Dembski Coming Clean - He’s a Creationist YEC

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Added 10/22/10: I have been persuaded that it’s not accurate to say that Dembski’s statements in the post below necessarily mean that he is now endorsing a young earth. See my comment here.

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In 2000, Dembski wrote an essay, ID Coming Clean that, among other things, got me interested in the whole ID movement issue. In that essay, Dembski “came clean” about his stance on young-earth creationism:

By creationism one typically understands what is also called “young earth creationism,” and what advocates of that position refer to alternately as “creation science” or “scientific creationism.” According to this view the opening chapters of Genesis are to be read literally as a scientifically accurate account of the world’s origin and subsequent formation. What’s more, it is the creation scientist’s task to harmonize science with Scripture.

Given this account of creationism, am I a creationist? No. I do not regard Genesis as a scientific text. I have no vested theological interest in the age of the earth or the universe. I find the arguments of geologists persuasive when they argue for an earth that is 4.5 billion years old. What’s more, I find the arguments of astrophysicists persuasive when they argue for a universe that is approximately 14 billion years old. I believe they got it right. Even so, I refuse to be dogmatic here. I’m willing to listen to arguments to the contrary. Yet to date I’ve found none of the arguments for a young earth or a young universe convincing. Nature, as far as I’m concerned, has an integrity that enables it to be understood without recourse to revelatory texts.

[My emphasis]

Fast forward ten years: Dembski once again comes clean, and times have changed. This time he clearly states he is a Biblical inerrantist, and as such he is a creationist and he does think that Genesis is historically true.

Let’s look at what Dembski has to say now.

[Edit remark: changed “evangelical” to “fundamentalist”, in response to a remark by Wes Elsberry.]

Towards the end of last year, 2009, Dembski wrote a book, The End of Christianity, that attempted to reconcile the theology of the Fall, and its relationship with sin and death, to an old earth. In a comment at Uncommon Descent in October 2009, he pointed out that “As I note in THE END OF CHRISTIANITY, I would be a young-earth creationist in a heart-beat if I didn’t see the evidence for an old earth as so strong.” (Link)

However, given that Dembski teaches at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, his book aroused a lot of resistance from his YEC colleagues. One particular thing that stood out was that Dembski argued that the evidence for the Flood being a local event was strong, writing “Noah’s flood, though presented as a global event, is probably best understood as historically rooted in a local event.”

This was enough to get Southwestern Seminary’s president Paige Patterson involved. According to an article at the Florida Baptist Witness,

Patterson said that when Dembski’s questionable statements came to light, he convened a meeting with Dembski and several high-ranking administrators at the seminary. At that meeting, Dembski was quick to admit that he was wrong about the flood, Patterson said.

“Had I had any inkling that Dr. Dembski was actually denying the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible, then that would have, of course, ended his relationship with the school,” he said.

Oh no! Threatened with being expelled!

And did Dembski take a stand for the strength of the evidence? You know, follow the evidence wherever it leads?

Nope.

According to an article A Reply to Tom Nettles Review of Dembski’s End of Christianity, page 8, Dembski issued a “clarification”, which is really a retraction. He says that if he were to write End of Christianity again, today he would say things differently.

In writing The End of Christianity today, I would also underscore three points: (1) As a biblical inerrantist, I accept the full verbal inspiration of the Bible and the conventional authorship of the books of the Bible. Thus, in particular, I accept Mosaic authorship of Genesis (and of the Pentateuch) and reject the Documentary Hypothesis. (2) Even though I introduce in the book a distinction between kairos (God’s time) and chronos (the world’s time), the two are not mutually exclusive. In particular, I accept that the events described in Genesis 1- 11 happened in ordinary space-time, and thus that these chapters are as historical as the rest of the Pentateuch. (3) I believe that Adam and Eve were real people, that as the initial pair of humans they were the progenitors of the whole human race, that they were specially created by God, and thus that they were not the result of an evolutionary process from primate or hominid ancestors.

and in respect to the flood

Yet, in a brief section on Genesis 4-11, I weigh in on the Flood, raising questions about its universality, without adequate study or reflection on my part. Before I write on this topic again, I have much exegetical, historical, and theological work to do. In any case, not only Genesis 6-9 but also Jesus in Matthew 24 and Peter in Second Peter seem clearly to teach that the Flood was universal. As a biblical inerrantist, I believe that what the Bible teaches is true and bow to the text, including its teaching about the Flood and its universality.

So there you have it: Dembski

  • is a Biblical inerrantist,
  • accepts that Genesis 1-11 are historically true, and thus that the universe, the earth and all life were created in six literal days
  • is furthermore a creationist in respect to human beings, who are not related to hominid ancestors by common descent,
  • believes the Flood was a real universal event (presumably not too many thousands of years in the past),
  • and, since he believes “that what the Bible teaches is true”, he “bow[s] to the text.”

It can’t be any clearer than that. He bows to the text.

If there ever was another nail that needed to be driven into the coffin of whether Dembski’s contributions to arguing for ID have any chance of being taken seriously by the scientific world, this is it. He is an fundamentalist theologian: given a choice between the evidence - even evidence that a year ago he said was convincingly strong - and the inerrant Bible, he chooses the Bible. He’s lost any possible credibility of being someone who wants “to follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

Now an obvious cynical reaction to all this is that he wants to keep his job, and will say whatever it takes to stay in Southwestern’s good graces. (Of course, the irony of this in respect to the whole Expelled schtick is breathtaking.)

However, there’s another possibility. Dembski, and the ID movement in general, ever since Phillip Johnson devised his Wedge strategy, has been trying to create this illusion that what they were doing was “scientific” and had nothing to do with religion. Johnson has specifically said that the strategy was to get people to accept scientifically that a Creator was necessary, and after that was established the sectarian differences about the age of the earth, common descent, etc. could be worked out in house, so to speak.

This strategy has been a dismal failure. They’ve lost in the school systems (for instance, Kansas), they’ve lost in the courts (Dover), they have never got off the ground in the science community: in fact, every time the ground troops get involved in trying to sell ID, their blatant creationism comes right to the forefront.

If I were Dembski, I’d be tired of it. He’s a fundamentalist theologian, and he’s got a job where he can be one. Why not give up the ID charade, join the flock, and come clean as a YEC.

Looks to me like that’s what he’s done.

508 Comments

Wasn’t there a toy rock that said something like:

The statement on the other side of this rock is true.

and on the other side

The statement on the other side of this rock is false?

Dembski may be an evangelical theologian, but what the new recantation demonstrates is that he is also a fundamentalist theologian.

Right, Wes. Good correction. I’m going to edit the post. I know there are many evangelics, including theologians, who support both an old earth and evolution.

What a freaking rat bag.

It appears that YECism is in ascendancy. Dembski now has to bow to YEC pressures, and the YECs are clearly fed up with ID. They have been saying this over at AiG for some time now.

And their “top-of-the-line astrophysicist” has just solved the distant starlight problem and has now taken down Stephen Hawking.

He even anticipates all the “jealous” criticism that will be directed against him, and has even obtained the support of one of the worlds greatest cartoonists.

Poor Dr. Dr. Dembski; the “Isaac Newton of Information Theory” must now submit to “higher authorities.”

Is this direction that the antievolution movement is now going? They spend over 40 years producing no experimental evidence whatsoever for ID/creationism; thus they fall back on the only argument they have ever known; namely, biblical inerrancy.

Now we’re back at the beginning of the 20th century; its déjà vu all over again, but with a heavy dose of exegetical pseudo-science.

Wow!

Dembski’s next employment opportunity is to work at a Subway in Waco.

He’s gone from Dr. Dr. math/philosophy guy, to (briefly) head of a Center at Baylor, to a 5-year paid vacation at Baylor, to a seminary job (bounced out) to another Bible college job. He’s at rock bottom. What’s he going to do if he loses his Bible college job, other than make foot-longs at Subway?

Like the Cowardly Lion he does believe in ghosts, he does believe in ghosts! Every two weeks on payday he’ll repeat that mantra; loudly.

Next to go will be his DI fellowship. How bad would that be, not even able to hold a job with the DI?

All things considered, though, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Dembski is a coward who deserves the respect of NO ONE! He proves over and over that:

1. Creationism is a fraud.

2. Intelligent Design is a generalized form of Creationism.

3. Creationism is based on the BLASPHEMOUS LIE that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

4. That fundamentalist religion is all about power and has no actual standard of ethics (because if it did, it wouldn’t rely on the Bible for it; objective ethics can be followed without reference to any man-made book).

Can we just dismiss the bastard now?

Doc Bill said:

Dembski’s next employment opportunity is to work at a Subway in Waco.

He’s gone from Dr. Dr. math/philosophy guy, to (briefly) head of a Center at Baylor, to a 5-year paid vacation at Baylor, to a seminary job (bounced out) to another Bible college job. He’s at rock bottom. What’s he going to do if he loses his Bible college job, other than make foot-longs at Subway?

Like the Cowardly Lion he does believe in ghosts, he does believe in ghosts! Every two weeks on payday he’ll repeat that mantra; loudly.

Next to go will be his DI fellowship. How bad would that be, not even able to hold a job with the DI?

All things considered, though, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Oh dear! And now he won’t even be able to snuggle up to Ann Coulter any longer!

Does this mean Dembski isn’t going to get around very soon to applying his Explanatory Filter to any real-world biological structure? Golly, so close to doing real science, and now this. And didn’t the DI have the research facilities all set up and funded, and their very own peers to review the results and journal to publish them for genuine scientific examination?

Right on the very verge of real creation science, it must be devastating for Dembski to get collared by the thought police and subjected to such unscientific re-education. Maybe someone can recover his lab notes and test tubes and carry on his biological research in his absence.

At Southwestern Baptist he’s merely exercising his Christian freedom.

The FBW article explicitly states that Dembski believes “that the universe is billions of years old”, so I don’t think you can claim that he’s a YEC. Believing in an old Earth/Universe, biblical inerrantism, a historical Adam and Eve & a global Noahic flood would probably put him closest to Gap (aka Ruin and Restoration) creationism.

Does this mean Dembski isn’t going to get around very soon to applying his Explanatory Filter to any real-world biological structure?

My impression, based upon statements he made in the Dembski/Behe/Miller/Pennock Debate (2002, but with video recently put up by NCSE on Youtube), is that Dembski never meant to apply his methodology himself, but simply to claim any and all work done in cryptology (and probably SETI, forensics, anthropology, etc) as successful applications of his methodology. Real world data is messy (and often fustrating) – you wouldn’t expect the Dembskis of this world to sully their hands, and their pristine minds, with it would you?

Perfect timing! Friday is the anniversary of the “..beginning of time, according to our Chronologie, fell upon the entrance of the night preceding the twenty third day of Octob[er].…The year before Christ 4004.” -Ussher

Took a lot of counting of begats to get there.

Now…what to toast with?

Thanks for more background than I had when I commented over at Pharyngula. It still seems to me there’s just enough wiggle-room to jam in a Gap-type exegesis, and I agree with hrafn above that the Florida Baptist Witness article seems to suggest that he may still be in that camp. However, he does seem to be a global-diluvialist now.

Something that is intriguing is that Dembski has written an entire book on theodicy in which he allegedly accepted standard cosmology, astrophysics and geology for the dating of the Universe and the natural history on earth and claimed that theologically, YECs had an advantage because there was no death before the Fall - it was supposed to be a consequence of it. From what I recall, his book was meant to justify the backward causation of the Fall of Man - billions of years of death and waste and mass extinction on Earth before Adam were still caused by Adam!

Another event that rings the bell was a radio debate between him and Michael Shermer in which he claimed to be perplexed on the Flood story because “the Bible is really serious about it”.

Hrafn said:

The FBW article explicitly states that Dembski believes “that the universe is billions of years old”, so I don’t think you can claim that he’s a YEC. Believing in an old Earth/Universe, biblical inerrantism, a historical Adam and Eve & a global Noahic flood would probably put him closest to Gap (aka Ruin and Restoration) creationism.

His views are complex, and as far as I am concerned they “pass[eth] human understanding”. He seems to be both an OEC and a YEC and he believes that God’s actions can have retroactive effects, and so on. In the Reply to the review of his book “The End of Christianity” the author of the reply (who is not Dembski) characterizes his views thusly:

Dembski is critical of the young-earth position to be sure, but he is equally critical of the standard old-earth position that tries to minimize natural evil (such as animal suffering) and explain it away apart from the Fall (see chapter 9, entitled ―The Problem with Old-Earth Creationism‖). Dembski is a vigorous debater, but he is not disrespectful to the young-earth position.

So yes he’s a YEC and no he isn’t, and yes he’s an OEC and no he isn’t. I’m sure glad that understanding science doesn’t require me to understand these positions of his.

Hrafn said:

The FBW article explicitly states that Dembski believes “that the universe is billions of years old”, so I don’t think you can claim that he’s a YEC. Believing in an old Earth/Universe, biblical inerrantism, a historical Adam and Eve & a global Noahic flood would probably put him closest to Gap (aka Ruin and Restoration) creationism.

It seems you are not familiar with the concept of “talking out of both sides of one’s mouth”. Trust me, American politicians are notorious for this!

It seems you are not familiar with the concept of “talking out of both sides of one’s mouth”.

Except that all the statements were coming from the talking-to-religious-people side of Dembski’s mouth. It seem more of a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it – wanting to accept an Old Earth so as not to look an idiot in scientists’ (and his own) eyes, while wanting to accept the Noahic flood and historical Adam and Eve so as not to be cast out by his fundamentalist brethren & employers.

Joe Felsenstein said:

He seems to be both an OEC and a YEC and he believes that God’s actions can have retroactive effects, and so on. In the Reply to the review of his book “The End of Christianity” the author of the reply (who is not Dembski) characterizes his views thusly:

Dembski is critical of the young-earth position to be sure, but he is equally critical of the standard old-earth position that tries to minimize natural evil (such as animal suffering) and explain it away apart from the Fall (see chapter 9, entitled ―The Problem with Old-Earth Creationism‖). Dembski is a vigorous debater, but he is not disrespectful to the young-earth position.

So yes he’s a YEC and no he isn’t, and yes he’s an OEC and no he isn’t. I’m sure glad that understanding science doesn’t require me to understand these positions of his.

I disagree. He has not said anything that could be construed as meaning that he believes that “the Earth is thousands rather than billions of years old” (i.e. “the Earth is young”), therefore he should not be considered to be a YEC.

I do not think that his rather convoluted attempts to shoehorn certain YEC concepts into a OEC framework makes him a YEC, but rather a mental-contortionist OEC (who wants to stay friends with the YECs).

His views lies are complex

better, but even that doesn’t really cover what’s going on here.

Dembski is a patsy.

He has been since Dover.

It’s the only value he continues to serve the DI as.

His purpose is to resuscitate failing support from their base.

I guess nobody has recalled the elections are just around the corner, and the rethuglicans are smelling blood?

Ichthyic said:

Dembski is a patsy.

He has been since Dover.

In general, I would agree with this statement.

On the specific issues raised by this thread, I would suggest that the defining moment was Dembski’s leaving Baylor to work at Baptist seminaries. This put pressure on him both (i) to downplay his OEC views (hence his framing of all this as some kind of ‘what if’) & (ii) to put more effort into attempting to reconcile OEC with biblical inerrantism.

He isn’t the first to attempt this (Gap Creationism and Day-Age Creationism are notable earlier attempts) but, like earlier attempts, it has the feel of an uncomfortably forced ‘shotgun wedding’.

Is Dembski any less of an OEC than he was? I suspect not – though he’s having to be far more slippery about it than he used to.

How typical. A heretic hunt. Xians have been hunting down heretics since the day the religion was formed.

He got off easy. Even a few hundred years ago he would have been tortured and maybe even burnt at the stake.

The SBC was taken over by right wingnuts a few decades ago. They seem far more interested in pushing right wing politics than anything to do with xianity. One of the first things they did was purge a lot of heretics. Very much like what Stalin did.

It is obvious that ID has failed and they are all heading back to their YEC roots.

There is now a huge paper trail that they are in fact, mostly YECs trying to pretend they aren’t.

The ID has always seemed to steer clear of the courts. With their paper trail, they aren’t going to stand a chance.

Baptist beliefs:

Most Baptist traditions believe in the “Four Freedoms” articulated by Baptist historian Walter B. Shurden:[2]

Soul freedom: the soul is competent before God, and capable of making decisions in matters of faith without coercion or compulsion by any larger religious or civil body Church freedom: freedom of the local church from outside interference, whether government or civilian (subject only to the law where it does not interfere with the religious teachings and practices of the church) Bible freedom: the individual is free to interpret the Bible for himself or herself, using the best tools of scholarship and biblical study available to the individual Religious freedom: the individual is free to choose whether to practice their religion, another religion, or no religion; Separation of church and state is often called the “civil corollary” of religious freedom

Doesn’t look like the Southern Baptists walk the Baptist talk. One of the tenets of Baptists, was freedom to interpret the bible themselves and that everyone was a priest.

Theology is like silly putty. You can make it into anything you want.

DavidK said:

Wasn’t there a toy rock that said something like:

The statement on the other side of this rock is true.

and on the other side

The statement on the other side of this rock is false?

Altogether now, The wise man1 built his house upon that rock…

1. and when I say “wise man”, I mean “weaseling liar”.

raven said:

The SBC was taken over by right wingnuts a few decades ago. They seem far more interested in pushing right wing politics than anything to do with xianity. One of the first things they did was purge a lot of heretics. Very much like what Stalin did.

SBC = Southern Baptist Convention, correct?

I was once a member of that. It’s very easy for right-wing extremists to slowly take over a denomination and run it into the ground. When I was with them, they claimed to be the “largest Protestant denomination in North America” with about 15 million members. Why? Because they would NEVER remove someone from their membership list unless you specifically ask them to do so, even if you never attend their churches. Catholics and Baha’is are the same way and it’s fuking dishonest! I doubt there are more than ten million practicing members of SBC churches. The rest are perhaps just for padding out the memberships to increase the prestige of the denomination.

This strategy has been a dismal failure. They’ve lost in the school systems (for instance, Kansas), they’ve lost in the courts (Dover), they have never got off the ground in the science community

It also now appears to have been a failure in another way: this strategy is alienating them from their evangelical support base. Turns out they can’t be sciency enough to appeal to the science-minded, and be religious enough to appease the evangelical at the same time.

I have to disagree here: Dembski said he is an inerrantist, not a literalist. I am not really up to speed with fundie systematics, but I think that is a fairly significant difference (to them, at least).

Also, I am pretty sure Dembski had to be an inerrantist (or profess to be) in order to be hired to teach in any Baptist seminary, so I think the big news, if any, is basically that Dembski explicitly stated that at this time he actually believes in Noah’s ark myth as it is described in the Bible. It’s a silly belief, and his groveling for forgiveness should be brought up any time the IDists whine about academic freedom, but it still doesn’t make him a YEC.

Dembski’s book (reportedly - I have not read it) states that he believes that the evidence for an old earth is strong and that this evidence is compatible with an inerrantist interpretation of Genesis. Although he oh-hums on the topic in his recantation, he has not recanted it, and that alone rules him out as a YEC. In fact, strictly speaking his current recantation also leaves him open to later recant the recantation itself, because what he actually says says is that the Bible “**seem[s]** clearly to teach” the historicity of the flood myth, pending his “exegetical, historical and theological” (and pointedly, not “scientific”) work on the topic.

There is a problem. Dembski has a history of lying. Why should lying about his religous beliefs be any different than lying about the science since they are both the same to him.

You cite the “coming clean” essay, but he was just prevaricating in that essay too. It was around the time when the ID perps had decided that ID wasn’t going to cut the mustard and had started working up the Teach the Controvery switch scam in earnest. The first legal junk on the switch scam came out of the Discovery Institute in 1999 and guys like Mike Gene bailed out of the Teach ID scam, while the hard core prevaricators like Dembski and Meyer kept running the ID scam full tilt even in the face of their preparations to run the bait and switch on their own creationist support base. You can’t expect any type of an honest answer from the people that stuck with the ID scam after that point. Heck look what Mike Gene ended up doing. There are no competent, informed and honest ID scam supporters left in existence. The saddest thing is that there likely never were any. From the initiation of the word substitution in the book Pandas and People the ID movement was likely doomed to only attract the guys willing to lie for their religious beliefs or the clueless that didn’t know any better.

Dembski is also quoted as saying that he believes in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. That is about as extreme as one can get, as far as beliefs about the Bible. The only basis for that belief is adherence to an old tradition. As far as I know, the only Christians who believe this are fundamentalists. Yes, I am aware that there is dispute about the details of the Documentary Hypothesis - but to deny DH is not to accept that Moses wrote Genesis through Deuteronomy.

Flint said:

Our ears suffer the same problems. Mike Elzinga may be aware of the continuing arguments about how the materials an electric guitar is made of influence the tone. What becomes clear is, people actually hear the brighter tone of a maple neck, but only provided they know the neck is maple beforehand. They actually hear a more mellow tone from a mahogany neck given the same foreknowledge.

There is so much involved that it takes years of experience to integrate all the techniques (I play classical guitar) with the specific instrument. Woods and type of construction make a big difference in the quality of the sounds, but so does technique.

There are other factors as well. As one gets older, the higher frequencies one hears are quite suppressed, and that affects one’s technique because you compensate for hearing loss. And that doesn’t necessarily sound the best to people whose hearing is normal.

And you may have noticed when listening to sustained tones that yawning makes the tones sound like they are going slightly flat. That is because those mechanisms in the inner ear that respond to a given frequency get stretched and respond to higher frequencies but are still connected to your neural network in a way that a higher frequency sounds like a slightly lower note.

Then there is the feel of the instrument. When one is playing well, the tones that vibrate through the instrument, and that you actually feel in your body, also tell you when the instrument is projecting properly. It takes a number of years for one to become conscious of all these nuances, but eventually one learns to judge instruments by not only their sound but how they feel and respond.

Expert players can make a cheap instrument sound fairly good with effort, but a really good instrument almost “feels as though it is playing itself” as it responds with far less effort to the player.

And your point about how little of our sensory input reaches our conscious mind is very apt. But as one acquires expertise in the use of one’s senses, one begins to use and control far more things that the novice is not even aware of yet.

Other classic examples of this are persons who loose their sight and begin to make use of their hearing and tactile senses far more acutely and accurately to the point that they can sense what is around them almost as accurately as those who see.

We could go on and talk about skilled athletes who have such control over their movements that their skills look almost superhuman. Their awareness is so quick and accurate it is almost as though they slow down time as they control every nuance of their actions. That’s what is often referred to as “being in the zone.”

I think this comes full circle to the animosity generated towards Dembski.

Dembski and Marks seek to take information, an entity even more elusive than Chi, and confirm it scientifically; show information as a ‘real’ entity, independent and separate from matter.

They are not the first to make this observation. But I believe they are the first to make the attempt to formalize it mathematically. Why would any scientist begrudge them that? Any personal dislike of Dembski’s (note vitriole against Marks is noticably absent) theistic leanings should be kept separate when considering the merit of his work.

Moreover, Demski and Marks’ attempt at formalizing information is a perfect example of instinct and intuition driving science. Whether they succeed or fail in not the point. It is the attempt which should be supported in the spirit of scientific inquiry and discovery.

Why are you(pl) not on board? Is it because Dembski’s instincts and intuition are grounded in theism?

Krebs?

Steve wrote:

“They are not the first to make this observation. But I believe they are the first to make the attempt to formalize it mathematically. Why would any scientist begrudge them that? Any personal dislike of Dembski’s (note vitriole against Marks is noticably absent) theistic leanings should be kept separate when considering the merit of his work.”

No one begrudges him trying to define something mathematically. What he is rightly condemned for is claiming that he has succeeded, even though he has never published his supposed results. Even though he has no definition, let alone no equation, no values, no statistics, no hypothesis, no conclusion and no hope of ever getting anywhere.

If he would just admit that he was wrong, if he would just admit that he failed, then he might at least preserve some modicum of respect. Now why is it that creationists can never admit error? You Steve are a perfect case in point.

Steve P. said:

Moreover, Demski and Marks’ attempt at formalizing information is a perfect example of instinct and intuition driving science. Whether they succeed or fail in not the point. It is the attempt which should be supported in the spirit of scientific inquiry and discovery.

Why are you(pl) not on board? Is it because Dembski’s instincts and intuition are grounded in theism?

Krebs?

Why don’t you explain to us the Dembski and Marks paper?

Tell us what justification they have for “endogenous information,” “exogenous information,” and “active information.”

Why do they use the sampling distributions they do? What is it about the nature of atoms and molecules that would justify applying such sampling techniques to complex molecular structures?

Since the paper is available to everyone looking on here, you, like FL before you, can prove to us that you understand the “science” of your heroes.

Let’s go through the paper concept by concept and see what you understand.

I claim it is pure bullshit.

Steve P. said:

I think this comes full circle to the animosity generated towards Dembski.

Dembski and Marks seek to take information, an entity even more elusive than Chi, and confirm it scientifically; show information as a ‘real’ entity, independent and separate from matter.

They are not the first to make this observation. But I believe they are the first to make the attempt to formalize it mathematically. Why would any scientist begrudge them that? Any personal dislike of Dembski’s (note vitriole against Marks is noticably absent) theistic leanings should be kept separate when considering the merit of his work.

Moreover, Demski and Marks’ attempt at formalizing information is a perfect example of instinct and intuition driving science. Whether they succeed or fail in not the point. It is the attempt which should be supported in the spirit of scientific inquiry and discovery.

Why are you(pl) not on board? Is it because Dembski’s instincts and intuition are grounded in theism?

Krebs?

How does this explain the fact that Dembski refuses to use this alleged “knowledge” to explain how saying GODDIDIT is supposed to be more scientific than actual science?

Steve P. said:

I think this comes full circle to the animosity generated towards Dembski.

Dembski and Marks seek to take information, an entity even more elusive than Chi, and confirm it scientifically; show information as a ‘real’ entity, independent and separate from matter.

They are not the first to make this observation. But I believe they are the first to make the attempt to formalize it mathematically. Why would any scientist begrudge them that? Any personal dislike of Dembski’s (note vitriole against Marks is noticably absent) theistic leanings should be kept separate when considering the merit of his work.

Moreover, Demski and Marks’ attempt at formalizing information is a perfect example of instinct and intuition driving science. Whether they succeed or fail in not the point. It is the attempt which should be supported in the spirit of scientific inquiry and discovery.

Why are you(pl) not on board? Is it because Dembski’s instincts and intuition are grounded in theism?

Krebs?

And you totally ignored my last posting here, didn’t you. Gee, I wonder why. I guess I’ll repeat it:

Dale Husband said:

Steve P was referring to this worthless $#it:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]r-evolution/

Newton’s theory of gravity, Wegener’s theory of continental drift and Darwin’s theory of evolution all have one thing in common: they have all been ridiculed as impossible at one time or another, because they lacked a plausible mechanism. So which theory is different from the rest? I shall argue that Darwin’s theory is unique, in that it has won widespread acceptance despite the existence of weighty scientific arguments showing that its mechanism is incapable of accounting for the phenomena that it purports to explain. However, if Darwin had formulated his theory of evolution in the same way that Newton formulated his theory of gravity, Darwin’s theory would have been invulnerable to these scientific difficulties. It is also a curious fact that although Darwin’s original theory has undergone radical transformation, like those of Newton and Wegner, many scientists and philosophers are proud to call themselves “Darwinists,” whereas no modern scientist would refer to him/herself as a “Newtonian” or “Wegnerian.”

When your opening paragraph is full of fallacious falsehoods, why bother with the rest of it?

First, Darwin’s theory of evolution DID describe a plausible mechanism for evolution to occur. What was it? NATURAL SELECTION!

Second, there are NO scientific arguments showing that natural selection cannot account for changes in lines of organisms over a long period of time. NONE!

Third, the exact understanding of the process of evolution has indeed undergone modifications over the past century. Why? Because it is the nature of science when describing something in the real universe to become more accurate and detailed.

Fourth, biologists do not generally call themselves “Darwinists”. That’s what anti-evolutionary bigots call us.

Fifth, and most damning of all, Newton’s ideas about gravity were indeed overthrown by those of Einstein, but that seems to have gone unnoticed by the writer of Uncommon Descent (UD).

Thank you once again, Steve P, for showing us all once more why you, and the morons that post at UD, are simply too fuked up to do any real science!

YOU WOULDN’T KNOW A CASE OF OUTRIGHT FRAUD IF IT BANKRUPTED YOU, MORON!

Dale Husband said: I know Chi to be one of the Greek letters, but aside from that.….

I gave up and looked it up a couple of days ago - see http://www.skepdic.com/chi.html. The second sentence says it all: “This (Chi) energy, though called “natural,” is spiritual or supernatural, and is part of a metaphysical, not an empirical, belief system.” So it’s a lot like intelligent design creationism, and thus is not that out of place in a discussion about Dembski’s similar belief system.

Yo FL, why aren’t you here defending Steve P.? Is it because he accepts common descent? If so, why aren’t you challenging him on that? Is it because you’re OK with anyone who argues with “Darwinists”?

Steve P. said: …vjtorley has just posted a most interesting most over at UD. I know you will have to hold your noses but trust me, you will want to read it.

As I have been locked out of UD, I will post my comment to vjtorley’s latest effort to sabotage evolution here:

vjtorley proposes “Newtonizing” evolution. Given that Newton’s lifetime literary production contained more Biblical interpretation and occultism than science, I can see how “Newtonizing” evolution would make sense to an intelligent design creationism proponent.

But I fail to see how “Newtonizing” evolution would convince the American Association for the Advancement of Science or the National Academies of Science (or anybody else) that intelligent design creationism is a viable alternative to evolution.

The entire body of intelligent design creationist “theory” continues to consist of “Darwin was wrong, therefore Goddidit.”

Steve P. said: I think this comes full circle to the animosity generated towards Dembski. Dembski and Marks seek to take information, an entity even more elusive than Chi, and confirm it scientifically…

The Dembski and Marks’ article (http://marksmannet.com/RobertMarks/[…]rinciple.pdf) to which you refer was included in a summary of documents presented at a 2009 electrical and electronics engineering conference (!). The term “intelligent design” does not even appear in the article. The article was not “peer reviewed” in the manner in which legitimate scientific papers are normally reviewed.

Why do you mention that article in this venue? Dembski’s flogging of its “proof” of intelligent design creationism amply illustrates why there is so much animosity generated towards Dembski.

Steve P. said: They are not the first to make this observation. But I believe they are the first to make the attempt to formalize it mathematically. Why would any scientist begrudge them that?

No, they are not the first to perform dubious analyses based on information theory. It got to be such a fad in the early 1960s that Claude Shannon, more or less the founder of the field, had to issue a note saying that his work MIGHT have a range of applications, but that it was ONLY constructed to address issues in communications channels. Geez, people were cooking up theories in PSYCHOLOGY using information theory.

There has been a feud in thermodynamics for decades over whether information theory has any applicability to the field. It appears that the majority view is NO (“not just NO but HELL NO”) but the feud hasn’t died out quite yet.

In other words, D&M were latecomers in jumping on the information theory bandwagon. Of course, the interesting thing about that observation is that none of the people who were on the bandwagon before them made anything out of it, either.

Flint said:

I’m convinced that misinterpretation of experience is the norm, with rare exceptions. People are enormously curious, and require explanations for everything. Almost nobody has experiences they can’t explain, but few of these explanations withstand any sort of blind test. Coincidences demand causal explanations, however far fetched.

For every phenomenon there is an explanation which is simple, obvious, intuitive and wrong.

Steve P. said: Why are you(pl) not on board? Is it because Dembski’s instincts and intuition are grounded in theism?

No, you twerp. It is because a) instincts and intuition are not scientific evidence and b) Dembski is factually wrong. And when I say ‘wrong’, I do not mean what you think I mean–I do not mean that he is ‘wrong’ because ‘I do not agree with his imaginary friend’, I mean he is factually in error. He is wrong in the same sense that ex post facto laws are Constitutional. He is wrong in the same sense that the atomic weight of platinum is one half. He is wrong in the same way as a paper proposing that Napoleon Bonaparte led a massive invasion force from Louisiana to Texas in 1810.

Dembski’s reputation in these matters is well-known and justly earned. It has nothing to do with his beliefs in an imaginary friend, save that his beliefs drive the errors in his work.

The MadPanda, FCD

The MadPanda, FCD said:

Dembski’s reputation in these matters is well-known and justly earned.

And he deliberately worked at it, too: “I don’t have to match your pathetic level of detail.” In sum he said: YOU have to prove EVERYTHING and I don’t have to prove ANYTHING!

mrg said:

The MadPanda, FCD said:

Dembski’s reputation in these matters is well-known and justly earned.

And he deliberately worked at it, too: “I don’t have to match your pathetic level of detail.” In sum he said: YOU have to prove EVERYTHING and I don’t have to prove ANYTHING!

For more on Dembski’s “pathetic level of detail” comment, see http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]r-own-1.html

Paul Burnett said:

For more on Dembski’s “pathetic level of detail” comment, see http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]r-own-1.html

I know that was likely for the illumination of others, but I have been through that one in detail. It’s one of the more startling exchanges I’ve ever read: “You MUST be joking! You CAN’T be serious!”

Dembski could not possibly have said such things and had the least concern about being taken seriously. Certainly nobody has the least reason for apologizing for not taking him seriously after reading such comments. He took his credibility out in public, doused it with lighter fluid, and then put a match to it.

Hogwash Steve P. Utter rubbish:

Steve P. said:

I think this comes full circle to the animosity generated towards Dembski.

Dembski and Marks seek to take information, an entity even more elusive than Chi, and confirm it scientifically; show information as a ‘real’ entity, independent and separate from matter.

They are not the first to make this observation. But I believe they are the first to make the attempt to formalize it mathematically. Why would any scientist begrudge them that? Any personal dislike of Dembski’s (note vitriole against Marks is noticably absent) theistic leanings should be kept separate when considering the merit of his work.

Moreover, Demski and Marks’ attempt at formalizing information is a perfect example of instinct and intuition driving science. Whether they succeed or fail in not the point. It is the attempt which should be supported in the spirit of scientific inquiry and discovery.

Why are you(pl) not on board? Is it because Dembski’s instincts and intuition are grounded in theism?

Krebs?

There’s a lot more veracity in learning the Klingon language than you will ever see in the ever-shifting “definitions” of specified complexity and complex specified information from reprehensible mendacious intellectual pornographers Dembski and Marks. I suggest you read Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit’s excellent critiques

TomS: It is good that you clarified your statement with “as far I know” because you don’t know.

The Church said “recant or die!” So he recanted. And now he has to suffer with academic house arrest. Who does that remind you of?

It’s worth noting that Wegener’s theory of continental drift was rejected because it’s wrong, and it’s still wrong. What we have now is plate tectonics, which is different, and which works. Wegener had continental plates ploughing through the ocean-floor plates like icebreakers. This does not happen.

So, because Dr. Dembski is a Biblical inerrantist this automatically excludes him from being able to do objective scientific research? Believing the Bible is inerrant means that that you believe that there is a God who created the universe and everything in it; including human beings. This very same God loves those human beings and wants to have a relationship with them. Therefore, he has given mankind Scripture by which he communicates with them. Because he is all-powerful and is outside of nature, he has so preserved his Scripture in such a way that what we have today is the Word of God to us. It would be an accurate assumption, admittedly, that if one held to this view of the Bible, scientist or not, he would expect his observations to be consistent with the testimony of the Word of this Creator God.

Having this assumption, however, does not automatically disqualify a person from being able to conduct objective scientific experiments and reporting the results of those experiments accurately. One of the first steps in the rational thought process, after all, is to understand one’s own presuppositions and delineate how those presuppositions might effect that person’s conclusions. However, it does not mean that those presuppositions would necessarily cause that person to skew the results of his experimentation to fit his presuppositions. That is to say, he is very capable of still following the evidence wherever it may lead.

Everyone, whether they are creationist or evolutionist, has presuppositions that affect the way they think. The problem is not having these presuppositions; the problem would be not recognizing these presuppositions and allowing them to keep us from going where the evidence takes us.

Twain said:

So, because Dr. Dembski is a Biblical inerrantist this automatically excludes him from being able to do objective scientific research?

No.

(Snip)

Everyone, whether they are creationist or evolutionist, has presuppositions that affect the way they think. The problem is not having these presuppositions; the problem would be not recognizing these presuppositions…

Oh, he recognizes them alright.

…and allowing them to keep us from going where the evidence takes us.

And that’s exactly where Dembski and his baramin fail.

Twain, you have to be aware that a Biblical Inerrantist believes that literally anything and everything that contradicts that person’s preferred interpretation of the Bible is automatically incorrect, whether it is other people’s interpretations of the Bible, science, or even casual observations of the physical universe.

This sort of attitude makes it extremely difficult for the Biblical Inerrantist to do science: this also leaves those precious few who can do science extremely suspect, as well. I mean, wouldn’t you be suspicious of someone who regards his own life’s work as being sinful, hellbound fiction?

Having said that, Dembski has repeatedly demonstrated, all by himself, that he is incapable of doing objective scientific research, especially with the way he has never ever ever done any research whatsoever to explain what “specified complexity” is, how to tabulate or even detect “specified complexity,” or even explain how or why Intelligent Design is supposed to be an explanation, let alone a science that’s supposed to be magically superior than Evolutionary Biology.

As for Dembski’s statement of being a Biblical Inerrantist, we find it hypocritical for several reasons.

One reason is that it directly contradicts earlier statements where he implied that believing that the Bible is totally inerrant is silly.

Another reason is that you need to be aware that Dembski works at a school where, if the administration found out that you did not perfectly mirror their religious beliefs, they would fire you in the nastiest way possible.

Stanton said: “As for Dembski’s statement of being a Biblical Inerrantist, we find it hypocritical for several reasons. One reason is that it directly contradicts earlier statements where he implied that believing that the Bible is totally inerrant is silly.”

Surely you are not suggesting that a person cannot change their position on an issue after considering further evidence. Isn’t that the way it most often goes? We develop certain beliefs and then change those beliefs as we collect additional data that would suggest something else. That he changed his position on any particular issue and admitted it does not make him a hypocrite, it only makes him honest.

As for the school he works for, disagreeing with a schools position has never stopped him from disagreeing in the past.

As for the statement:

“Twain, you have to be aware that a Biblical Inerrantist believes that literally anything and everything that contradicts that person’s preferred interpretation of the Bible is automatically incorrect, whether it is other people’s interpretations of the Bible, science, or even casual observations of the physical universe.”

The key word being that person’s “preferred interpretation.” While it is true that there are some who would not budge from their own interpretation of Scripture that does not mean all Biblical Inerrantist are this way. There are those who would at least consider other interpretations of Scripture if those interpretations where consistent with the whole of Scripture. And this still does not exclude that person from conducting objective scientific experiments and effectively record their findings. Furthermore, the same argument could be employed against many Darwinian evolutionists. There are those in this camp, as well, who, regardless of what evidence might be presented, would not let go of their own Darwinian presuppositions and allow the evidence to take them to a place they do not want to go. My thought is this, why don’t both sides of this argument work hard to reveal the truth and, end the end, may the best theory win?

Twain said:

Furthermore, the same argument could be employed against many Darwinian evolutionists. There are those in this camp, as well, who, regardless of what evidence might be presented, would not let go of their own Darwinian presuppositions and allow the evidence to take them to a place they do not want to go. My thought is this, why don’t both sides of this argument work hard to reveal the truth and, end the end, may the best theory win?

There is another matter that is being overlooked here; namely, the ID/creationists have been getting well-established science wrong right from the beginning of their intensive campaign starting back in the 1970s. They starting hatching these misconceptions back in the 1960s in order to give creationism a pastiche of science in order to slip it into the public school curriculum.

Henry Morris and Duane Gish pushed a totally fabricated thermodynamics and a caricature of evolution that were in direct conflict; and they pushed this hard for many years. You can still find those fabrications over on the ICR website.

What is more, those same misconceptions carried right on through to the ID movement after the US Supreme Court decision on Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987. All – and I repeat ALL – fundamental misconceptions about thermodynamics and about how matter behaves are at the center of all the works of the major DI writings. Those misconceptions never changed; and they are still being used today at AiG, the DI, and the ICR.

This is all extremely well-documented history and not up for “interpretation” or dispute. All the relevant court cases can be found over at the website for the National Center for Science Education.

This process of pseudo-science fabrication continues over at AiG with the latest PhD “rock stars” employed by Ken Ham. The latest construction distorts relativity in order to account for the “distant galaxy problem.”

ID/creationist “science” is strictly pseudo-science. Concepts have been bent to conform to sectarian dogma; and in the process, creationists produce stuff that doesn’t work in the real universe and does not form the foundation of any research conducted by members of the scientific community anywhere in the world, regardless of their religious, political, or ethnic background. There is no possibility of creationist pseudo-science ever working in the lab or in the real world.

There are those of us who have been tracking this pseudo-science since the 1970s. We can read and understand the writings of the ID/creationists, and we have the knowledge and capability to evaluate those misconceptions. It is not a matter of opinion about what works in nature; nature decides, and there is no pseudo-science concept that can withstand scrutiny by nature. Real science gets put through this crucible; ID/creationist pseudo-science gets pushed politically and never survives the crucible.

It’s that simple.

Twain, Dembski does not look at evidence: he has demonstrated that he says contradictory things either because a) he’s getting his lies mixed up, or b) he’s being paid by someone to say something that coincidentally contradicts something he said earlier.

As for Dembski disagreeing with the position of the school he’s employed at, I’m saddened to tell you this, but, Baylor University did not, and does not have a policy of terminating teachers who do not hold religious views identical to the administration: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, on the other hand, does have such a policy.

As for your inane accusation of “Darwinian presuppositions leading people to deny evidence,” that is pure projection of your own biases.

Scientists who refuse to look at the evidence stop doing science, and wind up getting forgotten by the scientific community.

Oh, one more thing: no one has ever been able do any science with a literal interpretation of the Scripture. Either we have Biblical Inerrantists who don’t do science because they were taught that science is evil and against their religion, or, we have the precious few Biblical Inerrant scientists who are well aware that an Inerrant Bible is absolutely no use to helping them with their work.

Or, Twain, you can prove us wrong by going out and proving to us that one can do science by solely relying on a literal interpretation of the English translation of the Holy Bible, instead of concern-trolling about how mean it is for us to point out that Bill Dembski is a hypocrite.

Twain said:

Stanton said: “As for Dembski’s statement of being a Biblical Inerrantist, we find it hypocritical for several reasons. One reason is that it directly contradicts earlier statements where he implied that believing that the Bible is totally inerrant is silly.”

Surely you are not suggesting that a person cannot change their position on an issue after considering further evidence. Isn’t that the way it most often goes? We develop certain beliefs and then change those beliefs as we collect additional data that would suggest something else. That he changed his position on any particular issue and admitted it does not make him a hypocrite, it only makes him honest.

What we are saying here is he was always an Inerrantist and that his previous statements to the contrary were lies. Pretending that ID was not religious has long been a part of ID’s legal and political strategy (and ID itself has never been more than a Creationist legal and political strategem.)

As for the school he works for, disagreeing with a schools position has never stopped him from disagreeing in the past.

And for which he has gotten his ass fired.

As for the statement:

“Twain, you have to be aware that a Biblical Inerrantist believes that literally anything and everything that contradicts that person’s preferred interpretation of the Bible is automatically incorrect, whether it is other people’s interpretations of the Bible, science, or even casual observations of the physical universe.”

The key word being that person’s “preferred interpretation.”

And Inerrantism is Dembski’s.

There are those who would at least consider other interpretations of Scripture if those interpretations where consistent with the whole of Scripture.

Creationists, including Dembski, are not among those.

And this still does not exclude that person from conducting objective scientific experiments and effectively record their findings.

Only as long as those findings do not contradict a literal reading of the bible.

Furthermore, the same argument could be employed against many Darwinian evolutionists. There are those in this camp, as well, who, regardless of what evidence might be presented, would not let go of their own Darwinian presuppositions and allow the evidence to take them to a place they do not want to go.

Now this is complete bullshit.

My thought is this, why don’t both sides of this argument work hard to reveal the truth and, end the end, may the best theory win?

One side, the science side, has worked hard for 150 years to learn something of the truth. If your standard of which theory is best is which best fits the evidence, then one theory, evolution, has won. And it wasn’t even close.

What you don’t seem to understand, Twain, is that creationists, including Dembski, are committed to a literal reading of Genesis no matter what the evidence says. That is, any evidence, no matter strong and compelling, that contradicts a literal reading of the bible is considered a priori to be wrong.

This is a great article. I have always had a hunch that talent seems a bit too magical, if anything deserves to be labelled talent it should be persistence. Anyone interested should read “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle who demistifies the fluff around talent

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on October 20, 2010 8:44 PM.

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