The truth hurts

| 729 Comments

I occasionally comment on the blog of Thinking Christian. The writer is a conservative evangelical sympathetic to ID, but does sometimes indicate some ability to look at evidence, thus leading to above-average arguments.

Anyhoo, this afternoon I came across his post “Maybe They Really Can’t Tell the Difference” [between creationism and ID]. TC starts:

Several times in the last few days the term “Intelligent Design Creationism” has crossed my line of sight. It’s a misnomer, a duct-taped concatenation of concepts that overlap somewhat, but not enough to merit being stuck together the way ID opponents have done. Robert Pennock is perhaps the worst, but Barbara Forrest, Richard Dawkins, and P.Z. Myers are also frequent offenders.

The difference between the two terms is straightforward. Creationism begins in Genesis and argues for certain conclusions based on a certain understanding of the Scriptures. It is known for its persistence in seeking scientific data that fits that interpretation of Genesis, and for finding creative but irregular interpretations to help in that search. As such it has gained an unsavory scientific reputation.

Naturally, I have a few thoughts on this topic, and posted them. The whole dirty history of the ID movement seemed to be news to him – at least, it wasn’t addressed in his opening argument, even though some of it seems pretty obviously relevant to discuss for someone who is claiming that ID is clearly different from creationism, and not a variety of it.

Anyway, in the course of the thread, all I got was from TC was the equivalent of “even if that’s true, you’re still wrong and ID and creationism are different.” I summarized my view of the discussion:

So here’s your argument: ID is a religiously-motivated movement, historically derived from creationism by literally a search-replace creation/design word switch, a movement mostly made up of creationists who believe in special creation rather than common ancestry, a movement devoted to challenging evolution, a movement which to this day is after the public schools, which we nevertheless are supposed to think of as a movement obviously different from creationism, and any disagreement raising any of these points is just “worldview blindness.” Yeah, right.

This argument might give you some inkling about why ID has failed so spectacularly in the scientific community, the press, and the courts. Evading evidence with hair-splitting and arbitrary, convenient re-defining terms does not get you very far in any long-term, informed discussion.

A few posts later, the thread was summarily closed, and a post later added by TC accusing me of lying and other reprehensibles. Too bad. With a bit more time, I might have clarified that I was simply describing his argument that he was right about the differentness of creationism and ID, despite him saying that even if I was right about all the historical facts (which are undeniable), I would still be wrong about asserting that ID was a form of creationism.

The interesting thing about the thread was that TC’s original proposal was that people who thought ID was a form of creationism were suffering from “worldview blindness” – immune to any counterevidence. Yet when some of the counterevidence to his position was raised, Thinking Christian first insisted that he was right, whatever the evidence showed, and then shut down the discussion.

I think this thread is an example of how the ID movement hurts its own potential supporters. Anyone who takes seriously the Discovery Institute’s pronouncements about “the” definition of ID and nope-no-way-its-creationism is being set up for a fairly painful and embarassing fall. Even if their confidence in their own position survives, think about how it looks to a neutral observer or someone new to the debate. Basically, TC had to argue “ignore everything that happened 2005 or before, ID is defined by the Discovery Institute’s current definition” – whereas I was able to roll out cdesign proponentsists and the rest. It’s quite a pickle they’re in, and avoiding the issue by ignoring it only works in press releases and very short news clips.

729 Comments

Eh, well now it’s open again, and post #32 is on a 3rd or 4th version. I’m off to do laundry though…

I swear; it never fails. Gilson’s immediate “rejoinder” is to jump right into the exegesis-hermeneutics-etymology-word gaming shtick.

And the “different conclusions from different philosophical perspectives” is alive and well.

I guess New York City exists or doesn’t exist depending on your “philosophical perspective”.

That would mean that the denizens of New York City, like Schrödinger’s poor cat, remain in a superposition of quantum states of existence and non-existence. Only one state falls out depending on one’s “philosophical perspective.”

Commentors there are saying things variously from “Dover and the Wedge don’t matter in a post-2005 world,” to accusations of bigotry. Still, I’m lending my voice for a case of ID=Creationism. I pointed out that there are other kinds of “Creationism” that don’t depend on Genesis at all (Vedic), then went into why the ID movement has always been Creationists a la Creation Science. It’s all been said before in the thread, but eh. Maybe something will click.

The Dishonesty Institute has pretty much given up trying to pretend ID isn’t creationism and the Designer isn’t Jesus. They just hired 3 new people, some or all of them are YECs.

They spend a huge amount of time speaking to fundie xian church groups.

There are many more “genetic” connections between ID and creationism than Gilson realizes or can comprehend. The politics of morphing to avoid the 1987 Supreme Court decision still can’t hide these connections; it’s in their “genes” just like the genetic markers in the descendants of common ancestors.

Going back into the 1970s with Gish, Morris, and the Creation Research Institute, the misconceptions about scientific concepts have remained pretty consistent. When the misuses of second law of thermodynamics and entropy were pointed out to the creationists, these same misuses simply found their way into the concepts of “irreducible complexity” and “complex specified information” in the way these pseudo-science concepts latch onto uniform samplings of random sets. There are those invented terms “genetic entropy” and “entropy barriers” that keep popping up a few months after they are repeatedly slapped down.

Then there is the genetic inheritance of that propensity to quote-mine and misrepresent the words of scientists and the evidence of science. I wonder if Gilson approves of this constant misrepresentation by people who are admonished by their bible not to bear false witness.

The “philosophical materialism” shtick may have been formalized by Phillip Johnson, but its roots still go back to the creationists’ insistence on the literal reading of the Christian bible, along with the seven or eight “fundamental truths” against which all else must be compared.

Assuming these “fundamentals” automatically implies that the evidence and conclusions of science are wrong. There has never been any such thing as objectively verifiable evidence to the fundamentalist. That theme continues to run through the “different conclusions from different perspectives” shtick. This theme in itself continues to be hard evidence that these fundamentalists still don’t understand science and that creationism is genetically linked to ID.

I wonder how Gilson explains away these genetic markers.

raven said:

The Dishonesty Institute has pretty much given up trying to pretend ID isn’t creationism and the Designer isn’t Jesus. They just hired 3 new people, some or all of them are YECs.

They spend a huge amount of time speaking to fundie xian church groups.

That’s the only kind of audience they can muster. On top of that they nickel & dime the people when the DI is really funded by a multi-millionare, but the DI isn’t gonna tell the people that fact.

Gilson warns about “rhetorical approaches” while conveniently being duped by ID which is itself a “rhetorical approach” to creationism. There are none so blind as those who are too conveniently duped!

386sx said:

Gilson warns about “rhetorical approaches” while conveniently being duped by ID which is itself a “rhetorical approach” to creationism. There are none so blind as those who are too conveniently duped!

“Rhetorical manipulation” is what he actually said. (Sorry.)

“For now, it seems to me that the failure to distinguish ID from creationism stems either from intentional rhetorical manipulation, which is dishonest, or from worldview blindness, which is a different kind of fault but not much better.”

The irony is that all the evidence is there that ID is itself “intentional rhetorical manipulation”. But Gilson doesn’t seem to mind so much. I guess maybe he thinks they didn’t use to be honest but now they are. They evolved some honesty, I guess.

I long called intelligent-design creationism by the name its advocates prefer. But Dembski and Marks have a section entitled “Intelligence Creates Information” in their chapter of the forthcoming “Nature of Nature” volume. They hold that information is physical stuff, and maintain that unobservable, non-material intelligence is natural. If you say that something invisible and immaterial creates physical stuff out of nothing, it doesn’t matter if the stuff is a bit of physical information or a gram of gold – you are a neo-creationist, and the neo- is clear enough in intelligent-design creationist. A vacuous declaration that intelligence is natural, reversing without explanation the long-held position that intelligence is non-natural, does not make IDC into science.

BTW, the shift in stance on the status of intelligence came about the time of the “Nature of Nature” conference, as best I can tell. To my knowledge, no one announced or explained the logically and theologically atrocious change. In my opinion, many Christians who will accept the global search-and-replace transition from creation science to intelligent design as realpolitik will not forgive redefinition of the supernatural Creator’s intelligence as natural. If you know something about what actually happened, first click on my name to go to my website, and then on “send email.” Thanks.

Tom – that’s a really interesting insight. For awhile I have been noticing a subcurrent in ID which sort of admits that methodological naturalism is actually OK, and that ID doesn’t violate it. This contradicts a major ID current, which is death on methodological naturalism. Your observation may help explain it.

Another factor may well be that it was quite hard to argue against methodological naturalism, and also assert that ID wasn’t an argument for supernaturalism.

(Also, they basically think that the human mind is a supernatural soul, and from that perspective it may be no great loss to take the supernatural soul, call it “natural”, and get supernaturalism into science that way.)

I’ll run with that just a bit further, Nick, not to derail your thread. You probably have seen the transcript of Dembski’s talk at a Baptist church, in which he indicates that angels might have done the designing for God. He can also get mileage out of the Trinity. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is with us, and Dembski may feel comfortable treating it as an immaterial, purposive, creative intelligence pervading nature.

I believe that the shift from non-natural to natural intelligence was politically expedient. Federal case law prohibits teaching about the supernatural in public-school science classes, and saying “non-natural” instead of “supernatural” was a lame dodge. Surely the IDC strategists realized this.

The change makes “sciencey” rhetoric easier for IDC proponents. But it really places IDC on no better scientific ground. To claim that something immaterial and invisible has created physical stuff out of nothing is to invoke a miracle. All who oppose IDC, be they theistic, non-theistic, anti-theistic, deistic, or agnostic, agree that scientific explanations cannot include the famous “then a miracle occurs” step — even those who believe that miracles really do occur.

P.S.–I left out an important word.

To claim that something immaterial and invisible has purposefully created physical stuff out of nothing is to invoke a miracle.

Even in quantum mechanics, no one sane is saying that something unobserved is purposefully determining the outcomes of experiments. (But Salvador Cordova once told me that some were approaching IDC as an interpretation of QM.)

I used to be confused but now I don’t know what to think…

It would seem like they haven’t bothered to think through this idea of redefining God on the back end as natural. That might let creationism get taught in school, but then we’d actually be able to head on address the issue and actually say this is wrong because… Instead of being able to say only evolution happened because… It seems like a small change on some level, but in terms of improving pedagogy that freedom could be quite profound.

Somehow I cannot understand how anyone could read C@$ey Lu$k1n or Deny$ 0’[Enable javascript to see this email address.] and think that ID was anything more than old creation science in “disruptive camouflage”. (That’s a military type term involving camo paint applied in deliberately irregular patterns, but it somehow seems particularly apt here.)

However, the primary difference between ID and old creation science is that ID is evasive about the nature of the Designer (though for various reasons less and less so over time), and that IS a big deal to many old-line creationists.

I rub along well enough with fairly conservative Christians, but I used to work with a guy who could not blow his nose without consulting the Lord on the matter. Never was the term “God botherer” more apt, I kept wondering why the Lord didn’t tell him: “I appreciate the regard, but you might be able to figure out most of these things on your own, you know.”

Anyway, it makes no sense to such folk to avoid talking about God even if they realize it’s counterproductive to do so. I find that referring to Mysterious Alien Designers (or Functional Equivalent) seems to get a DOES NOT COMPUTE reaction from them.

i tend to think of ID as an umbrella term (and movement) for any and all kinds of Creationism, which could range from YEC, to OEC to Progressive Creationism, to some kind of guided salationist evolution, or even, evolution guided and planned by space aliens or committees of evil demons (or of course the flying spaghetti monster).

That as I understand was more or less the explicit goal: unite all the anti-materialists together and try to persuade the theistic evolutionists they are wrong. A lot of ID arguments at least implicitly seem to accept some evolution.

I think its fair to call them Creationists though because they are still arguing for some kind of special act of Creation somewhere, sometime. And they clearly play to the YEC base.

Chip Poirot said:

i tend to think of ID as an umbrella term (and movement) for any and all kinds of Creationism, which could range from YEC, to OEC to Progressive Creationism, to some kind of guided salationist evolution, or even, evolution guided and planned by space aliens or committees of evil demons (or of course the flying spaghetti monster).

True, but then again they all draw from a common list produced by the Ministry of Silly Arguments. Of course avoiding parts of the list, like YEC age-of-earth arguments, that would prove particularly troublesome.

Anyway, the end result is a game that looks pretty much the same on the receiving end.

wile coyote said:

Somehow I cannot understand how anyone could read C@$ey Lu$k1n or Deny$ 0’[Enable javascript to see this email address.] and think that ID was anything more than old creation science in “disruptive camouflage”. (That’s a military type term involving camo paint applied in deliberately irregular patterns, but it somehow seems particularly apt here.)

However, the primary difference between ID and old creation science is that ID is evasive about the nature of the Designer (though for various reasons less and less so over time), and that IS a big deal to many old-line creationists.

I rub along well enough with fairly conservative Christians, but I used to work with a guy who could not blow his nose without consulting the Lord on the matter. Never was the term “God botherer” more apt, I kept wondering why the Lord didn’t tell him: “I appreciate the regard, but you might be able to figure out most of these things on your own, you know.”

Anyway, it makes no sense to such folk to avoid talking about God even if they realize it’s counterproductive to do so. I find that referring to Mysterious Alien Designers (or Functional Equivalent) seems to get a DOES NOT COMPUTE reaction from them.

Perhaps because they know that if they make a big deal out of it, the mainstream who are only peripherally involved, who who think “teaching the controversy” is fine, will get spooked by the clear violation of the Establishment Clause.

“Creationism is rooted in design, not the other way around. Falsify design, and you falsify creationism. The converse is not true, therefore, creationism does not equal ID. This is basic logic.”

—Salvador Cordova

There are many more “genetic” connections between ID and creationism than Gilson realizes or can comprehend.

The DI is funded from xian Dominionist sources and churches.

This isn’t a smoking gun. It is a smoking bomb crater.

They hold that information is physical stuff, and maintain that unobservable, non-material intelligence is natural.

What is the difference between an undetectable, invisible intelligence and a nonexistent one?

The undetectable invisible and the nonexistent can be hard to tell apart.

I found the whole thread disturbingly similar to a “how many angels…” debate. Yeah, okay, so there might be some theoretical definition of ID which separates it from creationism. So what? Many things are possible in theory, but in actuality the people throwing around the ID hypothesis DO use it to attempt to sneak religion into HS science curricula. At the same time, they DO NOT use it as a basis for scientific work. Could they? Hypothetically, yes. DO they? No. Not for the 20+ years of the term’s history.

If we accept Tom Gilson’s claim that there is an “honest ID” which is entirely separate from creationism, the best we can say is that its proponents are completely drowned out of the debate by the much more prominent and vocal “cynical ID” proponents, who merely use the term to get around the 1st amendment restrictions on teaching religion.

It almost doesn’t matter whether this “honest ID” exists if its proponents continue to remain absent from the public debate. Furthermore, I have to say that it completely undermines their credibility when - as in Tom’s case - the people who claim to be part of the “honest ID” movement absolutely refuse to admit the cynical ID folk exist and refuse to argue against them. I’d get royally ticked off if someone were to misuse a scientific term in order to push their social agenda. Where is Tom’s anger, his indignation, at people who are doing the same thing to the term Design? If he is a supporter of a non-creationist ID, then he should be excoriating the authors of Pandas for what they did, not avoiding the subject.

“Looks like a duck. Quacks like a duck. Walks like a duck. Swims like a duck. Might be a duck.”

One of my impressions from perfunctionary skimming of ID “theories” is that there isn’t one, more like a huge number. In the absence of research and data, it is just myth making.

In some formulations, jesus pops another species into existence ex nihilo every once in a while when no one is watching.

In others, jesus is the puppetmaster behind the scenes, somehow guiding species to evolve in the direction he wants them to go.

Some IDists are YECS. Presumably jesus created everything all at once and the biosphere is running down from the fall. Soon, it will resemble a huge collection of plant, animal, and human zombies, deformed creatures lurching about on their daily activities. Then god will show up and kill everyone. Quite the warm fuzzy version of the xian religion.

Most of them just leave the how and when details blank.

How long must we suffer this charade? We know the designer = God, that’s what the Bible says too. ID, RIP.

Rolf Aalberg said:

How long must we suffer this charade?

Obviously that was meant as a rhetorical question.

Look, guys, the difference is obvious.

To a Creationist, God created everything at some undefined point using some undefined method leaving no obvious evidence and you shouldn’t try to understand it.

To the ID proponent, Intelligent Designers, who just incidentally had Godlike powers but for the sake of argument may or may not have actually been God, created everything at some undefined point using some undefined method leaving no obvious evidence and you shouldn’t try to understand it.

There. Understand the difference now?

Rolf:

How long must we suffer this charade?

Soon, it will resemble a huge collection of plant, animal, and human zombies, deformed creatures lurching about on their daily activities.

You will know ID is correct when the xian Day of the Living Dead happens. Zombie lions will hobble after crippled zombie zebras. Humans will lurch into work with other zombies and then go home to the zombie dog and kids to cook up some zombie vegetables.

Genetic entropy is the inexorable ultimate divine plan and George Romero has shown us the future of a degenerating biosphere.

eric said:

At the same time, they DO NOT use [the ID hypothesis] as a basis for scientific work. Could they? Hypothetically, yes.

Really? How would that work? I have grad students to support, and negative results are (at least in principle) publishable. I wouldn’t need more than maybe $500K … surely the DI can find that for a real academic study. Thing is, my students (and I) need peer-reviewed publication and I’m not sure how I would do that in the career-killing field of ID.

stevaroni said:

There. Understand the difference now?

“Quack!” “Kwak!”

“Errr, I think so Brayne.”

D. P. Robin said:

Tray said:

http://geology.com/news/2007/dinosa[…]overed.shtml

Explain how soft tissue can be preserved in a supposedly 70 million year old fossil.

You did not even bother to read the article to which your link pointed:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/[…]/7124969.stm: While it has been dubbed a dinosaur “mummy”, the dinosaur is actually fossilised into stone.

But unlike the collections of bones found in many museums, this hadrosaur came complete with fossilised skin, ligaments, tendons and possibly some internal organs, according to researchers.

You bring the name of Christ into such shame one could cry. I’ll say again; As a Christian myself, I have to say I find your entire production here a disgrace to the church of Christ.

You can not hide the wolf of Darwin by dressing him in the clothing of the Lamb of God Christ Jesus. “Christian” evolutionists beguile the gullible by keeping the outward forms of the faith while replacing the bread of life with the rancid meat of evolutionism.

So do you by any chance have the slightest speck of evidence to support your bullshit about your imaginary god? No, of course not, we all know you’re full of shit.

And isn’t that imaginary god of your supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness? Can you really not bring yourself to see anything wrong with lying through your teeth in the name of Jeebus?

Toidel Mahoney said:

D. P. Robin said:

Tray said:

http://geology.com/news/2007/dinosa[…]overed.shtml

Explain how soft tissue can be preserved in a supposedly 70 million year old fossil.

You did not even bother to read the article to which your link pointed:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/[…]/7124969.stm: While it has been dubbed a dinosaur “mummy”, the dinosaur is actually fossilised into stone.

But unlike the collections of bones found in many museums, this hadrosaur came complete with fossilised skin, ligaments, tendons and possibly some internal organs, according to researchers.

You bring the name of Christ into such shame one could cry. I’ll say again; As a Christian myself, I have to say I find your entire production here a disgrace to the church of Christ.

You can not hide the wolf of Darwin by dressing him in the clothing of the Lamb of God Christ Jesus. “Christian” evolutionists beguile the gullible by keeping the outward forms of the faith while replacing the bread of life with the rancid meat of evolutionism.

Toidel Mahoney said:

You can not hide the wolf of Darwin by dressing him in the clothing of the Lamb of God Christ Jesus. “Christian” evolutionists beguile the gullible by keeping the outward forms of the faith while replacing the bread of life with the rancid meat of evolutionism.

Mixed metaphors like this one go down the drain of a dark alley.

What, is it full moon already?

For the benefit of the onlookers who are (unlike the voices in Toid’s head), really there, Toidel just doesn’t get this weird schtick that people with actual minds do, the stuff called “rationality”. He is trying to intimate that all “Christian evolutionists” are kiddie diddlers, because this was revealed to him in a dream. Or something. Whatever, he thinks (for certain values of “think”) that it’s a great discovery. Well, it excites him no end, anyway.

Toidel is, of course, in the rococo stage of being unhinged. We now return you to our regular program.

Ah, but remember that the rationals are but a minuscule subset of the set of real numbers, and the rest of them are all irrational. (Hee hee.)

Somebody ought to keep watch on Gilson’s blog. I’ve found he rather regularly takes potshots at American science and education, and anyone who does serious thinking that might in any way contradict his views of scripture and the way Gilson insists they should be read.

But it takes someone with the calmness of Nick Matzke to keep up the arguments there in the lions’ den. I’ve been banned a couple of times for comments I thought to be factual challenges to Gilson’s claims, but otherwise innocuous.

Somebody who doesn’t make Gilson so angry as I do ought to drop by more often, maybe.

Toidel Mahoney said:

D. P. Robin said:

Tray said:

http://geology.com/news/2007/dinosa[…]overed.shtml

Explain how soft tissue can be preserved in a supposedly 70 million year old fossil.

You did not even bother to read the article to which your link pointed:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/[…]/7124969.stm: While it has been dubbed a dinosaur “mummy”, the dinosaur is actually fossilised into stone.

But unlike the collections of bones found in many museums, this hadrosaur came complete with fossilised skin, ligaments, tendons and possibly some internal organs, according to researchers.

You bring the name of Christ into such shame one could cry. I’ll say again; As a Christian myself, I have to say I find your entire production here a disgrace to the church of Christ.

You can not hide the wolf of Darwin by dressing him in the clothing of the Lamb of God Christ Jesus. “Christian” evolutionists beguile the gullible by keeping the outward forms of the faith while replacing the bread of life with the rancid meat of evolutionism.

There is no “wolf of Darwin.” Darwin observed God’s creation (to a Christian, it’s God’s creation), and accurately observed what he saw. Anyone can replicate Darwin’s observations, and hundreds have done exactly that.

An honest man observing the admonition in Romans 1:20 to look at the evidence: Darwin was doing holy work, for Christians.

Jesus warned there will be ingrates.

Lots of various persons know some techniques of comparison contrast essay writing, but that does not mean they are able create high quality research papers, nevertheless a custom comparison essay service should assist to create the comparison contrast essay of high quality and demonstrate writing ability of some students.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on October 11, 2009 9:52 PM.

IDiots can’t read. was the previous entry in this blog.

Hyla versicolor is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter