Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski and Michael Ruse in Dialogue

| 39 Comments

In a book review by Christopher Heard, Pepperdine University of Stewart, Robert B., ed. Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski and Michael Ruse in Dialogue Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007, we read how Dembski’s attempts to have design be a place holder for our ignorance, are doomed to fail.

Heard points out how Dembski misunderstands, or perhaps misrepresents, scientific inquiry by claiming that many evolutionary biologists believe that a hypothetical pathway is sufficient to trump Intelligent Design.

Now there are some interesting conclusions to be made here, after the quote:

Heard Wrote:
Dembski Wrote:

Many evolutionary biologists seem to think that if you can merely imagine a material force or process that could bring about some biological structure, then it’s immediately going to trump intelligent design. But is there actual evidence for the creative power of these material forces? Or is the more compelling evidence on the side of intelligent design? It seems to me that really is where the issue should be. (15)

This sounds like a promising beginning, but Dembski does not deliver. He repeatedly claims, but does not demonstrate, that evolutionary biologists rest content with “imagining” evolutionary pathways; he addresses neither the fossil record nor DNA evidence, to name but two sources of data that outline such pathways and provide “actual evidence” for the “material forces” that evolutionary biologists study. Nor does Dembski provide “compelling evidence” in favor of ID. Instead, Dembski tries to set up ID as the preferred fallback position should mainstream biology fail to explain–to Dembski’s satisfaction?–the evolutionary pathways leading to selected biological structures. To be blunt, Dembski does not really play fair. He asks, “[I]s it reasonable to argue that because we don’t understand how the design of biological systems was implemented that it didn’t happen by design at all?” (19). Yet Dembski offers precisely this argument against evolutionary biology: “if we don’t understand how a given biological system (like the bacterial flagellum) emerged by evolution, it didn’t happen by evolution at all.”

Heard quickly points out that not only does Dembski fail in his strawman portrayal of ‘many evolutionary biologists’ but also shows how Intelligent Design remains with any competing explanation because it is at best a placeholder for our ignorance.

Dembski, attempting to respond to a question about what ID has contributed to science, basically shows why it remains scientifically vacuous:

Heard Wrote:

In response to Ruse’s question, “What are you ID people actually getting in the biological world that we evolutionists are not?” (32), Dembski replies (in part),

Dembski Wrote:

I don’t think the burden on intelligent design is simply to come up with new experiments, new facts. The important thing is to find new ways to make sense of them. I believe that we are making better sense out of them than the evolutionary biologists. The point of my joke about imagining an evolutionary pathway was that we have not been given any detailed evolutionary pathways. (32)

Dembski’s final claim in this quotation is not only false but also somewhat brazen, given his absolute refusal to accept for ID the “burden” of showing detailed design pathways.

But Dembski’s claim is well in line with his ‘pathetic’ statement

Dembski Wrote:

As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.

Source: William Dembski Organisms using GAs vs. Organisms being built by GAs thread at ISCID 18. September 2002

Next time ID attempts to replace our ignorance with ‘design’, feel free to remind its followers of the facts.


Stewart, Robert B., ed. Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski and Michael Ruse in Dialogue Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007

Contributors

  1. Robert Stewart, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
  2. William A. Dembski, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
  3. Michael Ruse, Florida State University
  4. Martinez Hewlett, University of Arizona
  5. William Lane Craig, Talbot School of Theology
  6. Wesley R. Elsberry, National Center for Science Education
  7. Francis J. Beckwith, Baylor University
  8. Alister McGrath, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University
  9. J. P. Moreland, Talbot School of Theology
  10. Hal Ostrander, Brewton-Parker College
  11. Nancey Murphy, Fuller Theological Seminary
  12. John Polkinghorne, Liverpool Cathedral
  13. John Lennox, Green College, Oxford University
  14. Kenneth Keathley
  15. Wolfhart Pannenberg

39 Comments

If ID had any positive evidence for itself then merely proposing or imagining a natural pathway would not be enough to trump it. But since ID is mostly an argument from impossibility (based on an argument from ignorance) it can be defeated by any plausible (consistent with natural laws and known processes)hypothesized natural pathway. In fact it is an unknown but potentially discoverable natural pathway that is the default.

I am even willing to entertain a ‘poof’ explanation. But why call it design when all it is, is ‘ignorance’?

If ID believes it has a better explanation, then let them present it. Somehow they won’t.

tresmal said:

If ID had any positive evidence for itself then merely proposing or imagining a natural pathway would not be enough to trump it. But since ID is mostly an argument from impossibility (based on an argument from ignorance) it can be defeated by any plausible (consistent with natural laws and known processes)hypothesized natural pathway. In fact it is an unknown but potentially discoverable natural pathway that is the default.

Many evolutionary biologists seem to think that if you can merely imagine a material force or process that could bring about some biological structure, then it’s immediately going to trump intelligent design.

I wonder if Dembski’s (deliberately?) conflating an argument against irreducible complexity with one against ID.

Certainly, if something is claimed to be irreducibly complex, the existence of a plausible natural pathway to its development is a strong argument against that claim. But that is because IC is basically asserting “X cannot have evolved”, and so is rebutted by “X can have evolved, and here’s how”.

Whether just imagining a plausible natural process is enough depends on what ID’s core assertion is. If ID proponents are claiming “X can only be design”, then “X could have evolved, and here’s how” is once again a valid rebuttal. Alternatively, if they are merely claiming “X could be design”, then yes, it really could, but showing something is possible is a long way from showing something is so.

I don’t think the burden on intelligent design is simply to come up with new experiments, new facts. The important thing is to find new ways to make sense of them.

What does he plan on doing once all the current facts have been fit into a design framework - stop doing science? It seems to me that discovering new principals and facts is an absolutely necessary part of science.

David B. wrote: I wonder if Dembski’s (deliberately?) conflating an argument against irreducible complexity with one against ID.

Certainly, if something is claimed to be irreducibly complex, the existence of a plausible natural pathway to its development is a strong argument against that claim.

Behe’s definition of IC ignores exaptation, so until he changes the definition it is possible for something to evolve into IC through shifting function. So you are right, though I’d turn your statement around and say that Dembski (and the ID movement) is deliberately conflating an argument for IC - which can evolve - with an argument for intelligent design.

Here’s Behe at Dover, admitting that IC structures can evolve via a change in function:

Q.[Rothschild] You say, Even if a system is irreducibly complex and thus could not have been produced directly, however, one cannot definitively rule out the possibility of an indirect, circuitous route, right?

A.[Behe] Yes.

Q. And by indirect, you mean evolution from a pre-cursor with a different function than the system being studied?

A. Yes, different function, perhaps different number of parts, and so on.

Q. And one example of that is what’s discussed in, among evolutionary biologists, as the concept of exaptation, correct?

A. Yeah – well, before I say, yes, I’d just like to say, the word exaptation is oftentimes used in loose sense, but, yes, that’s generally correct.

[Testimony from Day 12, am session]

Historically, the gist of the creationist/ID argument is that it is inconceivable that x could have evolved. Yes, merely coming up with a reasonable hypothesis that x could have evolved does falsify that creationist argument. Of course it does not evidence for mainstream evolutionary biology per se, but then again scientists then go for evidence that x really did evolve that way. And now we have strong evidence showing how many complex things really did evolve.

I’m always wonder why ID’ers are so enthusiastic about believing things that are little more than childish speculation. I wonder more about why rational human beings don’t day, fine, God designed everything and he used evolution to do it. Now, go sit in the corner and leave us to the important work.

re Thomas:

Id’ers are so enthusiastic because “it’s not about science”! IMO the entire ID/Creationism CAMPAIGN is about winning/corrupting hearts and minds. To do this - they sneed a scapegoat/enemy - intellectuals, athiests, “liberals”,catholics whatever/whoever contradicts thier world view fit this category. How many ID’ers actually believe the tripe they call ID/creationism is speculatiion - IMO all the top dogs KNOW its just a scam - to milk funds, cheat the system (allow thier propoganda into public schools), and propogate hatred against those that don’t share tyhier world view.

Thomas said:

I’m always wonder why ID’ers are so enthusiastic about believing things that are little more than childish speculation. I wonder more about why rational human beings don’t day, fine, God designed everything and he used evolution to do it. Now, go sit in the corner and leave us to the important work.

Wonder no longer: we don’t say that because fundamentalists want to alter H.S. science education (and mislead the public in general). If creationism was just a personal belief taught at home, I doubt there’d be many scientists up in arms about it.

Personally, I wonder what DI does with the ~$1-2 mil/year it claims to spend on research. As far as I can tell it gives this money to professors like Behe so they can get out of their University teaching obligations. Which, come to think of it, is probably not a bad use of the money.

Poor Dembski, reduced to lies, blatant hypocrisy and crying for attention. Oh…wait…rule 1 of cretonists…nothing new for 2000 years.

Thomas said:

I wonder more about why rational human beings don’t say, fine, God designed everything and he used evolution to do it.

That’s the principle that goes around among “evolutionary creationists” (evangelical theistic evolutionists) as “God intelligently designed evolution.” I don’t have any problem with that at all. Some folks get annoyed at the idea that the Universe may have been “designed” but arguing over First Causes seems to be mostly an argument for its own sake. Some people do like to argue of course. But evo science has nothing to say about it one way or another.

Besides, it annoys the ID crowd even as they try to claim out of the other side of the mouth that it backs up their position: “If you can claim the Universe was created by a Designer, why can’t you admit that the Designer tweaks things around every now and then?” “Because, sport, if he was a good Designer he would have got the job right to begin with.”

And as far as Dembski proclaiming the inadequacy of evolutionary game strategies, he’s half right, they’re not adequate in themselves. However, even at that, the ID position – “this had to be the work of a Designer because there is no imaginable natural process that could account for it” – is so weak that they’re still enough to puncture it: “As long as we can imagine a plausible natural process that can do it, that argument falls apart.”

The game strategies are generally speculative, but that’s how scientific theories start – given an issue, researchers will brainstorm, not just wring their hands and claim it had to be a miracle, and then … ACTUALLY TRY TO SEE IF THEIR IDEAS HOLD ANY WATER. And with that the ID position goes from zero into the negatives.

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

Many evolutionary biologists seem to think that if you can merely imagine a material force or process that could bring about some biological structure, then it’s immediately going to trump intelligent design. But is there actual evidence for the creative power of these material forces?

Dembski is conflating two different arguments:

  1. Evolution is incapable of producing a certain feature, and
  2. Evolution did not produce a certain feature.

Mostly it seems his arguments focus on #1, and hypothetical pathways are sufficient to show that position is untrue.

Two Discovery Institute Authors Named to Texas Science Curriculum Review Board

Read about this here:

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/cont[…]ewers_c.html

Panda’s Thumb needs to jump on this. I am going to post this to PZ’s blog to see if he can do something about it.

I just checked Pharyngula, and PZ is already on it.

Here is the link to Pharyngula:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/[…]attle_in.php

What I would like to know is how is it that two species in similar environments can be so completely different in evolution. Scientists tell us that species like the alligator haven’t changed for 200 million years, yet other species went through tremendous evolutionary change. In that same 200 million years that alligators didn’t change, we went from the first mammals to modern man. That is pretty amazing randomness..

When I read statements like Dembski’s I wonder how any ID person explains biogeography, cladistics, the fossil record, comparative genomics, etc. There is constantly no there there in any meaningful descriptive or predictive way at all. When we get rid of all of ID’s rhetorical wizardry, we are left with nothing but the YEC monster under the bed.

Cembski: Many evolutionary biologists seem to think that if you can merely imagine a material force or process that could bring about some biological structure, then it’s immediately going to trump intelligent design.

Dembski is just plain wrong about this. The ID claim (e.g. irreducible complexity) is that it is impossible for certain things to have occurred via natural means. The refutation of that is not to establish that these things actually happened, but that it is possible that they did.

Alligators and the predecessors of man weren’t in similar environments. Also their ancestors of 200 million years ago were already quite different at that time, and changes can only build on what the species already has.

Henry

[quote]… then it’s immediately going to trump intelligent design.[/quote]

What trumps “intelligent design” is simply that it doesn’t [i]explain[/i] anything in the first place. That by itself puts “I.D.” out of the competition without the other side even having to do anything with regard to the alleged competition.

Henry

Oops, wrong quote tags…

The whole game is like this: “Your JUST-SO stories aren’t very scientific.”

“Possibly so, but since we’re talking purely rhetorical arguments they blow the doors off your JUST-MAGICALLY-HAPPENED stories.”

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

When I read statements like Dembski’s I wonder how any ID person explains biogeography, cladistics, the fossil record, comparative genomics, etc.

That’s easy, the same way they explain everything else: God did it.

Pathetic.. seems to be the answer to all ID’s problems..

wamba said:

When I read statements like Dembski’s I wonder how any ID person explains biogeography, cladistics, the fossil record, comparative genomics, etc.

That’s easy, the same way they explain everything else: God did it.

That’s easy, the same way they explain everything else: God did it.

But that’s not an explanation, it’s just an assertion of who was responsible for it.

Padme said:

What I would like to know is how is it that two species in similar environments can be so completely different in evolution. Scientists tell us that species like the alligator haven’t changed for 200 million years, yet other species went through tremendous evolutionary change. In that same 200 million years that alligators didn’t change, we went from the first mammals to modern man. That is pretty amazing randomness..

Mammals evolved from reptiles and then proceeded to diversify into numerous species, including man, because changes happened to occur to them that made them different from reptiles and then from each other, while taking over ecological niches vacated by the dinosaurs and other animals that because extinct at the end of Cretaceous period. But crocodilians already occupied their niches throughout the age of dinosaurs, so they didn’t need to change. Get it?

Dear Dale,

Thanks for your excellent reply to Padme. But as for me, I decided some time ago to “borrow” lyrics from an old Elton John/Bernie Taupin song to describe my “buddy” Bill Dembski’s delusional state of mind:

Kept reading about Intelligent Design till my eyes were paralyzed. Thought Bill Dembski’s comments were most strange. Recognizing that his defense of explanatory filter and specified complexity were so queer. Gratified to be reading the real truth from Nick Matzke. Reading the science truth from Wes Elsberry too.

So, where to now, Bill Dembski? If it’s true, I’m in your hands. I may not be a Christian, but I’ve done all one man can. I understand I am on a road where all that was is gone… So where to now, Bill Dembski? Show me which road I am on.

Recognize that Intelligent Design is pathetic Klingon Cosmology Recognize why it’s just queer mendacious intellectual pornography. Understanding why you’re so wrong Bill Dembski Your mind paralyzed by your Christian God.

Specified Complexity, Irreducible Complexity, Just all the same to me. Mendacious religious nonsense, Pretending to be scientific theory.

So, where to now, Bill Dembski? If it’s true, I’m in your hands. I may not be a Christian, but I’ve done all one man can. I understand I am on a road where all that was is gone… So where to now, Bill Dembski? Show me which road I am on.

Regards,

John

P. S. ‘Tis my Amazon.com review of their “dialogue”

Dembski: Many evolutionary biologists seem to think that if you can merely imagine a material force or process that could bring about some biological structure, then it’s immediately going to trump intelligent design.

Isn’t that like saying “ID proponents seem to think that if you can merely imagine an invisible intelligent designer or god that could bring about some biological structure, then it’s immediately going to trump science, i.e. the theory of evolution.”?

Dale Husband said:

Padme said:

What I would like to know is how is it that two species in similar environments can be so completely different in evolution. Scientists tell us that species like the alligator haven’t changed for 200 million years, yet other species went through tremendous evolutionary change. In that same 200 million years that alligators didn’t change, we went from the first mammals to modern man. That is pretty amazing randomness..

Mammals evolved from reptiles and then proceeded to diversify into numerous species, including man, because changes happened to occur to them that made them different from reptiles and then from each other, while taking over ecological niches vacated by the dinosaurs and other animals that because extinct at the end of Cretaceous period. But crocodilians already occupied their niches throughout the age of dinosaurs, so they didn’t need to change. Get it?

Thanks Dale, Even if Crocks didn’t ‘need to change’, would evolution cause changes simply through the fact that the stronger more capable crocks would mate and have offspring. I mean after 200 million years of evolution where mammals became man, you would think the crocks would have at least grown longer legs, or better eyesight, or longer tails. Why would randomness of change through evolution simply stop. The facts on the ground would have been the same for the crocks as everyone else, live, procreate or perish, survival of the fittest, etc. How is it that there was nothing on the crock that was ‘more fit’ that changed for 200 million years? It seems to defy logic. If the fittest procreate and pass their modifications that made them more fit to offspring and do that for hundreds of millions of years…it seems much more evolution should have occurred.

Padme - there are several common mis-conceptions about evolution

you are assuming that evolution is “directional” or leads to “optimal solutions” - it doesn’t, it leads to marginally better adapted (solutions) to the environment/niche than competitors are - there are MANY differences between crocs alive today and those from 200 million years ago - crocs occupy many fewer niches than previously - see any 40 foot long marine crocs around?

another common mis-conception is about “living fossils” crocs today may be much more like thier ancestors that lived 200 million years ago vs. US but THEY have evolved over those 200 Million years - they BECAME the crocs you see today. And because something has relicual traits (traits that are the same as thier ancestrors) does not mean the derived (traits that are different) are “better” or “MORE evolved” just that they have changed. If I were able to pluck a population of T-Rex out of the past (like Jurrasic Park) I suspect that population might be able to survive on the African Savannah - just fine - even though the T-rex is more “primitive” or “less evolved” that modern leopards.

Padme - it’s not necessarily the strongest animals that survive and produce the most offspring. It could be the sneakiest, the best camouflaged or the ones that can go longest without food during a dry season. I don’t think longer legs would benefit crocs as they would get in the way when going through dense waterside vegetation and when the croc rolls, one of its methods for ripping off a chunk of meat. We cannot tell if its eyesight has improved but its requirements seem not to be very onerous, as long as it can see and identify its prey from a reasonable distance.

It may have evolved physiologically to have faster reactions but I do not know how close it is to the limits in this respect. It might also benefit from a larger jaw and more powerful muscles but there is a trade-off. More muscle and jaw means more inertia and less agility. The balance between strength, size and speed will be affected by their prey. If crocs started feeding on elephants I would guess that there would be fairly quick evolution to a more powerful, but possibly slower, croc.

I mean after 200 million years of evolution where mammals became man, you would think the crocks would have at least grown longer legs, or better eyesight, or longer tails.

Only if one or more of those things would actually have been of benefit in their environment. Leg length is probably a trade off between land movement and water movement (i.e., longer would slow them down when swimming). Their tails are pretty long already, iirc. Their eyesight seem adequate to ambush something in or near the water.

And of course, changes not affecting skeletal shape won’t show up too well (maybe not at all?) in fossils.

Henry

Organisms, including crocodilians, are limited by their history. Once crocs adapted to their aquatic niche, the easiest and simplest changes were those that made them better adapted to that niche, not to those that would enable crocs to suddenly live in deserts without bodies of water. If crocs had started to evolve in that direction, they would have found themselves in competition with dinosaurs already adapted to desert life and they would have been driven to extinction.

Those organisms that are known as “living fossils” are of two basic types: 1. They are very unspecialized, living in a wide variety of environments and having a varied diet. These species could split off groups that could evolve into more specialized forms. 2. They are so well adapted to one particular niche that no other species can complete with them, and their niche is one that lasts for hundreds of millions of years. Both are true of the crocs. Bodies of water are everywhere, so there are plenty of places for crocs to live and feed on animals. At the same time, there are few other species that are as well adapted to live as aquatic predators that are also able to prey on land animals.

Crocs are currently adapted to be the perfect survivors and the perfect predators. Aside from roaches, I can imagine few other creatures besides crocs that may be around long after even most of today’s mammal lines have become extinct.

The first crocodilians were small, terrestrial archosaurs from the late Triassic. The aquatic predator niche was already filled by their relatives, the phytosaurs (which could be distinguished from crocodilians by the fact that the phytosaurs’ nostrils were near or at their foreheads). However, once the phytosaurs went extinct at the end of the Triassic, many aquatic crocodilian lineages arose to replace the phytosaurs.

For the most part, crocodilian evolutionary history features “generic” looking forms giving rise to very specialized forms, including exclusive fish-eaters, a planktivore, and even two herbivorous lineages, which would then die out, leaving the “generic” forms to repeat the process.

The modern-day crocodilian groups, the true crocodiles, the alligators, and the gharials, arose relatively late, either right before or right after the K/T Extinction event.

There was a fourth group, the mekosuchines, that evolved in Australia, first appearing in the Eocene. The mekosuchines filled all of the typical crocodilian niches, and there were at least four terrestrial genera, as well (the tree-climbing Mekosuchus, and Trilophosuchus, the ground-dwelling Polynesian Volia, and the “hunting crocodile,” Quinkana). The mekosuchines died out during the Pleistocene, possibly due to a combination of climatic changes, competition from true crocodiles emigrating from Indonesia, and human interference.

The last species of Mekosuchus, as well as the genus of Volia, apparently made it into some Polynesian islands, where they were the dominant predators of the local island ecosystems, until humans colonized the islands, and ate them into extinction (bones of these crocodiles have been found in prehistoric trash middens)

Dale Husband said:

Organisms, including crocodilians, are limited by their history. Once crocs adapted to their aquatic niche, the easiest and simplest changes were those that made them better adapted to that niche, not to those that would enable crocs to suddenly live in deserts without bodies of water. If crocs had started to evolve in that direction, they would have found themselves in competition with dinosaurs already adapted to desert life and they would have been driven to extinction.

Those organisms that are known as “living fossils” are of two basic types: 1. They are very unspecialized, living in a wide variety of environments and having a varied diet. These species could split off groups that could evolve into more specialized forms. 2. They are so well adapted to one particular niche that no other species can complete with them, and their niche is one that lasts for hundreds of millions of years. Both are true of the crocs. Bodies of water are everywhere, so there are plenty of places for crocs to live and feed on animals. At the same time, there are few other species that are as well adapted to live as aquatic predators that are also able to prey on land animals.

Crocs are currently adapted to be the perfect survivors and the perfect predators. Aside from roaches, I can imagine few other creatures besides crocs that may be around long after even most of today’s mammal lines have become extinct.

Stanton said:

The modern-day crocodilian groups, the true crocodiles, the alligators, and the gharials, arose relatively late, either right before or right after the K/T Extinction event.

Didn’t Kitzmiller demonstrate conclusively that the Intelligent Designers proliferated to fill the niche left by the disappearance of the Creation Scientists at the 1986 (Edwards?) Extinction Event? Which of course explains why the two groups appear to be quite so similar, even on close inspection. :)

The grossly incompetent editing of the first edition of Of Pandas and People strongly suggests that Intelligent Design proponents are not an Elvis taxon that arose to replace the vanished Creation Scientists, but that the Creation Scientists are actually a Lazarus taxon, having pretended to further divorce themselves from their religious agendas in order to fool their critics.

Of course, the Intelligent Design proponents don’t fool anyone but the gullible, as well as their own fans, and most are slowly but surely reverting back to their original Creation Scientist forms.

Kevin B said:

Stanton said:

The modern-day crocodilian groups, the true crocodiles, the alligators, and the gharials, arose relatively late, either right before or right after the K/T Extinction event.

Didn’t Kitzmiller demonstrate conclusively that the Intelligent Designers proliferated to fill the niche left by the disappearance of the Creation Scientists at the 1986 (Edwards?) Extinction Event? Which of course explains why the two groups appear to be quite so similar, even on close inspection. :)

Of course, the Intelligent Design proponents don’t fool anyone but the gullible, as well as their own fans, and most are slowly but surely reverting back to their original Creation Scientist forms.

Is that an example of the epistasis that somebody mentioned on another thread? ;)

Henry

Stanton said:

… and most are slowly but surely reverting back to their original Creation Scientist forms.

I think some of the Darwin-bashers – Behe & Spetner come to mind – take a look at modern evo science, lock on to some of its uncomfortable features, and honestly think they can come up with a good case against it. Unfortunately, after considerable effort all they can come up with is arguments that come across as fuzzy hand-waving, to which the answer at the most charitable is: “Yeah, well maybe, or maybe not – much more likely not because the general context of the evidence suggests that you’re swimming against a very strong current.”

Having gone into the heights where the air is thin and run out of steam, they end up having a choice between admitting they don’t have much of a case, or start mining the extensive archives of bogus creation science arguments – possibly disguising them or coming up with variations on them. Couple to this the fact that the public audience receptive to their work is, with a few outliers, almost completely composed of traditional creationists, as a good bet YECs, who make only the most superficial attempts to disguise their creationism when they even bother … the devolution back to straight creation science is not surprising.

I honestly believe that at least some of the people who got into Intelligent Design sincerely thought they were on to something and did not intend to set up a scam. But there’s a road paved with good intentions, and in this case they led to a scam intended to try to bypass the courts and get creation science into the public school classrooms.

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

Thanks for the Croc explanation, Stanton. This is fascinating stuff for me, a non-scientist nontheless interested in natural sciences. I was about to ask “But what about alligators?” =0)

Vive la Panda’s Thumb

I was about to ask “But what about alligators?”

Yeah, do they taste like chicken?

Henry J said: Yeah, do [alligators] taste like chicken?

Yes they do.

Scott S. said:

Thanks for the Croc explanation, Stanton. This is fascinating stuff for me, a non-scientist nontheless interested in natural sciences. I was about to ask “But what about alligators?” =0)

With some exceptions, alligators have a relatively boring evolutionary history (and by “boring,” I mean that they all tended to look alike), having diverged from other crocodilians around 90 to 70 million years ago. The infamous, 55-long nightmare, Deinosuchus, was a dinosaur and turtle eating monster that lived in North America during the late Cretaceous. Alligators were widespread across the world during the early Tertiary, but were eventually outcompeted by crocodiles, leaving only those in North America, and East Asia (where only the Chinese Alligator would eventually remain). Alligators in South America became very diverse, nominally referred to as “caimans,” and are regarded as their own distinct sub-group. The earliest caiman is an unassuming dear with the charming name of Necrosuchus, from the early Paleocene of Argentina. The largest caiman is a broad-snouted horror, Purrusaurus, from Miocene Brazil that rivaled Deinosuchus in size.

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