The evolution of Jeffrey P Schloss

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Former Discovery Institute’s Senior Fellow Jeffrey P. Schloss has become the target of several ID Creationists’ ire, such as Dembski, Denyse O’Leary and Richard Weikart.

While I can appreciate that the history and evolution of former Senior Fellow Schloss is of concern to some ID Creationists, they, perhaps inadvertently, present us with evidence that serious scholars find it necessary to abandon Intelligent Design as preached by the Discovery Institute. In addition, the replacements seem to lack much of a scientific background (Medved comes to mind)

And in case of Schloss, the reasons are quite compelling as laid out in a recent ASA article. The article itself causes Dembski to make some strong comments about ASA, and cause Denyse to lose her temper as I will discuss. However, before addressing some of the creationists’ responses, I will first attempt to discuss the evolution of Jeff Schloss and his excellent review of “Expelled” which seems to have caused so much concern amongst ID Creationists, and for good reasons as Schloss presents an extremely well argued and still balanced critical rebuttal of “Expelled”.

A short historical overview

We can trace some of the fossils of this evolution via his presentations, and writings

Joining the Discovery Institute

Jeffrey Schloss joined the Discovery Institute as a Senior Fellow and ID supporter and seems to have abandoned said relationship in August 2003. From that moment forward, Schloss’s position on Intelligent Design has evolved significantly

Jeffrey Schloss was one of the signers of the “List of Intellectual Doubters of Darwinism”

10/24/2000 Jeffrey P. Schloss, Ph.D. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri).

Leaving the Discovery Institute

In August 2003, Jeffrey Schloss left the Discovery Institute.

What happened?

In 2005, Schloss spoke out in a public interview published in the Sacramento Bee

Then Schloss realized that unless people like him spoke up, the public would never get to hear more moderate ideas on the subject - such as the notion that evolution and God are not mutually exclusive; that scientists are not by definition godless nor religion advocates brainless; and that extremists on both sides have been responsible for fueling a feud that need not exist.

Source: Sacramento Bee “Some find middle ground in science-theology clash” By Edie Lau – Published 2:15 am PDT Monday, October 3, 2005

Why did Schloss join the Discovery Institute?

Like Townes, Schloss believes science can contribute something to the question of whether the nature of the universe is accidental or purposeful. That’s why the Westmont College biology professor was an early supporter of the Discovery Institute, which was founded in 1990.

Why did he decide to ‘part ways’?

“Is there a way we can formalize (that understanding) and make it scientifically rigorous rather than intuitive?” Schloss said. “I think that’s a fully legitimate question.” Schloss said that while he supports science applying its tools to the question, he disagrees strongly with the institute’s stance against evolution. “I think evolutionary theory is compatible with faith,” Schloss said.

A First Sign of Trouble

On Feb. 7 2007, Schloss presented at the Grove City College Society for Science, Faith and Technology and The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College, one-day conference on “Creatively Seeking a Creation Story: Evolution and Intelligent Design in America.”

11 a.m. “Evolution and Design: Beyond the ‘or’ Wars” by Dr. Jeff Schloss, Professor of Biology, Westmont College

Dembski’s comments suggest that he was surprised and felt perhaps a bit betrayed by the evolution of Jeffrey Schloss who (according to Dembski)

has since been distancing himself from ID and even going on the offensive against it. I witnessed the beginnings of this offensive at a symposium featuring Ron Numbers, Howard Van Till, Schloss, and me in 2007 at Grove City College

The “Collegian”, Grove City College’s newspaper, reports in their February 23, 2007 issue

Seybold said the purpose of the conference was for those who attended “to know what these two positions [Evolutionary Theory and Intelligent Design] are and also why many people do not think intelligent design is a good option.”

and

The first three speakers argued that science could not be used to prove God’s involvement, while Dembski attempted to show that it could.

Source: Emily Dalpiaz: Seeking a Creation Story

Dembski’s presentation, which focused on the so-called ‘complexity’ argument, seems to have been well-oiled but likely did not improve on his earlier, somewhat shaky ‘God of the Gaps’ arguments.

Jeffrey Schloss is now a member of ISSR (the International Society for Science & Religion, which was established in 2002 for the purpose of the promotion of education through the support of inter-disciplinary learning and research in the fields of science and religion conducted where possible in an international and multi-faith context). The ISSR website explains the ISSR’s stance on the Concept of ‘Intelligent Design’ reads

We believe that intelligent design is neither sound science nor good theology. Although the boundaries of science are open to change, allowing supernatural explanations to count as science undercuts the very purpose of science, which is to explain the workings of nature without recourse to religious language. Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper. Besides, ID has not yet opened up a new research program. In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it has not provided examples of “irreducible complexity” in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes. Students of nature once considered the vertebrate eye to be too complex to explain naturally, but subsequent research has led to the conclusion that this remarkable structure can be readily understood as a product of natural selection. This shows that what may appear to be “irreducibly complex” today may be explained naturalistically tomorrow.

No wonder Dembski and O’Leary are not amused.

The Review of “Expelled”

Jeffrey Schloss recently did a review of the movie “Expelled” and his review was prominently presented on the ASA website as well as the Counterbalance website. It is also one of the best reviews of “Expelled” I have read so far.

The Expelled Controversy: Overcoming or Raising Walls of Division?

Schloss addresses such issues as “Is Evolution Wedded to Atheism?”, and “Do “anti-science bigots…censor scientists and stifle science”? and Are ID advocates being expelled? which looks in detail at Caroline Crocker, and Richard von Sternberg and Guillermo Gonzalez and even addresses the issue Should ID advocates be expelled?. Schloss also addresses the charges Did Darwin lead to Hitler?. In his Concluding Comments: Walls Torn Down? Schloss ends up quoting Hugh Ross

Our main concern about Expelled is that it paints a distorted picture. It certainly doesn’t match our experience. Sadly, it may do more to alienate than to engage the scientific community, and that can only harm our mission.RTB Scholars Expound on Expelled, the Movie. http://www.reasons.org/resources/ap[…]pelled.shtml

Even our friend Davescot observes

This Darwin/Nazi stuff is pure politics and exceedingly bad politics at that. It’s turning off those who might otherwise have given us a serious hearing like nothing else I’ve seen. Words fail me in describing how ill-conceived it is to associate this with intelligent design.

Not to be ‘left behind’ self described ‘journalist’ Denyse O’Leary adds

Jeffrey Schloss is an embarrassment to scientists who claim to be Christians and part of the ongoing disgrace of the American Scientific Affiliation.

His scholarship is unbelievably poor.

But, of course, anyone who attempts to deny that Hitler was influenced by the Darwinism of his day would have to sign on to poor scholarship just for starters.

It is one thing for a group of Christians in science to disavow young earth creationism on insufficient evidence, but quite another to deny design in nature and suck up* to atheistic materialists.

= Hey! Guess what! The atheistic materialists as worried about design as we are! They have the courage of their convictions but we don’t. Still, they and we are friends, and whoop, whoop, they have invited us to coffee! So we are no longer scum, like the ID theorists.

Any serious scientist who belongs to such an organization had better have a plan for rescuing it.

I wonder what O’Leary means by “disavow[ing] young earth creationism on insufficient evidence” but I am even more amazed about the intense hatred of some of the leading (and following) ID Creationists towards theistic evolutionists.

Denyse’s contributions to ASA’s reflector were, quite predictably, met with ‘skepticism’ and given the nature of some of her writings, I would say with good reason.

I have to commend Davescot for standing up for reason and point out that Jeffrey Schloss somehow became ‘incompetent’ after he was employed as a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. Furthermore, when people assert the “Expelled” was not about a link between Darwinism and Nazism, he observes

It sure seemed that way to many viewers including me. If the Holocaust connection wasn’t made to smear modern Darwinists what then what the hell was it included for? The movie was supposed to be about suppression of ID in academia. The Holocaust seems pretty far removed from that theme. What am I missing?

Nothing really. You are just far more perceptive than the average ID groupie.

Of course, other perceptive people such as David Opderdeck quickly showed how Denyse was lacking in scholarship herself

David Opderdeck Wrote:

I’m baffled by Denyse’s claim that Schloss denies “that Hitler was influenced by the Darwinism of his day” (which, she says, is “to sign on to poor scholarship just for starters”). .Here is what Schloss actually says in his Exposed essay on the ASA website:

“That Darwin was used (or abused) in Holocaust thinking seems uncontestable.”

Schloss later concludes:

Both Darwin and the Bible were seized upon by anti-Jewish zealots in search of a legitimating ideology. Hatred is notoriously indiscriminate in what it cobbles together to justify itself. Hitler, in particular, evidenced little regard for learning and – as the historical sources cited by recent defenders and critics of Expelled acknowledge – he extracted whatever was useful to support his preconceptions, from widely ranging popular, crude sources. In the case of Darwinian and Christian tradition though, there really exist disturbing themes that were (and are) amenable to misuse. However the fundamental ideas of the Holocaust were not just absent from, but contrary to the founders of each tradition. (Emphasis added).

I will discuss the various parts of Schloss’s outstanding contribution in separate postings and Weikart’s ‘response’

Dembskis Questions for Schloss

See also ASA Responds

Dembski raised some ‘interesting’ questions for Schloss

(1) ID raises important issues for science.
(2) Politics aside, ID proponents ought to get a fair hearing for their views, and they’re not.
(3) A climate of hostility toward ID pervades the academy, which often undermines freedom of thought and expression on this topic.
(4) That climate has led to ID proponents being shamefully treated, losing their reputations and jobs, and suffering real harm.

Schloss seems to have rejected most of claim (4) and seems to believe that ID contributes little to science thus rejecting (1). As to question number (2) Schloss observes that “Would that be a denial of academic freedom? Academic freedom does not involve the liberty to say absolutely anything in the name of one’s discipline. Moreover, for non-tenured faculty on a probationary appointment, it doesn’t even involve the freedom to research any topic. “ and “While both are important, earning the “right to be heard,” as Ross emphasizes, is surely not the same as demanding the “right to speak,” as Expelled focuses on. Expelled never ends up convincingly demonstrating that the latter is in any real jeopardy, but sadly, it does much to jeopardize the former.”

In the end however it is the lack of content which causes ID to fail and in addition why “Expelled” failed.

So in response to his own question - “does it deserve to be suppressed?” - Stein never really provides us with a justified answer. We do get a stirring tribute to those who have given their lives to protect freedom, along with a reading from the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” the document famously proclaims. But of course not all truths, much less all purporting to be truths, are self-evident. Some require argument. What Expelled lacks is exactly that.

Speaking of failures: “Expelled” was released in Canada and received some scathing reviews and poor attendance

36 theatres $24,374.00. 36/3 showings/3 days= 324 showings.

That’s about 72 people per theatre, which works out to 7-8 people, give or take a person per showing.

588 Comments

I wonder what O’Leary means by “disavow[ing] young earth creationism on insufficient evidence.”

Well, she knows that young Earth creationism is absolute rubbish, but she can’t say that or the rubes might take offense. So she frames creationism as a reasonable position–one that fits the evidence, surely–but also as one that some may reasonably doubt. The evidence isn’t iron clad, you know. Even good friends may disagree on the particulars, after all. There are many valid interpretations. Let’s not dwell. The only important thing to remember is that evolution is wrong.

Dembski plays this same game when he talks about common descent.

H. H.:

How refreshing to hear someone other than myself say that!

Irony meters should explode on reading O’Leary whining about theistic evolutionists “sucking up” to “materialistic atheists” while everyone from the most rabid YEC to OEC-plus-common-descent advocates like Michael Behe suck up to each other under that cozy big tent. Using O’Leary “logic,” Ken Miller’s trashing of Richard Dawkins in “Finding Darwin’s God” is “sucking up,” but no so Behe’s quote about how some IDers (unnamed of course) who reject common descent are more familiar with the relevant science than he is.

I was a bit surprised (in a good sort of way) that Dave Scott was sharp enough to recognize that crying “WOLF WOLF! NAZI NAZI! WOLF WOLF!” is just “screeching to the choir” since everyone else (particularly those who have ever hung around on internet forums) just rolls their eyes and says: “Oh dear, how tiresome.” Deja moo all over again …

Sigh, of course Weikert is persisting in the beating of his dead nonexistent horse. I will have to contact him to encourage him in his scholarship, and suggest new work linking Darwin to Darth Vader, and hopefully a book showing Hitler’s debt to the Wright Brothers.

If anything good came out of EXPELLED, it was the B’nai B’rith’s blunt repudiation of the Darwin-Hitler connection – worth its weight in gold, to be trotted out every time some (particularly non-Jewish) Darwin-basher starts calling “NAZI NAZI!”

A bow to Jeff Schloss.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Hitler was influenced by the Darwinism of his day

First of all, there wasn’t much “darwinism” of that day. The early 20th century was known as the “eclipse of darwinism” because the power of natural selection was largely in doubt. The more generally accepted ideas were drawn from, among others, Mendel or Lamarck.

Hitler made much of Pasteur and Koch, and very little mention of Darwin in support of his policies. He likened the groups that he didn’t like to diseases to be eliminated. If there was anything “evolutionary” that contributed, it would fall under the heading of microevolution - and today’s anti-evolutionists so often tell us that they accept micro-evolution. What is there about macro-evolutionary ideas, such as the origins of the vertebrate eye, that could conceivably influence him?

There is some evidence that the Nazis were opposed to “darwinian” ideas. In at least one case, “darwinian” books were to be burnt. To be sure, the idea that “Aryans” could be related to “monkeys” was repulsive to them.

And, of course, many of those social/political movements of the early 20th century had little trust in natural selection. They felt that purposeful intervention was needed. That without directed design, things could only deteriorate.

And, remember that one of the things that the anti-evolutionists complain about is that “darwinists” say that there are no value judgements to be drawn from nature.

Well I guess this answers the question of why there are no sincere, honest creationists. Those who sincerely seek the truth eventually realize that lying and ignoring evidence is not the way to find the truth. If they have enough courage, they will eventually admit that they were mistaken.

I applaud the courage that Schloss has shown in revising his views. It was inevitable that the response would be vitriolic and hateful. I guess that just shows that he made the right decision after all. It sure beats realizing that you were completely wrong and stubbornly sticking to your story despite all the evidence.

Not sure where Dave Scot found the courage to denounce the supposed Darwin/Hitler conection. Perhaps there is hope for him yet. It sure makes the makers of Expelled look bad though. Just think, they could have used all that money for research instead of lying and whining. Oh well, at least I can use a 20 second clip of the movie without permission, especially if I criticize it sufficiently.

Dear David,

Schloss’ review is also linked at the Expelled Exposed website. I read it last week and found it to be among the most thoughtful, most persuasive, condemnations of “Expelled” that I have read.

Have to commend Schloss for having the courage and intellect to revise substantially his thinking with respect to Intelligent Design. I certainly wish that others, most notably Michael Medved, would follow him too.

Appreciatively yours,

John

Well, I made it all the way through Schloss’ long review of Expelled, and I see that he is tiptoeing across a field of eggshells. He repeatedly notices the issue of whether ID has any scientific merit, but then observes that the movie fails to address this question. Schloss carefully avoids adressing it himself.

He has a long section asking whether ID proponents should be expelled, considering that evolution is the best-supported theory in biology and perhaps in all of science. But again, he’s careful to note that the movie presumes otherwise, without analyzing why. Schloss himself takes no stand. I think at some level Schloss realizes that when both the facts and the law are against you, you pound the table. Expelled pounds the table; it’s the only tactic available, and serendipitously it’s the tactic best suited to the target audience’s mental processes.

And so it goes for page after page, leading to the conclusion that the movie serves to polarize and thus harden competing extreme political camps, making genuine discussion of the very real underlying issues more difficult and less likely. But why would the movie do this, rather than focus some intellectually honest assessment of the competing views? Here, Schloss is silent.

So I come away, as usual, with the conviction that ID is the political arm of a religious proselytizing campaign, and the claim to scientific merit is completely bogus. Schloss carefully notes in passing that the movie is biased and its supporters are less than honest in its defense, but the real issue - the role the movie is intended to play in the overall political campaign - somehow escapes his notice. The movie has deliberatelty set out to do exactly the opposite of what Schloss thinks it ought to do, and he spends many words bemoaning this, as though it were somehow an accident!

Schloss also has little use for anyone who fails to take his god for granted, dismissing them as contributing nothing but heat to the debate, but no light. Instead, Schloss sees the important battle as between those who believe Schloss’ god acted directly, prodigiously poofing reality as we know it all in one swell foop, and those who believe Schloss’ god engineered a universe with the divine knowledge of how its properties and principles would play out over time scales meaningful only to gods. The idea that this second type of god renders itself essentially irrelevant, is something Schloss’ mind can’t even register.

Derbyshire has something up that goes along well with this:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Darwinian Revelation [John Derbyshire]

A most interesting letter by Charles Darwin has come to light. Looks like Ben Stein was right! [Courtesy of LGF.]

At the time of the flap over that Expelled movie (anyone remember that?), Russell Seitz had a bit of fun combing through the recorded utterances of A.H. for the dictator’s views on creation. He came up with gems like this one:

Das, was der Mensch von dem Tier voraushat, der veilleicht wunderbarste Beweis für die Überlegenheit des Menschen ist, dass er begriffen hat, dass es eine Schöpferkraft geben muss. (“An advantage humans enjoy over animals, and what may be the best proof of their superiority, is that they have grasped there must be the power of a creator.”) — Tischgespräche, Feb. 1942.

Incidentally, for those who don’t already know and want to be well-read for the centenary, the entire works of Charles Darwin are now online here.

corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZTFiNjI1MmI0YWM1MGMxMzVmZmM4YzdiM2VlMzU2YzM=

Not only are the IDiots in line with Hitler on the “Creator”, they also agree with him that it makes them superior to those who care about science.

Sort of makes Expelled just that much more special, of course in the short-bus sense.

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

Oh yeah, I should point out that the “new letter” from Darwin mentioned in my post above is the same one posted by Matzke.

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

TomS Wrote:

Hitler made much of Pasteur and Koch, and very little mention of Darwin in support of his policies. He likened the groups that he didn’t like to diseases to be eliminated. If there was anything “evolutionary” that contributed, it would fall under the heading of microevolution - and today’s anti-evolutionists so often tell us that they accept micro-evolution. What is there about macro-evolutionary ideas, such as the origins of the vertebrate eye, that could conceivably influence him?

Wow, twice in one thread! What I mean is that’s another of several arguments, none of which I originated, but which I find horrendously underutilized in criticism of anti-evolution activists, so I often tend to be their sole messenger.

So yes, if Hitler was influenced by evolution, it’s the part that nearly all creationists admit (Ray Martinez being a possible rare exception). Besides, all the “Darwinism” he used was within a “kind.” A real “Darwinist” (per creationist fantasy) would use “macroeugenics” to experiment with monkeys to “evolve” a better human.

“(1) ID raises important issues for science. (2) Politics aside, ID proponents ought to get a fair hearing for their views, and they’re not. (3) A climate of hostility toward ID pervades the academy, which often undermines freedom of thought and expression on this topic. (4) That climate has led to ID proponents being shamefully treated, losing their reputations and jobs, and suffering real harm”

(1) ID is little more than a restatement of Paley. Without a phenomenon to study, ID raises no new issues, and offers no research directions, for science. It is pure philosophy, and old philosophy at that, branded with a new name only, and using newer gaps in our knowledge rather than older ones, now filled.

(2) ID proponents write popular books, maintain blogs, go on talk shows, and would even stand a chance of being published in mainstream scientific journals if they formed hypotheses and conducted studies that met the basic standards of scientific research. They have not. It is worth noting that ID enjoys an unusual amount of support from the American public, greater even than the proportion of people who assert that they understand its claims. It is also worth noting that ID has garnered a far greater amount of attention than many other subjects that are actually associated with research programs and findings! Scientists and science-enthusiasts are almost continuously giving ID a “hearing”, and rejecting it universally for its lack of research and even basic hypothesis formation. It seems clear that by “hearing”, he means positive review, not a critical analysis correctly resulting in scathing criticism.

(3) ID has a clear find-and-replace relationship with creationism, as evidenced at the Dover trial. In addition its proponents have refused to perform basic research, or even consult with the wider scientific community, yet go directly to the lay public with their message, and their demands to be taken seriously as “science” .

(4) None of the examples in Expelled stand up to even a few minutes research on wikipedia, and the deeper one looks into each and every case, the worse the details look for the ID proponent in question. One must either conclude that genuine persecution does not exist, or that the Expelled producers were incompetent in choosing their examples, or that they, for whatever reason, chose bad, easily-refuted, examples on purpose.

Flint Wrote:

The idea that this second type of god renders itself essentially irrelevant, is something Schloss’ mind can’t even register.

The other type of god is just as irrelevant to the scientific explanation. Even if everything “poofed” into existence last Thursday, science would be seeking a “naturalistic” explanation, and rightly so.

“Dembski raised some ‘interesting’ questions for Schloss.”

Umm, not to nit pick, but what you list are statements, not questions.

“Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper.”

At the risk of making a mountain out of a molehill, that ISSR statement concedes, correctly, that ID is a science-stopper, but “as some critics have claimed” is an irresponsibly weak and dismissive phrasing. The words “some” and “claimed” suggest that this has been a controversial and minority opinion, perhaps not convincingly established until recently. All critics have claimed that ID was a science-stopper, from the get-go. It is the key reason for scientists to dismiss ID, even if ID-creationists didn’t have the habit of being wrong and telling lies all the time.

Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper

It might be the only meaningful explanation, however, if one were to see breaks in the continuity of life (or in observations elsewhere). Say, if bats had wings closely homologous with pterosaur wings, or if geckos, alone of the vertebrates, had eyes like octopus eyes (blood vessels in back of the retina). But why stop there? Why not have something really design-like, such as a metals-using radio receiver in humans’ heads, an immensely useful capability that the IDists’ super-intelligent designer could no doubt have whipped up very easily.

True, it still wouldn’t tell you much. It just might be where we had to stop, if the evidence so indicated.

As it stands now, if the “designer” chose to make things as we see them, and they didn’t evolve, evolution would still be the only theory that explains and accommodates the evidence.

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

When I was in grad school, David Sloan Wilson was invited by the University to give an important lecture on human and cultural evolution. The majority of the lecture was on the evolution and adaptation of religion. Well, the Christian Faculty Forum, which served as the university’s hot bed of anti-evolution promotion, didn’t like the idea of that lecture and they invited a counter to Wilson.

Guess who they invited? Schloss. It didn’t go how they’d hoped because Schloss started off his talk by saying that he isn’t going to counter Wilson. In fact, he agreed a lot with Wilson, and that they’d published together.

The creationists didn’t invite a counter, they invited an enhancer.

Haha!

Imlac said:

“Dembski raised some ‘interesting’ questions for Schloss.”

Umm, not to nit pick, but what you list are statements, not questions.

You are correct, Dembski attempted to get Schloss to _admit_ to the following list but never got a response.

I am a member of the ASA and I have some more background information. The review in question was actually commissioned by us. We were seeing altogether too many “partisan” responses to Expelled and believed that Dr. Schloss would give a good, unbiased, review. My own personal reaction is that this was – if a bit wordy – a very good review. In fact, my beef with the review was its tendency to pull punches.

The following is the response from our executive director, Dr. Randy Isaac:

If Denyse O’Leary or anyone else has a concern about the objectivity and fairness of any of ASA’s activities, they are more than welcome to contact me or anyone on our council and engage in constructive private dialog. We will correct all documented and verified concerns of bias and I urge them to retract any that aren’t substantiated. We continue to foster and encourage serious dialog in the appropriate forums.

Sad liberal Jesuit stuck between the oppressive confines of religion (hoisted on him by his parents no doubt) and an honest understanding of the science of our times. Probably thought he was doing God’s work when he took his position at the Institute. He is what I refer to as one of the good Christians. They come by their delusions honestly but are self aware and intelligent enough to know the Bible is not to be taken literally. These Christians will ultimately burn in hell along with the Mormons and Catholics (according to my Baptist friends..lol) because they do not follow a literalistic biblical translation.

All this YEC talk is nothing other than a reference to people who believe in the literal translation of the bible (or at least their interpretation thereof) over all logic, common observation and good sense (science). Christian religions that embrace evolution have clearly abandoned any literal reckoning of huge parts of biblical creation accounts. Once they have had the good sense to do that, they become slaves to situational ethics just like the vast unwashed atheist hippies they deplore.

I read his review and thought it interesting he brought up the bit from Euclid where he tells the King there is no easy path to Geometry. That is a backhanded swipe at all the knucke draggers who didn’t have the IQ to make it through high school chemistry questioning the valid science of those who did. There’s a certain ‘Idiocracy’ element at play in the most radicalized elements that makes the claim.…”Who you gonna believe…God…or all those faggoty sounding scientists and secular humanists?”

Enjoy.

Jason Failes said: It seems clear that by “hearing”, he means positive review, not a critical analysis correctly resulting in scathing criticism.

I find that the “no fair shake” argument is a common complaint of pseudoscientists. Mostly this complaint devolves into three whines: they think they deserve more grant money, deserve to be published, and that the scientific community should ignore all the past failures and support just one more experiment (always just one more…this one’s different, y’know…).

What they consistenly fail to understand is we mainstream scientists ask no more of them than we ask of ourselves. (Okay I haven’t been in the lab in years, but I’ll continue as if I was…) We struggle to convince granting agencies that our ideas are worth funding, and must show that we have the skill and planning to pull off an experiment before we’re given the resources to do it. We struggle with publication peer reviews by people who strongly disagree with us, and may even be our competitors. We understand that our results will be scrutinized in light of all the work that has gone before us, with new extroadinary claims requiring extroadinary evidence.

Yeah, these are very high hurdles to get over, and the process is painful and imperfect, but they are certainly “fair” hurdles from the perspective that every scientist has to jump them.

And because we do jump them, our research findings are stronger for it.

Frank J:

The other type of god is just as irrelevant to the scientific explanation. Even if everything “poofed” into existence last Thursday, science would be seeking a “naturalistic” explanation, and rightly so.

Uh, not exactly. The poofists (to coin a word) are essentially making the claim that a probably-recent and magical origin of life and species can in fact be scientifically established through evidence-based research.

If this were so, if there were solid evidence (and abundant indications) that reality were poofed up last Thursday, science would be seeking a very different sort of explanation, focused on deriving the mechanics of poofing from the clear indications that poof happened. And doubtless evolving suitable techniques for that research.

But much to the contrary, the evidence on the ground indicates that if there is some sort of anthropomorphic creator, it works over such long time scales and so incredibly indirectly, as to render itself unnecessary. Only Behe has tried to present evidence of poofing, and by now he stands alone (and does no research - his “evidence” has always consisted of assertion combined with rapidly moving the goalposts).

Science follows the evidence. If the evidence all pointed to magic, science would seek magical explanations. And rightly so.

N.Wells Wrote:

All critics have claimed that ID was a science-stopper, from the get-go.

And one of us keeps saying that it is even more of a science-stopper than classic creationism. At least the latter makes testable (& easily falsified) claims about what the designer did and when.

Flint Wrote:

Science follows the evidence. If the evidence all pointed to magic, science would seek magical explanations. And rightly so.

What you call a “magical” explanation I would still call “naturalistic.” One would still have to determine if matter originated anew, or whether living systems were assembled from existing matter. And the reaction rates of the “poofs” would at least be sought, even if extremely faster than what we are used to with evolution. Schwabe and Senapathy have attempted that, however poorly. Which puts them at odds with the “we don’t need to connect no stinkin’ dots” ID crowd.

Frank J:

What you call a “magical” explanation I would still call “naturalistic.”

You may be right, but I suspect there’d be a different orientation. In fact, I doubt science as we know it would even have been invented under magical circumstances. Imagine if you could cast spells, some of which worked and some didn’t, and the success rate of the spells could be improved through careful trial and error. Imagine that it were impossible in principle to determine HOW the spells worked, or even to find any pattern to proper spell-casting.

I imagine such a condition would shape the thought processes of even the most rigorous thinkers. And it would certainly make poofism the most plausible explanation for life, the unverse and everything.

The Holocaust would never have been possible without nearly 2000 years of Christian antisemitism. “His blood be on us and our children” ring a bell?

Darin:

The Holocaust would never have been possible without nearly 2000 years of Christian antisemitism.

My reading is very different. Even if you’re correct, you’re correct only quite indirectly.

These were the days following the Weimar Republic, and life for the German common people was pretty grim. War reparations for WWI were onerous, inflation was ferocious, and as time passed the people felt that they were being punished for acts they neither chose nor performed. And this punishment (and economic desperation) was viewed as specifically against Germany as a nation, fostering rampant nationalism.

But where should a demagogue focus that nationalism? Global economic conditions is a difficult enemy to personalize. Prior (perhaps responsible) political personalities were long gone. External enemies weren’t very clear and present.

For Hitler, the Jews were a target made in heaven. The Jews dominated commerce - they owned the stores, the banks, much of the infrastructure. Now, indirectly you have a point here, because the Jews had been prohibited by the Christians from engaging in “honorable” professions like politics or the military, and thus forced into the “grubby” handling of money (regarded by Christians as evil). Only belatedly did the Christian power structure realize the central role of trade and commerce when economic times are very hard.

The Jews, for their part, tended to play right into Hitler’s hands. They were (and are) clannish and insular. At a time when the Jews were essentially the only ones in a position to hire people, they hired only Jews. As economic conditions worsened and jobs became more desirable and harder to come by, the “Jews only” policy only became more rigid. They also adopted incendiary policies like maintaining a much higher price structure for gentiles than for Jews, and like refusing to accept converts or marry outside their clan.

As a result, they were visibly better off as a group, and visibly defending this privileged position, at a time when they controlled what non-Jews needed badly. So it wasn’t at all difficult for Hitler to fan hatred for the Jews, who (perhaps understandably) underestimated the sheer hatred they were enabling. Hitler’s approach (extermination) was probably beyond what anyone imagined, but as the Jews were weeded out, those commonly blaming the Jews for all their problems weren’t about to reverse field and ask uncomfortable questions.

But the important point is, if the Jews hadn’t filled that economic role, Hitler would have target whoever DID fill that role. Or whatever role the public could be made to regard as at fault for their desperate situation. They were targeted not so much because they were Jews, as because they were handy, in a way no other identifiable group was at the time.

This is a bit of a tangent, but seems as good a place as any to voice my personal embarrassment at being one of those rare Canadians who has seen Expelled. At the time I assumed it was going to do much better at the box office - particularly here in Alberta, a traditionally conservative part of the country, and didn’t realize that my $12 would constitute such a significant portion of its gross box-office draw.

Oh, how I wish that number were only $24,362.

Flint said: But the important point is, if the Jews hadn’t filled that economic role, Hitler would have target whoever DID fill that role. Or whatever role the public could be made to regard as at fault for their desperate situation. They were targeted not so much because they were Jews, as because they were handy, in a way no other identifiable group was at the time.

You are leaving out the fact that this handiness depended a lot on nearly 2000 years of official Church anti-Semitism. Pushing one or two blame buttons shouldn’t be enough to cause a Holocaust. But since the populace had been trained from baptism to hate Jews with full hysteric frenzy, genocide was an easy consequence.

Germany, in the 19th century, was a hotbed for discussing the “Jewish question”. There were hundreds of books on the subject. The rise of the “secular” nation-state concept after the French Revolution led to no discussion of the “Christian question”, for the simple reason that Christianity was given an automatic free pass.

Flint,

I’m not denying Hitler was an opportunist. However, my point was that two millennia of Christian antisemitism made the public extremely responsive to his arguments. Also, the Germans’ greatest collaborators in the extermination were the very religious Christian and as yet unevolutionised peoples of Eastern Europe, foremostly the Ukrainians.

(For the record, I’m Jewish.)

william:

You are leaving out the fact that this handiness depended a lot on nearly 2000 years of official Church anti-Semitism.

I didn’t leave it out. The Jews were handy BECAUSE they occupied economic territory which was all the Christians would allow them.

My argument isn’t that there is no Christian persecution of the Jews, which would be absurd. My argument is that focusing exclusively on religious persecution completely misses the social, economic and political aspects of the situation. The Jews’ behavior did in fact set themselves up as a target, the economic conditions made that target as obvious as a Vegas neon sign, and the political confusion and international treatment of Germany made any such target a slam dunk for easy demagoguery.

So I doubt that religious prejudice was even the primary cause of what happened, much less the exclusive cause. But it was without doubt a significant contributing cause.

As for “full hysteric frenzy”, give us a break! Before Hitler demonized them, they were accepted members of the community. They were the retailers, the merchants, the cobblers and tailors and cooks and bankers. What Hitler capitalized on was the Jewish insularity and exclusiveness in the face of hard times that were clearly causing the Jews less distress.

Now, whether Hitler could have (with considerably more difficulty) fanned up as much hatred against a different target behaving that same way, without the history of antagonism, I don’t know but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Bobby said:

reptiles never turned into mammals.

^^

reptiles are not ancestors of mammals?

Reptiles are ancestors of mammals, but such is not the same thing as reptiles turning into mammals. Indeed, hydrogen is an ancestor of gold, but your never going to see hydrogen turn into gold.

Bobby said:

Right, your go: what would we see if we could witness an ID event? A flash of lightning? Angels descending? Really, we want to know.

^^ spaceships depositing DNA material into the oceans

How would we know that the spaceship inhabitants “intelligent designed” the DNA material? How would we know that they did not carry the DNA material from some other planet on which the DNA material arise through naturalistic means?

Bobby said: you really should try to change it on wiki. you know that def was done mostly by anti-ID people.

That’s untrue, and I’m sure you know it. Anybody can join WikiPedia and edit Wiki content - even creationists, if they’re smart enough to figure out how to.

(But only certified right-wingnut wackaloons can edit ConservaPedia, because they vigorously lock out right-wingnut wackaloons.)

Mike Elzinga said:

william e emba Wrote:

Boltzmann, when he developed his microscopic interpretation of entropy in terms of randomness, was inspired by Charles Darwin and evolution in the first place.

I am not aware of any inspiration for Boltzmann’s work by Darwin […] And Boltzmann was also influenced by others such as Maxwell, Ostwald, Gibbs, Clausius.

Boltzmann directly attributed inspiration to Darwin. (I’ve mentioned this here before–with a reference–but I can’t figure out how to google pandasthumb.org directly.)

Boltzmann was also influenced by Quetelet, for what it’s worth. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that Darwin was also influenced by Quetelet.

The development of thermodynamics has a rocky and confusing history […]

Well, yes.

stevaroni said:

Every time I hear those Dembski-isms, I’m always struck by contrast to the simple, nonevasive nature of actual science, which a very respected professor once defined to me as…

“Basically it boils down to only including shit we can actually measure

I think the definition by your professor is called instrumentalism.

Wikipedia: In the philosophy of science, instrumentalism is the view that concepts and theories are merely useful instruments whose worth is measured not by whether the concepts and theories are true or false (or correctly depict reality), but by how effective they are in explaining and predicting phenomena.

For example, according to this view the wave function in quantum mechanics is not a real object, but is a useful tool in predicting outcomes of experiments.

Now, if one tries to apply this approach in order to discuss the relative merits and weaknesses of the Intelligent Design theory, one quickly finds that there is nothing to discuss.

Regards

Eric

Robin said: Now, if one tries to apply this approach in order to discuss the relative merits and weaknesses of the Intelligent Design theory, one quickly finds that there is nothing to discuss.

Bobby said: ^ interested that you just declare things without a logical reason. But you have faith.

Robin did not “declare things without a logical reason.” Robin was simply stating a sad fact, as scientists and other people criticize Intelligent Design because it has no scientific or academic merits, and Intelligent Design proponents (including you, Bobby) have never ever specified what Intelligent Design can do as a science.

And then there’s the problem of Mr Medved (and Phillip E. Johnson before him) admitting that Intelligent Design never was intended to be a science or even a replacement explanation in the first place.

william e emba Wrote:

Boltzmann directly attributed inspiration to Darwin. (I’ve mentioned this here before–with a reference–but I can’t figure out how to google pandasthumb.org directly.)

Interesting. I haven’t seen this in any biographies of Boltzmann, but I guess it wouldn’t be out of the question.

Trying to relate entropy to living systems has been a common theme in physics; and it has been frequently confused with the spatial arrangements of matter. But the mental exercises have probably been beneficial. I would certainly be interested in how Boltzmann thought about it in this context.

I don’t know how to retrace any of my comments on Panda’s Thumb either. I should probably start keeping a record.

Bobby said:

Now, if one tries to apply this approach in order to discuss the relative merits and weaknesses of the Intelligent Design theory, one quickly finds that there is nothing to discuss.

^ interested that you just declare things without a logical reason. But you have faith.

You are right in that I didn’t justify my statement.

To my knowledge, there are no published chains of reasoning along the line: We make a hypothesis of a designer - then we should expect to find these kind of phenomena - we can detect these phenomena by using this method.

In case we do not find those phenomena, we should abandon the hypothesis or modify it. Another reason to abandon the hypothesis would be, if there is already a well supported theory that predicts all the phenomena predicted by this new hypothesis.

The chains I have seen are: We make a hypothesis of a designer - we expect to find designed features - we see features that look designed.

If the current theory does not adequately predict all the phenomena that we see, then by all means attack that theory. However, any failure of the current theory does not favour any hypothesis that does not predict anything.

Regards

Eric

Bobby said:

when one say wiki they are referring to wikipedia.org. are you not internet literate?

I assume that Bobby means “When one says wiki he is referring to wikipedia.org. Are you not Internet literate?”

Quite aside from the logic error, there are six grammar and usage errors.

A good flush always cheers me up

Bobby said:

Intelligent design is the assertion that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

^^ would you consider the above a good defintion of ID?

This is not a good definition for three reasons:

First issue: What does “best explanation” mean? Most colorful, fewest words, most words, most equations? Who decides what is best? While the concept of best arises in law, ethics, and cookery, I know of no branch of science that invokes the concept of best.

Second issue: What is an intelligent cause? One might or might not be able to distinguish an intelligent person through an IQ test … this is a contentious issue. But how does one distinguish whether a “cause” is intelligent? How do you give an IQ test to a cause? If I drop an object, then its path is predicted by solving a second-order differential equation. It takes intelligence to solve this equation. Does that mean that gravity is an “intelligent cause”?

Most importantly, there’s a lie embodied in the statement, the lie that natural selection is an undirected process. Natural selection acts in the direction of increasing adaptation. It isn’t undirected.

Bobby said:

Intelligent design is the assertion that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

^^ would you consider the above a good defintion of ID?

This is not a good definition for three reasons:

First issue: What does “best explanation” mean? Most colorful, fewest words, most words, most equations? Who decides what is best? While the concept of best arises in law, ethics, and cookery, I know of no branch of science that invokes the concept of best.

Second issue: What is an intelligent cause? One might or might not be able to distinguish an intelligent person through an IQ test … this is a contentious issue. But how does one distinguish whether a “cause” is intelligent? How do you give an IQ test to a cause? If I drop an object, then its path is predicted by solving a second-order differential equation. It takes intelligence to solve this equation. Does that mean that gravity is an “intelligent cause”?

Most importantly, there’s a lie embodied in the statement, the lie that natural selection is an undirected process. Natural selection acts in the direction of increasing adaptation. It isn’t undirected.

Bobby said:

Intelligent design is the assertion that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

^^ would you consider the above a good defintion of ID?

This is not a good definition for three reasons:

First issue: What does “best explanation” mean? Most colorful, fewest words, most words, most equations? Who decides what is best? While the concept of best arises in law, ethics, and cookery, I know of no branch of science that invokes the concept of best.

Second issue: What is an intelligent cause? One might or might not be able to distinguish an intelligent person through an IQ test … this is a contentious issue. But how does one distinguish whether a “cause” is intelligent? How do you give an IQ test to a cause? If I drop an object, then its path is predicted by solving a second-order differential equation. It takes intelligence to solve this equation. Does that mean that gravity is an “intelligent cause”?

Most importantly, there’s a lie embodied in the statement, the lie that natural selection is an undirected process. Natural selection acts in the direction of increasing adaptation. It isn’t undirected.

PvM:

A good flush always cheers me up

Me too.

But I suspect we’re talking about different things.

For the IDiot Bobby:

Biology (a pure science) reveals many wonderful designs in organisms that can be used in technology (applied science). That’s because the same laws of physics and chemistry are applicable to all branches of science, thus demonstrating its fundamental unity. The eye is often compared to a camera. The crucial difference between the eyes of animals and those invented by people is that the former is thought to have resulted from the trial and error process of natural selection, while the other resulted from intelligent design. Those who infer that the natural eyes of organisms must also have resulted from Intelligent Design are using a logical fallacy (assuming facts not in evidence). Cameras are not alive and do not reproduce by themselves. Living things are alive and do reproduce by themselves. Thus the comparison between them is not absolute.

Actually, yes and no, I love “double entendres” (see Wikipedia, or if you’re Bobby ‘wiki’ for details)\

stevaroni said:

PvM:

A good flush always cheers me up

Me too.

But I suspect we’re talking about different things.

I think this “bobby” stuff has gone on long enough, guys. He’s had his 9 days of being center of the universe, and at 20 pages it’s doubtful any other lurkers are going to be educated on some finer point of this-or-that by now. Let’s all just move on?

You guys are still going at it? Sheesh!

On Bobby: All your requests for substance, clarification, definitions etc. from him are, as you may have noticed, in vain. The reason is he can’t respond in any meaningful way. He knows what his position is (Darwin bad/ID good) but he doesn’t really understand it. He doesn’t want evolution to be true, but he knows that it is widely accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists. But he can’t dismiss science (antibiotics,satellites,the internet etc.)So it gnaws at him. Along comes ID and it (here’s the key) sounds good. Dilemma solved! But scientists -the bastards- treat it with undisguised contempt. Dilemma back. So he marches in his own idio(t)syncratic way to do battle with the forces of darkness. You may not have noticed, but he’s not very good at it. He doesn’t understand evolutionary theory, knows very little, and would like to know less, about the vast amount of evidence to support it. He also lacks the critical thinking and language skills needed to make even a half competent effort. As you’ve probably noticed all of his semicogent attempts, all of them, have been cut and paste jobs-always unattributed. His own efforts are always some combination of inane,incoherent, nonsensical and ignorant.”Spaceships dumping DNA material into the ocean.” He doesn’t read your references because he wouldn’t understand them if he did, and wouldn’t be able to compose a rebuttal if he did understand. He doesn’t understand your arguments, truth be told he doesn’t understand his own arguments. He probably doesn’t understand any of the things he’s cut and pasted here, all he knows is that they sounded good. Very scientifical and everything. He is hopelessly out of his depth but unreasonably determined. His trolling isn’t due to malice it’s just the best he can do.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on August 12, 2008 3:16 PM.

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