The Discovery Institute Needs your help

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Could some friendly (and polite) Panda Thumbers, go over to Does Intelligent Design have merit at Opposing Views? The Discovery Institute is in need of some better qualified ID defenders and I am certain that PT’ers can do a better job than what has been presented so far. And I do not even count the ‘Hovind was framed’ arguments or the Pascal wager fallacy or the ‘Eonic effect’.

To be honest, I feel a tiny bit sorry for the Discovery Institute and ID proponents who have tried so hard to present an argument but, faced with the facts, could not really respond. For instance, Behe attempted some rebuttals and was pwned by Nick Matzke. Could someone help Behe formulate a response as he seems to be lost for arguments and has decided to ignore Nick’s scathing comments.

Casey Luskin’s best performance was in wishing me a good weekend of rest, and Jay Richards showed why theologists should be careful when addressing real science when discussing the scientifically vacuous topic of Intelligent Design.

I am having a lovely time, but perhaps a few could go over and vote on the issue? The sad news is that you need to sign up. But the rewards of seeing the ID proponents expose the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design…

Priceless

76 Comments

A new blog called Opposing Views, eh? The fact that IDers can’t seem to do anything but blog kinda tells you how much scientific merit ID has. No papers, no research, no experiments, no journal. Lotsa blogs though.

The blog is actually quite cool and allows many controversial issue be discussed. Note that the question was not if ID was a science but rather if it had any merit at all.

Of course ID, especially our aspiring journalist Denyse O’Leary seems to have many blogs

Yeah at some point I WHOIS’d it and was surprised to see it wasn’t from The Discovery Institute. When I hear about a new ID blog I just assume it’s from the usual suspects.

I dunno. I went over there and looked at some of the ID arguments.

Whenever I peruse these ID arguments, I feel like I’m in the presence of a Dementor. Their “physics” is really depressing. There are so many egregious errors, it’s hard to know where to start; and you sense that anything you say will have no effect because these IDiots don’t understand the words or the science. They have their own meanings and misconceptions. And all this comes out of people who wave their PhD’s.

Their rubes won’t get it either; they just go with whoever quotes scripture properly.

I guess I’d have to think about it for a while before getting involved with that site.

Holy crow, PvM, you’re really holding down the fort over there :) I’m not going to be able to even skim all the comments over there at this rate!

Ugh, Dembski’s horrid “explanatory filter”. I notice that it treats chance, regularity and design all separately, turning it into a choice of three (if one assumes that design is not split into rarefied design and conscious design) instead of the eight combinations it could be. Way to exclude the actual proposed evolutionary model, which would be comprised of regularity and chance (and, in fact, would not work without one or the other).

Then again, the whole enterprise seems reliant on omitting things. Things like, if evolutionary science discovered something in 1980, then use papers from 1979 and before and, oh, maybe get it published by shady methods in a systematics journal.

I’ve met a few intelligent design supporters online who are not creationists, but they still seem to cling to somewhat antifactual oddities as Hoyle’s panspermia ravings or some variant on a “life force” theme.

It would be pretty refreshing just to see an intelligent design advocate free of strawman beliefs about evolutionary theory, actually. Perhaps I’m still exhausted from participating in the Expelled! blog; there were still a couple of nice, polite folks amongst the creationists there, and a few who were clearly surprised that what they had been told about evolutionary theory was not true, but they hardly posted.

Ignorance is no crime, but willful ignorance is.

Keep up the good work, PvM :)

Jobby in Bizarro World!

Awesome job PvM. You’ve collected an impressive amount of scalps.

ID supporters trying to defend ID without a pre-planned and vetted script is just pure entertainment.

(On second thoughts, even WITH the pre-planned script…)

;)

PvM said: I am having a lovely time, but perhaps a few could go over and vote on the issue?

I am making a few small contributions. But it’s a rather large playing field, and you can make comments to the comments. Everybody should go over and help out.

And I do not even count the ‘Hovind was framed’ arguments

I had pointed out to one poster that mentioning Hovind in an ID discussion was probably a mistake, and he went off into a defense of Hovind tirade - which just goes to prove that if you scratch a cdesign proponentsist, you reveal a creationist. Get over there and scratch, folks.

Mike Elzinga said:

I guess I’d have to think about it for a while before getting involved with that site.

I found the structure of the site kind of hard to deal with – hard to distinguish between threads, hard to figure out who was talking to who about what, hard to trace the flow of the arguments.

I think OPPOSING VIEWS will just run this as a one-shot anyway and then shut off discussion. No sense in going on forever, saying the same things over and over again, when they’ve got other things to talk about.

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

PvM, Nice hat. Good job.

Re: the (eternal) complaint that IDers don’t get the money they need to do research, it may be worth pointing out that DI is on record as spending somewhere south of ~$1-2 million/year on “research.” See http://www.discovery.org/a/4052.

The paragraphs starting “Firstly” and “Secondly” are where they defend their claim to be a research organization. Here’s a quotable:

The Research Fellowship Program has been by far the single largest program expense of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

Its hard to say that, then claim there’s no research being funded :)

So, the “lack of funds” argument just doesn’t factually hold water as a defense for their insignificant* publication record.

(*I’d say zero but thought I’d give’em credit for the few articles Behe claims are design-related, just to pre-empt Jobby’s whining.)

Eric said:

So, the “lack of funds” argument just doesn’t factually hold water as a defense for their insignificant* publication record.

(*I’d say zero but thought I’d give’em credit for the few articles Behe claims are design-related, just to pre-empt Jobby’s whining.)

No, you can say zero, just qualify it a little. They have produced no data in support of intelligent design in peer-reviewed scientific research papers, and that’s a fact. What they have are data-free hypothesis pieces and review articles (the Meyer article, for example, which was formally repudiated and is still featured on the DI web site), plus a couple of papers from Douglas Axe that talk about complexity without supporting ID or refuting evolution. But their goal isn’t research, it’s to push their creationist pseudoscience into public school science classrooms.

Eric said: So, the “lack of funds” argument just doesn’t factually hold water as a defense for their insignificant* publication record.

But they’re still shaking down the churches and Sunday Schools to support their “science research”:

William Dembski has a presentation titled “The Vise Strategy: Squeezing the Truth out of Darwinists” on a website (http://www.4truth.net) that says “This Web site is part of NAMB’s major mission objective committed to sharing Christ.” NAMB is the “North American Mission Board,” “A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®.”

“Through gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®, these missions personnel are enabled to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Because every dollar given to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® goes to direct support of missionaries and their ministries, Southern Baptists are confident offering gifts are an investment in eternity.” (http://www.anniearmstrong.com)

They’re telling folks they can buy their way into heaven and then using the money for their non-productive “research.”

Paul Burnett said:

They’re telling folks they can buy their way into heaven and then using the money for their non-productive “research.”

When put that way, doesn’t it sound awfully like the sale of indulgences?

Hi all,

The Dishonesty Institute ought to just give it, raise their hands in surrender and admit that Klingon Cosmology makes a lot more sense than Intelligent Design as I noted here:

http://www.amazon.com/Klingon-Cosmo[…]n=0980021308

Regards,

John

John, for shame, getting my hopes up that someone had published a Klingon Cosmology book :)

Does Intelligent Design Have Merit?

With about 70 billion stars and as many as 100 million life forms (at least here on Earth), the universe is a stunningly complex place. Did all of this matter evolve independently, or was it guided by a larger force – as proponents of intelligent design believe? With the debate raging in living rooms, classrooms and courtrooms, the stakes are high when it comes to determining intelligent design’s merit.

Notice the question doesn’t say anything about the scientific community, research, lab work, journals, etc. It’s phrased purely a social controversy rather than a factual one. Opposing Views didn’t let the question wander over to the scientific merit of the issue at all. So at least it’s not phrased misleadingly.

Jobby is not longer with us, please avoid feeding the troll.

PvM said:

Jobby is not longer with us …

In all kindness, good sir, haven’t we heard this before? Of course, if PT has a more effective banning mechanism now, I’d be the first to be glad to hear it.

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

PvM said:

Jobby is not longer with us, please avoid feeding the troll.

Geez PvM…I hope “not longer with us” isn’t a euphemism. You didn’t have him…ahem…”liberated” did you? :)

Indeed, what he said. And just a suggestion, but I’d use a different phrase when banning people.

I understand. Bobby’s abuse of service attacks are annoying but easy to control via the spam filter, although of course, as Bobby has realized, they can be circumvented. So let me take care of cleaning up the threads.

iml8 said:

PvM said:

Jobby is not longer with us …

In all kindness, good sir, haven’t we heard this before? Of course, if PT has a more effective banning mechanism now, I’d be the first to be glad to hear it.

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

PvM said:

So let me take care of cleaning up the threads.

That’s a very welcome answer – thanks.

However, I am curious as to why PT doesn’t use registration. Most forums do – it seems like a standard feature in forum apps that I could get my hands on – and it’s no great bother to valid users, but I would think it would raise the obstacles to entry to malicious visitors enough to make it not worth the bother any longer.

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

Valid question and the answer is that ‘I do not know’, of course, in ID speak this would trigger a design inference :-)

Let me raise the question amongst PT contributors and the moderators.

iml8 said:

PvM said:

So let me take care of cleaning up the threads.

That’s a very welcome answer – thanks.

However, I am curious as to why PT doesn’t use registration. Most forums do – it seems like a standard feature in forum apps that I could get my hands on – and it’s no great bother to valid users, but I would think it would raise the obstacles to entry to malicious visitors enough to make it not worth the bother any longer.

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

“With about 70 billion stars … the universe is a stunningly complex place.”

Aren’t there like hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way alone? And aren’t there billions of galaxies? We gotta get Phil to set Opposing Views straight.

As a question about Intelligent Design, it occurs to me that whether or not a designer, whether it be a supernatural entity or a fleet of aliens fresh off a barhop, doesn’t answer the question it’s purported to answer anyway. It says ‘x conciously produced y’ but does not specify the method by which y was manufactured, whereas evolution provides this answer in all but the earliest instance (the origin of life, which has nothing to do with evolution)

Is this a potential venue or argument against ID? Invoking a designer says nothing about methods of species creation, merely that some dude/dudette/duditte had a hand in it. This assumes that explanation of method is important, which I feel it is.

ragarth said:

… whereas evolution provides this answer in all but the earliest instance (the origin of life, which has nothing to do with evolution)

Well, it’s got something to do with it, initial conditions and so on – though of course evolution by natural selection would work exactly the same no matter how life got started. OK, belaboring the obvious here …

This assumes that explanation of method is important, which I feel it is.

There was an interesting article in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN some time back on what would happen if humanity abruptly disappeared. Most of our works would not be visible in a few thousand years and in a few million years you’d be hard-pressed to know we’d existed.

So, suppose another technological civilization arises in 40 million years or so, populated by evolved descendants of baboons or whatever. And also suppose that before humans disappeared they got more heavily into genetic engineering, in particular producing chimera organisms that survived the fall of humankind. Once the “Inheritors” starting poking around in genomes, they might get really baffled: “There seems to have been big-time horizontal gene transfer in multicellular organisms!”

Now here’s the intriguing point … if an Inheritor geneticist suggested: “Maybe it was done by some intelligent species tens of millions of years ago.” – he or she would have NO chance of selling the idea until some evidence of our existence was discovered. The idea would be pure baseless speculation, picked out of thin air, proposing a complicated mechanism not supported by any evidence. Once evidence of our existence did start to pop up, everyone else would look at each other and say: “Good Lord, maybe the idea was right after all!”

The moral: until somebody could actually produce hard evidence of a designer, the assertion of design would remain no more more than vaporous speculation – EVEN IF IT WAS ACTUALLY TRUE.

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

Over at the NASA site, they list the number of stars in the Universe as on the order of 10^21. I guess DI calculators don’t go that high.

ragarth said:

…It says ‘x conciously produced y’ but does not specify the method by which y was manufactured, whereas evolution provides this answer in all but the earliest instance (the origin of life, which has nothing to do with evolution)

Is this [the argument ‘ID lacks a mechanism’] a potential venue or argument against ID?

Yep, its an argument against. And its been used. Different ID proponents have then given contradictory answers in reply.

Behe claimed in Dover that the phrase ‘designed by an intelligence’ is the mechanism. Phillip Johnson and others have claimed that ID doesn’t have one yet, but is working on one. Then you’ve got Dembski, who has claimed that asking for a mechanism is a Darwinian trap and ID won’t be fooled into worrying about such a minor level of detail. In the blogosphere the typical ID lurker answer to “what’s your mechanism” seems to be “oh yeah? Whats yours?” followed up by “natural selection doesn’t explain everything!,” and then to keep asking for more and more examples and details on natural selection so as to avoid ever giving a response.

So, draw your own conclusions.

Matt G said: Over at the NASA site, they list the number of stars in the Universe as on the order of 10^21. I guess DI calculators don’t go that high.

Are you saying their abaci / abacuses don’t have enough strings? Or enough beads?

iml8 said:

ragarth said:

… whereas evolution provides this answer in all but the earliest instance (the origin of life, which has nothing to do with evolution)

Well, it’s got something to do with it, initial conditions and so on – though of course evolution by natural selection would work exactly the same no matter how life got started. OK, belaboring the obvious here …

No… the currently popular theory on the origin of *life* is abiogenesis, which is seperate from the study of origin of *species* ei, evolution as the currently dominant theory. So I’m sorry, your belaboring is not for the obvious, but for the ill-informed. As per the second half of your statement, I’ll treat it enbulk and say I’d disagree. Let’s use scientists today instead of trying to speculate on a culture 40 million years in the future. A scientist today makes an amazing discovery, I won’t presume to guess what kind of discovery would be considered beyond natural in modern genetics, because I’m not a geneticist, so we’ll call this discovery X. So, scientist steve writes a paper about discovery X and states ‘The mechanism by which discovery X could have come about appears to have no natural origin.’ or something of that type. Discovery X would then be tested and confirmed by other scientists, then they would begin tossing about several hypothesis for how it could have happened. If the ancient civilization that has as of yet not been discovered had used advanced technology to produce discovery X, then we would need to narrow it down. By understanding the nature of discovery X, it then allows us to narrow down the nature of the creator, and put said creator to test… ie, can we produce discovery X using the hypothesized techniques, and if this is the only explanation, with no natural corollary, are there other explanations that can be produced via cross-discipline analysis? “Look here! perhaps dinosaurs DID have a moon base!”

So, I say that working towards an understanding of the nature by which extra-natural processes could produce speciation would be more valuable to intelligent design than using the idea of a designer as a catchall, it provides that ever critical thing in science… testability. You cannot test for the existance of a designer, but you can test for the methods of design.

Paul Burnett said:

Ric said: When I hear the phrase “X is no longer with us,” I cringe. It is way too reminiscent of DaveScott. I say let trolls post until they do something particularly egregious.

If you don’t think “Bobby’s” / “Jobby’s” blatant vandalism and sabotage at http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]ion-o-7.html or a couple of other recent threads is “egregious,” please re-define “egregious” for us.

I always took pleasure in the fact that our side wasn’t afraid to take on trolls.

It’s not fear at all - it’s sadness and regret at the waste of time and bandwidth - and diversion from the actual topic at hand.

That being said, I somewhat don’t mind trolls, because the time spent explaining things and providing useful links may be instructive and useful for innocent pilgrims and honest lurkers.

I have to grudgingly agree. I say grudgingly because I am against the idea of banning people in principle. But Bobby refused to adhere to any level of decency and on a blog such as this, there is no reason to tolerate such. It’s a shame because, as you note Paul, such posters do provide a questions from which well-stated, interesting responses came in. Alas, the cost to benefit ratio was just too high.

Ahh…but we still have FL. And isn’t there a William Wallace (can’t remember the person’s name) who posts some oddities from time to time?

Paul Burnett said:

If you don’t think “Bobby’s” / “Jobby’s” blatant vandalism and sabotage … is “egregious,” please re-define “egregious” for us.

Yes, it was pure mindless heckling from the back rows – the verbal equivalent of strewing toilet paper over somebody’s front yard.

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

Mike Elzinga said: How complex does instinct have to become in order to qualify as “purposeful intelligence”?

Yup yup. Awesome question. Beavers, leafcutter ants, bower birds, chimpanzees etc… all perform actions that blur the line between designed and not. Evidently nature really has it in for creationists. First she won’t play ball on the age of the earth, now she goes and muddies up teleology by making animals that use tools. And plan. And communicate intentions, when they aren’t supposed to have intentions.

Its almost as if - perish the thought - their philosophical premise that there is a bright-line distinction between design on the one side and “chance + law” on the other does not reflect observed reality. Nah. Couldn’t be. ;)

(P.S. Mike, you know the ID answer to your question, right? No amount of complexity qualifies animals because they aren’t made in the image of G..uh, I mean they aren’t sentient. Humans are special and unique that way. So only their stuff counts as purposeful. I suspect most IDers are closet Cartesians.)

Eric said:

Mike Elzinga said: How complex does instinct have to become in order to qualify as “purposeful intelligence”?

Yup yup. Awesome question. Beavers, leafcutter ants, bower birds, chimpanzees etc… all perform actions that blur the line between designed and not. Evidently nature really has it in for creationists. First she won’t play ball on the age of the earth, now she goes and muddies up teleology by making animals that use tools. And plan. And communicate intentions, when they aren’t supposed to have intentions.

Its almost as if - perish the thought - their philosophical premise that there is a bright-line distinction between design on the one side and “chance + law” on the other does not reflect observed reality. Nah. Couldn’t be. ;)

(P.S. Mike, you know the ID answer to your question, right? No amount of complexity qualifies animals because they aren’t made in the image of G..uh, I mean they aren’t sentient. Humans are special and unique that way. So only their stuff counts as purposeful. I suspect most IDers are closet Cartesians.)

Okay, so changing gears:

Would it be a natural course of the universe, ie, considered natural origin of species if an alien civilization did put a secret gamma laser on the moon to zap terrestrial gonads and produce their preferred mutations? I’m pretty neutral on the answer to this, if the answer is no, it’s not natural then there is a line someplace that needs to be defined, if the answer is yes, it is natural, then that just means that an alien civilization genetically engineering species 40 million years ago is natural as well, and therefore discoverable by science, which would make my previous arguments about artificial origin of species being discoverable by science because what I had previously stated at artificial would then be definable as natural.

which would make my previous arguments about artificial origin of species being discoverable by sciencen moot*

It’s terrible when a critical word disappears through edit.

ragarth said:

Okay, so changing gears:

Would it be a natural course of the universe, ie, considered natural origin of species if an alien civilization…

Continuing the metaphor, you’re getting wrapped around the axle here on terms.

It’s not supernatural. But its not natural selection in Darwin’s original sense. Its more like dog breeding. Artificial selection is a reasonable term.

Artificial selection is fully consistent with the current TOE. Just as dog breeding did not invalidate natural selection for Darwin, human breeding wouldn’t either. Natural selection is a mechanism for how nature can produce speciation in the absence of intelligent action - neither general TOE nor natural selection requires that every speciation event be explained in this way.

ID does not make the weak claim that we have our earth history wrong. What ID claims is that natural selection can’t produce some traits.

Eric Wrote:

Its almost as if - perish the thought - their philosophical premise that there is a bright-line distinction between design on the one side and “chance + law” on the other does not reflect observed reality. Nah. Couldn’t be. ;)

(P.S. Mike, you know the ID answer to your question, right? No amount of complexity qualifies animals because they aren’t made in the image of G..uh, I mean they aren’t sentient. Humans are special and unique that way. So only their stuff counts as purposeful. I suspect most IDers are closet Cartesians.)

Indeed. :-)

And it gets even more “diabolical” for them. Humans are supposed to be unique in that they know “right and wrong”, in other words they understand morality. This apparently derives from humans being made in the image of their sectarian deity. Thus, only those things humans do count as intelligence.

But what about Hawaiian mynah birds and their “mynah bird courts”? I have personally witnessed one of these. A flock of mynahs arrives on the ground and forms a circle around a single mynah that cowers in the center of the circle while the others chatter among themselves. Then a number of things can happen; the bird in the center is beaten up, is killed, or is let go.

What do we know about hierarchy and morality in, say, whales or dolphins? These animals are intelligent by most standards. What are their rules? Do they have any analogous concept of a deity? Many pack animals have elaborate rules and hierarchies. In fact, from what we are learning about many animals, where is the dividing line between not having concepts analogous to those found in humans and being human?

Yes, there appears to be a big quantitative jump in humans; but is it qualitatively different from what is occurring in other animals? If the difference is really qualitative, might that simply reflect another layer of emergent phenomena as the complexity of the brain increases and more feedback mechanisms come into play in the neural activity of the brain?

It looks like Satan is really playing mind games with these ID/Creationists. It’s getting as bad for them as trying to deny the continuity evolution leading to new species.

They have really boxed themselves in. For public relations purposes they can’t admit that they are looking for a supernatural sectarian deity, so they claim they are simply looking for evidence of “intelligent design”. But in order to do that, they have to restrict themselves to their concept of human intelligence or its projection onto an “unspecified” sectarian deity. But we all know what that sectarian deity is; there is no way they can hide this. So, just what are they looking for; let alone all the issues of deciding when they have found it?

Eric said:

ID does not make the weak claim that we have our earth history wrong. What ID claims is that natural selection can’t produce some traits.

And of course that means that some Designer had to have done it.

There’s the pretense that it might be aliens or some other unknown natural cause … OK, then you’re stuck with finding evidence for the cause, just like our Inheritor geneticist, who isn’t going to be taken seriously making a claim based on such a massive assumption until such evidence crops up.

So that leaves a supernatural cause – “POOF!” – which by definition of “supernatural” means “outside of the laws of nature” and “inherently and forever unexplainable by science” and so the sciences literally can’t have much to say about it.

I suspect that there are ID advocates who feel they are sincere in dancing this two-step. However, the only real serious conflict in evo science is in teaching antiDarwin concepts in the public schoools. If it was just two factions arguing the matter out with each other, it would be academic. The Darwin-bashers already have their websites, their own schools, and home study teaching their concepts, and at least in the USA nobody is seriously trying to stop them.

But once Darwin-bashers want their stuff taught in public schools, there’s going to be a fight: “We don’t want your kind peddling this pseudoscientific trash to our kids!” And to be able to push their concepts in public school, they have to be able to convince the courts that they have a scientific argument and are not merely pushing Biblical literalism with a tinfoil science wrapper, since then they would be imposing a partisan ideological view without scientific merit on the rest of the public. That was impossible with traditional creation science, since the tinfoil wrapper was so thin any judge could see through it right away.

Enter ID. Like I said, I would not be surprised if some ID advocates really believe what they are saying, but even if so ID is marvelously convenient for the lobbying effort. It’s sanitized, with the theistic trail erased as well as possible. ID in the form as discussed above is very limited and conservative, at least compared to creation science, making a very small set of highly constrained assertions. This turns out, coincidentally or not, to be something the lobbyists feel they can get past the law.

Here’s the stinger: They sell ID to the judges, and if they ever get a favorable ruling, then they have a green light to teach ID in the schools. But what they actually insert is not the limited pitch sold to the judges – they bring in textbooks like OF PANDAS & PEOPLE / THE DESIGN OF LIFE and EXPLORE EVOLUTION that are basically sanitized traditional creation science tracts, compilations of old, decrepit, and long-demolished creationist arguments. So by plan or not, ID is just a massive bait-&-switch scam.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorst

iml8 said: So that leaves a supernatural cause – “POOF!” – which by definition of “supernatural” means “outside of the laws of nature” and “inherently and forever unexplainable by science” and so the sciences literally can’t have much to say about it.

Ragarth has inspired me with his aliens, so let me entertain (or more likely, bore) you with a different thought experiment. PvM, feel free to bathroom wall this entire post. Imagine the creator is a very predictable fellow. If you do the right dance, he responds with a specific miracle (say, rain). Consistently - every time. Such a phenomenon is open to scientific study. You could publish your methodology and results, and scientists on other continents could repeat it for verification. You could test variances - how fast and slow can you dance and still invoke the rain? Does it always have to occur under a full moon? Does it matter what the dancer believes? Does it follow rules of addition (2 people yield twice as much rain)? If you build a dancing robot, does god respond?

Now, the real point here is not the specific rules that god follows for intervention, but that he follows rules for intervention at all. The very predictability that makes him accessible to science means he does not, in any way, resemble the typical Christian conception of God. Such a god behaves more like Pavlov’s dog. Or a dancing circus bear. Or a somewhat arbitrary rule of physics. The animal trainer cracks a whip and up the bear goes on his hind legs. You do the dance, and god responds with his trick. Creationism’s expectation that one can find God through scientific experiment belittles the conception of God until he’s nothing more than a dancing bear. God, I filled the petri dish in just the right way, so now you spontaneously generate a flagella for me.

So, I’d argue that it’s not that the supernatural can’t be studied via science. Its that anything that can be studied via science is not supernatural enough to be worth worshipping.

And with that, I’m off for beer.

Eric said:

So, I’d argue that it’s not that the supernatural can’t be studied via science. Its that anything that can be studied via science is not supernatural enough to be worth worshipping.

Actually I was thinking something mildly along the same lines – that science might well be able to investigate a supernatural intervention IF IT HAPPENED REPEATEDLY ON A REASONABLY PREDICTABLE schedule.

Of course if it could be predicted that might well blow the “supernatural” cover: “OK, this weird thing happens, we know the circumstances under which it happens, and if we can’t come up with any deeper explanation we’ll just have to assign it as some basic law of the Universe.” Sort of like wave-particle duality – it doesn’t seem to make much sense, but it’s the way the cosmos works, deal with it.

Didn’t think of the theological implication (but then I wouldn’t, being theology-averse). Sort of like Douglas Adams and the BabelFish: “But the BabelFish is so Intelligently Designed that it’s a dead giveaway to your existence, so we don’t need faith in you any more.”

“Oh dear, I hadn’t thought of that,” God said, and disappeared in a puff of logic.

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

Eric Wrote:

So, I’d argue that it’s not that the supernatural can’t be studied via science. Its that anything that can be studied via science is not supernatural enough to be worth worshipping.

I made this point (not as eloquently) to an ID/Creationist some time ago and it went right over his head. The argument returned to the vague “intelligence” or “evidence for design” that are being used to avoid mentioning the supernatural and the ensuing problems with connecting that to data in the natural world.

This led me to conclude that this is another concept that is hidden from people who have been indoctrinated by that kind of sectarian dogma. Just as with the word evidence, supernatural doesn’t register as a problem for them even though they are carefully following the script of avoiding mentioning it; they just simply never address the issue, and any other word they substitute for it apparently makes it ok for them.

There is no question that ID/Creationist fundamentalism does bizarre things to the mind.

iml8 Wrote:

Sort of like Douglas Adams and the BabelFish: “But the BabelFish is so Intelligently Designed that it’s a dead giveaway to your existence, so we don’t need faith in you any more.”

“Oh dear, I hadn’t thought of that,” God said, and disappeared in a puff of logic.

Gotta love Douglas Adams. He had some of the funniest counter arguments to the silly religion shtick that anyone has ever come up with. And he similarly punctured a lot of other pretentions as well.

Eric said:

God, I filled the petri dish in just the right way, so now you spontaneously generate a flagella for me.

This is an absolutely awesome line. Congrats, that made my evening. :-)

Eric:

I’m sorry to show my ignorance more than I have already, but for me this is a learn-through-debate experience.

What is TOE? I can’t find the proper words to fit the acronym, and the part of the anatomy that matches those letters is so common as to obfuscate a google search.

ragarth said:

Eric:

I’m sorry to show my ignorance more than I have already, but for me this is a learn-through-debate experience.

What is TOE? I can’t find the proper words to fit the acronym, and the part of the anatomy that matches those letters is so common as to obfuscate a google search.

Theory Of Evolution

Mike Elzinga said:

Theory Of Evolution

Thank you.

Good GRIEF, Discovery Institute, are you objecting enough there?

Once again, any battle appears to be THE Battle for Intelligent Design. I want to sit the ID crowd down for a time-out with a cup of tea and cookies.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on September 16, 2008 10:23 PM.

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