Jeffrey Shallit posted Entry 3308 on September 9, 2007 05:33 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3292

Check out the final exchange about intelligent design between John Derbyshire and Tom Bethell, where Bethell insists that creationism and intelligent design are as different as chalk and cheese. (Part 1 here; Part 2 here.)

In it, Bethell demonstrates once again why he is a blathering buffoon. Bethell tells us that “Structures or signals of specified complexity permit an inference to design without any necessary recourse to the supernatural” without bothering to mention that “specified complexity” is junk mathematics and doesn’t permit an inference to anything at all, except that Bethell is rather gullible to accept William Dembski’s assurances as gospel.

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Comment #205616

Posted by PvM on September 9, 2007 7:11 PM (e)

Don’t insult the buffoons. However, Bethell shows what is so problematic with Intelligent Design, not just that it is scientifically vacuous but worse that it violates the warnings by St Augustine

Saint Augustine on Science and Scripture

Saint Augustine (A.D. 354-430) in his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) provided excellent advice for all Christians who are faced with the task of interpreting Scripture in the light of scientific knowledge. This translation is by J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41.

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

Source

By repeating, mindlessly, the vacuous claims by ID Bethell has opened up not just ID but also religious faith to ridicule.

I have seen quite a few ID proponents who have mindlessly repeated ID’s claims without any attempt to understand or research its claims. Specified complexity is an excellent example which is repeated mindlessly by ID proponents. I believe it was Beckwith who accepted the claims of ID as ‘scientific’ and then tried to argue that ID could be taught in schools without violating the constitutional separation between Church and State.

Garbage in, garbage out they say. What Judge Jones has done is shown that ID is scientifically vacuous and religiously motivated.
Simple and quite devastatingly

Comment #205682

Posted by Lynn David on September 10, 2007 12:14 AM (e)

I can’t believe Bethel brought up the old rant about Colin Patterson:

Some years back, Colin Patterson, a senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History in London, famously said (in a public lecture) that he didn’t know of any evidence for evolution. He actually challenged an audience of evolutionists in Chicago to come up with something. “The only answer I got was silence,” he told an audience at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. That was in 1981. Patterson, who died a few years ago, emphasized that he was an atheist.

How many times does this have to be explained to be taken out of the context of a talk to professional systematists concerned nothing more than systematics?

Comment #205742

Posted by David Mullenix on September 10, 2007 5:54 AM (e)

Interesting quote from Derbyshire:

“Though what I think will actually happen – I see signs of it already – is that the creationists will soon dump paleontology altogether and head over to Consciousness Studies, where the pickings are richer.”

Like, for instance, “The Spiritual Brain” by Mario Beauregard and …. wait for it …. Denyse O’Leary.

Comment #205778

Posted by Bob Maurus on September 10, 2007 8:31 AM (e)

Bethell tells us that “Structures or signals of specified complexity permit an inference to design without any necessary recourse to the supernatural”

Washing machines and Clovis points exhibit Complex Specified Information. This proves they were Designed.

Biological organisms exhibit Complex Specified Information.
This proves they were Designed.

We have conclusive, irrefutable evidence of one Designer. Therefore, humans designed Biological Organisms.

It’s really quite simple.

Comment #205782

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 10, 2007 9:05 AM (e)

Ironically, Dave Scot doesn’t think Intelligent Design and Creationism are very different at all:

In all fairness to nbogard (who is now being moderated) anyone who thinks a design inference is warranted is in some sense a creationist. The argument I think hinges on conflating “creationist” with biblical creationist. One can be the former without being the latter.

(http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-desig…)

Comment #205784

Posted by David Utidjian on September 10, 2007 9:11 AM (e)

Bob,

I think there is good evidence that humans designed the Designer.

-DU-

Comment #205802

Posted by Bob Maurus on September 10, 2007 10:18 AM (e)

I expect you’re probably right, David.

Comment #205803

Posted by Mickey Bitsko on September 10, 2007 10:21 AM (e)

PvM,

Please get a thesaurus, find some synonyms for “vacuous,” and use them once in a while.

Thanks,

Mickey

Comment #205809

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 10, 2007 10:48 AM (e)

(OT)

Please get a thesaurus, find some synonyms for “vacuous,”…

In PvM’s defense, there aren’t any good synonyms for the sense he’s using. From tfd’s thesaurus:

2. vacuous - devoid of significance or point; “empty promises”; “a hollow victory”; “vacuous comments”
: empty, hollow

I would add “tautological”, when ID happens to not even be wrong.

However, there are some fine synonyms for the sense he’s not using it in (but which nevertheless apply to ID):

1. vacuous - devoid of intelligence
: asinine, fatuous, inane, mindless

all implying that the intelligent design lacks intelligence.

Comment #205835

Posted by Joe McFaul on September 10, 2007 12:31 PM (e)

Doesn’t Bethell *also* dispute that HIV causes AIDS?

http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/index/tbethell.htm…

Comment #205841

Posted by harold on September 10, 2007 12:53 PM (e)

It’s quite interesting that John Derbyshire’s opposition to ID is made much of.

This demonstrates the fundamentally political nature of ID.

I personally loathe the majority of his contributions to the general culture (just my subjectivie opinion folks, no need to argue with it; naturally if you wish to state that you feel differently that’s your right).

I would not give him high marks for intellectual honesty overall. But he does have the intellectual honesty, perhaps combined with some intellectual vanity, to reject something as transparently worthless as ID.

Okay, but so do millions of other people, including organizations of clergymen and rabbis, devout Catholics, etc, as well as almost all mainstream scientists.

Why is Derbyshire’s opposition to it considered worthy of special comment?

The implication, once again, as so often (for a recent example, the “evolution” question at the presidential debate), is that ID/creationism is for conservatives, and also, that conservatives had better kiss up to ID/creationism. It’s considered a big deal if a “conservative” doesn’t do so.

I guess that’s bad news for those who respect science, but otherwise favor right wing public policy.

What percentage of self-identified “conservatives” do claim to endorse creationism/ID? Does any non-creationist conservative have a plan to deal with this?

Comment #205850

Posted by PvM on September 10, 2007 1:39 PM (e)

Please get a thesaurus, find some synonyms for “vacuous,” and use them once in a while.

It the shoe fits….

Comment #205852

Posted by John Farrell on September 10, 2007 1:51 PM (e)

No one will be surprised to find that Bethell also thinks Relativity is wrong and that the Earl of Oxford is the real author of Shakespeare’s plays. Just google Bethell and Tom Van Flandern….oh and yes, HIV doesn’t cause AIDS.

Comment #205854

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 10, 2007 2:00 PM (e)

Bethell insists that creationism and intelligent design are as different as chalk and cheese. (Part 1 here; Part 2 here.)

It wouldn’t really hurt to allow that there are differences between creationism and ID, however. That they both belong to Xian (and other “monotheisms”) apologetics without any obvious dividing line is certainly true, but I wonder if anti-IDists make themselves vulnerable when they deny the differences.

Bethell tells us that “Structures or signals of specified complexity permit an inference to design without any necessary recourse to the supernatural” without bothering to mention that “specified complexity” is junk mathematics and doesn’t permit an inference to anything at all, except that Bethell is rather gullible to accept William Dembski’s assurances as gospel.

Yes, we hardly have a problem with inferring design without a designer. The colossal chutzpah of IDists, however, is to insist that design in life is not to be recognized using the usual identifiers (like apparent purpose, rational (not evolved) solutions to problems, novelty, and borrowing of ideas in a way not restricted by inheritance), because, of course, the Designer is God. And God is inscrutable, hence one is just to look at things and notice God’s mysterious designs (this is why “complexity” is claimed for the designer, because although life is far more complex than anything we’ve seen designers do, miracles are not troubled by such facts).

And of course Dembski’s BS about how design is discovered through “specified complexity” begs the question of specification, and totally redefines complexity in order to encompass simplicity in many cases. Even Bethell is intelligent to understand that, if he’d bother to learn anything instead of shooting off his ignorant mouth.

Bethell then goes on to repeat a common lie of the intelligent design movement: that the SETI Project (Search for Extraterrestrial Life) spends its time looking for things as a sequence of prime numbers”. Sorry, Tom, that was the movie “Contact”. You know, fiction?

True, that’s a movie. However, looking for the possible “designer” of the universe (since it is thought that it may not be impossible for evolved organisms to spawn another universe) has been thought possible to do by looking for sequences of prime numbers, as well as by other means. This was suggested by real scientists, though of course it’s all fairly speculative.

Indeed, if sequences of prime numbers were found in the genomes, without there being any explanation for them (like there is for the prime numbers involved with cicada cycles), I would be willing to consider them to be possible marks of design of some kind. Of course we don’t find anything like that thus far, hence the null hypothesis is the only reasonable one regarding design at this point in time (whether or not MET explains life—which it almost certainly does, but it needn’t to show that “design” is useless in explaining life).

In real life, SETI researchers look for look for narrow-band signals, because such signals don’t appear to originate from simple systems, and because we believe intelligent beings, if they exist, would use a method of communication similar to ours. Repeat after me: SETI detection doesn’t use prime numbers, “specified complexity”, or red herrings.

Well, as I noted, I’m not willing to say that prime numbers could not be used in SETI at some point. But what I’d like to point out here is that the narrow bands which are used for the initial search would be called “complexity” by the egregious Dembski (or so it seems from his definition), a complete muck-up of even the words of science, let alone its methods.

Next, Bethell shows a profound misunderstanding of information theory when he claims, “Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA was asked how the all-important coding information found its way into the DNA in the first place. It’s so complex that a reliance on random events will never get us there.” Bethell apparently doesn’t understand that in the Kolmogorov theory of information, complexity is the same as randomness. It’s easy to get complexity; all you need is a source of random events.

Well, he does about as well as one might expect of one who studied only philosophy, psychology, and physiology. That is, he’s completely ignorant of the relevant subjects, and lacks the decency to leave alone that which he so woefully misunderstands.

Here’s a funny one: early on, Bethell solemnly intones that “Science is not properly based on authority, however.” Later, however, in discussing the RNA world hypothesis, he says, “But I’m told that the alternative, the “RNA world,” has huge complexities of its own. It’s all pure guesswork.” Oh.

Good one, though it’s inevitable that one so pig-ignorant would have to rely on authorities. That doesn’t change the fact that what he’s been told is at least arguably true (if almost certainly overstated).

Mr. Bethell, meet your opponent, Mr. Bethell.

Sure, but you know how it is, whatever he thinks is authoritative. That’s why he needn’t learn anything about the subjects on which he pontificates.

Altogether, a rather unimpressive performance for Mr. Bethell, who has been denying evolution for 30 years without learning anything about it. Funny – he behaves just like a creationist.

And it is because he has all of the mentality and education of creationists (at least in the relevant areas) that he knows that he doesn’t need to learn anything about it. Darwinism is only a creed, you know, which can be learned well enough in an afternoon (to paraphrase an equally pompous and ignorant sap, Berlinski).

The major difference between ID and creationism that matters to us is that ID directly seeks to destroy the standards of science to allow its nonsense to drift through the wreckage of the Enlightenment, while creationism does not uniformly assault science (it does so piecemeal, though). That’s because creationism doesn’t have a unified metaphysics, while ID largely claims the same metaphysics which was used against Galileo.

Glen D
http//tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #205877

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 10, 2007 3:08 PM (e)

EARLY IN MAY, the American Enterprise Institute held a debate about Darwinism, a faith embedded in many debates,

Gee, Bethell, do you think you could even rhetorically support your idiocies without tendentious lies? Sure, “Darwinism” is a faith, which is why MET awaited science and its methods to appear, while Bethell’s religion and “science” appeared before modern science.

The recent irruption of atheism can be traced to the Darwinian creed,

Actually, moron, it can be traced to the lies of the IDiots, such as yourself. Creationists didn’t directly attack science as it is used, while you and your fellow unthinking bozos do.

for the well-publicized testimonials of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens all have recourse to Darwinism at various points.

Dear imbecile, the “recourse to Darwinism” is mostly because it is the one area of science that the IDiots attack because we insist on causal mechanisms in it, as in the rest of science.

It purports to explain how we got here without any need for God or gods.

Just as physics, developmental biology, history, sociology, and psychology do. And you hateful bigots are so bothered that evolution operates with the same concepts in origins as science operates elsewhere, thinking as you do that you have prior theistic claims upon origins, that you have to smear science for maintaining its consistent stance toward evidence and inference.

Darwinism is best seen as 19th-century philosophy – materialism – dressed up as science,

Slightly true. It is natural philosophy, the same as physics, and basically it continues to rely on roughly the same classical sciences as 19th century science did (yes, quantum aspects to biology are now known, but they’re relatively uncommon compared to the classically-known processes). It’s “dressed up as science” because it is science. Bethell can’t make an argument, so he tells a lie instead.

and directed against a theological argument for the existence of God.

It requires massive stupidity to think that MET, which brings biology into agreement with the rest of the sciences and assists in research and discovery, is directed at something so inconsequential to science as “the existence of God.” The latter idea doesn’t even pass the muster of philosophy, it hardly needs to be considered in the sciences.

(The only one of St. Thomas Aquinas’s “proofs” that resonates with us today is the “argument from design.”)

This idiot doesn’t even know St. Thomas Aquinas. He makes no “argument from design” as such. Here are St. Thomas’s five proofs of God:

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence — which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But “more” and “less” are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

The only “proof” that comes at all close to the design argument is the fifth one, the one that claims teleology in the world. However, he doesn’t differentiate between animate and inanimate teleology there, and indeed seems to be more impressed by the supposed “purpose” in things lacking in intelligence (presumably the motions of the heavens would be among these).

Bethell is a complete fool not only in science but even in the areas he concentrated in, like philosophy.

Richard Dawkins famously said that Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection “made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

Here’s Bethell who disagrees with almost everything Dawkins says, using him as an authority. Well, Dawkins happens often to be wrong when he strays into philosophy, and this is no exception. The mere lack of a scientific explanation for life gave no legitimate cause to believe in God, though I’m well aware that humans seeking explanations are psychologically prone to accepting non-explanations where sound explanations are lacking.

… The underlying problem is that a key Darwinian term is not defined. Darwinism supposedly explains how organisms become more “fit,” or better adapted to their environment. But fitness is not and cannot be defined except in terms of existence.

Isn’t that just about the most stupid thing that someone who believes in design could write? Here he’s claiming that some “designer” is responsible for making organisms fit into their environment, when apparently that is impossible, since fitness “cannot be defined except in terms of existence.” I suppose that may have something to do with Bethell’s colossal stupidity and slack-jawed acceptance of IDists’ claims, since of course IDists have to claim that fitness has no bearing on design. We, of course, know that fitness has bearing upon both design and evolution, hence we actually do the science of determining actual fitness.

ID can’t afford to do science, since they’d always merely find out that nothing appears to be designed to fit their ecologies.

If an animal exists, it is “fit” (otherwise it wouldn’t exist).

Complete and utter BS. A mule, like many natural and artificial hybrids, is not at all “fit” in evolutionary terms.

It is not possible to specify all the useful parts of that animal in order to give an exhaustive causal account of fitness.

Of course it isn’t. So what kind of “designer” would be able to think through all of the design implications of earth’s organisms? You know of only one putative being said to be able to do so, which is God.

If an organism possesses features that appear on the surface to be inconvenient-such as the peacock’s tail or the top-heavy antlers of a stag-the existence of stags and peacocks proves that these animals are in fact fit.

Real scientists recognize the different sorts of “fitness”, recognizing that peacocks are not optimally suited to their lifestyle, except when one considers mate selection. See, ID has nothing intelligent to say about sexual selection as opposed to the more usual “natural selection” (except for what it steals from real science), since it’s a complete waste as a “science”.

So the Darwinian theory is not falsifiable by any observation.

Well, not by anyone as stupidly ignorant as Tom Bethell. That’s why science is not done by IDiots.

It “explains” everything, and therefore nothing.

And yet your compatriots keep trotting out supposed show-stoppers for “Darwinism”. Aren’t you even intelligent enough to compare notes with your fellow IDiots, Tom?

The fact is that evolutionary theory does run into numerous problems, because it makes real detailed predictions. Mostly these problems are resolved in the time expected in science. ID isn’t science because it really does claim that everything is as it is simply because God did it, hence it has no problems, other than the fact that it is utterly incapable of yielding any kind of useful explanation or prediction.

It barely qualifies as a scientific theory for that reason.

Simpleton, if evolutionary theory really explained nothing, like ID does, it would not even barely qualify as a scientific theory. And your stunning ignorance has no relationship with evolutionary science.

… Intelligent design is not like that. It is aggressive and therefore potentially dangerous. It says to the Darwinians: “You don’t have the evidence to support your claims. Your lab results and fossils don’t support your theory. Organisms are way too complex to have arisen by chance. Take all the time you want, it won’t be enough. Even though we don’t know how it happened, these critters must have been designed somehow.”

The guy studied philosophy, and he takes such a blatant false dichotomy as if it were credible? I suppose it goes along with his ignorance of St. Thomas’s proofs of God, he betrays no learning of any kind.

And nothing whatsoever coming out of ID’s dangerous lies has come close to supporting ID’s claims. Indeed, like the lies of the various pseudosciences and conspiracy theories, Bethell’s right about one thing, ID’s lies are dangerous (I had to change the wording to get it right).

[ID]… takes the war to the enemy, in other words. So it can’t easily be ignored.

Why no, threats to freedom and scientific inquiry cannot be ignored.

It is informed by science, not religion.

You are informed by religion and (an incompetent knowledge of) ancient philosphy, not by science. Hence you couldn’t know your claims to be true even if they were. And as one who is informed by science, I can confidently state that it’s another blatant lie by Bethell (no, his ignorance is not an excuse, for he positions himself as if he were informed).

That is why it has made Darwinians angry, and why they try to identify it with creationism.

Gee, you don’t suppose that we’d be angered by lies invented to destroy science? As for identifying it with creationism, ID posits a “designer” which not only created life in some manner, it supposedly made the entire universe. Imagine that we’d consider it to be creationism!

However, I have distinguished between creationism and ID in various places and ways, most recently on the “Expelled” blog in response to some guy who made up the charge that I contended that ID and creationism are synonymous (his remarks are set off by dashes, “–“, because parentheses are faint on that blog). Here’s a link to the relevant post:

http://expelledthemovie.com/blog/2007/08/21/bens…

I do think that there are notable differences between ID and creationism, which matter little to science, but which do matter to the IDists and creationists.

They have also imposed a rigid orthodoxy upon all whose hiring, credentialing, and promotion they can control. They are not interested in any debate.

No, we are not interested in pretending that we can have a scientific debate with pseudoscience. As for the “rigid orthodoxy,” it’s called academic standards, and these are essential for doing honest science. So yes, we happily impose a “rigid orthodoxy” which keeps out the mind-numbingly stupid claims of Bethell and the rest of the IDiots. Sorry, but that is just the way it is with honest researchers and intellectuals., You wouldn’t understand it Bethell, it’s an intelligence thing.

Glen D

Comment #205884

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 10, 2007 3:31 PM (e)

Minor correction. I wrote:

I do think that there are notable differences between ID and creationism, which matter little to science, but which do matter to the IDists and creationists.

It is obvious from what I wrote that I don’t consider ID not to be creationism of some kind. Hence I should have written the above something like this:

I do think that there are notable differences between ID and traditional creationism in America, which matter little to science, but which do matter to the IDists and creationists.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #205920

Posted by harold on September 10, 2007 5:27 PM (e)

It wouldn’t really hurt to allow that there are differences between creationism and ID, however. That they both belong to Xian (and other “monotheisms”) apologetics without any obvious dividing line is certainly true, but I wonder if anti-IDists make themselves vulnerable when they deny the differences.

Logically there is a considerable difference between classic YEC “creation science” and ID. The classic creationism of the seventies, although a pile of hooey, was far better hooey than ID, since it made straightforward testable claims and was internally logically coherent. (However, that relative intellectual honesty was squandered by the propensity of classic creationists to lie about the evidence and the arguments of their critics.)

In practice, though, I couldn’t help noticing that Derbyshire came to the same conclusion I often have. ID is just an attempt at “court-proofed” creationism for public schools.

The reasons for wanting Biblical literalism in public schools may vary from sheer pandering to actual rare cases of sincere belief in it. In most cases, people simply see it as one component of a rigid, authoritarian ideology that they support overall. It’s not clear to me that such people can differentiate between something being “true” and something being “a useful claim to avance my own agenda”. Note that they constantly assume that scientific work is performed, not for its own merit or potential applications, but to advance some agenda that they imagine the scientist posseses.

The reasons for wanting a watered down version of creationism taught in public schools would effectively be the same. A rigid inability to stop perseverating also contributes. If the original goal was to teach creationism, then a lifetime must be spent obessessing over ways to get any version of creationism into any public school whatsoever.

Comment #206035

Posted by Shepherd Moon on September 10, 2007 11:47 PM (e)

Glen Davidson wrote:

Indeed, if sequences of prime numbers were found in the genomes, without there being any explanation for them (like there is for the prime numbers involved with cicada cycles), I would be willing to consider them to be possible marks of design of some kind. Of course we don’t find anything like that thus far, hence the null hypothesis is the only reasonable one regarding design at this point in time (whether or not MET explains life–which it almost certainly does, but it needn’t to show that “design” is useless in explaining life).

I am not so sure about this. There already is an example similar to the prime number claim by IDers – Fibonacci numbers in nature. For all we know, the Fibonacci patterns in nature are the result of intelligent design, if one subscribes to ID.

But do IDers accept Fibonacci patterns as specified complexity? If not, why not? How is such a pattern different from receiving a signal of sequential prime numbers in a radio signal from space?

On the other hand, to the extent that Fibonacci numbers are shown to be the complex result of simple patterns, don’t they in fact lend support to the evolutionary perspective?

Regards,
Shepherdmoon

Comment #206206

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 11, 2007 10:39 AM (e)

Glen Davidson wrote:

Indeed, if sequences of prime numbers were found in the genomes, without there being any explanation for them (like there is for the prime numbers involved with cicada cycles), I would be willing to consider them to be possible marks of design of some kind. Of course we don’t find anything like that thus far, hence the null hypothesis is the only reasonable one regarding design at this point in time (whether or not MET explains life–which it almost certainly does, but it needn’t to show that “design” is useless in explaining life).

I am not so sure about this. There already is an example similar to the prime number claim by IDers – Fibonacci numbers in nature.

One problem with that being that Fibonacci numbers are in fact rather unlike prime numbers, the latter of which are not regular, not possible to be derived by “natural processes” or formula (there may be algorithms which can ferret at least some out, I’m not sure. But it’s no neat formula like the Fibonacci sequence that can produce sequences of prime numbers). Then too, there is some question whether or not actual Fibonacci patterns truly do exist in, say, plants, or if it is something that comes fairly close.

And I did include the clause “without there being any explanation for them,” shorthand for “without a “natural” explanation existing for them” (I could have included it, but “natural” is an especially thorny term in these discussions). Even though it’s hard to imagine a significant sequence of consecutive prime numbers appearing without rational agents being involved (and of course cicada cycles don’t involve consecutive prime numbers), one would have to consider the possibility, along with rational agents.

For all we know, the Fibonacci patterns in nature are the result of intelligent design, if one subscribes to ID.

IDists claim everything, from exact order to complexities which have never been produced by any known designers, to poor designs (except that apparently junk DNA is a poor design that they claim to predict doesn’t exist—just as well, since it does). What IDers claim is irrelevant to any sort of explanation or prediction.

But do IDers accept Fibonacci patterns as specified complexity? If not, why not? How is such a pattern different from receiving a signal of sequential prime numbers in a radio signal from space?

Fibonacci-like patterns arise through developmental processes, due to the geometries of botanical (for instance) structures. Indeed, while it may not be entirely explained, I believe that most of the explanation(s) is in hand.

On the other hand, to the extent that Fibonacci numbers are shown to be the complex result of simple patterns, don’t they in fact lend support to the evolutionary perspective?

That’s why sequential prime numbers are thought to be a possible marker for design. As far as we know thus far, nothing other than rational processes have produced 10 consecutive prime numbers in the proper order (and within reasonable distances) in something like DNA (not that rational processes have in fact done so—it just wouldn’t be that hard to do). That is to say, significantly long strings of consecutive prime numbers are at least potential markers of rational thought (mathematically-derived information in this case), and rational thought (or its machine derivatives) is what would indicate intelligence at work. The need for products of actual rational thought processes, rather than supposed mimics of natural processes like evolution, to indicate design, seems to escape the inadequate processing units stored in IDists’ heads.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #206224

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit on September 11, 2007 11:28 AM (e)

I’d be cautious about occurrences of prime numbers in DNA as irrefutable evidence for design.

There’s a whole field of DNA computing that’s active now, and one of the results is that under certain models, DNA is Turing-complete: you can compute anything that can be computed. Since prime numbers can be represented by a relatively small Turing machine, their natural occurrence wouldn’t (at least to me) be completely convincing. In that respect, prime numbers aren’t so different from Fibonacci numbers.

Although the properties of prime numbers are still mysterious, generating them with a short program isn’t.

I’d be much more impressed with bases occurring in DNA that encode something culturally significant: the Ten Commandments, or the Declaration of Independence, say. Or perhaps an encoding of the solar system, with all the planets described accurately in their orbits. If human causation could be ruled out, that would be fairly convincing evidence of an extraterrestrial intelligent being mucking around.

Comment #206231

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 11, 2007 11:41 AM (e)

I’d be cautious about occurrences of prime numbers in DNA as irrefutable evidence for design.

As I pointed out, so would I. I wrote, “Indeed, if sequences of prime numbers were found in the genomes, without there being any explanation for them (…), I would be willing to consider them to be possible marks of design of some kind.” Bolding added.

Other than that, thanks for adding information and expertise regarding prime numbers. Mathematics isn’t my subject. Noting that caveat, I certainly agree that having the ten commandments or something of that sort would indeed be a far better immediate indicator of an intelligence operating in the genome than would a sequence of prime numbers.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7