PvM posted Entry 8 on March 23, 2004 08:13 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/7

On a radio show Benjamin Wiker of the Discover Institute makes the following claim:

Specified Complexity: Darwin's Panic 03/20/2004

Recently the Ohio State School Board voted to allow discussion of challenges to evolutionary theory in Ohio's schools. Despite claims that intelligent design is religion in disguise, Darwinists are nervously shuttling around, trying to avoid confronting the scientific impediments "specified complexity" presents to evolutionary theory. They won't be able to keep the "barbarians" out forever. Benjamin Wiker of the Discover Institute ( Discovery Institute ) in Seattle guests.


I find Wiker's arguments somewhat interesting in the light of the vast amounts of scientific criticisms of specified complexity and other scientific ID 'fables'.

Perhaps Wiker may take some notice from Dembski's own remarks:

"What has to happen," says Dembski, "is that ID has to generate research that's more fruitful for biology than neo-Darwinism."

Is Wiker perhaps not familiar with the scientific arguments? Perhaps ID is all about ignorance after all?

Perhaps Wiker missed this letter in response to his article?

for instance

Wiker also fails to reveal that the arguments of both Behe and Dembski, supposedly the leading intellectuals of the ID movement, are fatally flawed. Brown biologist Kenneth Miller has completely dismantled Behe's claims about "irreducible complexity," and I addressed Dembski's bogus claims about "complex specified information" in a recent issue of BioSystems.

Ah I see, Wiker responded to these letters... Funny... At least he was aware of the existence of such rebuttals. So why this claim that Darwinists are nervously trying to avoid addressing specified complexity?

That just does not make sense, or does it?

Wilker stated in the above article

The worst thing that could happen to the Intelligent Design (ID) movement would be refusing to face the most trenchant criticisms of its presuppositions, arguments, and conclusions.

I could not agree more and yet we see ample evidence that ID is exactly doing this while pretending that those who criticize ID are in panic and unable to address the claims.


Kenneth R. Miller: The Flagellum unspun


Richard Wein: Metanexus Specified Complexity and Information, Part 1/2

Richard Wein: Metanexus Specified Complexity and Information, Part 2/2

Matt Young: http://www.pcts.org/journal/young2002a.html

Infidel's collection of William Dembski

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Comment #23

Posted by Nick on March 23, 2004 11:43 PM (e)

In Wiker’s reply to Jeff Shallit, he writes,

As for ID making no predictions about the age of the Earth, I think that is quite sane. The second-to-last I heard, scientists thought it to be 15 billion years old. Then, after I’d sent in my article, they informed us that it was only 13.7 billion years old.

Actually, estimates of the age of Earth range from 4.5 to 4.55 billion years, and are as well established as anything in science. The age of the Universe is more uncertain (for rather fundamental reasons we have no rocks to date from that time!). This was probably just a slip-up on Wiker’s part, but Wiker’s avoidance of Shallit’s point – which was that ID advocates are in general downright evasive about the age of the earth and the blatant wrongness of Young-Earth Creationists – conforms to the usual pattern of ID slipperiness. Why doesn’t Wiker just say, “The evidence clearly points to an ancient Earth, and waffling on this issue is unacceptable if ID is to be taken seriously by the scientific community”? It’s clear why he doesn’t: creationists are core ID supporters.

Wiker makes various other mistakes in his reply. To wit:

  1. Parsimony is a strength, not a weakness, in a scientific theory. In Wiker’s version of ID, one attributes “apparent design” to intelligent design (parenthetically, this means a truly incredible number – billions – of individual design events, which makes it rather surprising that we have yet to detect one of these design events in biology). “Apparent design” only ends up in the “chance” category when the evidence for natural processes gets piled so high that disagreement is embarassing. (By the way, “chance” is a highly misleading creationist depiction of mutation and natural selection.) Wiker’s hybrid approach is not reasonably testable. No matter how many examples of apparent design and biological complexity are explained by natural processes, ID advocates will simply retreat to systems slightly more complex and declare those the systems that evolution cannot produce. As far as I know, Paul Nelson is the only ID advocate who has, to his credit, acknowledged this problem.
  2. Wiker defends Behe with a number of references to Behe’s works, but Behe’s original examination of the literature was weak, and his responses to critics are similarly weak. I know because I’ve looked up much of the relevant literature. Many of the references (or links to webpages with the references) are posted at a page I’ve been working on at EvoWiki, “Irreducible complexity and the scientific literature.”
  3. As for Dembski, his arguments now rely entirely on Behe’s “Irreducible Complexity” at their key point, and if IC collapses, then so do Dembski’s substantive arguments.
  4. Wiker concludes,

    Is ID a desperately disguised god-of-the-gaps? Indeed not. The criticisms coming from ID proponents arise from knowledge, not ignorance. For example, it is our knowledge of the prebiological conditions of the Earth that allows us to reject the possibility that amino acids could spontaneously form the first proteins; it is our knowledge of chemistry and the actual complexity of cells that allows us to reject the silly notion that the first proteins could have been formed on the surfaces of silicate clays; it is our knowledge of the general deleterious effect of mutations that allows us to reject the continual recourse to mutation miracles by Darwinists.

    Wiker’s three claims are refuted here, here, and here, respectively.

Despite the scientific errors that permeate his work, Wiker is a leading proponent of ID. He seems to think that he can rely on the science of Behe and Dembski, and then build a legal case that their “scientific” view has a legal “right” to be taught in public school classrooms. He will have quite a shock when the expert witnesses are called.

Comment #33

Posted by Steve Reuland on March 24, 2004 10:08 AM (e)

Wiker also says the following in an interview

He couldn’t possibly have known about something called the eternal, unbreakable atom because there weren’t such things as microscopes then.

It’s hard to take someone seriously who confuses the age of the Earth with the age of the Universe, and apparently thinks that atoms can be seen with microscopes. It may not be relevant to the points he’s trying to make, but it sure shows that he hasn’t the foggiest clue what he’s talking about when it comes to science.

Comment #184

Posted by Sarah Berel-Harrop on March 25, 2004 5:47 PM (e)

Wiker has an odd way of looking at things.
For example, on the Discovery website you
may find several articles in which he states
that Darwin, along with Galton, advocated
eugenics. This is just wrong on so many
levels it’s not even funny. The connection
he wants to make is to eugenics as practiced
in the US and Germany in the early 20th
century - sterilizations, et. al. However
Galton, who advocated eugenics in the sense
of the “best” people seeking one another out,
never went this far. And Darwin stated that
mate choice should be unconstrained in (I think)
Descent of Man. It is just a smear, calculated
to support his argument that “Darwinism” leads
to immorality. The guy has problems beyond
the age of the earth, problems that amount to
some degree to simple reading comprehension

Wiker, BTW, coauthored with Wm Dembski _Moral
Darwinism: How We All Became Hedonists_.

Comment #452

Posted by Karl Lembke on March 29, 2004 8:06 PM (e)

I found this item through another blog entry, written by someone who apparently accepts Intelligent Design/Intelligent Origin Theory (ID/IOT). I sent him email asking the following:

“Part of the problem inherent in arguments about evolution involve the fact that the word “evolution” has been used to mean at least half a dozen different things, including the notion that:

1) Charles Darwin got every detail exactly right in his book,

2) living things in the past have been very different from today (many existed then that don’t exist now, and vice-versa),

3) all living things on earth today derive from one, or at most a very few, common ancestor(s),

4) the origin and subsequent history of life can be explained entirely by means of natural laws, which can be discovered by science (no need to invoke a creator, which may nevertheless exist),

5) any force or entity not required to explain the origin and development of life on earth does not exist (since there’s no need to invoke a creator, none exists),

6) anything in the Bible, including any moral codes and teachings, must be false.

*** Question 1: Which, if any, of these definitions of evolution do you accept? Which do you reject?

(For the record, I accept definitions 2, 3 and 4. Definition #1 is false, no matter whose name you put in because science never claims to arrive at abolute Truth. Definitions 5 and 6 are wrong because science has no bearing on religion, or on the existence of a creator.)

*** Question 2: If you believe life, or indeed, any particular living system, was intelligently designed, by what means was this design accomplished? (Was it in accord with natural laws? Can we see the designer at work today? Can we investigate the processes by which design was effected?)

I won’t go in to the details of evolutionary biology, but I would like to know, if we stipulate that evolution has been completely overturned, what positive claims are being offered to supplant it?”

I’ll be interested to see if I get a reply.

Comment #510

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on March 31, 2004 4:22 AM (e)

Hi, Karl! Long time, no see.

I’ll also be interested in any reply you receive.

Comment #525

Posted by Glenn Branch on March 31, 2004 11:18 AM (e)

Dembski was not a coauthor of Moral Darwinism; he contributed the foreword to it. Moral Darwinism was reviewed by Van A. Harvey in Reports of the National Center for Science Education, vol. 23, no. 1. Harvey was unimpressed, referring to Wiker’s historical views as “selective and tendentious.”