professor who denied evolution or was a YEC. But your syllabus (maybe not in the Maple Leaf State) is tantamount to a contract. If a student met all the requirements of the syllabus and you flunked him beacuse “he didn’t really believe it,” then you’d be out on your ass.

Personally I this is false bravado. I don’t think you’d actually do it—but it sure must feel good to claim you’d do it. Makes you sound really tough.

heddle, you simply have no imagination (and obviously no experience) for how teachers actually test whether a student really understands the material they are teaching.

It’s not that hard, really.

I guess you only remember the times you invested in rote memorization?

good teachers go beyond that.

as usual, your logic is based on ignorance.

get a life.

Ichthyic,

I’m a professor, and of course I know how to test students. And I have supervised grad students (an have one at the moment.) You don’t know what you are talking about. You produced a red herring about rote memorization, about which I have said nothing. I have never in my life tested any student on rote memorization. What I have stated is that if a student satisfies everything on the syllabus–and of course the testing doesn’t have to be fill in the blank memorization–the he will pass the course if for no other reason than he only has to take his case to the administration, and he’ll win.

Moran is implying he would fail a student who mastered the material but didn’t believe it. Well, OK, he said “understand” but as I said in the first post, understand must mean “believe and affirm.” If it simply means master the material, then he’s saying nothing of substance.

In plain English: Such a course failure would be overturned immediately, and the prof would be in deep kimchee. You simply are not free to add a litmus test (nor put one on the syllabus.)

So what do you say? Do you think that Moran could flunk a student who meets all the requirements laid out on the syllabus, just because the student doesn’t really believe? A simple yes or no. Lets see who is ignorant when it comes to academia.

Larry Moran:

Robert O’Brien says,

One does not need to accept a concept to understand it and the ability to understand and articulate concepts is all instructors need to concern themselves with.

This isn’t always true. It certainly isn’t true of the concepts that we’re talking about. Take the age of the Earth, for example. Let’s assume that we have someone who truly understands how the age of the Earth is determined and how that age fits in with the age of the universe and how the universe came to be. Could that person ignore the evidence, claiming that the Earth is only 6000 years old, and still be credited with understanding the age of the Earth?

Not in my course.

Dr. Moran,

Personally, I think the idea that the age of the earth can be measured in thousands of years is crazy. However, Kurt Wise and Marcus Ross understand the science even though they reject it.

Incidentally, once you get past the obnoxious atheism, you seem like a jolly enough Canadian.

Ichthyic:

heddle, you simply have no imagination (and obviously no experience) for how teachers actually test whether a student really understands the material they are teaching.

It’s not that hard, really.

I guess you only remember the times you invested in rote memorization?

good teachers go beyond that.

Dr. Heddle has a doctorate in physics from Carnegie Mellon and he is an associate professor. You have a masters degree in biology from Berkeley, which means you could either teach full-time at a community college or as an adjunct in the California State University system. Who wants to wager that you have more teaching experience? Not me.

Ichthyic:

as usual, your logic is based on ignorance.

get a life.

Medice, cura te ipsum.

Also, I dispute Pim’s assertion that GG’s “cosmological ID” is vacuous.

Fine, show us how ID explains the bacterial flagella, the habitable zone or anything relevant.

GC’s cosmological ID is flawed at best as it is based on a single data point, correlation rather than a causal model.

We all remember the story of the puddle in Douglas Adam’s master piece, wondering how the hole in which it was located so exquisitely fitted the shape of the puddle. While it was pondering the implications of this, it slowly evaporated, still convinced that the hole was specially created for the puddle.

Habitable zones are interesting however the conclusions and speculations presented by Gonzalez et al are not very impressive at best.

I doubt it, both provided testable hypotheses and did not rely on ignorance to conclude ‘thus relativity’. Just because ID pretends to be a new paradigm does not mean that it should be taken seriously. Especially since it has so far failed to contribute anything non trivial to science.

Robert O’Brien:

Early 20th century Larry would have flunked Einstein and Heisenberg for having the unmitigated temerity to question classical Newtonian mechanics. We do not need this brown shirt approach in science; all that should be required of a student in a science class is the ability to understand and articulate the prevailing scientific paradigms.

PvM:

Also, I dispute Pim’s assertion that GG’s “cosmological ID” is vacuous.

Fine, show us how ID explains the bacterial flagella, the habitable zone or anything relevant.

The bacterial flagella is not an element of “cosmological ID.”

PvM: We all remember the story of the puddle in Douglas Adam’s master piece, wondering how the hole in which it was located so exquisitely fitted the shape of the puddle. While it was pondering the implications of this, it slowly evaporated, still convinced that the hole was specially created for the puddle.

Appeals to analogy are known as the weakest form of argumentation for a reason.

The bacterial flagella is not an element of “cosmological ID.”

what part of “Fine, show us how ID explains the bacterial flagella, the habitable zone or anything relevant.” is confusing you?

Appeals to analogy are known as the weakest form of argumentation for a reason.

Ironically that is exactly what ID is trying to do. I am glad you understand how weak ID really is.

heddle says,

Moran is implying he would fail a student who mastered the material but didn’t believe it. Well, OK, he said “understand” but as I said in the first post, understand must mean “believe and affirm.” If it simply means master the material, then he’s saying nothing of substance.

I’ve already stated my position on this several times but in case Prof. Heddle missed it, here it is again.

Assume that I ask a student to write a critical essay on the age of the Earth where they have to declare their opinion and defend it. If they choose to defend the idea that the Earth is only 6000 years old then they will probably get a failing grade. In other words, if the student is honest about his/her true understanding of the material then they will probably suffer the consequences in a science course.

On the other hand, if a student lies about their true understanding and just spits back what he/she has learned about the scientific consensus, then they might get a good grade.

Honest people suffer and liars for Jesus succeed. There’s something wrong here. I don’t know how to fix it.

Robert O’Brian says,

Personally, I think the idea that the age of the earth can be measured in thousands of years is crazy. However, Kurt Wise and Marcus Ross understand the science even though they reject it.

Nonsense. Kurt Wise and Marcus Ross do not understand the evidence for a 4.5 billion year old Earth.

They may know about it but they can’t possibly understand its significance and still reject it. That’s like saying a believer in homeopathy understands medicine.

Larry Moran:

Robert O’Brian says,

Personally, I think the idea that the age of the earth can be measured in thousands of years is crazy. However, Kurt Wise and Marcus Ross understand the science even though they reject it.

Nonsense. Kurt Wise and Marcus Ross do not understand the evidence for a 4.5 billion year old Earth.

They may know about it but they can’t possibly understand its significance and still reject it. That’s like saying a believer in homeopathy understands medicine.

Not only do they understand it, I suspect they understand it better than you or I. You may not live in their particular alternate reality, Dr. Moran, but you live in an alternate reality, to be certain.

Moran wrote,

Assume that I ask a student to write a critical essay on the age of the Earth where they have to declare their opinion and defend it. If they choose to defend the idea that the Earth is only 6000 years old then they will probably get a failing grade.

No, that wouldn’t pass muster either. You certainly could ask: What is the age of the earth, and what is the supporting evidence? And there you could fail someone who answered using YEC pseudo-science or scriptural references. You could not, not if you wanted such a practice to survive an appeal, ask, in a science class, what is your opinion about the age of the earth? (And geez louize, asking what is your “opinion” is a horrible question in a science class. I certainly have never seen a question on an exam in a science class such as “What is your opinion of the Grand Canonical Ensemble?” or “What is your opinion of String Theory?”) Asking someone’s opinion implies that more than one answer is acceptable and you will grade on the writing. Since you accept only one answer it is clear the question, posed in that manner, is a form of entrapment. Nice pedagogy.

It’s very simple professor. They have to demonstrate that they learned then material you teach.

I am curious. If you know a student is a YEC but he can nail the material, and you give this “what is your opinion” question. (Personally I don’t believe you do, but maybe I’m wrong) you have placed them in an ethical dilemma (Oh, goodie for you.) If he answers from the YEC perspective, he flunks. (At least until he goes to the Dean and points out you asked his opinion.) But if he gives the legitimate scientific answer—even though you know it’s not what he believes, you wrote that they might get a good grade. I know you would not write, on the graded exam, “Regrettably I have to pass you, you liar for Jesus.” But do you somehow convey that message to the student?

No, that wouldn’t pass muster either.

Dr Moran stated that they would probably get a failing grade. I think this is correct. There is no way to defend a position of YEC. Taking that position and defending it is doomed. I am open to letting someone try, but based on all the data and all the YEC attempts previously to defend a YE, I think it is safe to say they will probably fail.

Failure to recognize that your arguments are flawed, especially in the light of so many others ahead of you, proves without doubt a lack of science in favor of religion - that deserves failure in a science course!

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on April 9, 2008 9:13 PM.

Will the public ever see Expelled? was the previous entry in this blog.

Wesley Elsberry: “Expelled” exposed is the next entry in this blog.

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