Jason Rosenhouse posted Entry 2906 on February 16, 2007 08:27 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2896

Skeptic Magazine publisher Michael Shermer debated William Dembski yesterday in Bridgewater, VA on the subject of evolution vs. ID. Since Bridegwater is a short drive away from my digs in Harrisonburg, I decided to go check it out.

The debate was held at Bridgewater College, a small liberal arts school affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, as part of their Anna B. Mow Lecture Series. According to the small program handed out at the door, “The Anna Beahm Mow Symposium honors Dr. Mow as a teacher who walked with her students, a scholar whose life was a pursuit of knowledge, an author who conversed with her readers and a Christian whose love of her Lord enabled her to be accepting of all children of God.”

The site was a small theater, filled with roughly 150 people. The format called for each speaker to present an opening statement of twenty minutes (I wasn't actually timing things, but it felt like twenty minutes at any rate.) Then there would be a round of questions from the audience. Finally, there were five minute closing statements from the speakers.

Dembski went first. Curiously, in his Power Point presentation he identified his institutional affiliation as the Discovery Institute, as opposed to the small Texas seminary where he actually works. As is typical in such venues, it was the calm, faux-reasonable Dembski who showed up, not the lunatic, frothing-at-the-mouth Dembski so familiar from his writings and blog posts. He titled his presentation “Blind Evolution or Intelligent Design?” He was keen to emphasize the significance of the word “Blind.” ID, you see, is not hostile to the idea of evolution viewed as common descent or change through time. It merely rejects the idea that a blind process like natural selection could be the cause of it.

From here he launched into the usual ID tripe: Can Darwinism explain the origin of genetic information? What about irreducible complexity? Functional biochemical machines are islands of fucntionality in an ocean of non-functionality! Just look at the flagellum for heaven's sake!!

Next up was a video allegedly showing the complexity of what goes on within the cell. Animated, personified proteins carried out various incomprehensible tasks while a voice-over provided rapid-fire, jargon-laden descriptions of what was going on. I'd be curious to know what effect this video had on the audience. To me it seemed an obvious snow-job. No one other than a professional cell biologist could have followed the presentation. It was strictly an attempt to get the audience to say, “Gosh! That's really complex!” On top of that, the whole exercise seemed a bit patronizing. I came to hear Dembski speak, not to be plunked down in front of the television.

Moving on. Compared to that, the flagellum comes off looking simple! The ribosome is even more complex!

Then came a tremendous onslaught of mechanical metaphors for the goings-on in a cell. I only had time to jot down: Self-replicating robotic manufacturing plants, Information processing storage and retrieval, and Automated parcel addressing (UPS labels), before he was on to the next slide. Needless to say, the cell does not actually contain any of those things. Instead it contains a collection of proteins doing whatever it is proteins do when properly organized. But the metaphors can be useful for bamboozling people.

Next up came some talk about the flagellum and the Type Three Secretory system. Dembski argued that it's not enough to identify one possible stepping stone toward evolving a flagellum. Rather, a “complete, fully articulated evolutionary path” is required. Required for what, one wonders? Unless we can spell out every step in the evolution of a complex system we should accept ID? It goes without saying, of course, that Dembski provided only a caricatured version of all that is known about flagellum evolution.

Then came the quotes about how there are currently no detailed Darwinian accounts of structures within the cell. It was the usual ID suspects: Shapiro, Harold, Griffin and so on.

Around here Dembski provided his definition of ID: ID is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence. Which is odd, because in his writing he has been known to say things like, “Inetelligent design is just the Logos theology of John's gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” I wonder why he didn't use that definition?

Somehow Dembski never got around to explaining how that study is meant to be undertaken. Once you have decided the pattern is the result of design, ID seems to have little to offer. Dembski might better have said that ID is the search for patterns believed, for little reason, to be the product of design. Better still would have been the most honest answer: ID is the search for a method of having religion taught in public schools without having some uppity judge lecturing them about the constitution.

Dembski closed with a whirlwind tour through his own prattlings about specified complexity. He rather amusingly showed a clip from the movie Dumb and Dumber. You know the one I mean. Jim Carrey asks Lauren Holly what the chances are that a guy like him could end up with a girl like her. “Not good,”she replies. “Not good like one in a hundred?” “More like one in a million.” Pause. “So you're telling me there's a chance! Yeah!!” Very amusing. Definitely the high point of his presentation. This was meant to show the absurdity of evolutionists relying too much on blind chance.

Moving on. Here's a picture of the cover of The Design Inference! Here are the first pages of some peer-reviewed papers I claim support ID! There's a real debate over this in the scientific community! Thanks.

Then came Shermer. He organized his presentation around five basic pricniples. First up: Before we say something is out of this world, make sure that it's not in this world. The point was simply that you don't glom onto a fantastic, supernatural explanation when a natural one will suffice. He illustrated this point with some humorous examples. He showed a picture from the Weekly World News showing a picture of Arnold Schwartzeneggar shaking hands with an alien. Surely the explanation that the WWN was making stuff up is more likely than the explanation that involves actualy alien visitation.

Point two was that the burden of proof lies with the ID folks. If we are to accept ID as an explanation, some positive evidence in its favor is required. It is not sufficient to just make criticisms of evolution. This led into point three, which was that ID folks commit the either/or fallacy. That is, they act as if the only options are either Neo-Darwinian evolution or ID.

But the bulk of the talk centered around point four, which is that evolution is etablished not by any one fact, but by a large collection of facts from disparate fields of study.

He began by showing a very detailed sequence of transitional fossils linking ancient land mammals to modern whales. He said these fossils strongly suggest an evolutionary sequence. How does ID explain it? This was a point he came back to over and over again. Evolution provides a single, coherent explanation for a wide variety of facts. If you choose to reject it in favor of ID, then say something about how ID explains these fossils. What did the designer actually do? At what point in the sequence did the designer interfere?

Then he moved on to numerous examples of vestigial structures. Evolution explains these effortlessly, but what is the design explanation? What light does ID shed on the origin of these structures?

From here he mentioned the possibility of observations that would be very difficult to work into an evolutionary picture, such as fossil trilobites in the same strata as human fossils.

Next up was the evolution of complex structures. He talked about the gradations of complexity to be found in different sorts of eyes in the animal kingdom. He also talked about the poor design, from an engineering perspective, of the eye. Once again he emphasized that this sort of cobbled together design is what you expect from evolution by natural selection, but is hard to explain from a design perspective.

Then he discussed the idea of a convergence of evidence. He used the example of using different dating methods for establishing the age of the Earth. When there is a consistency acorss many different sorts of data, we are justified in drawing certain conclusions.

He went on to discuss the evidence from genetic and molecular similarities, relying heavily on Francis Collins' presentation of these facts in his recent book.

The final point was the vacuity of supernatural explanations. Invoking unspecified, all-powerful designers just doesn't get you anywhere when you are trying to explain the natural world.

Shermer went on to provide an apt summary of ID logic: (1) X looks designed. (2) I can't think of how X was designed naturally. (3) Therefore, X was designed supernaturally. He said that ID has no substance, and that it is not a good idea to peg religious faith to assertions of the form “I hope scientists don't fill that gap!”

From here he went on to discuss some specific ID claims. He talked about exaptation as a general difficulty for notions of irreducible complexity. The picture of complex systems evolving linearly by the sequential addition of clearly defined parts overlooks the possibility of changes of function over time. He said specifically that ID assertions about the flagellum are simply wrong. The flagellum and its parts serve several functions, not just propulsion but secretion and adhesion as well. He pointed out that quite a lot is known about the genetics of the flagellum, and that there is no reason to believe it did not evolve via familiar mechanisms.

He then gave several examples of complex systems emerging from natural prcoesses. Modern languages are the result of an evolutionary process, Various sorts of self-organization lie behind some complex structures in nature, and the orderliness of a free market emerges without any central planner. In every case we obtain complexity without hypothesizing top-down design. Thanks.

That's an overview of the substance of the two presentations. But let's talk about the really important stuff: Style. Shermer was better. Now, I grant you, I'm not an unbiased source. But the fact is I'm usually very hard on the pro-evolution side in these debates. This is partly because I think evolutionists often get themselves into these debates without a proper consideration of how a debate differes from a scientific conference. It is also because I often think the evolution defender simply does not make the correct points in reply to the torrent of creationist argle-bargle.

In this case I thought Shermer acquitted himself admirably. His presentation was polished, funny, and made many good points. Dembski, by contrast, has a tendency to speak in monotone. Also, his timing was way off. He had to race through nearly half of his slides.

Next up was the question and asnwer period. As is typically the case at these debates, the questions were overwhelmingly anti-evolution. How do you know junk DNA has no function? How did transfer RNA evolve? What about these combinatorial/probabilistic arguments? How do you know those fossils are transitional? Your assuming evolution is true by even referring to them in that way! What about the origins of life?

The structure here was that questioners could direct their fire to either of the two speakers, but then the other one would have a chance to reply to the same question. This put Shermer in a difficult spot. First, he was on the defensive becuase of the hostility of many of the questions. Then, in every exchange Dembski was getting the last word.

Until the last question that is. That was when a strikingly handsome and breathtakingly eloquent (not to mention deeply humble) young mathematician approached the microphone to unleash a rhetorical tour-de-force of a question aganist Dembski.

He began by addressing the combinatorics argument from the previous questioner, explainingly patiently that you can not assess the probability of a particular DNA sequence evolving simply by treating it as a simple combinatorial object. That ignores the role of natural selection in the process, which has the effect of radically changing the probabilities of certain structures coming about. From there he unloaded a few jabs at Dembski's prior statement that at the 1966 (!!) Wistar conference, the mathematicians offered cogent arguments against Neo-Darwinism while the biologists stood around uncomprehending, muttering that we got here somehow. Showing an impressive mastery of relevant historical detail, the questioner pointed out that the biologists did considerably more than that, and that actually they pointed to specific places in the arguments of the mathematicians where they were making biologically unrealistic assumptions. The he sealed the deal by unloading a haymaker about Dembski's idiotic probability bloviations. He pointed out that the sorts of probability calculations Dembski says are essential to his theory are in fact impossible to carry out. He closed by saying the impossibility of such calculations is self-evident to people who know this subject, which is why not many scientists are impressed with Dembski's work.

Okay, you got me. The questioner was me.

Dembski's answer was bizarre even by his standards. He claimed that when the results of a probability calculation go against them the scientists all talk about biologically unrealistic assumptions. But when the numbers help their cause they are perfectly happy to tout them. He then launched into - are you sitting down? - a discussion of the Miller-Urey experiment.

Miller and Urey, you see, did their little experiment where they shot a spark through a mixture of some common chemicals that were likely to have been around in abundance on the early Earth. They produced amino acids. Scientists apparently touted this as evidence that a naturalistic origin of life was highly probable. Not the case, according to Dembski.

Bizarre, no? The Miller-Urey experiment had nothing to do with probabiilty. No one was claiming, based on the experiment, to be able to produce a number representing the probability of life arising naturally. But that is precisely what Dembski claims to be able to do in assessing the proposed evolution of the flagellum.

But let's suppose that it really is true that biologists are happy to tout the fruits of probability calculations when it helps the cause. So what? Dembski's logic appears to be that if you endorse the use of probability theory in one aspect of biology, you must also endorse every proposed use of it. As I said, tres bizarre.

Dembski closed his response by asserting, contra me, that in his work he assumes the best possible scenarios for evolution and that it was possible to carry out the calculations he was describing. So there.

There were several people lined up behind me waiting to ask questions, but at this point the host of the event said they had to move on to closing statements. I didn't jot down any notes here, having mostly lost interest. Dembski seemed to be losing interest as well, since he appeared to be sleepwalking through his statement. Shermer closed with his characteristic enthusiasm, and said bluntly that all the talk of scientific progress aside, ID was nothing more than an attempt to inject religion into public schools by clothing it in scientific garb. A fine point with which to close.

There was a brief reception after the event. I had a pleasant chat with prolific ID spokesman and blogger Salvador Cordova. I had the chance to converse with Shermer for a while. It looks like I'll be reviewing a couple of books for Skeptic. Stay tuned! As things were winding down I introduced myself to Dembski. He smiled politely but seemed uninterested in conversing.

Out to the car, quick shot up I-81, get home, pet the cats, pop in some more back episodes of House delivered courtesy of Netflix earlier that day. All in all, a pleasant evening.

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Comment #161307

Posted by RBH on February 16, 2007 8:20 PM (e)

I’m proud of you for not mentioning The Bridgewater Treatises, particularly Babbage’s Fragment, which seems to come closest of them to Dembski’s blather.

Comment #161309

Posted by pigwidgeon on February 16, 2007 8:33 PM (e)

Cordova is an ID spokesman?

Comment #161310

Posted by J-Dog on February 16, 2007 8:34 PM (e)

Dude! Great review, and it sounds like you had a lot of fun - I hope someone has video of you bringing up 1966 on Dembski! BTW - You say that you talked to Sal… were you able to actually shake hands with him, or did you slide right over his slimey skin without actually touching him?

I am sure Dembski wasn’t interested in conversing because one of the tougher Christian kids had just given him a wedgie. Dembski just seems to me to be the kind to bring that out in people.

Thanks

Comment #161311

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 16, 2007 8:37 PM (e)

Cordova is an ID spokesman?

well, I always thought he was a lackwit bootlicker.

OTOH, those characteristics don’t conflict with being an ID spokesman.

Comment #161316

Posted by bfish on February 16, 2007 9:29 PM (e)

Jason, I saw Dembski give lectures on consecutive nights when he was in Berkeley last year. That experience plus your review gives me a nice picture of the evening’s events. Thanks. One question: Did Dembski show his cow slide?

Comment #161317

Posted by JohnS on February 16, 2007 9:32 PM (e)

All this effort and expense to get religion into schools. I don’t see how they can keep coming back over and over again without losing all enthusiasm for finding new ways to tell old lies, and vice versa. Keeping barbarians from taking over the schools is vital, but it is such a waste of time and talent.

Is there a silver lining in this somewhere? I think there are many people that would have missed the chance to appreciate the marvel that is evolution, absent these efforts to combat IDiots. I know I am glad I didn’t miss that image of Hox expression in D. Melanogaster that PZ posted a while ago.

It would be nice to think that a final victory might be around the corner, but not likely. Thanks Jason and thanks Michael, for this.

Comment #161319

Posted by argystokes on February 16, 2007 9:50 PM (e)

Jason,

Was Dembski’s video “The Inner Life of a Cell?” If so, it’s a pretty damn good representation of what we think cellular processes look like (although it contains no voice-over, so maybe this isn’t the one Dembski showed). The kinesins are way mass rad. Here’s the link:http://youtube.com/watch?v=kxSLw1LMvgk

Comment #161320

Posted by Scott Hatfield on February 16, 2007 10:01 PM (e)

Good on ya, Jason!

Comment #161322

Posted by Ian H Spedding FCD on February 16, 2007 10:15 PM (e)

I note that over at Uncommon Descent your good friend Sal Cordova is claiming victory on behalf of Dembski:

Dembski won the debate, but I must salute Shermer’s honorable and courageous performance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Do you concur?

Comment #161326

Posted by PvM on February 16, 2007 10:48 PM (e)

Wow, seems that Salvador, Davescot and now the overwhelming crowd seem to all be exposing their scientific vacuity at the same time. Sal on the supposed victory by Dembski against Shermer, Davescot showing his ignorance about yet another topic, this time global warming and then overwhelming with their ignore that which they donot understand response to yet another destruction of Behe’s arguments.

Seems that Id indeed attracts the intelligently challenged crowd.

Comment #161338

Posted by Kristine on February 16, 2007 11:03 PM (e)

He was keen to emphasize the significance of the word “Blind.”

I’ll bet he was. A designed eye for a designed eye makes their whole worldview blind. (My apologies to Ghandi.)

Dembski seems to have gotten over his “Barbara Forrest won’t debate me about Dover!” phase. Or not.

Comment #161346

Posted by sparc on February 16, 2007 11:39 PM (e)

cordova at UD: Dembski won the debate

I guess this is like the description of the Dover case over at overwhelming ignorance

Despite this and some very minor setbacks we are certainly winning. The ACLU and friends may like to boast about their stolen victory in Dover, but the simple fact is we are already winning in the only court that counts: The American People.

Comment #161347

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 16, 2007 11:44 PM (e)

I note that over at Uncommon Descent your good friend Sal Cordova is claiming victory on behalf of Dembski:

hey, I wasn’t kidding when i describe him as “bootlicking”.

really.

I used to call him Slaveador, for the same reason.

Comment #161371

Posted by Chris Noble on February 17, 2007 3:21 AM (e)

Is it a given that “rethinkers” of any flavour will declare themselves to be the victor in a debate if they still maintain their original set of beliefs at the end.

Once again somebody failed to convince Dembski that he was wrong. What a surprise. If there is one thing that can be predicted with 100% certianty is that these people will never admit to being wrong.

Comment #161378

Posted by Ron Okimoto on February 17, 2007 5:44 AM (e)

Remember after Ohio when the Discovery Institute scam artists were laying low and they attended the Texas debacle. Dembski didn’t list the Disocovery Institute on the junk he gave the Texas board, and one of the Discovery Institute wiz kids even lied to the board about his Discovery Institute affiliation. Now, Dembski is listing the Discovery Institute instead of his college, why? Dover paints the Discovery Institute as liars worse than the Meyer and Wells snake oil presentation to the Ohio board where they had the give the Ohio board a replacement scam that didn’t even mention that ID had ever existed instead of any ID science to teach.

So why would Dembski admit to affiliation with the Discovery Institute, now? Any publicity is good? His current institution doesn’t want to be painted with the brush of dishonesty smearing ID at this time? Does he have to do a certain number of scam shows for the Discovery Institute to keep his stipend coming in? After Dover maybe the DI is demanding some sort of accountability for their money. After Minnich and Behe admitted under oath that they basically haven’t done squat for their paycheck, and claimed that they didn’t know of anyone else doing any science to test ID, it must have burned at least the guy footing most of the bill. Heck, didn’t Berlinski claim that he never bought into the ID junk, so why is he still getting his stipend, or is he?

Comment #161391

Posted by mark on February 17, 2007 9:49 AM (e)

Perhaps Dembski listed the DI instead of his current Texas location because he had to use a more permanent address.

Comment #161409

Posted by MarkP on February 17, 2007 12:51 PM (e)

Dembski argued that it’s not enough to identify one possible stepping stone toward evolving a flagellum. Rather, a “complete, fully articulated evolutionary path” is required. Required for what, one wonders? Unless we can spell out every step in the evolution of a complex system we should accept ID?

This should really be all that is required to show an unbiased thinking person that the ID position is unreasonable. In no area of historical science is this sort of standard expected. It is the same flawed reasoning that has people claiming aliens must have built the pyramids because we lack a complete step-by-step explanation of how the ancient Egyptians did it.

This once again shows the influence of the IDers’ fundamentalist religious view of the world. In that view knowledge is absolute, complete, handed down from on high, and never-changing. Thus, reason they, since the complete evolutionary pathway is not known, it will never be known, and therefore Goddidit.

The idea of new knowledge is anathema to them. They don’t even consider the notion that we don’t know the answer to their inquiry, but history suggests we will one day based on progress to date.

Perhaps this odd psychology of theirs lies behind their seeming complete lack of respect for scientists who actually do the work to gain knowledge. In their world-view, correct views don’t require that “pathetic level of detail” and all that “technobabble”, and the fact that some theory is complicated and difficult is proof that it is flawed.

No wonder they can’t even fill their homegrown journal with articles of their “work”. With their epistimology, there’s really no need for it. There are more “fruitful” things for them to do with their time.

Comment #161411

Posted by wamba on February 17, 2007 1:41 PM (e)

a Christian whose love of her Lord enabled her to be accepting of all children of God.”

Is that code for “she hated atheists”?

Comment #161412

Posted by David B. Benson on February 17, 2007 1:44 PM (e)

Jason — Very good. Both the reporting and your humble remarks at the debate.

Question for you: Did Sal appear to be sane when you spoke to him?

Comment #161413

Posted by ptisdall on February 17, 2007 1:44 PM (e)

I’ve followed the evolution-anti-evolution debate for some time now and am posting my first comment in hopes of a more rational discussion on the larger view of the nature of scientific investigation. Please help me understand if my thinking is flawed (I’ll start with my first question to see if it’s worth continuing):
1. there is a hierarchy of scientific knowledge, which for the sake of structure I think of as hypothesis theory law. By this I mean a hypothesis is any idea, no matter how seemingly counter-intuitive (flying spaghetti monsters would, by this definition, be allowed). A theory is formulated on the basis of data, and when applied to a new data set, has predictive value. A law has been used widely in time, place and by many different users, and always predicts precisely. By this analysis ID would be acceptable as a hypothesis and evolution would be acceptable as a theory. Both can be taught in science class. In fact, I wouldn’t want a child of mine to be in a science class that wouldn’t teach this way.

Comment #161415

Posted by wamba on February 17, 2007 1:53 PM (e)

Next up was a video allegedly showing the complexity of what goes on within the cell. Animated, personified proteins carried out various incomprehensible tasks while a voice-over provided rapid-fire, jargon-laden descriptions of what was going on.

That sounds like Unlocking the Mysteries of Life. Good production values, bad science. Did the tRNAs enter the ribosome already in order, rather than stochastically finding the codon through trial-and-error base pairing with the codon sequence?

Comment #161416

Posted by wamba on February 17, 2007 2:10 PM (e)

It seems no one asked the question I would like to hear Dembski address: How did he make the fart noises for his flash animation? Was it pursed lips, the armpit technique, the double palm technique, or were they, ahem, genuine?

Comment #161417

Posted by MarkP on February 17, 2007 2:15 PM (e)

ptisdall said:

By this analysis ID would be acceptable as a hypothesis and evolution would be acceptable as a theory. Both can be taught in science class. In fact, I wouldn’t want a child of mine to be in a science class that wouldn’t teach this way.

Within the hypothesis category there are subgroups, such as well-defined or not, and scientific vs nonscientific, re falsifiability. Since ID falls on the wrong side of these categories (it is both ill-defined and nonfalsifiable), it would be among the last hypotheses worthy of discussion.

If a student asks about ID, the teacher should make clear it is merely a hypothesis, and a bad one at that. That’s about as far as it warrants going. Class time is limited.

Comment #161418

Posted by wamba on February 17, 2007 2:26 PM (e)

I’ve followed the evolution-anti-evolution debate for some time now and am posting my first comment in hopes of a more rational discussion on the larger view of the nature of scientific investigation. Please help me understand if my thinking is flawed (I’ll start with my first question to see if it’s worth continuing):
1. there is a hierarchy of scientific knowledge, which for the sake of structure I think of as hypothesis theory law.

Your thinking is flawed, or at least your understanding of the terminology as used in science. The heirarchy is not as you describe. Laws do not outrank theories, they are two different things. Here is how the National Academies of Science defines “theory”:

Theory: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.

They offer definitons of facts, hypotheses, and laws in the same document.

Comment #161422

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 17, 2007 2:52 PM (e)

Is it a given that “rethinkers” of any flavour will declare themselves to be the victor in a debate if they still maintain their original set of beliefs at the end.

sounds about right.

AFDave (YEC) over at the ATBC area constantly demonstrates this on a daily basis, if you needed supporting evidence.

Comment #161425

Posted by Andrew Wade on February 17, 2007 2:58 PM (e)

They offer definitons of facts, hypotheses, and laws in the same document.

To add to the fun, usage of the terms has shifted over time, and they are somewhat vague. But yes, a hypothesis (as the word is used) is not just any old idea that sauntered in the door.

A hypothesis can be counter-intuitive and bizarre sure, but it should be in general accord with known facts. (So far so good for the FSM). But a hypothesis should also have some hope of becoming a scientific theory. So it should be possible to develop a hypothesis to the point where it can be corroborated (or refuted) by evidence. And it should have the possibility of the sort of rigour expected of a scientific theory. (Not so good for FSMism.) And a few other odds and ends that aren’t mentioned much: It shouldn’t have any unnecessary protuberances or baroqueness. (The “midgit” of FSM creation would be such an ornament). And it should assume a uniformity to the universe at a suitably abstract level. So no theories of the sun going cubical tomorrow despite being round until now, not without good reason. (Such theories would be in accord with the evidence, but they shouldn’t be considered seriously).

Now, hypothesis may not start out meeting many of these conditions. But the expectation is that they will make progress towards becoming scientific theories or be abandoned. Witness, for example, the current controversy over whether string theory has become moribund.

Comment #161427

Posted by Bunjo on February 17, 2007 3:04 PM (e)

Its fascinating to read this summary (and comments) of the debate and compare it with the Uncommon Descent summary and comments.

A short digression: When I worked in IT in a big company I went on a course about how to build relationships with key executives of IT users. The theory was that psychologically IT people tended to deal in figures and facts, and other workers in the company tended to deal with persuasion and vision. So when a chief marketing executive said “Your damn systems are no good, they are always failing” it was no good responding “The system has been available 99.8% of the time as agreed”. His/her view was formed by the frustrations of trying to do his/her job, which he/she saw marketing as vital to the success of the company. Being told that the systems (which were vital to the success of the company) worked as designed just did not align with his/her world view.

Similarly when you have an evolution/ID debate like this between scientists and faith based people, its no good the scientists piling fact on fact because they just don’t apply to the world view of the faithful. Dr Dembski’s arguments about ID, CSI etc. will have no traction on scientific fact unless they can be used to do real science. No wonder ‘each side’ claimed victory - both were right in their own eyes.

I am not convinced by poor science, conspiracy theories, or faith based arguments (which one, there are so many!). Personally I accept that the Theory of Evolution is a good scientific paradigm, and it will take some really good science to overturn it. But then I used to argue that 99.8% was a really good computer availability…

Comment #161428

Posted by RBH on February 17, 2007 3:16 PM (e)

Ron Okimoto asked

So why would Dembski admit to affiliation with the Discovery Institute, now? Any publicity is good? His current institution doesn’t want to be painted with the brush of dishonesty smearing ID at this time?

Consistent with Disco Dancers’ policy, he is listing what seems to be the most prestigious affiliation, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary apparently is lower that the Disco Institute, an evaluation approximately equivalent to realizing that the sea bottom is lower than whale shit.

BTW, ID currently isn’t even an hypothesis. At best it’s a speculation, a conjecture. It lacks even the minimal specificity necessary to be anything near a hypothesis. It has no research program, no data, and no theory. It’s an empty vessel.

RBH

Comment #161433

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on February 17, 2007 3:56 PM (e)

ptisdall said:

a hypothesis is any idea, no matter how seemingly counter-intuitive (flying spaghetti monsters would, by this definition, be allowed). A theory is formulated on the basis of data, and when applied to a new data set, has predictive value. A law has been used widely in time, place and by many different users, and always predicts precisely.

As wamba pointed out, your thinking is flawed. I might point out that your understanding of how scientists use these terms are also flawed.

First, a hypothesis is not, in science, any idea. It is a testable explanation for observations (data) that have been made. The key here is that it must be testable. Standard creationism in many ways is in fact a hypothesis under this definition, although when tested it has repeatedly failed. ID is not, because there are no tests that can prove ID incorrect. When ID has made predictions (which can serve as tests) such as the irreducibility of the bacterial flagellum, the predictions are shown false, at which point ID simply moves on to other features for which it claims the same thing.

Second, both theories and laws are generally hypotheses that have been accepted by scientists on the basis of repeatedly successful testing. Predictions made with them are found to be true. But a theory does not become a law, nor is a law more certain than a theory. Simply put, laws describe aspects of nature, generally mathematically, while theories explain aspects of nature.

Since ID has neither testability, falsifiability, explanatory value, nor descriptive value for nature, it is useless in science and need not be taught in science classes. Since it has been repeatedly shown to be religious apologetics without scientific value, it is also not permissible in public science classes.

Comment #161448

Posted by ptisdall on February 17, 2007 6:31 PM (e)

Thank you all for your comments. It seems to me that some of the comments slip into sloppy technique. For example, “as used in science”…what, you speak for all science? Having no idea of my experience makes it seem somewhat arrogant to argue by condescension. In fact, there is broad usage of these terms in many different disciplines. Different posts here use the terms somewhat differently. That’s why I’ve come to my definition of the terms over time. Whatever words you choose to use, I think it’s better to have some quantitative elements such as no data, hard to disprove no data, easy to disprove some data and some predictive ability lots of data and excellent predictive capacity. I stand by my opinion that any idea can stand as a hypothesis. The ability to test it is the measure of how good a hypothesis it is. The history of science is very clear that many great leaps forward are made by contrarians. Tectonic plate theory serves as a good example but much of Bryson’s A Brief History of Nearly Everything is about Establishment Science’s embarrassments. Authority is not an acceptable form of proof in science for me.
Nor do I believe that science has to be performed in a lab. Einstein had thought experiments as a gov’t bureaucrat. His “photon has mass” hypothesis had no data and no one could figure out how to test for it for years. As for string theory, it is out my experience and beyond my abilities, but it seems to serve as a good example of the preceding argument.

Comment #161457

Posted by KL on February 17, 2007 7:24 PM (e)

To ptisdall

Einstein’s work is a good example of the “theoretical outrunning the experimental” . But let’s not apply this comparison to ID. The proponents of ID would have the “theoretical” taught to kids in high school before any “experimental” work was done. Lots of “theoretical” ideas never made it past the blackboard, and certainly did not make it in the classroom. The true face of ID is an attempt to replace an existing paradigm for religious reasons. It is a political and PR movement only.

Comment #161468

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 17, 2007 7:58 PM (e)

The thing that separates most ID folks from the Naturalists is the idea of one species changing into another. What is the predictive value, and or what would be a current use of the ability to use this part of the concept for some future engineering or predicting.

Comment #161470

Posted by Henry J on February 17, 2007 9:30 PM (e)

Re “I stand by my opinion that any idea can stand as a hypothesis. The ability to test it is the measure of how good a hypothesis it is. “

Those two sentences contradict each other.

Henry

Comment #161476

Posted by infamous on February 17, 2007 11:55 PM (e)

This post seems to be a bit more objective than the one by Salvador over at UD, but there are still comments that resemble mud slinging. I know it’s quite difficult to be ever patient, but it really can ruin it to make those sort of low blows. Even if one is making a great argument an observer may be turned off.

Comment #161497

Posted by Steven Carr on February 18, 2007 3:43 AM (e)

‘The debate was held at Bridgewater College, a small liberal arts school affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, as part of their Anna B. Mow Lecture Series. ‘

Remember, ID has nothing whatever to with religion.

Comment #161522

Posted by MarkP on February 18, 2007 9:25 AM (e)

I stand by my opinion that any idea can stand as a hypothesis.

I think the bigger issue is how you reason from this that ID belongs in science classes.

The ability to test it is the measure of how good a hypothesis it is.

No. The results of such tests measure how good a hypothesis it is. The ability to test it, at least in principle, is what seperates scientific hypotheses from “mere” hypotheses. ID falls in the latter category.

The history of science is very clear that many great leaps forward are made by contrarians.

Contrarians with well-defined theories able to be subjected to the harsh light of experimental data (eg Einstein), yes. Contrarians with ill-defined theories that ignore the findings of other disciplines and belie efforts to testing (eg ID), no.

Authority is not an acceptable form of proof in science for me.

Nor for anyone else here no doubt. Whatever made you think such a statement was necessary?

Comment #161523

Posted by MarkP on February 18, 2007 9:34 AM (e)

The thing that separates most ID folks from the Naturalists is the idea of one species changing into another.

Well, one thing anyway. The “naturalists”, as you call them, can accept the experimental data, both in the lab and in the wild, that this has occurred. The creationists, some weasel-wording notwithstanding, pretend this data does not exist, because it clashes with their world-view.

That, and scientists rarely speak in terms of “one species changing into another”. That’s usually the language of creationists, and usually those who really don’t understand evolution. They often think common ancestry means that a fish once gave birth to a salamander, or that somehow, magically, all monkeys one day turned into apes.

What is the predictive value, and or what would be a current use of the ability to use this part of the concept for some future engineering or predicting.

Any time there is a need for using a part of one animal in a medical procedure for another. It is no doubt helpful to know who the closest relatives are to find the most compatibility between them, the same as would be done for you if you needed a kidney.

Comment #161529

Posted by ptisdall on February 18, 2007 10:18 AM (e)

Thank you all for your help. So here’s the problem as I see it. Americans are not generally literate in science and, in my opinion, I think there is a growing credibility for ID in the non-science community, and for all the wrong reasons. Evolution as science is fine, but there a deep fear across the broad spectrum of Christians, ranging in depth from biblical literalists like the Jehovah’s Witnesses to mainstream types like the Episcopals, that evolution teaches that there is no God. This will be an intractable problem until we find a way to invite these people to the science table. To do that, we need to start with the premise that science is a technique applied to the natural world and they can use it to. I think, and this is still at the “hypothesis” stage :), that teaching that they can participate, as long as they play by the rules, is a way to defuse the situation. That is why I would welcome ID in my science class. For the evangelical group to submit themselves to the intellectual rigor of a testable hypothesis with skeptical peer review forces them to participate in a constructive rather than the present destructive way. That they have a political motivation is exactly why KL, of all the “no data-unable to disprove hypotheses” one could choose, I would start with theirs. So to MarkP, I would never refer to scientific as opposed to mere hypotheses, it’s condescending and will offend. I see no problem in letting anyone in science class say God created the world. I would only ask how one could test the hypothesis, and failing a good answer, relegate it to the weak hypothesis category.

Comment #161530

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 18, 2007 10:24 AM (e)

Mark, what does weasel-wording have to do with it, and why is the use of the word naturalist a problem for you?

Certainly the issue of one new species growing out of other species is the main event. Darwin even said something to the effect that if the fossil evidence didn’t eventually find such interspecies data, that his theory would be in some trouble (badly paraphrased.)

Everyone knows that, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t accept that, there is substantial variation within a species.

I’m not sure that your engineering offering of what other animals parts will be useful as substitutes works. This would seem to be more likely deducible from size, function, etc. But I’m open to being persuaded of this.

Comment #161538

Posted by MarkP on February 18, 2007 11:27 AM (e)

So to MarkP, I would never refer to scientific as opposed to mere hypotheses, it’s condescending and will offend.

What is condescending about distinguishing between two different kinds of hypotheses? What is with this social trend of labelling any disagreement an ad hominem, any corrective statement confidently made, condescending. This is crapola.

Saying “you are a stupid bitch, so I’m going to use little words so you can understand” is condescending. Saying “Your hypothesis fails to meet the standard of ‘scientific hypothesis’ because it is not testable” is a mere statement of fact, nothing condescending about it.

Comment #161540

Posted by MarkP on February 18, 2007 11:51 AM (e)

Randy Kirk Said:

Mark, what does weasel-wording have to do with it, and why is the use of the word naturalist a problem for you?

By weasel-wording, I was referring to some of the lip-service given common descent by some of the IDers, despite their clear problems with it.

I have a problem with attempts to poison the well and generally misrepresent the position of the opposition in debate. IDers/creationists (and you’ll notice I never call them “IDiots”) consistently do this by inventing terms they perceive to be prejorative, like “Darwinists” and “naturalists”. I doubt the Christians who make up the majority of people who accept evolution would describe themselves as “naturalists”.

The division you mention is not between “IDists” and “naturalists. It is between creationists and everyone else. You seem to think you have the truth on your side, and that’s fine. Show it by dealing honestly with what others believe, and who those others are. Misrepresentation is for those who fear honest debate.

the issue of one new species growing out of other species is the main event. Darwin even said something to the effect that if the fossil evidence didn’t eventually find such interspecies data, that his theory would be in some trouble (badly paraphrased.)

Species do not “grow out of each other”. This is just more misrepresentation. Did you “grow out” of your grandparents? But you are genetically different from your parents, and as enough time passes and enough changes accumulate, populations of animals become unable to interbreed where before they could, thus speciation. This is not conjecture, it is documented fact.

Darwin was not a prophet, and his every utterance is not Holy Writ. He made many mistakes, as any evolutionary biologist would tell you. Darwin didn’t even know genes existed. So don’t treat his quotes as something modern mainstream science has to be held to.

As far as the interspecies fossils, there are a ton of them, and more are being found every day, as has been documented ad nauseum. Does Tiktaalik not ring a bell?

Everyone knows that, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t accept that, there is substantial variation within a species.

Understood. The problem is those on your end invent some sort of barrier to the process that keeps the variation from getting to the point where the subgroups that were once one species become two. the problem is, none have ever explained what this barrier would be, nor have they addressed the cases where it has been observed to be ineffective.

I’m not sure that your engineering offering of what other animals parts will be useful as substitutes works. This would seem to be more likely deducible from size, function, etc. But I’m open to being persuaded of this.

Size and function don’t tell you about biochemistry. That would lead you to conclude very erroneously that a dolphin is more like a shark than like us. Why do you think your sister is more likely to have a kidney more compatible with your body than with mine? Same for putting a zebra fetus in a horse to carry to term. That would be far less likely to work if you put it in a tiger, because tigers and zebras are less closely related on the family tree than are zebras and horses.

This is not an analogy, this is what it actually is, and what is actually done. There are others here far more able to explain the biological details of the processes. However, the point can’t be stated strongly enough that the case for evolution passes with flying colors in these scenarios.

Comment #161555

Posted by Antony Van der Mude on February 18, 2007 2:06 PM (e)

“He pointed out that the sorts of probability calculations Dembski says are essential to his theory are in fact impossible to carry out.”

Besides the probability calculations, Dembski, like Behe makes reference to irreducible complexity, a concept with a rigourous formal basis in Kolmogorov Complexity. But here you are even worse off in terms of provability. Many probablilistic calculations are provable, given enough time and perfect knowledge. But there is a cute theorem in Kolmogorov Complexity (you can find it in Li and Vitanyi) that for any axiom system only a finite number of irreducibly complex machines can be proved as such! This would be like claiming that your theory rests on the proof that most interesting numbers are prime but you could only prove a number prime if it was less than 60. I have not delved into Demski’s main book, but sampled a number of his papers and discussions on the net have never really seen him give a rigorous mathematical basis to irreducible complexity and its implications. Eventually he throws out numbers and equations that only go so far. A good criticsm of Dembski by Rich Baldwin summarizes the previous point with the understated and ironic criticism “As a side note, Kolmogorov complexity has the disadvantage of being uncomputable and hence makes a poor metric.”

Unfortunately, the evolutionary side has fared no better. The concept of irreducible complexity is self-evident. But the arguments made against Dembski and Behe are not very good. Many are in the form of “well, I can come up with a machine that works almost as good as the one you describe”. To use the metaphor of the Behe mousetrap, they show that you can remove the base and still have a trap that works almost as good. I think of it as the “mousetrap rock” argument. That it, any machine can be approximated by a common rock. To replace the mousetrap, you just hold a rock in your hand, and when the mouse runs under it, you drop the rock. Almost as good as a real mousetrap. I wish that the evolutionary side were to actually embrace the reality of irreducible complexity and to come up with some rigourous results to show how irreducible complexity naturally arises from the process of evolution.

Comment #161561

Posted by pigwidgeon on February 18, 2007 2:30 PM (e)

You’ve not heard people talk about Muller’s Interlocking Complexity paper from sixty years ago?

Try this:

http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/postmonth/sep06.html

Comment #161567

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 18, 2007 2:56 PM (e)

Mark P, I really doubt that anybody was intending to pejorative in calling anyone a Darwinist or a Naturalist. I can assure you it was the furthest thing from my mind. However, in order to have a debate, it is important to have clear understandings of the terms, none more important that the name of the opposition. So, is there a correct term other than “everyone else.”

I have seen much of what has been proposed as inter species evidence. I don’t think the case is closed, but it might be some day. Certainly it would be a bitter pill for Christians if all of life is provably derived from other life, and not created whole cloth. So the evidence will have to be reallllly strong!

I think I see your point on the engineering, even though you make it from exception rather than from the general case.

Comment #161581

Posted by MarkP on February 18, 2007 5:18 PM (e)

Mark P, I really doubt that anybody was intending to pejorative in calling anyone a Darwinist or a Naturalist. I can assure you it was the furthest thing from my mind. However, in order to have a debate, it is important to have clear understandings of the terms, none more important that the name of the opposition. So, is there a correct term other than “everyone else.”

Better to spend more time on the arguments and less time labelling the people. Although “mainstream biologists” has a nice ring to it. :) “Science” would do, because don’t kid yourself, ID/creationism is not just an attack on biology. It is an attack on science itself. That is why scientists and philosophers from fields with no personal stake in the evolution/creation debate, such as mathematicians and astronomers, side so overwhelmingly with the evolutionary biologists.

I have seen much of what has been proposed as inter species evidence. I don’t think the case is closed, but it might be some day. Certainly it would be a bitter pill for Christians if all of life is provably derived from other life, and not created whole cloth. So the evidence will have to be reallllly strong!

What do you need? Group A was observed producing progeny subgroups A’ and A”, which were unable to interbreed. This has been done many times, and observed in the wild at least once. Case closed if your deliniation of “different species” is “unable to interbreed”. If that isn’t your definition, what is? Why?

As for the bitter pill evolution represents for Christians, that claim is a matter of considerable debate. That is certainly not the way any of my Christian friends see it, nor is it the way many Christian posters here see it. But even granting that assumption, Christians have been swallowing pills like that throughout human history, you would think they’d either get used to it or get the message:

Stay on your side of the Magisterium! What is, and what was, are the world of science. What should be, and what will come in the end, is the world of religion. Every time you guys stray onto the scientific field and start making pronouncements, you end up with egg on your face. This is just the latest example.

I think I see your point on the engineering, even though you make it from exception rather than from the general case.

I’m making it from the relevant facts: compatability of internal organs is a function of body chemistry, not body appearance. The chemistry is always relevant, the body appearance, only sometimes so. Why use a proxy when you can use the real thing?

I’m more interested in what point you were trying to make with the original question. Do you really not see the myriad implications in medicine from the knowledge that we are all one big happy animal family, just with very wide branches? Were all those Biblical “kinds” really created out of whole cloth, there would be no reason to expect a rabbit organ to work better in a human than would a tiger’s. We’d expect them to be rather unique relative to each other. This is one of the major problems ID/creationism has: trying to explain why a divine, omnipotent, omniscient creator being would have so little variety in what he created, and why he’d not only make foolish mistakes (ask your doctor about the design of your prostate gland), but repeat those mistakes in one creature after another. This kind of slop points with neon lights to common ancestry as an explanation.

Just look at your dog or cat really closely one day and think about all ways you are the same. Ask yourself why they yawn like we do. Is your creator god so small that he can’t come up with any interesting large land animal designs that don’t have 4 limbs, 2 eyes, 2 ears, one nose, and a tail, all arranged in basically the same design? Where are the 6-legged ones? Why not a monkey with an eye on the end of his tail? That would sure come in handy.

When you see three little boys who are all the same size and look identical, don’t you assume they must be brothers? So why don’t you look at your cat and see a distant cousin?

Comment #161583

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 18, 2007 6:04 PM (e)

but there a deep fear across the broad spectrum of Christians, ranging in depth from biblical literalists like the Jehovah’s Witnesses to mainstream types like the Episcopals, that evolution teaches that there is no God

this, of course, is only a problem because these people are not taught to think critically about what people like ‘pastor Ted’ tell them. When pastor Ted LIES to his “flock” and tells them that evolution is teaching that god is dead, well, an uncritical audience then carries that message with them.

If we could somehow shut down all the frickin’ lying-ass hucksters like Haggard and Fallwell and Ham, eventually this would help shut down a lot of the “fears” of the rest of the folks who simply don’t know any better.

Comment #161584

Posted by Henry J on February 18, 2007 6:16 PM (e)

Re “Certainly it would be a bitter pill for Christians if all of life is provably derived from other life, and not created whole cloth.”

Why? Why should belief in Christianity require believing that God would be unable to use evolution as a method?

Also, why should “created” be construed as conflicting with descended from ancestors? As far as I know, “created” means caused to come into existence, i.e., saying something was created doesn’t imply anything about what methods were used or how long it took.

Henry

Comment #161598

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 18, 2007 7:45 PM (e)

Mark P,

I’ll take my chances walking on the wild side. I will make no suggestion that I have the depth of education or knowledge that those on this blog have with regard to the details of the science. However, the very point is that the science, the philosophy of science, and the obvious anger of those on both sides with regard to each other are all part of real life.

I’m not hear to change your mind with regard to believing or not. What I’m trying to do by visiting here and elsewhere and by starting my own blog is to bring more understanding among people, reduce the negatives and name calling. Work together for truth.

Sir has an example of what I’d like to see less of in civil debate. The stereotyping in his comment is no less offensive or incorrect than if his target had been blacks or gays. Just still accepted by some.

The bitter pill would be that the literal translation of Genesis would be pretty hard to squeeze into a completely natural explanation. Not impossible, just more difficult.

I do not think your last comments are persuasive at all. I will address later. But for starters, If God Did It, he could have millions of reasons for making things so similar as our yawns and so different as some of the new creatures being discovered in the world just this year.

Comment #161609

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 18, 2007 9:32 PM (e)

…I will make no suggestion that I have the depth of education or knowledge that those on this blog have with regard to the details of the science. However, the very point is that the science, the philosophy of science, and the obvious anger of those on both sides with regard to each other are all part of real life.

IOW, you have no clue about how science works or have bothered to find out, but you know all about what the point and philosophy of science is.

good start.

I’m not hear to change your mind with regard to believing or not. What I’m trying to do by visiting here and elsewhere and by starting my own blog is to bring more understanding among people, reduce the negatives and name calling. Work together for truth.

and how exactly will you go about bringing understanding through blind ignorance?

do you plan on bring a level of “understanding” to the effect that the sky is blue because of sky fairies and then telling your blog adherents that’s the equivalent to the actual scientific explanation of it?

you have an odd idea of “understanding”.

Sir has an example of what I’d like to see less of in civil debate. The stereotyping in his comment is no less offensive or incorrect than if his target had been blacks or gays. Just still accepted by some.

you seem to be under the false impression that:

one, what you said is anything other than a strawman.

two, that there is some “debate” over the relevant facts, rather than it clearly being the case that this “debate” is manufactured by folks who like to think themselves “reasonable”, much like yourself.

Stereotyping??? *AHEM* Ted Haggard led over 30 million people (largest evangelical society in America, or didn’t you know that?) to believe in his evolution falsehoods, and he’s just ONE of the major creobots operating out there. so where’s the stereotype there? I think you need to spend a LOT more time looking at the religion side of this issue, let alone science, before you can even come close to legitimately thinking yourself qualified to “educate” on the subject.

The bitter pill would be that the literal translation of Genesis would be pretty hard to squeeze into a completely natural explanation. Not impossible, just more difficult.

try it. you obviously haven’t, so why don’t you?

HINT: it IS impossible using any translation of the bible currently in use by any xian in the world. Now if you want to use a different translation than the KJV, you might be able to fake your way through it. Ask Judah Landah for his Hebrew translation. Otherwise, you are NOT looking at it literally. One wonders if you have even read the thing.

I do not think your last comments are persuasive at all. I will address later. But for starters, If God Did It, he could have millions of reasons for making things so similar as our yawns and so different as some of the new creatures being discovered in the world just this year.

spoken exactly like the creationist we all know you are. do you know what projection means?

Well, you just typed a great example of a projection creationists use all the time. Namely, that evolutionary hypotheses are all “just so stories”. When you take a closer look at what THEY are saying, you quickly see (as just demonstrated by yourself above) that all the “just so stories” are coming from them, not the scientists.

whatever, you certainly wouldn’t be the first clueless berk that started his own blog to save the world.

er, good luck with that.

Comment #161611

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 18, 2007 10:15 PM (e)

Sir,

I actually do have a background in science, with an undergraduate degree in Psych from UCLA. Having said that, I still can’t play in your sandbox on the details. But it doesn’t change the fact that of qualifications to discuss philosophy of science, religion, general philosphy, or just debate common sense.

You clearly know so much that I can’t tell you anything that would be valuable to your understanding of anything. So why try.

You may find that with age you’ll find out that “the older you get the more you find out that you don’t know.” Seems to be part of the process.

Comment #161613

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 18, 2007 10:24 PM (e)

I still can’t play in your sandbox on the details.

absolutely nothing is stopping you but yourself.

You may find that with age you’ll find out that “the older you get the more you find out that you don’t know.” Seems to be part of the process.

indeed, but you seem to have taken the tack that this means you should simply give up on learning and proceed to expound with the little you already know, thinking you can somehow “bridge the gap” or whatever.

some might call that arrogant, and get pissed off….

Comment #161624

Posted by MarkP on February 19, 2007 1:22 AM (e)

Randy Kirk said:

However, the very point is that the science, the philosophy of science, and the obvious anger of those on both sides with regard to each other are all part of real life.

Really? I thought it was all a fantasy.

Yeah, that was sarcasm. Sorry, but it’s hard to hold back when you state something totally obvious as if it were profound. Did it ever occur to you to investigate why certain people are angry about this issue? If you did, you would find the reasons to be very different and very revealing as to which side is really the problem here.

What I’m trying to do by visiting here and elsewhere and by starting my own blog is to bring more understanding among people, reduce the negatives and name calling. Work together for truth.

You cannot work together for truth with a group of people who is not interested in truth, and who is willing to lie and distort to any lengths to promote their predetermined views on the subject. You cannot bring understanding to people if you refuse to deal with the facts. You cannot bring understanding to people who are not interested in the facts. You cannot reduce the negatives and namecalling without reducing the inherent intellectual dishonesty one side consistently brings to the discussion that causes the namecalling in the first place.

As long as you approach the problem with the baseless assumption that both sides are equally at fault, in defiance of all the evidence, you will not achieve your goals.

Comment #161682

Posted by MarkP on February 19, 2007 9:55 AM (e)

Randy Kirk said:

I do not think your last comments are persuasive at all. I will address later. But for starters, If God Did It, he could have millions of reasons for making things so similar as our yawns

Why don’t you make that argument when you see the three identical boys? When you see them, you conclude, quite reasonably, that they are triplets, do you not? I would be very surprised if you said “God could have millions of reasons for making 3 little boys who are not related look identical nonetheless”. So why do you make that argument with yourself and your cat? Why do you treat the two situations differently?

Comment #161683

Posted by MarkP on February 19, 2007 10:07 AM (e)

Randy Kirk said:

I still can’t play in your sandbox on the details. But it doesn’t change the fact that of qualifications to discuss philosophy of science, religion, general philosphy, or just debate common sense.

You clearly know so much that I can’t tell you anything that would be valuable to your understanding of anything. So why try.

You may find that with age you’ll find out that “the older you get the more you find out that you don’t know.” Seems to be part of the process.

I recommend thinking long and hard about these statements Randy, and what they say about you. They amount to:

“I admit I’m more ignorant on the relevant subject than you, but I maintain the superiority of my opinion anyway. Perhaps as you age you will acquire the same wisdom I have.”

Recall our conversation about calling people “naturalists”. This is another example of the same sort of thing. Patronizing people does not open the communication lines. I strongly suggest you give far more credance than you do, to the possibility that your views need major correcting. It is pretty clear the person here most in need of getting a better grip on just how much he doesn’t know is you my friend. Start with Talkorigins.

Comment #161694

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 19, 2007 11:55 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #161705

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 19, 2007 1:42 PM (e)

Mark P,

Don’t know about my ability to communicate in English, but clearly I’ve blown it with KwickXML.

My thought with regard to age and wisdom is a famous quote (potentially paraphrased poorly, but I don’t think so.) It has the opposite meaning from that which you give it. I am far less certain about what I know that I know today than I was at 25 or 35. I do have strong, passionate opinions, but have always been open minded and tending towards ecumenicalism. So, even now, I’m trying to bridge gaps of understanding between believers and Xtheists.

I am also well aware of many of the reasons for anger. You only need to spend two minutes in this blog to hear it. Is the anger justified? Maybe. Is the response any more appropriate than it would be for any other angry citizen who could make a case for their anger being justified.

I happen to believe that honest, reasoned, and trusting discourse is far more likely to bring truth.

Comment #161714

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 19, 2007 2:33 PM (e)

I happen to believe that honest, reasoned, and trusting discourse is far more likely to bring truth.

You’re condescending again. And you’ve apparently ignored the substantive parts of MarkP’s comments; you know, the ones about science. But aside from that…

The people on this blog are generally honest and reasoned, but they’re also pissed. The other side has never been honest or reasoned, which is a good reason not be trusting of them. So, “honest, reasoned and trusting discourse” between scientists and IDists is pretty much out.

Comment #161718

Posted by MarkP on February 19, 2007 3:49 PM (e)

Randy Kirk said:

I am also well aware of many of the reasons for anger. You only need to spend two minutes in this blog to hear it. Is the anger justified? Maybe. Is the response any more appropriate than it would be for any other angry citizen who could make a case for their anger being justified.

This is just warmed over CCD (Compulsive Centrist Disorder). You simply refuse to deal with the reality of the situation, which is that scientists are angry at IDers/creationists primarily because the IDers/creationists consistently misrepresent what those scientists say (dare I say “lie”?), pompously imply that they have more knowledge of biology than biologists, more knowledge of education than professional educators, and run away from substantive discourse.

For example, sort of like you have run away from my example with the triplets. If you truly want understanding, here is an opportunity served up fresh. Why do you look at triplets and say “brothers”, but when you see my cat and I, you do not say “very distant cousins”? The basis, the genes, is the same in both cases.

This is what so many creationists can’t handle. Gain an understanding of the point I am making here, and you’ll understand why we snicker when someone asks “If we evolved from monkeys, than why are there still monkeys?”, and why so many times the way you describe evolution isn’t accurate.

Comment #161722

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 19, 2007 4:27 PM (e)

Mark P.,

Oh, the anger I have seen goes far beyond your own particular brand. Anger over tax breaks, discrimination, bigotry, schools teaching ID or trying to, hypocrisy of church leadership or even laity, and so much more. Some of it clearly moves into bitterness, but before you get even more unhappy with me, there is plenty of bitterness in every “group.” And the bitterness can start to look like victimization.

I have extensively debated Xtheists on whether government really favors theism or naturalistic thinking in science. I’ve seen recent articles (angry) regarding supposed creationist materials at the grand canyon. But, truly, everywhere I travel (and I travel a lot, the museums and national parks all assume naturalistic explanations for everything. And almost always it is the very latest theory.

The NASA sight once gave a breathless interpretation of new info from Hubble that never once used a modifier like maybe, or potentially. And this was based on two day old info.

Whoops! Wrong soapbox.

Mark P.,

Yep! Now I get where you were going. Whatever has gone before in your life seems to give you a skepticism about people intent (which intent might be the most provable aspect of current US law that comes directly from OT) I was not intentionally being obtuse with regard to your example. Just didn’t get it.

As to the example. If I look at granite and quartz , should I also see cousins, or merely similar structures. I can see huge benefits to having created a system for comparing various animals, plants, etc, placing them in groups by similarities. And I won’t say 100% that my cat isn’t my cousin. I can even say that there is good reason to make such a claim based on intuitive thinking. You can even go one step further and say that the unraveling of the genetic code may lend more cred to the whole idea that we are cousins. It would not “necessarily” mean that God didn’t create each without evolution as the tool. Sufficiency maybe.

Comment #161724

Posted by David B. Benson on February 19, 2007 4:32 PM (e)

Randy Kirk — Quartz is one of the mineral components of granite. Geez! Do some simple checking using, say, Wikipedia, before you post?

Comment #161733

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 19, 2007 7:00 PM (e)

Well, it has been half a century since I was excited about rocks. Your right, David. Should have checked.

Comment #161758

Posted by MarkP on February 19, 2007 9:40 PM (e)

Randy Kirk said:

I won’t say 100% that my cat isn’t my cousin.

The question I keep asking, and you keep not answering, is why won’t you say your cat is your cousin? If the genetic information is good enough to establish the brotherhood, why isn’t it enough to establish the cousinhood?

As for your rocks analogy, until rocks start having babies and passing on traits to them, they make poor analogies for what we are discussing.

Also, you are treating an established fact as if it hasn’t happened yet again, like you did with the speciation experiments/studies. The genetic code has lent tremendous credibility to our cousinhood with other animals. That was really the slam dunk in the case for evolutionary theory, since it was a validation that was not even known when the TOE was first conceived.

And yes, no matter what we find, god as you have defined it could be responsible. That’s precisely why it is useless as a scientific premise and why I dedicate no time to it. It is ultimately why ID is not science. There is no conceivable experimental outcome or discovered fact that could disprove it.

Comment #161767

Posted by tgibbs on February 19, 2007 11:08 PM (e)

there is a hierarchy of scientific knowledge, which for the sake of structure I think of as hypothesis theory law

Nope. It goes hypothesis, theory, and stops there.

What is a “Law”? It is mostly an obsolete term, because hardly any body presumes to call a theory a “Law” any more. It is retained for historical reasons, mainly for simple, easy-to-understand rule-of-thumb principles that are not too far wrong. For example, we still talk about Newton’s “Laws” of motion, even though they aren’t really correct (Einstein’s theory of relativity is more accurate). But Newton’s equations are simpler and more convenient for practical purposes. re.

Comment #161833

Posted by secondclass on February 20, 2007 10:39 AM (e)

Sorry to interrupt the conversation, but I want to correct something in
Salvador’s report of the Rosenhouse/Dembski interaction.

Says Salvador:

Salvador wrote:

Rosenhouse makes a formidable and convincing argument, but there is actually a more formidable and almost invulnerable counter argument (which I will give briefly)

But for the reader’s benefit, and to try to put a rest to some of this, the more solid but tediously formal argument against Rosenhouse’s thesis is laid out in Design Inference. Understandably because of time constraints, Bill did not bring out the big guns of formalisms laid in Design Inference. The formalisms demonstrate that there is a moot point crushing the Darwinist position, namely that Darwinists arguments are logically self-contradictory probability arguments of the form: “E = not-E” (page 46). Bill even uses the phrase reductio ad absurdum to described what his formalism demonstrates.

Salvador is wrong on at least three counts:

First, Dembski explicitly states that the contradiction* is not logical, but probabilistic (see TDI page 196).

Second, the contradiction is not demonstrated by “formalisms”. Dembski treats the uncontroversial parts of his argument formally, but when he gets to this crucial claim on which his argument hinges, he leaves it as a naked assertion.

Third, far from being “almost invulnerable”, the alleged contradiction is refuted quite easily by trivial counterexamples. If Salvador had put a little thought into his reading, or if he had read Sober’s rebuttals, he would know this.

* Briefly, Dembski’s argument in TDI rests on what he claims to be a three-part probabilistic contradiction. From page 197 of TDI:

1) P(F) < P(~F)
2) F actually occurred
3) F is a saturated event (see TDI for a definition of saturated)

It’s easy to demonstrate the this is not, in fact, a probabilistic inconsistency. Imagine a universe whose history consists of a single event, the roll of a die. No matter what the outcome is, P(F) < P(~F). And the event is saturated since it constitutes the whole history of the universe. According to Dembski, the only reasonable conclusion is that it isn’t a fair die, no matter what the outcome is. This obviously doesn’t make sense.

Comment #161835

Posted by MarkP on February 20, 2007 11:55 AM (e)

Darwinists arguments are logically self-contradictory probability arguments of the form: “E = not-E”

The arrogance of such a claim, that there could be a basic logical contradiction in a line of scientific thought that has been a fruitful arena of groundbreaking research for over a hundred years, is truly staggering. It’s a cousin of the “survival of the fittest is a tautology” argument, and just as worthless.

Comment #161838

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on February 20, 2007 12:07 PM (e)

According to Dembski, the only reasonable conclusion is that it isn’t a fair die, no matter what the outcome is.

Isn’t this yet another version of the Privileged Planet nonsense, also known as Heddle’s Fallacy?

Comment #161852

Posted by PvM on February 20, 2007 1:19 PM (e)

Salvador is wrong on at least three counts:

Which is why Sal makes for an excellent friend of Charles Darwin and a poor defender of ID-creationism.
But remember Sal is willing to take a grenade for Bill, deflecting negative attention away from Bill. As such do not be confused by Sal’s role as a lightning rod and keep focusing on what is really the issue here namely the scientific vacuity of Bill’s arguments.

Focus focus focus.

Comment #161869

Posted by DMC on February 20, 2007 3:51 PM (e)

Frankly, I would like to see the actual words of both sides.

I don’t trust anyones “accounts” around here.

Comment #161874

Posted by Flint on February 20, 2007 4:48 PM (e)

I happen to believe that honest, reasoned, and trusting discourse is far more likely to bring truth.

This kind of thing gets annoying. Yes, I’m sure that if truth were the goal, then honest, reasoned and trusting discourse would help both sides get there. But truth is NOT the goal of the ID people, and never has been. Their goals are political (elect creationists), social (enact laws embodying the creationist agenda), and psychological (indoctrinate as many people as possible starting as young as possible).

And what we need to realize is, truth is the ideological enemy of these people; they abhor it and spend their entire careers lying about it, denying it, distorting it, misrepresenting it, changing the subject, waving their arms, creating any possible distractions, and in general making the truth as difficult to notice as absolutely possible. They do this on purpose. When your goal is to control people and the truth sets people free, you do everything in your power to keep the truth away from them.

Scientists start out behind the 8-ball because the truth is usually too complicated to reduce to a few slogans, and rarely fuzzy and comfortable. Attributes that creationists take full advantage of every chance they can find.

Comment #161880

Posted by MarkP on February 20, 2007 5:53 PM (e)

Another good point is to approach the problem this way: If two groups have long-lasting differences of opinion on factual matters, it is often the case that one side simply has too much emotional attachment to their POV to be able to accept the facts.

Now gee, which group here does that describe most? Those resisting evolution have placed much of their personal morality and sense of identity on premises that they believe evolution challenges. They say so, and for once I take them at their word. Accepting evolution and its implications would turn their world upside down, at least temporarily.

On the other hand, for all except perhaps professional biologists and Darwin’s descendents, the scientific overturning of evolution (say proof positive that life was seeded here at various times by aliens) would elicit no more emotion or life import than did the overturning of Newtonian physics by Einstein. We’d just change a few assumptions about the world and move on.

The retort to this will no doubt be some version of “You atheists rely on Darwinism to turn away from Gawd, and without it, you would have to accept Him”. I have no doubt you people believe that, but get a clue: WE DON’T. Even if you disproved evolutionary theory absolutely, I would still be an atheist, and I have a ton of company.

Creationist/IDers are covering their emotional asses, because they just can’t accept what they believe are the implications of evolutionary theory. That’s the bottom line, and one cannot have “honest, reasoned, and trusting discourse” with such people, nor is it desired by them. They don’t want THE truth, they want THEIR truth.

Comment #161952

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 21, 2007 12:21 AM (e)

Flint and Mark P,

Thanks for the reasoned arguments.

You “believe” that some, many, most ID folks come into the debate with wrong motives, then use unethical methods to try and win the day.

I suggest that you will have better chance of moving the ball if you choose to “believe” that they either honestly have a passionate desire to preserve what they believe to be truth, or that they, bless their hearts, just aren’t smart enough, educated enough, or flexible in their thinking enough, to see what you see.

Then, just add a dash of humility. Maybe there is a God. Maybe much of current evolutionary theory will end up like the absolute certainty of a coming ice age during the 80’s. I appreciate science at least as much as you all. I make my living combining chemicals, heating them up, and forming them into useful articles. I have a patent, and have invented other items. My dad was an engineer.

But, and pardon the quick switch in set, I don’t understand how my wife intuits things. She says I am all logic, and I can’t get inside her emotional way of handling things. Some folks have charisma (I don’t), that help them to fame and fortune while more talented folks get no where. There is something more going on in this world than matter and energy. Or at least I thing humble folks would say their just might be. It doesn’t mean you have to believe in God, or certainly in my God, it is enough to say to someone, “I can see where you are coming from, and why. And I don’t think your a dufus or a fool to think that way. That is what is happening on my new site.

Comment #161962

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 21, 2007 12:49 AM (e)

You “believe” that some, many, most ID folks come into the debate with wrong motives, then use unethical methods to try and win the day.

well, “believe” should be more correctly stated as “have reasoned based on the evidence presented”:

ALL the “leaders” of the ID movement have exhibited those traits, which is well and frequently documented on this very site on an almost daily basis.

also exhibited by the overwhelming majority of ID supporters that have posted here, on ATBC, pharyngula, etc., etc.

from the very beginning, the only thing that really would interest any scientist, that is, ACTUAL SCIENCE has been completely devoid from the “ID folks”.

to call it “belief” as if it were some faith issue is entirely projection on your part, to put it mildly.

Here, let me be clear:

real creationists (YEC style), are at least honest about how they define where they are coming from.

the IDers?

can’t even define themselves or their ideas consistently, and instead seem to waffle their ideas based on a “best PR fit” model.

Maybe much of current evolutionary theory will end up like the absolute certainty of a coming ice age during the 80’s.

maybe pink elephants will populate Uranus?

maybe we should get Dembski to calculate the probability of that. After all, he was so accurate in his predictions of how Kitzmiller would come out.

Comment #161969

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 21, 2007 3:01 AM (e)

Then, just add a dash of humility.

What exactly do you insist scientists be humble about? Evolution seems to be as certain as anything else right now, and any serious challenges to it will come from people doing science. ID certainly has put forth things that vaguely resemble new science, but which, upon cursory inspection, turn out to be just a bunch of new terms of pseudo-theories wrapped around the same crap taco.

You’re welcome to disagree; but you haven’t presented anything new here. And you managed to be condescending again.

Comment #161993

Posted by Richard Simons on February 21, 2007 8:28 AM (e)

Slightly OT: “Maybe much of current evolutionary theory will end up like the absolute certainty of a coming ice age during the 80’s.”
Except that this ‘absolute certainty’ was almost entirely a figment of a few journalists’ imagination. A couple of climatologists said that if things continue as they are at present, in a few tens of thousands of years there will be another ice age. This was picked up by a news magazine and interpreted as ‘the next ice age is on its way’. From there it spread from journalist to journalist and the time frame seemed to vanish. As far as I can tell, not one climatologist said that an ice age was imminent (coming in the next 10,000 years).

If IDers are as honest as you seem to believe, why is so easy to find blatant untruths in all they say or write? It is perhaps excusable in people who admit to knowing almost nothing about the subject, but the people who actively promote it must either know they are lying or have a serious disconnect in their minds (possibly the latter - I knew a Young Earth Creationist who, for his physics master’s thesis did what I was told was good research on a dating method for rocks about 100 million years old).

Comment #162006

Posted by Flint on February 21, 2007 10:42 AM (e)

Randy Kirk continues to assume that scientists and creationists have similar goals, just different ways of getting there. And this is so totally wrong that Randy Kirk can’t even locate the argument.

Scientists have the primary goal of understanding how the universe works, and the secondary goal of showing what they’ve learned to everyone else (they understand that nobody can be an expert at everything).

Creationists have the goal of getting everyone to behave the way creationists WANT them to behave. Creationists do not care how the universe works. As far as science is concerned, creationists only care that certain scientific understandings happen to oppose their goal of controlling people, and forcing them to behave as the creationists demand.

For scientists, honesty has always been an absolute non-negotiable requirement. The universe is what it is, and there’s no way to trick it or lie to it to get it to be anything else. So honesty is taken for granted by scientists as being necessary. For creationists, inculcating proper belief and coercing proper behavior is the absolute non-negotiable. It is neither necessary to know or understand any evidence, nor to be honest in presenting evidence, UNLESS this leads toward the goal. If it does not, then people must be misinformed and otherwise tricked into Right Belief.

Whether the creationists have a “wrong” motive isn’t really the point. Unlike reality, people CAN be tricked and lied to and brainwashed. Whereas scientists want knowledge, creationists want POWER. Maybe scientists, not oriented toward the desire for power, don’t quite grasp that some knowledge undermines that goal. But creationists, concerned ONLY with power, are intensely aware of any challenge to their social goals.

And so we’re back to the “best-fit” approach. Scientists look for explanations that best fit their data. Creationists look for tactics that best fit their social agenda. Facts, to be useful, must be engineered for this purpose. For the creationist, there is no other purpose. It’s the only game in town.

Comment #162014

Posted by MarkP on February 21, 2007 12:20 PM (e)

Randy Kirk said:

I suggest that you will have better chance of moving the ball if you choose to “believe” that they either honestly have a passionate desire to preserve what they believe to be truth, or that they, bless their hearts, just aren’t smart enough, educated enough, or flexible in their thinking enough, to see what you see.

Perhaps this is the problem right here. I cannot “choose” to believe anything. My views are based on the facts I’m aware of and the best reasoning processes I can apply. Whatever results from that becomes my beliefs. Perhaps you, and other creationists, have this ability. It would certainly explain a lot.

I accept the limited cognitive abilities of some creationists, sure, and I’m pretty sure of their passionate desire to preserve what they currently believe. That’s the problem! Their fervor to preserve that view causes them to engage in unethical behavior. This has been demonstrated frequently, which is why many of us come into these debates with the low opinion of the motives of creationists. For example, they like to take quotes from scientists out of context and distort their meaning, and they do so so frequently that we have coined a term to describe this: “quote mining”. To illustrate, were I to argue as they do, I might say the following:

“Even Christian Randy Kirk agrees that creationists are stupid. He says ‘they, bless their hearts, just aren’t smart enough, educated enough, or flexible in their thinking enough’ to accept evolution.”

Cute, isn’t it? I took what you said and twisted it to mean something other than what you clearly meant from the full context of your statements. IDers/creationists do this over and over and over and over and over and over again. And worse yet, even when the error is pointed out to them, they still keep doing it!!! That’s not an intellectual problem, that’s a moral one.

Then, just add a dash of humility. Maybe there is a God.

I would toss the same back at you. Add a dash of humility. Maybe there is no God, and the Bible is simply overrated toilet paper. This is why you keep getting accused of being condescending. The underlying theme of your statements like this is “Do as I do and you too can reach the intellectual heights I have”.

There is something more going on in this world than matter and energy. Or at least I thing humble folks would say their just might be.

I would expect humble folks to admit their ignorance rather than making shit up and pretending they know more than they do. There is nothing humble about saying “I don’t see how event X could have come about through only matter and energy, therefore I reject that possibility”. That is arrogance, not humility, whether you name your hypothetical solution “God” or not.

Comment #162029

Posted by Raging Bee on February 21, 2007 2:06 PM (e)

Where’s the “humility” on your side, Mr. Kirk? When a self-appointed minister who knows absolutely nothing about how science works pretends he knows more about it than actual scientists, then accuses those scientists of some monstrous conspiracy to eradicate religion and morality from public life, that’s not humility; that’s colossal arrogance, not to mention bearing false witness against people who have done no wrong, for the purpose of sowing discord among well-meaning people (for which activity there’s a really nasty place in Hell, at least according to Dante).

Every time anyone stands up to question the word of a “holy man,” he/she is accused of lacking humility and/or not knowing his/her proper place. The advice to “add a dash of humility” is almost never sincerely offered – it’s a put-down. Humility is for the little people, not those in charge.

PS: if “humility” did not stop Jesus from telling high priests, to their faces, that they were wrong, why should it stop us from questioning the “holy” people of our own generation?

Comment #162034

Posted by Roland Sassen on February 21, 2007 2:44 PM (e)

Religion, false though it may be, is the only reliable instrument for shaping the average person into an obedient and well-behaved subject of state and society, by Norman Levitt, mathematician at Rutgers University
link

Comment #162035

Posted by J. Biggs on February 21, 2007 2:49 PM (e)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; wisdom and instruction fools despise.
– Proverbs 1:7

Unfortunately, ID/Creationists tend to forget the second part of this proverb and rewrite the whole thing as:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; the fear of the Lord is also the end of knowledge.

Randy, the people in this forum are some of the most intelligent people I have ever read. Very few of them will say “There is not a God.” even if they feel that way personally. What you will here them say, however, is the assumption of God does not change objective reality which is what science attempts to explain. Therefore, God is an unnecessary part of the scientific equation. You are welcome to believe “God did it.” You are also welcome to believe evolution didn’t really happen, but neither of those decisions are based on science, logic or a pursuit of the ultimate truth. Those are decisions based on emotion. In fact, if you do chose to deny any aspect of ToE then you are denying the reality that has been observed and described by thousands of scientists. And if you ever care to read any of their peer reviewed scientific publications you will quickly realize that roughly none of them say, “and because we observe this or that aspect of evolution, we now can say that there is no God.” You will find that some scientists will publish philosophical literature that says this, but precious few will argue that those views are in anyway scientific.

What you are suggesting is a philosophical choice based on emotion, and what may be the ultimate truth for one person will most definitely be a load of crap to someone else. It is impossible to know the unknowable. What makes everyone here angry is the insistence of a small minority of people that their religious philosophy be called science; and furthermore replace and be given the same credibility as a reliable theory with 150 years of scientific scrutiny which has yet to disprove it. Your religious philosophy is right for you as mine is for me and that is fine, just don’t assume that everyone else will buy into your philosophy or consider it the path to ultimate truth.

Before you reject scientific theories out of hand you really ought to research them objectively and see if what a theory says truly does not fit what is observed. If it does not then you have good reason to reject it, if it does then you really have to question why you don’t believe it. Consider that “Goddidit” can explain anything you want it to explain, but does it really tell you anything substantive? Does it really tell you why people get sick, or why the weather changes or when there will be a solar eclipse? “Goddidit” explains everything but improves our understanding of nothing of consequence; that is why it is not science.

Comment #162037

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 21, 2007 3:00 PM (e)

Religion, false though it may be, is the only reliable instrument for shaping the average person into an obedient and well-behaved subject of state and society, by Norman Levitt, mathematician at Rutgers University

another follower of Leo Strauss.

*sigh*

go tell what levitt said to all the secular societies in Europe.

I wonder how long this idiocy will maintain itself as legitimate “philosophy”.

Comment #162065

Posted by Peter B on February 21, 2007 6:42 PM (e)

ptisdall said: “ID would be acceptable as a hypothesis and evolution would be acceptable as a theory. Both can be taught in science class. In fact, I wouldn’t want a child of mine to be in a science class that wouldn’t teach this way.”

In your opinion, roughly how much time should be spent teaching children about ID? A sentence? A lesson? A week of lessons? Longer?

Evolution isn’t the only example of a well proven scientific principle which has an alternative of some popularity with little science behind it. For a couple of examples, homeopathy is a direct challenge to how chemistry works, and Flood geology is a direct challenge to geology (as is the Hindu fundamentalist belief that humans have been around for billions of years). Similar sorts of challenges exist in other subjects. If you believe that ID should be taught in the classroom, what about these other challenges?

Should trainee pilots be taught about levitation through Transcendental Meditation? Should trainee surgeons be taught about psychic surgery? Should crane drivers be taught about telekinesis?

And herein lies the problem. If all these controversies are taught, how much time is left to teach things we know *are* so?

“Evolution as science is fine, but there a deep fear across the broad spectrum of Christians, ranging in depth from biblical literalists like the Jehovah’s Witnesses to mainstream types like the Episcopals, that evolution teaches that there is no God.”

The important thing to understand is that while evolutionary theory shows that God isn’t necessary for the current variety of life of Earth to have come into existence, that does not prove that God doesn’t exist.

Comment #162096

Posted by Flint on February 21, 2007 9:07 PM (e)

The important thing to understand is that while evolutionary theory shows that God isn’t necessary for the current variety of life of Earth to have come into existence, that does not prove that God doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, this is itself a misunderstanding, which is why teaching nonscience in science classes is so misguided.

Evolutionary theory doesn’t at all show that “God isn’t necessary”. Evolutionary theory, like all scientific explanations, don’t say anything directly about any gods at all. At the very most, science can show what methods the gods have NOT used. Briefly, whatever it is the gods do (if anything), they do not seem to introduce paradoxes or inconsistencies into reality. And even this is subject to different legitimate interpretations…

Comment #162132

Posted by Keith on February 22, 2007 2:57 AM (e)

I listened to Shermer debate Dembski on Dembski’s radio show a while back, and it was frustrating listening to Dembski basically dictate the direction of the conversation for the entire show. Personally, I would love to see Dembski forced to go on the defensive and have his religious beliefs held up to the same scrutiny to which he holds evolution: Do bad things happen to good people because a talking snake told a woman to eat an apple 6,000 years ago? How did Noah fit two of every species onto a single boat? If you believe there is a supernatural being who selectively suspends the laws of nature, what basis would you have for denying that this being sends a team of pixies to carry me to work every morning? These are the kinds of questions I would like to see Dembski forced to answer rather than comfortably sitting back and trying to poke holes in well-established scientific theory.

Comment #162283

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 22, 2007 10:09 PM (e)

Flint,

Stereotypes are very useful and often true. However, they can also disrupt the search for truth. Almost all of science is based on finding varying versions of stereotypes, but it is critical that we remain open minded enough to see the atypical.

Similarly, while one might expect scientists to have more integrity than some other groups, this may or may not be the case today.

1. Press releases with regard to results of experiments or new observations are often filled with hype and hyperbole.

2. Many scientists clearly have agendas that are effected by their politics.

3. Some scientists seem worried about their ability to advance in their departments if they cross the boss.

4. Grants are often politically driven.

5. Money is in the game for sure now, with colleges needing funding, and profs starting companies out of university sponsored work.

6. Corporations, the government, and other groups are funding scientists with desired outcomes known in advance.

7. Even the very ethical scientist is likely to read previous research, create experiments, and evaluate results through a lens favorable to their personal persuasion.

8. The power of being seen as influential or setting the direction for ones field is a powerful siren song.

I’m not knocking science. I think these are issues that need to be addressed by both science and the larger community. I am saying that there is plenty of questionable behavior to go around.

Comment #162285

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 22, 2007 10:21 PM (e)

Almost all of science is based on finding varying versions of stereotypes

LOL.

another nice example of projection.

I tell ya, Randy, the irony is that you’re the one who is reinforcing the stereotype around here.

it’s just not the one you think.

Comment #162286

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 22, 2007 10:23 PM (e)

Personally, I would love to see Dembski forced to go on the defensive and have his religious beliefs held up to the same scrutiny to which he holds evolution…

well, now you know the real reason why the IDiots say that ID has nothing to do with religion.

Comment #162288

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 22, 2007 10:55 PM (e)

I’m not knocking science. I think these are issues that need to be addressed by both science and the larger community. I am saying that there is plenty of questionable behavior to go around.

This is a red-herring, Randy. You don’t have a beef with science per se. You have no problems with the germ theory of disease, plate tectonics, quantum mechanics, geology (I hope), relativity, etc.. So all of your bullet points, which apply to any branch of science, have nothing at all to do with what you’ve been saying. What you’ve demonstrated is that you have a beef with one particular scientific theory because it violates your religious beliefs.

Comment #162290

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 22, 2007 11:03 PM (e)

Not to mention it is the height of irony (and by reading this site, I note that the Heights of Irony are legion) that you should accuse science of being politicized, instead favoring a movement which exists solely for political reasons.

Actually, I shouldn’t say “solely”. The ID movement also allows its proponents to earn a living. Cf scientists known personally to me, only a very small fraction of whom went into their professions for the money.

Comment #162291

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 22, 2007 11:33 PM (e)

In the course of debating (even friends and family), there is a common experience. Someone makes an accusation. The other debater agrees that the accusation has merit, but suggests that the opponent might look at his own house, as well. Not as a method of distracting from the failure of the first person, but in order to give rise to empathy.

But what commonly happens is that instead of empathy, the first party becomes defensive and lashes out.

In no way would I claim that there aren’t folks in the religious community who have inappropriate motives. But there seemed to be a thread of opinion here that this was why you are so angry with ID’rs. That the anger might be reasonable, but should be mitigated by empathy, is my point.

As to stereotypes, the first point of all science is to put things into categories, to see commonalities, and principles that are universal or true for all within a group, or did I miss something.

Comment #162296

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 23, 2007 12:16 AM (e)

But what commonly happens is that instead of empathy, the first party becomes defensive and lashes out.

I have no idea what you mean by this, or how it applies here. Empathy entails that we begin to understand the other side’s motives and feelings and then begin to identify with them.

On the one hand, I think we have a really good understanding of what motivates the other side and what their feelings are. Just see MarkP’s or Sir TJ’s or Raging Bee’s or Flint’s comments (sorry if I missed anyone) on what they think motivates the ID movement. There is absolutely no shortage of understanding here.

The next step would be to identify with the other side. But this is totally unwarranted, since ID’s motivations are completely religious and political; these attributes are missing from science per se, so there’s nothing to be empathetic about.

Furthermore, empathy by definition cannot occur in an objective environment, which science is supposed to be. As in, there are no subjective results in science, so there’s no room for empathy either.

Comment #162297

Posted by Kit on February 23, 2007 1:01 AM (e)

Disclaimer: everything I write in this post are assumptions and guesses.

Randy,

You said, “In no way would I claim that there aren’t folks in the religious community who have inappropriate motives. But there seemed to be a thread of opinion here that this was why you are so angry with ID’rs.”

I think I see the problem.

It seems to me that you see this as an issue between “naturalists” and “the religious community”. It isn’t.

If the people that are peddling ID were UFO-believers, or even atheists, you would see the same reactions. The issue isn’t that the ID people believe in God; the issue is that the ID people lie, deceive, manipulate, and suggest that their ignorance is more worthwhile than the wisdom of people who have been studying this issue for a very long time. It doesn’t really matter that these people are religious; the anger is directed at their long history of lying.

There are *plenty* of theists who accept the current theory of evolution… in fact, considering the percentage of nontheists in the world, it could be easily argued that there are more pro-evolution theists than pro-evolution nontheists. Judaism has no problem with it, the Catholic church has no problem with it (well, for the most part), and many progressive-to-mainstream protestant churches have no problems with it.

Again, Randy, the anger and frustration you see is directed towards people who engage in constant acts of lying, deception, and manipulation. What these liars believe in and what they say motivates them does not matter to many people in the anti-ID crowd; what matters is that they are dishonest and they are using political tricks to change things to be their way, especially since their focus is on children.

Randy, I cannot encourage you enough to study the players in the ID/Creation movement, and read as much as you possibly can of their writings… the more obscure, the better. Then ask yourself if these people are honest, honorable people.

THAT’S our issue with them. They are neither honest nor are they honorable, and they could all be atheists for all I care; I would still fight against them every chance I have.

Thank You,

Kit

Comment #162382

Posted by J. Biggs on February 23, 2007 1:59 PM (e)

Stereotypes are very useful and often true. However, they can also disrupt the search for truth. Almost all of science is based on finding varying versions of stereotypes, but it is critical that we remain open minded enough to see the atypical.

I am not at all familiar with your definition of science as discipline based on finding varying versions of stereotypes. In fact, science remains open minded enough to not only see the atypical but explain it, unless your definition of atypical is somehow different than mine. Could you please site an example of something atypical that science does not see or try to address other than a Deity.

Similarly, while one might expect scientists to have more integrity than some other groups, this may or may not be the case today.

Scientists are people just like you and me. Nobody is saying that any individual one has more or less integrity than anyone else. However as a group it is quite well established that the scientific community values integrity and will scrutinize every detail of research that it is presented with. Faulty research will almost always be exposed as such based on the system of peer review that the scientific community relies on. I would argue, based on this fact, that scientists as a group possess more integrity today than ever before.

1. Press releases with regard to results of experiments or new observations are often filled with hype and hyperbole.

How does this support your point that scientists “might” lack integrity. For one you don’t even offer an example of this, you just state it as though it were a fact. Secondly, it is usually the media itself that misrepresents and sensationalizes scientific discovery using hype and hyperbole. The scientists doing the research themselves have little control over how the media chooses to present their evidence.

2. Many scientists clearly have agendas that are effected by their politics.

Again could you provide me with an example. It is simply not enough that you perceive an agenda. ID on the other hand, which I do not qualify as science, and their major proponent the Discovery Institute has a very obvious agenda as demonstrated in their Wedge Document. http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

3. Some scientists seem worried about their ability to advance in their departments if they cross the boss.

First scientists lack integrity and now a back-bone. If you want to know the reason nobody is researching ID you should ask the Discovery Institute. They certainly have the money to do valid ID research without fear of reprisal from the “boss”. However there is one problem; before you can do actual research you have to have a testable hypothesis of ID.

4. Grants are often politically driven.

So What? The DI, which is as politically driven as they come, has plenty of money to use for research but would rather use it for PR. And furthermore why should ones political affiliation matter one when is reporting observable phenomenon.

5. Money is in the game for sure now, with colleges needing funding, and profs starting companies out of university sponsored work.

Money has and will continue to be a part of the game as long as it exists. Scientists like everyone else have lives apart from their work and simply can not afford to do their research for free. As for your second example of profs starting companies; I think you are most likely confusing science with engineering or medicine here, because technology and medicine are useful to the average person with disposable income, where as, the scientific discoveries that made them possible are not. I am not claiming here that engineers and physicians aren’t required to understand a great deal of science because what they create relies heavily on scientific principles. However, they, for the most part, do not practice science in a real sense; what they do is more of an applied science. (hat tip Glenn Davidson)

6. Corporations, the government, and other groups are funding scientists with desired outcomes known in advance.

You are delusional if you think that anyone can bend objective reality to fit desired outcomes. Certainly one can enter any field of research hoping to achieve a desired outcome, however, a true scientist will recognize when their hypothesis is wrong and either modify or abandon it.

7. Even the very ethical scientist is likely to read previous research, create experiments, and evaluate results through a lens favorable to their personal persuasion.

So because a scientist understands the framework of his or her particular discipline they are somehow evaluating their results through “a lens favorable to their personal persuasion.” Scientific research builds on previous research. It would be hard get any useful knowledge out of research built on faulty research; That is why scientists scrutinize each others work, no Rosy colored lenses necessary.

8. The power of being seen as influential or setting the direction for ones field is a powerful siren song.

The only way one can set the direction in a particular scientific field is if the discoveries made are new, useful and fit objective reality. Nobody is going to be very influential or set the direction in their respective field if all their research turns out to be BS.

I’m not knocking science. I think these are issues that need to be addressed by both science and the larger community. I am saying that there is plenty of questionable behavior to go around.

Not only are you knocking science but you are being condescending and passive aggressive at the same time. You site no real examples of what you think the scientific community is doing. Am I saying what you assert never happens, no; but it is by and large the exception rather than the rule. Science is very good at smoking out liars and frauds because it depends on consistent results. When an unbiased scientist tries to verify a peer’s research and comes up with different results both sets of research will be called into question and the one proved false will be thrown out. That is why there is no published research in support of ID, it simply fails every test it is given.

So why don’t you tell everyone what you think the ultimate truth is and how you arrive at this conclusion? I certainly would like to understand your motives more clearly.

Comment #162392

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 23, 2007 3:16 PM (e)

Kit,

Well said. I have followed some of the ID folks for years. I suspect from reading here and elsewhere that your fund mental problem is the basic premise: Don’t call the designer God, and we can change the playing field. This, even though virtually every one pushing ID is Christian.

I would propose that the Christian community felt pushed into that option by the terms of the debate. We all know that he who creates the title of the debate has a distinct advantage.

So if the question as previously posed is: Is evolution true or did God speak everything into existence, then you make the argument that teaching that God did it is public endorsement of religion.

What I would like to see is a more vigorous skepticism. I’m sure from where you sit it appears that there is plenty of skepticism within the community. From where I sit, there seems to be clubbiness and circling of wagons. Not just on evolution, but also on global warming and other such.

J Biggs,

Thanks for that long detailed answer. However, I would challenge you to take the opposite side and provide your own arguments. You acted as if no such things existed, or if they did it was rare and getting rarer.

When GW opponents with huge credentials lose their state posts, are accused of being deniers, and suggestions are made that they are in the pocket of the oil companies, I think there is a problem much bigger than you acknowledge.

When people at the Global Warming Conference in Pasadena (Skeptics) last year applauded those who suggested that there was difficulty in getting advancement within University departments when underlings didn’t agree with heads.

I don’t really think I’m that into debating this. It is more evident than human caused global warming. Therefore, you must be a denier.

Finally, there are various kinds of truths about objective things. Some are pretty clear (e.g. there is a table in front of me and it is strong enough to hold a computer.) Some are more open to interpretation (the computer is a Mac, so it is faster than its competition in the PC world.) Some is just opinion based on fact (Macs Are better than PC’s.)_

Comment #162401

Posted by Kit on February 23, 2007 3:49 PM (e)

Randy,

Unfortunately, I think that you completely missed my point.

You say that your understanding is that my fundamental problem is “Don’t call the designer God, and we can change the playing field.”

That is NOT my fundamental problem.

As I explained in my post, my fundamental problem is that these people LIE, DECEIVE, and MANIPULATE. Their focus is on children, and they want people to believe and think like they do.

These people are *dominionists*, Randy.

Randy, using your PC vs. Mac idea, if I was to disagree with you on which is “best”, I would try to use arguments based on facts that we agree on to try to prove my point. What I wouldn’t do is make stuff up in an effort to deceive and manipulate you to accept my point. That is what the ID people do, and that is my fundamental problem with them.

I’ll say it again, Randy, this time with feeeeeeling:

I don’t care whether or not these people are theists. I really don’t. They could all be atheists and it wouldn’t change my fundamental problems with them. These people are manipulative liars, and should constantly be shown as such.

A couple of other points:

1. Many muslims also are pro-ID, especially the people who are fans of Harun Yahya, for example. I talk with muslims often on online chat programs (such as Paltalk), and they certainly tend to be anti-evolutionists (and, like nearly all anti-evolutionists, they are incredibly ignorant regarding what the theory of evolution actually *is*… but that’s because they’ve been lied to and manipulated).

2. It’s not an issue of “(i)s evolution true or did God speak everything into existence”. We don’t talk about “truth” with regards to scientific theories; we talk about “is this the best explanation for the data we have?” Also, if you want to throw in “did God speak everything into existence” as a possibility, why not throw in *every creation story ever invented*? Why aren’t we (and you) considering the possibility that it was the titan Kronus who created the universe? Why aren’t we (and you) considering the possibility that it was the Beyonder (cf Secret Wars) who created the universe? Why not the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

We don’t consider those possibilities because they are not the best explanations we have, besides their inability to be tested and falsified.

Lastly, regarding teaching “God did it”, the primary problem with that is that it doesn’t answer any questions because it answers *all* questions. What can we do, scientifically, with the answer “God did it”? Say, for example, that you can’t find your keys (a common problem I have), and you ask me, “hey Kit, I can’t find my keys. Do you know where they are?” I reply with “God did it”. Ok. Now, how, in any way, does that help you find your keys?

Comment #162422

Posted by J. Biggs on February 23, 2007 6:00 PM (e)

Thanks for not answering even one of my questions Randy.

Thanks for that long detailed answer. However, I would challenge you to take the opposite side and provide your own arguments.

Thanks again for being so condescending.

1.) You dig up any press release you like and I will find the actual scientific publication and we’ll compare.
2.) It is not my job to find you examples of politically motivated research, however, I provided a link to the wedge document which is damning evidence that just about everything the Discovery Institute does is politically and not scientifically motivated.
3.) Probably the most correct assertion you made but still not evidence that the scientific community lacks integrity.
4.) Again some truth to this assertion, however, this in no way invalidates the research itself as I pointed out.
5.) Again some truth and again it doesn’t even begin to support the allegation that the scientific community lacks integrity. As others have pointed out, DI “researchers” make quite a bit more money than the majority of university sponsored researchers. And I also pointed out that you were possibly conflating engineering and medical research with bona fide scientific research.
6.) Your assertion here is absolutely absurd unless the person doing the research is a scientific dilettante, no example necessary.
7.) I pointed out the flaw in your logic in this assertion, no example necessary.
8.) I again point out the flaw in your logic, no example necessary.

You acted as if no such things existed, or if they did it was rare and getting rarer.

And if you read my post you would have seen that I said, “Am I saying what you assert never happens, no; but it is by and large the exception rather than the rule.” This in no way implies that the conditions you stated don’t exist or are getting rarer. It does suggest only that the conditions you suggest are rare.

When GW opponents with huge credentials lose their state posts, are accused of being deniers, and suggestions are made that they are in the pocket of the oil companies, I think there is a problem much bigger than you acknowledge.

What does this have to do with anything I said?

When people at the Global Warming Conference in Pasadena (Skeptics) last year applauded those who suggested that there was difficulty in getting advancement within University departments when underlings didn’t agree with heads.

First I would like to point out that this is a very long sentence fragment, but I am glad you at least tried to address your point #3. It still is not evidence that this is a pervasive condition. Also it would be nice to know in what way the underlings disagreed with the heads. Perhaps the department heads want their research to go in a particular direction. If so perhaps there is a different university better suited for the underlings research interests. I am afraid the person in charge of research programs at any university has the ultimate say on what is funded, right or wrong. This in no way supports your assertion that the scientific community “might” lack integrity and a backbone.

I don’t really think I’m that into debating this. It is more evident than human caused global warming. Therefore, you must be a denier.

I don’t even know how to respond to this. I will tell you that I acknowledge the current evidence that humans are contributing to world wide climactic change.

Finally, there are various kinds of truths about objective things. Some are pretty clear (e.g. there is a table in front of me and it is strong enough to hold a computer.) Some are more open to interpretation (the computer is a Mac, so it is faster than its competition in the PC world.) Some is just opinion based on fact (Macs Are better than PC’s.)_

And my question was “So why don’t you tell everyone what you think the ultimate truth is and how you arrive at this conclusion?” So when are you going to answer my question? It is rather insulting to give me bad examples of things I already know instead.

I will readily admit that I have no idea what the ultimate truth is. But you keep implying that either you know what it is or know how to ascertain it. So tell us what you think it is.

Comment #162424

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 23, 2007 6:13 PM (e)

That the anger might be reasonable, but should be mitigated by empathy, is my point.

i reserve empathy for those who come from an honest position to begin with, even if it is based on ignorance.

ID was invented and is perpetrated by those who actually have no honest intention of making it the “science” they themselves claim it to be.

hence, when one STARTS a debate from an obviously dishonest position, why ON EARTH should one think it rational that empathy should apply?

I think you are at the early stages of learning how human emotions affect debate, but have not yet learned that there are many who would not bring an honest position to a debate to begin with.

look at it this way:

I’m thinking about participating in a debate judged by a general audience about what causes the sky to be blue.

on the one side, I know a scientists will be presenting facts about light refraction and the molecular composition of the atmosphere. however, I’ve studied the composition of the audience and know ahead of time that most of them will not grasp what the scientist is trying to explain.

so… I can see that to win this debate, all i have to do is invent a simple, logical sounding explanation for why the sky is blue.

I don’t have to even think for a second that what I’m going to tell the audience is accurate or correct, so long as i can win over the majority of the audience with something that sounds plausible.

If there was an audience member that could easily see through my sham, would I expect that audience member to have empathy for me??

hardly.

Comment #162425

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 23, 2007 6:19 PM (e)

When people at the Global Warming Conference in Pasadena (Skeptics) last year applauded those who suggested that there was difficulty in getting advancement within University departments when underlings didn’t agree with heads.

when the head of NASA’s climate division tried to do his regular rounds of announcing NASA’s latest data on climate, he was quashed by the Bush administration.

you need to differentiate between polical and scientific motivations for presenting data.

when there is disagreement between newer and older faculty within a department, there is always resistance, no matter the subject matter. has nothing to do with whether the data being presented are accurate or not.

this is why we have independent peer review.

Comment #162429

Posted by David B. Benson on February 23, 2007 6:34 PM (e)

Scientific research funding is mostly supplied by various agencies of the US government in the form of grants and contracts. Some small portion is provided by state agencies (in some states) and privately funded foundations (Carnegie, Sloan, Ford, etc.).

Some universities provide a small amount of so-called start-up funding, with the expectation that the faculty member’s research program will attract outside funds from the above organizations.

No quality university will attempt to steer faculty members research direction(s) other than in applied fields such as agriculture. By in large, faculty successful at attracting research monies tend to follow what the granting agencies are emphasizing.

Comment #162441

Posted by MarkP on February 23, 2007 7:26 PM (e)

Randy, I’m sorry, but I am slowly being forced to conclude that you are one of these people that likes discussion, but does not like finding answers. It’s as though you would see that as the end of the game, and that’s no fun.

Comment #162543

Posted by J. Biggs on February 24, 2007 10:21 AM (e)

Randy says:

Well said. I have followed some of the ID folks for years. I suspect from reading here and elsewhere that your fund mental problem is the basic premise: Don’t call the designer God, and we can change the playing field. This, even though virtually every one pushing ID is Christian.

to which Kit adeptly responds:

As I explained in my post, my fundamental problem is that these people LIE, DECEIVE, and MANIPULATE. Their focus is on children, and they want people to believe and think like they do.

Which nicely sums up why most of us don’t like the ID/Creationism agenda. Not to mention the fact that the ID/Creationism movement has nothing to do with science other than trying to impedance to it.

If you have truly followed some of the ID folks for years, I suspect that you know these facts which, at worst, puts you in the same category of people. At best it shows you are willfully ignorant.

Why don’t you just admit that you are an IDer or Creationist rather than pretending you are somehow neutral. It is quite disingenuous to pretend to be unbiased and then do everything you can to misrepresent science and then say we should have “empathy” for those who disagree with these misrepresentations you point out.

Comment #162544

Posted by J. Biggs on February 24, 2007 10:24 AM (e)

…trying to impedance to it.

This should have said, …”trying to be an impedance to it.”

sorry for the typo.

Comment #162545

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 24, 2007 10:46 AM (e)

Mark P,

You have the wrong guy. I spent three years in law school only to decide I hated the law and lawyers. I am the one in this discussion that was a member of the Audubon Society at age 6, considered myself a naturalist by age 12, have always wanted to visit Galapagos, and left the church at age 21 at least in part because of Darwin.

I suspect I have more of a willingness to consider the evidence and change course than the average person. At least that would be my history.

Comment #162564

Posted by MarkP on February 24, 2007 1:10 PM (e)

I suspect I have more of a willingness to consider the evidence and change course than the average person. At least that would be my history.

I believe this is called “wanking” in some circles, or “all hat and no cattle” if you prefer. When you start dealing intellectually honestly with the information yu have been given here, I will stand corrected. A good start would be accepting the blatantly obvious fact (easily researched on any of these sites) that the vast majority of antagonism of scientists towards IDers has nothing whatever to do with the IDers’ religion, or even their hypotheses. It has to do with their tactics. They lie. They misrepresent. They ignore data. They claim papers don’t exist even when those papers are sitting in their laps. They refuse to clearly define their terms. They refuse to suject their views to the scrutiny of their peers.

You can’t claim a willingness to change with the evidence in this arena if you can’t even accept something as overwhelmingly demonstrated as that.

Comment #162591

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 24, 2007 3:45 PM (e)

Mark P.,

OK. Are all ID guys like this in your view? Phillip Johnson, for instance? Or would it be some in the ID movement who are the worst offenders? Any names I can research?

Can you give me three really good examples of what you are most concerned about? The three best.

I don’t think I see you personally as ant-religion or anti-Christianity. However, I do think that conclusions that are extrapolated from current science are often stated in ways that say: “See! We don’t need God to prove that.” This then creates a sense within the Christian community that “godless folks are running our universities and have taken over science with a very real purpose and goal. Undermining faith.”

Because at the end of the day, he who controls the truth meme, controls society. I think that this is understood by you, and you don’t want Christians to control the truth meme anymore.

J Biggs,

Maybe I didn’t explain myself very well.

Global warming is a great place to watch a scientific debate with huge money, political, and power implications that doesn’t involve religion. I have been studying the science, the history of the science, and the social/political implications of the science for a few years now. I have posted dozens of articles on my blog http://ideaplace.blogspot.com.

At last year’s GW conference, I spoke to friends I made there, listened to the presenters and those who had questions. The president of the university used his time to take on the Bush administration for reducing funds to science, trying to control the debate, and not being in line with his thinking regarding the debate. In other words, money, power, authority, prestige, politics were at the top of his list.

Others I heard from and spoke to made it clear that there was no money or advancement for those who disagreed with the mandidit view, or the view that we are on the verge of a catastrophe that requires massive amounts of help from scientists and government employees.

Since then we have watched the political consequences for three scientists who were so distinguished in their fields that the were the “state” authorities on the subject. But now that they are deniers they are being stripped of these honorary posts.

You may see this as a rare problem. I, and many of my associates, Christian and not, see this as science in real trouble. And along with some of my other points, it brings into question the entire output of the rest.

You don’t have to believe anything I just said. But if the “academy” doesn’t get its arms around the problem, there is every reason to expect a reaction in the direction of the know-nothings. It doesn’t take much for a charismatic leader to take up arms against such oppression.

I decided not to practice law, because lawyers were no longer about justice, and all about Clinton-style parsing. I think science is headed down a similar path.

The first step would be to quit calling your adversaries names, and insulting folks who don’t agree with you. Dawkins has just changed the tone of the debate in a way that will make it difficult for science to ever recover its independence.

Comment #162607

Posted by J. Biggs on February 24, 2007 5:21 PM (e)

OK. Are all ID guys like this in your view? Phillip Johnson, for instance? Or would it be some in the ID movement who are the worst offenders? Any names I can research?

Johnson is as bad as any with his crappy book Darwin on Trial from which he himself claims the Wedge Strategy was derived.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

According to Phillip E. Johnson, the wedge movement, if not the term, began in 1992: “The movement we now call the wedge made its public debut at a conference of scientists and philosophers held at Southern Methodist University in March 1992, following the publication of his [sic] book Darwin on Trial. The conference brought together key wedge and intelligent design figures, particularly Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, and myself.”

Included in this quote is three more of the worst offenders. If you don’t believe me then you obviously haven’t read the wedge document that they all subscribe to.

Can you give me three really good examples of what you are most concerned about? The three best.

How about ID proponents meddling with Kansas, Ohio and in Dover, PA science standards. The Kitzmiller v. Dover case specifically ended up costing the school district over a million dollars in legal fees that DI was supposed to have their back on.

I don’t think I see you personally as ant-religion or anti-Christianity. However, I do think that conclusions that are extrapolated from current science are often stated in ways that say: “See! We don’t need God to prove that.” This then creates a sense within the Christian community that “godless folks are running our universities and have taken over science with a very real purpose and goal. Undermining faith.”

Good because I’m not. The only ones really bringing God to the table in these arguments is the IDers. I and many others have stated that “Goddidit” is not science and it is not within the realm of science to either prove or disprove God. There are scientists of many different religious traditions that are able to rectify their personal religious philosophy and science. It’s the ID/Creationists who can’t do this and will go to great lengths to pretend that Christians who believe “Darwinism” are not real Christians at all.

Because at the end of the day, he who controls the truth meme, controls society. I think that this is understood by you, and you don’t want Christians to control the truth meme anymore.

If you believe this crap then you are obviously an ID/Creationist, because no one person or group can control the what is the truth. The truth just is. And your statement that we don’t want Christians to control the truth anymore directly contradicts what you said in your last paragraph. What we don’t want is for Fundamentalist Christian Liars to impose their version of the truth on our children. I really hope you understand the difference in my statement and yours.

Maybe I didn’t explain myself very well.

No, but your agenda seems to be quite clear.

Global warming is a great place……stripped of these honorary posts.

So you picked a branch of science that stands to lose the oil companies a lot of money. Are you saying that because the oil companies can buy a few experts that all scientists lack integrity? Perhaps you missed the point that mainstream climatologists disagreed with these hired guns. And there is research going on in climatology, which seeks to understand what other factors may be contributing to global warming other than man.

Just about every branch of pseudoscience has “scientific experts” that support their claims. It’s just that those claims never seem to pan out in real life because the scientific community exposes these claims for what they are.

You may see this as a rare problem. I, and many of my associates, Christian and not, see this as science in real trouble. And along with some of my other points, it brings into question the entire output of the rest.

I see this is a problem with personal politics interfering with science more than anything else, and no so much a problem with science in and of itself. This has been pointed out to you more than once in this thread.

You don’t have to believe anything I just said. But if the “academy” doesn’t get its arms around the problem, there is every reason to expect a reaction in the direction of the know-nothings. It doesn’t take much for a charismatic leader to take up arms against such oppression.

I believe you read Brave New World one to many times. Exactly who is being oppressed by scientists?

I decided not to practice law, because lawyers were no longer about justice, and all about Clinton-style parsing. I think science is headed down a similar path.

You sure do seem to like stereotyping people and professions. I know quite a few scientists and lawyers who would beg to differ.

The first step would be to quit calling your adversaries names, and insulting folks who don’t agree with you. Dawkins has just changed the tone of the debate in a way that will make it difficult for science to ever recover its independence.

When did I ever call you a name? Why don’t you point it out in my above posts? If you find my posts insulting, why don’t you post something that actually supports your assertions? And how exactly has Dawkins caused science to lose its independence? What exactly is science now dependent on that it wasn’t prior to Dawkins? Do even read your posts before you post them? And when are you going to tell me what this ultimate truth is? I am dying to find out.

Comment #162609

Posted by David B. Benson on February 24, 2007 5:28 PM (e)

Randy Kirk — You seem to have lots of time on your hands. Why not go read several books about The Enlightenment?

It’ll do your posts a world of good…

Comment #162613

Posted by MarkP on February 24, 2007 6:02 PM (e)

Randy Kirk said:

OK. Are all ID guys like this in your view? Phillip Johnson, for instance? Or would it be some in the ID movement who are the worst offenders? Any names I can research?

Pretty much. Go to the Talkorigins quotemine project. All the evidence you need is there.

I don’t think I see you personally as ant-religion or anti-Christianity. However, I do think that conclusions that are extrapolated from current science are often stated in ways that say: “See! We don’t need God to prove that.”

I don’t see anything like that at all. Atheistic people don’t think like that. The only time God comes up with us is when someone else interjects it into the situation.

Because at the end of the day, he who controls the truth meme, controls society. I think that this is understood by you, and you don’t want Christians to control the truth meme anymore.

They never did, so I’m not too concerned about them controlling it now. Not that this has anything at all to do what we were talking about.

See, now you are just dodging issues and bringing up baseless irrelevancies Randy. This only confirms my suspicions. You don’t like answers, at least none that threaten your religious views, and when the logic starts heading that way, you flail.

Comment #162615

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 24, 2007 6:09 PM (e)

I spent three years in law school only to decide I hated the law and lawyers.

ah, I get it. You’re just a contrarian troll. it doesn’t matter what anybody says, you’ll just automatically take up a contrary position to feed your need.

do I need to post Python’s argument sketch?

Comment #162616

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 24, 2007 6:14 PM (e)

I, and many of my associates,

oh?

care to elaborate?

Comment #162617

Posted by MarkP on February 24, 2007 6:24 PM (e)

Randy Kirk asked:

Can you give me three really good examples of what you are most concerned about? The three best.

OK, fine Randy, I haven’t shot fish in a barrel in a while, so how about Ann Coulter? In case you are not familiar with her relevance here, she wrote a book called “Godless: The Church of Liberalism”, which contained a large section on “Darwinism”, and which she attributed to the tutaledge of Dembski, Berlinski, among others. This section of her book came under scrutiny that was 1) Voluminous, 2) Specific, and 3) Merciless and 4) Publicly available to anyone who could type “Coulter” and “evolution” into google. One described that section of her book as “Wall to wall error”, which was in line with many of the others.

Coulter’s version however, easily witnessed by anyone viewing a news show she could slither onto at the time, was that no one would take her on on the scientific issues in the book. She would deliver this news with the mock shock of one who stands on intellectually impenetrable ground.

Except it was a boldfaced lie. An easily confirmable, boldfaced lie. And a lie that, to my knowledge, she has never admitted to, and probably continues to spew to this day to anyone still interested in her enough to care.

Now, surely you are not going to claim that the best way to deal with such a person is to approach her in the spirit of honest, rational debate, with a healthy dose of empathy tossed in, are you?

Her behavior is probably the most blatant example outside the Dover courtroom, where Behe basically sat there with a stack of research books in his lap arguing they weren’t what they were.

This is typical. They all do it, and it’s really simple why - the evidence for evolution, when viewed in its factual entirety and historical progression, is overwhelming. One must psychologically compartmentalize to believe otherwise.

Comment #162637

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 24, 2007 8:23 PM (e)

I understand you see a bad intent in the wedge document. I’ll check into it more. What I’d rather know is a specific element in the debate re: evolution vs ID where Phillip Johnson is not being honest. It is hard to test things like the research books on someones lap. I’ve read all of Johnson and just reread some things. I’m hard pressed to know where the issue is, other than disagreement.

Ann Coulter is occasionally funny, though not my cup of tea. I read one of her books. No plans to read others. I think she does hyperbole for fame and fortune.

Lawyers and the law: As discussed earlier, stereotypes help us to survive. Not all lawyers are bottom feeding bloodsuckers.
But the law today is all about deep pockets, and has little to do with justice.

Global warming and oil companies buying scientists. You make my point. However, you don’t go far enough. There is plenty of paying off on both sides of this issue, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, etc. That doesn’t even count all the $500 an hour legal experts bought and paid for their opinions.

If it isn’t obvious to you that he who controls “truth” controls the society (small, like a family or business or non profit; or large, like a state or country) then I doubt I can convince you in this place.

J. Biggs,

I did not mean “you” personally with regard to calling of names. I meant that in the general case of folks on this and similar sites, not to mention from the podium at the GW conference. I was so amazed by the anti-Christian statements from the comedian at the conference that I brought it up to my friend of 25 years, Michael Shermer, and suggested he keep in mind that not everyone in the audience would be an atheist.

But the others in the room howled the loudest when the Christians were being gored.

I don’t have an agenda other than learning, sharing.

Dawkins changed the playing field with his comments about Christians. They were what psychologists call “fighting words” and they indicate that his agenda goes far beyond science.

Finally, regarding science in school. It goes right back to the earlier point. Whoever sets the truth gets to rule. I think it was Dewey who made it clear that it was about the children.

Comment #162651

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 24, 2007 8:54 PM (e)

Dawkins changed the playing field with his comments about Christians. They were what psychologists call “fighting words” and they indicate that his agenda goes far beyond science

hilarious, you spend multiple posts trying to support your contention that science is all politics and money, and then say that Dawkins agenda goes beyond science.

how could it not, given your position?

frankly, it doesn’t matter one whit whether you have an ‘agenda’ or not; your logic is so badly flawed as to be laughable, and that’s all that really matters.

oh, and about those “associates” of yours who, like yourself I’m sure, aren’t involved in any agendas…

who were they again?

Comment #162660

Posted by MarkP on February 24, 2007 9:10 PM (e)

Randy said:

Ann Coulter is occasionally funny, though not my cup of tea. I read one of her books. No plans to read others. I think she does hyperbole for fame and fortune.

Sooooooooooooooooo, surely you are not going to claim that the best way to deal with such a person is to approach her in the spirit of honest, rational debate, with a healthy dose of empathy tossed in, are you? Surely, assuming the facts are as I have presented them, you would have no problem labelling such behavior “intellectually dishonest”. Because if you aren’t, I can see why you see no reason to describe any of the IDers that way. Don’t forget that Dembski wholeheartedly endorsed the “scientific” content of her book, claiming personal responsibility for any errors. Well, there were a ton of them, and I don’t think he’s owned up to any. So this is an intellectually dishonest person, right? No need to try to be honest and rational with him, right?

And if you’d rather dodge this question again and answer another one, we could always go back to why you see triplets as brothers, but not cats as cousins. ;)

As for specific examples of the IDer/creationists’ intellectual dishonesty, just go to the talkorigins Five Misconceptions link. They remain misconceptions despite having been refuted over and over again, because people like the IDers keep ignoring that fact and blathering on anyway, and people are naive enough to believe them. Species have been seen to come about via evolutionary mechanisms. Intelligence has been seen to arise from nonintelligence (EAs). Evolution does not violate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Them’s the facts, and anyone claiming otherwise is either stupid, ignorant or lying. These guys aren’t stupid. They are similar to Pat Robertson, who kept saying there were no female chess grandmasters long after there were several. It fit his ideology to believe that, and since his ideology was The Truth ™, no need to make sure that fact didn’t change. Again, the religious notion of fixed perfect knowledge bites them in the ass, just like it does when IDer/creationists try to disprove evolution with writings over 50 years old, as if we haven’t learned anything in that time.

Comment #162671

Posted by Kit on February 24, 2007 9:59 PM (e)

Randy,

You say that you’ve read Phillip Johnson’s writings, and have investigated the ID movement, but you’ve *never read* the Wedge Document?

Randy, that is the most important document to read, with regards to the ID movement.

Please read it, and then let me know what your opinion is.

Comment #162672

Posted by Kit on February 24, 2007 10:02 PM (e)

Randy,

Also, what is your opinion of the whole “cdesign proponentsists” issue, with regards to “Of Pandas And People”, as displayed during the Dover trial? Do you think that the authors of that book are honest people?

Comment #162682

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 24, 2007 11:21 PM (e)

Mark P.,

You don’t necessarily have to stand up for every scientist. I certainly am not going to stand up for Ann. Or at least not until I read her book. But I really don’t want to, because my reading table is filled to overflowing with books I actually want to read by authors I find interesting. So I’ll take a pass on that one.

I am no fan of Pat Robertson. He lost me a long time ago. I was never a big fan, but he blew it with me over some of his other wild statements.

I do not accept, however, that it is decided science that species have been seen to come about via evolutionary processes. Sorry. I don’t even agree that you could get a majority of the field to sign onto that.

2nd law of thermodynamics. Never cared too much about that argument. But I would not agree that it is either stupid or dishonest to continue the debate on this. And I know several scientists personally who are not 100% convinced on this.

Kit,

Sorry, I am not up to date on that either. I’m lunching with a self-described naturalist, stanford grad, scientist tomorrow. I’ll ask him about a few of these things

Comment #162690

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 24, 2007 11:59 PM (e)

I do not accept, however, that it is decided science that species have been seen to come about via evolutionary processes. Sorry. I don’t even agree that you could get a majority of the field to sign onto that.

then why didn’t you take me up on my wager?

so which is it:

are you a liar, a stupid moron, insane?

all three?

really, you can’t just keep lying about the fact that there are literally hundreds of papers of observed speciation events dependent on documented mutations extant in the literature.

It’s very much like Behe sitting on the stand, and saying that the dozens of papers laid on his lap detailing the evolution of the immune system simply didn’t exist.

In your case, I’m going to go with pure denial (insanity defense) and see how far that gets us in explaining why you keep saying something that is readily demonstrably incorrect.

Comment #162691

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 25, 2007 12:03 AM (e)

2nd law of thermodynamics. Never cared too much about that argument. But I would not agree that it is either stupid or dishonest to continue the debate on this. And I know several scientists personally who are not 100% convinced on this.

would these “scientists” be your “associates” you have yet to name?

stop making shit up.

there isn’t a physicist on the planet who would agree with the ridiculous SLoT argument put forward by creationists.

lawyers now, that’s a different story.

It’s like these idiots can’t go outside on any given day and see that big, bright shining ball o fire up in the sky.

(hint: the earth is not a closed system - it has a rather large external energy source)

Comment #162692

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 25, 2007 12:06 AM (e)

oh, hell, before we go through every creationist claim in the book with Capt. Kirk here, why not just go here:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

Capt. Kirk, and come back after you think you’ve actually got something to discuss that hasn’t already been debunked there.

Comment #162702

Posted by MarkP on February 25, 2007 1:45 AM (e)

Randy said:

You don’t necessarily have to stand up for every scientist. I certainly am not going to stand up for Ann. Or at least not until I read her book. But I really don’t want to, because my reading table is filled to overflowing with books I actually want to read by authors I find interesting. So I’ll take a pass on that one.

You are dodging…again. Once again, can you agree that the behavior I described as being Ann’s is intellectually dishonest, and does not deserve the honest, rational approach that you recommended? Refusing to answer such a very simple question does not increase your credibility.

I do not accept, however, that it is decided science that species have been seen to come about via evolutionary processes. Sorry. I don’t even agree that you could get a majority of the field to sign onto that.

So you deny reality. Noted for future reference.

2nd law of thermodynamics. Never cared too much about that argument. But I would not agree that it is either stupid or dishonest to continue the debate on this. And I know several scientists personally who are not 100% convinced on this.

So once again you deny reality. Glad we got that cleared up.

Comment #162711

Posted by Kit on February 25, 2007 4:13 AM (e)

Sorry, I am not up to date on that either. I’m lunching with a self-described naturalist, stanford grad, scientist tomorrow. I’ll ask him about a few of these things

Randy, don’t believe anything I say, and don’t believe anything your self-described naturalist says.

Research it for yourself.

Do as much research as you possibly can on the Wedge Document especially, and on the Dover trial secondarily.

Come to your own conclusion.

Comment #162713

Posted by Kit on February 25, 2007 4:20 AM (e)

It’s like these [people] can’t go outside on any given day and see that big, bright shining ball o fire up in the sky.

(hint: the earth is not a closed system - it has a rather large external energy source)

Randy,

The only people who support the whole “2nd Law of Thermodynamics refutes evolution” argument are people who don’t understand that the Earth is not a closed system; Sir_Toejam is referencing the Sun, which provides a whole hell of a lot of energy.

I find it extremely difficult to believe that there are physicists that think otherwise.

Comment #162719

Posted by Kit on February 25, 2007 5:35 AM (e)

Ya know, with all this talk about the dishonesty of IDers, it’s incredibly surprising that none of us has mentioned our main man, Dr. Kent Hovind.

Has our fandom left us that quickly? ;-)

Note for Randy: that’s another person for you to investigate, but I just feel that it’s just unfair to the IDers to present one of their biggest embarrassments.

Comment #162720

Posted by Kit on February 25, 2007 5:52 AM (e)

I apologize for posting four times in a row now, but I felt that it was very important that I post a particular quote from someone who has intently studied Phillip Johnson, and the ID movement.

Randy, the following quote is from http://www.talkreason.org/articles/honesty.cfm, an essay, regarding Phillip Johnson’s Darwin On Trial book, that I really encourage you (especially considering your law degree) to read:

Many Christians have welcomed the “intelligent design” creationists in the belief that they are fighting for God and truth. But, as the televangelism scandals of the 1980’s should remind us, there are some more unsavory reasons for seeking celebrity in the Christian community: money, fame, applause, or power, especially political power. In short, there are a wealth of reasons why Christians need to be careful about trusting the stars of the “intelligent design” movement. And even well-intentioned debaters, if they let their desire to win the argument outstrip their respect for the facts, will turn out a product which is grossly misleading. Integrity is important. If–as I will show in this essay–the claims of “intelligent design” are more a product of debating tactics and tricks than they are a fair and honest presentation, Christians need to seriously consider whether they can support this movement in good faith.

Comment #162772

Posted by Mike Pekarek on February 25, 2007 10:51 AM (e)

A question from an amateur skeptic:

How does the question of human intellect, a gift from the divine in religious circles, affect the ID debate? The choosing of a supernatural explanation for evolution forfeits objective inquiry, and replaces curiosity with laziness. If one truly believes man is created in God’s image, then all aspects are divinely inspired. To reject, misuse, or simply ignore one of the major gifts is to reject the divine.

Is there an ID reply for this?

Comment #162825

Posted by Randy Kirk on February 25, 2007 7:21 PM (e)

I’m doing some of the reading you folks have recommended, so I’m taking a breather from this post. I may come back in a few days, or maybe we’ll meet again on another post of interest. It hasn’t always been fun, but I have gained from my time here. Hopefully there has been a drop of two of substance from my comments that has been useful to someone.

Comment #162827

Posted by David B. Benson on February 25, 2007 7:35 PM (e)

Randy Kirk — Read Into the Cool. Interesting argument. Not all scientists agree with it, but the reviews state the book is provocative.

And no, your comments here have been completely useless to everyone…

Comment #162951

Posted by J. Biggs on February 26, 2007 12:42 PM (e)

Global warming and oil companies buying scientists. You make my point. However, you don’t go far enough. There is plenty of paying off on both sides of this issue, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, etc. That doesn’t even count all the $500 an hour legal experts bought and paid for their opinions.

I stated earlier that many branches of pseudoscience have “scientific experts”. What you will find lacking of these “experts” is peer reviewed literature that supports their pseudo-scientific assertions. Evidence that the scientific community does not lack integrity as it refuses to publish false or misleading research. (Not to mention the fact that these “experts” rarely do research to support their assertions; they depend mainly on their credentials.)

If you are saying that scientific issues should not be argued in the media and in the courts; I whole-heartedly agree with you. The merit of scientific research should be debated within the scientific community. More specifically, branches of science should review research relevant to their respective areas of expertise, cross-over not withstanding.

I did not mean “you” personally with regard to calling of names. I meant that in the general case of folks on this and similar sites, not to mention from the podium at the GW conference. I was so amazed by the anti-Christian statements from the comedian at the conference that I brought it up to my friend of 25 years, Michael Shermer, and suggested he keep in mind that not everyone in the audience would be an atheist.

But the others in the room howled the loudest when the Christians were being gored.

If this truly happened at the conference you attended, I am sorry. I think this behavior is unprofessional and insensitive.

Dawkins changed the playing field with his comments about Christians. They were what psychologists call “fighting words” and they indicate that his agenda goes far beyond science.

Creationism movement began in 1900’s as a reaction to how the majority intellectuals and scientists viewed the origin of man; and that movement is really what changed the playing field with “fighting words”. http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/CMBergman.html

Richard Dawkins, on the other hand, was born March 26, 1941 30-40 years after this movement began. The fighting words began long before he was even born. Dawkins just happens to be one of the more outspoken critics of the ID/Creationism movement currently. I hardly think that you can blame this thing on him.

It is hard to test things like the research books on someones lap.

The research books contain the results of the tests. No need to test the books themselves. Most educational texts on any specific scientific subject will contain independently verified research from a large array of unbiased sources. Therefore little contained in these texts will be considered controversial to mainstream scientists in their respective fields without some sort of disclaimer, such as, “More research on this subject must be done to verify these claims.”. If you were very familiar with the way science works, you would know that.

Behe’s specific problem in the Dover case is he claimed no such research existed and he was proved to be wrong.

I do not accept, however, that it is decided science that species have been seen to come about via evolutionary processes. Sorry. I don’t even agree that you could get a majority of the field to sign onto that.

And Sir Toejam responds:

really, you can’t just keep lying about the fact that there are literally hundreds of papers of observed speciation events dependent on documented mutations extant in the literature.

It’s very much like Behe sitting on the stand, and saying that the dozens of papers laid on his lap detailing the evolution of the immune system simply didn’t exist.

Exactly, the fact that you have not read this scientific literature does not mean it does not exist.

It is very difficult to debate a subject if you are not very familiar with it, and judging by your statements you qualify as unfamiliar. Behe’s crime, however, is much worse than yours because he claims to be an expert on ID and is unfamiliar with a subject he claims evolutionary mechanisms can not explain.

But, of course, even if Behe had been correct, he offers no alternative explanation other than evolution can’t explain it, therefore, (Goddidit) designed. The false dichotomy that is ID, in essence claiming that if one theory is wrong that ID is right. In science, unfortunately for ID, theories must stand on their own merit, in which ID is entirely lacking, not only in merit but in a testable theory. ID is completely dependent on the gaps in our scientific knowledge, and ID’s proponents desperately try to keep those gaps where they are.

I’m doing some of the reading you folks have recommended, so I’m taking a breather from this post. I may come back in a few days, or maybe we’ll meet again on another post of interest. It hasn’t always been fun, but I have gained from my time here. Hopefully there has been a drop of two of substance from my comments that has been useful to someone.

Best of luck with that. Just remember that nobody here cares if you abandon your subjective belief that there is more to life than matter and energy. Just that you not try to demand philosophical ideas like yours be seriously considered as science, because for the time being, at least, we have no evidence for or against those philosophical positions. (Although many times claims made by people holding said positions can be proved false using science.)

Comment #163001

Posted by Kit on February 26, 2007 9:49 PM (e)

I know I’m beating a dead horse, but does anyone know if this statement from wikipedia, regarding Phillip Johnson, is true? Because, if it is, that just takes the cake.

In 2004 he was awarded the inaugural “Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth”

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillip_E._Johnson

Comment #163103

Posted by J. Biggs on February 27, 2007 10:12 AM (e)

In 2004 he was awarded the inaugural “Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth”

Yes, this award is presented by Biola University in honor of Phillip Johnson and its first recipient was none other. Most recently Anthony Flew received one.

http://www.biola.edu/news/articles/060327_flew.cfm

And your right, it certainly does take the cake. Of course, it should be no surprise that a university that excels at religious apologetics would bestow such an ironic award.

Comment #163106

Posted by Raging Bee on February 27, 2007 10:25 AM (e)

Dawkins changed the playing field with his comments about Christians. They were what psychologists call “fighting words” and they indicate that his agenda goes far beyond science.

And this impacts the validity of the theory of evolution…how?