PvM posted Entry 1458 on September 9, 2005 11:07 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1454

Congressman Rush Holt has written a very thoughtful essay on Intelligent Design at TPM Cafe. The article is titled Intelligent Design: It’s Not Even Wrong

Rep Holt wrote:

As a research scientist and a member of the House Education Committee, I was appalled when President Bush signaled his support for the teaching of “intelligent design” alongside evolution in public K-12 science classes. Though I respect and consistently protect the rights of persons of faith and the curricula of religious schools, public school science classes are not the place to teach concepts that cannot be backed up by evidence and tested experimentally.

Rep. Holt’s comments reminded me of Dembski’s Z-factor arguments in his book No Free Lunch. Mark Perakh has done an excellent work in various essays and articles to show how the Z-factor argument undermines intelligent design. In a future posting I intend to explore the impact of Dembski’s comments on the Privileged Planet argument. Dembski’s requirement for ‘independent evidence’ is the reason why Intelligent Design (wink wink, nudge nudge) is scientifically vacuous.

Hat tip to Douglas Theobald (author of 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution) for pointing me to Holt’s article. The responses to Holt’s essay suggest that he has touched a nerve with the American public.

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Comment #47175

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on September 9, 2005 12:25 PM (e)

Bravo! It’s great to see a politician with the guts to stand up to something so obviously wrong but popular. Others include Howard Dean and Christopher Shays (R, Conn)

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, wants to keep “intelligent design” out of public school classrooms.

During an appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live last week, Shays said he disagreed with President Bush who feels “intelligent design” should be taught along side evolution.

Comment #47184

Posted by remede on September 9, 2005 1:08 PM (e)

When you have a nation that is 3to1 conservative, over 70% christian and 90% of the people say they believe in a God, it isn’t hard to understand the President’s statements.

Comment #47185

Posted by remede on September 9, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

After all the Bible used to be part of the regular school curriculum in this country. Pretty sound solid foundation for creationism.

Comment #47186

Posted by steve on September 9, 2005 1:19 PM (e)

That’s a good quote from Shays:

“It’s not the role of the government to get involved in these issues,” he said. Our Founding Fathers recognized, when people came to America, they wanted to practice their own faith, without other people telling them what it had to be.”

Of course, some here would disagree with that, on the basis that
“Secularism=materialism=nationalism=existentialism=humanism=pantheism=atheism” or whatever that nonsense was.

Comment #47189

Posted by qetzal on September 9, 2005 1:26 PM (e)

remede wrote:

After all the Bible used to be part of the regular school curriculum in this country. Pretty sound solid foundation for creationism.

I disagree. Segregation used to be part of the regular school curriculum in this country as well, but that’s not a solid foundation for racism.

OTOH, I agree with your demographic explanation for why Bush said what he did.

Comment #47190

Posted by steve on September 9, 2005 1:35 PM (e)

For all its fake math, Intelligent Design actually seems less scientific than Scientific Creationism. Believing the earth is 6,000 years old, like Paul Nelson does, is at least unequivocal. Compare that with ID, which says nothing solid about the age of the earth, common descent, or certain other things.

Comment #47197

Posted by Rob on September 9, 2005 2:20 PM (e)

steve wrote:

Compare that with ID, which says nothing solid about the age of the earth, common descent, or certain other things.

That’s what’s so great about ID! With ID, the earth can be as young or old as you want it to be, because, hey, it was “designed” that way!

Comment #47198

Posted by remede on September 9, 2005 2:21 PM (e)

If the Bible isn’t the main reason for the belief in creationism in this country then I don’t what could be.

Comment #47199

Posted by Longhorn on September 9, 2005 3:22 PM (e)

It is nice to see a member of Congress deal with this issue. And it’s nice to know we have a member of Congress with a doctorate in physics.

However, many claims I’ve seen offered by people who have referred to themselves as proponents of “intelligent design” are indeed inaccurate. For instance, I’ve seen one person who refers to himself that way say that humans and chimps do not share common ancestors. And humans and chimps do share common ancestors.

I’ve seen some say or suggest that a being turned dust – poof! – directly into the first two humans to live on earth. However, self-replicating molecules that were on earth about 3.8 billion years ago evolved (through reproduction) into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth, including all the humans. Moreover, my claim that “a being turned dust directly into the first two humans to live on earth” is logically inconsistent with the claim that self-replicating molecules evolved (through reproduction) into all the complex organisms that have live on earth. Therefore, it is clear that a being did not turn dust directly into the first two humans to live on earth. There is other relevant data as well. But that is a start.

Comment #47202

Posted by just bob on September 9, 2005 3:59 PM (e)

After all the Bible used to be part of the regular school curriculum in this country. Pretty sound solid foundation for creationism.

And for chattel slavery, ethnic cleansing, massacre of noncombatants, geocentric cosmology, divining by casting lots, witchcraft, capital punishment for picking up sticks on Saturday, and my favorite–a commandment to provide the down-and-out with plenty of liquor (Pr 31:6-7).

Comment #47209

Posted by qetzal on September 9, 2005 4:26 PM (e)

remede wrote:

If the Bible isn’t the main reason for the belief in creationism in this country then I don’t what could be.

Well, perhaps I misunderstood your previous post. It sounded like you were saying that historical use of the Bible in US school curricula is a solid foundation for creationism.

If your point was merely that American creationists almost always base their beliefs on the Bible, sure, I agree.

But then, what was the point of your reference to using the Bible in schools?

Comment #47223

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 9, 2005 5:15 PM (e)

Well, perhaps I misunderstood your previous post.

Interesting how easy it can be to misjudge what people are saying if we misidentify them as creationists. :-)

But then, what was the point of your reference to using the Bible in schools?

Uh, s/he just said it – the teaching of the Bible in school (which still goes on, as students are bused from public schools to bible class and back all across the south) is explanatory in the widespread belief in creationism.

Comment #47225

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 9, 2005 5:19 PM (e)

After all the Bible used to be part of the regular school curriculum in this country. Pretty sound solid foundation for creationism.

Of course, I may be the one misidentifying and misinterpreting. I don’t know what the word “sound” is doing in that sentence.

Comment #47261

Posted by qetzal on September 9, 2005 9:35 PM (e)

Uh, s/he just said it — the teaching of the Bible in school (…) is explanatory in the widespread belief in creationism.

If that was remede’s meaning, fine - I withdraw my criticism. That meaning isn’t obvious to me from the original wording, but I’m no great shakes as a writer either.

FYI - I didn’t assume remede was a creationist. I merely disagreed with what seemed like an incorrect statement (as I understood it, of course).

Comment #47272

Posted by Angry young philosopher on September 10, 2005 6:00 AM (e)

Saying that propostions like “God designed everything” are “not even wrong” is a symptom of positivism, I thought we’d got over that sort of thing in the 1970’s. Frankly I am appalled that a group of persons suppousedly pro-science can fail to see the enormity of the consquences of such positivism, ultimately it reduces statements about atom’s to statements about possible sense data, in a sense it declares the atom theory “Not even false.”, in addition it eventually prove’s itself meaningless, as statements like “The meaning of a propostion is it’s empircal content” themselves have no content. One should choose one’s allies with even greater care then one pick’s one’s enemies; just because a statement milates against ID doesn’t mean one should automatically accept it.

So why am I so much against positivism? Consider the following propostions.
1- There may be objects which by there very nature can never be sensed, nor may have observable effects.
2- He is feeling angry, in the phenomenal sense of angry
3- Some propostions are true
4- Because I have observed X following Y in hundred’s of cases, X will follow Y in this case

All of those statements, when subjected to Positvist scrutinty are supposedly proven “meaningless”. This is absurd, any theory which in effect prove’s such foundational statements which ( especially in the cae of 4) make science possible surely must have something wrong with it, and indeed positivism does have problems, namely that it refutes itself because postivist statements themselves have no emprical content.

I have no doubt the good senator did not intend to imply all of that, but propostions 1-4 are indeed the consquences of positivism, as positvists like Wittgenstien and Carnap themselves pointed out. My point is that one has to be doubly careful of arguements that support your own side. Perhaps what the senator meant to say was that ID cannot be tested by the scientfic method, which may well be true. But he conflated the possibility of being tested via sciences methods with the possibility of truth or falsity, and hence meaning. In declaring unverifable statements meaningless he rendered his own arguement meaningless.

Comment #47275

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 10, 2005 7:28 AM (e)

To “Angry Young Philosopher”:

“Philosophy and the study of the actual world have the same relationship to one another as masturbation and sexual intercourse.” – K Marx

Comment #47279

Posted by Keith Douglas on September 10, 2005 10:07 AM (e)

It does not require a positivist viewpoint to attribute Pauli’s dictum to ID, as any perusal of scientifically grounded theories of reference will do.

Comment #47284

Posted by Moses on September 10, 2005 12:29 PM (e)

Comment #47185

Posted by remede on September 9, 2005 01:18 PM (e) (s)

After all the Bible used to be part of the regular school curriculum in this country. Pretty sound solid foundation for creationism.

Ah yes, back in early 1800’s. But, between the “Bible Riots” which had Christians killing each other over version and doctrine and modern scientific advancements, superseeding the highly flawed Bible that went the way of the dodo.

Comment #47301

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 10, 2005 2:28 PM (e)

Saying that propostions like “God designed everything” are “not even wrong” is a symptom of positivism

No, positivism is saying that such statements aren’t meaningful. And aside from your pathetic ignorance on that matter, do try to learn how to spell “proposition”.

Comment #47304

Posted by Bill Jefferys on September 10, 2005 3:03 PM (e)

Saying that propostions like “God designed everything” are “not even wrong” is a symptom of positivism

It has nothing to do with positivism. It is a quotation from the eminent physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who observed about a paper that “It’s not right; it’s not even wrong.” By this he meant that even a wrong paper can sometimes be an impetus for a solid research program. For example, the papers by Hoyle, Gold and Bondi that suggested the steady-state theory were “wrong,” but were very fruitful in pushing cosmologists to do the research that ultimately deep-sixed steady state.

The problem with “God designed everything” is that it leads absolutely nowhere. You can’t design a research program around it. About all you can say in response is, “and….???”

It is in this sense that “God designed everything” isn’t even wrong.

Comment #47306

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 10, 2005 3:11 PM (e)

But he conflated the possibility of being tested via sciences methods with the possibility of truth or falsity, and hence meaning.

I should have read that illiterate drivel further. No, lacking the possibility of truth or falsity is not at all the same as lacking meaning – it’s the contrary claim that constitutes logical positivism. “blondes are prettier than brunettes”, “Mike Brown should resign”, and “there is a least integer not nameable in fewer than nineteen syllables” are neither true nor false, but they are meaningful – certainly more meaningful than a grunt or a sneeze. And if we look at your propositions, for instance “Because I have observed X following Y in hundred’s of cases, X will follow Y in this case”, that is neither true nor false because it is underspecified; and if we fully qualify it with “for all X and for all Y”, then it is simply false, and provably so. As for “He is feeling angry, in the phenomenal sense of angry”, that statement also is underspecified, and even if we pick a specific person at a specific time, it’s not at all clear that “the phenomenal sense of angry” has a referent; such phenomenal concepts may be as illusory as phlogiston and the ether, or even more so, since a coherent model of phlogiston and the ether are at least imaginable. Nonetheless, it’s meaningful to talk of such phenomenal concepts, just as it’s meaningful to talk of ghosts in the machine, or of fictional ghosts such as Casper, or we can meaningfully talk about the length of Harry Potter’s left pinkie, even though there is no fact of the matter concerning such a fiction.

Comment #47312

Posted by vampire killer on September 10, 2005 3:35 PM (e)

If creationism has no merit, then why were some of the greatests scientific minds that ever walked the planet creationists? Newton, Kepler, Francis Bacon, John Fleming, Nicolaus Steno, Louis Pasteur, Copernicus…etc. Were these men just ignorant religious fools?
Was Michelangelo just humoring us all with the Sisteen Chapel? Was Frideric Handel just blowing smoke with the Hallelujah Chorus.

I don’t claim to know it all, but these men I named sure know more than most of us do. Some of greatest art ever created has given glory to the God of creation. I just don’t understand the opposition. I guess you consider yourselves more “enlightened” than these I’ve named. I don’t buy it.

Comment #47313

Posted by vampire killer on September 10, 2005 3:38 PM (e)

If creationism has no merit, then why were some of the greatests scientific minds that ever walked the planet creationists? Newton, Kepler, Francis Bacon, John Fleming, Nicolaus Steno, Louis Pasteur, Copernicus…etc. Were these men just ignorant religious fools?
Was Michelangelo just humoring us all with the Sisteen Chapel? Was Frideric Handel just blowing smoke with the Hallelujah Chorus.

I don’t claim to know it all, but these men I named sure know more than most of us do. Some of the greatest art ever created has given glory to the God of creation. I just don’t understand the opposition. I guess you consider yourselves more “enlightened” than these I’ve named. I don’t buy it.

Comment #47314

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 10, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

If creationism has no merit, then why were some of the greatests scientific minds that ever walked the planet creationists?

If the evil spirits theory of disease has no merit, then why were some of the greatest medicla minds that ever walked the planet evil spiritists?

Were these men just ignorant religious fools?

Yes, some of them were. ALL of them, of course, were dead long before Chuckie Darwin ever wrote his book.

Are creationists REALLY this stupid? REALLY? Or is this guy just pulling our leg?

Comment #47315

Posted by vampire killer on September 10, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

So, you ARE saying that you know more than these men. Ok… I get it now.

Comment #47318

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 10, 2005 4:16 PM (e)

So, you ARE saying that you know more than these men. Ok… I get it now.

Even schoolchildren know more about a great number of things than those men knew.

Yes, Lenny, sadly, they really are that stupid.

Comment #47322

Posted by SEF on September 10, 2005 4:36 PM (e)

Newton couldn’t operate a computer either. :-D Nor speak Esperanto, nor read ancient hieroglyphics, nor split the atom, nor perform X-ray diffraction.

Comment #47323

Posted by Russell on September 10, 2005 4:38 PM (e)

Were these men just ignorant religious fools?

Yes, some of them were. ALL of them, of course, were dead long before Chuckie Darwin ever wrote his book.

Pasteur died in 1895. That he was a creationist in any meaningful sense of the word is news to me. I know creationists like to think that disproving spontaneous generation of life disproves abiogenesis - a profoundly stupid argument - but is there anything more to Pasteur’s alleged creationism than that?

Comment #47324

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 10, 2005 4:45 PM (e)

ALL of them, of course, were dead long before Chuckie Darwin ever wrote his book.

Not all of them. But then, not all of them are creationists. The creationists claim that Pasteur was one, because he disproved spontaneous generation, supposedly the lynchpin of evolution. Yes, they really are that stupid.

Comment #47332

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 10, 2005 5:44 PM (e)

So, you ARE saying that you know more than these men.

Yes. I do know more about evolution than any of these men.

And guess what, so do YOU.

Well … maybe not.

Comment #47336

Posted by Timothy Chase on September 10, 2005 6:09 PM (e)

Rob wrote:

That’s what’s so great about ID! With ID, the earth can be as young or old as you want it to be, because, hey, it was “designed” that way!

Thats the idea. Keep everyone happy and on the same team until you win the war against evolution.

“You must unify your own side and divide the other side,” Johnson said. He added that he wants to temporarily suspend the debate between young-Earth creationists, who insist that the planet is only 6,000 years old, and old-Earth creationists, who accept that the Earth is ancient. “This debate,” he said, “can be resumed once Darwinism is overthrown.”

Missionary Man
TV Preacher D. James Kennedy And His Allies Are Targeting Public School Children For Evangelism
By Rob Boston
Church & State
April 1999
http://www.au.org/churchstate/cs4995.htm

After you have won that war, then you can declare war on each other.

Comment #47345

Posted by Timothy Chase on September 10, 2005 7:45 PM (e)

With Comment #47336, I gave a website address which is no longer valid. However, you can get to the original article here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20021218193424/http://www.au.org/churchstate/cs4995.htm

I should also note that the quote marks in the following sentence:

“This debate,” he said, “can be resumed once Darwinism is overthrown.”

… were added by me. Given the way that the text in the original article was written, these quote marks were implicit, but should have been made explicit. Editorial perogative. (Just to clarify any possible confusion…)

Comment #47354

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 10, 2005 8:36 PM (e)

“these quote marks were implicit, but should have been made explicit”

You can’t know that. It’s likely that Boston was paraphrasing Johnson, in which case the quote marks are just wrong. In the next paragraph, for instance, one sees This strategy, he said, “enables us …; most likely Johnson said “enables us” but didn’t say “This strategy”.

Comment #47355

Posted by Timothy Chase on September 10, 2005 8:49 PM (e)

“these quote marks were implicit, but should have been made explicit”

You can’t know that. It’s likely that Boston was paraphrasing Johnson, in which case the quote marks are just wrong. In the next paragraph, for instance, one sees This strategy, he said, “enables us …; most likely Johnson said “enables us” but didn’t say “This strategy”.

Point taken.

Oftentimes when writing down dialog, you will put the write it in the manner that I wrote it, but I can imagine someone having a problem with adding the quote marks. At the same time, I find it annoying at the very least that an article will quote someone without actually quoting them – that is, identifying the actual statement which was made. However, I see that there are a number of places where this statement is quoted without using any quote marks, so I guess I will have to resign myself to that – and then refrain from using sources which fail to employ quote marks except where necessary. (However, I might start writing the authors of such pieces letters expressing my feelings regarding such matters. ;-))

Comment #47358

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 10, 2005 9:03 PM (e)

I find it annoying at the very least that an article will quote someone without actually quoting them — that is, identifying the actual statement which was made.

Again, the right word for your first instance of “quote” is “paraphrase”. For instance, in The objective, he said, is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. Boston is clearly paraphrasing Johnson, most likely because Johnson used a lot more words to say that.

However, I might start writing the authors of such pieces letters expressing my feelings regarding such matters. ;-))

Then you’ll be wring a lot of letters and annoying a lot of people.

Comment #47361

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 10, 2005 9:28 PM (e)

P.S. Here’s a style guide on quotation:

http://library.sfcc.spokane.cc.wa.us/guides/quotingMLAstyle.stm

Limit your quotations to situations where the original author’s words are particularly memorable or well-expressed, or when the author writes something complex or controversial that would be difficult to paraphrase.

And here is advice that Boston should have taken:

The English language is unusually rich in synonyms and near-synonyms. Practice using less common words in your signal phrases. Instead of Smith writes or Jones says, consider:

Comment #47362

Posted by Timothy Chase on September 10, 2005 9:34 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'bockquote'

Comment #47364

Posted by Timothy Chase on September 10, 2005 9:42 PM (e)

ts (not Tim) wrote:

Again, the right word for your first instance of “quote” is “paraphrase”. For instance, in The objective, he said, is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. Boston is clearly paraphrasing Johnson, most likely because Johnson used a lot more words to say that.

So I take it the following would be fine:

Paraphrasing Johnson, Boston wrote, “The objective, he said, is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God.”

I would ask my wife, but currently she is asleep and showing the logs no mercy.

Comment #47387

Posted by Eric Murphy on September 10, 2005 11:48 PM (e)

You can’t build a theory merely by pointing out deficiencies in another theory. Here’s an example:

In another universe, a young patent clerk named Albert Einstein wrote a paper in which he revealed that Isaac Newton’s theory of universal gravitation failed to accurately predict the precession of Mercury’s orbit. Several scientists, on reading Einstein’s paper, pointed out that this had been known to be a problem for Newtonian physics for some time. The scientists asked Einstein if he had any theory that would explain the discrepancy.

In answer, Einstein stated that there was a discrepancy between Newton’s predictions and the observations.

Yes, yes, the scientists replied, we’re aware of the problem, and we’re trying to figure out how to solve it. In the meantime, have you given any thought to an explanation yourself?

Well, yes, Einstein said, patiently and politely. There’s a discrepancy between Newton’s theory and observation, which proves that Newton’s theory is incorrect.

Well, at least in this one respect, replied the scientists. So, again, have you given any thought to an explanation?

Yes. My theory is that Newton’s theory cannot explain the discrepancy, and therefore my theory is a better explanation for gravity.

And that theory might be…? the scientists inquired, hopefully.

…that Newton’s theory is incorrect.

Comment #47395

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 11, 2005 1:11 AM (e)

Of course ID is even worse, because
a) it hasn’t identified any erroneous prediction of the ToE
b) alternate Einstein doesn’t claim that no physical theory can explain Mercury’s orbit

Comment #47418

Posted by Joe G on September 11, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

The following link will take you to an on-line debate about Intelligent Design. My opening- the first two posts- describe why ID is indeed scientific.

WHY ID is scientific

Comment #47419

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 11, 2005 10:35 AM (e)

The following link will take you to an on-line debate about Intelligent Design. My opening- the first two posts- describe why ID is indeed scientific.

Glad to hear it.

Since ID is scientific, and all, I presume you must therefore have a, ya know, scientific theory of ID.

So let’s see it.

What is the scientific theory of ID. What, according to this scientific theory of ID, did the designer do, specifically. What mechanisms does this scientific theory of ID propose the designer used to do whatever the heck you think it did. Where can we see these mechanisms doing anything today. And how do we test any of this using the scientific method.

Or is “POOF!!! God — uh, I man, The Unknown Intelligent Designer – dunnit!!!!!” the extent of your, uh, scientific theory of iD?

Comment #47420

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 11, 2005 10:38 AM (e)

WHY ID is scientific

Your post seems to ramble on an awful lot about introducing the “supernatural” into science.

Please explain to us how you would go about integrating “the supernatural” into the scientific method.

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

1. Observe some aspect of the universe

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

3. Make testible predictions from that hypothesis

4. Make observations or experiments that can test those predictions

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

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

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

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

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

1. Observe some aspect of the universe.

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

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

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

3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.

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

IDers, please fill in the blank.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment #47424

Posted by NJ on September 11, 2005 11:16 AM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

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

Simpler version? IDer’s want to get into Cooperstown without playing a single inning.

Comment #47426

Posted by Ved Rocke on September 11, 2005 11:18 AM (e)

Nice “debate” by the way. In the linked thread entitled Intelligent Design- Is It Scientific?, The debate, only one person has replied to JP, the originator of the thread and in the first paragraph he says: “I haven’t yet read JP’s entry though I am sure it [is] excellent, so do not expect a specific rebuttal. Also do not expect a cotinuation of the dbte by me honestly the topic is of little interest anymore.”

Why would anyone want to bother to read this if the contributors won’t even do the same?

Comment #47427

Posted by Aris on September 11, 2005 11:19 AM (e)

To “ vampire killer”

To begin with, scientists and free thinkers do not revere anyone. Plato, the quintessential thinker, believed in Zeus. Will you follow him? Leibniz, one of the supreme intellects, harbored deep skepticism about supernatural power. Will you follow his steps? Countless other great thinkers rejected the notion of a god. Some, such as Einstein, believed in Spinoza’s God. Others, such as Jeans, thought God ought to be a supreme mathematician.

The fact that many models put forward by past scientists have shown to be false (prime example: Newton’s mechanics) makes them fallible. Their belief in a supernatural entity is of metaphysical nature, which has nothing to do with science. The God of many of them was the God of the gap: they penetrated more deeply into the working of the nature and inevitably encountered more unknowns which they could not account for, and as it was fashionable, they invoked the God.

Let me put the question in another way. Suppose you encounter aliens who are intellectually, scientifically and technologically far more superior to us, and they believe in a god. And suppose you were an atheist. Would you abandon your views and accept theirs, just because they are superior? Unless they have physical evidence of the existence of such an entity, their belief is, from the scientific point of view, worthless.

Finally, yes we do know a great deal more than the past thinkers. This does not, however, make us intellectually more superior, simply more knowledgeable. And it does not lessen our respect and appreciation for their immense contributions and the path they paved for us.

Comment #47512

Posted by Eric Murphy on September 11, 2005 9:28 PM (e)

I think this quote from Dembski’s “The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design” really puts a spotlight on ID’s single most glaring failing as a scientific theory:

“Intelligent design is not a theory about the frequency or locality or modality by which a designing intelligence intervenes in the material world. It is not an interventionist theory at all.” [Dembski, pg. 179]

So, Mr. Dembski, what exactly is ID a theory of, then?

Comment #47571

Posted by NDT on September 12, 2005 2:18 AM (e)

vampire killer wrote:

So, you ARE saying that you know more than these men. Ok… I get it now.

About biology, I do know more than most of those men (except Pasteur, who most certainly was not a creationist). If I wanted a ceiling painted, I’d ask Michelangelo. But he wasn’t a biologist, and he lived hundreds of years before Darwin, so I wouldn’t expect him to have been an expert on evolution.

Comment #47719

Posted by Aris on September 12, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

Eric,

Good point. I think WD will finally, in not so far a future, say “No clues.” But, he might still add his usual response: Anyway, “prove me wrong.”

Comment #49011

Posted by Eric Murphy on September 20, 2005 5:02 PM (e)

I think the thing that gets tiresome about arguing with IDists is their refusal to back down on any issue, regardless of the evidence against their position. I was debating someone on the Telic Thoughts website about the deficiences in the Explanatory Filter. I sent the guy five articles by various scientists and mathematicians demonstrating in minute detail why the Explanatory Filter simply does not work the way Dembski says it does. The response?

“The EF works.”

I point out that virtually all scientists are convinced of the utility of the theory of evolution, and that only a tiny minority believe otherwise. The response?

“Most scientists don’t even use the theory of evolution in their work.”

I guess my question would be (if I thought it would be worthwhile to pose it), have the tiny minority of scientists who claim the theory of evolution is useless tried using it and gotten garbage results? If so, where are their peer-reviewed papers saying so?

It gets wearisome after a while.