Reed A. Cartwright posted Entry 1172 on June 29, 2005 05:07 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1170

This has been said before but needs to be said again.

Alien designers are not compatible with “intelligent design” creationism.

According to the intelligent design “theoreticians” and propagandists at Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture,

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

(Top Questions)

Anything requiring the prior existence of the universe, like aliens, can not logically be the DI’s “intelligent cause” of the universe.  Clearly only supernatural entities satisfy the Discovery Institute’s authoritative description of intelligent design.

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Comment #36713

Posted by Henry J on June 29, 2005 5:15 PM (e)

Funny how under “what is intelligent design theory”, he’s got a paragraph that totally sidesteps the question it’s purported to be answering.

If it’s “best explained by…”, then for Pete’s (or Lenny’s) sake, give us the explanation already.

Henry

Comment #36714

Posted by Hiero5ant on June 29, 2005 5:23 PM (e)

It gets worse. Their only “arguments” are IC and CSI. Both of these set out to demonstrate that aspects of the universe cannot in principle arise without “intelligence”. Since any designing intelligence of IC/CSI must a fortiori be complex/specified, the distal designers must ultimately be supernatural.

Comment #36715

Posted by Greg Peterson on June 29, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

The argument that it takes complex intelligence to generate complexity always reminds me of the old Steve Martin bit:

You can be a millionaire and never pay taxes! You say.. “Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes?” First.. get a million dollars. Now.. you say, “Steve.. what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, ‘You have never paid taxes’?” Two simple words: “I forgot!”

How do we get our current level of complexity? First, start out with ulitmate complexity. And by what specific means has ultimate complexity brought us to our current state of complexity? We forgot.

Comment #36716

Posted by steve on June 29, 2005 5:42 PM (e)

Where is Lenny? Haven’t seen him lately. Has he been chasing them on their own blogs? I want to see his questions addressed. What is Intelligent Design Theory–not Evolution-is-wrong-theory–and then explain one non-trivial prediction it makes, which disagrees with evolution.

Comment #36717

Posted by TonyB on June 29, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

Maybe our universe is a science project for some smart alien kid in some much larger universe. Would the ID people like that idea? (Probably not.) How about if the kid’s name is Jehovah? (I’m thinking “no”.)

I hope we win first prize.

Comment #36719

Posted by Jim Harrison on June 29, 2005 6:37 PM (e)

The empirical evidence for space aliens is no better than the evidence for a creator god, i.e. zilch. So why bring in another non-starter hypothesis?

Comment #36720

Posted by Frank J on June 29, 2005 6:58 PM (e)

Reed A. Cartwright wrote:

Anything requiring the prior existence of the universe, like aliens, can not logically be the DI’s “intelligent cause” of the universe. Clearly only supernatural entities satisfy the Discovery Institute’s authoritative description of intelligent design.

I might agree if ID were pitched as a theory of origin of the universe. Granted, sometimes IDers sound that way, but for the most part it is pitched as a theory of origin of species (or life, or biochemical systems). For that I argue that an alien is a better candidate for the unnamed designer. Especially given their analogies to SETI, archaeology and forensics.

Besides, the Raelians endorsed ID. And no matter how much John West whines, the pro-reproductive-cloning advocates are just as welcome under the big tent as YECs.

Comment #36725

Posted by Albion on June 29, 2005 7:48 PM (e)

It isn’t just the problem of creating the universe, or even creating Privileged Planets. Once you claim that some structures and mechanisms of carbon-based cellular lifeforms are too complex to have arisen in any way other than intelligent design, you’ve ruled out carbon-based cellular lifeforms as the designers, since they themselves would have to have been designed. Then you start getting into some very weird convolutions about what sort of aliens you’re really talking about. No wonder the answer to the question of the identity of the designer is “we don’t go there.”

Comment #36726

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 29, 2005 7:54 PM (e)

If it’s “best explained by … “, then for Pete’s (or Lenny’s) sake, give us the explanation already.

Indeed. IDers love to shoot their mouths off about how wodnerful thjeir “alternative explanation” is, but, for some odd rreason, they seem awfully reluctant to just TELL US WHAT THE HELL THEIR “THEORY” **IS***.

Why is that, I wonder …. .

Could it be that, well, they are just lying to us and don’t have any goddamn theory after all?

Comment #36727

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 29, 2005 7:59 PM (e)

It gets worse. Their only “arguments” are IC and CSI. Both of these set out to demonstrate that aspects of the universe cannot in principle arise without “intelligence”. Since any designing intelligence of IC/CSI must a fortiori be complex/specified, the distal designers must ultimately be supernatural.

It gets worse than THAT. with all their weeping and whining about science’s “unfair materialistic/naturalistic biases”, any “the space aliens diddit” doesn’t help them after all, since it leaves THEM just as “materialistic/naturalistic” as the people they are bitching about. Unless, of course, they think the space aliens can use non-materialistic/supernaturalistic methods.

The IDers lose either way. Either the ID is God and the big bad scientists are just unfair atheists for excluding God from science, OR, the designers are plain old ordinary mortal non-supernatural space aliens, and all the ID whining about “materialistic biases” is nothing but irrelevant (and illegal, in a classroom) religious apologetics.

I wish they’d make up their friggin mind which one they prefer.

Comment #36728

Posted by DrJohn on June 29, 2005 8:01 PM (e)

from their webpage: In the area of journals, Michael Behe has defended his concept of “irreducible complexity” in the peer-reviewed journal Philosophy of Science published by the University of Chicago. There is also now a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on design theory, Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design, which has an editorial advisory board of more than 50 scholars from relevant scientific disciplines, most of whom have university affiliations. Finally, the works of design theorists are starting to be cited by other scholars in peer-reviewed journals such as the Annual Review of Genetics.

OK. So if an article is cited to be countered and debunked, it counts in their favor?

Does anyone have a list of these contributions if they are such?

Comment #36729

Posted by steve on June 29, 2005 8:06 PM (e)

Intelligent Design Theorist handles the data:

Astronomer: Hmm. This data indicates planets like the Earth are extraordinarily rare.
Intelligent Design Theorist: Aha! Such a precious, unique planet. So priveledged!
Astronomer: Hmm. Now the data indicates planets like the Earth are extraordinarily common.
Intelligent Design Theorist: Wow, that’s not likely, not by chance! What a beneficent creator, who so tuned the universe, that his beings may quickly spring forth and multiply. Truly, He lives!
Astronomer: Hmm. Now the data indicates planets like the Earth are neither too likely, nor too unlikely.
Intelligent Design Theorist: What data! That we were positioned so perfectly to observe that, surely means….

Comment #36730

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 29, 2005 8:07 PM (e)

Where is Lenny? Haven’t seen him lately. Has he been chasing them on their own blogs?

They won’t let me.

Must be part of their “eagerness to engage critics in meaningful discussion” or whatever.

Comment #36733

Posted by Rob Knop on June 29, 2005 8:13 PM (e)

It’s turtles all the way down….

Comment #36736

Posted by Raven on June 29, 2005 8:18 PM (e)

OK. So if an article is cited to be countered and debunked, it counts in their favor?

“It doesn’t matter what you say about me, as long as you spell my name right.” Of course, that’s PR, not science, but then it never was about science, was it?

Comment #36742

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on June 29, 2005 8:29 PM (e)

Personally, aliens are just exchanging one form of methodological atheism (not that I agree Evolution has anything to do with atheism, I still can’t see how it in any challenges my belief in God, but whatever) for another form of atheism- plus the nutters that come with it. Come on, surely people realise if we start peddling this space alien crap to people we’re just encouraging children to think aliens are the creators. If evolution breeds atheists, then won’t teaching kids that aliens made us create Raelians or something equally as absurd?

All these IDiots are doing is driving people away from Christianity by making us look stupid, and further, probably going to do nothing more than add further weight for people to deny God.

Comment #36743

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 29, 2005 8:36 PM (e)

All these IDiots are doing is driving people away from Christianity by making us look stupid, and further, probably going to do nothing more than add further weight for people to deny God.

It is, indeed, an odd sort of theology that tries to advance its doctrines by, uh, denying them …… “There must be a god, because the space aliens made us”. Hmmm, okaaayyyyyyy …. .

I suppose the nutters must have SOME sort of logical reason for it, though ….

Or else they are just modern-day descendents of the Gnostic heretics, who ALSO denied that God was the Creator ….

Comment #36745

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 29, 2005 8:42 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #36749

Posted by todavies on June 29, 2005 10:06 PM (e)

Well I dont know if anyone has said this yet but … since we are talking about who created the universe and since we’re freely speculating, apparently with no limitations but the limits of imagination, I guess an alien COULD be the creator of the universe … why not? Just because he himself would have to have a universe that was created by something else … so maybe infinite aliens, okay. Or maybe just a few stages of creation by aliens until you get to the original god-created universe … who knows, that could be. I dont see anything in particular in the essential summations of ID to rule this possibility out. Just because it is freaking crazy stupid definitely doesn’t rule it out with the ID guys.

Comment #36750

Posted by Albion on June 29, 2005 10:09 PM (e)

The IDers lose either way. Either the ID is God and the big bad scientists are just unfair atheists for excluding God from science, OR, the designers are plain old ordinary mortal non-supernatural space aliens, and all the ID whining about “materialistic biases” is nothing but irrelevant (and illegal, in a classroom) religious apologetics.

I wish they’d make up their friggin mind which one they prefer.

Yes, but that would require a dangerous amount of joined-up thinking. So far we have a situation where things have been set up so there’s only one possible designer, who can’t be identified; a “theory” being peddled by a bunch of people who were last seen falling over themselves to prevent school districts from requiring that it be taught; the same group of people as above, who are demanding that the education standards allow evidence against evolution to be taught even though there aren’t any education standards that don’t allow it to be taught; and a claim that their preferred alternative is purely scientific but is somehow going to rescue the country from a theological-philosophical problem.

Comment #36753

Posted by Rich on June 30, 2005 2:04 AM (e)

I believe their Journal is called “the REALLY serious journal of science and stuff that’s backed by public opinion, King James edition”

Comment #36754

Posted by Jaime Headden on June 30, 2005 2:25 AM (e)

I think Irreducible Complexity may be a scapegoat for an implicit fundamental of observation limits. If we cannot observe it, and thus cannot determine its existence, it doesn’t exist. Or rather, cannot be assumed to exist unless demonstrated otherwise. In ID, such observation is implicit in the conceptor’s own ego, that if they cannot see it, it cannot exist; thus, elements finer than the observable do not exist, and their existence cannot therefore be due to actions and interactions as proposed by physics. This is behind the origin of the universe and the availability of the unobservable subatomic particles in particle physics, and because this challenges the proponents of ID’s belief in the existence of God, despite arguments by christians saying the two are not mutually exclusive, that God may have initiated such action, it cannot exist because it cannot be seen. Or is ignored. Indeed, it bolsters faith rather than challenges it, and no one who believes in something as “true” enjoys being told, even in a friendly manner, that they are wrong. When it is wrapped up into your fundamental existence, then it becomes an attack on your very existence, and thus must be denied.

I cannot see anyone so intriguingly foolish as to think what they cannot see is greater than what they can, but then … I’ve never had my knowledge of the sun’s rising challenged, either. One just understands it will happen, and goes about one’s business. The Aztec felt differently, but then, those where the Aztec, and here the parallel is striking.

However, it seems the biggest flaw with ID is not its existence, but its application: Why does the peppered moth have peppered wings, because God made it so. End of discussion. End of science. If the understanding and existence of things is wrapped up in such an easy answer, why do even IDers debate? Or convert? Or try to get those others to agree? Obviously, God made the skeptics, so this is all part of His universe, and thus “perfect.”

Cheers

Comment #36756

Posted by SteveF on June 30, 2005 5:14 AM (e)

Lenny, if you fancy a laugh on the subject of peer reviewed journals, check out the following.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/helium/zircons.html

In the response to this article, Humphries writes:

“Recently an anti-creationist geochemist, a part-time instructor at the University of Kentucky named Kevin Henke[1], posted on the Internet a 25,000-word rejection[2] of scientific evidence that the world is only about 6,000 years old, the helium-leak age of zircons (radioactive crystals) from deep underground. In politics, his procedure would be called “mud-slinging,” which in this case tries to bury truth under a mountain of minutiae. I normally don’t reply to Internet posts from skeptics because I want them to try to publish their criticisms in peer-reviewed scientific journals, the proper place to carry out scientific debates.

However, in this case I want to take the opportunity to share updated information about our research which will appear later this year in the RATE[3] “results” book[4] and in the accompanying book for laymen.[5] I also plan to submit technical details of this reply to a peer-reviewed scientific journal, the Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ). If Henke chooses to sling yet more mud, let him try to do so in a scientific journal. The RATE helium research has been peer-reviewed and published in several different scientific venues. Critics like Henke must gird up their loins and undergo the same kind of scientific discipline—if they want people to take them seriously. If they refuse to do that, I plan not to reply to them further.”

I genuinely believe this to be a sign of serious delusion.

Comment #36758

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on June 30, 2005 6:33 AM (e)

Since any designing intelligence of IC/CSI must a fortiori be complex/specified…

Ummm, not sure where this comes from. Maybe the DI folks think they’ve demonstrated this, and thus avoid the nasty problems that H.G. Wells envisioned, but they have done no such thing, and worse, it just leads to a “who designed the designers” reductio ad absurdum circularity: “It’s turtles all the way down…..”

I think the notion that the “designer” must be more “complicated” than the design comes from bad understanding of concepts such as entropy and information, but this notion is basically the same old, same old dross that the creationists have been peddling as pure gold for years: the thoroughly discredited SLOT argument.

Cheers,

Comment #36759

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 30, 2005 6:44 AM (e)

I think the notion that the “designer” must be more “complicated” than the design comes from bad understanding of concepts such as entropy and information, but this notion is basically the same old, same old dross that the creationists have been peddling as pure gold for years: the thoroughly discredited SLOT argument.

Indeed. The IDers have not presented a single argument that wasn’t already being made thirty years ago by Gish and his minions.

Including the argument that they are science and not religion.

Comment #36763

Posted by Russell on June 30, 2005 8:08 AM (e)

a “who designed the designers” reductio ad absurdum circularity: “It’s turtles all the way down …..”

I’ve seen this “turtles” quote many times, and the meaning is pretty clear. But just out of curiosity, what is the original origin of the expression?

Comment #36765

Posted by Keith Douglas on June 30, 2005 8:31 AM (e)

So, the ID folks have done it (again). They have used their publication in Philosophy of Science to “answer” the question about peer reviewed publications … just as I predicted.

I was (as a philosopher of science and a subscriber to that journal) somewhat alarmed when the issue came out with Behe’s paper. It was in response to some critics, BTW. Of course, they are right to say it is a peer reviewed journal from the University of Chicago Press. Shame it isn’t a science journal. Of course, there are a fair number of papers (particularly in philosophy of physics) which could probably be published in science journals that appear there, but that’s just my guess - and Behe’s paper certainly isn’t one of them.

Given some other papers I’ve seen floating around I am wondering whether IDers and stuff are going to try to hijack philosophy journals more …

Comment #36766

Posted by SEF on June 30, 2005 8:44 AM (e)

The “turtles all the way down” quote comes from Terry Pratchett’s DiscWorld (eg in “the science of” book). However, it is just a restatement of an older reference to infinite regression - and, although I recognised it as such the first time I read Pratchett, I’ve got so used to seeing the Pratchett one around that my memory is struggling to recall anything else now.

Comment #36767

Posted by RBH on June 30, 2005 8:46 AM (e)

Russell asked

I’ve seen this “turtles” quote many times, and the meaning is pretty clear. But just out of curiosity, what is the original origin of the expression?

From here:

I first read the phrase “Turtles All the Way Down” in a book by Stephen Hawking. According to the story, a bigname scientist was giving a lecture on astronomy. After the lecture, an elderly lady came up and told the scientist that he had it all wrong. ‘The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist asked “And what is the turtle standing on?”

To which the lady triumphantly replied: “You’re very clever, young man, but it’s no use – it’s turtles all the way down.”

I can’t vouch for that as the original, but I’ve heard more-or-less the same story about the little old lady in several contexts.

RBH

Comment #36768

Posted by Flint on June 30, 2005 9:09 AM (e)

I first encountered this phrase in Hofstadter’s Godel Escher Bach. It seems to have been an old story even then. Here’s another take for what it’s worth. And over here it’s attributed to Fred Hoyle, who in turn attributed it to Thomas Gold.

Comment #36769

Posted by Flint on June 30, 2005 9:14 AM (e)

William James gets the credit in this article.

Comment #36770

Posted by andrew burnes on June 30, 2005 9:50 AM (e)

An aside: I remember the turtle-holding-up-the-world concept as part of several Native American creation myths, desert tortoise in the southwest, sea turtles on the east coast. If it’s a hindu idea, maybe it’s worldwide. If it’s worldwide, maybe it’s TRUE. Maybe it IS turtles all the way down.

Comment #36772

Posted by Les Lane on June 30, 2005 9:58 AM (e)

I vote for “intelligent design” to replace “turtles”.

Comment #36773

Posted by Rupert Goodwins on June 30, 2005 10:16 AM (e)

I think I have the Theory of ID now, which may help calm Lenny down.

What ID is saying is that our current understanding of the mechanisms of the universe are insufficient to explain the nature of organisms. That’s a proposition ID is free to make (although clearly not proven to the point that most scientists would find satisfactory) and it leads to two - and I think only two - possible conclusions.

Either the mechanisms of the universe really are insufficient, or our understanding of them is flawed.

Throughout the history of science – and ID claims to be science – in every case that contradictions between understanding and repeatable observation have occured and been resolved, it’s been our understanding that’s at fault. The universe continues to be consistent, despite our limited abilities to comprehend it. There are plenty of places at the edge of our understanding where such a consistency has yet to be demonstrated, and doubtless there are misunderstandings in the corpus of things we imagine to have been sorted out, but there are no places where we clearly perceive what is going on but have given up investigating ways to fit it into the framework.

Now, ID claims that for the first time ever our understanding of science is so good that we have identified a breakdown in the continuum of physical law that cannot be explained any other way.

This is an astounding claim - but from where does this understanding come from? Intuition. It doesn’t come from Dembski’s maths, which is as he admits based on a theological framework rather than taking an unusual phenomenon and investigating it dispassionately through mathematical tools. It doesn’t come from Behe’s analysis of extant systems, about which the most that can be said is that they’re at the edge of our current understanding - like all new science. No, it’s just intuition, the very thing science is designed to test rather than accept.

Yet ID says despite its extraordinary implications and lack of evidence, intuition here is strong enough to be used to move on to the next step.

Let’s assume ID is right on this point too.

Intuition says ‘if it looks designed, it must be designed, and if it’s something we can’t design it must be the product of higher intelligence’ - which sidesteps the small business of why unintelligent forces are barred from shaping functional complexity, or how you could tell the difference if they’re not so barred.

Let’s assume ID is right on this point too.

If natural forces cannot create intelligence (the only logical conclusion of ID’s chain of reasoning) and intelligence is necessary to explain what we see, then ID must be proposing a supernatural entity outside physics. Otherwise, we’re back at the turtles - unless ID is saying that ‘intelligence’ is a fundamental property of the universe that doesn’t need creating, that somehow manifests itself through complexity in the way gravity manifests itself through mass. That would at least be an interesting idea and one that might be amenable to scientific study, although I think you’d be hard pushed to differentiate it from dull old evolutionary thinking.

Which means ID starts from a questionable proposition, moves through an untestable assumption and arrives at God.

That’s the theory of ID: multiply the questionable via the untestable and reach the divine.

D = QU

R

Comment #36774

Posted by Greg Peterson on June 30, 2005 10:42 AM (e)

Suppose that 20,000 years into the future humans have discovered a way to transcend time and to manufacture quantum signularities, even “tweaking” them to produce somewhat predictable results. The humans could step outside of time (and space, since the two are related) and “seed” new universes with the bottled singularities (or cause two superstring branes to colide, or however cosmology actually works). In that sense, humanity could be the intelligent designer (sowing lots and lots of singularities so that some universes “work out”). In point of fact, in that scenario, we could have been our OWN creator. A self-creating universe. Using ID methodology, how could IDers plausibly demonstrate that this is not what happened? No need for aliens (they is us), no need for a god, and we make full use of the only intelligent designer we know of in existence: us.

Comment #36775

Posted by Flint on June 30, 2005 10:43 AM (e)

Which means ID starts from a questionable proposition, moves through an untestable assumption and arrives at God.

Except nobody believes this, not even the ID people. They all start with God, non-negotiably, and need to find some way to make the universe fit whether it does or not. Nobody past the age of maybe 5 would ever seriously propose that reality has been confected by invisible magicians (whose origin is not to be thought about), based on observation alone.

I’d suggest a different progression: Here’s a world full of unexplained stuff. We can’t tolerate vacuums in our knowledge, so lets make up something to fill the gaps. Then let’s raise our children to believe our made-up stuff is true. Then let’s watch as our children, faced with actual (and hard-won) knowledge, fight to retain the fiction and reject the knowledge. And we observe that our children don’t prosecute this battle by showing that the fiction is true, but rather by training their children to believe what they do.

In their minds, the divine is reached a priori. The task is to protect this conviction against any serious question. And the only workable way to accomplish this is NOT to discourage questions, but to prevent any such questions from being taken seriously. As the twig is bent, the tree is inclined. So here we are, lecturing malformed trees while the creationists are busy bending twigs.

Comment #36779

Posted by Rupert Goodwins on June 30, 2005 11:02 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

Except nobody believes this, not even the ID people. They all start with God, non-negotiably, and need to find some way to make the universe fit whether it does or not. Nobody past the age of maybe 5 would ever seriously propose that reality has been confected by invisible magicians (whose origin is not to be thought about), based on observation alone.

Ah, well, I wasn’t saying what ID people actually believe. I’m just going on what they say. It’s as clear as premium vodka that they start with God and try and find a way to wedge him in by pretending that he’s some sort of intellectual conclusion. Hence the large numbers of internal contradictions in what they say - when you can pin them down to say anything substantive - and the fun that comes if you see what happens when you take them at their word.

R

Comment #36781

Posted by tytlal on June 30, 2005 11:19 AM (e)

For the sake of fun, let’s ask The Designer some questions.

Questions for the Intelligent Designer:

Why did you design extinct species?
Did you also create non-life, asteriods, for example, and why are they still hurtling around us?
Did you create aliens who then created us? :-)

I will conclude that if an Intelligent Deisinger exists, “he” has made a few mistakes.

Can the ID’ers admit that The Designer made mistakes? Isn’t that a logical conclusion or is The Designer perfect, in which case, it could not be the same designer who created the extinct species?

Comment #36782

Posted by SteveF on June 30, 2005 11:27 AM (e)

I believe that the IDers would say something along the lines of:

“feature x is too complex to be explained by anything other than an intelligent designer. This doesn’t neccesarily mean that feature x was designed well, just that it had to be designed for it to have come about. If you happen to believe that the designer was God then this crappy design has theological implications.”

something like the above anyway.

Comment #36783

Posted by Ginger Yellow on June 30, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #36784

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on June 30, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

I’ve seen this “turtles” quote many times, and the meaning is pretty clear. But just out of curiosity, what is the original origin of the expression?

I think it derives from some wag sometime – lost in anonymity at least to me – who, when presented with the “First Cause” illogic of the religionists (“everything has to have a cause, so obviously some ‘First Cause’ had to start everything”), reflected on an old Hindo belief (IIRC) that the world was supported on the back of a giant turtle. His/her conclusion was: “It’s turtles all the way down….”

For some different takes on it:

http://members.tripod.com/TheoLarch/turtle.html
http://www.lewrockwell.com/cummings/cummings31.html

But see:

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/encyclopedia/T/Tu/Turtles_all_the_way_down.htm
http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1418981

Probably the stuff of urban legend.

It’s certainly been around a lot longer than Hawking’s popular book (I’d heard it mentioned in college; but then again I hung out with physics students then).

HTH.

Cheers,

Comment #36785

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on June 30, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

Can the ID’ers admit that The Designer made mistakes? Isn’t that a logical conclusion or is The Designer perfect, in which case, it could not be the same designer who created the extinct species?

Oh, no. Someone else made them. Read your Babble again.

Cheers,

Comment #36791

Posted by Dave Cerutti on June 30, 2005 1:56 PM (e)

Unfortunately, I think ALL of the major ID proponents I know have made this argument, and I’ve detected NO sincerity when they make it. As has been said before, but needs to be repeated, this is just part of the scam, a flailing attempt to respond to criticism that ID is nothing but redressed creationism.

Comment #36792

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on June 30, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #36795

Posted by Ginger Yellow on June 30, 2005 2:49 PM (e)

It’s logically possible for rational people. But not for IDists. Since their basis for claiming design is “I don’t understand how this could occur otherwise”, unless they can come up with a mechanism to create a non-designed creator (like, say, evolution) they’re stuck. You can’t argue one without the other.

Comment #36798

Posted by George on June 30, 2005 3:13 PM (e)

ID is ruse form of creationism. It was created for that singular purpose of teaching creationism without actually saying god so that they might have a chance to get it into the schools. That’s all it is. Of course they are mad when folks screw up and connect it to god directly because all their hard (deceptive) work goes down the drain.

George

Comment #36799

Posted by George on June 30, 2005 3:19 PM (e)

In fact strategically, the best course of action we can take it to strongly link ID to god - you cannot argue logically with a regligious belief. And boy does such an attack hit a nerve…

Comment #36806

Posted by Henry J on June 30, 2005 4:16 PM (e)

Re “Since their basis for claiming design is “I don’t understand how this could occur otherwise”,”

But, do they understand how it could occur with design any better than they understand it without?

Henry

Comment #36809

Posted by steve on June 30, 2005 4:32 PM (e)

But, do they understand how it could occur with design any better than they understand it without?

No, they don’t.

ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories.

–William D…embski

Comment #36810

Posted by steve on June 30, 2005 4:36 PM (e)

(Dembski could have gone on to say, “Nor does it have your pathetic level of ‘falsifiability’, or your disgusting ‘predictive value’.)

Comment #36812

Posted by natural cynic on June 30, 2005 4:49 PM (e)

I like “Yertle the Turtle” by Dr. Suess with the part of Yertle played by Dembski.

Soooooo simple:
If it’s complex and good - it;’s designed.

If it’s bad design - then it evolved.

market for confirmation>>market for information

Comment #36821

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 30, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

Isn’t it logically possible (although without any shred of evidence) that the space aliens who created irreducibly complex Earth life were a different form of life which is not irreducibly complex?

Behe has stated so.

A cyber-acquaintence of mine from another email list wrote to Debski to ask him about this very point:

drvr2hrdwr wrote:

Mr. Behe, may I get your comment or opinion on the theistic verses atheistic nature of intelligent design theory?

It seems to me that ID proposes that all life requires an intelligence to design it. So, if God did not design life on Earth, then some other intelligent creatures (space aliens presumably) must have. These creatures would then require an intelligence to their design, and so on for as many level of regression as one my choose to suggest.

Since life could not have existed at the first instant of the Big Bang, there must be a terminal point to this regression, requiring that the original intelligent designer must have been God. Thus, ID theory is inherently theistic.

Or would you and other ID proponents suggest that only life on Earth would require an intelligent designer, but life elsewhere would not require an intelligent designer? Would you suggest that a Godless abiogenesis could occur elsewhere giving rise to extraterrestrial intelligence, which in turn designed life on Earth, thus making ID theory potentially atheistic?

Neil Habermehl

Behe’s response:

From: Michael Behe
To: drvr2hrdwr
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 7:56 AM
Subject: Re: Atheistic ID?

Hi, Mr. Habermehl. Yes, perhaps life elsewhere doesn’t require irreducibly complex structures. So maybe it arose naturally by chance and then designed us, as I speculated in Darwin’s Black Box (“Aliens and Time Travelers”, pp. 248-250). I don’t think that’s the case, but it isn’t logically impossible. Best wishes.

Mike Behe

So, you see, according to Behe, no god or gods needed. I wonder if Behe mentions that during his church speeches.

Comment #36824

Posted by Ginger Yellow on June 30, 2005 7:11 PM (e)

So what exactly are the irreducibly complex structures present in earth lifeforms that wouldn’t be necessary in other lifeforms? What does Behe propose to replace their function, and why wouldn’t those replacements be irreducibly complex? Or is Behe yet again postulating something without substance, without a mechanism and without any evidence? How very ID.

Comment #36832

Posted by Henry J on June 30, 2005 10:10 PM (e)

With the lack of detail behind this deliberately engineered life (aka “intelligent design”) concept, how do they tell if it’s an alternative, or a supplement to the theory of evolution?

Granted, the simplest interpretation of D.E.L. would conflict with the evidence for common ancestry, but they can always add the ad-hoc assumption (i.e., an added assumption needed to make it work) the engineer(s) used descent with change as a major tool.

Henry

Comment #36838

Posted by Heinz Kiosk on July 1, 2005 3:42 AM (e)

but they can always add the ad-hoc assumption (i.e., an added assumption needed to make it work) the engineer(s) used descent with change as a major tool.

AFAIK Behe, Dembski, and Denton amongst others accept the overwhelming evidence for common descent. They are silent as to the mechanism by which God^h^h^h the Designer intrudes into the evident naturalism of the process. Nudging the odd quanta appropriately to get the desired mutations perhaps? Amusingly most of their fellow travellers (YEC) express derision when you tell them that their “scientifically credible” poster-boys pinups back common descent… and then go very silent when they’ve gone and googled it…

Comment #36839

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on July 1, 2005 4:18 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #36844

Posted by Rob Knop on July 1, 2005 9:17 AM (e)

All these IDiots are doing is driving people away from Christianity by making us look stupid, and further, probably going to do nothing more than add further weight for people to deny God.

Chrstianity will survive ID and creationism. Just as it survived the religious denial of the indisputable evidence for a heliocentric solar system a few hundred years ago.

Today we look back on that incident and perhaps feel vaguely embarassed, but mostly wonder why Christians felt so threatened by the Copernican view of the solar system, and by Galileo’s observations. Similarly, in time, people will look back on today’s creationists and wonder why they thought the scientific evidence for evolution was such a threat.

In the mean time, though, we have to fight against those huddled in the dark cave to keep them from hamstringing the next generation or two with ignorance.

-Rob

Comment #36849

Posted by Ric Frost on July 1, 2005 11:55 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #36850

Posted by Jim Harrison on July 1, 2005 12:19 PM (e)

Whether religion becomes more or less salient in people’s lives will presumably depend upon sociological factors. Traditional religion in Europe certainly didn’t decline because people read the Origin of Species—anti-clericialism had more to do with the association of the old churches with political reaction. By the same token, the obvious falsity of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam has never been an obstacle to the worldy success of these religions; and there’s not much reason to think it will make any difference in the future. Loyalty to in-groups, hatred of out-groups, and psychological comfort in the face of the ineluctable miseries of life are far more motivating to normal human beings than mere matters of fact.

Comment #36852

Posted by andrew burnes on July 1, 2005 12:19 PM (e)

like most of my comments, this is barely relevant:

i’ve noticed a tendency on various evo blogs, probably unconscious or accidental, to misspell “dembski” - i’ve seen demski, debski, dempski, dembsky, and probably a few others over the last few months. i’m beginning to imagine that it’s a plot to de-exist him by denying his identity. i think i like it.

Comment #36860

Posted by alien death on July 1, 2005 3:06 PM (e)

I think just about everyone believed the earth was either supported on the back of a turtle or by pillers or something. What else would keep it from falling? Anaximander I believe, is the first known to speculate that the earth is suspended. Karl Popper believes this idea was revolutionary because though his theory about how that suspension worked was wrong, he was thinking in the right direction, given that it is the only solution to avoid an infinite regress of turtles or pillars or whatever. But I’d have to do some homework to see if that had anything to do with Anaximander’s reasoning. I know he believed the heavens moved around the earth from observation – so there couldn’t be a pillar under it.

Comment #36867

Posted by Jim Harrison on July 1, 2005 4:31 PM (e)

“The earth is on high, held up by nothing, but remaining on account of its similar distance from all things.” Anaximander according to Hippolytus (trans. Kirk and Raven)

“…the earth stays still because of its equilibrium. For it behoves that which is established at the center. and is equally related to the extremes, not to be borne one whit more either up or down or two the sides; and it is impossible for it to move simultaneously in opposite directions, so that it stays fixed by necessity.” Anaximander according to Aristotle. (trans. Kirk and Raven)

On the other hand, Anaximander thought that the earth is shaped like a drum and that we live on its flat top so evidently he didn’t go the whole way with the symmetry idea. No turtles, though.

Comment #36885

Posted by Intelligent Design Theorist Timmy on July 2, 2005 10:30 AM (e)

Comment #36852

Posted by andrew burnes on July 1, 2005 12:19 PM (e) (s)

like most of my comments, this is barely relevant:

i’ve noticed a tendency on various evo blogs, probably unconscious or accidental, to misspell “dembski” - i’ve seen demski, debski, dempski, dembsky, and probably a few others over the last few months. i’m beginning to imagine that it’s a plot to de-exist him by denying his identity. i think i like it.

Well Mistar Andrew the main mispelling I see is “Dumbski”. I think the evolutionists are just upset at him for single-handedly destroying the theory of evolution and replacing it with Intelligent Design. Just like Michael Behe had done. Anyway they both did it. Often in science there are independant simultaneous discoveries.

Comment #36904

Posted by jay denari on July 2, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

I’m amazed the creationists can justify their view of humans and other Earth life as “created” by arguing that that makes us special. Don’t they realize that everything we can point to that’s without doubt been created (mostly by us poor humans) is … a TOOL designed to be used until no longer usable, then thrown away?

I think their whole attitude is rooted in the arbitrariness of slavery, and slavery is notorious for crushing any sense of curiosity or of trusting your own observations b/c someone else holds ultimate power over you…

Comment #36916

Posted by Henry J on July 2, 2005 9:42 PM (e)

Re “[…] and other Earth life as “created” by arguing that that makes us special. […]”

There’s also the point that “created” does not by itself contradict “evolved” - AFAIK, calling something created just means that something was responsible for it, not that the method of producing it was inconsistent with natural process.

Re “is … a TOOL designed to be used until no longer usable, then thrown away?”

Ya know, I made a point very like that one a while back. Don’t recall anybody commenting on it one way or another.

Henry

Comment #36933

Posted by Rob Knop on July 3, 2005 7:38 AM (e)

Moving the earth out of the middle of the solar system (most Christian fundamentalists don’t really understand our solar system’s insignificant place in the universe) could be accomplished without too much pain. Accepting that humans evolved from “lower” animals sets a great deal of theology on very shakey ground, rather than requiring a few verses to be declared symbolic rather than literal.

I see Christianity (and especially evangelicalism) in North America following the trail blazed by our European brothers and sisters into irrelevancy.

I’m not sure that describing Christiantiy as irrelevant in Europe is accurate. If by that you mean that it isn’t the dominant political and society force that it was in the 15-17th centuries when Galileo and all of that was happening, sure, you’re right. But that’s also true of the USA, as hard as it may seem to believe to those of us bothered by the anti-science movement.

But Christianity still exists and still is important on the day-to-day life of a lot of people in Europe.

Also, in the USA, I think that the majority of Christians don’t really have a problem with evolution, or with science in general. It’s just that the plurality does– the single largest well-organized group of demoninations, and thus the group with the most political power and the most media coverage. There are a lot of Catholics and a lot of mainstream Protestants out there who don’t have any problem at all with Big Bang cosmology, evolution, or anything else in science. And, yeah, their theology is different, and they don’t view the Bible as Literal Truth, but they’re still Christian.

We should avoid saying that science is going to push Christianity into irrelevancy, because (a) I’m not sure that’s true, and (b) that feeds right into one of the prevarications of the creationist movement (who claim that evolution is necessarily anti-religion and anti-Christian).

-Rob

Comment #36990

Posted by Ric Frost on July 5, 2005 12:44 PM (e)

Rob Knop wrote:

We should avoid saying that science is going to push Christianity into irrelevancy, because (a) I’m not sure that’s true, and (b) that feeds right into one of the prevarications of the creationist movement (who claim that evolution is necessarily anti-religion and anti-Christian).

First, I was unclear who I was refering to: being from an evangelical background, I have a bad habit of leaving out an important modifier when I refer to Christians. When you are taught for 40 years that only evangelicals are true Christians, it affects how you think and express yourself. Call me a recovering evangelical. My apologies for any offence and a lack of clarity.

I don’t believe science will push Christianity into irrelevancy. I do believe that evangelical Christians’ response to science will push evangelical Christianity into irrelevancy.

Not to be Clinton-esque, but I also think it is important to discuss what is meant by “irrelevancy.” In many ways Christianity is already irrelevant. I delivered newspapers in the 1970’s, and a story about a proposed policy or law frequently contained the “clergy view” even when the proposal had no clear religious import. I don’t bother with newspapers much, but I don’t see the “clergy view” being sought even here in “red” territory these days. Evangelicals claim conspiricy rather than face the aweful truth: Most don’t care.

Jim Harrison wrote:

Traditional religion in Europe certainly didn’t decline because people read the Origin of Species—anti-clericialism had more to do with the association of the old churches with political reaction.

Origin may not have been the only reason, but can it be said that the increase in understanding of natural processes in general (not just biology) had no effect? As well, is it possible to see a parallel reaction to the politics of creationist and ID advocates? We in the United States have the best politicians that money can buy and evangelicals are very effective fundraisers. After all, if you say “No” to a request for money to fight the godless commun… err… evolutionists, you are saying “No” to God. Is it reasonable to think that at some point the general public will stop ignoring the political antics and begin active opposition?

At least in my case, evangelicals are right to fear knowledge. They have essentially lost me; I’m just hanging around to tie up some loose ends so I can make a graceful exit. GenX and now GenY stick around just long enough to get off from under mom and dad’s thumb, then disappear. The Barna Group confirms this: evangelical churches are essentially devoid of members between the ages of 20 and 40.

Comment #36991

Posted by Rob Knop on July 5, 2005 3:17 PM (e)

I delivered newspapers in the 1970’s, and a story about a proposed policy or law frequently contained the “clergy view” even when the proposal had no clear religious import. I don’t bother with newspapers much, but I don’t see the “clergy view” being sought even here in “red” territory these days.

Heh. I live in Nashville, TN, and the clergy view does still matter. No, every news story doesn’t have it. But there is a “Faith & Values” section once a week in the paper, and the letters to the editor and some colum ns on the editorial page also make religion clear; the local minor league baseball team has bobble-head dolls of Moses, Samson, and other biblical figures; and likewise. Plus, while it may not have been the dominant voting block, the evangelical voting block wasn’t insignificant in re-electing Bush. The religious right, anyway, still has political influence.

Does the rest of Christianity? Probably not so much. Not in big overt ways, in any event. They do a lot for things like helping with the homeless and so forth, though.

Origin may not have been the only reason, but can it be said that the increase in understanding of natural processes in general (not just biology) had no effect?

Perhaps – but not because science makes religion obselete. Rather, certain religions insist that they know science better what the collective world has learned through the scientific process. This those religions (or those branches of religion) wrong. This is also what’s driving people away from religion. When you insist that something clearly wrong is a necessary tenet of your religion, as people realize that it is wrong they will be turned off to religion. This isn’t science’s fault for attack religion. This is certain religions’ fault for tryin to do science, and doing a very bad job of it.

I predict that Christianity is here to stay, as is Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, at least. And they will remain important in the lives of many– including many scientists who are eager to learn more about the Universe in the scientific way, and who already understand how much we have learned vis a vis evolution and cosmology.

-Rob

Comment #36997

Posted by Jim Harrison on July 5, 2005 5:44 PM (e)

I incline to the opinion of Scot Atran and others that religion is a consequence of a series of genetic legacies including our built-in tendency to see agency at work in every event. For this reason, the obvious untruth of all faiths is quite irrelevant to their continued prosperity. Indeed, as Atram points out (In Gods We Trust), religious notions persist in large part precisely because their counterfactuality makes ‘em memorable. Meanwhile, when religious ideas collide with reality, religious individuals know how to fudge their faith, which, since it is just patterned incoherence anyhow, can take any shape as needed—if Catholics really believed that newly baptized babies go directly to eternal bliss at their deaths, it would be the sheerest child abuse not to strangle ‘em right at the font.

Maybe a large portion of the population will someday learn to operate without supernatural faith, but for the present I think we should assume that they will not.

Comment #37006

Posted by Rob Knop on July 6, 2005 6:38 AM (e)

I incline to the opinion of Scot Atran and others that religion is a consequence of a series of genetic legacies including our built-in tendency to see agency at work in every event. For this reason, the obvious untruth of all faiths is quite irrelevant to their continued prosperity. Indeed, as Atram points out (In Gods We Trust), religious notions persist in large part precisely because their counterfactuality makes ‘em memorable. Meanwhile, when religious ideas collide with reality, religious individuals know how to fudge their faith, which, since it is just patterned incoherence anyhow, can take any shape as needed—if Catholics really believed that newly baptized babies go directly to eternal bliss at their deaths, it would be the sheerest child abuse not to strangle ‘em right at the font.

Maybe a large portion of the population will someday learn to operate without supernatural faith, but for the present I think we should assume that they will not.

Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, but stating such things in an offensive manner can be dangerous. Indeed, seeing you say this in this manner makes me feel almost as uncomfortable as a scientist as the creationists make me uncomfortable as a Christian. Do us a favor and don’t loudly trumpet these ideas in the whole creationism/evolution debate. Using words like “the obvious untruth of all faiths” really feeds into the antiscientists movement that evolution is an attack on religion.

Additionally, be careful with words like obvious. It may seem obvious to you, but it also seems obvious that fundamental reality shouldn’t be stochastic… and yet we have quantum mechanics. Science doesn’t deal with what is obvious to brains that evolved to deal with everday life in a gravity field of 1g in pressure of 1atm, on timescales of seconds, and on length scales of meters. It deals with empiricism, with tested hypotheses and with the evidence. There is no scientific evidence that God does not exist. There *is* scientific evidence that humans developed through a process of natural selection from simpler life forms, and there *is* scientific evidence that the creation of the Universe didn’t happen six thousand years ago over the course of six days. But there’s no scientific evidence for the non-existence of something like God. Claiming that there is is not only false and arrogant, but makes it just that more difficult to convince the religious to stop being so destructive to science education in this country.

So, please, in the name of tactics, be extremely careful making your pronouncements about what you think religion is in contexts such as this forum. It will only undermine what we really want– which is *not* the destruction of religion, but rather the acceptance of science.

-Rob

Comment #37007

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 6, 2005 7:24 AM (e)

Using words like “the obvious untruth of all faiths” really feeds into the antiscientists movement that evolution is an attack on religion.

That’s right. “Science” has no more to do with “atheism” than does mathematics or economics or the rules of baseball, and those who attempt to link the two are mis-using and abusing science every bit as much as are the foaming fundie fools.

This is not a fight between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ —– most religions long ago made their peace wiht science and have no gripe with it whatsoever. This is, instead, a fight between a small lunatic fringe of atatollah-wanna-be’s and … well … everyone else.

I have always been very disturbed by the domination (at least verbally) of the anti-creationist/ID movement by atheists. Treating this as a fight between “atheists” and “theists” – as well as being factually incorrect – only helps the fundies, and hurts us. As a strategic matter, we need, very badly, to get the mainstream relgiious denominations more involved in denouncing the fundies. And we won’t get that by driving them away over matters that are, bluntly, utterly irrelevant.

Comment #37014

Posted by Jim Harrison on July 6, 2005 11:48 AM (e)

As a matter of strategy I quite agree that anybody who wants to influence the people should finesse his or her disbelief. Politics is not my department, however; and I wonder if it is really such a good idea to speak from calculation always and everywhere. Everybody acts as if they were running for office. Beyond a certain point, I think this stance is morally corrupting. At the very least, for sanity’s sake, I think it’s important to acknowledge from time to time that taking traditional religion seriously is rather like humoring a guy who thinks he’s Napoleon.

By the way, the point of speaking of the “obvious untruth of all faiths” is not to refute anything. As my baptism example shows, the believers don’t believe in their beliefs themselves so that job is always already done; and, anyhow, what does truth have to do with the worldly power of religion? Whether Christianity or some other faith prospers or falters will not depend upon the findings of the natural science or any other matter of fact.

Comment #37250

Posted by Rob Knop on July 8, 2005 6:44 AM (e)

As my baptism example shows, the believers don’t believe in their beliefs themselves so that job is always already done

I hope you recognize that your “reasoning” here is just as egregious as the “reasoning” of the anti-science crowd in trying to claim that there are problems with evolution.

-Rob

Comment #37251

Posted by Rob Knop on July 8, 2005 6:46 AM (e)

As my baptism example shows, the believers don’t believe in their beliefs themselves so that job is always already done

I hope you recognize that your “reasoning” here is just as egregious as the “reasoning” of the anti-science crowd in trying to claim that there are problems with evolution. And I say that not even knowing what your baptism example is. But it’s clear that you’ve got a single anecdote, or a single inconsistency, and from that are trying to make a sweeping claim about what all religious people think. That’s very much the tactics used by anti-evolutionists.

-Rob