PZ Myers posted Entry 1930 on January 21, 2006 01:59 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1925

Orson Scott Card has written a long essay defending Intelligent Design.

Oy, but it is depressing.

It's a graceless hash, a cluttered and confusing mish-mash of poorly organized complaints about those darned wicked "Darwinists". He lists 7 arguments. Then he repeats his list, expanding on them. Then he goes on and on, hectoring scientists about how they should behave. For a professional writer, it's just plain bad writing—I'm struggling with how to address his arguments, but he's written such a gluey mass of tangled ranty irrationality that it's hard to get a handle on it. Ugly, ugly, ugly…and why do these guys all seem to think the way to defend the ideas of ID is to whine about the perfidy of all those scientists? Not once does he bring up any evidence for ID.

Card can't discuss the evidence, because he doesn't know or understand the evidence. That's apparent when he begins by praising Behe's Darwin's Black Box, and regurgitates the argument from irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity is not a problem for evolution, and Behe is a tired old fraud who hasn't had a new idea in 15 years. That Card would be impressed with DBB says only that he doesn't know much biology and that the depth of his thinking is remarkably shallow.

Oh, well. I'll try the brute force approach and discuss each of Card's arguments in turn. This will get long.

Continue reading "Orson Scott Card, Intelligent Design advocate" (on Pharyngula)

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Comment #74423

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 21, 2006 2:19 PM (e)

and why do these guys all seem to think the way to defend the ideas of ID is to whine about the perfidy of all those scientists? Not once does he bring up any evidence for ID.

why do all these guys seem to think that way to promote republican politicians is to whine about the perfidy of all those democrats? Not once does fox news bring up any direct evidence supporting the actual successes that are often attributed to republicans.

monkey see, monkey do?

30 years of successful (if despicable), debate tactics like this from the right have firmly convinced a great many monkeys of their efficacy.

no suprise that IDers promote their ideas in a similar fashion.

whatever works, eh?

Comment #74430

Posted by Corkscrew on January 21, 2006 2:39 PM (e)

I think some of the vitriol there was probably unnecessary. I’d tend to interpret OSC’s errors as ignorance of the situation rather than actual idiocy. My guess is that he wandered onto a forum, caught someone like Lenny in full flow, and failed to observe that the person being tonguelashed had probably been repeating the same dumb comments since humans diverged from chimpanzees. His understanding of the scientific method is pretty decent; shame about the small army of straw men.

Comment #74433

Posted by Doreen on January 21, 2006 2:48 PM (e)

I’m not surprised at this development as Card is a Mormon and some of the stories he writes have a Mormon “flavour” (almost like chicken).

Comment #74435

Posted by Frank J on January 21, 2006 2:53 PM (e)

PZ Myers wrote:

Card can’t discuss the evidence, because he doesn’t know or understand the evidence.

PZ Myers wrote:

I’d tend to interpret OSC’s errors as ignorance of the situation rather than actual idiocy.

Whatever one calls it, if OSC simply misunderstands the subject, he should be willing to correct himself later on. But guess what? That almost never happens. Why is it so hard for us to admit even the possibility that these people do understand evolution, but deliberately misrepresent it anyway?

Comment #74437

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on January 21, 2006 3:08 PM (e)

Be sure to check out the forum topic that goes with Orson Scott Card’s article. Not, apparently, that Card would deign to participate. But never fear, there’s a character by the handle of “Javelin” who is willing to tell you, for free, that whatever problem you might think you have with OSC’s essay is entirely due to you not reading the essay, misunderstanding the essay, or misrepresenting the essay. Have fun.

Comment #74440

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 21, 2006 3:32 PM (e)

…whatever problem you might think you have with OSC’s essay is entirely due to you not reading the essay, misunderstanding the essay, or misrepresenting the essay

hey! i think i have discovered a working theme……whatever problem you might think you have with ID is entirely due to you not reading about ID, misunderstanding ID, or misrepresenting ID.

sound familiar?

not to step on Wes’s point, or anything ;)

Comment #74448

Posted by Frank J on January 21, 2006 4:05 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

hey! i think i have discovered a working theme……whatever problem you might think you have with ID is entirely due to you not reading about ID, misunderstanding ID, or misrepresenting ID.

That’s because ID has 2 unrelated parts, essentially “evidence for design” and “evidence against evolution.” Whenever a critic addresses the former, ID “becomes” the latter, and vice versa. And if the critic takes the bait and refutes a “Genesis” claim that the IDer never made (but certainly lead the target audience to infer), the IDer bails out with the same accusation of misunderstanding/misrepresenting. And guess who scores with the target audience?

Sure, some of the truly clueless IDers have learned this strategy by rote, but most of them seem to know exactly what that are doing.

Comment #74449

Posted by harold on January 21, 2006 4:07 PM (e)

Incredible garbage. But a silver lining - the invention of the hilarious term “Designist”.

For a more succinct, yet more accurate view of ID -

http://www.comics.com/comics/unfit/archive/unfit-20060120.html

Comment #74452

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 21, 2006 4:14 PM (e)

Every time i argue with a creationist, a little piece of me dies and goes to hell.

I get postcards from time to time which suggest they are having a great time there.

Comment #74469

Posted by TTC on January 21, 2006 5:07 PM (e)

TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!
TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!
ALL ANCIENT HISTORY IS BUNK!
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/2913621058
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/2913621066

JUST TEACH THE FREAKING CONTROVERSY.

Comment #74475

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 21, 2006 5:15 PM (e)

you need some new drugs, there TTC.

Comment #74477

Posted by TTC on January 21, 2006 5:24 PM (e)

And you need to get a sense of humor.

Comment #74480

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 21, 2006 5:32 PM (e)

my sense of humor is just fine. my initial response stands, regardless of how you meant yours to be taken.

Comment #74490

Posted by TTC on January 21, 2006 5:52 PM (e)

Given that you’re suffering from delusions (“my sense of humor is just fine”), it seems that you gave that advice based on your own experience with drugs.

Comment #74491

Posted by Tom Curtis on January 21, 2006 5:53 PM (e)

TTC, you’ve got it wrong. The real controversy in history is found in Velikovski. Why isn’t Velikovski being taught in ancient history as an excercise in critical reasoning?

Comment #74492

Posted by H. Humbert on January 21, 2006 5:54 PM (e)

I thought it was funny, TTC.

Comment #74495

Posted by TTC on January 21, 2006 6:02 PM (e)

Tom, did Vel have a degree? Fomenko is a “doctor of physical and mathematical sciences” (which is much greater than PhD; PhD is equivalent to Soviet/Russian “candidate of physical and mathematical sciences”), and an academician to boot. He is even more scientific than Dembski! ;-)

Comment #74500

Posted by Steviepinhead on January 21, 2006 6:19 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam, the poster’s handle is TTC, not THC.

Perhaps that’s where the problem arises.

Comment #74501

Posted by Corkscrew on January 21, 2006 6:25 PM (e)

But never fear, there’s a character by the handle of “Javelin” who is willing to tell you, for free, that whatever problem you might think you have with OSC’s essay is entirely due to you not reading the essay, misunderstanding the essay, or misrepresenting the essay. Have fun.

I personally am a little reluctant to take the piss out of Javelin since he’s already picked me up on one way in which I did actually misread the article (am posting as Lifewish over there).

I’d incidentally note that swarming the forum is probably not conducive to refuting OSC’s piece.

Comment #74505

Posted by Caledonian on January 21, 2006 6:45 PM (e)

I cannot imagine a more effective means of refuting that article than 1) mentioning scientists such as Gould, Dawkins, and Scott, 2) providing a link to talk.origins, and 3) providing a link to the Jones ruling.

Those three things blow the article completely out of the water. Not that they’ll actually change very many minds, of course - it’d take a sledgehammer to do that.

Comment #74507

Posted by TTC on January 21, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

Oh… now I get it. The ignorant jerk mixed up “Teach The Controversy” with “tetrahydrocannabinol”. Bwahaha.

Comment #74510

Posted by Tom Curtis on January 21, 2006 6:53 PM (e)

TTC, Velikovsky has studied at the Universities of Edinburgh, Vienna, Berlin and Moscow (from which he took a medical degree). He was involved in founding the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and discovered a now routine diagnositic proceedure for epilepsy. What is more, he colaborated with Einstein in a “research project” (ie, the editing of the Scripta Universitatis).

Further, he has made a number of successfull scientific predictions from his theories. As such, he is streets ahead of ID in academic respectability, even though his theories are (of course) bunk.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Velikovsky

Comment #74511

Posted by Steviepinhead on January 21, 2006 6:54 PM (e)

Well, certainly everybody mixed up with “Teach the Controversy” is either an ignorant jerk or a knowing charlatan.

Not everybody mixed up with tetrahydrocannabinol is an ignorant jerk, though some of them may function at less than their optimum, and operating heavy machinery, or diagnosing an intense relationship, are activies that are contra-indicated.

And possibly having mixed up the two terms is just, well, mixing the two…

Anyway, are we having fun yet?

Comment #74521

Posted by Scott on January 21, 2006 7:23 PM (e)

The OCS article is a mixed bag. It starts out sounding like he’s defending ID, but read further.

OSC first says:

“The Darwinist answer was immediate. Unfortunately, it was also illogical, personal, and unscientific. The main points are:”

“1….”
“2….”
“3. If you actually understood science as we do, you’d realize that these guys are wrong and we’re right; but you don’t, so you have to trust us (expertism).”

Then in talking about point #1, he goes on to say exactly the same thing:

“Creation Science is embarrassing and laughable – its authors either don’t understand science or are deliberately deceiving readers who don’t understand it. Frankly, Creation Science is, in my opinion, a pack of pious lies.”

So, it’s okay if *he* says Creation Scientists don’t understand science like he does (“expertism”), but it’s not okay for real experts to say the same thing. How can he have it both ways?

But that aside, read the rest of his article. Get past his first 6 points. I don’t think he’s saying that the Designist’s are correct. His point #7 makes that pretty clear. And he doesn’t make the mistake of abusing the word “theory”. He seems to cover that pretty well. I think what he is pointing out is that if one falls to the level of the typical Designist and starts out by name calling and over generalizing, even a well intentioned defender of evolution can sound dogmatic.

I know it’s a fine line to walk, but if one gets too rigid and over zealous in defending evolution, the lay public can have a hard time telling the difference between faith-that-science-will-eventually-have-all-the-answers and “True Faith”.

(As an example, AFAICT Kenneth Miller seems to have a good blend of flexibility and affability, certainly enough to avoid the label “zealous”. IMHO, while the usual PT crowd is obviously intelligent and entertaining, some of you do come over the top at times. Your attack mode isn’t always becoming. Yes, I know responding to the same old silly drivel can get tiring, but I hope you don’t respond in public like that. The uninitiated could react very negatively.)

OSC ends with:

“If both sides would behave like scientists, there wouldn’t even be a controversy, because everyone would agree on this statement:”

“Evolution happens and obviously happened in the natural world, and natural selection plays a role in it. But we do not have adequate theories yet to explain completely how evolution works and worked at the biochemical level.”

Sounds good to me. I’m not as optimistic as he is, though. While I’m sure every scientist could agree to that, it sure doesn’t seem like any in the ID/Creationist crowd would.

Comment #74538

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 21, 2006 8:31 PM (e)

The ignorant jerk

??

since you think your comment so witty as to be personally offended by someone who doesn’t…

feel free to begin showing some wit.

I’m still waiting.

Comment #74553

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 21, 2006 8:59 PM (e)

Dudes, you all need some THC.

Comment #74554

Posted by ts on January 21, 2006 9:00 PM (e)

OSC’s writings are full of mormonism, I quit reading them many years ago, now I have seen them again, arg.

Comment #74598

Posted by AJF on January 21, 2006 11:24 PM (e)

I guess I should no longer get suprised when I read this kind of thing. I love the theories about the evil “Darwinist” conspiracy. If there is a conspiracy, I’m not in on it, and to tell you the truth, if I had evidence that there was a better theory to describe how life got to its present form, I’d sell you all out in an instant!!

Comment #74603

Posted by President Merkin Muffley on January 22, 2006 12:23 AM (e)

Yes, ho-hum, as a rule fascists tend to suspect science because for their politics to endure doctrine must defeat reality and Card, who’s always been transparently a fascist, is no exception to the rule. I mean no disrespect to fascists, of course, some of them are kind to animals.

Comment #74608

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 22, 2006 1:06 AM (e)

If there actually WAS an evil darwinist conspiracy, I actually wish I WERE in on it.

real consipiracies usually have serious money backing them.

I’d love to be able to get more grant money.

Comment #74624

Posted by Bob O'H on January 22, 2006 2:33 AM (e)

I love the theories about the evil “Darwinist” conspiracy. If there is a conspiracy, I’m not in on it…

That’s because you don’t have anything to offer us. Either that or you’re a blaspheming follower of Sewell Wright.

Hey, why else would we spend so much time developing game theory? It’s not as if it’s any good for explaining the real world.

Bob

Comment #74734

Posted by Red Mann on January 22, 2006 10:20 AM (e)

How about some THC, then some TLC from and for TTC and STJ.

Comment #74775

Posted by MaxOblivion on January 22, 2006 11:45 AM (e)

OSC has always been an asshat…

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2005/5/28/22428/7034

Comment #74777

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 22, 2006 11:49 AM (e)

Shucks, OSC had a whole section on:

Darwinism vs. Evolution

Here’s the place where a lot of scientists indulge in muddy thinking. Evolution and Darwinism have been treated as synonyms for so long that too many people think they’re the same thing. But they’re not, and never have been….

But I must have missed the part where he actually defines his terms and tells us what “Darwinism” means. Maybe there really are people out there who do regard Darwin as a “prophet” and make offerings to an idol with his likeness, but I’ve never met such people.

Comment #74782

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 22, 2006 12:01 PM (e)

What was so terrible about the OSC article?
It was far better than the average media comment.

@ least he points out why ID is not science.

Critcising the way the fight against ID has been conducted is not automatically a bad thing. If everything is just peachy in the fight against ID you could reasonably expect that the war would have been won by now.

Comment #74783

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 22, 2006 12:08 PM (e)

What was so terrible about the OSC article?
It was far better than the average media comment.

@ least he points out why ID is not science.

Critcising the way the fight against ID has been conducted is not automatically a bad thing. If everything is just peachy in the fight against ID you could reasonably expect that the war would have been won by now.

Why don’t you wander over to Pharyngula to read PZ’s takedown?

There was OSC’s insistence that Behe, et. al. had made legitimate (but unstated) criticisms of legitimate evolutionary science. There was the funny bit about how Behe didn’t assume his readers were stupid. There was the dismissal of the identity between the Intelligent Design backers and the proponents of Creation Science, and the insistence, in opposition to much evidence, that ID is not Creationism.

There was the admission that evolution is a fact and that there is evidence for natural selection, but in the latter part of the article support of real science is repeatedly referred to as a “faith” and “religion”, thus drawing a bogus equivalence between support of real science and support of IDC.

Comment #74791

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 22, 2006 12:25 PM (e)

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 22, 2006 12:08 PM (e)

Why don’t you wander over to Pharyngula to read PZ’s takedown?

PZ tore it to shreds.

I guess my thinking was that this OSC guy could be new to the argument.

I am not convinced however that OSC could be described as an ID supporter. It just seems to me that it is possibly counterproductive to launch into an all out assault on anyone new to the subject.

At least give the benefit of doubt, point errors out in a less hostile way, then if they refuse to learn, get aggressive.

Comment #74871

Posted by Caledonian on January 22, 2006 4:01 PM (e)

Several of OSC’s statements could only have been made by someone who had already refused to learn (or were grotesquely ignorant, which is unlikely to be the case).

We can presume that he’s a complete fool, or a liar. Which would be the “benefit of the doubt”, again?

Comment #74889

Posted by Richard on January 22, 2006 4:54 PM (e)

It’s a shame that a gifted writer like Card (Ender’s Game is a great read) makes so many silly statements. It’s downright grotesque for him to claim scientists do nothing but call ID advocates names, or don’t engage ID arguments and yada yada yada, despite the overwhelming number of books, articles, websites (like this one or talkorigins) where any and every ID claim has been rigorously and thoroughly examined… and shown to be even less than science fiction.

I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but then I’d have to allow he’s never heard of, or visited pandasthumb.org… I dunno… I fear he might have joined the ranks of all the other pandering shills who (I believe) knowingly lie for the sake of promoting their political and religious agenda.

Comment #74900

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 22, 2006 6:21 PM (e)

Posted by Richard on January 22, 2006 04:54 PM (e)

I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but then I’d have to allow he’s never heard of, or visited pandasthumb.org… I dunno… I fear he might have joined the ranks of all the other pandering shills who (I believe) knowingly lie for the sake of promoting their political and religious agenda.

To be fair. Read this part.

——————————————————————————–
WorldWatch
First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
——————————————————————————–
By Orson Scott Card January 8, 2006

But if the Designists are right, and there is no natural explanation, no process of mechanical causation that can possibly lead to the automatic evolution of complex biochemical systems, then at that moment the subject ceases to be science at all, and becomes either history (what did the Designers do and why did they do it?) or theology (what does God mean by all this?).

That’s fine. There are lots of subjects in this world that are worth studying, and in which true and valuable things can be discovered, which are not and cannot be science.

But when you purport to teach science in school, the subject you teach had better be science, and not somebody’s religion in disguise.

I am not saying he made no mistakes in his article. But a shill for ID seems way off the mark. That is why I doubt he is dishonest here.

My estimate is that he is relatively new to the hoax.

Comment #74905

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 22, 2006 7:04 PM (e)

Unfortunately PZ is incorrect on any number of his own complaints. For instance, the article is not bad writing, it is not poorly organized (at least not according to ID tenets), and it is really quite rational. What makes it so odious is that it is so damnably ignorant, so arrogantly self-righteous, and so very wrong in most of its charges. It is, however, rational in its development from the hideous lies that he uses, and thus could be one of the most convincing pro-ID pieces around.

It should be answered more as a convincing piece, and should not be treated as poorly done for convincing those who lack sufficient knowledge. PZ does better when dealing with specifics, but not in the opening volley.

Here’s a few bits of OSC’s verbiage I’d like to comment on:

Behe and his group don’t think we’re stupid. They actually make the effort to explain the science accurately and clearly in terms that the lay audience can understand. So who is going to win this argument?

This is important. True, he’s got it all backwards, supposing that the simplified nonsense of Behe is an improvement over actual learning. Psychologically, however, this is no doubt how many see the issues, that Behe (who leaves out the considerable evidence for evolution of “irreducibly complex” structures in his presentations) is explaining matters in a way that respects OSC, while those on our side do not.

Most unfortunate of all is that Behe does not lay out the facts accurately, rather he cavils over irreducible complexity, without dealing in the slightest with the complexity that arises from organisms having to cobble together inadequate structures into working organelles that would have been served much better by de novo designs. He’s biased and misleads people like OSC. This needs to be pointed out strenuously.

Some people bow down before experts; most of us resent the experts who expect us to bow.

Thus said OSC, bowing before Behe. Obviously he doesn’t like the real experts, and likes high-profile dissenters, no matter how badly they deal with the matter. If this hardly speaks well of OSC, it is also what we’re up against in many many individuals, some of whom will write convincingly against science based upon nonsense spewed by incompetent “experts” like Behe.

The irony is that there are plenty of Darwinists who are perfectly good writers, capable of explaining the science to us well enough to show us the flaws in the Designists’ arguments. The fact that they refuse even to try to explain is, again, a confession that they don’t have an answer.

The irony is that OSC will write the BS above without reading, or at least without comprehending, the many excellent pieces showing the flaws in “Designist writings”. Perhaps this is because Behe can put out about 20 false or misleading statements in about 30 minutes (or less), while the anti-ID pieces tend to be long, often technical, and may not be understandable to many folk, like OSC (evidently).

4. When Darwinists do seem to explain, it’s only to point out some error or omission in the Designists’ explanation of a biochemical system. Some left-out step, or some point where they got the chemistry wrong. They think if they can shoot down one or two minor points, then the whole problem will go away.

This is where OSC’s ignorance of science shows most prominently. Battles in science, like battles in court cases, are waged on these little facts that he thinks are so unimportant. He’s looking for some sort of sci-fi finish to the ID arguments, and when scientists simply show how incompetent the claims of the IDists are, he is unimpressed.

This, too, is a tendency that goes against us in these matter among much of the public. They’re not looking for the ambiguity and lack of answers that science must give to them as long as it is incomplete, they are instead looking for a nice complete “and God said”, or “the Designer did this” sort of answer. We’re not giving this kind of answer (and cannot as scientists), instead we’re arguing over the details, and showing how inadequate ID “science” and argumentation are. What this impresses on the mind of OSC is that evolution does not have the answers–and we say “of course not”, but then OSC says, “ah ha”.

And I think that this highlights one issue that I think really does count for something. We too often respond to the IDists as proper scientists and/or litigators would, demonstrating their flaws and attacks on the very basis of science, and too rarely do we actually show that the evidence is decisively in favor of evolution. OSC thinks this is inadequate, and indeed, it probably is.

OSC claims that we’re just shouting out our belief in the adequacy of evolution to explain eventually the details of life, and compares this to the vacuousness of ID (which he barely concedes). But of course we do not have the gaps in DNA that exist in the fossil record, rather we have a continuity of code, and a great amount of sharing of information across all free-living life.

Someone has gotten OSC to look at the gaps (yes, Behe most of all, it appears), and he lacks the ability to see how evolution alone unifies biology into one discipline. A single (if increasingly complex) explanation tells us why biological information is always derived (as we see according to reasonably expected resolution–we can’t show derivation in every case, yet even in these cases the use of DNA and known coding supports derivation), if also changed, in a manner that accords really quite well with the fossil record. A single explanation tells us why so much poor design exists–and this explanation is that this is the way in which evolution works.

Indeed, too often one sees “poor design” arguments used bare, as if they were only strikes against ID. When of course the real triumph of evolution is its prediction of so much “poor design”, something that is often brought in as a virtual footnote, when in fact it should be the headline.

Getting back, though: A single explanation tells us why we have gnats, mosquitos, and diseases. The IDists tell us, well, hey, we don’t know what the designer wants. Even if we grant this (although, why bring up a designer whose purposes are unknown?), the point is that parasites and predators are reasonable expectations of evolution, and are at best neutral, and more likely a problem for, ID.

A single explanation tells us why males act in certain ways in most vertebrate species (and seem to explain exceptions, like hyenas), and why females go for the big brutes

A single explanation tells us why evolution is limited to relatively common materials, and to relatively low-temperature processes.

A single explanation tells us why life is arranged taxonomically as it is, and why “good designs” in one lineage is not something that becomes available to other lineages (except, for instance, in the information-exchanging micro-organisms).

And every one of these “single explanations” is in fact the same explanation. Nearly every last bit of positive evidence is in favor of evolution (and yes, I do “conflate” natural selection with evolution, since evolution without a theory of mechanism is barely, if at all, a scientific theory), and it at least partly explains most of the questions that have been asked up to the present time in biology. ID explains exactly nothing, with every bit of evidence that we bring up in favor of evolution being “explained” by IDists only through their ignorance of what the designer really wants.

We do need to tell the story, the wonderful convergence of explanation in biology, that evolutionary theory narrates to us. That it is too little told has more to do with the desire to fight IDiocy’s assaults on science than it has to do with the inability to tell the story well. Nevertheless, it is almost certainly time to write and narrate more about the success of evolutionary theory in integrating biology conceptually, while less time should be spent on noting the lack of knowledge of Behe, OSC, and other IDers.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #74908

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 22, 2006 7:13 PM (e)

Perhaps this is because Behe can put out about 20 false or misleading statements in about 30 minutes (or less), while the anti-ID pieces tend to be long, often technical, and may not be understandable to many folk, like OSC (evidently).

Well, not exactly: Behe can list 20 things he claims are false or misleading, but he doesn’t make the case, he provides little evidence. He makes claims, bald, and generally unsupported.

That’s what makes them so difficult to deal with. They are not developed, and they can be made quickly.

The question is, why is a minor, former researcher at a non-research school taken as authority on such issues over the people who really do the work?

And that’s where we have to work.

One of the difficulties is the “balance” that news organizations try to get. If I need a quote for and a quote against blood clotting as a disproof of evolution, there is exactly one guy who argues it’s a disproof; there are 10,000 researchers on the other side, none of whom has published a popular book, and all of whom will require an hour’s research to track down.

So someone needs to publish a monograph on “The Friendly Whales: Disproving Intelligent Design’s Chief Claim.”

Comment #74924

Posted by Richard on January 22, 2006 7:52 PM (e)

To Stephen Elliot:

The following, especially the first three statements in his list, are flat-out untrue (and dishonest, in my opinion), yet all too typical of this kind of rhetoric… the same yada we hear from the DI, from right-wing shills like Cal Thomas, et al, from Pat Robertson… the list goes on and on.

“The Darwinists Reply

The Darwinist answer was immediate. Unfortunately, it was also illogical, personal, and unscientific. The main points are:

1. Intelligent Design is just Creation Science in a new suit (name-calling).

2. Don’t listen to these guys, they’re not real scientists (credentialism).

3. If you actually understood science as we do, you’d realize that these guys are wrong and we’re right; but you don’t, so you have to trust us (expertism).

4. They got some details of those complex systems wrong, so they must be wrong about everything (sniping).

5. The first amendment requires the separation of church and state (politics).

6. We can’t possibly find a fossil record of every step along the way in evolution, but evolution has already been so well-demonstrated it is absurd to challenge it in the details (prestidigitation).

7. Even if there are problems with the Darwinian model, there’s no justification for postulating an “intelligent designer” (true).”

If Card had done his homework, he couldn’t possibly claim these canards as “The Darwinists Reply.” Were he serious, I’d think he’d at least have some vague awareness of sites like this (or talkorigins, etc.), or of the many books and articles where so-called ID arguments have been examined at length. Hey, if it walks like a duck…

On the other hand, the tactics he ascribes to “Darwinists” pretty much constitute the whole of what the DI dishes out every day (in lieu of doing any actual ID “science”)… “Darwinists” are dishonest, are hiding something, aren’t really doing science… blah, blah blah. It’s all so tiresome.

Comment #74928

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 22, 2006 8:07 PM (e)

Posted by Richard on January 22, 2006 07:52 PM (e)

To Stephen Elliot:

The following, especially the first three statements in his list, are flat-out untrue (and dishonest, in my opinion), yet all too typical of this kind of rhetoric… the same yada we hear from the DI, from right-wing shills like Cal Thomas, et al, from Pat Robertson… the list goes on and on…..

I agree that he is wrong. I disagree that he is dishonest. If he is new to this debate then it is easy to be confused. I know I was.

Upon first coming to a site like this, the first impression is one of intolerance. It takes a while to get used to it.

Most people do not know this attack has been going on for many years and biologists are mightily sick of it.

Comment #74931

Posted by I like latin on January 22, 2006 8:18 PM (e)

I agree that he is wrong. I disagree that he is dishonest. If he is new to this debate then it is easy to be confused. I know I was.

I agree but don’t you think that someone like OSC would do their homework. Secondly, given the degree of documented dishonesty from the ID’ers how can one sit back and suggest that OSC’s ‘confusion’ is anything but an amazing amount of laziness resulting in bunch of regurgitation of ID BS (LIES ALL LIES) or is it, once again, another demonstration of the ‘morality’ of the ID movement.

Comment #74936

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 22, 2006 8:31 PM (e)

Posted by I like latin on January 22, 2006 08:18 PM (e)

I agree but don’t you think that someone like OSC would do their homework. Secondly, given the degree of documented dishonesty from the ID’ers how can one sit back and suggest that OSC’s ‘confusion’ is anything but an amazing amount of laziness resulting in bunch of regurgitation of ID BS (LIES ALL LIES) or is it, once again, another demonstration of the ‘morality’ of the ID movement.

2 points.
I would also like to think that writers would do “homework” before writing. But experience shows this is rare.

Lies? I think that if he was lying for ID he would have claimed it WAS scientific. That seems to be the DI trend. He did not do this. Therefore I give “benefit of doubt”.

Serious now. Compare what he wrote to normal DI lies. It is definitely different.

Suggests to me, he is more of a sucker than a lier.

Comment #74937

Posted by Richard on January 22, 2006 8:31 PM (e)

Well, I sincerely hope you’re right about Card. No question the DI has done a very good job of working the media by framing the debate in their terms, and Card may have “bought in” without really doing his homework. But experience and observation have made me cynical, particularly with people who clearly have a (religious) axe to grind. It’s especially irksome for me, a religious person (though admittedly heterodox), to be dismissed as a closet “atheist” because I refuse to “buy in” as Card apparently has.

Comment #74941

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 22, 2006 8:39 PM (e)

5. The first amendment requires the separation of church and state (politics).

THIS one is the most dangerous one – and also the real focus of ID and its backers. From an essay I’m working on:

In recent years, the Lemon Test has come under fire, mostly from conservative-leaning scholars. Justice Antonin Scalia has been one of the fiercest critics, for instance writing, in a dissenting opinion in the June 2005 McCreary County v ACLU case, “Nothing stands behind the Court’s assertion that governmental affirmation of the society’s belief in God is unconstitutional except the Court’s own say-so, citing as support only the unsubstantiated say-so of earlier Courts going back no farther than the mid-20th century. And it is, moreover, a thoroughly discredited say-so. It is discredited, to begin with, because a majority of the Justices on the current Court (including at least one Member of today’s majority) have, in separate opinions, repudiated the brain-spun “Lemon test” that embodies the supposed principle of neutrality between religion and irreligion.” (Supreme Court, McCreary County v ACLU, 2005) Criticism of the Lemon Test has been partoicularly vocal from the fundamentalist Christian wing and its political supporters, who, in addition to advocating the elimination of the Lemon test, have also argued that the First Amendment does not really require that the government be neutral in matters of religion — only that it cannot advocate preference for one view over another. As a critic from the religious magazine First Things says, “A good beginning would be to recognize that the First Amendment does not, and never did, require strict neutrality as between religion and non-religion for purposes of the Establishment Clause. Requiring the state to be neutral as between sects is both constitutionally necessary and morally desirable. Requiring it to be neutral as between religion and non-religion generally produces a decidedly unneutral result—the triumph of practical atheism in the public square.” (Michael M Uhlmann, First Things, Oct 2005)

Indeed, one of the primary goals of the fundamentalist movement in the US has been to go far beyond merely modifying the legal tests which are used to adjudicate the boundary between church and state —– they openly declare that they want to dismantle that wall completely. And in support of that goal, they have attempted to re-write history by declaring that the Constitution was intended by the Founding Fathers to set up a “Christian Nation”, and that it was only after the secular humanists and atheists seized control of the Supreme Court that the concept of “separation of church and state” was allowed to interfere with the original wishes of the Framers.

As we have already seen, this argument is nonsense, but the fundamentalists repeat it loudly and shrilly. Pat Robertson declared: “There was no concept of separation between God and government in the New Testament or the Old Testament … The concept that was before us in the Bible is that rulers are ministers of God, that the sword they wield is not in vain, but they’ve been placed in authority by God …” (700 Club, Aug 1, 1995, cited in Boston, 1996, p. 72)

“ROBERTSON: Individual Christians are the only ones really–and Jewish people, those who trust the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob–are the only ones that are qualified to have the reign, because, hopefully, they will be governed by God and submit to him.

BEN KINCHLOW: Obviously you’re not saying that there are no other people qualified to be in government or whatever if they aren’t Christians or Jews.

ROBERTSON: Yeah, I’m saying that. I just said it. I think anybody whose mind and body is not controlled by God Almighty is not qualified in the ultimate sense to be the judge of someone else … No one is fit to govern other people unless first of all something governs him. And there is only one governor I know of that is suitable to be judge of all the universe, that’s God Almighty. Yes, I did say that. You can quote me. I believe it.” (700 Club, January 11, 1985, cited in Boston, 1996, p. 50)

According to the fundamentalists, the principle of separation of church and state is illegal and communistic. “There is nothing in the US Constitution that sanctifies the separation of church and state, says Pat Robertson.” (700 Club, October 2, 1984, cited in Boston, 1996, p. 70) “We often hear of the constitutionally-mandated ‘separation of church and state’. Of course, as you know, that phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights… We do find this phrase in the constitution of another nation, however: ‘The state shall be separate from the church, and the church from the school.’ These words are not in the constitution of the United States, but that of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics–an atheistic nation sworn to the destruction of the United States of America.” (Testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee, Aug 18, 1982, cited in Boston, 1996, p. 70) “They have kept us in submission because they have talked about separation of church and state. There is no such thing in the constitution. It is a lie of the left, and we’re not going to take it anymore.” (cited in Boston, 1996, p. 71)

The Christian Roundtable, an umbrella group of Religious Right figures, flatly stated, “The Constitution was designed to perpetuate a Christian order.” (cited in Vetter 1982, p. 5) “It is time,” declares the Moral Majority Report, “to reject the godless, communistic definition of separation of church and state that says there is no place for Biblical moral law in public policy.” (cited in Hill and Owen 1982, p. 45) The Colorado chapter of the Christian Coalition echoed: “There should be absolutely no ‘separation of church and state’ in America. (cited in Boston, 1996, p. 76)

In 1995, a resolution was introduced that would add a statement to the Texas Republican Party’s platform, “The Texas Party defeated a proposal that stated: “The Republican Party is not a church … A Republican should never be put in the position of having to defend or explain his faith in order to participate in the party process” (cited in Kramnick and Moore, 1996, p 19) The resolution was defeated. Indeed, by 2002, the Texas Republican Party Platform declared instead: “Our Party pledges to do everything within its power to dispel the myth of separation of church and state.” At a Christian Coalition rally, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore referred to the separation of church and state as “a fable” that “has so warped our society it’s unbelievable.” Sen. James Inhofe called church/state separation “the phoniest argument there is.” Televangelist Joyce Meyer referred to church/state separation as “really a deception from “Satan”, while in 2001, Tom DeLay, former House Majority leader, called for “standing up and rebuking this notion of separation of church and state that has been imposed upon us over the last 40 or 50 years … You see, I don’t believe there is a separation of church and state.” (http://www.theocracywatch.org/separation_church_state2.htm)

Comment #74945

Posted by Richard on January 22, 2006 8:57 PM (e)

Let me see whether I’ve got this straight. The Constitution, which makes no mention of God, was actually intended to “perpetuate a Christian order,” and despite the fact that the Constitution explicitly says there shall be no “religious tests” for government office, it actually means public office may only be held by Christians?. Do I have it right, Pat?

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

Comment #74946

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 22, 2006 9:02 PM (e)

Glen, you’re right.

Another key issue is that most people really don’t have much of an idea how evolution works. Picking off the nits on ID doesn’t do it, you’re right. We need to hammer home the simplicity of evolution, perhaps with Mayr’s 5 step explanation, or something as simple (“Think of an oak tree; it makes a million acorns, most of them with some slight variation. Those that smell best to squirrels get planted … in a world like this, a minor variation that gives any one of the acorns an advantage has a chance of passing that advantage to the next generation …”)

Two observations: First, I’ve never found anyone who questions the accuracy and usefulness of Darwinian theory who could explain how it actually works, or is “thought to work” by scientists. I take this as evidence that a key part of opposition to evolution is grounded in a failure to know what the theory actually is. We need to amend that by any means possible. (Would it be possible for the poobahs of Panda’s Thumb to put up a one-sheet explanation of what evolution is, perhaps in the vestibule coming into the bar? Patrons waiting for tables in the dining area might become more familiar with it.)

Second, for all the thundering and rumbling from the ID advocates, intelligent design does not really pose any question about any mechanism in evolution, simply explained. It seems to me that, in debates between lawyers, journalists and concerned parents for science, and ID advocates, good ground could be gained by explaining the theory of evolution in four or five steps, putting those steps up on the PowerPoint screen, and then graphically checking off those points untouched by ID criticisms.

It rather reduces IDists to sputtering about stuff they admit (under oath) they don’t have answers for, either.

Comment #74961

Posted by Andrew McClure on January 22, 2006 10:09 PM (e)

What was so terrible about the OSC article?

It propigates misunderstanding to promote a personal religious and political agenda. Is there any worse thing that could be said about a column like this?

For instance, the article is not bad writing, it is not poorly organized

This would be a matter of opinion at best.

Comment #74968

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on January 22, 2006 10:19 PM (e)

If he is new to this debate then it is easy to be confused. I know I was.

Does someone who recognizes his own newness or confusion write the following?

If Darwinists persist in trying to tar the Designists with the Creation-Science brush, then it is bound to appear, to anyone who has actually examined both, that the Darwinists are trying to deceive us. (They’re apparently counting on most people to not care enough to discover the difference.)

Comment #74975

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 22, 2006 10:32 PM (e)

Let me see whether I’ve got this straight. The Constitution, which makes no mention of God, was actually intended to “perpetuate a Christian order,” and despite the fact that the Constitution explicitly says there shall be no “religious tests” for government office, it actually means public office may only be held by Christians?. Do I have it right, Pat?

It’s worse than that —- after the Constitution was written and sent to the states for ratification, a significant portion of the colonists opposed it precisely because it did NOT create a Christian Nation.

Some more from my essay-in-work:

The “no religious test” provision in Article 6 was the object of severe criticism. A critic in New Hampshire argued that the lack of a religious test would allow “a papist, a Mohomatan, a deist, yea an atheist at the helm of government”. In North Carolina, one delegate complained that “pagans, deists and Mahometans might obtain offices among us”, while another delegate was terrified that “Jews and pagans of every kind” could take office. In Masschusetts, another critic declared that he hoped Christians would be voted into office, but “by the Constitution, a papist, or even an infidel was as eligible as they”. In the south, the slavery issue was raised; a writer in Charleston, South Carolina, pointed out that without any religious test for office, anti-slavery sects such as the Quakers “will have weight, in proportion to their numbers, in the great scale of the continental government”. The New York Daily Advertiser was also horrified at what democracy would produce, without any religious test for office: “1st. Quakers, who will make the blacks saucy, and at the same time deprive us of the means of defense – 2dly, Mahometans, who ridicule the doctrine of the Trinity – 3dly. Deists, abominable wretches – 4thly. Negroes, the seed of Cain – 5thly. Beggars, who went sent on horseback will ride to the Devil – 6thly. Jews etc etc.” (cited in Kramnick and Moore, 1996, p 32-33) For these people, the Constitution was fatally flawed precisely because it did not establish the Christian religion – they viewed the Constitution as a godless document, and condemned its “general disregard of religion” and “cold indifference about religion”. A Virginia writer declared, “The Constitution is deistical in principle, and in all probability the composers had no thought of God in all their consultations.” (cited in Kramnick and Moore, 1996, p 33-34)

One of the most widely read attacks on the new Constitution was a satirical pamphlet by “Aristocrotis”, titled The Government of Nature Delineated, or an Exact Picture of the New Federal Constitution. In it, the writer argued that the Constitution was a godless document, written by a handful of apostates, with the express goal of stamping out religion: “There has been but few nations in the world where the people possessed the privilege of electing their rulers; of prefixing a bill of rights to their constitutions, enjoyed a free press. or trial by jury; but there was never a nation in the world whose government was not circumscribed by religion….What the world could not accomplish from the commencement of time till now, they easily performed in a few moments, by declaring, that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust; under the united states.” This is laying the ax to the root of the tree; whereas other nations only lopped off a few noxious branches. This is purifying the fountain; the streams must of course be pure. By this provision the convention hath prudently removed the distemper from the head. and secured it from contamination.–the certain method to preserve the members from catching the infection. Religion is certainly attended with dangerous consequences to government: it hath been the cause of millions being slaughtered. whose lives and services might have been of use to their masters; but in a peculiar manner the Christian religion. which has these several centuries past prevailed over a great part of Europe, and is professed by a great many of the vulgar in this country. is of all others the most unfavourable to a government founded upon nature; because it pretends to he of a supernatural divine origin, and therefore sets itself above nature, its precepts are likewise so rigid and severe as to render it impossible for any gentleman of Fashion or good breeding to comply with them in any sense, without a manifest violation of decorum, and an abandonment of every genteel amusement and fashionable accomplishment; but another capital objection against this singular system of religion is, that it prohibits slavery, which is so essential to government. that it cannot exist, with any degree of energy, without it, for all the subjects of a good government ought to be slaves in a political sense; or as they were anciently termed, vassals; that is, their persons and property must be entirely at the will and disposal of their masters; which is ingeniously provided for in the new constitution under the articles of taxation and discipline of the militia.(Anti-Federalist #51, cited in http://www.members.tripod.com/candst/testban5.htm)

Other opponents attacked the Constitution in the same vein. In New Hampshire, a delegate to the Ratifying Convention argued that under the Constitution, “Congress might deprive the people of the use of the Holy Scriptures”. In Massachusetts, another writer declared that “without the presence of Christian piety and morals, the best Republican Constitution can never save us from slavery and ruin”. Other Anti-Federalists warned ominously that the godless Constitution would cause God to turn his back on the US, “because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee”. (cited in Kramnick and Moore, 1996, p 35-36) Members of several state ratifying conventions moved to change the Constitution by adding a religious test to it; all these efforts were voted down. The Constitution, with its explicit rejection of governmental support for religion, was ratified in 1788, and the First Amendment banning establishment of religion was passed three years later.

Comment #74981

Posted by PZ Myers on January 22, 2006 11:03 PM (e)

I stand by my opinion that it is poorly written and organized. Try grappling with it and composing a rebuttal; it’s just all over the map, full of poorly expressed and ultimately ludicrous ideas.

Of course, if his intent was to write something so slippery and sloppy that it would be difficult to wrestle it down, then he composed a masterpiece.

Comment #74988

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 22, 2006 11:41 PM (e)

I see you’ve got Kramnick and Moore’s book, Lenny, which is good. Read the documents behind the footnotes, too.

Robertson is wrong about the Bible, of course. There are mentions of the separation of church and state in both 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel – in one story, when Saul, as king, undertakes the priestly duties of Samuel instead (when Samuel was late for an appointment), Saul pays the ultimate penalty for violating the separation of church and state. There are other occasions around the time of the rule of David when the distinctions between king’s duties and religious duties are made clear. One might wonder what Robertson reads instead of this stuff, but it’s pretty clear he doesn’t read the Bible.

You should also check out Jefferson’s statement in his autobiography about how religious freedom was intended for everyone, not just Christians, with regard to the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

And dwell some on the history of Jefferson’s presidency, including the official proclamation he made stating that there should be a wall of separation between church and state, when a group in Connecticut asked him to intervene to stop the state from establishing a state church. Scalia likes to pretend that never happened. What sort of example does that set for the children?

Comment #75028

Posted by Moses on January 23, 2006 9:27 AM (e)

I wish I could get a letter to the editor published on this whole Card ID/Evolution topic. It’d be short and sweet:

“Retarded issue opinions - not for just crackpot Hollywood liberals anymore.”

Needs a bit of work on the catch phrase. But the gist of it is there.

Comment #75030

Posted by Jon on January 23, 2006 9:29 AM (e)

Glen Davidson wrote:

And every one of these “single explanations” is in fact the same explanation. Nearly every last bit of positive evidence is in favor of evolution (and yes, I do “conflate” natural selection with evolution, since evolution without a theory of mechanism is barely, if at all, a scientific theory), and it at least partly explains most of the questions that have been asked up to the present time in biology. ID explains exactly nothing, with every bit of evidence that we bring up in favor of evolution being “explained” by IDists only through their ignorance of what the designer really wants.

I’ve read a lot about both evolution and ID and I think it’s unfortunate how many ID advocates try to push the ID agenda into every aspect of evolution. I also think it’s unfortunate that many advocates of evolution try equally as hard to ensure that anything with a hint of ID ideas must be thoroughly refuted and condemned.

I think I’m a rare breed in that I believe in both. I’m very much in favor that species evolve through a selection process to ensure survivability. I think that there is strong evidence that supports evolution.

I also believe that ‘life’ wasn’t an accident. I find comfort in the belief that there is a creator that made this world that I live on.

When I put these two beliefs side-by-side, I fail to see where there is conflict. Isn’t it possible that life was actually designed to evolve? Not necessarily pre-ordained to evolve into a specific thing; but designed to be able to adapt and overcome in such a way that continued survival is possible?

I guess the hard part is that science doesn’t allow for theories of a spiritual nature because they aren’t tangible enough to be proved. My argument is that just a couple hundred years ago, “science” believed in a flat planet and that the sun revolved around the earth; which was based on the evidence at hand. I know science will discover more and more as time marches on; but I also believe that “science” will eventually prove the existence of God as a part of their discovery of the origin of life.

Comment #75031

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 23, 2006 9:32 AM (e)

I guess my thinking was that this OSC guy could be new to the argument.

Uh right. That would explain his constant use of the terms “Darwinism” and “Darwinist”, and his unsupported but persistent insistence that support of evolution is a faith-based religion. That sounds to me like someone who hasn’t been through the standard issue brainwashing.

Comment #75033

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 23, 2006 9:44 AM (e)

Card wrote:

4. When Darwinists do seem to explain, it’s only to point out some error or omission in the Designists’ explanation of a biochemical system. Some left-out step, or some point where they got the chemistry wrong. They think if they can shoot down one or two minor points, then the whole problem will go away.

This is where OSC’s ignorance of science shows most prominently. Battles in science, like battles in court cases, are waged on these little facts that he thinks are so unimportant. He’s looking for some sort of sci-fi finish to the ID arguments, and when scientists simply show how incompetent the claims of the IDists are, he is unimpressed.

Especially when thise IDC arguments, such as Behe’s Irreducible complexity, are arguments from ignorance which state that X could not possibly have happened, therefore any single piece of evidence to the contrary is enough to disprove. He also gives permission for ID supporters to be several years behind on the research, which allows them the “prestidigitation” for which he criticises real science supporters.

PZ wrote:

I stand by my opinion that it is poorly written and organized.

I agree. For example, Card contradicts himself. He states that Behe’s criticism of evolution is successful, but then later on concludes that IDC is not science. If Behe’s IR claims are not science, then they are not successful. The whole thing is an ungainly mess.

Comment #75040

Posted by harold on January 23, 2006 10:29 AM (e)

Jon -

In fact, you do not at all “believe in ID”. Like a number of other reasonable people I have met, you are confused by what “intelligent design” actually means. This is no surprise, since the name “intelligent design” is deliberately deceptive.

“I think I’m a rare breed in that I believe in both. I’m very much in favor that species evolve through a selection process to ensure survivability. I think that there is strong evidence that supports evolution.

I also believe that ‘life’ wasn’t an accident. I find comfort in the belief that there is a creator that made this world that I live on.”

This is effectively a restatement of the view of the Vatican and a number of religious scientists, including some of the strongest opponents of “intelligent design”. This particular stance - acceptance of science and acceptance of a religious viewpoint - is termed “theistic evolution” for convenience. A rather awkward term, perhaps, but one that has stuck.

“Intelligent Design” is NOT the same as “theistic evolution”. Intelligent design argues against the theory of evolution. “ID” argues either that some aspects of life are too “complex” to have evolved - eg the infamous bacterial flagellum - or that, since we recognize “design” when we see a Mayan ruin or a beehive, we are obliged to say that organisms were created by “design” rather than evolution. Both of these lines of argument are obviously logically flawed, and are not, in my opinion, sincere. I perceive “intellgent design” as mainly a political movement - an effort to “court-proof” fundamentalist Protestant creationism in public schools, in order to keep Protestant fundamentalists loyal to one particular political party.

It should NOT be confused with theistic evolution.

Comment #75041

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on January 23, 2006 10:29 AM (e)

Jon (#75030) wrote:
“…I think I’m a rare breed in that I believe in both. I’m very much in favor that species evolve through a selection process to ensure survivability. I think that there is strong evidence that supports evolution.

I also believe that ‘life’ wasn’t an accident. I find comfort in the belief that there is a creator that made this world that I live on….. (text removed)
I guess the hard part is that science doesn’t allow for theories of a spiritual nature because they aren’t tangible enough to be proved. My argument is that just a couple hundred years ago, “science” believed in a flat planet and that the sun revolved around the earth; which was based on the evidence at hand. I know science will discover more and more as time marches on; but I also believe that “science” will eventually prove the existence of God as a part of their discovery of the origin of life.”
—————————-
I liked this post - for one thing, Jon separates “strong evidence that supports evolution” from “comfort in the belief that there is a creator that made this world that I live on”. In other words, he understands that one is a belief system, and the other is based on evidence. He also shows why many people do cling to the belief - that it’s comforting - and I certainly can appreciate that and agree with it. There’s nothing wrong with it - as long as they don’t force their beliefs on others.

I do have one nit to pick. Jon says, “science doesn’t allow for theories of a spiritual nature because they aren’t tangible enough to be proved.” He misses how science works - I would have said, “science doesn’t allow for theories of a spiritual nature because they aren’t tangible enough to be DISproved.” NONE of science can be proven - all we can do is test it enough to be provisionally certain that we have the correct answer. But we can only be provisionally certain. Even evolution is susceptible to the “rabbit fossil in the Cambrian”, however unlikely. As many have shown here in these pages, ID is “parsimonious” (from another thread) with anything, and as such cannot be disproven - or useful. As such, ID is not science, and never can be.

Finally, my hat’s off to the post by Glen Davidson (#74905)that Jon was responding to, for the brilliant and fairly brief analysis of OSC and ID, showing why our arguments often fail and suggestions on how to improve.

Comment #75061

Posted by Jon on January 23, 2006 11:36 AM (e)

Harold #75040 wrote:

Like a number of other reasonable people I have met, you are confused by what “intelligent design” actually means. This is no surprise, since the name “intelligent design” is deliberately deceptive.
–snip–
“Intelligent Design” is NOT the same as “theistic evolution”. Intelligent design argues against the theory of evolution. “ID” argues either that some aspects of life are too “complex” to have evolved - eg the infamous bacterial flagellum - or that, since we recognize “design” when we see a Mayan ruin or a beehive, we are obliged to say that organisms were created by “design” rather than evolution.

Great point! I’ve always viewed ID in the strictest sense of “intelligently designed” versus “happened by accident” rather than what you’ve mentioned. Obviously, my narrower viewpoint hindered me from seeing a bigger picture.

GvlGeologist #75041 wrote:

I liked this post - for one thing, Jon separates “strong evidence that supports evolution” from “comfort in the belief that there is a creator that made this world that I live on”. In other words, he understands that one is a belief system, and the other is based on evidence.

Thanks!

Comment #75064

Posted by cleek on January 23, 2006 11:44 AM (e)

professional writers can still be dummies - even a legend like Vonnegut can get it totally wrong, when it comes to evolution. NPR ran an interview with him this morning, where he talked about Intelligent Design v evolution. he was firmly on the side of ID, because (paraphrasing - can’t listen to the stream at work) “we all know it to be true - we’re just too complex to have happened randomly, and those blinkered scientists know it too, but won’t admit it because they’re so devoted to their ‘tribe’.”

ugh. it was depressing.

Comment #75080

Posted by Moses on January 23, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

Comment #75030

Posted by Jon on January 23, 2006 09:29 AM (e)

I think I’m a rare breed in that I believe in both. I’m very much in favor that species evolve through a selection process to ensure survivability. I think that there is strong evidence that supports evolution.

I also believe that ‘life’ wasn’t an accident. I find comfort in the belief that there is a creator that made this world that I live on.

When I put these two beliefs side-by-side, I fail to see where there is conflict. Isn’t it possible that life was actually designed to evolve? Not necessarily pre-ordained to evolve into a specific thing; but designed to be able to adapt and overcome in such a way that continued survival is possible?

I don’t know how “rare” your beliefs are in the general population; but they certainly are uncommon in the sub-population that gets into the pro/con arguments. My father was, at one time, a believer of evolution and creation as you described it and remained neutral in this world most of his life. However, his views have changed to the Intelligent Design camp and he would be the first to tell you that your once-common position is not “Intelligent Design.” In fact, knowing my father, I have little doubt that he has failed to cross swords with “evolutionists” as he’s retired, has a quasi-science PhD, likes to surf the net and is argumentative.

As for the reason I don’t think you’re going to fit into the ID crowd, it’s because the vast majority of the proponents of Intelligent Design essentially require an act of special creation for each and every species and that the only permissible evolution is micro-evolution within a species. Even then, it seems to me that some people in ID don’t even believe in micro-evolution.

Comment #75084

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 23, 2006 1:01 PM (e)

I stand by my opinion that it is poorly written and organized.

Yes, but I think you’re using the standard of good science writing, not considering whether or not it is effective persuasive writing (for those who can’t see past the lies he repeats).

It’s woefully ignorant and has so many false claims that it is simply a wreck if it is judged according to scientific standards. What I fear is that people might suppose that it is “poorly written” and so not a real threat.

Try grappling with it and composing a rebuttal; it’s just all over the map, full of poorly expressed and ultimately ludicrous ideas.

That’s why I responded only to a small portion (that, and you’d covered quite well many of the other points). The ideas are ludicrous to you and me, yet I think not to all. Poorly expressed? How does one express false claims well? Even so, probably as well expressed as any IDiot, and I do believe that his piece is rather more persuasive than Dembski’s writings, though perhaps not Behe’s.

Of course, if his intent was to write something so slippery and sloppy that it would be difficult to wrestle it down, then he composed a masterpiece.

His thinking on this matter is apparently slippery and sloppy, and I fear that detoxifying him would take a considerable amount of time and patience.

But he writes in a way that I think appeals to post-modern sentiments, and I think I could write something that I believe makes perfect sense that a number of others would take to be slippery and sloppy. Difference is that I know the hard science behind evolution and would not presume to write the sort of necessarily incomplete, concept-laden piece in science that I would in philosophy. OCS thinks he’s being philosophical, pointing out the mistakes of scientists, and unfortunately, so will many of his readers.

I think I can add to one more aspect of his befuddlement. He’s been convinced, probably by IDists, that biologists take Darwin to be a prophet, and they will not question their beliefs. If one could knock down this strawman, one probably would go a considerable way toward defeating his anti-science tirade. OSC praises Darwin in ways that makes me blush, then stupidly moves on to claim that it is we who actually are enamored of past genius. A snippet:

Physicists know this – they don’t get their dander up and demand that non-Einsteinian physics never be taught in the public schools, for instance. They recognize that at the bleeding edge of science we simply don’t know stuff yet, and no past genius has authority today, if and when we come up with data that may not support his theories.

Does OSC have even an inkling of how many crank physics theories are dismissed by physicists? Thankfully most such cranks have no aims on the schools, though this is mostly because their crank beliefs are not religious (with a few exceptions), and so command little or no following.

Physicists would be extremely unhappy if BS was taught about physics in school. They don’t oppose Newtonian physics being taught, mainly because later physics builds upon Newton’s theories, and in some cases does not disagree with Newtonian claims at all. OSC apparently has also never heard of quantum physics, since no physics course in college would dream of teaching only Einstein’s theories. Again, OSC fails utterly as a writer on science, while unfortunately writing well enough in relation to the lies that have been fed to him.

Can OSC even begin to justify his idea that “past genius” Darwin has authority today? If he did, wouldn’t we believe that acquired characteristics could be passed on to future generations (and I don’t mean epigenetic influences)? Would we accept genetics at all, even? Would we accept notions of neutral evolution, and would we even debate punctuated equilibrium?

This is one of the places where OSC contradicts himself, of course. He brings up punctuated equilibrium, then claims that we’re believing a “past authority” or some kind of prophet. Well, gee, OSC, is punk eek Darwinism? It has certainly has had an airing, and evidently is believed to describe many situations.

Nevertheless, and while I do recognize better where you’re coming from in saying that his writing is bad and organization poor, from where I’m sitting I see how it can be effective. I certainly do hope that this fact will not be forgotten by anyone.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #75115

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 23, 2006 2:58 PM (e)

Yes, but I think you’re using the standard of good science writing, not considering whether or not it is effective persuasive writing (for those who can’t see past the lies he repeats).

I think internal consistency is a requirement for good writing of any kind. Card fails that requirement, as I have already pointed out.

Comment #75123

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 23, 2006 3:38 PM (e)

I think internal consistency is a requirement for good writing of any kind. Card fails that requirement, as I have already pointed out.

Much of my favorite writing is not internally consistent. Nietzsche works through his ideas, showing the incompleteness of the consistent, via an inconsistent set of approaches (naturally there is some consistency, but not the exact consistency many espouse). This would not do for science, while it seems like an asset for dealing with our psychological and cognitive inconsistencies–but only when done very well, done with a very good knowledge of linguistic issues and the mind (Nietzsche excels, Derrida fails, mainly because Derrida has no independent reference to the world, writing instead from previously written interpretations of the world).

This is part of the problem of communication between the humanistically educated and the scientifically educated, at least when the two forms of education do not coincide. Good writing may be enhanced through inconsistency and the attempt through it to create fullness instead of an emaciated consistency (one reason scientists often don’t get the purpose of myth–or sometimes, religion).

Unfortunately, OSC is not able to write an actual good piece in the genres he pretends to be writing in (apparently science and philosophy of science), because he is too lacking in facts as well as too lacking in knowledge of philosophy and of science. I still have no problem giving his piece good marks for persuasiveness or as a good propaganda piece. Not recognizing what is counted as “good” apart from internal consistency and agreement with scientifically demonstrable fact is one of the problems that could leave science the loser. May this not be science’s fate.

Glen D.
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #75137

Posted by Flint on January 23, 2006 4:24 PM (e)

The Vanity Press, as a rule, will not touch religious books for a good reason: They run the risk of selling well enough to bankrupt the Press. Experience has shown that it really doesn’t matter how absurd the premises, how incoherent the organization, how uneducated the spelling and grammar, or how high the price in relation to the content. Religious books aren’t bought for rational reasons. Recall that Buckingham was able to raise $850 for a religious book the purchasers didn’t even get to see or own!

Compared to most, Card is a skilled author even when he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He knows whom he’s talking TO, and as Glen observes, that’s what matters.

Comment #75155

Posted by shenda on January 23, 2006 5:33 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott:
“Suggests to me, he is more of a sucker than a lier.”

I agree. OSC’s article looks to me like someone that knows enough science to know ID is not science, but has done most of his background research using ID or Creationist sources. The straw man arguments he presents as Darwinist responses to ID are AiG style bull.

Still, pretty sloppy work.

Comment #75184

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 23, 2006 7:03 PM (e)

I think I’m a rare breed in that I believe in both.

Actually, you are not rare at all — you represent a position known as “theistic evolution”, which the vast majority of Christians worldwide accept, and many scientists do too.

The IDers, of course, think you’re going to Hell. (shrug)

Comment #75227

Posted by theonomo on January 23, 2006 9:50 PM (e)

PZ wrote:

I stand by my opinion that it is poorly written and organized. Try grappling with it and composing a rebuttal.

The article is clearly well written and well organized. The English is good. It reads smoothly. The argument is broken down into seven points, each one addressed in turn. In addition, it is a fairly compelling piece from a rhetorical standpoint.

PZ’s argument for his claim that the article is poorly written and poorly organized is that he has trouble grappling with it and can’t come up with a good rebuttal (see the quoted line above). This is more likely a shortcoming on PZ’s part, however. The fact that he can’t grapple with and rebut the piece is merely a sign that it has him out-argued. It is certainly true that a clear and cogent argument presents difficulties for one’s opponents.

PZ is like a wrestler who says “I can’t grapple with this guy and I find him hard to pin down. So he must clearly be a poor wrestler.” I’m sorry, PZ – it means you are a poor wrestler.

Comment #75249

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 23, 2006 10:49 PM (e)

It is certainly true that a clear and cogent argument presents difficulties for one’s opponents.

Alas for IDers, their “clear and cogent arguments” didn’t appear to impress the judge in Dover very much.

Indeed, ID/creationists have lost every single Federal court case they have ever been involved with. Every single one. Without exception.

They lost Epperson. They lost Daniel. They lost Mclean. They lost Peloza. They lost Segraves. They lost Kitzmiller. They lost Selman. They lost Freiler. They lost Edwards.

They lost every Federal court case they have ever been involved with.

What does that say for their, uh, “clear and cogent arguments” … ?

Comment #75325

Posted by cleek on January 24, 2006 9:54 AM (e)

It is certainly true that a clear and cogent argument presents difficulties for one’s opponents.

undoubtably.

unfortunately for Card, his article is merely clear; it lacks the cogency required for it to be difficult to defeat. a squadron of strawmen isn’t much of a problem - in fact, they defeat themselves.