Nick Matzke posted Entry 974 on April 20, 2005 02:04 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/972

http://ydr.com/nmf/db-ref/photos-db/9363.jpgThe following is a guest post from Steven Thomas Smith.  Steve is on the Senior Technical Staff in the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT, and more importantly is a Project Steve Steve.  He attended the Jay Wexler/Francis Beckwith debate on the constitutionality of teaching ID in public schools at Harvard Law School, and gave us this report.  We welcome this submission and encourage others to send us well-reasoned and insightful guest blog essays, particularly if your name is Steve.

Harvard Law School, said by some to be the world’s second best, demands of its students a “record of marked distinction.” Last year, Harvard Law Review editor Lawrence VanDyke, 2L, achieved this lofty status by publishing a besotted review of Francis Beckwith’s book about the constitutionality of Intelligent Design creationism in public schools. VanDyke’s insipid and error-filled piece (“not even wrong” in Pauli’s words) would have been eminently ignorable had it not appeared in the often respected Law Review, and this fact alone attracted a dogpile of criticism involving political columnists, science policy writers, lawyers, biologists, and the Panda’s Thumb. VanDyke, revealing that his motives were those of a clueless dupe, and not a Machiavellian operator, actually responded to this withering barrage with an even more cluelessly clueless post at HLS’s Federalist Society (in which he cites “Project Steve” as proof that 1% of scientists doubt evolution!), ensuring that much fun was had by all.

Aside from the fun, this affair generated a few potentially positive results: it revealed the unscrupulous conduct of Francis Beckwith’s graduate assistant Hunter Baker, and it prompted HLS’s Federalist Society to invite Beckwith to come to Harvard to debate the constitutionality of ID with Jay Wexler. I attended this debate last week, and offer the following observations.

The room, a medium-size lecture hall at the law school, was filled to capacity with about 45 people, apparently with many law students, and as far as I could tell a handful of ID supporters, and even one person from Boston University Law who told me after the debate that he posts at the Pandas Thumb.  The debate itself was organized into two 17-minute statements, followed by two 7-minute statements, with audience questions allowed afterwards.  Professor Beckwith went first.

Before going, I read some of Beckwith’s posts on the Pandas Thumb — his presentation contained nothing new that I could discern, but it was remarkable that that Beckwith parroted long discredited arguments (invoking William Dembski and Michael Behe; he even brought a copy of the Axe article to support the claim that ID is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals). Nonetheless, his presentation of ID was very polished and, I would imagine, speciously appealing to many not familiar with the facts. Beckwith himself is personally charming, handsome, well-dressed, and well-spoken. Though his statements about ID are factually baseless, Beckwith is a skillful rhetorician.

Jay Wexler’s presentation was competent, but bloodless.  He focused much more on the subject at hand — the legal aspects of teaching ID in public schools. One of his main themes was the reasonable person test. I don’t believe that Beckwith addressed Wexler’s legal criticisms well, and though I am not knowledgeable about scoring debates, would judge that the victory would have to have gone to Wexler on the weakness of Beckwith’s response to Wexler’s legal points.

But certainly Beckwith was not at Harvard to “win” a legal debate. His presentation was consistent with one whose goal is to sow doubt about evolution, and to gain more recruits and allies than he already has. Toward these ends, I judge that Beckwith performed well.

I did have concerns about Wexler’s performance addressing Beckwith’s claims that ID is scientifically valid. Everything Professor Wexler said was correct (“there is no scientific controversy about evolution”, “there are zero peer-reviewed ID papers or possibly a few, but it’s not mainstream”), but I will say that I was disappointed by Wexler’s handing of this issue — he said the absolute bare minimum of what could have been said, and I’m not sure if allayed any doubts about the science sowed by Beckwith. I want to emphasize that I am not criticizing Wexler — he could have great reasons for his treatment that I do not know, e.g., debate strategy or knowledge of the arguments that would appeal to the largely legal audience. But his treatment allowed Beckwith to score a few points, like waving Axe’s journal paper around in support of ID; Wexler simply responded that he didn’t know about this paper.

Interestingly, Beckwith said that he had been asked but declined to testify as an expert witness in the Dover, PA ID creationism trial in September. (Too bad.)

I did not have the impression that there was a great deal of knowledge about the true state of science in the audience — indeed, it was my impression that not too many people were not aware of the relevant facts, and a vigorous defense of science did not seem forthcoming.

During the audience question period, I identified myself and mentioned that I am a participant in Project Steve (of which some in the audience seemed to be aware), then challenged Beckwith’s introductory assertions that ID is scientific, not religious, by citing the following three facts:

  1. Religious motivations are behind ID, as they admit themselves:

    “Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions”

  2. ID is funded by religious fundamentalists, especially Howard Ahmanson Jr., who has also funded Christian Reconstructionism, which wants the the U.S. “under the control of biblical law.” Mr. Ahmanson has said his goal is “the total integration of biblical law into our lives.”

  3. ID and ID’s criticism’s of evolution are nonsense. For example, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s statement on ID says

    “the ID movement has failed to offer credible scientific evidence to support their claim that ID undermines the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution”

    Also, Scientific American magazine’s article “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense” explains why ID claims are nonsense.

After making a well-received joke about how many Stephanies were in the audience, Beckwith responded most immediately to the mention of Ahmanson and biblical law. He said that I was making the fallacy of association, that Barbara Forrest belonged to the ACLU, that Howard Ahmanson doesn’t “believe in Christian Reconstructionism anymore”, and suggested that sometimes people are criticized for their Christian religious beliefs. He was clearly off guard and somewhat clumsy in making these points, allowing me to point out the inconsistency of the first two, ridicule the third, and express resentment at the suggestion of the fourth, thus closing our exchange on the subject of Beckwith’s misguided defense of his religious beliefs. He never addressed or even hinted at a defense of ID as science.

I do not know what the audience’s general reaction was — one person clapped (briefly) at my remarks, and I had cordial and respectful discussions with a few of Beckwith’s supporters afterwards, as well as Beckwith himself. None of his supporters were at all aware of the scientific response to the anti-evolution arguments they had (e.g., evolution violates 2LoT[!]), so all I could do was listen to them, respond very briefly, and direct them toward the talkorigins archive for comprehensive details.

The big thing I learned is that much more attention in pro-science circles should be given to speaking events/debates given by Wedge members. At an event at Harvard Law School, I actually heard uninformed muttering from a person in the audience about reading in the Wall Street Journal of a pro-ID scientist being fired from the Smithsonian Institute.

This is not a scientific debate — this is a rhetorical conflict, and the Wedge does a much better job with rhetoric than scientists, who are trained to convince each other with facts and evidence alone.

Because there is no scientific debate about the validity of evolution, or the fatuity of Intelligent Design creationism, scientists must not debate these subjects on the same stage as creationists because they will only serve the creationist rhetorical end of being taken seriously. But that does not mean that scientists and supporters of scientists cannot attend discussions where nonscientific issues are the focus, and employ the same rhetorical methods used by our opponents. After all, Aristotle calls upon us to use rhetoric in the service of truth and justice:

Aristotle wrote:

“Rhetoric is useful because the true and the just are naturally superior to their opposites, so that, if decisions are improperly made, they must owe their defeat to their own advocates; which is reprehensible. Further, in dealing with certain persons, even if we possessed the most accurate scientific knowledge, we should not find it easy to persuade them by the employment of such knowledge. For scientific discourse is concerned with instruction, but in the case of such persons instruction is impossible.” — Aristotle, Art of Rhetoric, Book 1

Debunking Intelligent Design creationism is important not simply because ID is wrong — it’s downright dangerous in these times of DNA economies and bioterrorism.

While this subject is in the public’s eye, no Wedge member should be able to speak in public without a strong challenge to their claim that Intelligent Design creationism is scientific and not religiously motivated.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #25948

Posted by Hiero5ant on April 20, 2005 3:11 PM (e)

Hello Professor Smith; I am the BU Law student with whom you spoke briefly afterwards.

Interested readers can look at my own review posted on talk.origins. (For what it’s worth, I had considered submitting it to PT, but hadn’t known how receptive the admins would be to guest contributions, especially one as informally composed and from someone as academically uncredentialled as myself; if anyone in authority thinks it might be worth reprinting I’d be willing to revise it, otherwise this link should be fine. I have since corresponded with Professor Beckwith and gotten a more extended reply, as well as a list of “peer-reviewed” citations to which he referred, and I am currently in the process of composing a follow-up post on some issues arising from that correspondence. Persons can contact me if they’re interested, or just wait for it to appear on t.o.)

I should have to add that while I appreciate your comments, I did include a critical note on the manner with which you delivered them – after the moderator asked you to allow someone else to speak, you did begin to lose some supporters in the audience, I only wished a little more tact had been involved. That having been said, I agree %110 with each of your statements, as well as your frustration involved in making them.

Comment #25952

Posted by Colin on April 20, 2005 3:23 PM (e)

Thank you for this piece! As an HLS alum, I have been deeply ashamed by the ignorance on display by some of the students. I was a 3L when VanDyke wrote his obsequious book review, and Professor Leiter was absolutely right to call it academic fraud.

I was even more disturbed by the support VanDyke got from some students on campus. I assume the invitation to Beckwith comes from the same people, for the same purposes. There is a very well organized and very influential core of conservative extremists at HLS, as, I would imagine, at most law schools, and the impression that I got last year was that some of those students were willing to support creationism and creationists for cultural and political reasons. This is merely my opinion, of course.

Obviously, this state of affairs distresses me. We can’t expect law students to be scientists, or even to understand science, but we can and should expect them to not be credulous fools or callow manipulators.

I’m glad that Steve submitted this. I found out about the debate only the day before it occurred, but if I hadn’t had other commitments I was seriously considering hopping a shuttle to Cambridge to attend. I tried to get someone from the Harvard Evo. Bio. graduate labs to attend, but they weren’t interested. It pleases me to no end that there were articulate and educated defenders of objective science in attendance to ask questions and limit Beckwith’s misinformation.

Comment #25956

Posted by frank schmidt on April 20, 2005 3:28 PM (e)

Since we will not succeed in having no events, we ought to be prepared for such things. There are a couple of useful points here. First, don’t make it a “debate.” We had a similar event here but the format was short presentations answering a series of questions. This helped diminish the utility of rhetorical tricks. Secondly, the presence of scientists or other such experts at such events is crucial - it reduces the opportunity for fundie cheerleading.

Comment #25959

Posted by RBH on April 20, 2005 3:35 PM (e)

I was struck by Hierosant’s remark (in his TO posting referenced above) that

[Note: after the talk he [Beckwith] explained that the list had actually been given to him by one William Dembski; I am currently in the process of obtaining this list.

One wonders if Beckwith would similarly wave around a law review article that someone had handed to him claiming it supported some position, without himself being even competent to evaluate whether it did in fact support the claimed point. The alleged scholarship of the Beckwiths of the world seems to evaporate when they’re talking about areas far outside their professional competence but dear to their heats.

RBH

Comment #25962

Posted by RBH on April 20, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

Um. That’s “hearts”, not “heats”.

Comment #25963

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 20, 2005 3:43 PM (e)

Beckwith is footsoldier happily serving the “idiot culture” recently recognized by the journalist Carl Bernstein.

Steve Smith

But that does not mean that scientists and supporters of scientists cannot attend discussions where nonscientific issues are the focus, and employ the same rhetorical methods used by our opponents.

Unfortunatley, my conscience prevents me from uttering the slick smooth pleasing lies that are peddled by Francis Beckwith every time he speaks or puts pen to paper.

But I agree with Smith that scientists and science supporters should take advantage of every opportunity to pull the carpet out from under Beckwith and the charlatans whose activities he defends. It’s easily done, as has been demonstrated here on numerous occasions.

The key is to never ever ever let go of the carpet when Beckwith et al. crank up the smoke machines, which is the inevitable response as Beckwith’s encounter with Smith demonstrated (“fallacy of association”? does it get any more pathetic than that????). A laser beam focus is what is necessary because, as anyone who has tracked the activities of creationist apologists (e.g., our trolls) knows, the over-riding strategy is dissembling and reliance on short memories (e.g., pretending that odd unsupported statements were never made, addressing the form of questions rather than the substance, etc.).

Just as a side note, I wonder how many amusing ways there are too address that “peer reviewed article”. In addition to simply knowing sort of garbage is in the article, one might have another peer reviewed paper in a prestigious journal to wave around such as this one

http://66.221.71.68/content/research/sria.htm

followed by an obvious question regarding the significance of such an article for the scientific validity of a charlatan’s claims.

Comment #25964

Posted by Hiero5ant on April 20, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

RBH – I have since obtained the list, and the journal articles in question were exclusively philosophical in nature. (there were also some of the “usual suspects” in the monographs department: Darwin’s Black Box, The Design Inference, etc.) In Professor Beckwith’s defense, he does have a degree in philosophy and is published in philosophy journals, so I would have to say he is at least qualified to speak upon those issues. That they were not scientific in nature (except for the Axe article), however, makes its own point about the basis of ID.

Comment #25966

Posted by Matt Inlay on April 20, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

I’ve discussed the Axe paper and its applicability to ID here, if anyone is interested.

Comment #25972

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 20, 2005 4:43 PM (e)

Beckwith’s legal analysis assumes that intelligent design has some science to back it. He assumes that there is enough science there that an expert could be qualified at trial, which is patently untrue.

Were that the case, yes, there would be a debate in science.

But since that is not the case, then the holdings in McLean v. Arkansas, and Edwards v. Aguillard would govern any legal case. Without dramatic additional science demonstrations from intelligent design advocates, either disproving the Darwinian synthesis completely (which could not occur) or providing dramatic evidence of the workings of intelligent design (photos of the designer at work, for example, with a video interview, and demonstrated results such as the total evisceration of anthrax, or the total eradication of hemorrhagic fevers), then Dr. Beckwith’s assumption is legally unsound.

Consequently, anyone who relied on his advice that teaching ID would be constitutional would be caught with his or her constitutional pants down. Unfortunately for Dover, PA, Beckwith is not a lawyer, and note their counsel, so they will be unable to pursue him to reimburse them for bad advice. This is the ultimate sin of intelligent design advocates, it seems to me, that they distract from science and waste the time and resources of public offices, all on someone else’s money.

Did Ahmanson repudiate Reconstructionism? Where did he do that? It’s news, if it’s true. I doubt that’s the case.

Comment #25973

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 20, 2005 4:48 PM (e)

In Professor Beckwith’s defense, he does have a degree in philosophy and is published in philosophy journals, so I would have to say he is at least qualified to speak upon those issues. That they were not scientific in nature (except for the Axe article), however, makes its own point about the basis of ID.

But he was presented as a legal expert to the Texas State Board of Education in 2003. Is he being more careful now? He’s not retracted any of his law review writings that I am aware.

Comment #25975

Posted by Francis Beckwith on April 20, 2005 4:58 PM (e)

A couple of initial points. First, it is “guilt by asociation fallacy,” not “association fallacy.” As I pointed out to Steve at the debate and for about 10 minutes afterwards that this is mistake in reasoning, one that apparently is not considered mistaken at MIT. (The MIT comment did get a rise out of the Harvard students, it seemed to me). My citation of Forrest’s connection to the ACLU was an illustration of the sort of arugment I WOULD NOT MAKE precisely because it is “guilt by association.” My point was to show that if people on my side offered the same sort of reasoning, it would be just as bad. Steve cut me off before I could complete the Forrest illustration fully, but the audience got it. That’s why when I told him that he misunderstood me and that in fact I was using this as an example of why his argument is bad, the audience giggled, with numerous members smiled to ear to ear, since they clearly knew that Steve did not get it. The complete illustration, which Steve, because of his continuous interruptions did not allow to make, was to go like this: the ACLU believes that child porn is protected by the First Amendment; Forrest is associated with the ACLU in some leadership capacity (or at least has been); Forrest opposes ID; the ACLU opposes ID; therefore, ID opponents are linked to defenses of the First Amendment protection of child porng. That would be a really, really, bad argument to make, since it is a fallacy, “guilt by assocation.” It has no bearing on the quality of the case against ID.

Second, Steve is completely mistaken about my presentation. I did not defend ID. My purpose at the debate was merely to offer an argument as to why teaching ID was not unconstitutional. In fact, I made the point, as I have always made the point, that as a matter of policy I am against school districts requiring the teaching of ID. I also told the audience that my views on ID are not fully formed, though I think some of the arguments offered by ID advocates raise important philosophical questions about the nature of knowledge and science, even if they turn out to have no place in public school classrooms. I did offer an overview of the sorts of cases presented by ID advocates, but it was purely descriptive and made no pronuncements as to their quality or strength. So, Steve was not listening very carefully, since he probably heard what he wanted to hear rather than what I actually said in my prepared comments.

Third, during our interaction, I was completely transparent about my own Christian pilgrimage, sharing with the audience my concern as a Christian philosopher to understand the philosophical implications of my faith and how best to articulate that in a world of contrary points of view. I then went on to tell Steve and the audience that the best I can do is to offer my case, and that those that disagree should focus on the veracity of my premises and the validity and strength of my inferences. If my arguments fail, so be it. But they fail or stand regardless of the vessel that carries them. To target that vessel–me–rather than the arguments I offer, is a disreputible tactic, one that will not take us very far.

Fourth, Steve didn’t tell you that I specifically addressed Howard Ahmanson in a very personal way. I told him and the audience that between 1997 and 2002, my wife and I attended St. James Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, California. There we had the opportunity to meet Howard, a long-time member. I had no idea about his support of Discovery until around 2000 or so. When I caught wind of his reconstructionist views, it troubled me as well, since I am a strong defender of liberal democracy and strong proponent of religious liberty. So, I asked him about it. He said that he had abandoned those views years ago. I informed Steve and the audience of this and told him to stop recycling the NCSE talking points without doing the sort of research that he accuses his enemies of not doing. Apparently, this made no impression on him, for, without scruple or conscience, he posts this falsehood yet again, even though he was informed that it was false. (Now, I understand why he may not take my word for this. But in that case, he should abstain from mentioning it until he finds out for sure).

Fifth, you pandasthumb guys should know that Steve’s public decorum was not flattering to your point of view. He came across as someone who was vidictive, hurtful, and obssessed with associations and connections, and not very interested or conversant with the debate that had happened right in front of him. The audience seemed uneasy with his injection of religious motivation as a litmus test to exclude certain points of view from the public square, since these very bright members of the Harvard community understand all too well that an argument’s soundness is not contingent upon the motivation of its defender.

Sixth, I don’t think I was flustered at all. I was chomping at the bit from the very moment I knew where Steve was going with this. (Maybe this is “Steve projecting”). If there’s anything I love to do is to expose people’s logical fallacies and use the incident as a teaching opportunity for the audience. Because Steve was facing me and not the audience, he did not see their faces when they realized that his “guilt by association” argument was a logical fallacy. To me, it looked like a beatific vision: one cycloptic lone ranger sounding like Joseph McCarthy exposing communists. Frankly, I thought he was a gift from God. When debating in front of an intelligent crowd you hope for one guy with an axe to grind and a cluster of logical fallacies.

Seventh, I wish Colin had been there. He would have been proud of the good quetions offered by the students of his alma mater. One student in particular stood out. I found out later that he is a 1L with an MA from Oxford under philosopher Richard Swinburne. It was clear from his question that he fully understood the underlying issues in the philosophy of science.

Eighth, Professor Wexler was most gracious. He and I started off with pretty good jokes. Mine went like this: “My wife asked me when I would ever be invited to speak at Harvard Law School. I answered, ‘the day the Red Sox win the World Series.” Wexler opened up by telling us of a time when he was undergrad at Harvard and a member of the debate team. He said that they had lost an important match to Baylor and he hoped that this was not a preview of things to come. Very classy.

Ninth, Ed, I do have a PhD in philosophy (Fordham) as well a graduate degree in law from the Washington University School of Law, St. Louis (Master of Juridical Studies). As part of that degree, I wrote a thesis called “Rethinking Edwards v. Aguillard?,” which eventually (in revised form) became my book and three law review articles. I am not a lawyer, but I do have academic training in the field.

Tenth, my wife thinks I’m handsome too. :-)

I’ve been really lazy on putting together a summary of the debate for my blogs. Thanks to Steve, he’s inspired me to write all this stuff and speed it up. Thanks.

Comment #25976

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 20, 2005 5:21 PM (e)

I well understand that you have a graduate degree in legal studies – not a graduate law degree – from Washington U. The basis of my complaint is that you appear to have little understanding of what evidence is, and how evidence plays a role in court, in a real case like McLean v. Arkansas, or perhaps more to the point, in a case involving summary judgment against a law that requires something like ID to be included in curriculum, such as Edwards v. Aguillard.

If a lawyer with a license were to advise a client to “go ahead and teach it, it’s constitutional,” I would hope sanctions would apply against the lawyer at some point.

You have assumed that ID is science. It’s not. You’ve assumed that the science can be well demonstrated in a courtroom. No one has tried. It is unjustified, therefore, to make the leap to the position that teaching ID in a government-sponsored science class could be constitutional. I think the repeating of this canard is part of what makes non-legal scholars, like Tom DeLay, angry when the judges merely apply the law that exists, instead of the law that non-party partisans have told DeLay and others could exist.

One could, philosophically, argue that the Federal Aviation Administration should regulate effluents from pigs, if it can be shown that pigs do fly. The effluents could, arguably, pose a hazard to commercial and recreational aviation, and they could have effects on the ground around pig airports. If the pigs fly in FAA-regulated areas, then the law is pretty clear that they fall into the purview of the FAA.

But if the FAA shows up at an Arkansas pig farm to inspect the pigs, the farmer would be well within his rights to throw them off the farm. Pigs don’t fly, no matter the philosophical validity of the FAA’s having jurisdiction, if they did.

ID is not science. That pig hasn’t even sprouted wings yet.

Incidentally, that’s part of the practical reason that courts don’t offer advisory opinions. Courts rule where there is a genuine case or controversy. It’s interesting to see that neither side in the Dover case is long on scientists as expert witnesses. No one in the case really thinks ID is science, it appears, at least not to the point that there will be much litigation about it. I’m reminded of the displeasure from the Creationist Research Society that none of them were called as experts at the Arkansas trial, for either side. They were really miffed. Can you imagine?

Comment #25977

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on April 20, 2005 5:21 PM (e)

Mr. Beckwith,

Would you mind giving us an idea of an ID lesson plan?

I mean if you claim it is legal to teach ID, I’d like to know what will be taught.

Comment #25980

Posted by Russell on April 20, 2005 5:41 PM (e)

Personally, I don’t know whether it’s “legal” to teach ID. I hope not, as it seems to me to be pretty much a religious thing, and I like to think the Constitution would not allow that. But to try to delimit Stuart Weinstein’s question just a little, how would Dr. Beckwith assess the legality of teaching the following potential topics:

christianity
history of christianity
history of the bible
history of miracles
science of miracles
astrology

(No baiting intended, really. I’m honestly curious. I assume, for instance, Dr. Beckwith doesn’t put any stock in astrology, but suppose my kid’s teacher does. Are there laws against his teaching it?)

Comment #25981

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 20, 2005 5:42 PM (e)

A couple of initial points. First, it is “guilt by asociation fallacy,” not “association fallacy.” (blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah) It has no bearing on the quality of the case against ID.

The “case against ID”? You mean the claim that “ID” is scientifically vapid and that it is nothing more than a political tool used to wedge religion into science classrooms?

That claim? It seems to me that if I claim that “ID” is nothing more than a political tool used to wedge religion into science classrooms, then pointing out where the money comes from to fund the hordes of script-reciters and how the wheels of that political machine are apt to turn is certainly valid. Indeed, I would argue that it is an essential point.

Your Forrest “analogy” of course is just a smoke screen. “Creationism in public schools and theocrats? If they go together, then so does the ACLU and protecting child porn.” Just lovely, Mr. Beckwith.

I also told the audience that my views on ID are not fully formed

Huh. Did you include this disclaimer in your article in The Recorder?

I am a strong defender of liberal democracy and strong proponent of religious liberty.

But an extraordinarily weak defender of science education. Go figure.

I understand why [Steve] may not take my word for [something Ahmanson allegedly told me about Ahmanson’s alleged change of views regarding the promotion of Ahmanson’s religion]. But in that case, he should abstain from mentioning it until he finds out for sure

So how is Steve supposed to find out what Ahmanson “really thinks.”

And how is Ahmanson’s funding of the Discovery Institute inconsistent with the goals of Johnsonite Christianity?

Harvard community understand all too well that an argument’s soundness is not contingent upon the motivation of its defender.

But appreciating why an argument that is so utterly bogus is even being discussed at Harvard is very much contingent on understanding the motivation of the arguments defenders.

Care to dispute that, Mr. Beckwith?

When debating in front of an intelligent crowd you hope for one guy with an axe to grind and a cluster of logical fallacies.

It’s even better if the “intelligent” crowd doesn’t understand the pseudoscientific garbage that you’re defending in spite of the fact that “your ideas aren’t fully formed” (how mealy-mouthed can you get, Beckwith)?

Comment #25982

Posted by Francis Beckwith on April 20, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Ed. I don’t recognize my arguments in your comments. As you know, if you have read my book, I am not offering legal advice to teachers. I am assessing a debate over Constitutional Law. To employ an illustration, prior to our current First Amendment regime, lawyers argued in law reviews that hard core pornography is protected by the Constitution, even though those lawyers would not advise their individual clients to start purchasing pornography. So, there is a difference between the sort of advice one may give a client, and the more scholarly debate about the nature of our legal regime and what sorts of actions are permissible under it.

If you want to call my MJS a degree in “legal studies,” that’s fine with me. Yale offers a similar degree, “Master of Studies in Law,” which you may want to call “law studies.” In any event, I very enjoyed the experience at Wash. U. School of Law and learned a lot as a result. I worked with some fine scholars, and I think it was the best way I could have spent my sabbatical year in 2000-01. I know that the JD does not require a thesis, which is unfortunate for you, for you didn’t have the opportunity, as I did, to engage in sustained scholarly reflection on the law with one of the finest legal philosophers in the world (Stanley Paulsen).

Stuart. I have none in mind. Perhaps it can’t practically be done. But I’ll leave that to the curricular gurus to assess. But remember that my project is strictly concerned with the Constitutional question and not the curricular one. I do offer an illustration of a possible scenario of a teacher tangentially presenting ID for a few minutes in his science class. You can find it in my San Diego Law Review article, which is posted on my website. The purpose of the illustration is to cash out the implications of academic freedom in a thought experient.

Comment #25983

Posted by RBH on April 20, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

Having read Beckwith’s version above, and noting his total non-mention of the (two) reports of his having proffered Axe’s paper as somehow representing ID in the peer reviewed scientific literature, one is left with a single question: Is Beckwith a willing participant in Dembksi’s repeated misrepresentations of that paper, or is he merely an ignorant tool?

RBH

Comment #25984

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 20, 2005 6:04 PM (e)

So, there is a difference between the sort of advice one may give a client, and the more scholarly debate about the nature of our legal regime and what sorts of actions are permissible under it.

Where does fabrication and lying fit into all this? The ID charlatans seem to thrive on deception and dissembling. Is that relevant Mr. Beckwith? Or do you “lack the background” to assess those issues so, what the heck, might as well just assume that ID isn’t just a bogus propoganda tool wielded by Christian extremists, for arguments sake.

Is that how it works?

Will you defend the teaching of Prayericle Theory in public school Physics class when Fallwell and Roberston decide to spend $150 million promoting it? Or do you need Dembski’s approval?

I’m trying to figure out when an idea becomes “fully formed” in that head of yours.

Comment #25985

Posted by Grey Wolf on April 20, 2005 6:05 PM (e)

Dr. Beckwith, an easy question for you, if you’re willing:

Please explain the difference, if any, between: ID, tauromancy, astrology, creationism. Please explain if they can all be teached in schools, according to your thesis and, if not, why not. From what you’ve said so far, you’d think that changing “ID” by “UFO sightings” shouldn’t change anything at all. Is it really so?

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Comment #25989

Posted by Francis on April 20, 2005 6:25 PM (e)

Colin wrote: “We can’t expect law students … even to understand science.” Actually, we can. Legal reasoning is not far different from scientific reasoning. As a lawyer who works on a daily basis with engineers, biologists and chemists, I have a professional obligation to understand the scientific method. And frankly, i’m damn tired of too many young lawyers abdicating their responsibility of understanding the bases of the opinions given by experts and consultants.

ok, so i’m grumpy. Mr. Beckwith is, as usual, assuming his conclusion. I look forward to hearing from him as to what other psuedo-scientific disciplines he has not yet formed an opinion, so he can then pontificate on the suitability of teaching additional dreck to our nation’s youth on taxpayer dollars.

Comment #25990

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on April 20, 2005 6:27 PM (e)

One could, philosophically, argue that the Federal Aviation Administration should regulate effluents from pigs, if it can be shown that pigs do fly. The effluents could, arguably, pose a hazard to commercial and recreational aviation, and they could have effects on the ground around pig airports. If the pigs fly in FAA-regulated areas, then the law is pretty clear that they fall into the purview of the FAA.

But if the FAA shows up at an Arkansas pig farm to inspect the pigs, the farmer would be well within his rights to throw them off the farm. Pigs don’t fly, no matter the philosophical validity of the FAA’s having jurisdiction, if they did.

ID is not science. That pig hasn’t even sprouted wings yet.

We should have some kind of award for best comment of the day…

Comment #25991

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on April 20, 2005 6:31 PM (e)

Stuart. I have none in mind. Perhaps it can’t practically be done. But I’ll leave that to the curricular gurus to assess. But remember that my project is strictly concerned with the Constitutional question and not the curricular one.

SW: Well, why would you knock yourself out with the constitutionality of teaching ID, when you don’t know what can be taught? I see above that your ideas on ID aren’t fully formed. The fundamental question you need to answer for yourself, is “Is ID science?” Moreover, until the curricular question has an answer, I can’t imagine any court taking it seriously. I mean how can the IDers say “Teach the controversy” then lay an egg when it comes to showing how ID and the “controversies” should be taught? Which is one reason why the DI seems to have back peddled from Dover.

I do offer an illustration of a possible scenario of a teacher tangentially presenting ID for a few minutes in his science class.

SW: And what would your reaction be to a physics teacher tangentially presenting astrology or phologiston theory in class? presenting alchemy in Chemistry class?

You can find it in my San Diego Law Review article, which is posted on my website.

SW: I will check that out.

The purpose of the illustration is to cash out the implications of academic freedom in a thought experient.

SW: This may simply be a thought experiment to you, but its not helpful to science education if the premises upon which the experiment are based are faulty. In the mean time, here is some food for thought. As Sagan put it, there’s a difference between having an open mind and a hole in the head. Not every system of investigation falls under that which we call “science”. The issue isn’t academic freedom. The issue is what qualifies as science. I wouldn’t have objections to Bible stories, ID etc. being taught in public schools in a comparative religion class. I do object to such things being taught as science. I also object to disclaimers being placed on high school science text books for reasons having nothing to do with science. Actually I’d am curious to know where you stand on the “disclaimers” business.

Comment #25992

Posted by Francis Beckwith on April 20, 2005 6:39 PM (e)

RBH writes: “Having read Beckwith’s version above, and noting his total non-mention of the (two) reports of his having proffered Axe’s paper as somehow representing ID in the peer reviewed scientific literature, one is left with a single question: Is Beckwith a willing participant in Dembksi’s repeated misrepresentations of that paper, or is he merely an ignorant tool?”

That’s a false dilemma, and another fallacy. I can’t cover everything in the comments. I just don’t think the Axe articles are that a big a deal, since the sources provided to me by Bill (in addition to my more philosophically-oriented sources) included a lot more. It just turned out that since Axe’s name begins with “A,” he was on the top of the list. It was in the rebuttal period in which I responded to the peer-review question and I thought I was rather modest in my claims, agreeing with Professor Wexler that even a couple of peer-reviewed articles would not even remotedly justify requiring the teaching of ID in public schools.

As I understand Axe’s articles (published in the Journal of Molecular Biology), he is offering an argument that, if sound, provides support for a necessary condition for a design inference. As I noted in a private email to Andrew, I do think that the peer-review article question is an important one, and clearly ought to be asked by ID skeptics. On the other hand, what would precisely count as a pro-ID article is a more interesting question. Suppose, for example, an ID advocate (or sympathizer) publishes a peer-reviewed article in a science journal on the explanatory power of natural selection to account for phenomena X, Y, and Z. Imagine the author concludes that NS does not have the resources to account for X, Y, and Z, offers an argument and evidence to support that conclusion, and then ends it at that. In a sense, this article is and is not a pro-ID article. How would we count this? I suspect that this is where the political debate clouds our judgment. I would say that it does count, but I can see why someone would not count it (like the gentleman above who raises questions about the Axe piece). Because it is rare to find an academic article in any discipline where someone defends his or her entire paradigm, I’m not sure one will ever find an article that defends or supports an entire point of view. He or she usually targets one aspect or argument and goes on from there. For example, it’s probably unlikely that one will find a peer-reviewed science article where one defends “methodological naturalism.” Yet, it is considered by most as much a necessary condition for the practice of the natural sciences as the testing of hypothesis, conceptual clarity, fruitfulness, etc.

I do think that peer-reviewed articles in the philosophy of science are relevant on this matter, since it is only in those journals that these deeper questions can be argued in a more candid fashion.

As I noted in the debate, so much of the rancor on this issue is the result of the intellectual fragmentation of the academy in which really smart people in different disciplines are trained in ways that do not encourage a rich understanding of the interconnectiveness of the disciplines. After all, reality is not divided into science, philosophy, politics, or literature. It’s one world, and I think we can know it, and that knowledge need not be dismissed because it does not fit under someone’s narrow definition of what counts as rationality.

I’m kinda rambling, but these are my thoughts on the matter.

Fellas and gals, I’ve gotta stop this for awhile. I’ve been ignoring my wife for the past few hours, and she is not happy.

Comment #25995

Posted by Joe McFaul on April 20, 2005 7:02 PM (e)

I am assessing a debate over Constitutional Law.

To an audience of lawyers, I note. If you think about that you’d recognize the difference between “guilt by association fallacy” on one hand, and “bias,” a very legitimate inquiry, on the other hand, when dealing with statements of fact by a witness or public speaker. Inquiry into bias is even more legitmate when the statements are couched as opinions by self proclaimed experts, philosphers, theologians and lawyers masquerading as scientists. All lawyers who have taken an evidence class and conducted *one* jury trial know the importance of examining into bias.

Some people believe with great fervor preposterous things that just happen to coincide with their self-interest.
Coleman v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue (7th Cir.1986) 791 F.2d 68.

And this applies directly to Intelligent Design, which is why it is not pandering to any fallacy to inquire into political and religious motivations of ID proponents, their education in matters scietific, their sources of funding, their scientific peer reviewed publications, their past employment, and their beliefs as to other sciences implicated by ID such as DNA chemistry and radioisotope physcics. Additionally, they should be able to articulate their beliefs regarding common descent and the age of the earth. Finally,they should be able to plausibly state an explanation for the total and complete lack of any scientific research being conducted into irreducibly complex biological systems or calculating the mathematics of real world complex objects to reliably detect design. All of this inquiry goes to bias. Evidence I.

Real laywers know all this.

It is also not pandering to a fallacy to ask why legal and legally trained ID proponents misuse their legal footnotes and cited authorities.

Comment #25996

Posted by Jay on April 20, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

Of course, there are two separate issues here: firstly, should ID be taught in schools, and secondly, is it Constitutional.

The first question is an easy NO, for there is nothing to teach. There is no science behind ID. In science classes they already cover the supposed “gaps” in the evidence that supports natural selection/evolution.

Secondly, if ID proponents argue that their “theory” is not religious in nature, then its a little more difficult to prove the un-constitutionality of teaching it in school. Obviously, there’s nothing in the Constitution about forbidding junk pseudo-science from public classrooms; for example: acupuncture. Constitutionally speaking, they COULD teach acupuncture in public school, though it is a faith-based practice. It is not directly associated with what one would call a religious belief.

However, the particular faith-based component of ID involves the creator of the universe and/or life, which has a direct correlation with most religious beliefs. So even if ID were being promoted by secular scientists, it would still reek of religious belief, and thus its presence in a public classroom could be rejected by the courts as unconstitional. The fact that ID is being promoted by religious ideologues may not make too much of a difference in determining the constitutionality of ID, but one would be foolish to overlook who it is doing the promotion.

For example, let’s debate the constitutionality of teaching a Greek Mythology class, or having a picture of Zeus in a random public classroom, or showing the Disney movie Hercules to schoolchildren on a rainy day.

In one sense, it promotes the ancient Greek religion. But since there is no one who currently believes in the Greek gods, it doesn’t really pose a threat to the separation of church and state. So, in a sense, it does matter who is promoting a particular argument. If the Courts see a mass of Christians promoting ID, it does factor into their decision, for they cannot deny the religious underpinnings of the argument.

Comment #25999

Posted by Francis Beckwith on April 20, 2005 7:21 PM (e)

Okay, I can’t help myself. I will, of course, be in the dog house soon enough. McFaul raises examples that he believes raises legitimate legal questions about the constitutionality of teaching ID in public schools. He is partly correct. First, it depends on the question being asked. For example, if a teacher brings up cosmological fine-tuning arguments, questions of Darwinism don’t come into play, and thus all the concerns about common descent and biology are irrelevant. Second, McFaul is correct that on issues pertaining to the claim being made–X may be taught in public schools–the substance of what is to be taught and the academic sources (e.g., peer-reviewed articles) are certainly relevant and perhaps despositive. You have no argument from me here. However, questions of a person’s religious or political motivation should be absolutely out of bounds. And here’s why. Supposing a particular view, X, passes the science test. That is, it is a theory held by a significant (though not majority) number of scientists who have published their findings in peer-reviewed journals and offered their point of view in academic venues including conferences, symposia, etc. It would seem to me that X could be taught. However, suppose Mr. Z comes along and points out that proponents of X are 95% Muslim (with Sunnis and Shiites evenly divided) and that proponents of X support a Koranic view of reality. But suppose Mr. Z never points this out. How would the quality of theory change simply because its proponents motives shift from known to unknown. If the theory is well-regarded by the wider community of scientists, even if a majority of them don’t agree with it–it seems to me that the motivation of its advocates has no bearing on its quality. In fact, to exclude that point of view because its legislative proponents (not its scientific ones, let’s say) are overwhelming of one faith, even if the view is well-regarded by non-believers, seems to place a limit on the power of legislators, and smacks at a violation of Article VI of the Constitution, which prohibits a religious test for office (limiting a legislator’s powers based on his beliefs, and not on the content of his legislation, is, for all intents and purposes a “religious test,” since he is being limited in his powers based on his beliefs).

Comment #26002

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 20, 2005 7:31 PM (e)

That’s a false dilemma, and another fallacy.

Also a rhetorical device to get you to respond. And what do you know – it worked. Thanks for the lecture anyway, Socrates.

I thought I was rather modest in my claims, agreeing with Professor Wexler that even a couple of peer-reviewed articles would not even remotedly justify requiring the teaching of ID in public schools.

How generous of you!

You keep talking about “requiring” the teaching of ID in public schools, Mr. Beckwith.

It’s odd that you don’t describe the more germane question: is it Constitutional for a teacher at his/her own discretion to teach bogus science in public school science classrooms as a legitimate science, where the bogus science is promoted at substantial expense by folks who obviously see the bogus science as a way to wedge their religion beliefs into public schoolrooms?

For example, it’s probably unlikely that one will find a peer-reviewed science article where one defends “methodological naturalism.” Yet, it is considered by most as much a necessary condition for the practice of the natural sciences as the testing of hypothesis, conceptual clarity, fruitfulness, etc.

Actually, Mr. Beckwith, most people don’t “consider” “methodological naturalism” at all. Like you and me – human beings on the planet earth (last time I checked) – we accept the fact that reality is extraordinarily consistent because that is what we observe with our senses (when we are not on drugs). Our acknowledgement of this observed fact enables us to feed and shelter ourselves. Scientists have somehow managed to make a whole lot of interesting discoveries merely by recognizing that mysterious alien beings – whether they exist or not – do not detectably alter reality (except for drawing the Virgin Mary on the occasional highway underpass).

Testing of hypotheses? Yes, that is a useful approach to learning about nature, as I was taught in fourth grade or thereabouts (but which I had discovered on my own earlier than that, as have many humans of mediocre intelligence or less).

After all, reality is not divided into science, philosophy, politics, or literature. It’s one world, and I think we can know it

Did you read that on the side of a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle?

Somewhere in this cloud of smoke I saw the words “science” and “reality”. Your task is to explain what all of the bogus Disclaimery Institute propoganda has to do with “science” or “reality.”

Comment #26003

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 20, 2005 7:48 PM (e)

Beckwith

Supposing a particular view, X, passes the science test. That is, it is a theory held by a significant (though not majority) number of scientists who have published their findings in peer-reviewed journals and offered their point of view in academic venues including conferences, symposia, etc. It would seem to me that X could be taught. However, suppose Mr. Z comes along and points out that proponents of X are 95% Muslim (with Sunnis and Shiites evenly divided) and that proponents of X support a Koranic view of reality.

Just out of curiosity, can anyone think of any scientific theory that was held by (a) a significant number of scientists and (b) published in peer-reviewed journals and considered seriously by the scientific community as a whole, even those who weren’t necessarily proponents of the theory and © favored almost solely by scientists who belong to a particular religious group?

Is there a term for the sort of hypothetical that Beckwith just presented?

Comment #26004

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 20, 2005 8:12 PM (e)

“Supposing a particular view, X, passes the science test. That is, it is a theory held by a significant (though not majority) number of scientists who have published their findings in peer-reviewed journals and offered their point of view in academic venues including conferences, symposia, etc”

no. just because several scientists agree does NOT mean it passes the “science” test. You keep assuming that any hypothesis that calls itself “science” and gets published really is science. Science is not done by majority. An idea that attempts to address issues in mathematics, but is published in a peer reviewed journal in philosophy, does not mean it is good mathemetics, or that any mathematician would think it so. similarly, ideas addressing evolutionary theory, but published in molecular biology journal does not mean it passes the “test of science” as far as evolutionary biologists are concerned.

there are basic rules of what constitutues good science, and NONE of the articles presented in ID’s defense, or referenced by yourself, Mr. Beckwith, even come close to meeting the standards of good science.

With that in mind, it seems most here, myself included, find you woefully unqualified to give any kind of legal advice as to what consitutes any kind of legal argument about what is or what is not, science.

“However, suppose Mr. Z comes along and points out that proponents of X are 95% Muslim (with Sunnis and Shiites evenly divided) and that proponents of X support a Koranic view of reality.”

Oh Please! what an absurd argument. ID “theory” can easily be shown to have no grounding in science whatsoever, regardless of any religious or philophical grounding it might have. However, you are simply using that argument to deflect away questions about what your motivations are, not the motivations of the articles in question. And YOUR motivations can explain a lot about YOUR arguments.

One must question, as several here have, what your real motivations are for putting yourself so far out on limb? A limb, i would say, that you don’t even have a clue as to its strength, or whether it will support you as you climb ever further out on it.

personally, I have qualms about misuse, but no real contention against teaching creationism as part of a philosophy course, but it does students a disservice to teach it as science. Evolutionary theory is complicated enough as it is to teach at the secondary school level, without further complications from irrelevant philosophical musings.
I have been studying evolutionary theory, as a student, grad student, and after for over 15 years, and still don’t feel i have a complete grasp of the entire field.

You can’t dissociate the legal ramifications from the disciplinary ones. To do so invites others to think of you as not putting much value into the law to begin with.

Comment #26005

Posted by RBH on April 20, 2005 8:15 PM (e)

Beckwith wrote

As I understand Axe’s articles (published in the Journal of Molecular Biology), he is offering an argument that, if sound, provides support for a necessary condition for a design inference. As I noted in a private email to Andrew, I do think that the peer-review article question is an important one, and clearly ought to be asked by ID skeptics.

In fact, Axe does not offer that argument. Dembski persistently misrepresents Axe’s data as suggesting that. Dembski has known since 2002 that his representation of that paper is false and has admitted as much publicly, but he still pushes the misrepresentation both in his own writing and in gulling people like Beckwith into carrying his polluted water.

I advise Beckwith to read Matt Inlay’s analysis of this very point referenced above.

RBH

Comment #26007

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on April 20, 2005 8:24 PM (e)

Francis writes:

That is, it is a theory held by a significant (though not majority) number of scientists who have published their findings in peer-reviewed journals and offered their point of view in academic venues including conferences, symposia, etc. It would seem to me that X could be taught. However, suppose Mr. Z comes along and points out that proponents of X are 95% Muslim (with Sunnis and Shiites evenly divided) and that proponents of X support a Koranic view of reality. But suppose Mr. Z never points this out. How would the quality of theory change simply because its proponents motives shift from known to unknown. If the theory is well-regarded by the wider community of scientists, even if a majority of them don’t agree with it—it seems to me that the motivation of its advocates has no bearing on its quality.

SW: The short answer is, that in science it is the evidence that decides, not the judicial system. And in the case of ID, no testable proposition has been proposed, hence it is not a sceitific theory. The fine-tuning argument is not an argument at all. If the fundamental constansts of nature weren’t what they are, we wouldn’t be here to argue the point; either the universe would harbor different kinds of life, or no life at all. It obviously doesn’t pass as a testable hypothesis. For example what would a universe not desgined for life, which still harbors life, look like? And if one can’t describe what such a universe would look like, its useless to discuss notions of a designed universe.

With regards to your above scenario, an example that comes to mind would be George Le’Maitre and the Big Bang hypothesis. Although Hoyle tagged the expanding universe theory with the moniker Big Bang, Le’Maitre, a Jesuit and physicist, was one of the early proponents of Big Bang. There was criticism that was simply a religious theory, as the concept that the universe may have a finite age is supported by Genesis. Still, the expanding universe made some important testable predictions which were later verified. Gamow later predicted the existence of the Cosmic-Microwave background radiation which was discovered in the late 60’s. Testable scientific hypothesis and there corresponding research programs do not need ill-trained and advised school board officers and lawyers who don’t understand science to grab, the attention of the scientific community.

You’re continually putting the cart before the horse. In that your assumming that ID is actually a scientific theory. You haven’t made that case, nor have the proponents of ID made that case either. Which is why they are hoping they can dupe the judiciary into thinking it should be taught on the grounds of “equal time” or “academic freedom”.

In fact, to exclude that point of view because its legislative proponents (not its scientific ones, let’s say) are overwhelming of one faith, even if the view is well-regarded by non-believers,

SW: Can you name any prominent atheist scientist who claims ID is a scientific theory?

seems to place a limit on the power of legislators,

SW: So, you think the legislature can legislate what science is? So much for “academic freedom” Science is not a democracy.

and smacks at a violation of Article VI of the Constitution, which prohibits a religious test for office (limiting a legislator’s powers based on his beliefs, and not on the content of his legislation, is, for all intents and purposes a “religious test,” since he is being limited in his powers based on his beliefs).

SW: Thats laughable. The reason the religiosity of the IDers is continually brought up, is because they offer not testable hypothesis nor a research program. What else is there to talk about. But the biggest reason it gets brought up, is because the IDers, like they do in Dover make a point of bringing that up themselves. Comments like “Somebody needs to stand up for Jesus”, only go to show what the motivation for ID is, and it sure ain’t to advance scientific knowledge.

THe theory of evolution on the other hand, finds support across ethnic, religious and political boundaries. You may ask yourself why this is, and why it isn’t for ID.

Comment #26009

Posted by roger Tang on April 20, 2005 9:03 PM (e)

“Stuart. I have none in mind. Perhaps it can’t practically be done. But I’ll leave that to the curricular gurus to assess. But remember that my project is strictly concerned with the Constitutional question and not the curricular one. “

Then I would suggest that you not play on the front lines. You’re essentially admitting that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

If or when ID shows itself as solid science, it essentially wins the argument. No ifs, ands or buts about it. You are strictly unnecessary and really have no business speaking up as an expert.

Comment #26013

Posted by Henry J on April 20, 2005 9:51 PM (e)

Re “He assumes that there is enough science there that an expert could be qualified at trial, which is patently untrue.”

If that were true, there’d be no need for a trial in the first place. Well, unless the current IDers decided they didn’t like what the (hypothetical) evidence implied about the “designer”. (Say, if that happened, would those current IDer’s wind up arguing against that version of ID? That’d be interesting.)

Henry

Comment #26022

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on April 21, 2005 12:38 AM (e)

Sez Francis Beckwith: “I do think that peer-reviewed articles in the philosophy of science are relevant on this matter, since it is only in those journals that these deeper questions can be argued in a more candid fashion.”

Huh? You folks can argue all you want in your “peer-reviewed articles” on the “philosophy of science”, but it’s feet on the ground that actually matter in the real field of science, and in that, “ID” is so damn pathetic that it’s not worth more than a mordant chuckle from the serious actual scientists around….

To make it plainer, pretty much every philosopher of science in modern times would agree that it’s the results that make a difference, from Popper to Kuhn to whoever…. You can get back to me for further discussion when “ID” has anything that’s actually producing any results of consequence, much less starting to infringe on the ‘established Darwinian orthodoxy’….

Cheers,

Comment #26023

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on April 21, 2005 12:54 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #26024

Posted by FL on April 21, 2005 12:54 AM (e)

1. Religious motivations are behind ID, as they admit themselves:

Which, in and of itself, absolutely does ~not~ render ID unscientific, as admitted by the evolutionist heroes of McClean vs. Arkansas, Michael Ruse and the late Langdon Gilkey.
Part of Gilkey’s summary of Ruse’s comments on the witness stand (which Gilkey agreed with) are as follows:

“….As for the theories of creation science, they cannot claim to be science, but not because their proponents are religious or religiously inspired.”

(Creationism on Trial, c1998, p.137.)

So Francis Beckwith’s comment that “it seems to me that the motivation of (a theory’s) advocates has no bearing on its quality” is in fact quite consistent with the religious-motivation-doesn’t-matter position that you evolutionists have already staked out in McClean vs Arkansas.

With that in mind, you might want to re-read carefully what Beckwith wrote. Consider this:

The audience seemed uneasy with (Steve’s) injection of religious motivation as a litmus test to exclude certain points of view from the public square, since these very bright members of the Harvard community understand all too well that an argument’s soundness is not contingent upon the motivation of its defender.

So, we can scratch Matzke’s “Fact #1” here and now. Even if it’s true for any individual non-Darwinist, it’s clearly a non-issue in terms of determining whether or not the ID hypothesis is scientific.
Or so respected evolutionists have pointed out.

**********************

Also, Scientific American magazine’s article “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense” explains why ID claims are nonsense.

Also, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati’s article “15 ways to refute materialistic bigotry: A point by point response to Scientific American” explains why ID claims are ~not~ nonsense:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/news/scientific_american.asp

*********************

Side note. Arne said:

You folks can argue all you want in your “peer-reviewed articles” on the “philosophy of science”, but it’s feet on the ground that actually matter in the real field of science

Just wanted to mention something that evolutionist Gilkey also pointed out, at a public lecture at Washburn Univ only a few years before he passed away.
He said that we (and “we”, he said, particularly included scientists) needed to look to philosophers of science (not scientists, but philosophers of science, he specifically said) to get an understanding of what science is or is not.

FL

Comment #26027

Posted by FL on April 21, 2005 1:12 AM (e)

My apologies. The sentence

So, we can scratch Matzke’s “Fact #1” here and now

should read:

“So, we can scratch Steven Smith’s “Fact #1” here and now.”

FL

PS. Steven Smith also said….

scientists must not debate these subjects on the same stage as creationists because they will only serve the creationist rhetorical end of being taken seriously.

Another “because” is that the evolutionists clearly risk getting defeated in public by the scientists and scholars on the non-evolutionist side if they show up to a debate or a hearing.

I know the following suggestion may make some folks bristle, but honestly, I am becoming increasingly convinced that there’s a bit of Fear Factor popping up on the evolutionist side of the fence.

FL

Comment #26030

Posted by Jay on April 21, 2005 2:26 AM (e)

If ID had any grounding in science it would not make a difference whether its proponents happened to be religious. This much is true. But it does not, so it is not to be looked at in scientific terms.

With any constitutional matter, the context is to be considered. Supreme court decisions are not decided in a vacuum. If ID were simply a bogus idea, but it did not have any supporters among religionists, I don’t even think we’d be having this debate. Church-state separation issues are only “issues” because they post a threat to the functioning of our government.

Therefore, in the case of ID, where a “philosophy” is being put forth that has serious ramifications for our separation of church and state, the context should be considered. And the fact that ID is being supported strictly by a religious crowd is something a judge should take into consideration. Like I said, if it were simply a bogus idea, and didn’t have the religious support, it would likely not be a constitutional matter. If it were an idea that happened to coincide with a fundamental tenet of Zoroastrianism, would we care that it technically violated a church-state separation? And would the court even take the case? I sincerely doubt it. So to act as if the religious views of ID supporters are irrelevant is to deny the obvious.

Also, I sure feel bad for philosophers. You know, philosophy still employs reason and logic. All opinions in phiolosophy are not of equal merit simply upon being uttered. I don’t even think ID has a place in a philosophy course.

Comment #26032

Posted by Betty Bo on April 21, 2005 2:49 AM (e)

Just be surfing around in net. I definitely found a very informal place with a lot of good stuff for everybody. I will certainly visit your site again sometime. Really good work.

Comment #26034

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 21, 2005 5:29 AM (e)

Dear Francis,

Hi-Yo Silver!

I hope that you enjoyed your visit to Cambridge, and am glad that we had nice weather for you.

Thank you for your reply to my post, as well as your criticisms.

As our disagreement about the facts at hand is well known, and as we appear to implicitly agree that this is not a debate but a rhetorical conflict, I believe that it would be most constructive for me to reply briefly to the play-by-play, and ask for your thoughts on the most effective rhetoric in this situation.

  1. Guilt by association. First the play-by-play. I understand that you were trying to make the point that you do in your reply above. However, I believe that you fumbled the logic in your response on this one, and allowed me to point out the inconsistency of citing this fallacy immediately followed by telling us that Barbara Forrest belongs to the ACLU. It also allowed me to emphasize your implicit comparison of Christian Reconstructionism with the ACLU. This isn’t a logical debate, it’s rhetoric. I sensed an overall rhetorical score on this one, though admittedly, it can be tough to tell. I sensed the audience smiling at your mistake – we all knew what you were trying to say, you just didn’t say it well. (Uncharacteristically, I hasten to add.)

    In an actual debate, I would reply that your response is non sequitur – raising Ahmanson’s funding of the Discovery Institute supports the claim that ID is religiously motivated; of course religion motivation has nothing to do with the validity of ID. And the religious motivation of ID has direct bearing on the “reasonable person” test on which constitutional issues will be decided. So Ahmanson is relevant.

    And, back to the rhetorical viewpoint, I’m unable to think of a good reason not to bring this up for rhetorical purposes. Rhetorically speaking, isn’t this effective? It’s the one you addressed first and spent the most time on.

    Finally, you say above that “without scruple or conscience, he posts this falsehood yet again, even though he was informed that it was false.” Nice rhetoric, but easily disproved – everything I said about Mr. Ahmanson in my post above is true (please read it again). If I am wrong, please quote me and cite facts that contradict my statement, and I will gladly retract what I said. I will say that it’s nice that Mr. Ahmanson told you privately that he repudiates Christian Reconstructionism, but because he’s promoted and funded it publicly, he should repudiate it publicly.

  2. “I did not defend ID.” We’re discussing logic and rhetoric in parallel here, so logically you didn’t, rhetorically, you did.
  3. Your Christian faith, targeting you. You raised this issue, no one else did, least of all me. Rhetorically, you have an interest in raising this point whenever the point of ID’s religious motivation is made. I think that it can be rhetorically advantageous for you to conflate the discussion of religious motivations with personal religious convictions. But you know they’re fundamentally different, and no one attacked you or your religious convictions. Least of all me, as that would be poor rhetoric. As you know better than I, this is called the “red herring” fallacy.
  4. “injection of religious motivation as a litmus test to exclude certain points of view from the public square” Hmmmm … how to respond … how about the First Amendment of the United States Constitution?

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Or how about Thomas Jefferson‘s views on using “religious motivation as a litmus test to exclude certain points of view from the public square”:

    Thomas Jefferson wrote:

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” (1802) [italics added]

    And after all we are discussing a debate hosted by the Federalist Society, so let’s add one more:

    James Madison wrote:

    “What influences, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.”

  5. Decorum. Dulce et decorum est pro physica defensare (please correct my conjugation, like in that Life of Brian scene).

    It’s true that I’m frustrated with the danger this nonsense poses for the country, and I’m certain that this came through in my questions. I apologize if I went beyond what was necessary. The other lawyer who commented on this has expressed this opinion, so this criticism must have merit. I wonder what another scientist would say – our disputes can be less courtly.

    That said, decorum is to be used or not used as appropriate, as Aristotle advises:

    Aristotle wrote:

    “Slighting is an actualization of opinion in regard to something that appears valueless; for things that are really bad or good tend to become so … men disdain those things which they consider valueless and slight what is no account.” – Aristotle, Art of Rhetoric, Book 2

    Academic legitimacy one of the wedge’s primary objectives. Your rhetorical performance at Harvard Law School made a pretty good appearance that there just might be such legitimacy, when in fact there is none. Wherever someone like yourself proclaims – sorry, implies – the validity of Intelligent Design creationism, there should be someone to point out the fact that ID is nonsense, an action which is not encountered in typical scholarly discourse, but nevertheless expresses an important truth.

  6. “cycloptic lone ranger sounding like Joseph McCarthy” Now, now, I never attacked you, so it’s bad form to say I did, then come and attack me. Besides, mixed metaphors make baby Aristotle cry.

I’ve been completely honest with you about where and how I’ve used rhetorical devices in our discussion – they’ve been quite transparent. You’re clearly a sophisticated person and must be aware that your rhetorical methods are glaringly visible to most people reading this blog. At least I give you the intellectual credit of assuming that you use, e.g., Axe’s paper as evidence for ID, because it can be a rhetorically effective technique to beguile the innocent, not because you actually believe it.

I would very much like to hear your candid thoughts on these rhetorical implements. God knows we can use some good advice on this art.

Best wishes to you and your wife,

Steve

Comment #26035

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 21, 2005 5:34 AM (e)

Dear Francis,

Hi-Yo Silver!

I hope that you enjoyed your visit to Cambridge, and am glad that we had nice weather for you.

Thank you for your reply to my post, as well as your criticisms.

As our disagreement about the facts at hand is well known, and as we appear to implicitly agree that this is not a debate but a rhetorical conflict, I believe that it would be most constructive for me to reply briefly to the play-by-play, and ask for your thoughts on the most effective rhetoric in this situation.

  1. Guilt by association. First the play-by-play. I understand that you were trying to make the point that you do in your reply above. However, I believe that you fumbled the logic in your response on this one, and allowed me to point out the inconsistency of citing this fallacy immediately followed by telling us that Barbara Forrest belongs to the ACLU. It also allowed me to emphasize your implicit comparison of Christian Reconstructionism with the ACLU. This isn’t a logical debate, it’s rhetoric. I sensed an overall rhetorical score on this one, though admittedly, it can be tough to tell. I sensed the audience smiling at your mistake – we all knew what you were trying to say, you just didn’t say it well. (Uncharacteristically, I hasten to add.)

    In an actual debate, I would reply that your response is non sequitur – raising Ahmanson’s funding of the Discovery Institute supports the claim that ID is religiously motivated; of course religion motivation has nothing to do with the validity of ID. And the religious motivation of ID has direct bearing on the “reasonable person” test on which constitutional issues will be decided. So Ahmanson is relevant.

    And, back to the rhetorical viewpoint, I’m unable to think of a good reason not to bring this up for rhetorical purposes. Rhetorically speaking, isn’t this effective? It’s the one you addressed first and spent the most time on.

    Finally, you say above that “without scruple or conscience, he posts this falsehood yet again, even though he was informed that it was false.” Nice rhetoric, but easily disproved – everything I said about Mr. Ahmanson in my post above is true (please read it again). If I am wrong, please quote me and cite facts that contradict my statement, and I will gladly retract what I said. I will say that it’s nice that Mr. Ahmanson told you privately that he repudiates Christian Reconstructionism, but because he’s promoted and funded it publicly, he should repudiate it publicly.

  2. “I did not defend ID.” We’re discussing logic and rhetoric in parallel here, so logically you didn’t, rhetorically, you did.
  3. Your Christian faith, targeting you. You raised this issue, no one else did, least of all me. Rhetorically, you have an interest in raising this point whenever the point of ID’s religious motivation is made. I think that it can be rhetorically advantageous for you to conflate the discussion of religious motivations with personal religious convictions. But you know they’re fundamentally different, and no one attacked you or your religious convictions. Least of all, that would be poor rhetoric. As you know better than I, this is called the “red herring” fallacy.
  4. “injection of religious motivation as a litmus test to exclude certain points of view from the public square” Hmmmm … how to respond … how about the First Amendment of the United States Constitution?

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Or how about Thomas Jefferson‘s views on using “religious motivation as a litmus test to exclude certain points of view from the public square”:

    Thomas Jefferson wrote:

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” (1802) [italics added]

    And after all we are discussing a debate hosted by the Federalist Society, so let’s add one more:

    James Madison wrote:

    “What influences, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.”

  5. Decorum. Dulce et decorum est pro physica defensare (please correct my conjugation, like in that Life of Brian scene).

    It’s true that I’m frustrated with the danger this nonsense poses for the country, and I’m certain that this came through in my questions. I apologize if I went beyond what was necessary. The other lawyer who commented on this has expressed this opinion, so this criticism must have merit. I wonder what another scientist would say – our disputes can be less courtly.

    That said, decorum is to be used or not used as appropriate, as Aristotle advises:

    Aristotle wrote:

    “Slighting is an actualization of opinion in regard to something that appears valueless; for things that are really bad or good tend to become so … men disdain those things which they consider valueless and slight what is no account.” – Aristotle, Art of Rhetoric, Book 2

    Academic legitimacy one of the wedge’s primary objectives. Your rhetorical performance at Harvard Law School made a pretty good appearance that there just might be such legitimacy, when in fact there is none. Wherever someone like yourself proclaims – sorry, implies – the validity of Intelligent Design creationism, there should be someone to point out the fact that ID is nonsense, an action which is not encountered in typical scholarly discourse, but nevertheless expresses an important truth.

  6. “cycloptic lone ranger sounding like Joseph McCarthy” Now, now, I never attacked you, so it’s bad form to say I did, then come and attack me. Besides, mixed metaphors make baby Aristotle cry.

I’ve been completely honest with you about where and how I’ve used rhetorical devices in our discussion – they’ve been quite transparent. You’re clearly a sophisticated person and must be aware that your rhetorical methods are glaringly visible to most people reading this blog. At least I give you the intellectual credit of assuming that you use, e.g., Axe’s paper as evidence for ID, because it can be a rhetorically effective technique to beguile the innocent, not because you actually believe it.

I would very much like to hear your candid thoughts on these rhetorical implements. God knows we can use some good advice on this art.

Best wishes to you and your wife,

Steve

Comment #26036

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 21, 2005 5:38 AM (e)

Sorry for the duplicate post – would someone at the Panda’s Thumb please delete one of these?

Comment #26041

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 7:25 AM (e)

Fourth, Steve didn’t tell you that I specifically addressed Howard Ahmanson in a very personal way. I told him and the audience that between 1997 and 2002, my wife and I attended St. James Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, California. There we had the opportunity to meet Howard, a long-time member. I had no idea about his support of Discovery until around 2000 or so. When I caught wind of his reconstructionist views, it troubled me as well, since I am a strong defender of liberal democracy and strong proponent of religious liberty. So, I asked him about it. He said that he had abandoned those views years ago.

How many years ago? And which parts did he give up?

Ahmanson was on the Board of Directors of the Chalcedon Foundation for over 20 years, and donated almost three-quarters of a million dollars to them. And we are expected to beleive that he just gave up all those beliefs, just like that? Baloney.

Here’s what it looks like to me; the Intelligent Design movement needs Ahmanson’s checkbook to survive. Alas, Ahamanson’s extremist views (has he also given up his views on gays? has he also given up his views on the separation of church and state? has he given up his views on “intregration of Biblical law into our lives”? has he given up his views on the death penalty for people who support “false religions”?) were becoming a liability for IDers. So voila, Ahmanson now waves his arms about what a nice guy he’s become. (During the 2002 Hawaii Governor race, Linda Lingle wasn’t convinced of Ahmanson’s sudden conversion – she returned his check when she learned who it came from.)

I think Ahmanson’s sudden “liberalization” is all bullshit. All PR. Disscovery Institute knows a liability when they see one, and Ahmanson’s extremist views are a liability. After all, coupled with the Wedge Document, DI’s funding source makes it crushingly clear what DI’s hidden agenda is, and how they intend to go about it.

Comment #26043

Posted by David Heddle on April 21, 2005 7:51 AM (e)

Rev:

I think Ahmanson’s sudden “liberalization” is all bullshit. All PR.

You think? You think? Well that’s special.

You only speak for yourself. And you’ve given no indication at all why anyone should care any more about your religious opinions than they should about mine, my next door neighbor’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas.

Why is that, David Rev?

Your religious opinions are just that, David Rev, your opinions. They are no more holy or divine or infallible or authoritative than anyone else’s religious opinions. No one is obligated in any way, shape, or form to follow your religious opinions, to accept them, or even to pay any attention at all to them.

Right, David Rev?

Or *are* you, as I suspect, indeed so arrogant, self-righteous, prideful and holier-than-thou (literally) as to seriously believe that your religious opinions are somehow more authoritative than any other mere mortal’s ….?

Comment #26044

Posted by fph on April 21, 2005 8:03 AM (e)

Here’s why the reasonable person should remain skeptical regarding Beckwith’s hearsay testimony:

Point #1: When was the last time you heard about someone expressing such religiously fanatic and extremist viewpoints as Ahmanson’s, suddenly “abandon them” in the span of a few years, if ever???

Point #2: What does it mean for Ahmanson to have “abandoned” Christian Reconstructionism? Beckwith expects us to charitably interpret from his hearsay testimony that Ahmanson categorically rejects all aspects of Reconstructionism. That is fine… until one realizes that extremism is not simply an unrecognizable derivative of a formal product. It evolves with similar traits to its parent ideologies. So is the abandonment simply one of degree?

Point #3: Ed Darrell made a great point that Beckwith simply assumes ID to be a science, which in fact a large majority of scientists do not agree with. In fact, some of the ID proponents like Dembski and Nelson have gone on record to concede that they lack the major ingredients most reasonable persons would recognize constituting a science: namely evidence and an explanatory, predictive theory. I read no response from Beckwith to Ed about this theory – unless the response is embedded in the whining rhetoric about Beckwith’s degrees.

Point #4: If a “theory” is accepted by the “wider majority of scientists” and yet a significant majority of scientists qualified to judge the quality of the research disagree with it, then it really is just a rhetorician using an intuition pump to help himself reach the wrong conclusion. In such a case, it is absolutely relevant what the motivations of a person is. If someone is insistent upon spreading lies, it is certainly useful knowledge to understand why that person is spreading lies. It is not merely enough to follow a liar around and debating him. For instance, we should all consider the motivations of Beckwith to be defending Ahmanson and arguing that ID can hypothetically be in a classroom with Constitutional approval. Does he consider himself a gift from God?

Point #5: Perhaps we should invite some HIV-deniers to this board. They can certainly learn a few things from the ID proponents. What they need to do though first is get some super rich patron to fund their agenda. Let me recommend that religiously unmotivated individuals are always a good place to start. Look for the one that knows (but does not believe) HIV is a gay disease, a gift from God as it were, poised to rid the world of the homosexual plague. Then, I suggest that they start thinking of ways of training the next generation of scientists to recognize that AIDS is not caused by HIV. To accomplish that, they need to start debating scientists in public forums sponsored by more unmotivated religious individuals. Preferably, they should dress up these debates by holding them at reputable secular universities, and invite only their highly critical supporters. Finally, they should target school boards nationwide to include a statement in every biology and social science curriculum and textbook about the controversy that exists regarding this homosexual disease. If there is trouble with the teachers, have the religiously unmotivated school principal or board member read aloud the statement.

Comment #26050

Posted by Hiero5ant on April 21, 2005 10:13 AM (e)

[Posted with minor redactions from email.]

Professor Beckwith,

I wanted to raise some issues that I didn’t have time to address during and after your presentation, in the spirit of constructive criticism rather than a “debate” (goodness knows we each probably spend more time than is healthy debating ID in the other aspects of our lives.)

One of the legally salient issues you raised early in your presentation was the definition of ID. As I recall it seemed at once overly vague and overly broad. It seemed vague in the sense that it leaves one wondering just what it is that is supposed to have been designed (atoms? cells? organisms? ecosystems? solar systems? the entire universe?), and whether there is any theoretical reason to suppose that these domains are connected. The broadness problem seems to be that your definition would include all current naturalistic theories in archaeology, sociology, history, forensic science, etc. Surely there is no constitutional issue with teaching that the Civil War was caused by intelligent agents, and surely there is no broad philosophical controversy over ontology surrounding the claim that the Pyramids were designed. One might make an exception, of course, in the latter category for those who believe the stones of Giza were levitated into place using ESP, but that’s neither here nor there.

A related problem was that at one point in your remarks you seemed to explicitly contrast “natural” causes with “intelligent” causes, as though intelligence was by definition supernatural. Surely this is not only a textbook example of begging the question, but it also equivocates on the meaning of “natural”; this is quite simply not the dichotomy with which debates over philosophical naturalism are concerned. There can, strictly speaking, be supernatural unintelligent causes and natural intelligent causes.

The final problem is with your list of “pro-ID articles” (including the Axe paper), and it goes to the core of both Professor Smith’s comments and the legal issues surrounding the constitutionality of ID: there quite simply is no ID theory to teach. Without exception, every article or monograph in your list with which I have any familiarity consists in pointing out alleged “gaps” in scientific knowledge, and claiming this as “evidence” of a designer/creator. Surely one does not need to have a degree in science to recognize the false dichotomy here? Under this reasoning, criticisms of the contradictions in the Gospel accounts of the resurrection are sufficient to make them “supportive of Hindu theory”.

This is probably the issue over and above one’s political or theological leanings that most irritates legitimate scientists like Professor Smith, and I can’t say I disagree. Independent of “right vs. left” politics, IDC’s attempt to do an end run around the scientific process without putting in the real, serious hard work that real, serious scientists do. I can only imagine how it must feel for a biologist to have a philosopher or a lawyer or a mathematician whip out a calculator and claim that they’ve proven that what scientists observe every day doesn’t really happen, and that they have as much legal and academic right to have their “theory of the gaps” taught alongside science. Keep in mind this criticism is independent of whether ID is true or not – it’s a question of process.

Your view that Dembski is “developing an actual research program” is flatly false, at least according to any definition of “research program” recognizable in science. I would reiterate my comments from the HLS event: the way for ID to overcome its constitutional problems as well as its scientific problems is to develop a *positive*, testable theory of ID rather than an enumeration of old and refuted criticisms of alleged gaps in our knowledge. A positive theory would address the number, nature, and purposes of the designers, the time frames in which the designers acted, the mechanisms by which they acted, and develop testable methods of determining such actions. Archaeologists do this, SETI does this, forensic scientists do this, every established science that deals with intelligent agents does this – why can’t ID do this? If the DI would spend a tenth of the time, effort, money and energy doing these things instead of writing op-ed pieces and lobbying school-boards, then courts would have no choice but to overlook their religious motivations and recognize a legitimate secular purpose.

I take to heart your view that the peer-review process in philosophy journals is at least of comparable rigor with that of science journals. But even faithful, praying, believing Christian biologists in the community won’t accept ID as a legitimate theory until it antes up the positive scientific theory like everyone else, and I would venture a guess that the courts won’t accept those arguments either.

Comment #26056

Posted by Doug Peterson on April 21, 2005 11:50 AM (e)

I find it amusing that so many people are going to such great lengths to prop up a dead theory being kept alive without reason.

Comment #26057

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 21, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

Heddle to Rev

you’ve given no indication at all why anyone should care any more about your opinions than they should about mine …

On the contrary, David, the Rev laid it out quite plainly. Which part don’t you understand?

Anyone who pays attention to the creationist “debates” and to any debates about religious matters in the public sphere knows that religious extremists (e.g., creationism apologists and ID peddlers) love pretending that people “of faith” are immune from the motivations and vices that plague most members of the human race.

Comment #26060

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 21, 2005 12:20 PM (e)

fdh

For instance, we should all consider the motivations of Beckwith to be defending Ahmanson and arguing that ID can hypothetically be in a classroom with Constitutional approval. Does he consider himself a gift from God?

I think he claimed that he was on a “pilgrimage” or something.

From my coign of vantage, Beckwith looks like a low-rent author of quasi-legal pablum aimed at the so-called “Christian intellectual” market, trying to generate publicity so he can move a few more copies of his books off the shelf. I doubt it puts much bread on the table but I’m guessing his other job isn’t operating a goldmine.

Nevertheless, I can’t imagine how these guys sleep at night. If I had the conscience to live with myself, I’m sure I could make a comfortable living preaching against “materialists” and science and “secooler humanism” and shilling for “intelligent design”. I’d be far better at it than most of the Disclaimery Institute charlatans for the simple reason that I would know what I’m talking about.

Comment #26061

Posted by Marty Erwin on April 21, 2005 12:28 PM (e)

My personal outlook is dismal. When we fall to the point that the merits of science and decisions about what is and is not valid science come into the domain of a legal debate we have already lost the argument. Our real enemy isn’t ID in general, it is the existence of a scientifically illiterate population that can be manipulated by rhetoricians. Irony abounds.

Comment #26062

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 21, 2005 12:32 PM (e)

Dr. Beckwith argued:

It would seem to me that X could be taught. However, suppose Mr. Z comes along and points out that proponents of X are 95% Muslim (with Sunnis and Shiites evenly divided) and that proponents of X support a Koranic view of reality. But suppose Mr. Z never points this out. How would the quality of theory change simply because its proponents motives shift from known to unknown. If the theory is well-regarded by the wider community of scientists, even if a majority of them don’t agree with it—it seems to me that the motivation of its advocates has no bearing on its quality. In fact, to exclude that point of view because its legislative proponents (not its scientific ones, let’s say) are overwhelming of one faith, even if the view is well-regarded by non-believers, seems to place a limit on the power of legislators, and smacks at a violation of Article VI of the Constitution, which prohibits a religious test for office (limiting a legislator’s powers based on his beliefs, and not on the content of his legislation, is, for all intents and purposes a “religious test,” since he is being limited in his powers based on his beliefs).

But that is exactly the sorts of powers of legislation that the Constitution restricts – yes, he’s being limited from legislating his beliefs, because such legislation is an illegal establishment of religion. It’s not a violation of Article VI in any way. Article VI deals with whether a person of a given religious belief could hold office at all.

That view of the Constitution is hopelessly muddled. Such a case would turn on the facts of the matter, the evidence.

That’s my original point. On the facts you give for ID, Dr. Beckwith, the decision is clear. It’s not science. The drive to legislate it into school curriculum is driven by religion and religious fervor, not science.

Only if one hopelessly muddles the law and the facts can one make a claim that it is Constitutional to teach ID in public schools as science. Even were you able to get out from under the religious association issue, it remains religious dogma because there is no science basis.

Pigs don’t fly. ID is not science. Because pigs don’t fly, the FAA cannot regulate them. Because ID is not science, we don’t teach it as science; because it is religious dogma solely, we cannot teach it as hypothesis in public schools without running afoul of the establishment clause.

Religious freedom applies to citizens. We never delegated that freedom to our government, either federal or state. When acting as government, schools may not teach religion in place of science, and legislators have no religious right to violate the establishment clause.

Comment #26064

Posted by Steve Brady on April 21, 2005 12:51 PM (e)

Professor Smith,

I attended the debate. Although I am completely opposed to creationism and ID, I found your questions, comments, and general demeanor to be rude, irritating, as well as off-point, considering the relatively narrow topic being discussed, which, oddly, you yourself recognized in your post (“[Wexler] focused much more on the subject at hand — the legal aspects of teaching ID in public schools.”)

You also state, “I do not know what the audience’s general reaction was.” I find this suprising, as it was clear that the majority of the audience agreed with me about your behavior. In fact, you so attempted to monopolize the limited question-and-answer session, it seemed that you were a step away from being asked to leave.

If you are the best our side can muster, then I fear that ID will soon be taught in schools across the country. At the least, you were an embarassment to Steves everywhere.

Comment #26065

Posted by Descent & Dissent on April 21, 2005 12:56 PM (e)

Supposing a particular view, X, passes the science test.

Since in this case X = ID, why stop there? Let’s suppose pigs can fly.

Comment #26068

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 21, 2005 1:17 PM (e)

Steve Brady

I found your questions, comments, and general demeanor to be rude, irritating, as well as off-point

Gosh, I wish I had been there.

Which question or comment did you consider “rude” or “off-point” and why? What about Steve Smith’s “general demeanor” did you find “irritating” or “rude”?

In fact, you so attempted to monopolize the limited question-and-answer session, it seemed that you were a step away from being asked to leave.

What other questions were asked?

When Beckwith claimed that his ideas about ID weren’t “fully formed,” did you sit there quietly or did you audibly groan, “Oh spare us, Francis!”

Comment #26070

Posted by David Heddle on April 21, 2005 1:30 PM (e)

Steve Brady,

Be careful, if you run afoul of GWW, Trollistic Defender of the Faith, you may be excommunicated.

Comment #26071

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 21, 2005 1:32 PM (e)

Francis,

Would you please tell us the date that Mr. Ahmanson told you that he repudiated Christian Reconstructionism? You said that you worshiped at the same church between 1997 and 2002. This article says that as of 2000, Mr. Ahmanson funded an organization that proscribes death, as Biblical Law stipulates, for certain individuals:

“Ahmanson is a major backer of the Chalcedon Institute, which believes in the death penalty for adultery, promiscuity by unwed women, homosexuality and other ‘sins.’” The Nation, California’s Knightmare, by Doug Ireland, January 27, 2000.

Is it your claim that sometime between 2000 and 2002, Mr. Ahmanson rejected these fundamentalist views?

As for some of the individuals for whom Mr. Ahmanson apparently deemed that death is warranted, you and Mr. VanDyke share an interest in the subject of gays and gay marriage that has inspired you to make some rather strange comments:

  1. “Consequently, the premises that ground same-sex marriage put in place ideas that are consistent with, and will likely lead to, the unraveling of marriage itself.” – Francis Beckwith, National Review Online, Street Theatre in the Bay Area, February 26, 2004
  2. “Canad[ian] … courts are forcing same-sex marriage on the populace” – Lawrence VanDyke, The Record, One student’s response to ‘A Response to Glendon’, March 11, 2004 [Is this something like a Moonie wedding?]

I hope and trust that your recent visit to Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, did not lead to the unraveling of your own marriage. You philosophers must take your ideas very seriously indeed if one of those ideas could make you stop digging chicks.

Steve

Comment #26075

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 21, 2005 2:09 PM (e)

Heddle warns Steve Brady

Be careful, if you run afoul of GWW, Trollistic Defender of the Faith, you may be excommunicated.

Not excommunicated – merely discredited. Heddle will tell you all about it. ;)

But you’ve got nothing to worry about, Mr. B. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion – evolutionary biologists, Sasquatch lovers, alien abductees, and even creationist apologists like David “your miracle is absurd, mine is not” Heddle.

The key is being mature enough to accept the fact that only a small fraction of all possible opinions can be taught in public school science classrooms. It’s that simple.

Comment #26077

Posted by Great White Larry on April 21, 2005 2:19 PM (e)

Heddle warns Steve Brady

Be careful, if you run afoul of GWW, Trollistic Defender of the Faith, you may be excommunicated.

Not excommunicated – merely discredited. Heddle will tell you all about it. ;)

But you’ve got nothing to worry about, Mr. B. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion – evolutionary biologists, Sasquatch lovers, alien abductees, and even creationist apologists like David “your miracle is absurd” Heddle.

The key is being mature enough to accept the fact that only a small fraction of all possible opinions can be taught in public school science classrooms. It’s that simple.

Comment #26084

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 21, 2005 2:38 PM (e)

I found your questions, comments, and general demeanor to be rude, irritating, as well as off-point…. If you are the best our side can muster, then I fear that ID will soon be taught in schools across the country.

Yes, I apologized if I stepped over the line above. I did wonder if I should say anything at all. Frankly, I was amazed that Beckwith’s long debunked rhetorical arguments were being given a serious hearing, and wanted to make sure it was understood that they are without merit and justly derided, not debated. Never having engaged in such a discussion before, I’m certain that others could have done much better. What would you have said? I did watch the clock – our exchange did last about 10 minutes out of the 40 available for questions, so there was time.

As for the outcome of our exchange, I’m sorry that I deserve criticism for my delivery. I didn’t intend it to be as strong as it was – obviously a mistake. I do think that I accomplished my objective of making it clear that ID has been considered and decidedly rejected, but am sensitive to the criticism that this point must be delivered without frustration, as I did. Thank you for pointing this out. I’ll try to do better in the future.

As a learning experience, I sure found that it’s much easier to speak publicly about facts and evidence than rhetorically charged statements, as I attempted to do. I have a new found appreciation for the ability of people who are able to do this effectively. I’ll put my tail between my legs now and go work on some non-emotionally charged facts.

Comment #26086

Posted by Lone Ranger on April 21, 2005 2:59 PM (e)

For a more objective account of Dr. Project Steve’s activities, I offer the following from the Talk Origins News Group:

Question and answer period followed. The first questioner informed the
audience about Project Steve, pointed out Beckwith’s association with the DI, and specifically denounced its funding by Christian Reconstructionist Howard Ahmanson. He asked how Beckwith could have uttered some of the sillier factual inaccuracies WRT ID’s “scientific” claims in his opening speech and “still keep a straight face”. Beckwith responded that he knew Ahmanson personally, said that he had renounced some or all of his previous Reconstructionist views, and decried the argument of guilt by association.

At this point, the exchange became quite heated, and in my personal judgment the questioner was needlessly hostile, frequently interrupting Beckwith, monopolizing the room’s floor time, and generally being obnoxious. The honorable moderator did his level best to try to steer the conversation to the next questioner, but several students actually stood up and left at this point. While I sympathize and even empathize with the questioner’s disdain for creationists’ intellectual sloppiness and contempt for the odious political views underlying them, this was supposed to be a scholarly and collegiate exchange on the jurisprudence of a particularly nuanced church-state separation issue, not a debate on the (lack of) substantive merits of ID creationism. What was supposed to have the decorum of a colloquium of law at Harvard briefly turned into a tawdry internet chat-room
flame-circus. Without exception, the students I spoke with after the debate remained unconvinced by Beckwith’s position, but were embarrassed by the belligerence of this one Lone Ranger in the audience.

Comment #26087

Posted by Lone Ranger on April 21, 2005 3:03 PM (e)

For a more objective account of Dr. Project Steve’s activities, I offer the following from the Talk Origins News Group:

Question and answer period followed. The first questioner informed the
audience about Project Steve, pointed out Beckwith’s association with the DI, and specifically denounced its funding by Christian Reconstructionist Howard Ahmanson. He asked how Beckwith could have uttered some of the sillier factual inaccuracies WRT ID’s “scientific” claims in his opening speech and “still keep a straight face”. Beckwith responded that he knew Ahmanson personally, said that he had renounced some or all of his previous Reconstructionist views, and decried the argument of guilt by association.

At this point, the exchange became quite heated, and in my personal judgment the questioner was needlessly hostile, frequently interrupting Beckwith, monopolizing the room’s floor time, and generally being obnoxious. The honorable moderator did his level best to try to steer the conversation to the next questioner, but several students actually stood up and left at this point. While I sympathize and even empathize with the questioner’s disdain for creationists’ intellectual sloppiness and contempt for the odious political views underlying them, this was supposed to be a scholarly and collegiate exchange on the jurisprudence of a particularly nuanced church-state separation issue, not a debate on the (lack of) substantive merits of ID creationism. What was supposed to have the decorum of a colloquium of law at Harvard briefly turned into a tawdry internet chat-room flame-circus. Without exception, the students I spoke with after the debate remained unconvinced by Beckwith’s position, but were embarrassed by the belligerence of this one Lone Ranger in the audience.

Comment #26091

Posted by Frederick James on April 21, 2005 3:13 PM (e)

From Time Magazine, February 7, 2005:

“Money makes the Word go round, and this wealthy, conservative Republican couple takes a dizzyingly ecclectic approach to funding evangelism. The projects that savings-and-loan multimillionaires Howard and Roberta Ahmanson have paid for over the years through Fieldstead & Co., a private philanthropy in Irvine, Calif., form a cornucopia of faith-based activism, including an institute linked to the antievolution intelligent-design movement and a study of social endeavors by Third World Pentecostal churches. The couple have been accused over the years of having an extremist agenda, mostly because a onetime pet charity, the Chalcedon Foundation, advocates the Christian reconstructionist branch of theology that says gays and other biblical lawbreakers should be stoned. Howard distanced himself from those views and resigned from the foundation board years ago. The couple, both 55, now are warning powerful conservative Christians about the pitfalls of hubris in the aftermath of their victories over liberals last November. Says Roberta: “Christlike humility and [improving] the lives of human beings should be the goals.””

This is from an issue of Time devoted to America’s 25 most-influential Evangelicals. The Ahmanson’s were interviewed for this. So, Beckwith apparently is telling us the truth. Also, I did some research on Ahmanson found out that he was also on the original board (1980)and big funder of the now defunct Simon Greenleaf School of Law (Anaheim, CA). Greenleaf’s founder, John Warwick Montgomery, a Lutheran theologian and lawyer, was a very anti-theocratic evangelical, having published a book–the Shaping of America–that takes a strong church-state separationist stance.

Comment #26093

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 21, 2005 3:19 PM (e)

The Allegedly Belligerent One

As for the outcome of our exchange, I’m sorry that I deserve criticism for my delivery. I didn’t intend it to be as strong as it was — obviously a mistake … I’ll try to do better in the future.

A couple shots of scotch beforehand sometimes helps to keep the blood pressure down.

Comment #26096

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 21, 2005 3:29 PM (e)

F. James quotes Time magazine (I’m trying not to laugh)

The couple, both 55, now are warning powerful conservative Christians about the pitfalls of hubris in the aftermath of their victories over liberals last November. Says Roberta: “Christlike humility and [improving] the lives of human beings should be the goals.”

Let me get this straight. Mrs. Ahmanson’s wife makes a meaningless comment and that means … what? That Ahmanson no longer advocates injecting Jesus “back” into every aspect of American lives? Is that the argument?

Pardon me for being less than convinced.

The question is: did Ahmanson fund the Discovery Institute? If so, when? And has the Discovery Institute every renounced Ahmanson?

I’d love to hear someone argue that funding the Disclaimery Institute is consistent with “Christlike humility and [improving] the lives of human beings.” Perhaps Francis Beckwith, the master of rhetoric, would like to take that on.

Comment #26101

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 21, 2005 3:52 PM (e)

marty wrote:

“Our real enemy isn’t ID in general, it is the existence of a scientifically illiterate population that can be manipulated by rhetoricians.”

I’ve seen this realized many times, including by myself. It’s why i am trying to put together a non-profit to help address the issue. I wrote a rough draft proposal even, which languishes without comment so far here:

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/evolution-ngo

ignore the “adult warning” thing.

If you think that the problem truly lies in education, then at least tell me why this would or wouldn’t help.

cheers

Comment #26103

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 21, 2005 4:05 PM (e)

Ed Darrell wrote:

Did Ahmanson repudiate Reconstructionism? Where did he do that? It’s news, if it’s true. I doubt that’s the case.

Ahmanson Jr. says that he no longer follows the teachings of Rushdoony. And as far as I know, he’s doesn’t support the Chalcedon foundation anymore either. (If he does, it means he’s FOS). So Ahmanson is kind of a reconstructed Reconstructionist.

I’m willing to cut the guy some slack and take him at face value when he positions himself as a former, rather than current, Reconstructionist. But of course it still begs the question: what kind of person could ever be a Reconstructionist?

Comment #26105

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 21, 2005 4:09 PM (e)

“I know the following suggestion may make some folks bristle, but honestly, I am becoming increasingly convinced that there’s a bit of Fear Factor popping up on the evolutionist side of the fence.

FL”

no, the fear you imply is not one of being found wrong on matters of evidence or theory, as these “debates” are never about these things anyway. It’s simple fear of going up against well-trained debaters of rhetoric, that most scientists simply aren’t trained in. Hell, i would hesitate to debate politics with Rush Limbaugh in his studio, regardless of the fact that his missives are mostly crap. It takes a well-trained debator (heh, a master-debator) to be able to overcome setups like the one faced by Dr. Silver in his latest “debate” with Dembski, for example. Which even prompted some of us here to suggest he leave the debating to those used to the circumstances. It had nothing to do with his scientific qualifications to debate the issues, or a fear that he would “lose” on any substantive issue.

We simply have to make sure that those asked to debate under “rush limbaugh” conditions are used to that.

as for Kansas, that has nothing to do with fear, but rather strategy. It needs to be made clear that these “debates” really have no substantive issues at their creamy centers. They are about religion and politics, not science. This is the perfect case to make this point by boycott.

cheers

Comment #26113

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 21, 2005 4:39 PM (e)

GWW wrote:

The question is: did Ahmanson fund the Discovery Institute? If so, when?

Yes, Ahmanson certainly funded the DI, specifically the C®SC. In fact he provided the start-up funds, and I’m pretty sure he gives them funding each and every year. I don’t have any sources on hand, but these sorts of things are part of the public record.

And has the Discovery Institute ever renounced Ahmanson?

You don’t bite the hand the feeds you. Phillip Johnson even dedicated one of his books to the Ahmansons.

And consistent with the DI’s unwillingness to denounce even the most radical members of their big tent, they’ve never said anything bad about Reconstructionism as far as I know.

I’d love to hear someone argue that funding the Disclaimery Institute is consistent with “Christlike humility and [improving] the lives of human beings.”

Indeed, Ahmanson’s funding of the DI is consistent with many of the other movements he funds – they are all designed to advance the Right’s “culture war” and to further the influence of Christian reactionaries. For example, he’s helped bankrol the ongoing schism within the Espiscopal church, which was largely precipitated by the election of a gay bishop, but at its core is based on the fact that the church is just too “liberal” to be allowed to exist unmolested.

I’m sure Ahmanson funds worthy charitable causes as well, but he seems to drop an awful lot of coin on causes that are ideological.

Comment #26128

Posted by Anthony on April 21, 2005 6:10 PM (e)

FL -

You’re right that there is a fear factor at play here, but it is the same on you cited from Steven:
“scientists must not debate these subjects on the same stage as creationists because they will only serve the creationist rhetorical end of being taken seriously.”

And in his post he also writes that “Beckwith was not at Harvard to “win” a legal debate. His presentation was consistent with one whose goal is to sow doubt about evolution, and to gain more recruits and allies than he already has. Toward these ends, I judge that Beckwith performed well.”

No one debating for evolution risks “getting defeated in public by the scientists … on the non-evolutionist side if they show up to a debate or a hearing,” because there _are_ no scientists on the non-evolutionist side. (No one presently working in the relevant fields, anyway). The “fear” at work here is that simply by showing up to a debate, a scientist would lose by granting ID any scientific merit at all. If a scientist appears on stage with an ID supporter, people in the audience who hadn’t taken them seriously before will be more likely to consider their “teach the controversy” claims, _not_ for any scientific reasons (there being none) but for reasons which have nothing to do with science (personal faith will be the major one here).

Anyway, you’re right to agree with Beckwith on the legal justification for his claim that “the motivation of (a theory’s) advocates has no bearing on its quality”, but that really has nothing to do with the case at hand. If there were a scientific controversy that experts were unfairly trying to squelch because its supporters were all religously motivated, that would be one thing. But there is no scientific controversy, there is _only_ religious motivation, and so Beckwith’s ridiculous hypothetical has nothing to do with the case at hand.

Comment #26129

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 6:15 PM (e)

Let me get this straight. Mrs. Ahmanson’s wife makes a meaningless comment and that means … what? That Ahmanson no longer advocates injecting Jesus “back” into every aspect of American lives? Is that the argument?

Pardon me for being less than convinced.

The question is: did Ahmanson fund the Discovery Institute? If so, when? And has the Discovery Institute every renounced Ahmanson?

I’d love to hear someone argue that funding the Disclaimery Institute is consistent with “Christlike humility and [improving] the lives of human beings.” Perhaps Francis Beckwith, the master of rhetoric, would like to take that on.

I’m with you. Ahmanson’s sudden conversion doesn’t impress me very much, and neither does his asinine argument that we should trust him now because he’s no longer as nutty as he used to be.

And DI’s continuing refusal to flat-out denounce Ahmanson’s extremism, whether he currently calls it Reconstructionism or not, speaks volumes about what DI is really all about.

Comment #26131

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 6:24 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #26133

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 6:32 PM (e)

Perhaps we should invite some HIV-deniers to this board. They can certainly learn a few things from the ID proponents. What they need to do though first is get some super rich patron to fund their agenda. Let me recommend that religiously unmotivated individuals are always a good place to start. Look for the one that knows (but does not believe) HIV is a gay disease, a gift from God as it were, poised to rid the world of the homosexual plague. Then, I suggest that they start thinking of ways of training the next generation of scientists to recognize that AIDS is not caused by HIV. To accomplish that, they need to start debating scientists in public forums sponsored by more unmotivated religious individuals. Preferably, they should dress up these debates by holding them at reputable secular universities, and invite only their highly critical supporters. Finally, they should target school boards nationwide to include a statement in every biology and social science curriculum and textbook about the controversy that exists regarding this homosexual disease. If there is trouble with the teachers, have the religiously unmotivated school principal or board member read aloud the statement.

Gee, it just so happens that the Discovery Institute’s Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture already knows just the guy who would be quite interested in that ….

His name is Phillip Johnson. I’m sure some of us here have heard of him – he’s written a number of books upholding “intelligent design theory” and excoriating “darwinism”, “naturalism” and “materialism”. He dedicated one of his books to some guy named Ahmanson – who, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, just so happens to fund an awful lot of anti-gay groups. So maybe Johnson can help talk this Ahmanson guy into writing a check to set up a Center for (the Renewal of) Real AIDS Research.

This Johnson guy has a website here:

http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/index/pjohnson.htm

Comment #26135

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 6:35 PM (e)

Posted by David Heddle on April 21, 2005 07:51 AM (e) (s)

Oh lookie, the pit yorkie is back to yap at me again.

Why don’t you save everyone some time, Davey, and just run away again.

Comment #26136

Posted by Gary on April 21, 2005 6:37 PM (e)

One teeny-tiny quibble, Rev. As a taxpayer I kind of resent having to waste our money, once again, soundly trouncing these mountebanks in a court of law. Although I do agree it is fun to see them, once again, have their heads handed to them.
Gary

Comment #26138

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 6:44 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #26139

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 6:48 PM (e)

Posted by David Heddle on April 21, 2005 07:51 AM (e) (s)

Back for another drubbing already, Dave?

Comment #26140

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 21, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

“As a taxpayer I kind of resent having to waste our money, once again, soundly trouncing these mountebanks in a court of law. Although I do agree it is fun to see them, once again, have their heads handed to them.”

look, the numbers of folks who believe in “creationism” in this country hasn’t changed from around 45% in over the last 20 years. At what point do you think this will end up being solved in a court of law? It will keep coming back… again and again and again, until it is fully realized that the 45% is due to a lack of proper education, not a matter of law.

you can cheer “hoorah” for all the lopsided legal arguments against creationists, it never seems to slow it down tho, does it?

Comment #26141

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 21, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

Time magazine

Howard distanced himself from those views and resigned from the foundation board years ago.

Beckwith

When I caught wind of his reconstructionist views, it troubled me as well, since I am a strong defender of liberal democracy and strong proponent of religious liberty. So, I asked him about it. He said that he had abandoned those views years ago.

Interesting use of the same self-serving vague language. Perhaps the journalist at time magazine is also skilled at reciting rhetoric that is pleasing to religious wingnuts. How surprising would that be?

By all accounts Ahmanson pumped the ultra-obnoxious Rushdoony full of change for about twenty years.

Twenty years.

Rushdoony died in 2001. It’s not entirely clear when this “denouncing” of Reconstructionism occurred, if indeed a public statement was ever made.

His wife speaks for him at least in part – if we can believe this – he has Tourette’s syndrome.

In 2004 she said

“The Christian view of man is that we’re not perfect. You don’t give to things that base themselves on the optimistic view that human beings are going to be doing it right,” Mrs. Ahmanson explained. When I asked if this meant she and her husband would still want to install the supremacy of biblical law, she replied: “I’m not suggesting we have an amendment to the Constitution that says we now follow all 613 of the case laws of the Old Testament … But if by biblical law you mean the last seven of the 10 Commandments, you know, yeah.”

http://www.episcopalforumofsc.org/readingsbody.html?file=readings/VBL/VBL-AvengingAngel.txt

Bottom line is this idea that documenting Ahmanson’s affiliation with racist bigoted religious freaks like Rushdoony is not remotely what dissemblers like Beckwith would have us believe: digging up a brief dalliance with extremists from a wholly reformed “good Christian’s” distant past. Not even close.

Fyi, here’s Mrs. Ahmanson’s dream of the Supreme Law of the Land for the United States of America

IV. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
V. Honour thy father and thy mother.
VI. Thou shalt not kill.
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
X. Thou shalt not covet any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Comment #26142

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

When I caught wind of his reconstructionist views, it troubled me as well, since I am a strong defender of liberal democracy and strong proponent of religious liberty.

I see, so deep down inside, you’re just a bleeding heart liberal; kind of guy, eh?

I’m curious — does your definition of “liberal democracy” and “religious freedom” include the separation of church and state? Does it include full civil liberties for everyone, regardless of race, gender or sexual preference?

Comment #26143

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 6:56 PM (e)

I’m curious —- does your definition of “liberal democracy” and “religious freedom” include the separation of church and state? Does it include full civil liberties for everyone, regardless of race, gender or sexual preference?

“Consequently, the premises that ground same-sex marriage put in place ideas that are consistent with, and will likely lead to, the unraveling of marriage itself.” — Francis Beckwith, National Review Online, Street Theatre in the Bay Area, February 26, 2004

OK, so the answer to my question would be, “No, Dr Beckwith’s definition of ‘liberal democracy’ and ‘religious freedom’ does NOT include full civil liberties for everyone, regardless of race, gender or sexual preference.” Seems Dr Beckwith and Mr Ahmanson have something in common after all, huh …. Or have you also undergone a sudden conversion and repudiation along with Mr Ahmanson, Dr Beckwith …. ?

How about that “separation of church and state” thingie, Dr Beckwith? Where are you on that?

Comment #26145

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 6:58 PM (e)

Beckwith responded that he knew Ahmanson personally, said that he had renounced some or all of his previous Reconstructionist views

Well, what the hell does THAT mean? “Some or all”? Which ones HAS he? Which ones HASN’T he? And why not?

Classic lawyerly bullshit.

Comment #26146

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 21, 2005 7:01 PM (e)

“Beckwith responded that he knew Ahmanson personally”

… and you sir, are no Ahmanson!

god i loved that debate between Bentson and Quayle.

Comment #26147

Posted by Henry J on April 21, 2005 7:02 PM (e)

Re “I find it amusing that so many people are going to such great lengths to prop up a dead theory being kept alive without reason.”

Given that both sides accuse the other of doing this, I wonder which side Doug is speaking from?

Henry

Comment #26149

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

The couple have been accused over the years of having an extremist agenda, mostly because a onetime pet charity, the Chalcedon Foundation, advocates the Christian reconstructionist branch of theology that says gays and other biblical lawbreakers should be stoned. Howard distanced himself from those views and resigned from the foundation board years ago.

Right— he no longer thinks they should be stoned, just denied housing and jobs. Gee, what a swell guy.

But Ahmanson HAS refused to rule out stoning if the situation warrants it: From the Americans United for Separation of Church and State blog, August 11, 2004:

http://blog.au.org/2004/08/mullah_makeover.html

An excerpt:

Even with the PR blitz, Ahmanson can’t seem to bring himself to disavow the more extreme elements of the Reconstructionist philosophy. “I think what upsets people is that Rushdoony seemed to think – and I’m not sure about this – that a godly society would stone people for the same thing that people in ancient Israel were stoned,” Ahmanson said. “I no longer consider that essential.”

But Ahmanson couldn’t bring himself to ruling out stoning entirely. “It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral, to stone people for these things,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s at all a necessity.”

I’m not buying Ahmanson’s sudden conversion.

Comment #26152

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 7:12 PM (e)

Yes, Ahmanson certainly funded the DI, specifically the C®SC. In fact he provided the start-up funds, and I’m pretty sure he gives them funding each and every year. I don’t have any sources on hand, but these sorts of things are part of the public record.

Actually, they are not. Ahmanson funnels most of his money through a non-incorporated foundation, the Fieldstead Foundation, which was set up specifically to evade and avoid *any* legal requirement to reveal who receives money from him. Even the IRS doesn’t know.

The only way anyone knows who gets money from Ahmanson is if he tells, or if they tell.

Comment #26156

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 21, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

One teeny-tiny quibble, Rev. As a taxpayer I kind of resent having to waste our money, once again, soundly trouncing these mountebanks in a court of law.

An excellent argument for the legal principle of forcing the ID losers to reimburse *any and all* tax money that is spent to defend public education from their private religious crusade.

Comment #26157

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 21, 2005 7:17 PM (e)

Howie “Trust Me, Francis” Ahmanson

It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral, to stone people for these things

Maybe he’s imagining jury trial followed by a giant boulder, like in Herschell Gordon Lewis’ brilliant “Two Thousand Maniacs.”

That might be sorta humane, relatively speaking …

http://www.theyrecoming.com/movies.php?num=180

Comment #26161

Posted by 386sx on April 21, 2005 7:58 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #26162

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 21, 2005 8:13 PM (e)

*sigh*

to think i actually grew up in Orange County.

Comment #26163

Posted by Gary on April 21, 2005 8:21 PM (e)

“the legal principle of forcing the ID losers to reimburse *any and all* tax money that is spent to defend public education from their private religious crusade.”

Amen! Now you’re talkin’, Rev!
Gary

Comment #26176

Posted by Steve Brady on April 21, 2005 11:07 PM (e)

Steve Smith:

Yes, I apologized if I stepped over the line above.

Fair enough.

As a learning experience, I sure found that it’s much easier to speak publicly about facts and evidence than rhetorically charged statements, as I attempted to do.

I’d suggest learning this: you’re not going to win anyone over if you play to every stereotype of the elite, closed-minded, anti-religious scientist (from MIT no less!) - which is how you came across.

I confess ignorance of your general beef with Prof. Beckwith, whom I had never heard of before. But if he is sincere that, while he thinks it constitutional for states to require the teaching ID, he thinks they should not as a matter of policy, well, this seems like someone you should be trying to get on your side.

Comment #26181

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 21, 2005 11:27 PM (e)

gary and Lenny:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/peloza.html

it’s not that easy to prove a claim frivolous.

you guys are dreaming if you think it could become a serious issue for the fundies.

Comment #26184

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 22, 2005 12:09 AM (e)

Steve Brady

But if [Beckwith] is sincere that, while he thinks it constitutional for states to require the teaching ID, he thinks they should not as a matter of policy, well, this seems like someone you should be trying to get on your side.

Um …. what happens when Beckwith’s views on “intelligent designe” creationism become “fully formed” and he decides that ID is really science and not just half-baked garbage? In that event, any “policy concerns” Beckwith would have with teaching ID would likely vanish.

My personal opinion: Beckwith’s views on ID are as “fully formed” as my own. He’s a grown man. He knows what the deal is.

He knows that “intelligent design” is not science. He knows that “intelligent design” is utterly worthless garbage to scientists. He has been told exactly that by the scientists themselves.

The explanation for Beckwith’s odd disclaimer is simply that, as a member of our nation’s vocal mob of conservative “evangelicals”, his interests do not include a population of Americans with undiluted educations in the biological sciences. In their mandated effort to understand why Christianity has not infected the entire world of rational human beings, these folks have identified science as one of the primary antidotes to be diluted.

Comment #26190

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 22, 2005 12:35 AM (e)

Sir Toejam attempts to pop our high flyin’ Darwinist balloon:

you guys are dreaming if you think it could become a serious issue for the fundies.

Well, pretty much the sole argument the court makes for not awarding fees is that “some of the issues he raises present important questions of first impression in this circuit.”

Those particular “questions of first impression” are now used up – in the 9th circuit at least. And they issues the court refers to weren’t related to the teaching of creationism in science class – they were the issues relating to “Peloza’s ability to talk with students about religion during the school day.”

What would the “question of first impression” in the Michigan case, Sir Toejam?

Comment #26205

Posted by Steve Brady on April 22, 2005 8:43 AM (e)

GWW:

The explanation for Beckwith’s odd disclaimer is simply that, as a member of our nation’s vocal mob of conservative “evangelicals”, his interests do not include a population of Americans with undiluted educations in the biological sciences. In their mandated effort to understand why Christianity has not infected the entire world of rational human beings, these folks have identified science as one of the primary antidotes to be diluted.

I guess he struck me as more like Andrew Sullivan and less like Jonah Goldberg. You don’t have to agree with everything he says; he’s skilled in the language and ideas of “the other side” and could be helpful in your goal of keeping ID out of classrooms.

Or maybe I can’t get too excited about it. To me, the whole thing is rather like arguing over whether Abner Doubleday invented baseball - either way, it doesn’t tell me who I should put on my roto team.

Comment #26210

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 22, 2005 9:39 AM (e)

Steve Brady wrote:

You don’t have to agree with everything he says; he’s skilled in the language and ideas of “the other side” and could be helpful in your goal of keeping ID out of classrooms.

Steve,

That may well be, but not for the reasons you’re suggesting. You might be interested to read the Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document, as well as this analysis by Paul Gross.

These describe the Discovery Institute’s multiphase plan to replace scientific facts like evolution that they believe challenge their religious convictions. The plan itself is reasonable enough: 1. Research and Publication; 2. Publicity and Opinion Making; 3. Cultural Confrontation and Renewal.

The basic problem with this plan is that Phase 1 is an abysmal failure. There isn’t any evidence or even a coherent research program for ID. That difficultly, however, has not stopped ID advocates, and they have moved on to Phases 2 and 3, which include legal debates. The “debate” you witnessed at Harvard was one aspect of this Wedge strategy.

As Professor Beckwith discussed, he is a Fellow of the Discovery Institute, and an actor in the Wedge.

The criticism of his stated position about not supporting ID being taught in schools (even though he argues for its constitutionality) is that it is a pose – simply a clever and effective rhetorical position for the legal part of the Wedge.

Personally, I do believe in redemption, and do hope that the scales fall from Mr. Beckwith’s eyes and that he joins the side of defending science as well as the separation of church and state – he could be a terrific ally. But given his chosen affiliations, I’m not holding my breath.

Comment #26215

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 22, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

Steve Brady wrote:

You don’t have to agree with everything he says; he’s skilled in the language and ideas of “the other side” and could be helpful in your goal of keeping ID out of classrooms.

Steve,

That may well be, but not for the reasons you’re suggesting. You might be interested to read the Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document, as well as this analysis by Paul Gross.

These describe the Discovery Institute’s multiphase plan to replace scientific facts like evolution that they believe challenge their religious convictions. The plan itself is reasonable enough: 1. Research and Publication; 2. Publicity and Opinion Making; 3. Cultural Confrontation and Renewal.

The basic problem with this plan is that Phase 1 is an abysmal failure. There isn’t any evidence or even a coherent research program for ID. That difficultly, however, has not stopped ID advocates, and they have moved on to Phases 2 and 3, which include legal debates. The “debate” you witnessed at Harvard was one aspect of this Wedge strategy.

As Professor Beckwith discussed, he is a Fellow of the Discovery Institute, and an actor in the Wedge.

The criticism of his stated position about not supporting ID being taught in schools (even though he argues for its constitutionality) is that it is a pose – simply a clever and effective rhetorical position for the legal part of the Wedge.

Personally, I do believe in redemption, and do hope that the scales fall from Mr. Beckwith’s eyes and that he joins the side of defending science as well as the separation of church and state – he could be a terrific ally. But given his chosen affiliations, I’m not holding my breath.

Comment #26234

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 22, 2005 12:13 PM (e)

Steve Brady

I am completely opposed to creationism and ID

and later

maybe I can’t get too excited about it. To me, the whole thing is rather like arguing over whether Abner Doubleday invented baseball - either way, it doesn’t tell me who I should put on my roto team.

Then let someone else tell you who has been paying attention to Beckwith’s drivel for quite some time. That’s reasonable, and also efficient.

Comment #26236

Posted by Francis Beckwith on April 22, 2005 12:31 PM (e)

Steve:

Please stop saying things that are not true. I am not an “actor in the Wedge.” I am an academic who found interest in a fascinating subject that the Discovery Institute was gracious enough to offer a modest grant. The grant covered 7,000 out of 41,000 of my living and tuition expenses at Wash. U. The rest was covered by me and a grant by a physician in Las Vegas, Nevada, the city in which I grew up. The physician, by the way, is not an ID supporter. He is moderate Lutheran interested in church-state issues.

Prior to arriving at Baylor in 2003 I had never even heard of the Wedge Document. The only reason why it came to my attention is that a group of alumni at the school were trying to get me removed from my position (or, as they say, “reassigned”) because they perceived that my views on church and state were not in line with their ancestor, the name-sake of the institute in which I hold my appointment.

As for the debate at Harvard, that was the result of the initiative of the Federalist Society and its leadership there. In fact, the guys at Discovery didn’t know about it until someone posted in P.Z. Meyer’s site sometime early last week. Given the controversy concerning the book note of my monograph in the Harvard Law Review last year, and given the fact that I am on the Federalist Society’s speakers’ list (which means that local FS groups may get reimbursed by the national office), the Havard FS folks thought my presence in a debate format with draw attention to their group and result in a civil dialogue. With the exception of one audience member’s intemperate comments, the event went very well.

As for the civil liberty query offered by someone above, I have a review essay forthcoming in Chapman Law Review, “Gimme That Ol’ Time Separation,” which outlines my views. I am, by my own description, a separationist, but I do not believe that that entails that religously-motivated policies that may be defended by public reasons have no place in the public square simply because of their origin. The paradigm case of this is the prolife position on abortion, a position that is contingent upon a metaphysic that is congenial to a religious worldview though one need-not accept that worldview in order to embrace, appreciate, or understand the prolife arguments.

As for my article on same-sex marriage, Steve yet again commits the guilt by association philosophy in the form of false dilemma. He implies that there are only two options, embrace gay marriage or stone homosexuals. There are, believe it or not, a whole cluster of positions that affirm the dignity of all persons while at the same make the case that certain institutions are necessary to advance the public good, and one of them is male-female marriage. That is the position I hold. When I wrote about the “premises” of same-sex marriage, I meant the assumptions made in order to defend it. What I argued is that those premises provide no logical reason to reject other forms of unions that are not as chic or have as many lobbyists, e.g., polygamy, adult incest, etc. I am not suggesting that same-sex marriage will lead to those; what I am saying is that given the principles undergirding same-sex marriage there is no good reason to reject them.

Steve, I don’t mind having a knock-down, drag-out argument about ID and public education. I find it a fascinating subject overwhich a number of different disciplines and areas of study coalesce, i.e., philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, epistemology, political theory, etc. What I am suggesting is that you calm down a bit and try to understand what I am saying, who I am as a scholar, and why I offer the arguments I do. I am a human being who, like the rest of us, attempts to wrestle with alot of issues that touch on our beliefs and knowledge about the world.

If you find it offensive, as I do, that someone would suggest that it may be permissible to stone homosexuals, do you find it just as offensive that Daniel Dennett would suggest that Christians belong in cages or Richard Dawkins’ judgment that it is better that a young man be molested by a Catholic priest than that he become a Catholic. Of course, I know that Dennett has defended himself that he was taken out of context, and I am willing to grant him the benefit of the doubt on this. I’m not sure about Dawkins, however (If he has explained himself on this, please tell me; I’d like to know). We all have, on our sides, people who say things with which we disagree. So, let’s stop this immature type of interaction and have an adult conversation.

I look forward to meeting at a future date under better and more friendly circumstances. I can tell by your website that you are an accomplished scholar, and for that I have great respect. I am sure that I can learn alot from you. Perhaps we can correspond privately and you can share with me your substantive concerns about some of the scientific and curricular issues you did not have the chance to raise last Friday.

Take care,
Frank

Comment #26243

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 22, 2005 1:06 PM (e)

Beckwith

If you find it offensive, as I do, that someone would suggest that it may be permissible to stone homosexuals, do you find it just as offensive that Daniel Dennett would suggest that Christians belong in cages or Richard Dawkins’ judgment that it is better that a young man be molested by a Catholic priest than that he become a Catholic.

Daniel who? Richard who? Which political organizations are these jerks providing millions of dollars to Beckwith? Is this Dawkins spending millions in an attempt to ensure that young boys are molested by Catholic priests?

I’m confused Francis. But you’re the Master of Rhetoric. Perhaps you can explain to us why this analogy isn’t the pathetic piece of dissembling tripe that it sounds like.

Of course, I know that Dennett has defended himself that he was taken out of context, and I am willing to grant him the benefit of the doubt on this.

After you smear him with it – just lovely.

So, let’s stop this immature type of interaction and have an adult conversation.

How about clarifying for us why are you so eager to defend the constitutionality of teaching ID creationism in science classrooms when (1) your ideas about ID “aren’t fully formed”?

That would be a great start, Mr. Beckwith, to an “adult” conversation.

Comment #26245

Posted by E on April 22, 2005 1:06 PM (e)

The reason motivations are brought up with the Intelligent Design movement is because it is relevant to Church-State issues.

If it simply was a scientifically sterile or egregiously wrong view, teachers would have a right to teach it in a public school. Add in the fact that it is a scientifically sterile view that frequently doubles as thinly veiled religious apologetics, and you’ve formed the backbone of an argument that it should not be allowed to be taught by K-12 public school teachers.

That’s why exploring motivations matter. It isn’t an attempt to guilt by association away the merits of their arguments. Those can be shown deeply flawed on their own terms. It’s an attempt to explore whether what is occuring is an attempt to circumvent Church-State separation either explicitly or by implication.

Comment #26247

Posted by Russell on April 22, 2005 1:12 PM (e)

Two comments: anyone who can read the regular Wedge Reports from the DI folks, and NOT recognize their profound and corrosive dishonesty is either scientifically illiterate or ideologically blinded. I don’t trust anyone who would voluntarily associate him/herself with that enterprise.

Secondly, regarding advocating stoning “sinners” vs. Dennett’s and Dawkins’ remarks. If Dennett was talking literally about caging Christians then, yes, it would be in the same zone of extremism as the Reconstructionists. I don’t know the context, but I would be willing to bet he was not suggesting that literally. I believe the Reconstructionists, on the other hand, are serious. Whichever of the two evils Dawkins perceives as the greater, he’s not advocating either, is he?

Comment #26261

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 22, 2005 1:52 PM (e)

Dear Frank,

Thank you for coming back.

Before coming to my comments, I would like to make a general statement that it would be best for all of us to avoid any hint of the response for which I have been justly criticized above. I believe that we all know what our differences are now – let’s not dogpile Francis.

I certainly have no desire to say things that are not true.

First, I just said that you were an actor in the Wedge, based on the Discovery Institute’s list of Fellows, where your name appears first. I also said that the Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document lists legal debates as part of it’s strategy. Why would not a reasonable person link your legal debates as part of this Wedge strategy? Should your name not appear on the Discovery Institute’s web page?

Second, I have been quite explicit about the scientific baselessness of Intelligent Design creationism. Though you are careful to avoid intellectual support of ID, you certainly give it rhetorical support, including arguments listed in an index of creationist claims. As tactfully as I can ask this question, how can you argue for teaching a subject that is factually baseless?

Related to this issue is the point of view represented by Richard John Neuhaus in his recent article Stifling Intellectual Inquiry (First Things, April 30, 2005). This really represents the worst sort of understanding of what scientific knowledge is, and how it is achieved. As a group, the primary motivation of scientists is to know the truth (small ‘t’), and not any attachment to one philosophical conviction or another, save that truth exists and that one can know it. Really, if there were any evidence, or even any reasonable arguments, for Intelligent Design creationism, I can assure you that by and large we would be it’s fiercest defenders. But there isn’t, so we’re not.

By the way, I was introduced to the nonsense of the ID community in the pages of First Things, which once ran a breathtakingly ridiculous account of Fisher information, a subject with which I have some familiarity. Trust me, Neuhaus and others have no idea what they’re talking about, and appear foolish to those that do.

Fourth, I’m sure that we could have a very animated discussion about the culture war issues that have been raised, but I suggest that we put these down here. I will say that I condemn Richard Dawkins’ comments preferring priestly abuse to being told about eternal damnation. At best, they’re weird, and I hope that he retracts them.

I don’t expect you to respond to all of this, but I would very much appreciate a reply to my first and second points.

Best,

Steve

Comment #26265

Posted by guthrie on April 22, 2005 2:03 PM (e)

Mr Beckwith,
I think what most people on here take offence to is that your statements, evidenced in the post above for example, make no mention at all of any actual “science”. You say for example:

“Steve, I don’t mind having a knock-down, drag-out argument about ID and public education. I find it a fascinating subject overwhich a number of different disciplines and areas of study coalesce, i.e., philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, epistemology, political theory, etc.”

Yet at no point in that do you consider whether it has any scientific merit. As you probably noticed by now, none of the regular posters with a biological sciences background think ID has any merit at all (Except Davison, but having read his screed online I can’t see anything scientific about it either) Thus this debate is impossible from the start, since you seem to be treating it as an entertaining exercise in rhetoric, a kind of intellectual fun, whereas to people here, you are trying to crowd in on actual scientific hard work. Which of course rubs them up the wrong way. So bearing that in mind, why do you continue with your intellectual gymnastics?

Comment #26273

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 22, 2005 3:02 PM (e)

Beckwith writes:

“…that the Discovery Institute was gracious enough to offer a modest grant”

well, there ya go, he really doesn’t believe any of this stuff, surely. He was just accepting grant money to make his way through college…

I wonder what my review committee in zoology at Berkeley would have thought if i decided to accept money from the animals rights groups to devote part of my thesis to “the torture of small animals in labs”.

Comment #26275

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 22, 2005 3:10 PM (e)

Beckwith writes:

“I find it a fascinating subject overwhich a number of different disciplines and areas of study coalesce, i.e., philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, epistemology, political theory, etc. “

note the lack of any reference to the fields that actually would be negatively affected by ID. namely, science itself.

Comment #26279

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 22, 2005 3:20 PM (e)

“Richard John Neuhaus in his recent article Stifling Intellectual Inquiry (First Things, April 30, 2005)”

er, that is in fact the date listed on the article. Anybody else wondering about that?

Comment #26290

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 22, 2005 4:01 PM (e)

Mr. Beckwith

I am a human being who, like the rest of us, attempts to wrestle with alot of issues that touch on our beliefs and knowledge about the world.

Wrestle with this, Frank:

[Focus on the Family] board member, R. Albert Mohler Jr., said Thursday he stands by the comments he made in March 2000 on the cable news show Larry King Live.

“I believe that the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel,” Mohler said at the time.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/state/article/0,1299,DRMN_21_3720500,00.html

Gosh, that seems like a rather rude statement for someone with a gigantic microphone to blurt out. I think that it would be easy to argue that Albert’s statement is downright insulting to an awful lot of people.

But Albert believes – and he’s not alone – that he should get a free pass because such statements merely reflect Albert’s religious beliefs! Religion serves as an interesting shield for such asinine and bigoted statements, a shield which is employed on a daily basis by people like Mr. Mohler and Mr. Beckwith.

This strange organization, Focus on the Family, is well-known for its extreme anti-gay bigotry and theocratic agenda, and also for spreading lies like manure in spring.

And whaddya know? They also lie about science:

http://www.family.org/fofmag/pp/a0021018.cfm

For decades, Darwin’s theory of evolution has ruled supreme. But its reign is now threatened by a growing band of scholars promoting an alternative view called “intelligent design.”

As Mr. Beckwith knows – but is unlikely to admit – ID poses no “threat” whatsoever to evolutionary biology. ID is nothing more than political propoganda created with the intent to foster and encourage religious beliefs in public school children. This is plain as paint to anyone with two eyes who isn’t drowning in kool-aid.

But wait! There’s more. Who is the author of the self-serving Focus on the Family pablum? Why, it’s Mark “Yet Another Shill” Hartwig, Disclaimery Institute Fellow!

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=87&isFellow=true

So Hartwig shills for Focus on the Family, headed by Jim Dobson who recently called for the impeachment of half the members of the Supreme Court. And Hartwig shills for the Discovery Institute, which is funded and arguably founded by Ahmanson, a quintessential self-proclaimed “Christian” who spent two decades pumping up a certifiable nutcase with money. And Beckwith of course helps Hartwig shill for ID peddlers – admits taking the Discovery Institute’s money – in spite of the fact that his ideas about ID aren’t “fully formed” and goes so far as to claim: “I am a strong defender of liberal democracy and strong proponent of religious liberty.”

Sure you are Frank. Just like your comrade Albert who runs around telling Larry King and millions of American Catholics that their religious beliefs are “false.” Hooray for religious freedom!

Honest human beings should be revolted by Beckwith’s dissembling at Harvard and here in these comments. It’s shameless. And sorta pathetically obvious, too.

Thankfully, the salad days of peddling pseudoscientific junk at Ivy League schools are going to be short-lived. We’ve revealed the great Wedge to be little more than an especially creaky plank. It’s about time for the ID peddlers to take a walk.

Comment #26298

Posted by Colin on April 22, 2005 4:55 PM (e)

Guthrie, my impression is that many people approach issues like this from a legalistic mindset, and are too dismissive of approaches and issues that deviate from their preferred angle of attack. This is, I think, why groups such as the Federalists are so willing to shill for creationists. As an example, the legal argumentation involved in supporting everything from YEC to ID is helpful in eroding what they see as illegitimate separation of church and state. The damage that such argumentation does to extraneous issues, such as public education or scienctific progress, is often just ignored. It’s simply an external cost that doesn’t bear on the core goal.

I don’t know what an HLS Federalist who supported this nonsense would say in response; I imagine most would deny that their political goals carry serious costs, many wouldn’t care about them, and some would honestly support undermining the theory of evolution in favor of traditional religious teachings.

Comment #26315

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 22, 2005 6:21 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #26317

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 22, 2005 6:29 PM (e)

If you find it offensive, as I do, that someone would suggest that it may be permissible to stone homosexuals, do you find it just as offensive that Daniel Dennett would suggest that Christians belong in cages or Richard Dawkins’ judgment that it is better that a young man be molested by a Catholic priest than that he become a Catholic.

Yes. And I wouldn’t take money from any of them. Which apparently YOU didn’t have any problem with ….

But I am a little curious now —- why on earth are you bringing up “Christians” and “Catholics”? IDers keep telling us (and keep testifying in court) that ID is SCIENCE and has NOTHING TO DO WITH RELIGION. Nothing AT ALL.

And yet, what do you do at the very first opportunity? You bring up “attacks on Christians” and such.

Please xplain to me, in detail, exactly what “attacks on Christians” have to do with the scientific question of whether or not life evolved. Please be as specific as possible.

Or is ID “theory” after all just a legal fiction to get a religious agenda into public school classrooms, and are IDers (like you) simply lying to us when they claim otherwise …. .

Is there a scientific theory of ID, or isn’t there, Dr Beckwith. If there IS, then let’s see it. If there’s NOT, then just what the hell are you bitching about? What the hell is the point of arguing whether a scientific theory can be taught, if there IS NO SUCH SCIENTIFIC THEORY?

Or are you simply doing the modern-day equivilent of counting angels on pinheads …. .?

Comment #26321

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 22, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

The reason motivations are brought up with the Intelligent Design movement is because it is relevant to Church-State issues.

If it simply was a scientifically sterile or egregiously wrong view, teachers would have a right to teach it in a public school. Add in the fact that it is a scientifically sterile view that frequently doubles as thinly veiled religious apologetics, and you’ve formed the backbone of an argument that it should not be allowed to be taught by K-12 public school teachers.

And indeed that was the very argument that won in both the Maclean and Aguillard cases. Creation “science” was not banned because it was bad science — it was banned because it was, in the words of one of the judges, “a religious crusade, coupled with a desire to conceal this fact”. Just like ID is. And that is why, despite all of Dr Beckwith’s legal wrangling, ID won’t do any better in court than creation “science” did.

The IDers, of course, KNOW this. Which is why they’ve already given up on teaching any ID “theory”, and have been forced to retreat to a vague “something somewhere might be wrong with evolution” patter.

Apparently Dr Beckwith hasn’t gotten that memo yet from his higher-ups at the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture.

Comment #26326

Posted by Francis J. Beckwith on April 22, 2005 7:44 PM (e)

GWW. Are you suggesting that Al Mohler should be forbidden from issuing theological judgments? Now, I don’t agree with Mohler on what he said. But I do defend his liberty to say it. Just as I support your liberty to pass judgment on Mohler’s theological position. After all, if you are claiming that it is wrong for Mohler to suggest that Roman Catholicism is false, aren’t you in precisely the same position as Mohler in relation to his views? That is, you are suggesting that he is wrong in making theological judgments. So, why is it okay for you to make judgments about Mohler’s theology but he cannot make judgments about others’ theology? It seems to me that tolerance–certainly, an important virtue when engaging in dialogue–presupposes a judgment about the other person’s position for which I am tolerant. I can only be tolerant of those with whom I disagree. So, in order for one to be tolerant, one must judge the other’s view as mistaken. Thus, it seems to me that folks like Mohler are in a catch-22. If they exhibit tolerance–treat others with respect, and offer contrary arguments against the others’ position while at the same time defending the liberty of others to hold contrary views–then they are accused of being “intolerant” for making a judgment. But you can’t practice tolerance unless you think the other guy is wrong. Just like chastity is not a virtue unless you have genitalia, tolerance is not a virtue unless you make judgments. It’s like love and marriage, to quote Frank Sinatra.

As for my views on ID not being fully formed, let clarify this so there won’t be any mistake about it. I have studied the arguments of ID advocates, and I have read the critiques as well. I am not a scientist and do not pretend to be. I am a philosopher, and thus trained in how to assess and evaluate arguments. Whether a position or case is dubbed “science” or not is not particularly relevant to me. What I am concerned about is whether a person has a strong argument. If the argument is strong–and it is a potential defeater for a position–then I find myself congenial to the argument. Thus, if someone, like William Lane Craig, offers an argument for God’s existence based on the beginning of the universe (using scientific premises), and I don’t think that any of his detractors succeed, I’m comfortable saying that this is a good argument and that I accept it. If someone comes along and says, “but it’s not science,” I don’t give a rip. It’s a good argument. Who cares what it’s called or under what category one puts it. To employ another example. If someone in my theological tradition offers an argument in order to show the internal coherence of Trinitarianism, and I don’t find the argument persuasive, I reject the argument. If someone says that my rejection is “unbiblical,” I don’t give a rip. It’s a bad argument.

As for the ID arguments, I am much more open to them than I was 5 or 6 years ago, but I’m not willing to commit, since I have not read everything that I believe has to be read. I have not read Shanks’ recent book (which I hope to do this summer). I have read Pennock’s work, and I don’t think it’s very good. I read Ruse’s book while working on my own book, and found his work much more persuasive than Pennock’s. I can live with theistic evolution, as I did for most of my academic career. It’s no big deal to me, since I think there are good arguments against materialism as a worldview to show that the evolution of life does not exclude God per se. Having said that, I do think that methodological naturalism has been used as a sort of knowledge-cop so that legitimate arguments against materialism as a worldview do not get a fair hearing. Issues concerning human free agency, the ontological status of numbers and moral properties, the nature of the human mind, the ontological status of the soul, and so forth are legtimate areas of philosophical inquiry that may count against materialism. If there are good arguments for these immaterial entities, then even if biological evolution is well-established, it cannot account for a whole cluster of entities that do not fall under its rubric. That’s where I am at in all this. It may not satisy some of the readers of pandasthumb.org, but philosophical reflection is much different than politics. Sometimes, you just never figure things out to your satisfaction. I wish I had more time and more smarts to have my whole array of positions nailed down. I don’t. There’s lots of things I still think about and wrestle with.

By the way, I did not grow up a Protestant Evangelical. I grew up Catholic and never read a book critical of Darwinism until 1991 when I bought Johnson’s Darwin on Trial (two years after I earned my PhD). So, I did not have the burden of creationism to contend with in my personal intellectual development.

I am a social conservative for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I think the case for social conservative positions from abortion to same-sex marriage are persuasive to me. I’ve read, and interacted with, works and thinkers on all sides of these issues. I’ve delivered papers at academic meetings on these issues (APA, APSA), offering them to critics to evaluate in front of my peers. I’ve published these papers in peer-reviewed journals, some of which are posted on my website. I’ve done my level best to work through these cases. I may not be right. But the best I can do is to offer my case and leave at that.

When you bring tangential questions of association, it smacks at the sort of thinking that gives permission to others to hate and stigmatize those with whom they disagree. I cannot accept that way of engaging my opponent, for the simple reason that I would not be treating that person as an individual made in the image of God. Have I slipped up and let my temper get the best of me? Sure. But I am a work in progress, ever ready to learn from others and to confidently share the results of my research.

Comment #26327

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 22, 2005 8:04 PM (e)

Beckwith

Are you suggesting that Al Mohler should be forbidden from issuing theological judgments? Now, I don’t agree with Mohler on what he said. But I do defend his liberty to say it blah blah blah blah blah blah blah unless you have genitalia, tolerance is not a virtue unless you make judgments.

Frank, when are ready for an “adult conversation”, read my comment again and respond to what I wrote, not what you wish I had written. I was crystal clear about what I think about Mohler’s actions and why.

Thanks. Also, please let me know when Larry King reads my opinions on his program. As for your unwillingess to clarify your other odd statements, that silence speaks volumes.

I would not be treating that person as an individual made in the image of God.

Aren’t scientists made in the image of God? The words and actions of people like you and Dobson and Ahmanson and the Disclaimery Institute amount to nothing more than sticking a God-sized middle finger in the faces of those scientists, the lives they lead, the vocations they chose, and the extraordinary work they’ve done. Stop and think about that.

Comment #26330

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on April 22, 2005 9:07 PM (e)

Francis writes:
“As for the ID arguments, I am much more open to them than I was 5 or 6 years ago, but I’m not willing to commit, since I have not read everything that I believe has to be read. I have not read Shanks’ recent book (which I hope to do this summer). I have read Pennock’s work, and I don’t think it’s very good. I read Ruse’s book while working on my own book, and found his work much more persuasive than Pennock’s. I can live with theistic evolution, as I did for most of my academic career. It’s no big deal to me, since I think there are good arguments against materialism as a worldview to show that the evolution of life does not exclude God per se. Having said that, I do think that methodological naturalism has been used as a sort of knowledge-cop so that legitimate arguments against materialism as a worldview do not get a fair hearing. “

SW: A knowledge cop? LOL. Methodological naturalism is not a knowledge cop, but so far the only method known to produce useful results in learning how nature works.

Perhaps, you may suffer from MN envy :-) only you just don’t know it yet. This is why “scientific creationism” was born in the first place. It is the desparate work of evangelicals to give the imprimatur of science to their theological beliefs. When it comes to providing useful knowledge regarding the natural world, non-MN “worldviews” have come up with bupkis. TO me MN isn’t a “worldview”; it is a method for interrogating nature to learn useful things about it. The ID approach has been tried for millenia without any useful results with respect to understanding and harnessing nature. 3000 years ago, nobody knew why it rained, nobody knew why the Sun rose and set, why the moon went through phases, etc. So, these culture had rain gods, sun gods etc. Today these are questions most elementary school kids can answer. ID has failed for millenia, still has no testable theory and yet you presume there is something to it that is worth defending its being taught in the public schools, even though you know full well ID hasn’t overcome the above shortcommings.

I find that odd.

Is this about science, the integrity of public education, or the culture war?

Comment #26334

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 22, 2005 9:48 PM (e)

Oh, good grief.

Dr. Beckwith said:

As for my views on ID not being fully formed, let clarify this so there won’t be any mistake about it. I have studied the arguments of ID advocates, and I have read the critiques as well. I am not a scientist and do not pretend to be. I am a philosopher, and thus trained in how to assess and evaluate arguments.

I think you missed a step or two in your training on argumentation. As I noted before, the issue you keep ignoring is one of evidence. There simply is no evidence that pigs fly ID is science. Each of your writings assumes this to be the case (yes, I know your assumption is sometimes footnoted, but I think footnoting your own assessment of the issue does not lend credence – especially when you admit, above, that you lack the je ne sais quoi to make such an assessment; you’re right, above).

The argument that intelligent design is science is based on no lab studies. There are no experiments. There are no observations. There are no hypotheses unique or original with intelligent design. There is no theory. There is hope, smoke and mirrors.

Now, one may make an “argument” based wholly on false premises. In most argumentative structures, such an argument would be deemed faulty, if not dishonest. It’s unclear to me how or why you fail to see that difficulty.

Whether a position or case is dubbed “science” or not is not particularly relevant to me. What I am concerned about is whether a person has a strong argument.

How does the falsity of an argument fail to affect its “strength?” Or is it an olfactory strength you speak of? Your denial of the obviousness of the failure of the argument for ID is too deep to be credible as an honest mistake. You’re not a scientist? Judge Overton was not a scientist, either. Most judges are not. But in law, there are standards of evidence. Why do you insist on ignoring all such standards in this case?

Or do you think standards of evidence should be abandoned in all cases? I’ve not read anything else you’ve written on law. Do you make such a claim?

If the argument is strong—and it is a potential defeater for a position—then I find myself congenial to the argument. Thus, if someone, like William Lane Craig, offers an argument for God’s existence based on the beginning of the universe (using scientific premises), and I don’t think that any of his detractors succeed, I’m comfortable saying that this is a good argument and that I accept it. If someone comes along and says, “but it’s not science,” I don’t give a rip. It’s a good argument. Who cares what it’s called or under what category one puts it.

But when the issue is whether the argument is science at all, to “not give a rip” about the worthiness of the argument seems a bit tendentious, to me, and specious. I’m not a philosopher, of course. My training is law, and the Boy Scout Law. I think an argument that begs the question is false, in argumentation terms – Toulmin, Reicke, Sillars and others agree (I’m using “beg the question” in its original, argumentation meaning, not incorrectly as “suggesting” a different question). Has the rest of philosophy abandoned that idea? I also think it is not within the bounds of sincerity to ignore the best evidence against one’s favorite argument. Giving a rip is, I suppose, tantamount to being concerned for accuracy (I’m also trained as a journalist, and Pulitzer’s imprecation still rings in my ears, appealingly: “Accuracy! Accuracy! Accuracy!” Of course, Pulitzer was not a scientist, either.) If you don’t “give a rip,” then it seems to me you should stay away from the game and let those who do care about the issues work on them.

In sum, it seems to me that you’re running away from the heart of your claim, while still yelling over your shoulder that the claim is valid and not to be abandoned.

Whether ID is science is the issue – the only issue, really. If ID is science, it doesn’t need legislation from any legislature or schoolboard to make it into the science books; if ID is not science, use of a legislative function to get ID into the science books is dishonest at best, and probably also runs afoul of the establishment clause.

And on that issue, while you claim victory, you also claim incompetence to judge victory.

I would say your argument confuses me, but on reflection I see I am not the one confused at all.

To employ another example. If someone in my theological tradition offers an argument in order to show the internal coherence of Trinitarianism, and I don’t find the argument persuasive, I reject the argument. If someone says that my rejection is “unbiblical,” I don’t give a rip. It’s a bad argument.

As for the ID arguments, I am much more open to them than I was 5 or 6 years ago, but I’m not willing to commit, since I have not read everything that I believe has to be read.

It is not necessary to read everything, if one reads the evidence that contradicts the chief point. Is ID science? What test of “is it science?” does ID meet? There is no ID lab in operation anywhere on Earth. There is no ID research being conducted in the field, anywhere on Earth or in this solar system. There is no science advance from ID. There is no evidence for ID that is not better explained by evolution theory. There is no way to test ID that yields a result favorable to ID, and there is yet no known way to falsify it.

What could you possibly have left to read that would establish what is impossible to establish?

Is this what you mean by “hypothetical?”

Or is this the triumph of hope over experience?

I have not read Shanks’ recent book (which I hope to do this summer). I have read Pennock’s work, and I don’t think it’s very good. I read Ruse’s book while working on my own book, and found his work much more persuasive than Pennock’s. I can live with theistic evolution, as I did for most of my academic career. It’s no big deal to me, since I think there are good arguments against materialism as a worldview to show that the evolution of life does not exclude God per se. Having said that, I do think that methodological naturalism has been used as a sort of knowledge-cop so that legitimate arguments against materialism as a worldview do not get a fair hearing.

Well, there we go, smash into that “evidence” thing again. Who uses “methodolgical naturalism” to argue for a materialist worldview? There is no evidence that scientists disavow God – and in the textbooks, your claim is absolutely falsified. Biology textbooks in use in the U.S. do not deny God, nor have they since 1957, if they ever did. Show us some evidence: Who uses methodological naturalism as a “knowledge cop” anywhere? If you cannot provide evidence to that claim of yours, there is no justification for your holy war against science. Frank, you need to spend some time around scientists for a while. They are much less materialist as a group than your average Baptist congregation. They do without, for less pay, in nasty conditions, for the pure joy of learning something that may benefit mankind. Why exactly you wish to campaign against scientists doing altruistic work is something I think you should confront.

I think you’re confused about what materialism is, what methodological naturalism is, and just what is at stake. You’ve been campaigning in Texas – or you’ve been hornswoggled into campaigning unintentionally – against cures for cancer, against agriculture, against feeding the masses, against healing the ill. Frank, wake up! You live in a state that last year lost more than $1.2 billion to a nasty little Argentine fire ant that has evolved around almost all of our methods to eradicate it. You’re arguing that the ant can’t do that – and the ant, and God, don’t “give a rip” about your philosophy. There is less in your ID philosophy, Horatio Dr. Beckwith, than the lowly Argentine fire ant has evolved in 40 years.* That’s just one species. Then there’s the boll weevil, the apple maggot, and mosquitoes that put West Nile virus in your back yard (where you have fire ants, I’ll wager, unless you use evolution science to keep them from breeding in your yard; show me the fire-ant bites on your children to convince me you reject evolution). In the real world, your “philosophical” arguments do damage, and evolution exists. Come see.

If you’re trying to blame scientists for the evil that afflicts the world, you’re more of a lost cause than I thought possible.

Issues concerning human free agency, the ontological status of numbers and moral properties, the nature of the human mind, the ontological status of the soul, and so forth are legtimate areas of philosophical inquiry that may count against materialism. If there are good arguments for these immaterial entities, then even if biological evolution is well-established, it cannot account for a whole cluster of entities that do not fall under its rubric. That’s where I am at in all this. It may not satisfy some of the readers of pandasthumb.org, but philosophical reflection is much different than politics. Sometimes, you just never figure things out to your satisfaction. I wish I had more time and more smarts to have my whole array of positions nailed down. I don’t. There’s lots of things I still think about and wrestle with.

Philosophical reflection without honesty is hollow. Philosophical reflection based on error is dangerous. You’re arguing for the devil, claiming it’s no danger if you do it hypothetically. No one on the Texas school board thought you were unconvinced, or that you didn’t intend to sway them. You need to revisit your own motivations, I think, if you genuinely think you are still playing where words and ideas don’t count.

* My apologies to William Shakespeare, who said it better: “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Hamlet, 1, v, 166)

Evolution is among those things ID has not dreamt of.

Comment #26338

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 22, 2005 10:09 PM (e)

Beckwith spouted:

“Whether a position or case is dubbed “science” or not is not particularly relevant to me.”

Goddamit man! If you can’t see why that means you shouldn’t be arguing about whether it is legal to teach something in science class, you must be friggin blind!

wake the hell up and listen to what you yourself are saying!

Comment #26340

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 22, 2005 10:17 PM (e)

Beckwith spouted:

“Whether a position or case is dubbed “science” or not is not particularly relevant to me.”

Damnit man! If you can’t see why that means you shouldn’t be arguing about whether it is legal to teach something in science class, you must be friggin blind!

wake up and listen to what you yourself are saying!

Comment #26342

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 22, 2005 10:30 PM (e)

Beckwith clarifies:

“ If someone comes along and says, “but it’s not science,” I don’t give a rip. “

that’s just it, the fact that you can’t recognize that science knowledge affects the legitimacy of science argument, means that you don’t deserve to own that degree of yours. UW must be ashamed.

How on earth could you think yourself so omnipotent that you could logistically argue any position, without knowing anything about the subject at hand?

Such hubris certainly isn’t befitting someone who claims to be intelligent.

I have lost any grudging respect towards you that I had gained by your outward appearance of reasonableness.

you really are nothing but a schill. You just can’t seem to see it.

Comment #26348

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on April 22, 2005 11:12 PM (e)

This is, I think, why groups such as the Federalists are so willing to shill for creationists.

Nah. The reason Federalists are willing to shill for creationists is that they are by and large all extreme RW conservatives, with quite their share of the RW religious nut variety included.

It’s not that they just like to “debate” silly things for the sport of it; rather, it’s that they’re “True Believers” in the Eric Hoffer sense … in many things, religion certainly being tossed in there.

Believe me, I know; I infiltrated the Federalist Society at Boalt Hall to keep an eye on them, and received their mailings, newsletters, etc.

Cheers,

Comment #26349

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on April 22, 2005 11:57 PM (e)

Francis Beckwith says:

I am not a scientist and do not pretend to be. I am a philosopher, and thus trained in how to assess and evaluate arguments….

If you’re not a scientist, how can you expect to be able to evaluate the validity of scientific claims?

If you’re a philosopher, you should be able to understand that an argument from false premises is an invalid argument. Regardless of the “formal validity” of any argument (which I assume you have some capacity to evaluate and to determine if there are errors of pure logic), any argument which purports to address the real world must also have a predicate factual basis. If you can’t evaluate that factual basis, I’m not quite sure what you think your contribution to the debate is here (hate to say it, but there’s plenty of others that are quite capable of finding purely logical errors in arguments, and I haven’t seen you point out any such that you think you have uniquely found).

… Whether a position or case is dubbed “science” or not is not particularly relevant to me….

It is relevent whether it is science, when we’re talking about what should be taught the little kiddies in science class. Those that choose to dub science “non-science”, or non-science “science”, generally have some ulterior motive in doing so (as well as a demonstrated propensity for dishonesty).

… What I am concerned about is whether a person has a strong argument.

Why? Does a “strong argument” based on factually inaccurate premises deserve to be taught to kids? Wouldn’t it be better to present a poorly argued (not to say I think such is happening) “argument” that nonetheless happens to get the facts right, at least follows a reasonable if not well-presented logic, and arrives at a valid conclusion? Why the preference for form over substance?

* * * *

That all being said, aside from the scientific howlers that are put forth way too often in “support” of ID (the Axe tripe only a small part of this dishonesty), surely you can’t be arguing that a “fallacy of bifurcation” is even a good argument. And at base, that’s what the “intelligent design” argument is: If evolution can’t account for something, it must be due to “intelligent design” (along with the fallaciously assumed “intelligent designer” … no one has yet shown to my satisfaction, much less produced evidence supporting, the implicit requirement that any “intelligent design” must come from an “intelligent designer” … but feel free to pipe up if you think you have more knowledge in this area than I do).

Cheers,

Comment #26351

Posted by Gary Hurd on April 23, 2005 12:49 AM (e)

I read this with interest mixed with some amusement, and some anger. It is clear that Beckwith is at best disingenuous about his personal commitments. He takes ID money, he pleads the ID argument, he supports the ID cause. And he also illustrates why there are large differences between a lawyer/philosopher and a scientist.

This was most clear in his example of why religious motivation should not be considered in the argument against intelligent design creationism:

However, questions of a person’s religious or political motivation should be absolutely out of bounds. And here’s why. Supposing a particular view, X, passes the science test. That is, it is a theory held by a significant (though not majority) number of scientists who have published their findings in peer-reviewed journals and offered their point of view in academic venues including conferences, symposia, etc. It would seem to me that X could be taught. However, suppose Mr. Z comes along and points out that proponents of X are 95% Muslim (with Sunnis and Shiites evenly divided) and that proponents of X support a Koranic view of reality.

There are two suppositions; one that a proposition is scientific and held as valid by a large number of scientists even if still controversial, and second that this scientific proposition is nearly exclusively promoted by just one religious group. Beckwith seemed to think that this was a reasonable scenario.

It is not.

If there is a proposition which can not find acceptance without the support of a prior religious commitment it is not science. It can not be science. Science does not have propositions that are contingent on supernaturalism. A scientist would not consider this to be a possible situation.

I have on occasion taught college students what a buffered acid solution is. I have noted that Buddhist students grasp the idea quite easily and I have thought that this could be related to the difference in the Buddhist concept of change and causality from that in the Judeo/Christian tradition. However, being Buddhist is not requisite to “believing” in buffers, nor can learning about buffered solutions make one a Buddhist.

Intelligent Design Creationism has no evidence. The only way that one can be an Intelligent Design Creationist is to have a prior belief in an imagined creator for which there is no independent empirical evidence. Thus, it is not science and the religious commitment of its advocates is entirely germane.

Last year I (and quite a few of the PT contributors) contributed to a book that looked only at Intellignet Design Creationism from the point of view of its “science.” Why Intelligent Fails came out last summer by Rutgers University Press and is doing quite well. In that book we didn’t make any criticism of the religious basis of IDC- indeed it was carefully avoided. Solely on its own claims, IDC fails.

So, lacking any empirical evidence, the only support it has is ideological, and that ideology is right-wing Christian. It would not matter if this ideology was another dogma, but why pretend? So long as we can protect and maintain the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, IDC has no place in public schools. All Beckwith is to me is a member of an organization that is mounting a direct attack on our Constitutional freedom of religion.

Comment #26353

Posted by Gary Hurd on April 23, 2005 1:13 AM (e)

I read this with interest mixed with some amusement, and some anger. It is clear that Beckwith is at best disingenuous about his personal commitments. He takes ID money, he pleads the ID argument, he supports the ID cause. And he also illustrates why there are large differences between a lawyer/philosopher and a scientist.

This was most clear in his example of why religious motivation should not be considered in the argument against intelligent design creationism:

However, questions of a person’s religious or political motivation should be absolutely out of bounds. And here’s why. Supposing a particular view, X, passes the science test. That is, it is a theory held by a significant (though not majority) number of scientists who have published their findings in peer-reviewed journals and offered their point of view in academic venues including conferences, symposia, etc. It would seem to me that X could be taught. However, suppose Mr. Z comes along and points out that proponents of X are 95% Muslim (with Sunnis and Shiites evenly divided) and that proponents of X support a Koranic view of reality.

There are two suppositions; one that a proposition is scientific and held as valid by a large number of scientists even if still controversial, and second that this scientific proposition is nearly exclusively promoted by just one religious group. Beckwith seemed to think that this was a reasonable scenario.

It is not.

If there is a proposition which can not find acceptance without the support of a prior religious commitment it is not science. It can not be science. Science does not have propositions that are contingent on supernaturalism. A scientist would not consider this to be a possible situation.

I have on occasion taught college students what a buffered acid solution is. I have noted that Buddhist students grasp the idea quite easily and I have thought that this could be related to the difference in the Buddhist concept of change and causality from that in the Judeo/Christian tradition. However, being Buddhist is not requisite to “believing” in buffers, nor can learning about buffered solutions make one a Buddhist.

Intelligent Design Creationism has no evidence. The only way that one can be an Intelligent Design Creationist is to have a prior belief in an imagined creator for which there is no independent empirical evidence. Thus, it is not science and the religious commitment of its advocates is entirely germane.

Last year I (and quite a few of the PT contributors) contributed to a book that looked only at Intellignet Design Creationism from the point of view of its “science.” Why Intelligent Fails came out last summer by Rutgers University Press and is doing quite well. In that book we didn’t make any criticism of the religious basis of IDC- indeed it was carefully avoided. Solely on its own claims, IDC fails.

So, lacking any empirical evidence, the only support it has is ideological, and that ideology is right-wing Christian. It would not matter if this ideology was another dogma, but why pretend? So long as we can protect and maintain the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, IDC has no place in public schools. All Beckwith is to me is a member of an organization that is mounting a direct attack on our Constitutional freedom of religion.

Comment #26361

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 23, 2005 6:29 AM (e)

Dear Frank,

You said that I made untrue statements about you and the ID movement, but when asked to identify why they are untrue, you fall silent.

Unless I hear otherwise, I, a reasonable person I hope, can only conclude that what I have said is true, and will continue to believe it and express it.

Others here have used rather strong adjectives to describe the quality of your argumentation.

I don’t wish to feel this way about you, Frank – I really don’t.

Look, you’ve described your background here a little and that’s admirable. We all come from somewhere. I’d like to go out on a limb and express the conjecture that though your particular Christian background has been a source of great personal strength and vitality to you, it has been mixed in with some erroneous assertions about how the world actually is, assertions that may come from people you have great respect for. And now it’s really tough to separate the vitality that comes with your faith from the erroneous assertions. But you can.

Culturally, Christianity and science share this simple, wonderful, worldview: It’s okay to be wrong. It really is – I’m wrong all the time. All the time. I struggle to make sure that I’m not wrong.

But it’s not okay to stubbornly adhere to wrongheadedness.

You are wrong, Frank, and in your wrongness acting in a way that threatens the health of your country. Please stop. Please make the effort to understand why you are wrong. If you succeed in this, I imagine that this will have no effect or enhance your faith, and open your eyes to a beautiful world that you do not now know exists and is real.

Einstein is in the news a lot this year. Einstein wasted the last thirty years of his career fighting quantum mechanics. Ironically, when and if QM and general relativity are reconciled, we all expect that it will be Einstein’s theory that requires modification. So Einstein was wrong. Take a lesson here. You’re young and talented – my personal advice to you is not to waste your talents campaigning for pseudoscience.

Best,

Steve

Comment #26364

Posted by Ryan on April 23, 2005 6:47 AM (e)

This post is in response to the one left by Gary Hurd.

Gary, you write, “If there is a proposition which can not find acceptance without the support of a prior religious commitment it is not science. It cannot be science. Science does not have propositions that are contingent on supernaturalism. A scientist would not consider this to be a possible situation.”

Just curious. As a darwinist you believe that the genetic code of life came into existence through natural processes (in a “primordial soup,” or however). What is the basis of this belief? Scientific evidence? There exists essentially none, as far as I am aware. If the scientific community can produce little or no evidence to support this proposition, yet you believe in it anyway, it seems to me the basis of this belief resembles a “prior religious commitment,” a commitment to metaphysical naturalism.

Basically, if a scientist believes that only natural causes are possible, then that scientist is not free from commitments of a religious nature: she has one imbedded in her worldview. If she were to criticize a position like ID for being “unscientific,” her criticism carries only the force of pointing out that that position is inconsistent with metaphysical naturalism. However, if we are interested in whether a position is true, and not whether it is consistent with metaphysical naturalism, then, to use Mr. Beckwith’s phrase, who gives a rip? The soundness of arguments does not depend on their coherence with a particular metaphysical doctrine.

One general observation: there are a lot of mean-spirited comments throughout many of these postings. I, for one, say keep it up, guys! The longer you Darwinists keep in the habit of debating your opponents with a vindictive and spiteful tone, the more likely you’ll embarrass yourselves in future public debates the way Stephen Smith did at his Harvard showing.

Best regards.

Comment #26367

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 7:24 AM (e)

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Comment #26368

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 7:33 AM (e)

As for the ID arguments, I am much more open to them than I was 5 or 6 years ago, but I’m not willing to commit, since I have not read everything that I believe has to be read.

Which has not, naturally, prevented you from pronouncing your Holy Judgement upon the matter anyway. Right?

Comment #26370

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 7:39 AM (e)

It is not necessary to read everything, if one reads the evidence that contradicts the chief point. Is ID science? What test of “is it science?” does ID meet? There is no ID lab in operation anywhere on Earth. There is no ID research being conducted in the field, anywhere on Earth or in this solar system. There is no science advance from ID. There is no evidence for ID that is not better explained by evolution theory. There is no way to test ID that yields a result favorable to ID, and there is yet no known way to falsify it.

What could you possibly have left to read that would establish what is impossible to establish?

Indeed, since IDers themselves have stated, publicly, that they have no science to teach, one wonders just what Dr Beckwith thinks he needs to read yet in order to decide for himself whether ID is science …. .

Dr Beckwith demonstrates that the IDers are being dishonest, evasive and deceptive — deliberately so. They want to have it both ways – they want to have all the rhetorical and apologetic benefits of having a “scientific alternative to evolution” without the liabilities of actually having to PRODUCE any. Whenever convenient, they can switch from “the big bad atheist scientists won’t let us teach our alternative science boo hoo hoo” to “well, we don’t actually HAVE a scientific theory yet, because the big bad atheist scientists won’t gfive us money to work on one boo hoo hoo”, and, as Dr Beckwith puts it, they “don’t give a rip” about the inherent contradiciton.

Dr Beckwith demonstrates clearly that ID isn’t about science at all — it’s about a legal ploy to push their extremist religious opinions into school classrooms by lying to people and claiming those religious opinions are really “science”.

I thank Dr Beckwith for demonstrating that so clearly.

Comment #26372

Posted by Lurker on April 23, 2005 7:43 AM (e)

Beckwith writes, “Thus, if someone, like William Lane Craig, offers an argument for God’s existence based on the beginning of the universe (using scientific premises), and I don’t think that any of his detractors succeed, I’m comfortable saying that this is a good argument and that I accept it. If someone comes along and says, “but it’s not science,” I don’t give a rip. It’s a good argument. Who cares what it’s called or under what category one puts it.”

If Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument is what Beckwith considers a good “argument” in the same mode that he considers Intelligent Design a “good argument,” then it follows that Beckwith think it is Constitutional to teach the Kalam Cosmological Argument in public schools. Because “who cares what it’s called or under what category on puts it.” Right?

Then, let’s follow the train of thought to its end. Beckwith considers the immorality of homosexuality a good argument. He doesn’t care what it’s called or under what category one puts that argument. Let’s teach students that in public schools.

I’m sure that Beckwith also considers the religions of Allah and Buddha to be false, and there are good arguments there as well. He doesn’t care what they’re called or under what category one puts that argument. Let’s teach students those arguments in public schools too.

Comment #26374

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 7:47 AM (e)

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Comment #26376

Posted by Lurker on April 23, 2005 7:49 AM (e)

By the way, FJB, last time you were on this forum, you were arguing that the Berkeley Evolution website was an endorsement of religion in the same manner that teaching Intelligent Design was. Have you actually brought a case against the site? OR are your convictions only as strong as your rhetoric? Perhaps, in the end you thnk that some people believe strongly that evolution is a good argument, and that they really don’t care what you call it or what category you put it under?

Comment #26378

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 23, 2005 7:59 AM (e)

Ryan said:

As a darwinist you believe that the genetic code of life came into existence through natural processes (in a “primordial soup,” or however). What is the basis of this belief? Scientific evidence? There exists essentially none, as far as I am aware. If the scientific community can produce little or no evidence to support this proposition, yet you believe in it anyway, it seems to me the basis of this belief resembles a “prior religious commitment,” a commitment to metaphysical naturalism.

No, not accurate. As scientists, scientists understand that the best available evidence is that genetic code arose through natural processes, though there is not enough evidence to say for certain that is so.

Notice, please, that this statement in no way urges a conclusion that deity does not exist.

Much evidence exists that genetic code arose through natural means. There are dozens of papers on the spontaneous assembly of essential life polymers, on the spontaneous rise of RNA, on the spontaneous rise of cells, etc., etc. You will find quite spectacular papers if you look for names like James Ferris and Andrew Ellington. Ferris is a muck-a-muck in the NASA program, with an extensive website at RPI; Ellington’s site is more technical, but still accessible to layfolk. His lab is at the University of Texas.

Much of this information is available in lay terms at places like the Astrobiology magazine site of NASA. Go here, for example: http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/

Despite this quite abundant evidence, scientists have reserved judgment. If there is religious belief, it is on your side, against the evidence. Please note the contrast here: Your claims for lack of evidence in favor of science are easily dismissed with a quick search of the internet, which reveals a multi-million-dollar research effort at dozens of actual laboratories around the world; our requests for any research into ID have produced bupkis, because there is no such research. Yet you appear to dismiss what is real, while asking everyone else to put credence in what ID has not got.

Comment #26379

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 23, 2005 8:05 AM (e)

Lenny Flank said:

But now I’m curious again ——- Creationists and IDers have testified, in court, under oath, that creation “science” and intelligent design “theory” are SCIENCE, and have NO religious aims or effect or purpose, and do NOT have the goal of either advancing or supporting religion or religious beliefs.

Has testimony been offered, under oath, to that effect? The Arkansas case in 1981 was a bit of a shocker. When put under oath, in depositions and at trial, creationists all disavowed knowledge of science being done in the name of creationism, and all noted that creationism’s roots are in scripture. Have the Dover experts already been deposed, and denied under oath what they’ve said to church groups across the nation?

Comment #26396

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 11:57 AM (e)

Having said that, I do think that methodological naturalism has been used as a sort of knowledge-cop so that legitimate arguments against materialism as a worldview do not get a fair hearing.

Well, there you go, Dr Beckwith, raising my curiosity once more …

What, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than, say, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medicine. Please be as specific as possible.

I have never, in all my life, ever heard any weather forecaster mention “god” or “divine will” or any “supernatural” anything, at all. Ever. Does this mean, in your view, that weather forecasting is atheistic (oops, I mean, “materialistic” and “naturalistic” — we don’t want any judges to think ID’s railing against “materialism” has any RELIGIOUS purpose, do we)?

I have yet, in all my 44 years of living, to ever hear any accifdent investigator declare solemnly at the scene of an airplane crash, “We can’t explain how it happened, so an Unknown Intelligent Being must have dunnit.” I have never yet heard an accident investigator say that “this crash has no materialistic causes – it must have been the Will of Allah”. Does this mean, in your view, that accident investigation is atheistic (oops, sorry, I meant to say “materialistic” and “naturalistic” – we don’t want any judges to know that it is “atheism” we are actually waging a religious crusade against, do we)?

How about medicine, Dr Beckwith. When you get sick, do you ask your doctor to abandon his “materialistic biases” and to investigate possible “supernatural” or “non-materialistic” causes for your disease? Or do you ask your doctor to cure your naturalistic materialistic diseases by using naturalistic materialistic antibiotics to kill your naturalistic materialistic germs?

Since it seems to me as if weather forecasting, accident investigation, and medicine are every bit, in every sense,just as utterly completely totally absolutely one-thousand-percent “materialistic” as evolutionary biology is, why, specifically, is it just evolutionary biology that gets your panties all in a bunch? Why aren’t you and your fellow Wedge-ites out there fighting the good fight against godless materialistic naturalistic weather forecasting, or medicine, or accident investigation?

Or does that all come LATER, as part of, uh, “renewing our culture” …. . ?

Comment #26397

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

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Comment #26398

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

The Arkansas case in 1981 was a bit of a shocker. When put under oath, in depositions and at trial, creationists all disavowed knowledge of science being done in the name of creationism, and all noted that creationism’s roots are in scripture.

I think you need to read the Maclean and Aguillard decisions again … The very BASIS of the two cases was the creationist’s claim that their crap was SCIENCE and was NOT based on any religious views or writings. Hence the moniker creation “SCIENCE”.

The judges in both cases, of course, thought their arguments were a load of dishonest cow-crap.

And so are IDers.

Comment #26399

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 12:10 PM (e)

By the way, FJB, last time you were on this forum, you were arguing that the Berkeley Evolution website was an endorsement of religion in the same manner that teaching Intelligent Design was. Have you actually brought a case against the site? OR are your convictions only as strong as your rhetoric? Perhaps, in the end you thnk that some people believe strongly that evolution is a good argument, and that they really don’t care what you call it or what category you put it under?

Perhaps Dr Beckwith finally entered a law library and read up on the Peloza case, in which the argument “evolution is a religion” was laughed right out of the building.

Comment #26403

Posted by frank schmidt on April 23, 2005 1:15 PM (e)

FJ Beckwith, you suggest that your embrace (or perhaps, just a willingness to go out on further dates with) IDC is based on sound philosophical rationale. May I then ask your opinion of Elliott Sober’s articles on the Design argument?

His conclusion (I paraphrase here) that we cannot impute causality to something unless we are able to compare it to the same process by a known capable agent, seems compelling to me, especially since this is the only Universe we have. What are your responses as a philosopher to these arguments? And have they been published in scholarly journals?

Comment #26407

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 1:54 PM (e)

However, if we are interested in whether a position is true, and not whether it is consistent with metaphysical naturalism, then, to use Mr. Beckwith’s phrase, who gives a rip? The soundness of arguments does not depend on their coherence with a particular metaphysical doctrine.

In science, the soundness of an argument depends on whether or not that argument can pass the scientific method. And that is not dependent upon ANY “metaphysical doctrine”. Any at ALL.

The scientific method is very simple, and consists of five basic steps. They are:

1. Observe some aspect of the universe

2. Form a hypothesis that potentially explains what you have observed

3. Make testible predictions from that hypothesis

4. Make observations or experiments that can test those predictions

5. Modify your hypothesis until it is in accord with all observations and predictions

NOTHING in any of those five steps excludes on principle, a priori, any “supernatural cause”. Using this method, one is entirely free to invoke as many non-material pixies, ghosts, goddesses, demons, devils, djinis, and/or the Great Pumpkin, as many times as you like, in any or all of your hypotheses. And science won’t (and doesn’t) object to that in the slightest. Indeed, scientific experiments have been proposed (and carried out and published) on such “supernatural causes” as the effects of prayer on healing, as well as such “non-materialistic” or “non-natural” causes as ESP, telekinesis, precognition and “remote viewing”. So ID’s claim that science unfairly rejects supernatural or non-material causes out of hand on principle, is demonstrably quite wrong.

However, what science DOES require is that any supernatural or non-material hypothesis, whatever it might be, then be subjected to steps 3, 4 and 5. And HERE is where ID fails miserably.

To demonstate this, let’s pick a particular example of an ID hypothesis and see how the scientific method can be applied to it: One claim made by many ID creationists explains the genetic similarity between humans and chimps by asserting that God – uh, I mean, An Unknown Intelligent Designer – created both but used common features in a common design.

Let’s take this hypothesis and put it through the scientific method:

1. Observe some aspect of the universe.

OK, so we observe that humans and chimps share unique genetic markers, including a broken vitamin C gene and, in humans, a fused chromosome that is identical to two of the chimp chromosomes (with all the appropriate doubled centromeres and telomeres).

2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.

OK, the proposed ID hypothesis is “an intelligent designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, and that common design included placing the signs of a fused chromosome and a broken vitamin C gene in both products.”

3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.

Well, here is ID supernaturalistic methodology’s chance to shine. What predictions can we make from ID’s hypothesis? If an Intelligent Designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, then we would also expect to see … ?

IDers, please fill in the blank.

And, to better help us test ID’s hypothesis, it is most useful to point out some negative predictions – things which, if found, would FALSIFY the hypothesis and demonstrate conclusively that the hypothesis is wrong. So, then – if we find (fill in the blank here), then the “common design” hypothesis would have to be rejected.

4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.

Well, the IDers seem to be sort of stuck on step 3. Despite all their voluminous writings and arguments, IDers have never yet given ANY testible predictions from their ID hypothesis that can be verified through experiment.

Take note here – contrary to the IDers whining about the “unfair exclusion of supernatural causes”, there are in fact NO limits imposed by the scientific method on the nature of their predictions, other than the simple ones indicated by steps 3, 4 and 5 (whatever predictions they make must be testible by experiments or further observations.) They are entirely free to invoke whatever supernatural causes they like, in whatever number they like, so long as they follow along to steps 3,4 and 5 and tell us how we can test these deities or causes using experiment or further observation. Want to tell us that the Good Witch Glenda used her magic non-naturalistic staff to POP these genetic sequences into both chimps and humans? Fine – just tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test that. Want to tell us that God – er, I mean The Unknown Intelligent Designer – didn’t like humans very much and therefore decided to design us with broken vitamin C genes? Hey, works for me – just as soon as you tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test it. Feel entirely and totally free to use all the supernaturalistic causes that you like. Just tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test your predictions.

Let’s assume for a moment that the IDers are right and that science is unfairly biased against supernaturalist explanations. Let’s therefore hypothetically throw methodological materialism right out the window. Gone. Bye-bye. Everything’s fair game now. Ghosts, spirits, demons, devils, cosmic enlightenment, elves, pixies, magic star goats, whatever god-thing you like. Feel free to include and invoke ALL of them. As many as you need. All the IDers have to do now is simply show us all how to apply the scientific method to whatever non-naturalistic science they choose to invoke in order to subject the hypothesis “genetic similarities between chimps and humans are the product of a common design”, or indeed ANY other non-material or super-natural ID hypothesis, to the scientific method.

And that is where ID “theory” falls flat on its face. It is NOT any presupposition of “philosophical naturalism” on the part of science that stops ID dead in its tracks — it is the simple inability of ID “theory” to make any testible predictions. Even if we let them invoke all the non-naturalistic designers they want, intelligent design “theory” STILL can’t follow the scientific method.

Deep down inside, what the IDers are really moaning and complaining about is NOT that science unfairly rejects their supernaturalistic explanations, but that science demands ID’s proposed “supernaturalistic explanations” be tested according to the scientific method, just like every OTHER hypothesis has to be. Not only can ID not test any of its “explanations”, but it wants to modify science so it doesn’t HAVE to. In effect, the IDers want their supernaturalistic “hypothesis” to have a privileged position – they want their hypothesis to be accepted by science WITHOUT being tested; they want to follow steps one and two of the scientific method, but prefer that we just skip steps 3,4 and 5, and just simply take their religious word for it, on the authority of their own say-so, that their “science” is correct. And that is what their entire argument over “materialism” (or “naturalism” or “atheism” or “sciencism” or “darwinism” or whatever the heck else they want to call it) boils down to.

There is no legitimate reason for the ID hypothesis to be privileged and have the special right to be exempted from testing, that other hypotheses do not. I see no reason why their hypotheses, whatever they are, should not be subjected to the very same testing process that everyone ELSE’s hypotheses, whatever they are, have to go through. If they cannot put their “hypothesis” through the same scientific method that everyone ELSE has to, then they have no claim to be “science”. Period.

Comment #26411

Posted by Russell on April 23, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

OK science buffs. Here’s a chance to play “What’s wrong with this picture?”
IDers list testable hypotheses.

Comment #26415

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 23, 2005 4:51 PM (e)

Flank

scientific experiments have been proposed (and carried out and published) on such “supernatural causes” as the effects of prayer on healing, as well as such “non-materialistic” or “non-natural” causes as ESP, telekinesis, precognition and “remote viewing”

It’s also well-known that those who have pretended to offer “scientific” evidence for these “phenomenon” are invariably shown to be dishonest charlatans out to make a buck or a name for themselves.

For example, with respect to the widely (and lazily) reported studies on the beneficial effects of third party (aka “distant”) prayer:

http://www.valleyskeptic.com/Prayer_Study_Flawed_and_Fraud.html

Of course, Americans can all join together in loud derisive laughter when a crystal ball reader gets exposed as a money-grubbing fraud. But the current “climate” is such that when bogusness is promulgated under the guise of “sincere religious beliefs”, our media representatives and politicians bow before that shiny tin shield out of “respect.”

As adult and literate human beings, Beckwith and his fellow ID peddlers undoubtedly know this unfortunate fact of life in the United States which partly explains their unashamedness when it comes to spreading their propoganda.

Comment #26416

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 23, 2005 5:08 PM (e)

Oy, Russell, my stomach churns whenever I see any of that IDEACenter bullcrap. Is that garbage still penned by Casey Luskin?

The Short Answer (to the question whether ID is a political movement): No, definitely not. Many people view intelligent design as forcing a political agenda upon science. There may be some individuals who would like to see public policy changes in light of intelligent design theory (many have also sought to make public policy changes in light of evolutionary theory), but that does not mean that intelligent design theory is not a bona fide scientific theory or that it is just a political movement. Intelligent design theory is trying to do neither of these, as it is a serious scientific research program.

Even Beckwith isn’t so stupid or corrupt as to recite that last lie.

I wonder if Luskin has passed the California Bar yet. If so, he’ll need to clear the “moral character” hurdle. I wish him luck. He might want to clean up that website just a tad.

Comment #26419

Posted by freelunch on April 23, 2005 5:47 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #26421

Posted by steve on April 23, 2005 6:29 PM (e)

Can someone point me to a brief explanation of what the supposed theory of ID is?

I am aware of two attempts to form an ID theory.

Attempt 1:
Michael Behe: Certain things, like blood clotting, could not have evolved.
Scientific community: Here’s how blood clotting could have evolved.
Michael Behe: Did I say blood clotting? Uh, I meant the eye.
Scientific community: Here’s how the eye evolved.
Behe: Shit

Attempt 2:
Dembski: I have fixed Behe’s idea. For instance, Wolpert’s math shows that some things didn’t have time to evolve.
Wolpert: You’re a retard.
Dembski: I have become disenchanted with the math approach.

As far as I know, ID is in ruins. There is no theory, there are no experiments in the works. If someone can point me to an unobliterated ID theory, please let me know.

Comment #26424

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #26426

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

As far as I know, ID is in ruins. There is no theory, there are no experiments in the works. If someone can point me to an unobliterated ID theory, please let me know.

It’s worse than that. Not only has ID been utterly incapable of producing anything resembling a scientific theory, but they’ve been crushed so many times in their efforts to introduce ID “theory” into school classes and textbooks that they’ve been forced to give up completely on even TRYING. Indeed, the ID movement has lost every single fight it has ever undertaken. It tried to push ID into the state standards; it lost. It tried to remove evolution from state standards; it lost. It tried to weaken the treatment of evolution in textbooks; it lost. It has tried to pass laws mandating “critical evaluation of evolution”; it lost. It is about to lose, crushingly and embarrassingly, in both Kansas and Pennsylvania.

It’s not just ID “theory” that is in utter ruins —– the entire ID movement is dead.

Comment #26427

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 7:13 PM (e)

Can someone point me to a brief explanation of what the supposed theory of ID is?

All I’ve ever heard are various versions of “An unknown thing did an unknown thing at an unknown time using unknown methods.”

A real, uh, scientific breakthrough, isn’t it.

Comment #26440

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 23, 2005 9:46 PM (e)

“As far as I know, ID is in ruins. There is no theory, there are no experiments in the works. If someone can point me to an unobliterated ID theory, please let me know.”

the point is, at least politically, it doesn’t matter if there exists a coherent theory or not. If i can convince my dumbass senator that there IS a theory, then he can use that to claim his opponents are wrong about ID. laws then get passed. science gets screwed. That’s politics.

it doesn’t matter how much we know about what qualifies as good science, if that information doesn’t get to the right people.

Comment #26444

Posted by primate on April 23, 2005 10:04 PM (e)

From the OP’s 1st paragraph:

Steve Smith wrote:

lofty status

besotted review

eminently ignorable

often respected

clueless dupe

Machiavellian operator

withering barrage

cluelessly clueless post

Adjectival hyperbole isn’t helping your case, Steve.

Comment #26446

Posted by JohnK on April 23, 2005 10:13 PM (e)

Francis Beckwith wrote:

do you find it just as offensive that Daniel Dennett would suggest that Christians belong in cages….Dennett has defended himself that he was taken out of context, and I am willing to grant him the benefit of the doubt on this.

Or instead of magnanimity, Dr. Beckwith could spend seconds on Google.
(bolding mine, italics original)

But hasn’t there been a tremendous rebirth of fundamentalist faith in all these creeds? Yes, unfortunately, there has been, and I think that there are no forces on this planet more dangerous to us all than the fanaticisms of fundamentalism, of all the species: Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well as countless smaller infections. Is there a conflict between science and religion here? There most certainly is.

Darwin’s dangerous idea helps to create a condition in the memosphere that in the long run threatens to be just as toxic to these memes as civilization in general has been to the large wild mammals. Save the Elephants! Yes, of course, but not by all means. Not by forcing the people of Africa to lead nineteenth-century lives, for instance. This is not an idle comparison. The creation of great wildlife preserves in Africa has often been accompanied by the dislocation–and ultimate destruction–of human populations. (For a chilling vision of this side effect, see Colin Turnbull 1972 on the fate of the Ik.) Those who think that we should preserve the elephants’ pristine environment at all costs should contemplate the costs of returning the United States to the pristine conditions in which the buffaloes roam and the deer and the antelope play. We must find an accomodation.

I love the King James Version of the Bible. My own spirit recoils from a God Who is He or She in the same way my heart sinks when I see a lion pacing neurotically back and forth in a small zoo cage. I know, I know, the lion is beautiful but dangerous; if you let the lion roam free, it would kill me; safety demands that it be put in a cage. Safety demands that religions be put in cages, too–when absolutely necessary. We just can’t have forced female circumcision, and the second-class status of women in Roman Catholicism and Mormonism, to say nothing of their status in Islam. The recent Supreme Court ruling declaring unconstitutional the Florida law prohibiting the sacrificing of animals in the rituals of the Santeria sect (an Afro-Carribean religion incorporating elements of Yoruba traditions and Roman Catholicism) is a borderline case, at least for many of us. Such rituals are offensive to many, but the protective mantle of religious tradition secures our tolerance. We are wise to respect these traditions. It is, after all, just part of our respect for the biosphere.

Save the Baptists! Yes, of course, but not by all means. Not if it means tolerating the deliberate misinforming of children about the natural world. According to a recent poll, 48 percent of the people in the United States today believe that the book of Genesis is literally true. And 70 percent believe that “creation science” should be taught in school alongside evolution. Some recent writers recommend a policy in which parents would be able to “opt out” of materials they didn’t want their children taught. Should evolution be taught in the schools? Should arithmetic be taught? Should history? Misinforming a child is a terrible offense.

A faith, like a species, must evolve or go extinct when the environment changes. It is not a gentle process in either case. We see in every Christian subspecies the battle of memes–should women be ordained? Should we go back to the Latin liturgy?–and the same can also be observed in the varieties of Judaism and Islam. We must have a similar mixture of respect and self-protective caution about memes. This is already accepted practice, but we tend to avert our attention from its implications. We preach freedom of religion, but only so far. If your religion advocates slavery, or mutilation of women, or infanticide, or puts a price on Salman Rushdie’s head because he has insulted it, then your religion has a feature that cannot be respected. It endangers us all.

It is nice to have grizzly bears and wolves living in the wild. They are no longer a menace; we can peacefully coexist, with a little wisdom. The same policy can be discerned in our political tolerance, in religious freedom. You are free to preserve or create any religious creed you wish, so long as it does not become a public menace. We’re all on the Earth together, and we have to learn some accomodation. The Hutterite memes are “clever” not to include any memes about the virtue of destroying outsiders. If they did, we would have to combat them. We tolerate the Hutterites because they harm only themselves–though we may well insist that we have the right to impose some further openness on their schooling of their own children. Other religious memes are not so benign. The message is clear: those who will not accomodate, who will not temper, who insist on keeping only the purest and wildest strain of their heritage alive, we will be obliged, reluctantly, to cage or disarm, and we will do our best to disable the memes they fight for. Slavery is beyond the pale. Child abuse is beyond the pale. Discrimination is beyond the pale. The pronouncing of death sentences on those who blaspheme against a religion (complete with bounties or rewards for those who carry them out) is beyond the pale. It is not civilized, and it is owed no more respect in the name of religious freedom than any other incitement to cold-blooded murder.

(pp. 515-517 of Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea)

Two references:

Safety demands that [fanatical fundamentalist] religions be put in cages-when absolutely…

is not “…religious adherents be…”.
Extremist religious ideas/memes are up for cognitive quarantine - not even forcible destruction.

However, the second is indeed about individuals, but subsequent examples are extraordinary:

Other religious memes are not so benign….those who insist on the purist and wildest strain… we will be obliged, reluctantly, to cage or disarm, and disable the memes they fight for. Slavery… Child abuse… Discrimination… Death for blasphemy [against deities]…

Disarming - removal of accumulated power - is Dennett’s apparently preferred option to “caging”.

Will scholar Beckwith continue to find credible those who announced “Dennett suggested Christians belong in cages”?
Is scholar Beckwith interested in finding out who they are?

Comment #26450

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 23, 2005 10:36 PM (e)

“According to a recent poll, 48 percent of the people in the United States today believe that the book of Genesis is literally true. And 70 percent believe that “creation science” should be taught in school alongside evolution. “

er what poll would that be?

the gallup polls do not show that exactly. here is a link to the questions asked in the gallup polls:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publi.htm

The data is scary enough as it is, but I wouldn’t agree with the statement that 48% think genesis literally correct. That’s not what the question asks.

If the data comes from some other poll, I’d like to see it. However, we have to be accurate on what the figures actually mean, when used as a reference, or we become just as bad as the IDiots.

Comment #26459

Posted by JohnK on April 23, 2005 11:34 PM (e)

Dennett’s book is roughly a decade old.
Yes, he could have misread a poll which just referred to special creation of Adam&Eve 10k yrs ago as full YEC “literalism”.
Recent polls on what should be taught

Sir_Toejam wrote:

The data is scary enough…

Comment #26460

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 11:41 PM (e)

“According to a recent poll, 48 percent of the people in the United States today believe that the book of Genesis is literally true.”

I point out, is a lower percentage than people in the US who believe that flying saucers come from outer space. It’s also lower than the percentage who think that astrology is real.

Not much for creationists to brag about there, I’m afraid …

er what poll would that be?

the gallup polls do not show that exactly. here is a link to the questions asked in the gallup polls:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publi.htm …

I find these figures to be quite curious:

percentage of African-Americans who accept that God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years: 53%

percentage of women: 53%

Since over half of the women and African-Americans in the US apparently accept YEC, I am a little curious as to why, when scanning the photos of board members for all the major YEC groups such as ICR, AIG, CRS etc etc etc, one sees nothing but white male faces.

Why is that, one wonders ……

Comment #26461

Posted by Russell on April 23, 2005 11:44 PM (e)

According to a poll in 1997, 44% of adult Americans believe:

“God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”

The figure was 47% in a 1991 poll.

Comment #26462

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 11:48 PM (e)

Adjectival hyperbole isn’t helping your case, Steve.

But Dr Beckwith’s unwillingness (or inability) to answer direct questions, is.

Comment #26463

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 23, 2005 11:49 PM (e)

“Recent polls on what should be taught”

sorry, i am missing where the poll data is in the link provided.

Comment #26464

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 23, 2005 11:52 PM (e)

@russel.

given the probable error margins (usually around 2-4%), 44 and 47% are not significantly different.

or was that what you were trying to point out?

Comment #26465

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 23, 2005 11:53 PM (e)

According to a poll in 1997, 44% of adult Americans believe:

“God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”

The figure was 47% in a 1991 poll.

HAH !!!! WE’RE WINNING !!! WE’RE GRINDING THE BASTARDS DOWN !!!!!

:>

Seriously, though, the polls I remember seeing all indicated that rejection of evolution/acceptance of creationism are all LOWER among young people than they are for middle-age and above.

I find that to be a good sign.

Comment #26466

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 23, 2005 11:59 PM (e)

ok, a question:

since Lenny obviously interprets the answer to this question:

“God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”

as meaning that folks who agreed are defacto YEC, do others here agree?

I am not so sure you could interpret agreement to that question as meaning that one could be classified as entirely YEC. Lots of folks believe evolution all the way up to the human part, for example. wouldn’t they end up as agreeing with that question, but NOT be considered YEC?

the reason i ask is that to me, the wording of the question in a poll is at least as important as the statistics obtained from the answers.

cheers

Comment #26467

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 24, 2005 12:06 AM (e)

“Since over half of the women and African-Americans in the US apparently accept YEC, I am a little curious as to why, when scanning the photos of board members for all the major YEC groups such as ICR, AIG, CRS etc etc etc, one sees nothing but white male faces.

Why is that, one wonders …… “

yes, i think someone else raised this question in another thread.

I agree, it does raise quite a few questions.

maybe we should get the ACLU to sue the DI for discrimination?

that would be a hoot!

Comment #26472

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 24, 2005 1:52 AM (e)

Re comment 26446

You have got to be shxtting me. Is that the quote that Beckwith is referring to when he talks about giving Dennett “the benefit of the doubt”?

What a freaking sleazebag.

Comment #26475

Posted by Ryan on April 24, 2005 7:04 AM (e)

Wow, Lenny Flank. You sure do leave a lot of posts. It’s not for me to judge how another person spends his time. If bashing intelligent design proponents before your fellow Darwininsts floats your boat, hey, have at it. Judging by the demeanor you show in your writing, I think I can understand why you would have a lot of hours by yourself to fill every day.

I did decide to leave one more post, mainly because your long post contains a serious error that is easy to point out.

You wrote, “In science, the soundness of an argument depends on whether or not that argument can pass the scientific method. And that is not dependent upon ANY ‘metaphysical doctrine’. Any at ALL.” This is incorrect. (No, even though you capitalized ANY and ALL for emphasis, it’s still incorrect.) “Science” is an abstract concept. We come to the definition of science through use of philosophical reflection. We do not, somehow, “discover” the definition of science in the way that people discovered, say, the nature of our solar system. Any claim about the nature of science, including the claim that a scientific argument must follow a specific 5-step method, exists necessarily in the realm of metaphysics. Sorry if this troubles you. The definition of science to which you are accustomed is not an absolute Truth: it is a metaphysical concept that can (and has) changed over time.

Stephen Meyer has a wonderful discussion of the problems with demarcation criteria in the book, “Science and Evidence of Design in the Universe.” You should give it a read. If for no other reason, you’ll become a better debator of ID proponents if you fully understand their arguments.

Back to the issue of tone. You wrote, “I find it illuminating that the best ‘counter-argument’ the IDers can come up with is ‘you’re a big meanie.’” I find it illuminating that the best “counter-argument” you can come up with against IDers is “You’re a big stupid-head.” If you find pleasure in insulting IDers by comparing them to “cow-crap,” this says a lot about your emotional maturity. (How old are you, anyway? I don’t only mean that rhetorically. I’m actually curious.) There’s a reason that insults do not belong in intellectual debates. I’ll let you think of it on your own.

This was my second and last post. I have other things I should spend my time on, like preparing for law school, which begins in August. Have fun, kids!

Comment #26477

Posted by David Wilson on April 24, 2005 7:46 AM (e)

In comment 26236

Francis Beckwith wrote:

If you find it offensive, as I do, that someone would suggest that it may be permissible to stone homosexuals, do you find it just as offensive that Daniel Dennett would suggest that Christians belong in cages or Richard Dawkins’ judgment that it is better that a young man be molested by a Catholic priest than that he become a Catholic. Of course, I know that Dennett has defended himself that he was taken out of context, and I am willing to grant him the benefit of the doubt on this. I’m not sure about Dawkins, however (If he has explained himself on this, please tell me; I’d like to know).

Again, it took me less than a minute with Google to discover that the allegation about Richard Dawkins’s views is just about as big a distortion as the one about Daniel Dennett’s. The article on which the allegation is apparently based appeared in the October 2002 issue of The Dubliner. The relevant passage is the following:

Richard Dawkins wrote:

Regarding the accusations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, deplorable and disgusting as those abuses are, they are not so harmful to the children as the grievous mental harm in bringing up the child Catholic in the first place. I had a letter from a woman in America in her forties, who said that when she was a child of about seven, brought up a Catholic, two things happened to her: one was that she was sexually abused by her parish priest. The second thing was that a great friend of hers at school died, and she had nightmares because she thought her friend was going to hell because she wasn’t Catholic. For her there was no question that the greatest child abuse of those two was the abuse of being taught about hell. Being fondled by the priest was negligible in comparison. And I think that’s a fairly common experience. I can’t speak about the really grave sexual abuse that obviously happens sometimes, which actually causes violent physical pain to the altar boy or whoever it is, but I suspect that most of the sexual abuse priests are accused of is comparatively mild - a little bit of fondling perhaps, and a young child might scarcely notice that. The damage, if there is damage, is going to be mental damage anyway, not physical damage. Being taught about hell - being taught that if you sin you will go to everlasting damnation, and really believing that - is going to be a harder piece of child abuse than the comparatively mild sexual abuse.

So let me reflect Professor Beckwith’s question back to him. Does he really find the views stated in this quotation (to use his own words) just as offensive as the suggestion that it may be permissible to stone homosexuals?

Comment #26486

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 24, 2005 9:09 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #26487

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 24, 2005 9:14 AM (e)

This was my second and last post. I have other things I should spend my time on, like preparing for law school, which begins in August. Have fun, kids!

Come back and report to us on two things: First, let us know if you find that any ID advocate could be qualified as an expert in intelligent design for the purposes of a trial about the whether intelligent design is useful science. Second, report to us about whether there is a case to be made that intelligent design is constitutional, without any evidence that intelligent design is science.

You probably won’t get evidence until your second year, but that will be sooner than intelligent design gets it.

Comment #26491

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 24, 2005 9:46 AM (e)

“Science” is an abstract concept. We come to the definition of science through use of philosophical reflection. We do not, somehow, “discover” the definition of science in the way that people discovered, say, the nature of our solar system. Any claim about the nature of science, including the claim that a scientific argument must follow a specific 5-step method, exists necessarily in the realm of metaphysics. Sorry if this troubles you. The definition of science to which you are accustomed is not an absolute Truth: it is a metaphysical concept that can (and has) changed over time.

Here, I think, is the kernel of ID’s newest strategy (forced upon them by an unbroken string of complete losses). First, ID tried to argue that it was science. That fell flat on its face. Next, ID tried to argue that evolution was philosophy. That too fell flat on its face. Now, ID wants to change the definition of science, by court order.

I think that will be the thing that finally pops their bubble.

Comment #26494

Posted by Jim Harrison on April 24, 2005 10:36 AM (e)

Folks on either side of these debates do sometimes distinguish “science” and “philosophy” as if they were on different floors of the building. Practicing scientists must deal with issues of a philosophical sort, most frequently with epistemological questions about what will count as science. Because these issues are resolved in the context of actual research and then only provisionally, the results don’t look much like the canned explanations of the scientific method that you sometimes encounter in the first chapters of biology textbooks.

Comment #26497

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 24, 2005 11:03 AM (e)

I’d also like to chime in on the tone here.

Intelligent design creationists deserve strong challenges and sharp rebukes to both the dishonesty and poor quality of their arguments. These do inspire legitimate frustration and anger in supporters of science and supporters of a strong United States.

That said, I truly believe that on some issues we should give Mr. Beckwith the benefit of the doubt and not call him a “freaking sleazebag.” Come on! – a gentleman is never rude except on purpose, and there just isn’t a purpose to personal insults like this. I expect that he heard the accusation about Mr. Dennett from a third party he trusts, and simply repeated it. I have done this myself in the past – but not here – and come to regret it. Mr. Beckwith’s criticism of Richard Dawkins’ recent quote is fair, and I think that we should all condemn it.

I said above that it’s okay to be wrong. Though it is okay, it really sucks to be wrong. And it really, really sucks to be wrong if your name is followed by a certain three letters, and on top of that if your mistake is public and wrapped up with strong personal convictions and allegiances. All of these complicating factors apply to Mr. Beckwith. It’s not much of a stretch to see that he came to his position regarding ID from the path of his own background, and now we’re witnessing the impossibility of him trying to defend it. I have my own personal tales of woe to tell from holding to a misguided aspect of how the world works, so I can really sympathize. So let’s give Mr. Beckwith a break for the time being, and the dignity to digest these critiques.

There will be plenty of opportunities for criticism in the future if he adheres to his mistakes.

Like the rest of my activities, the best I can hope for is an outcome that is flawed but constructive. Please do me a favor and do your best to avoid making this one flawed and unconstructive.

Frank, you expressed an interest in taking this offline. My email address is linked to my name if you’re still interested.

Best,

Steve

Comment #26499

Posted by Russell on April 24, 2005 11:25 AM (e)

Dr. Steve wrote:

Mr. Beckwith’s criticism of Richard Dawkins’ recent quote is fair, and I think that we should all condemn it.

While I would like to be able to participate in the group hug, I’m afraid, in all good conscience, I can’t. Instead, I have to agree with David Wilson. IMHO it is less outrageous to express one’s opinion about the relative perils of two ongoing evils [as Dawkins perceives them] than to actually advocate stoning “sinners”.

Sometimes I wish Dawkins wouldn’t hand the religious right such potent ammunition, but I don’t fault his integrity or his humanity.

Comment #26504

Posted by Russell on April 24, 2005 12:24 PM (e)

Sir TJ wrote:

given the probable error margins (usually around 2-4%), 44 and 47% are not significantly different. or was that what you were trying to point out?

No indeed. I think these numbers have been pretty consistent for decades and decades. I just mentioned the earlier number because it was likely that was what Dennett was referring to.

Comment #26510

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 24, 2005 12:41 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #26513

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 24, 2005 12:49 PM (e)

a gentleman

With all due respect, this is not a “gentleman’s” fight. This is not a badminton match. This is not a scientific symposium with all the decorum and nicety. This is not a pistol duel with all the accompanying rules and ceremony.

This is political war. This is a street fight. This is a barroom brawl. Punches will be thrown, teeth will be loosened, blood will hit the wall, and urine will stain the floor. One side will walk out of the bar standing up. One side won’t.

Those who don’t want to get their hands dirty with such a thing, should perhaps find another pastime.

Comment #26536

Posted by Gary Hurd on April 24, 2005 3:00 PM (e)

JohnK, in his Comment 26446 has made the start of a good addition to the TalkOrigin Quote Mine Project.

I hope you will follow it up.

Comment #26553

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on April 24, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

Lenny,

Your intimations of physical violence in Comment 26513 are repellent. Please stop making comments like this.

Similarly, I have friends that were once fundamentalists. They were good people then, and are good people now. I’m deeply offended that you would compare them to Leninists, Klansmen, or neo-Nazis.

Everyone makes mistakes, and we all have to come from somewhere. You would do well to reflect on how you would like to be treated the next time one of your mistakes is pointed out.

Comment #26571

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 24, 2005 7:54 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #26587

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 24, 2005 9:46 PM (e)

Steve Smith

Similarly, I have friends that were once fundamentalists. They were good people then, and are good people now. I’m deeply offended that you would compare them to Leninists, Klansmen, or neo-Nazis.

My mother’s an evangelical Christian and I love her dearly. Flank’s comments don’t offend me. I understand exactly what he is talking about and I understand that he isn’t comparing my mother to a Klansman or a neo-Nazi or whatever.

For what it’s worth, my mom’s a registered nurse with no philosophy or legal background but she is a hell of lot sharper and more honest than Beckwith and the other ID peddlers. For starters, she knows when she’s been beat and she isn’t ashamed to admit it. And she can smell bullshxt a mile away. I think she finds justification for her honesty in the Bible.

Go figure.

Comment #26589

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 24, 2005 10:01 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #26600

Posted by Gary Hurd on April 24, 2005 10:50 PM (e)

I had kin who were in the Klan. I don’t know, but I strongly suspect that they were murderers. Gladly, they are now dead.

When I was 17 years old these “country cousins” came to visit. A few hours into the visit, “Grampa” Len started to carry on about “them niggers is burnin’ down ‘our’ towns.”

I told him that if he did not stop such talk I would put him out of the house. My younger brother added that he would be glad to help.

Grampa’s son, Buster asked my father, “What are you goin’ to do with these boys?” and my father answered, “I’m going to hold open the door.”

The country cousins left then, and they never returned.

This is a tiny and even trivial event. The 1860s Civil War saw brothers on opposite sides of deadly battles.

Do I think that those battles could be revisited?

Absolutely.

I have no idea if Lenny Frank has ever been in a joint where you are frisked for weapons at the door, or one where the knife on your belt is a decoy.

I have no idea if Lenny Frank has ever regained consciousness on the floor of a bar with blood pouring down on his face from the man on top of him.

I have, and I am a pacifist.

Steve T. Smith, you worry that your tone was too rough, and there were some —-ies to agree that you should be more sweet-tongued. And maybe they are correct. Maybe facing down the Beckwiths has to be done sweetly, gently, with academic “mutual respect” because the blood on the ground, the hot irons, and the flames are too easily ignited.

However, I don’t know if you agree on the true stakes at the table where you want to play.

Every religious mass murder ever perpetrated is never more than a few years, or just a few months away from right now.

No metaphors were wasted in this message.

Comment #26602

Posted by Gary Hurd on April 24, 2005 11:03 PM (e)

I don’t wnat to make tripe or quaduple post, so I will just wiat for some other time. T he serverseems very baddly whacked right now.

Comment #26605

Posted by Gary Hurd on April 24, 2005 11:43 PM (e)

grrrrr

Comment #26609

Posted by Grail on April 25, 2005 3:16 AM (e)

Whoa — lots of interesting stuff. The rhetorical arguments are out of my realm but I would like to post on a few of the legal comments made in this thread.

1) Francis way back in post 25989 commented on this quote “we can’t expect law students … even to understand science” – Francis stated we can. Well, we can expect that the students understand science but it is never going to happen. As you know as an attorney, a law education is all about grades (unlike grad school, ones rank in his/her law school class can make or break a career) and grades are determined by how well one parrots back to the Prof. what was said in class. Science requires independent thought – something that does not occur in a legal education (might be why there were posts stating that the questioner at the debate was rude and monopolized time – he engaged the speaker and questioned the premise of the speaker’s argument – never happens in law school classes and it must have shocked the hell out of those law students in attendance).

2) Arne @ 26348 – I remember when I was in law school and was derided by a Federalist for not having read Hamilton’s musings on the constitution – the Federalist deemed himself a constitutional law expert based on his readings. He also deemed himself an expert biologist after 1 undergrad class but amazingly (at least to me) my Ph.D., my entire adult life spent in a lab, and my knowledge of the biological topic in discussion was insignificant. Oh the superiority complex law students have …… .

Have a good night all

Comment #26659

Posted by murky on April 25, 2005 1:27 PM (e)

What does Professor Beckwith mean when he says he does not actually endorse or support ID? I do not actually ensorse or support string theory over the standard model of physics, but I strongly believe string theory to be science, which is probably why it occurs to me to deserve mention in a science class in the public schools. Creationists might more aptly be referred to as Anti-biologists, because to the extent we are talking about a political movement, the motivation and goal is to wholly or partly displace biological content from biology class and to occupy the vacated space with religion instead. Just to call creationism a science, I think smart people on both sides fully realize, is to strike a blow in this turf war. So I can’t help suspect that Professor Beckwith is being sly or coy here in professing agnosticism about ID. It’s nigh on politically or even academically impossible to prove something is not a science, and yet with regard to the intellectual leaders of the political movement to replace biology with religion, why bother? The smart ones don’t themselves believe they’re talking about a science. They are simply consciously deceiving their followers. I suppose before public audiences of innocents we should make sure to present the overwhelming evidence that evolution is science and design is not, but let’s not forget to call these intellectuals what they are. Deceitful, lying sinners. I don’t that Professor Beckwith is in this category, because I don’t know how naive he might be about the profound otherness of ID in relation to the sciences.

Comment #26661

Posted by murky on April 25, 2005 1:32 PM (e)

What does Professor Beckwith mean when he says he does not actually endorse or support ID? I do not actually ensorse or support string theory over the standard model of physics, but I strongly believe string theory to be science, which is probably why it occurs to me to deserve mention in a science class in the public schools. Creationists might more aptly be referred to as Anti-biologists, because to the extent we are talking about a political movement, the motivation and goal is to wholly or partly displace biological content from biology class and to occupy the vacated space with religion instead. Just to call creationism a science, I think smart people on both sides fully realize, is to strike a blow in this turf war. So I can’t help suspect that Professor Beckwith is being sly or coy here in professing agnosticism about ID. It’s nigh on politically or even academically impossible to prove something is not a science, and yet with regard to the intellectual leaders of the political movement to replace biology with religion, why bother? The smart ones don’t themselves believe they’re talking about a science. They are simply consciously deceiving their followers. I suppose before public audiences of innocents we should make sure to present the overwhelming evidence that evolution is science and design is not, but let’s not forget to call these intellectuals what they are: Deceitful lying sinners. Or bad faith actors, if you prefer. I don’t know that Professor Beckwith is in this category, because I don’t know how naive he might be about the profound otherness of ID in relation to the sciences.

Comment #26664

Posted by murky on April 25, 2005 1:38 PM (e)

What does Professor Beckwith mean when he says he does not actually endorse or support ID? I do not actually ensorse or support string theory over the standard model of physics, but I strongly believe string theory to be science, which is probably why it occurs to me to deserve mention in a science class in the public schools, relatively new and unvalidated though it is. Creationists might more aptly be referred to as Anti-biologists, because to the extent we are talking about a political movement, the motivation and goal is to wholly or partly displace biological content from biology class and to occupy the vacated space with religion instead. Just to call creationism a science, I think smart people on both sides fully realize, is to strike a blow in this turf war. So I can’t help suspect that Professor Beckwith is being sly or coy here in professing agnosticism about ID. It’s nigh on politically or even academically impossible to prove something is not a science, and yet with regard to the intellectual leaders of the political movement to replace biology with religion, why bother? The smart ones don’t themselves believe they’re talking about a science. They are simply consciously deceiving their followers. I suppose before public audiences of innocents we should make sure to present the overwhelming evidence that evolution is science and design is not, but let’s not forget to call these intellectuals what they are: Deceitful lying sinners. Or bad faith actors, if you prefer. I don’t know that Professor Beckwith is in this category, because I don’t know how naive he might be about the profound otherness of ID in relation to the sciences.

Comment #26666

Posted by murky on April 25, 2005 1:43 PM (e)

Sorry for the multiple posts. I thought they were failing to post.

Comment #26676

Posted by Henry J on April 25, 2005 3:20 PM (e)

Re “I don’t know that Professor Beckwith is in this category, because I don’t know how naive he might be about the profound otherness of ID in relation to the sciences.”

That’s part of the problem, isn’t it? The leaders know what’s up, but some large fraction of their followers are just taking somebody’s word for it.

Henry

Comment #26793

Posted by Ben Goff on April 26, 2005 12:45 PM (e)

You good folks have been conned. You were conned into discussing the Constitutionality of teaching ID in school. It is not science, has not been science and never will be science. It is religion and has always been treated so by the courts. Until the Supreme Court says it is not religion, it is not permissible to teach it in schools. Frank has you chasing rabbits and apparently having a good time doing it. He admits that he is interested only in a good arguement. The world has been full of good arguements that are wrong. That’s why science exists to test theory by observation. He is not interested in that.
Points on arguing is a public forum, don’t uless you are experienced at it. You lose 30 IQ points when you standup and end up looking like an ass.