PvM posted Entry 1470 on September 11, 2005 08:07 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1466

Fred Barton has a letter published in the Lansing State Journal

Fred Barton: wrote:

“Like every other man of intelligence and education, I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.”

- former President Woodrow Wilson, 1922

Imagine how surprised he would be today. Since last November, the National Center for Science Education has tracked 78 challenges to the teaching of evolution across 37 states. Recently, President Bush said, “Schools should discuss ‘intelligent design’ alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.”

At the center of the debate over teaching intelligent design is the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank started in Seattle whose rallying cry is “Teach the controversy.” Unfortunately, the only “controversy” is the one created by the institute to attract the attention of the press and general public.

Fred provides some interesting details about the funding of the DI. I found that the original source of this information is a NY Times article titled “Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive”

Fred Barton wrote:

Evidence from tax forms shows the Discovery Institute received grants and gifts totaling $4.1 million in 2003 from 22 foundations, at least two-thirds of which had primarily religious missions.

“We give for religious purposes,” said Thomas McCallie, executive director of the Ahmansons’ Foundation. “This is not about science. Darwin was about a metaphysical view of the world.”

The Ahmansons’ foundation has provided 35 percent of the Discovery Institute’s funding since it started and now gives in excess of $350,000 a year.

The Stewardship Foundation - whose mission statement reads “to contribute to the propagation of the Christian gospel by evangelical missionary work” - gave the institute $1 million over four years.

Other funding came from organizations such as the Henry P. and Susan C. Crowell Trust whose mission is “the teaching and active extension of the Doctrines of Evangelical Christianity.”

Representatives of the Discovery Institute say that too much attention is focused on their funders and not enough on the “evidence” they provide to support intelligent design. Yet the “Wedge Document” explains that intelligent design is only a means to an end. It says, “Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist world view, and to replace it with science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

There seems to be need for a minor correction: Fred Barton reports

“We give for religious purposes,” said Thomas McCallie, executive director of the Ahmansons’ Foundation. “This is not about science. Darwin was about a metaphysical view of the world.”

Thomas McCallie is Executive Vice-President of Strategic Initiatives of the Maclellan Foundation

The origin of the confusion? The original NY Times article mentioned

The Ahmansons’ founding gift was joined by $450,000 from the MacLellan Foundation, based in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“We give for religious purposes,” said Thomas H. McCallie III, its executive director. “This is not about science, and Darwin wasn’t about science. Darwin was about a metaphysical view of the world.”

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Comment #47539

Posted by Ralph Westfall on September 11, 2005 11:51 PM (e)

This is not about science

That’s very true. The issue at hand is really epistemology, the way we know things. Science is one way of knowing things, but there are a lot of situations where it really doesn’t provide meaningful answers.

Science has developed a great body of knowledge about living organisms, and has developed incredibly sophisticated tools for manipulating organic molecules. However no one has ever been able to use all of this to create life in the extremely artificial conditions of a laboratory.

Anyone who can solve this easy part of this problem, rather than making it happen under circumstances approximating the chaotic conditions on this planet billions of years ago, will immediately become rich and famous, and on a fast track to win the Nobel prize. (Regarding rich, see the $1 million offered at Origin of Life Prize. Based on a cursory examination, the offer appears to be genuine rather than a ruse. If you see something to the contrary, please let me know.)

In terms of motivations and agendas, so what! They are a fundamental aspect of the free marketplace for ideas and provide a great deal of motivation for people to explore issues in depth. (The Panda vividly demonstrates this.) Understanding people’s motivations can be very helpful in finding weak spots in their arguments, but ultimately issues need to be addressed on the basis of what people say rather than why they say it.

You can fulminate all you want about religious fundamentalists, stupid Americans, morons, idiots, etc. However until someone creates life in a lab, the ID movement is going to become increasingly influential.

P.S. check out my very long after-the-fact posting about Harvard’s initiative on the origins of life. Although this is not the main point of my posting, the Harvard people who are receiving the funding should be very happy about the ID controversy. In contrast to all the whining about impeding the progress of science, ID is leading to increased interest in and funding for research in the biological sciences.

Comment #47547

Posted by Hyperion on September 12, 2005 12:35 AM (e)

And what happens when somebody does create “life” in a lab? Fox and others have come very close. What happens then? You think creationism/ID will just up and vanish? Do you think that fundamentalists will look at available evidence and alter their viewpoints accordingly? We all know that they would not.

Besides, it is important to remember that ID and many of the various forms of creationism focus not only on the origin of life, but on evolution itself, which is a completely separate topic, and which has actually been observed, tested, etc in labs and in the field. If the scientific evidence on that matter, which I’m not going to get into here, is not enough to sway these fanatics, then what makes you think that even a step by step laboratory creation of a living cell from abiotic material would convince them? Hell, they’d probably just respond with “see, this just proves that an intelligent designer can create life from non-life.”

At its heart, this is about the age old question of whether man should search for answers or accept societal memes and look no further. Does one question the world around him, and through applying the scientific method, come to understand reality? Or do we simply accept what we are told, out of fear of what we might find if we were to take a closer look? Most importantly, of course, is what is sometimes sarcastically referred to as the “reality-based” question: Will we seek to understand reality and change our views based on what we find, or do we expect the holding fast to beliefs will change reality?

In the end, however, we often find that reality, such as levees or foreign militants, rarely conform to what we want. One can have faith that a levee will hold, or that foreigners will lay down their weapons and welcome us with open arms, but I would think that by now we’ve all seen exactly what happens when faith conflicts with the real world.

Comment #47550

Posted by Schmitt. on September 12, 2005 12:39 AM (e)

You can fulminate all you want about religious fundamentalists, stupid Americans, morons, idiots, etc. However until someone creates life in a lab, the ID movement is going to become increasingly influential.

Excusing the fact that this has been the pronouncement of creationists for over a century with nary a Waterloo, I don’t think it will make any difference to IDists. As with any other relatively successful case of biologists testing predictions IDists would simply claim it an example of intelligent design without having done a single jot of work themselves. That’s the bonus of not having a scientific theory, you can ride the coat-tails of any and all useful ideas and legitimate scientists whatever they do and find.

-Schmitt.

Comment #47551

Posted by Rich on September 12, 2005 12:39 AM (e)

I’m hoping they retreat to the “big bang”

Comment #47554

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 12, 2005 1:05 AM (e)

This is not about science

That’s very true.

Of course it’s true, since the person who said it was explaining that they had given money for religious reasons.

The issue at hand is really epistemology, the way we know things.

Uh, no, it isn’t, but someone who thinks we can “know” things via revelation is likely to believe all sorts of things that aren’t true.

Science is one way of knowing things, but there are a lot of situations where it really doesn’t provide meaningful answers.

And then you proceed to write about Harvard’s origins of life project, and a $1 million prize. What sorts of “ways of knowing” do you suppose the folks at Harvard will use? Or what sorts someone would have to use to win such a prize? Or what sorts someone would use in order to decide whether to award that prize?

P.S. check out my very long after-the-fact posting about Harvard’s initiative on the origins of life.

That posting is even more IDiotic than the one here.

In contrast to all the whining about impeding the progress of science

Gee, I thought we were whining about how teaching ID in schools would impede the progress of science by breeding more ignorance and false belief.

ID is leading to increased interest in and funding for research in the biological sciences.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Comment #47566

Posted by Ralph Westfall on September 12, 2005 1:57 AM (e)

And what happens when somebody does create “life” in a lab? Fox and others have come very close.

Please review my previous post on this site and the end of my current comment where I talk about moving from lab conditions to a realistic approximation of the actual environment. Also could you provide some information to substantiate what “very close” means? (BTW you seem to have a great deal of faith.)

Besides, it is important to remember that ID and many of the various forms of creationism focus not only on the origin of life, but on evolution itself, which is a completely separate topic, and which has actually been observed, tested, etc in labs and in the field.

Without a demonstration of how life could have originated, all that evidence is not of much value in this controvery. It just provides support for the Catholic Church’s current position that God created life and then let evolution take care of the rest.

At its heart, this is about the age old question of whether man should search for answers or accept societal memes and look no further.

Hogwash. The Amish may feel that way, at least in reference to mechanical devices, but few in this country consistently do so in areas of epistemology that science can effectively handle. Are you trying to set up a “slippery slope” straw man?

That’s the bonus of not having a scientific theory, you can ride the coat-tails of any and all useful ideas and legitimate scientists whatever they do and find.

In science (and a lot of other places) it is very possible to discredit a theory or finding without providing any viable alternative. It would be nice to provide one, but it isn’t necessary. (Maybe that doesn’t sound fair to you but, as President Carter noted, “Life isn’t fair.”)

Every time I turn on my computer I am riding on the coat-tails of the scientists who accumulated a substantial body of knowledge about semiconducting materials and tools and techniques for manipulating them. I can do this without a lot of knowledge in that area. Is that wrong?

Not to mention that science is based to a great extent on riding coat-tails (“standing on the shoulders of giants.”) Some scientific findings have been based on analogies with findings in very different fields (e.g., water and electricity). Suppose a scientist generates hypotheses based on very ignorant analogies. Then she uses them in her research and generates reproducible findings or even a broadly explanatory theory. Should she be reprimanded?

Comment #47568

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 12, 2005 2:02 AM (e)

In science (and a lot of other places) it is very possible to discredit a theory or finding without providing any viable alternative.

But one is never entitled to the inference “therefore godidit”. DUH.

Comment #47573

Posted by Ralph Westfall on September 12, 2005 2:47 AM (e)

Comment #47554

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 12, 2005 01:05 AM (e) (s)

This is not about science

That’s very true.

Of course it’s true, since the person who said it was explaining that they had given money for religious reasons.

I was actually thinking about this in a broader sense. I probably shouldn’t have put it in a quotation.

The issue at hand is really epistemology, the way we know things.

Uh, no, it isn’t, but someone who thinks we can “know” things via revelation is likely to believe all sorts of things that aren’t true.

Did not! Did so.

Somone who thinks that science is the only way we can know things also “is likely to believe … things that aren’t true.” There are areas of life where science doesn’t provide adequate answers. The issue here is knowing which tool to use in which situation.

Science is one way of knowing things, but there are a lot of situations where it really doesn’t provide meaningful answers.

And then you proceed to write about Harvard’s origins of life project, and a $1 million prize. What sorts of “ways of knowing” do you suppose the folks at Harvard will use?

Obviously the tools of science. They are appropriate for such a challenge. However that in no way demonstrates or implies that they are effective and adequate in every area.

Or what sorts someone would have to use to win such a prize? Or what sorts someone would use in order to decide whether to award that prize?

Check out the web site I linked to in my first comment.

P.S. check out my very long after-the-fact posting about Harvard’s initiative on the origins of life.

That posting is even more IDiotic than the one here.

My, we’re getting a bit ad hominem today, aren’t we?

In contrast to all the whining about impeding the progress of science

Gee, I thought we were whining about how teaching ID in schools would impede the progress of science by breeding more ignorance and false belief.

Ah, even though very little about ID has made it into textbooks, that’s what is really responsible for poor scores in science and mathematics of students in America as compared to many other countries. This is an interesting hypothesis, and one that can be relatively easily researched. Set up test groups and control groups and randomly assign students from the same schools to them. Students in the test groups are exposed to both ID and evolutionary explanations. The control groups just get the latter. Test performance on all math and science subjects for several years. (Test on all these subjects, rather than just biology, because you indicate that such ignorance will be pervasive.)

ID is leading to increased interest in and funding for research in the biological sciences.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

I suggest that you read the article about Harvard’s project, and also go over the materials in the origin of life web site. Check to see if they are denying all connections to this controversy.

Comment #47575

Posted by Ralph Westfall on September 12, 2005 2:57 AM (e)

Comment #47568

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 12, 2005 02:02 AM (e) (s)

In science (and a lot of other places) it is very possible to discredit a theory or finding without providing any viable alternative.

But one is never entitled to the inference “therefore godidit”. DUH.

Of course not. But it does make it harder to rule out.

FYI one of the most ineffective ways to convince people that their ideas are not valid is to include words like “IDiotic” or “DUH” in a response. (OK, yeah, I shouldn’t have used the word “hogwash” above.)

Comment #47577

Posted by Bartholomew on September 12, 2005 3:26 AM (e)

Of topic, sorry, but Bathroom Wall not working.

Anyway, Michael Behe is in today’s Guardian, being interviewed by John Sutherland (Sutherland is a professor of C19 English literature and publishing who has a very good regular column in the paper). Pretty basic, though.

Comment #47578

Posted by Ed Darrell on September 12, 2005 3:32 AM (e)

Among other things, Mr. Westfall said:

In terms of motivations and agendas, so what! They are a fundamental aspect of the free marketplace for ideas and provide a great deal of motivation for people to explore issues in depth. (The Panda vividly demonstrates this.) Understanding people’s motivations can be very helpful in finding weak spots in their arguments, but ultimately issues need to be addressed on the basis of what people say rather than why they say it.

You can fulminate all you want about religious fundamentalists, stupid Americans, morons, idiots, etc. However until someone creates life in a lab, the ID movement is going to become increasingly influential.

Free marketplace of ideas? Look hard – heck, look at all! – and one realizes that “intelligent design” is a complete non-starter in the free marketplace of ideas in science. The phrase was invented in 1989, ID advocates now admit, to replace the term “creationism,” since creationism had just suffered a disastrous decade in legislatures and the courts, and had been determined to be religious dogma that is illegal to teach in schools, and not science. After complaining about “Godless evolution” for 40 years without success, the marketers in religious opposition to science and Darwin determined to give us godless creationism, just calling it a different name.

In the ensuing 15 years, only two papers have sneaked into peer-review publicaions supporting intelligent design (versus 150,000 papers based on or supporting evolution), and neither of the ID papers lays out any problems with evolution nor establishes a hypothesis of intelligent design.

When one’s butt has been so thoroughly kicked in the marketplace, generally one with sense cuts one’s losses. In the free marketplace of ideas, communism has a better track record of performance than intelligent design, and it’s anathema to even the leaders in Beijing.

As Darwin noted (the Bible too, but that’s a different post), exactly how life arose is of no consequence to evolution. Once life arose, evolution occurred. This galls the tarnation out of religionists who wish to use their misunderstanding of scripture to lord it over others, particularly others with more education and a real track record of scientific research achievement. But those are the facts.

Biology includes those sciences that solve crimes, establish paternity, heal the sick, and feed the hungry. Until intelligent design makes a scientific advance in one of those areas, school children should not be told that it has. If Mr. Westfall has faith in intelligent design, why is he not organizing the world’s first ever laboratory to use it? He knows as well as the next educated person that intelligent design is completely sterile as science, thought, and I’ll bet he won’t be wasting his own time and money on it.

Comment #47579

Posted by Ed Darrell on September 12, 2005 3:35 AM (e)

Mr. Westfall is a teacher. So I would challenge him: What of “intelligent design” has enough science backing to be included in any textbook? Where would an honest teacher go to find verified resources to use in creating a lesson plan that included intelligent design (other than to debunk it), and what would that lesson plan look like?

Comment #47581

Posted by g on September 12, 2005 3:43 AM (e)

I am suspicious about this “Origin-of-life prize”. Leaving aside the amateurish web-site design, which sets alarm bells ringing but proves nothing, I’m interested to note the following paper one of whose co-authors is affiliated with the organization offering the prize. The title is “Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life”. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WCB-4DTKB55-1&_user=10&_handle=V-WA-A-W-AB-MsSAYZW-UUW-U-AAWEUEVWYC-AAWZZDCUYC-BBWZWVEYE-AB-U&_fmt=summary&_coverDate=11%2F01%2F2004&_rdoc=1&_orig=browse&_srch=%23toc%236734%232004%23999719988%23530169!&_cdi=6734&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=4b0cd0f40452bf365ebd5a9c851a8bb9 Hmmmmmm.

Comment #47582

Posted by DrFrank on September 12, 2005 4:03 AM (e)

On the other hand, one of the best ways of convincing people that your own ideas are not valid is to be a supporter of ID ;)

Let’s face it, Behe’s irreducible complexity and Dembski’s meaningless mathematics (got that Law of Conservation of Information peer-reviewed yet, Billy?) have been completely debunked, so the only two concepts in ID that (from a distance, in the right light) look scientific have been shown to be deeply flawed. Consequently, all that’s left are the criticisms of evolution from old Creationism that have been refuted so often that it’s just plain silly.

I seriously would give ID a very fair hearing if there was any actual evidence supporting it but, as has been stated by one of its supporters, it is completely lacking in content. Plus, the flagrant dishonesty demonstrated by Dembski in the Creationist art of quote mining does not exactly inspire confidence.

Comment #47593

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on September 12, 2005 6:54 AM (e)

Ralph wrote:

P.S. check out my very long after-the-fact posting about Harvard’s initiative on the origins of life. Although this is not the main point of my posting, the Harvard people who are receiving the funding should be very happy about the ID controversy. In contrast to all the whining about impeding the progress of science, ID is leading to increased interest in and funding for research in the biological sciences.

Absolute rubbish. There is one reason why biological research (of all sorts) is increasing and that is simple economics. There is massive money in biotech industries now and it’s increasing every single year. As technology to clone animals, engineer genomes and the increased interests in ‘gene’ farming (that is sequencing unusual genomes for new genes to patent), the biotech industry has exploded at an alarming rate. This is what is is driving research in biological science and creationist/ID idiocy has nothing to do with it.

Comment #47595

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 12, 2005 6:58 AM (e)

You can fulminate all you want about religious fundamentalists

We can do more than “fulminate”. Since ID is nothing but religious apologetics, and since it’s illegal to teach religious apologetics in public schools, we can drag these guys to Dover to testify, and thus remove ID from science classrooms, permanently.

I thank them for the help.

Comment #47617

Posted by Ginger Yellow on September 12, 2005 8:53 AM (e)

I read that Sutherland article on the tube this morning. I really don’t understand why they did it - the Grauniad is very hostile to ID, and has a pretty good science editor, but they got their English literature specialist to interview Behe. It reads like a primer on ID written by the DI, in that Sutherland accepts pretty much all Behe’s claims at face value (irreducible complexity, the mousetrap example, Mount Rushmore, even the absurd claim that Dawkins basically agrees with him on design). Now there’s a place for a straightforward description of ID’s claims, as presented by IDiots. But not in an interview, for God’s sake. It’s rare enough that you get to put them on the spot in the press. To waste the opportunity with someone like Sutherland (whom I like when he writes on English) is criminal.

Comment #47618

Posted by Alan on September 12, 2005 9:02 AM (e)

Ginger Yellow

Are there email addresses for letters, or indeed their correspondent, Sutherland you could post? Most Europeans are unaware of the controversy in the US. We could raise thir awareness.

Comment #47619

Posted by Ginger Yellow on September 12, 2005 9:40 AM (e)

The Guardian’s readers are well aware of it because the paper has been following it quite closely, and has run several pro-evolution pieces. As I say, the science coverage is normally pretty good (at least as far as I can tell as a well read layman). The letters page is letters@guardian.co.uk. The e-mail address for the readers’ editor (ie the ombudsman) is reader@guardian.co.uk. He’s generally pretty good, but I don’t know if he’s the most appropriate person to contact - he deals more with corrections and ethical breaches. Your best bets are Ian Katz, who edits G2, the section in which the interview ran (and in which Sutherland’s regular column appears), and Tim Radford, who is the science editor. I can’t find their or Sutherland’s addresses, and there’s no standard e-mail format at the Guardian. Try the following, and their equivalent for Katz and Radford : sutherland @guardian.co.uk, j.sutherland@guardian.co.uk, john.sutherland@guardian.co.uk. Alternatively, post a comment at the Editors Blog at http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/editors/

Comment #47621

Posted by Ginger Yellow on September 12, 2005 9:42 AM (e)

You could also try life@guardian.co.uk, which used to be the address for the letters page of the Thursday science supplement. With the change of format, this section has now become a technology section, with science subsumed into the paper proper. Consequently the address may no longer work.

Comment #47622

Posted by Alan on September 12, 2005 9:53 AM (e)

Thanks for info. Ginger Yellow. Will try and bang something off before it (and I) go(es) off the boil.

Comment #47628

Posted by PatrickS on September 12, 2005 10:37 AM (e)

Hyperion wrote:
In the end, however, we often find that reality, such as levees or foreign militants, rarely conform to what we want. One can have faith that a levee will hold, or that foreigners will lay down their weapons and welcome us with open arms, but I would think that by now we’ve all seen exactly what happens when faith conflicts with the real world.

Ah, well put. Man’s faith must evolve with discovery and reality so that man may reach his ultimate destiny. It’s the law of nature and it’s the law of God. I believe they are one in the same.

Comment #47629

Posted by Ginger Yellow on September 12, 2005 10:53 AM (e)

PZ Myers has posted on the Behe interview over at his blog.

Comment #47631

Posted by plunge on September 12, 2005 10:59 AM (e)

“Science has developed a great body of knowledge about living organisms, and has developed incredibly sophisticated tools for manipulating organic molecules. However no one has ever been able to use all of this to create life in the extremely artificial conditions of a laboratory.”

Not for any mysterious reasons though: simply because the technology required is too sophisticated and we don’t know enough yet. But we know what the basic functional and engineering challenges are, and we know what sorts of things we still need to learn about in finer detail: there’s no hint of a hidden principle barring it from happening. In fact, I don’t know anyone, not even most creationists, who really believe that there is some mystical barrier making it impossible to create life artificially. So I fail to see what the point of this is. Whether we create life in a lab today or tommorow, what relevance does it have to the debate on ID or the question of theological motivations in attacking evolution?

“It just provides support for the Catholic Church’s current position that God created life and then let evolution take care of the rest.”

It doesn’t provide any support for that position. It just happens to be a position that the evidence regarding evolution, per se, has no direct disagreement with. That doesn’t make it science anymore than the fact that the theory of fluid dynamics doesn’t address biological medicine makes homeopathy scientific.

“There are areas of life where science doesn’t provide adequate answers. The issue here is knowing which tool to use in which situation.”

What other tools are you suggesting are effective at figuring out the nitty gritty of the world around us? Where is the track record of these other tools so that we may judge whether they are appropriate?

“My, we’re getting a bit ad hominem today, aren’t we?”

This is a pet peeve of mine. Ad hominem does NOT mean an insult. Ad hominem is a logical fallacy whereby some judgement of the person making the argument is used as evidence against the soundness of an argument having nothing to do with that person. But simply insulting a person, or showing that their arguments are wrong and THEN calling them an idiot for making those arguments is NOT any sort of logical fallacy at all. It might be personally meanspirited and counterproductive to a cordial debate, but it’s not a logical fallacy and it’s wrong to allege that it is one.

Ironically, it is usually the person falsely alleging the fallacy of “ad hominem” that is committing the actual fallacy themselves, because they use an insult as an excuse to dismiss substantive points without consideration.

Comment #47633

Posted by PvM on September 12, 2005 11:15 AM (e)

Westfall wrote:

P.S. check out my very long after-the-fact posting about Harvard’s initiative on the origins of life. Although this is not the main point of my posting, the Harvard people who are receiving the funding should be very happy about the ID controversy. In contrast to all the whining about impeding the progress of science, ID is leading to increased interest in and funding for research in the biological sciences.

Nice strawman. ID is scientifically vacuous. In this case this is exemplified by the fact that no ID relevant research was spawned.

If ID is all about the failures of origin of life research to ‘create life’ then it is even worse scientifically then I ever imagined.

Comment #47638

Posted by rdog29 on September 12, 2005 11:53 AM (e)

Mr. Westfall -

I’ve asked this several times of other ID sympathizers and have yet to receive any kind of straight answer. Perhaps you can shed some light.

Please give a concrete example of where ID provides a better explanation of an observed structure, function, or whatever, better than “naturalistic” evolution, or where ID provides an explanation where evolution cannot.

A literature citation or link to a published paper will do.

And please, no hand waving about “ways of knowing” or “materialism” etc, etc. Just the evidence.

Comment #47643

Posted by PvM on September 12, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

rdog29 wrote:

Please give a concrete example of where ID provides a better explanation of an observed structure, function, or whatever, better than “naturalistic” evolution, or where ID provides an explanation where evolution cannot.

Since ID is based on rejection of scientific explanations to infer ID, it cannot really deal with such ‘pathetic questions’. Just ask Dembski…

Comment #47664

Posted by John on September 12, 2005 1:28 PM (e)

Ralph Westfall,

Westfall wrote:

The issue at hand is really epistemology, the way we know things.

I think that the debate is at heart rhetorical, not scientific or philosophical, as is indicated by the actions of IDists: circumventing scientific publications, hiring PR firms, recruiting through churches, taking-over school boards, etc. However, if you want to pitch ID’s merits in terms of philosophical, or scientific arguments, I’m game.

Westfall wrote:

Science is one way of knowing things, but there are a lot of situations where it really doesn’t provide meaningful answers.

What exactly are the “other ways of knowing things” that you allude to and how do they apply to this discussion? Testimony? Revelation? Guessing?

Westfall wrote:

Science has developed a great body of knowledge about living organisms, and has developed incredibly sophisticated tools for manipulating organic molecules.

Unlike ID.

Westfall wrote:

However no one has ever been able to use all of this to create life in the extremely artificial conditions of a laboratory.

The existence of this open problem is not problematic for evolutionary biology, particularly when it is an open problem for biochem. It helps to be specific about the target of criticism, unless you take this to be Science vs. Intelligent Design. If it is the latter, the discussion will likely be hopelessly vague or philosophical (maybe both).

If you wish to discuss ID in terms of epistemology and philosophy of science, there is much to say. Should the origin of life be resolved, IDists can always push the problem back to the constants that allowed for the formation of life, etc. This is why ID is a degenerate paradigm—it accommodates endless ad hoc maneuvers may be made to accommodate the facts without generating any novel predictions.

Another problem is the presumption that the lack of answers by the standard theory somehow provides support for ID. First, the experimental possibilities have been far from exhausted. Second, conceptually there are innumerable alternative theories that are consistent with the evidence, even after accepting that the standard theory is insufficient (underdetermination of theory by evidence). Do you have some confirmation theoretic notion that the probability of all of these alternative theories being true rise by some infinitesimal amount, including the flying spaghetti monster hypothesis?

Westfall wrote:

Understanding people’s motivations can be very helpful in finding weak spots in their arguments, but ultimately issues need to be addressed on the basis of what people say rather than why they say it.

I am still waiting for good ID arguments, religiously motivated or otherwise. I join rdog29 in asking for “a concrete example of where ID provides a better explanation of an observed structure, function, or whatever, better than “naturalistic” evolution, or where ID provides an explanation where evolution cannot.”

TS (not Tim) wrote:

But one is never entitled to the inference “therefore godidit”. DUH.

Westfall wrote:

Of course not. But it does make it harder to rule out.

“Goddidit” doesn’t need to be ruled out (nor can it) any more than the flying spaghetti monster does.

All we need is to have the better theory. That is, we need a theory that is derived from reliable methods and dominates others in terms of consistency with evidence, simplicity, predictivity and other epistemic desiderata. Natural selection, for instance, is such a theory. How does ID even come close to the established sciences in any of these dimensions?

Comment #47665

Posted by John on September 12, 2005 1:30 PM (e)

The last sentence should read: How does ID even come close to the established sciences on any of these dimensions?

Comment #47667

Posted by grphxpro on September 12, 2005 1:39 PM (e)

Mr. Westfall wrote:
“However no one has ever been able to use all of this to create life in the extremely artificial conditions of a laboratory.”

I beg to differ. I recently read about researchers creating living e. coli bacteria from scratch (I think Carl Zimmer had an article about it). Now this may not be what you had in mind but you must be more specific. While it is not a replication of the “origin of life” in early earth conditions, it is by definition creating life in a lab.

Comment #47671

Posted by John on September 12, 2005 1:50 PM (e)

grphxpro,

Here is a link to a relevant BBC news story: ‘Artificial life’ comes step closer.

Comment #47678

Posted by grphxpro on September 12, 2005 2:15 PM (e)

Thanks John. I was too lazy to look it up myself. OMG, I think I’m becoming a IDCist!

Comment #47700

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on September 12, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

{Sigh} Ralph Westfall deserves some sort of a prize: how many other trolls have so quickly parasitized an entire PT thread, so that not even a single side comment has emerged on its core topic (remember Fred Barton & his description of neo-creationist funding? Does that matter to anyone here?).

Comment #47779

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 12, 2005 9:38 PM (e)

Does that matter to anyone here?

It does. Indeed, some of us have mentioned the cources of DI’s funding before. Repeatedly. ;>

As we have seen, it is a topic they don’t like to dwell on. It’s not hard to see why.

Comment #47797

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 12, 2005 10:44 PM (e)

I recently read about researchers creating living e. coli bacteria from scratch

Sigh. No you didn’t.

Comment #47800

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 12, 2005 11:00 PM (e)

But one is never entitled to the inference “therefore godidit”. DUH.

Of course not. But it does make it harder to rule out.

What the heck is “it”? I was responding to your statement “In science (and a lot of other places) it is very possible to discredit a theory or finding without providing any viable alternative.” Such discrediting most certainly does not make “therefore godidit” harder to rule out. And this whole track is disingenuous, because IDists have not discredited anything – OTOH, numerous claims by IDists have repeatedly been discredited.

FYI one of the most ineffective ways to convince people that their ideas are not valid is to include words like “IDiotic” or “DUH” in a response. (OK, yeah, I shouldn’t have used the word “hogwash” above.)

By noting the obviousness of something, my goal is not to maximize the chances that intellectually dishonest folk will be convinced of it, but rather to point out their intellectual dishonesty.

Comment #47806

Posted by Ralph Westfall on September 13, 2005 2:20 AM (e)

Comment #47667

Posted by grphxpro on September 12, 2005 01:39 PM (e) (s)

Mr. Westfall wrote:
“However no one has ever been able to use all of this to create life in the extremely artificial conditions of a laboratory.”

I beg to differ. I recently read about researchers creating living e. coli bacteria from scratch (I think Carl Zimmer had an article about it). Now this may not be what you had in mind but you must be more specific. While it is not a replication of the “origin of life” in early earth conditions, it is by definition creating life in a lab.
Comment #47671

Posted by John on September 12, 2005 01:50 PM (e) (s)

grphxpro,

Here is a link to a relevant BBC news story: ‘Artificial life’ comes step closer.

Here’s some relevant content from the article:
“The soft cell walls are made of fat molecules taken from egg white. The cell contents are an extract of the common gut bug E. coli, stripped of all its genetic material.”

I applaud the effort. It’s a clever approach. However starting mostly with prefabricated materials that are of biological origin is a long way from creating life in the laboratory. Not to mention that said materials weren’t around at the beginning.

Comment #47807

Posted by Ralph Westfall on September 13, 2005 2:40 AM (e)

Comment #47631

Posted by plunge on September 12, 2005 10:59 AM (e) (s)

This is a pet peeve of mine. Ad hominem does NOT mean an insult. Ad hominem is a logical fallacy whereby some judgement of the person making the argument is used as evidence against the soundness of an argument having nothing to do with that person. But simply insulting a person, or showing that their arguments are wrong and THEN calling them an idiot for making those arguments is NOT any sort of logical fallacy at all. It might be personally meanspirited and counterproductive to a cordial debate, but it’s not a logical fallacy and it’s wrong to allege that it is one.

In the more narrow sense, you may be correct. However insults are generally recognized as attempt to devalue a person or ideas. Saying something that implies that a person is unintelligent is an attack on the person’s arguments.

The Wikipedia entry is quite relevant to your claims on this issue:
“Merely insulting another person in the middle of otherwise rational discourse does not necessarily constitute an ad hominem fallacy. It must be clear that the purpose of the characterization is to discredit the person offering the argument, and, specifically, to invite others to discount his arguments.”

Ironically, it is usually the person falsely alleging the fallacy of “ad hominem” that is committing the actual fallacy themselves, because they use an insult as an excuse to dismiss substantive points without consideration.

I’m sure we can both agree that “DUH” is not a substantive point.

Comment #47809

Posted by Ralph Westfall on September 13, 2005 3:21 AM (e)

Posted by John on September 12, 2005 01:28 PM (e) (s)

Science is one way of knowing things, but there are a lot of situations where it really doesn’t provide meaningful answers.

What exactly are the “other ways of knowing things” that you allude to and how do they apply to this discussion? Testimony? Revelation? Guessing?

Here’s some other ways of knowing things:
-direct experience
-the experience of others passed down orally or in writing
-various forms of pattern matching (biological neural networks)
-induction
-practice
-“common sense”
-and yes, revelation
We all acquired language without using anything remotely connected to the scientific method.

How do these apply to this discussion? They demonstrate that science is not the only way of knowing things.

Assumptions are very relevant here. Science assumes that everything can be explained by natural causes. That is a belief rather than a verifiable fact. Although it has been a very productive belief over several hundred years, in an extremely wide variety of situations, that does not and can never prove that everything is a result of natural causes. People may say that everything they do is a result of natural causes, but they really don’t believe it.

Here’s one for you: Try telling people that there is more hope of achieving world peace through science rather than through efforts based on some combination of the above ways of knowing. Then get back to us about the responses you receive.

Comment #47813

Posted by Ed Darrell on September 13, 2005 4:18 AM (e)

Mr. Westfall, under which of the “alternative ways of knowing” is the Discovery Institute released from the normal, polite company obligation of getting the facts right? Under what alternative way of knowing is there any theory of ID – and what does one need to smoke or ingest to see things that way?

Comment #47817

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 13, 2005 6:59 AM (e)

Here’s some other ways of knowing things:
-direct experience
-the experience of others passed down orally or in writing
-various forms of pattern matching (biological neural networks)
-induction
-practice
-“common sense”
-and yes, revelation
We all acquired language without using anything remotely connected to the scientific method.

How do these apply to this discussion? They demonstrate that science is not the only way of knowing things.

Would you mind showing us how to use any of these methods to determine how life appeared?

Thanks.

Comment #47818

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 13, 2005 7:00 AM (e)

I applaud the effort. It’s a clever approach. However starting mostly with prefabricated materials that are of biological origin is a long way from creating life in the laboratory. Not to mention that said materials weren’t around at the beginning.

How did the intelligent designer manage to be around at the beginning?

Or is (1) the Designer just God, (2) ID is just religious apologetics, and (3) IDers are just lying to us when they claim otherwise?

Comment #47819

Posted by Steverino on September 13, 2005 7:02 AM (e)

Damn!…This is good stuff….Don’t stop!

Comment #47820

Posted by GT(N)T on September 13, 2005 7:49 AM (e)

“-and yes, revelation”

Mr. Westfall. If we’re defining terms in the same way, I would suggest that revelation is a common reason for believing things, but that it doesn’t lead to ‘knowing’.

The same can be said for oral and written transmission. As for “common sense”, not a very common nor very effective as a way of knowing. Direct experience, induction, practice, and the verbal evidence of other observers can all be integral parts of the (or rather ‘a’) scientific method.

I don’t want to denigrate other ways of finding TRUTH, but if you want to know about the world, the scientific method has proven to be more useful than revelation.

Comment #47821

Posted by rdog29 on September 13, 2005 7:51 AM (e)

Mr Westfall -

Your comments about “ways of knowing” and complaints about origin of life research have thus far failed to answer my question to any degree.

Please stop the tap dancing and answer the question:

Give a concrete example of where ID provides a better explanation of an observed structure, function, or whatever, better than “naturalistic” evolution, or where ID provides an explanation where evolution cannot.

A literature citation or link to a published paper will do.

Or could it be that, (gasp!), ID has no meaningful contribution to offer?

Comment #47826

Posted by Flint on September 13, 2005 9:46 AM (e)

I’m reminded of the Doonesbury cartoon where a couple soldiers in Iraq are asking one another what Bush could possibly have been thinking. And another soldier pipes up saying “Bush doesn’t think things, Bush believes things.”

Here I think he has nailed the essence of the “alternative way of knowing”: decide what sounds most congenial to you, what you prefer to be true, and believe it. For you, it becomes true. If you can intercede in the lives of others early enough to shape their preferences, it becomes true for them also.

After all, the scientific method rests on, and wouldn’t be applyable without, nearly all of Westphal’s list: direct observation, the experiences of others (almost nobody invents all the background of a new science from scratch today), the observation of patterns (what else would trigger a hypothesis?), heavy use of induction and inference, and constant practice. Of the entire list, the only one NOT essential to scientific investigation is revelation. And of the entire list, not surprisingly, revelation is the only one with an abysmal track record. Which should be a clue.

Comment #47827

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 13, 2005 9:57 AM (e)

Of the entire list, the only one NOT essential to scientific investigation is revelation. And of the entire list, not surprisingly, revelation is the only one with an abysmal track record. Which should be a clue.

And of course, it’s by far the one people feel most strongly about.

Comment #47831

Posted by PvM on September 13, 2005 10:24 AM (e)

Westfall shows to be unfamiliar with science when he suggests that

Westfall wrote:

Assumptions are very relevant here. Science assumes that everything can be explained by natural causes. That is a belief rather than a verifiable fact.

Science however does not assume that everything can be explained by natural causes. Science limits itself to natural causes but says nothing about it being sufficient. Geez…

This confusion seems to be quite well spread among IDCers (type I and type II). Or it makes for a nice strawmen to knock down science.

ID however is not about knowledge but about ignorance. Westfall has done nothing to explain what ID has to contribute.

Comment #47837

Posted by Henry J on September 13, 2005 11:39 AM (e)

Wonder if the blog software could be made to go into “preview” mode when a tag (or other) error is detected?

Henry

Comment #47838

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on September 13, 2005 11:47 AM (e)

Henry J:

“Other error”?

That would be GREAT! Imagine if the software could automatically stop any post claiming that the 2LoT proves evolution impossible…

Or…

You didn’t mean that, eh? Well, we can dream, can’t we?

Comment #47840

Posted by Flint on September 13, 2005 11:56 AM (e)

Imagine if the software could automatically stop any post claiming that the 2LoT proves evolution impossible…

Great ideed! We could sit here attempting to post one speculation after another, knowing that whichever posts appeared would ratify their content. We wouldn’t even need to do science anymore.

We’d also have found actual proof of God.

Comment #47841

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on September 13, 2005 12:10 PM (e)

Flint:

my tongue was fairly visibly (I hope) in my cheek. And no, I was referring to actual errors, not disagreements.

There’s plenty to disagree about without having to wade through a sea of already-acknowledged errors, don’t you think?

Comment #47845

Posted by JohnK on September 13, 2005 12:25 PM (e)

Ralph Westfall wrote:

It just provides support for the Catholic Church’s current position that God created life and then let evolution take care of the rest.

Evidence that this is the Catholic “current position”, Mr. Westphal?

As I understand it, the official Catholic position has nothing definitive to say about the origin of life, but instead is only dogmatic on some insertion of human soul. But perhaps you have a pipeline to the new Pope’s “alternative ways of knowing” that others do not.

Comment #47899

Posted by grphxpro on September 13, 2005 7:39 PM (e)

ts- oops. you are correct. I did not read about e. coli being created from scratch. As a casual observer and not a professional biologist, I am prone to err. It was the Polio virus that was created. It is mentioned in the article John was kind enough to link to but not much detail was provided.
While I did make a mistake, my original point stands. One may quibble about defining a virus as living but good luck proving otherwise. Also, it was not created using “prefabricated materials that are of biological origin” as in the e.coli fiasco.

Comment #47901

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 13, 2005 7:47 PM (e)

Here’s some other ways of knowing things:
-direct experience
-the experience of others passed down orally or in writing
-various forms of pattern matching (biological neural networks)
-induction
-practice
-“common sense”
-and yes, revelation
We all acquired language without using anything remotely connected to the scientific method.

How do these apply to this discussion? They demonstrate that science is not the only way of knowing things.

Would you mind showing us how to use any of these methods to determine how life appeared?

Thanks.

(sound of crickets chirping)

I’ll ask again:

*ahem*

Would you mind showing us how to use any of these methods to determine how life appeared?

Thanks.

Comment #47912

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 13, 2005 8:21 PM (e)

ts- oops. you are correct. I did not read about e. coli being created from scratch.

In fact, what you read about was a plan to create a simulation of E. coli. Here, perhaps this will refresh your memory:
http://www.carlzimmer.com/articles/2005/articles_2005_ecoli.html

As a casual observer and not a professional biologist, I am prone to err.

Isn’t everyone? But extremely casual, it seems to me, to think it possible that biologists have created a bacterium, or that the newspapers and TV wouldn’t have been screaming about it.

It was the Polio virus that was created. It is mentioned in the article John was kind enough to link to but not much detail was provided.

What the article said was “Two years ago, another team showed that polio viruses could assemble themselves from off-the-shelf chemical components mixed in a test-tube.” According to a google search (these days, more detail is readily available, doncha know), the researchers apparently synthesized a DNA molecule, then produced polio RNA from the DNA, and the RNA assembled the virus. I haven’t seen any indication that this experiment has been replicated, however.

Comment #47913

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 13, 2005 8:38 PM (e)

I’m sure we can both agree that “DUH” is not a substantive point.

DUH. Yet, you find it necessary to write at length about it. Perhaps that’s because my “DUH” drew attention to the fact that your reasoning was so obviously fallacious as to call into question your intellectual honesty and good faith. The general uncontroversial strawman argument that “In science (and a lot of other places) it is very possible to discredit a theory or finding without providing any viable alternative” has no bearing whatsoever on ID, which
a) has failed to discredit any theory or finding
b) does offer an “alternative” – but one that isn’t scientifically viable

Comment #47915

Posted by Flint on September 13, 2005 9:03 PM (e)

While it is certainly possible to “discredit a theory or finding without providing any viable alternative”, this is not generally how people think (it says here!). Instead, nearly every theory or finding results from one or more tests, which were constructed to support or discard one or more hypotheses, which were in turn proposed to examine the correctness of an idea.

In a couple of his essays, Gould quoted Darwin’s response to the Geological Society of London which, tiring of arguments, decreed that geologists would henceforth only observe and not theorize about their observations. Darwin said something like “one may as well descend into a quarry and describe every pebble. No observation is of any value unless it is for or against some view.” In other words, views (opinions, theories) drive the whole process of making observations or evaluating theories or findings. Science gives lip service to the concession that “we don’t know” but in practice, even weak ambiguous indirect evidence gives rise to a “best-fit current explanation”. Or several.

So it’s at the very least disingenuous to claim to be seeking flaws in the theory of evolution simply because they might exist. The exercise is directly motivated by the desire to replace the theory of evolution with an alternative explanation considered superior. In reality, this alternative is so strongly held as to justify any level of dishonesty in the attempt to discredit competing ideas, in the minds of those making the effort. The pretense that no alternative view is being defended, that this is only a disinterested, objective critique of evolution, is just one example of the dishonesty involved.

Comment #47921

Posted by John on September 13, 2005 9:30 PM (e)

grphxpro,

Perhaps you were thinking about J. Craig Venter’s intent to create made-to-order E. coli.

Comment #47925

Posted by rdog29 on September 13, 2005 9:56 PM (e)

Hey Mr Westfall -

How’s the search for those literature citations going?

You’ve been very quiet today, so I figured you must be Googling up a storm, dredging up all those papers that show how ID out-performs evolution.

Or am I mistaken?

Do be so kind as to let us know when you’ve got something.

Comment #47928

Posted by Henry J on September 13, 2005 10:12 PM (e)

Re “Imagine if the software could automatically stop any post claiming that the 2LoT proves evolution impossible…”

Oh, I don’t know - that one’s real easy to refute. (Never mind that people who’d use it won’t listen to the refutations though…)

Henry

Comment #47932

Posted by grphxpro on September 13, 2005 10:27 PM (e)

Ok, you made me go find the article.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2122619.stm

Have I been misled by the mainstream media? I know it’s not a peer reviewed journal but it’s a reputable source. At least I’m not just making this stuff up.

I originally came across this article through a link on one of the blogs I frequent (I can’t find the original post but it had to be from Pharyngula, PT, TO, or Zimmer’s Loom) so I expected it to be reliable.

Comment #47936

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 13, 2005 10:39 PM (e)

Ok, you made me go find the article.

Which “you”?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2122619.stm

Have I been misled by the mainstream media?

Perhaps, but the article doesn’t contradict what I wrote in #47912, which I drew largely from
http://www.geocities.com/giantfideli/cellnews_dangerous_virus_made_from_mail-order_kits.html:

“You cannot synthesise RNA,” Wimmer said. “So we converted the sequence from RNA into DNA. And DNA you can synthesise. Then we had to go back to RNA. That was very simple — by using an enzyme that can read DNA and synthesise RNA, called a transcriptase,” he added.

“Now you have the RNA. That RNA we put into a cell-free juice that we developed in 1991 … and loo and behold out came the virus. It built itself.”

Comment #47944

Posted by grphxpro on September 13, 2005 11:19 PM (e)

ts - My point is this:
Given that some would categorize a virus as life (the scientific community appears to be split on the issue), I believe that I was correct in saying that life had been created from scratch in a lab. Even Wimmer seems to think otherwise only because he is of the camp that classifies virus as non-living.

“No, I would not say I created life in a test tube,” Wimmer said. “We created a chemical in a test tube that, when put into cells, begins to behave a little bit like something alive. Some people say viruses are chemicals and I belong to that group.”

They used only off-the-shelf chemical and a sequence. No preexisting genetic material or organic matter.

Comment #47951

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 13, 2005 11:53 PM (e)

ts - My point is this:
Given that some would categorize a virus as life (the scientific community appears to be split on the issue), I believe that I was correct in saying that life had been created from scratch in a lab.

Well, see, multiple claims can’t be reduced to a single point. Westfall claimed that “no one has ever been able to use all of this to create life in the extremely artificial conditions of a laboratory”, but he apparently agrees with you that a virus is life, so on his own terms you’ve shown he’s wrong. OTOH you said E. coli was created from scratch, and you were wrong, and there’s a vast gulf from a virus to a bacterium. If I were Westfall, I wouldn’t concede so easily.

They used only off-the-shelf chemical and a sequence. No preexisting genetic material or organic matter.

Not true about organic matter. They synthesized DNA – that requires heavy organic chemistry. Then they applied transcriptase – an organic enzyme. And, according to Wimmer:

The “cell-free juice” is made by taking the virus’s favourite home — a human cell — shredding it up and removing the pieces such as the nucleus, mitochondria and other large structures within the cell.

Comment #47959

Posted by grphxpro on September 14, 2005 1:02 AM (e)

so on his own terms you’ve shown he’s wrong

That’s all I wanted to hear.

you said E. coli was created from scratch, and you were wrong, and there’s a vast gulf from a virus to a bacterium

Agreed. I already admitted to this. Major brain fart. I thought we had gotten past that. I apologize.

Not true about organic matter.

Ya got me there.

You see, I only argued with you because of your original reply to me in #47797

Sigh. No you didn’t.

Instead of being polite and constructive like John(thanks!) you were curt and condescending. Compassion for the less informed did not occur to you. Maybe this is a result of constantly wrangling creationists. Maybe I only took offense because I have a nasty cold and, consequently, a mean streak a mile wide and fuzzy thinking.
I prostrate myself to your intellect (seriously, no sarcasm) and fart in the general direction of your attitude.
Now I shall return to the bleechers and watch from the sidelines. This has been a learning experience. I even learned a little XML.

Comment #47962

Posted by grphxpro on September 14, 2005 1:07 AM (e)

oops. picking up where I left off…. little XML code.
The End

Comment #47964

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 14, 2005 1:20 AM (e)

Compassion for the less informed did not occur to you.

How do you know what occurred to me? The fact is that, with my help (mostly google, actually), you’re now more informed.

a mean streak a mile wide

Really? You come across to me as a pussycat – you even fart politely. :-)

Comment #47972

Posted by grphxpro on September 14, 2005 2:01 AM (e)

How do you know what occurred to me?

Forgive me for projecting. I choose the most conscientious tactic that occurs to me but this is clearly not a universal trait.

The fact is that, with my help (mostly google, actually), you’re now more informed.

Help? I’d say provocation is more appropriate. I am now more informed because of an honest eagerness to learn. Some might have left. You could have been just as effective (if not more) with a kinder tone.

Really? You come across to me as a pussycat — you even fart politely. :-)

I said mean, not rude (ok, yes, farting is rude) :P

Now, if I’m ever going to get over this cold, I need to sleep. Good night.

p.s. - If you feel the need to respond, I will check back tomorrow.

Comment #47976

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 14, 2005 2:13 AM (e)

Help? I’d say provocation is more appropriate.

Now you’re being rude. I refer you to

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/09/fred_barton_int.html#comment-47912
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/09/fred_barton_int.html#comment-47936
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/09/fred_barton_int.html#comment-47951

Comment #47978

Posted by Ralph Westfall on September 14, 2005 2:22 AM (e)

Comment #47813

Posted by Ed Darrell on September 13, 2005 04:18 AM (e) (s)

Mr. Westfall, under which of the “alternative ways of knowing” is the Discovery Institute released from the normal, polite company obligation of getting the facts right? Under what alternative way of knowing is there any theory of ID — and what does one need to smoke or ingest to see things that way?

I’m not in any way associated with the Discovery Institute. I suggest that you contact them about your question.

Comment #47982

Posted by Ralph Westfall on September 14, 2005 2:39 AM (e)

Comment #47638

Posted by rdog29 on September 12, 2005 11:53 AM (e) (s)

Mr. Westfall -

I’ve asked this several times of other ID sympathizers and have yet to receive any kind of straight answer. Perhaps you can shed some light.

Please give a concrete example of where ID provides a better explanation of an observed structure, function, or whatever, better than “naturalistic” evolution, or where ID provides an explanation where evolution cannot.

A literature citation or link to a published paper will do.

And please, no hand waving about “ways of knowing” or “materialism” etc, etc. Just the evidence.

“Even the most beautiful theory can be annihilated by a single ugly fact.” http://phyun5.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node8.html

It doesn’t matter whether ID or anything else does or does not provide a better explanation. The burden of proof is on those who put forth a theory or concept. All that opponents need to do is to identify weaknesses that are sufficient to generate reasonable doubts. Such weaknesses may even be identified based on analyses of findings generated by proponents of a theory.

Comment #47983

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 14, 2005 2:46 AM (e)

The burden of proof is on those who put forth a theory or concept.

No, the burden of proof is on those who make claims to substantiate their claims. This is where IDists (and you) fail miserably.

All that opponents need to do is to identify weaknesses that are sufficient to generate reasonable doubts.

Evolutionary biologists identify weaknesses and generate reasonable doubts about specific aspects of evolutionary theory all the time. IDists, OTOH, fabricate, lie, and deny the weaknesses and downright refutations of their own claims. YOU were asked for “A literature citation or link to a published paper will do”, and for evidence, not hand waving, and yet all you produced is handwaving. That looks like a weakness, and generates reasonable doubts that you are an honest person who is seriously interested in the truth.

Comment #48008

Posted by rdog29 on September 14, 2005 8:07 AM (e)

Mr Westfall -

No, you are wrong. YOU are the one making the claim and the burden is on YOU to provide POSITIVE SUPPORT for it.

Were we to play by your rules, I could claim that there are invisible gnomes living under my house, and then further claim that the inability to disprove their existence is proof of their existence.

Evolution has mountains of supportive evidence. What does ID have?

Comment #48010

Posted by John on September 14, 2005 8:27 AM (e)

Westfall wrote:

“Even the most beautiful theory can be annihilated by a single ugly fact.” http://phyun5.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/…
It doesn’t matter whether ID or anything else does or does not provide a better explanation. The burden of proof is on those who put forth a theory or concept. All that opponents need to do is to identify weaknesses that are sufficient to generate reasonable doubts. Such weaknesses may even be identified based on analyses of findings generated by proponents of a theory.

You, sir, only play with the net up when the evolutionary biologists are serving.

One cannot tell a priori if a theory will be able to account for the facts upon minor revision, or must be “anhilated” and replaced by a different, more powerful theory. Problematic information is rarely fatal to an otherwise successful theory, nor should it be. Consider Newtonian physics. Through minor modifications, it dominated physics for centuries. Anomalies persisted throughout its history, but it was the best thing around, until the development of relativistic physics early last century.

The question here is not if the current understanding of evolutionary biology is the complete, unalloyed truth (this is a red herring), but which is the better theory– though, even this may grant too much to ID.

Demarcation is a notoriously tough problem, but I think a good case can be made for ID not being a scientific theory at all given its lack of novel predictions, parsimony, etc. and the methods used by its advocates.

Comment #48020

Posted by rdog29 on September 14, 2005 9:16 AM (e)

Mr Westfall-

Here’s a quote from the link you provided (hope I’m not violating any copyright law here!).

“An extraordinary claim is one that contradicts a fact that is close to the top of the certainty scale and will give rise to a lot of skepticism. So if you are trying to contradict such a fact, you had better have facts available that are even higher up the certainty scale: “extraordinary evidence is needed for an extraordinary claim”. “

Now - what was that you said about not having to provide a better explanation?

Comment #48038

Posted by PvM on September 14, 2005 10:53 AM (e)

Westfall wrote:

It doesn’t matter whether ID or anything else does or does not provide a better explanation. The burden of proof is on those who put forth a theory or concept. All that opponents need to do is to identify weaknesses that are sufficient to generate reasonable doubts. Such weaknesses may even be identified based on analyses of findings generated by proponents of a theory.

Thanks for showing that ID is scientifically vacuous. Of course, the ‘weaknesses’ identified by ID hardly withstand scrutiny of time. The death of Darwinian theory has been announced for quite some years now if not decades… And it is still going quite strong, because of science.

It’s clear that even ID proponents do not have much hope in ID being or becoming scientifically relevant.

Comment #48120

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 14, 2005 6:00 PM (e)

Here’s some other ways of knowing things:
-direct experience
-the experience of others passed down orally or in writing
-various forms of pattern matching (biological neural networks)
-induction
-practice
-“common sense”
-and yes, revelation
We all acquired language without using anything remotely connected to the scientific method.

How do these apply to this discussion? They demonstrate that science is not the only way of knowing things.

Would you mind showing us how to use any of these methods to determine how life appeared?

Thanks.

(sound of crickets chirping)

I’ll ask again:

*ahem*

Would you mind showing us how to use any of these methods to determine how life appeared?

Thanks.

And still more crickets chirping.

I’ll ask YET AGAIN:

*ahem*

Would you mind showing us how to use any of these methods to determine how life appeared?

Thanks.

What, uh, seems to be the problem with your answering this simple question, Ralph?

Comment #48123

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 14, 2005 6:01 PM (e)

It’s clear that even ID proponents do not have much hope in ID being or becoming scientifically relevant.

Heck they don’t even have much hope that they can convince a Federal Judge in Pennsylvania that their crap is in any way science and not just religious apologetics. (shrug)

Comment #48128

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 14, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

Help? I’d say provocation is more appropriate. I am now more informed because of an honest eagerness to learn. Some might have left. You could have been just as effective (if not more) with a kinder tone.

Don’t mind TS. He was born with an irresistable compulsion to wave his dick at everyone and anyone. (shrug)

Comment #48211

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 15, 2005 3:15 AM (e)

… the Rev says, with dick in hand.

Comment #48515

Posted by Ed Darrell on September 16, 2005 4:58 PM (e)

I asked Mr. Westfall how and why ID advocates are released from telling their story accurately.

He responded:

I’m not in any way associated with the Discovery Institute. I suggest that you contact them about your question.

Then let me rephrase the question: On what basis do you claim an exemption from the normal course of human manners that poses the obligation to get facts straight in a discussion? If you’re defending DI’s claims on ID, you have an obligation to check to be sure they’re not handing you bovine excrement, right? And you have an obligation to fail to pass along any b.e. they do hand you, right?

Comment #48533

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 16, 2005 6:09 PM (e)

Here’s some other ways of knowing things:
-direct experience
-the experience of others passed down orally or in writing
-various forms of pattern matching (biological neural networks)
-induction
-practice
-“common sense”
-and yes, revelation
We all acquired language without using anything remotely connected to the scientific method.

How do these apply to this discussion? They demonstrate that science is not the only way of knowing things.

Would you mind showing us how to use any of these methods to determine how life appeared?

Thanks.

(sound of crickets chirping)

I’ll ask again:

*ahem*

Would you mind showing us how to use any of these methods to determine how life appeared?

Thanks.

And still more crickets chirping.

I’ll ask YET AGAIN:

*ahem*

Would you mind showing us how to use any of these methods to determine how life appeared?

Thanks.

What, uh, seems to be the problem with your answering this simple question, Ralph?

(the crickets keep on chirping)

Ralph? Hello? Ralph? Still there, buddy? You didn’t run away on me, didja, Ralph?

Hello? Oh Raaaaalllllppppphhhhhhh? Where aaaaarrrreeeeeee you?

(crickets keep on chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought. (shrug)