On Religious Beliefs, ID, and Science

Dave Scot, decidedly an agnostic, has written what I believe to be a very cogent analysis of theistic associations between ID and Christianity, and atheism and promoters of science. His views, I believe line up well, with how I see the issue. He also includes a logical rationale for design detection.

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/response-to-gabriel/

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35 Responses

  1. DavesScot;s design detector is neither more nor less than Dembski’s explanatory filter. must we really have to demolish that one every time someone else brings it up?

    DaveScot seems to think that science has to “prove” theories. Has no one told him what a theory is?[1] He seems confident that evidence “proves” that—what? “It has not been shown that small mutations can ever accumulate into significant novel functional architectures that we observe in living things today.” This is among other things, the shop-worn god-of the-gaps argument. Scientists accumulate more evidence every week as to larger and larger changes. None of them has been shown not to be true.

    Bit DaveScot’s real point is in his antepenultimate paragraph. Since they can’t convince scientists with evidence and publications and experiments, they want to do it by political power. “We’ll show ‘em!” You might ask yourself whether this plan appeals to you. Sounds to me like a jihad—Convert or die, infidel.

    =====================
    [1] David Berlinski sings this chorus as well, He thinks that the physical sciences are identical to his own field of mathematics.

    [2] You may–or may not—be interested in a recent unusual application of evolutionary theory. A biologist was studying the sense of taste in order to find non-obesifying substitutes for salt, sour, sweet, bitter, and yummy. He came to the realization that the prevailing theory on taste sensation did not comport with how taste could have evolved. So he mapped out a more likely evolutionary pathway for taste sensors, and—as scientists will—confirmed it in the lab. His new understanding of how this sense works has led to a new class of chemicals that he calls “taste modulators” that can alter tastes apparently without producing any other effects.

  2. YA senior moment last night prevented recall of DaveScot’s real name. It’s David Springer. He’s a computer-science type. His only qualification in biology is a card-carrying membership in the class of carbon-based life forms. “Mike Gene,” recently retired from Telic Thoughts, also remains anonymous, even on the book that he wrote.

  3. Shrink: “Dave Scot, decidedly an agnostic, has written what I believe to be a very cogent analysis of theistic associations between ID and Christianity, and atheism and promoters of science.”

    DaveScot can point out a few ID proponents who seem not to be Christians, and even a couple of self-professed agnostics and atheists. But, who actually _runs_ the ID _movement_? The Discovery Institute runs it; if it were not for them, the “movement,” the efforts to influence school boards and legislators, the campus groups and lecture series, the OpEd pieces and glossy “educational” materials, would devolve to a congeries of ineffectual personal efforts, as in the old days of Henry Morris and Duane Gish.[1] The DI seeks a few allegedly non-theistic showcase exhibits, such as David Berlinski, but the organization’s raison d’etre is to spread Christianity until it becomes the dominant culture of the United States. They may try to disavow the goals of the Wedge Document, but they certainly adhere to all the guidelines that it laid down 12 years ago.[2] Since the Templeton Foundation yanked their support for abusing their grants, the majority of their financial support has come from Howard Ahmanson, an ardent Christian Dominionist. They have no other significant income. The DI is beholden to its religious goals for this reason if for no other.

    So the quote that started DaveScot on his UD counteroffensive, “Gabriel, don’t try to tell me that Christianity is not the engine running the ID movement,” is absolutely true.

    Among evolutionary biologists, there is, as DaveScot says, a full spectrum of religious belief, from Ken Miller’s book-length Catholicism to Francis Collins’ near-deism to Richard Dawkins belligerent atheism.[3] Many individuals, and many professional and governmental associations, push science, and the methodological naturalism that attends it. But there is no organized group that seeks political influence for philosophical naturalism or for atheism. Therein lies the asymmetry between the ID movement and science.

    (Motivation does not, of course, affect the validity vel non of scientific theories. The asymmetry between ID and science in evidence and theory is even more striking, as argued elsewhere.)
    ================
    [1] There is the Institute of Creation Research, but they have always primarily stressed individual education and ministry, rather than cultivating political power on a broad scale..

    [2] Barbara Forrest’s “Creationism’s Trojan Horse” includes a thousand footnotes documenting history, finances, organizational ties, and statements of Discovery Institute spokesmen. As noted in another thread, the DI strove mightily to have her disqualified from testifying at the Kitzmiller trial. For good reason. She produced unimpeachable evidence of their religious motivation and goals. After other witnesses had demonstrated that ID is not science, Forrest demonstrated that it is in fact religion. The judge remarked in his opinion that ID “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist past.” Not “has not” uncoupled, but “cannot”uncouple. Two other decisions, little noted by the DI, have confirmed this judgment: Selmer v. Cobb County School District (DC NGa, 2005) and the recent summary judgment in Association of Christian Schools Intl. v. Stearns, et al. (DC CCal, 2008)

    [3] A recent poll whose source I can’t recall at the moment shows a heavy list toward the non-religious side. I’m not surprised.

  4. This is among other things, the shop-worn god-of the-gaps argument.

    No, your statement is merely the common reaction of a mind-of-the-synaptic-gaps which cannot understand that a pattern of gaps is often significant. The hubris typical to philosophic naturalists is ironic given that even on their own terms naturalism traces back to a bit of a singularity/”gap.”

    This shop-worn “gap” nonsense was also used as a supposed answer to the knowledge based arguments and empirical evidence brought forth by Michael Denton years ago yet he still began a movement because the argument is false.

    ….Australian philosopher Alan Olding, in commenting on the persistent use of the argument from-ignorance or god-of-the-gaps objection against the work of Michael Denton and Michael Behe, writes, The phrase ‘god of the gaps’ is nothing more than a question-begging insult meant to stop the flow of argument before it has barely started.
    To see that the argument-from-ignorance objection is not a magic wand for silencing intelligent design, let’s begin with a reality check. When the argument-from-ignorance objection is raised against intelligent design, who exactly is accused of being ignorant? It’s natural to think that the ignorance here is on the part of design theorists, who want to attribute intelligent agency to biological systems. If only those poor design theorists understood biology better, those systems would readily submit to mechanistic explanation. Thus, when I lecture on university campuses about intelligent design, a biologist in the audience will often get up during the question-and-answer time to inform me that just because I don’t know how complex biological systems might have formed by the Darwinian mechanism doesn’t mean it didn’t happen that way. I then point out that the problem isn’t that I personally don’t know how such systems might have formed but that the biologist who raised the objection doesn’t know how such systems might have formed and that despite having a fabulous education in biology, a well-funded research laboratory, decades to put it all to use, security and prestige in the form of a tenured academic appointment, and the full backing of the biological community, which has also been desperately but unsuccessfully trying to discover how such systems are formed for more than one hundred years. Who is ignorant here? Not just the design theorists, but the scientific community as a whole. In fact, it’s safe to say that the biological community is clueless about the emergence of biological complexity. How so? Because the material mechanisms to which the biological community looks to explain biological complexity provide no clue for how those systems might realistically have come about. The problem, therefore, is not ignorance or personal incredulity but global disciplinary failure (the discipline here being biology) and gross theoretical inadequacy (the theory here being Darwin’s).
    (The Design Revolution
    By William Dembski :213-215)

    Scientists accumulate more evidence every week as to larger and larger changes. None of them has been shown not to be true.

    The issue isn’t the existence of change, it’s a causal claim about how changes come about. If I were to argue that changes in your neural nets were created randomly and culled in a natural process and my evidence was that I could imagine gradual sequences of events which seemed “natural” that didn’t have “gaps” would it be up to you to show that such imaginary evidence was somehow untrue?

  5. On a side note, the brain may be making use of random “chance” or probability in some way that’s difficult to quantify see: (The Quantum Brain by Jeffrey Satinover)

    The funny thing about naturalism and self-refuting ideas is that naturalism typically provides its own refutation, naturally.

  6. On a side note, the brain may be making use of random “chance” or probability in some way that’s difficult to quantify see: (The Quantum Brain by Jeffrey Satinover)

    Yes. Jeffrey Schwartz expands on this notion is his book, The Mind and The Brain, and uses quantum entanglement to take a stab at explaining consciousness. Part of the notion is that the mind can affect the neurology of the brain (and he gives evidence from neuroplasticity). Another part of the notion extends to external events and conscious observation. Part of his theory is that conscious observation actually allows events to occur in the outside world through entanglement (causing a collapse in the multitude of possibilities of events through observation). It’s been awhile since I’ve read this, so I don’t know if Schwartz actually wrote my next point or if I just thought it as I was reading. So, in order for events to occur that are beyond the observation of human consciousness (i.e., before humans existed), there must be an “all observing” consciousness allowing for the quantum wave functions to collapse throughout the universe (i.e., God).

  7. YA senior moment last night prevented recall of DaveScot’s real name. It’s David Springer. He’s a computer-science type. His only qualification in biology is a card-carrying membership in the class of carbon-based life forms. “Mike Gene,” recently retired from Telic Thoughts, also remains anonymous, even on the book that he wrote.

    Nah, just stuck with his nom de guerre. So, you are asserting that only biologists can have any thoughts that might be of pertinence to biology? So, why do you comment on it?

  8. But there is no organized group that seeks political influence for philosophical naturalism or for atheism. Therein lies the asymmetry between the ID movement and science.

    Really? Do we live in the same country?

  9. Olorin,

    But there is no organized group that seeks political influence for philosophical naturalism or for atheism.

    Watch out how you use your denial, Olorin! If what you say is even close to being true, then how did material science, which is basically atheistic, get almost total control of our government, education system and the empty minds (waiting to be filled with whatever) of a large portion of our society? By random chance?

    Scientists accumulate more evidence every week as to larger and larger changes. None of them has been shown not to be true.

    Yes, they do, and with middle class tax dollars! “…none of them has been shown not to be true.” None of them HAVE been shown to be true either, as usual, but that’s not important, right?! Off on a journey to nowhere and with the political and monetary blessings of a perverse generation! You put the televangelists and the material scientists in a bag and shake them up and I doubt if we could ever separate them again, because they’re basically the same creature! One makes money off of a god that he or she’s not certain about, and the other makes money off of test-tube fairy tales that he or she’s not certain about. And both of them have a manipulative and intricate doctrine on life, as well as a vocabulary, that keeps everyone else ignorant to their real agenda: self everything and big bucks for doing little or nothing to aid humanity in any meaningful way or come to the Truth!

    Sorry, mynym, for bringing this up, but, Olorin, I have noticed that you respond to the Shrink’s and my comments, but you rarely, if ever, respond to mynym’s. Why is that, Olorin?

  10. Mynym quotes Alan Oldin via Dembski to jeer at the “gap” argument. Oldin has the right pew, but he’s in the wrong church. The gap argument does not claim that ID proponestists are ignorant, but that, as he later sneers, scientists (qwith their fabulous educations, well-funded labs, yadda, yadda) are ignorant.

    Yes!!!! That’s the whole point, thank you very much. Science’s knowledge is contingent and incomplete. There are miles and miles to go, and experiments to keep (pace R. Frost). It is only the intelligent design movement that has absolute and complete knowledge. It must be absolute, for they show no inclination to test it. It must be complete, for they show no inclination to conduct research or publish papers..

    Let’s use Dembski’s own “explanatory filter” (EF) to demonstrate how gaps become designs.[1] The EF first tries to ascribe the cause of a phenomenon to chance. If the evidence shows that chance is not responsible, then the filter asks for evidence that natural law caused the phenomenon. In the absence of evidence for natural law, then the EF ascribes the cause to design. Are you with nme so far?

    The first thing to note is that Dembski has divided the whole megillah into three categories, but has not shown any evidence that these categories are either exclusive or exhaustive.[2]

    The second aspect to note is that the both the “chance” and the “law” buckets require evidence. Dembski does not assign the phenomenon to either of these naturalistic categories unless he can find positive physical evidence to do so. But what about the third category, design? This bucket is the default, the slop pail into which the cause is assigend if no other cause can be found. The filter REQUIRES NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER for this category. This is how Dembski evades the necessity of actually digging up evidence of design. It’s cleverly buried in a simulacrum of logical inference.

    The third feature is this. Since real scientists are shamefully ignorant, and thus need to continue to solicit grants and waste middle-income taxpayers’ beer money, there are natural laws that no one is yet aware of, and that no one will be able to noodle out for many decades or centuries to come. Suppose the phenomenon at hand is one of those that obeys one of the myriad laws whose discovery lies in the future? If the EF can’t assign it to chance, and has not the knowledge of the undiscovered law, then it assigns that phenomenon to—DESIGN!

    This is the sense in which Dembski’s tool for detecting design classifies ignorance as design. On this basis, then, “design” is a “gap” argument. Gaps in knowledge are the result of design. I don’t think so.

    We can disassemble complex specified information[3] and irreducible complexity[4] also, if you like; but others have done that for you many times without apparent effect.

    =================
    [1] At bottom, the whole purpose of the EF is to bypass the requirement for physical evidence, and to “prove” ID by pure deductive logic.

    [2] for example, we, know that the Schroedinger equation inherently involves both chance and law. That you can’t imagine other categories does not mean there are none. That’s why real scientists don’t do a Bayesian analysis on (A or B or C), but rather on (A or ~A), then on (B or ~B), etc., each requiring its own test and its own positive evidence. The fact that such analyses often call both ~A and ~B “chance” may have confused Dembski.

    [3] In a former creationist life, this was called the “second law of thermodynamics” argument.

    [4] Isomorphic to the Paley “watch on the heath” argument. Can’t you come up with some new ones every century or so?

  11. Since real scientists are shamefully ignorant, and thus need to continue to solicit grants and waste middle-income taxpayers’ beer money,

    Or house payment, or car payment, or money for food or clothing, or money for the hospital bills, or money for school and college. Yes, we all know that if the government and material science leave any money at all to the lower forms of life, like the middle class, they will just use it to drown in beer. Uneducated, religious and drunk and not worth much at all, are they? Just a bunch of ready-to-be-extinguished-by-natural-law folks, who are, quite honestly, standing in the way of the final solution.

    Thus, the mindset and moral sense of the Godless, or confused about God and what they believe, evolutionist. What a great age we have to look forward to?

  12. mynym (8/27 at 9:33 pm): “On a side note, the brain may be making use of random “chance” or probability in some way that’s difficult to quantify see: (The Quantum Brain by Jeffrey Satinover)”

    Argh. I didn’t have to make up an example of a phenomenon where Dembski would classify ignorance as design. Mynym provided one for free.

    Mymym redivivus: “The funny thing about naturalism and self-refuting ideas is that naturalism typically provides its own refutation, naturally..”

    That sentence may have passed the spell checker, but it flunked the Turing test. Can you reprocess it?

  13. DB: “Or house payment, or car payment, or money for food or clothing, or money for the hospital bills, or money for school and college,” etc., etc.

    Pace, DB. I was being sarcastic.

    DB: “What a great age we have to look forward to?”

    Perhaps, perhaps not. But I prefer not to back into it with a mediaeval mindset.

  14. dwilli58 (8/28 at 9:50 am: “Olorin, I have noticed that you respond to the Shrink’s and my comments, but you rarely, if ever, respond to mynym’s. Why is that, Olorin?”

    Because I’m a newbie to this blog, and this is his first post I’ve seen here? On other blogs, yes. (Have you been banished to The Bathroom Wall At PT recently, mynym?)

  15. Oh wise Olorin,

    I was referring to this blog, where mynym has been commenting since I have been around. If you don’t mind, I really don’t want to follow you to other sites and listen to more of the s. o. s.!

    Pace, DB. I was being sarcastic.

    Of course you were, Olorin! You’re a down to earth kind of guy, a real square-shooter. Excuse me now, I have to go scrape my boils with a rock and build a medieval fire!

  16. Argh. I didn’t have to make up an example of a phenomenon where Dembski would classify ignorance as design.

    Knowledge of principles of engineering is not ignorance, biologists treating imaginary events in the past as the equivalent of known principles and empirical evidence is. This is not to say that most of the principles of engineering, machinery and nano-technology made use of in life are known, it is only to point out that those who claim to have “explained” away design based on imagining things about the past are typically so ignorant that they are the first to make claims about the supposed ignorance of others. It seems that those who treat their own imaginations as the equivalent of empirical evidence quickly come to the conclusion that they have “overwhelming” amounts of knowledge. Yet it may be that those taken in by Darwinian “reasoning” have merely overwhelmed their rather limited intellects with their own imagination.

    Mynym provided one for free.

    Pointing out that biologists have failed to explain away design based on Darwinian “theories” is a reference to the ignorance that they typically project onto anyone who claims, based on knowledge, that they haven’t explained away design or “explained” much of anything. Take one of their own comparisons as an illustration, they have claimed for over a century that Darwinian theory is the epistemic equivalent of the theory of gravity. (Some go farther and claim that the theory of evolution has more explanatory power than any other theory in science and so on and so forth.) So where has the theory of natural selection been specified in the language of mathematics and used to predict a trajectory of adaptation in a group of organisms? Generally speaking “evolution” is still rooted in hypothetical goo which hasn’t been specified enough to be verified or falsified so that progress in verifiable knowledge can be made. In fact, even critics are still searching for an “edge” of actual specification which can actually be verified and/or falsified empirically.

    The irony is this, when the theory of natural selection is actually specified and used to predict a trajectory of adaptation which can be verified based on empirical evidence it will undermine the Darwinian creation myth.

  17. (Have you been banished to The Bathroom Wall At PT recently, mynym?)

    Actually I was censored off of Uncommon Descent once but never at the Panda’s Thumb.

    On the topic of ignorance and “gaps” in mythological narratives of naturalism note the irony of that blog’s name. It’s named after a theological argument about how God would or wouldn’t design a thumb. This is the sort of “knowledge” by which most biologists claim to have explained away all design, yet they typically seek to portray their opponents as ignorant. To repeat Dembski’s question, “Who is really ignorant here?”

    Since the focus of some tends to be purely political just because I cite Dembski on a matter of knowledge or logic doesn’t mean that I agree with him on everything or that we’re best pals.

  18. “The funny thing about naturalism and self-refuting ideas is that naturalism typically provides its own refutation, naturally..”

    That sentence may have passed the spell checker, but it flunked the Turing test.

    And you would advance that as evidence against the truth of it?

    At any rate, it’s a reference to a problem that has bedeviled those who seek to deny the nature of Self and sentience for millenia once causing Cicero to comment:

    ‘Epicurus himself used to do the same thing. For instance, he saw that if those atoms of his were always falling downwards by their own weight, their motion would be fixed and predetermined, and there would be no room for free will in the world. So casting about for a way to avoid this determinism, which Democritus had apparently overlooked, he said that the atoms, as they fell, just swerved a little!’ (On the Nature of the Gods)

  19. Olorin wrote:

    That sentence may have passed the spell checker, but it flunked the Turing test. Can you reprocess it?

    It may have flunked your heuristic for the turing test, but it made perfect sense to me.

    DB wrote:

    Of course you were, Olorin! You’re a down to earth kind of guy, a real square-shooter. Excuse me now, I have to go scrape my boils with a rock and build a medieval fire!

    I can’t wait for the next big rain. At times, I have collected leeches for fishing, but I’m thinking about taking up bloodletting, the more I study ID, the more it makes sense. Thanks Olorin!!! Shoot, I forgot that modern medicine has rediscovered leeches…. (1)

    Let’s see maggots! Nope (2). Shoot, how about trepanantion?? (3) Seems to be a bit of a modern movement there, which is very different from this (4). You see Olorin, there are delusional people everywhere. Even in (sharp intake of breath), evolutionary circles. Just because someone believes that God’s nature is more than just love, doesn’t mean that they are a Christian Scientist (5). If all I want is love, I can turn to a dog (yes I know tired old dyslexia joke). I think you need to study the psychology of jihad a bit more, and see why it doesn’t work from the modern Christian framework (6).

    (1). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5319129/
    (2). http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1024_031024_maggotmedicine.html
    (3). http://depression.about.com/cs/treatments/a/trepanation.htm
    (4). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subdural_hematoma
    (5). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Scientist
    (6). http://shrinkwrapped.blogs.com/blog/the_arab_mind/index.html (15 part series on the Arab mind)

  20. Mynym wrote:

    Since the focus of some tends to be purely political just because I cite Dembski on a matter of knowledge or logic doesn’t mean that I agree with him on everything or that we’re best pals.

    Yes, Olorin seems to think that we’re all minions of the Discovery Institute, Dembski, and Behe. Sent out to, with our faith, destroy the progress which naturalism has bequeathed us over the last 100+ years. I’ve been trying to locate a good cave to live in, but I can’t find any with good Internet access for blogging and my computer business. So, I guess I’m stuck in the 21st century a bit longer. Some day, Olorin, some day. You wait and see. Your ancestors will be making stone tools if we get our way!!! Science will finally regain it’s rightful place of “God did it. Don’t ask questions.”

    Respectfully yours….an IDiot Shrink.

  21. mynym: “Pointing out that biologists have failed to explain away design based on Darwinian “theories” is a reference to the ignorance that they typically project onto anyone who claims, based on knowledge, that they haven’t explained away design or “explained” much of anything.”

    Why should anyone have to “explain away” design? You’ll have to find some actual evidence for it first. No, no—a gut feeling that something is designed is not evidence. Not the logical shell game of Dr. Dembski. Not the claim of irreducible complexity that is only a negative even if you could demonstrate that it actually exists.

    What is there to “explain away” about design? It’s not a theory of anything. It has no model of anything, proposes no mechanism that can be investigated. The entire corpus of design is that some things (we don’t know what) are “too complex” to be natural. If, as you admit, we are a far piece from knowing all the natural laws, there is no basis for you to know that anything is too complex.

    mynym: “So where has the theory of natural selection been specified in the language of mathematics and used to predict a trajectory of adaptation in a group of organisms?”

    You remember when Michael Behe was presented during the Dover trial with 58 references against his claim of irreducible complexity in blood clotting? Behe could have found them; they were right there. Perhaps you remember last year when a grad-student HIV researcher shot down Behe’s main claim in “The Edge of Evolution” as to how fast proteins could (not) evolve? Again, it was all there, available to him. IDers not only do not do any research on their own claims, they don’t read anyone else’s work, or even take the time to look for it. Anyway, here’s some free research on major books and papers in mathematical treatments of evolution:

    — JBS Haldane, “A Mathematical Theory of Natural and Artificial Selection” (A seminal paper in the “modern synthesis”)
    — JBS Haldane, “The Causes of Evolution “ (Extensive math appendix)
    —JBS Haldane, “On Being the Right Size.” )Equilibrium points of body size in evolution)
    —RA Fischer, “The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection “ {Fischer was primarily a statistician, and introduced the modern theory of statistics into evolution)
    —RA Fischer, “The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection” (The probability that a mutation will increase the fitness of an organism varies inversely with the size of the mutation)
    —RA Fischer, “The use of multiple measurements in taxonomic problems”
    —Sewell Wright, — Developed the mathematical theory of genetic drift. (Sorry, I can’t lay my hands on the title of his book just now.)
    —Sewell Wright — Mathematical descripions of relations between genotypes and fitness surfaces (Again, can’t remember the precise book or paper)
    —Lewontin, “A molecular approach to the study of genic heterozygosity in natural populations.”
    —Lewontin, “”The evolutionary dynamics of complex polymorphisms”

    These are just a few, by the early investigators into mathematical methods in evolution. In fact, the mathematical treatments of Haldane, Wright, and Fischer are credited as a major factor in bringing about the Modern Synthesis—bringing together Darwinian selection and Mendelian genetics.

    I’m not disposed to offer you much more free research, mynym. As long as you have been around, you can stop wasting everyone else’s time and look up your own stuff. Others also get exasperated at your demands for tons of evidence for evolution when you provide no evidence at all for your own point of view.

    PS: I have never been banned from Uncommon Descent. But that’s only because the poor boobs over there have a hard time recognizing parodies. (Ask Shrink for some of the Oloric Extensions to Intelligent Design Theory.) Your comment about the name of the Panda’s Thumb blog demonstrates that you can’t recognize it either.

  22. PS: I have never been banned from Uncommon Descent. But that’s only because the poor boobs over there have a hard time recognizing parodies. (Ask Shrink for some of the Oloric Extensions to Intelligent Design Theory.) Your comment about the name of the Panda’s Thumb blog demonstrates that you can’t recognize it either.

    Perhaps you’ve not been banned from UD, but you’ve been about an inch from being banned here ever since you first showed up. And with this comment you’re down to about 1/4 of an inch.

  23. Thank you for the quarter inch. Maybe I don’t deserve it. Your friend mynym irks me and many others with incessant demands for evidence of evolution, while offering no positive physical evidence at all for design. Giving him citations to what he asks for never satisfies him. Watch. He will not point out where the references may be wrong, but merely demand more than he had asked for. As a long-time friend used to complain, “I give ya books an’ I give ya books, but still ya eat the covers.”

    If I want my very own pulpit, I should start my own blog. So, banish me if you must. Everyone else who disagrees with intelligent design creationism seems to have left already. But please remember just these two points:
    (a) The methodological naturalism of science is not the philosophical naturalism of atheism.
    (b) Attempting to stuff religion into science perverts both of them.

  24. Olorin wrote:

    Thank you for the quarter inch. Maybe I don’t deserve it.

    I’m not planning on banishing you. I just sincerely ask one thing. Don’t portray ID or Creationism proponents as dumb, simple minded, intellectually inferior, and so forth. You can make your arguments without resorting to that. I enjoy discussing things with you, but when you do that sort of thing, I really don’t appreciate it. Intellectual elitism is not a virtue.

    As to point A, I agree. It seems that the biggest proponents of naturalistic evolution would benefit from that perspective.

    As to point B, I think that naturalistic evolution and cosmology have become pagan religions in their own right, in part because of ignorance of point A, personal and political biases, and out of a need to find a God-replacement.

    I do not, and have not, ever advocated that folks stop researching evolution. I have advocated that the dogmatic, priest-like, stance of many naturalistic evolutionists is holding up scientific progress.

  25. Why should anyone have to “explain away” design?

    Your ignorance isn’t necessarily my responsibility. Would you deny that Darwin and modern proponents of Darwinism like Richard Dawkins are engaged in explaining away design or the appearance of design as they might put it?

    You’ll have to find some actual evidence for it first. No, no—a gut feeling that something is designed is not evidence.

    The nature of language, civilization and the concepts employed in technology are not based on feelings.

    Dawkins claims that he is explaining away the appearance of technology and design in his book the Blind Watchmaker*, yet instead of dealing with counter arguments you make a “school boy” type of argument based on your ignorance or let’s play pretend so that we’re supposed to pretend that design doesn’t even rise to the level of Pink Unicorns and so on. (The Flying Spaghetti Monster is just another variant of this puerile type of denial.)

    *

    We animals are the most complicated things in the known universe. … Complicated things, everywhere, deserve a very special kind of explanation. We want to know how they came into existence and why they are so complicated. The explanation, as I shall argue, is likely to be broadly the same for complicated things everywhere in the universe; the same for us, for chimpanzees, worms, oak trees and monsters from outer space. On the other hand, it will not be the same for what I call ‘simple’ things, such as rocks, clouds, rivers, galaxies and quarks. ….
    The difference is one of complexity of design. Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. Physics is the study of simple things that do not tempt us to invoke design. (The Blind Watchmaker: Why Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins ::1)

    Not the logical shell game of Dr. Dembski. Not the claim of irreducible complexity that is only a negative even if you could demonstrate that it actually exists.

    Irreducible complexity cannot be reduced to a negative argument against the hypothetical goo typical to Darwinian reasoning, it’s also an empirical observation. What can generally be observed empirically is typically a form of irreducible complexity where if a part is taken away then a lack of function results. For sociological, psychological, political, theological and other reasons many scientists do not treat what is generally observed as “evidence.”

    It’s ironic that occasionally in disagreements among biologists themselves the epistemic bar is raised and some almost begin to focus more on empirical evidence then imaginary events in the past. For example:

    The viewpoint of Coyne et al. (1988) is one in which past events are argued to explain, in a causal sense, the world around us. Such explanations cannot be verified or tested, and the only biological observations they require are that variation and differential reproduction occur. This is not a caricature, as a reading of Coyne et al. will verify. In keeping with this general viewpoint, proponents claim that species are explained with reference to history. Important characters are hence “mechanisms” that have established and maintained the separation between diverged lineages of an ancestral population. According to Coyne et al., even the adaptive purpose of the changes that resulted in these mechanisms is irrelevant.
    We would ask where biology enters into this schema. The answer is that it does not. Rather, biology is interpreted in terms of a range of historical processes, including selection of variation over time. This could, with equal relevance, be used to understand any nonbiological phenomenon such as the development of the automobile, agricultural methods, culture, or men’s suits (Lewontin, 1976).
    (Points of View
    Species and Neo-Darwinism
    By C. S. White; B. Michaux; D. M. Lambert
    Systematic Zoology, Vol. 39, No. 4. (Dec., 1990), :400-401)

    Irreducible complexity isn’t an “argument” similar to Darwinian reasoning, it’s generally an empirical observation which can be observed in the form and function of organisms and verified. The capacity of biologists to imagine things doesn’t change empirical facts and it doesn’t really “explain” the history of all biological specification, form and species. Note that those who are the first to blindly assert: “There is no evidence.” also seem to be those most willing to cite their own imaginations as the equivalent of empirical evidence.

  26. I’m not disposed to offer you much more free research, mynym.

    That’s fine. Perhaps you could try answering the question instead. You seem to be mistaken as to why I asked it, at any rate. I wasn’t denying that natural selection is a valid theory with “some” predictive power, although I was pointing out that it isn’t the epistemic equivalent of the theory of gravity and so on. So where has the theory of natural selection been specified in the language of mathematics and used to predict a trajectory of adaptation in a group of organisms?

    Here’s another, if an “edge” of evolution can actually be specified and verified empirically do you think it will lend support to the type of Darwinian creation myths proposed by proponents like Richard Dawkins?

    Your friend mynym irks me and many others with incessant demands for evidence of evolution, while offering no positive physical evidence at all for design.

    Often those ignorant enough to support Darwinism propose very low epistemic standards for their supposed “knowledge” of biology while simultaneously demanding that opponents who criticize their ignorant and stupid claims meet epistemic standards on a par with the theory of gravity and so on. This goes along with their century old claim that Darwinian “reasoning” is similar to Newtonian reasoning and will lead to the same sort of progress in knowledge. That is to say, if these charlatans of biology are right and Darwinism is a type of knowledge epistemologically similar to gravity or the fact that the earth revolves around the sun or even the fact that the earth is round then obviously anyone who criticizes Darwinism must meet very high epistemic standards. But given that such propaganda is utter drivel I see no reason to somehow observe design just as one can observe that the earth is round and so on. Instead it seems to me that design can be known but as a form of knowledge in many areas should be advanced humbly. One area in which I would not advance it humbly is in the case of humanity, here is where the utterly unfalsifiable nature of Darwinism and the capacity of Darwinian “reasoning” to explain away ALL design should be apparent. The simple fact is we know that humans design things, yet given Dawkin’s or Darwin’s “reasoning” we would have to deny that watches are, in fact, designed by minds capable of imprinting abstract thought onto matter, on purpose.

  27. I’m not planning on banishing you. I just sincerely ask one thing. Don’t portray ID or Creationism proponents as dumb, simple minded, intellectually inferior, and so forth.

    I’m against censorship and generally argue against it. Ironically I was censored off Dembski’s blog arguing against censorship(but then welcomed back later by Davescot). Given the freedom of expression available on the internet everyone can have their own blog and run it the way they want, I would merely argue that everyone should allow “a lot” of free expression. (Especially on blogs about dissent, etc.)

  28. mynym wrote:

    I’m against censorship and generally argue against it. Ironically I was censored off Dembski’s blog arguing against censorship(but then welcomed back later by Davescot). Given the freedom of expression available on the internet everyone can have their own blog and run it the way they want, I would merely argue that everyone should allow “a lot” of free expression. (Especially on blogs about dissent, etc.)

    I generally agree with your position, but I will not tolerate intellectual elitism. I think that is part of why we even have to have these discussions. If someone wants to call someone an IDiot, there are better places to do it. There are certain things I won’t put up with, but dissent and disagreement are not among those things.

  29. Shrink: “As to point A, I agree. It seems that the biggest proponents of naturalistic evolution would benefit from that perspective.”

    Touche. Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, et al, do try to stuff science into religion. I like PZ personally; he’s a nice guy face-to-face. They can believe what they like, but disproving God through science is as feckless as proving God through science.

    Shrink: “As to point B, I think that naturalistic evolution and cosmology have become pagan religions in their own right,”

    This is a common—in fact increasing—cavil of the ID crowd.[1] Superficially, perhaps evolution and cosmology provide “creation myths” similar to those that all religions provide: Who are we? Where did we come from? But the methods employed in arriving at these creation stories is entirely different.

    Scientific theories are proposed by ordinary mortals. They are compared to known data for consistency and for possible explanatory power. Since useful theories entail mechanisms or models that explain other phenomena as well, experiments are defined and carried out; the theories are tested and winnowed. New evidence is continually added. If it fits right away, it adds to confidence in the theory. If not, we look for a place where it might fit a hole—like fitting a piece into a jigsaw puzzle. (Often this increases our understanding of the pieces we already have.) If it seems not to fit at all, we first look for modifications or extensions of the model that would make it fit. The more evidence we already have for the theory, the harder we look. If we are unsuccessful, the theory is overturned—or, more likely it is repalced with a theory that has a different underlying mechanism. (Relativity did not “refute” any of Newton’s findings; rather it allowed phenomena not previously known to be related to be brought into the fold.)

    Religious theories proceed along an entirely different route. Someone proclaims the theory, asserting that it is from a higher authority, one that cannot be questioned.[2] Hermeneutics from this sacred source may be interpreted, although not questioned. Argument proceeds from logical inference and assumed principles, not from evidence. Theories are sometimes modified, but almost always from a kind of political pressure. Theories may be overthrown, but usually by death or forced conversion.[3]

    Now tell me in what way you believe that those processes are the same?[4] If I could boil all this down to one difference, maybe it’s the external corrective force, the feedback of evidence that religion does not possess.

    A primo example of the two different styles occurred when Marin Luther thought he had refuted Copernicus by quoting scripture contrary to the heliocentric theory. Authority v. evidence. Authority v. evidence. Religion v. science. Authority v. evidence.

    ================
    [1] If we can’t play science, then you are a cootie religion. Nyah, nyah. (In argumentation, this is a ploy called “turning the tables.”)

    [2] Judaism is a little quirky here. Some of the OT gurus argued with God and won!

    [3] As sci-fi author Philip K. Dick once remarked, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

    [4] Do scientists have “beliefs” about their theories? Sure. Will they argue against high odds for them? Yep. Can they be taken in by hoaxes? Pace, Piltdown Man. Will they even occasionally lie to protect their pet creations? Need I say “cold fusion”? But evidence is king, and sooner or later it will out.

  30. mynym (9/1 at 4:06 pm): “That’s fine. Perhaps you could try answering the question instead. You seem to be mistaken as to why I asked it, at any rate.”

    Well, the question was for mathematical treatments of evolutionary trajectories. That’s what the list of refs was; the intellectual elite call it “population genetics.” As to any ulterior motives in asking, no, I’ll have to buy a clue.

    But you get one more freebie, because I already gave it to you: JBS Haldane, “On Being the Right Size.” An example of “where has the theory of natural selection been specified in the language of mathematics and used to predict a trajectory of adaptation in a group of organisms?” Go forth and read. Then move the goalposts again.

  31. Well, the question was for mathematical treatments of evolutionary trajectories. That’s what the list of refs was; the intellectual elite call it “population genetics.”

    No, changes that have nothing to do with natural selection can be called an “evolutionary trajectory” and given “mathematical treatment” as you put it. The point of the question is to compare Darwinian reasoning and Newtonian reasoning given that Darwinists have compared their theorizing with the theory of gravity for well over a century but you’re shifting away from Darwinism to population genetics and apparently you even think that an essay which has nothing to do with natural selection can be cited.

    But you get one more freebie, because I already gave it to you: JBS Haldane, “On Being the Right Size.”

    The only passage I can find which you may feel has something or other to do with the predictive power of the theory of natural selection is this:

    Gravity, a mere nuisance to Christian, was a terror to Pope, Pagan, and Despair. To the mouse and any smaller animal it presents practically no dangers. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes. For the resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object. Divide an animal’s length, breadth, and height each by ten; its weight is reduced to a thousandth, but its surface only to a hundredth. So the resistance to falling in the case of the small animal is relatively ten times greater than the driving force.
    On Being the Right Size
    J. B. S. Haldane

    Am I supposed to conclude that Haldane used the theory of natural selection to “predict” that mice would be smaller than men based on the complex mathematical reasoning given in the essay that you cite? It’s little wonder that you were seemed rather anxious to shift the burden of proof to proponents of design given this sort of “overwhelming” evidence. It seems that you have very little knowledge of your own and need to sit back and simply deny design instead. The term “overwhelming” was always telling, the effect of literature bluffing is intended to be overwhelming but when it comes down to actual specification and actual evidence to support claims about Darwinian theory that have been made for well over a century apparently charlatanism is all there is.

    Go forth and read.

    Given your pattern of projection I’m not sure you read the essay that you cited but if you did then cite the relevant passage that you think answers the question. Given that the essay doesn’t even mention natural selection in plain language let alone the language of mathematics, it’s really not clear what you think it has to do with comparing the predictive power of the theory of natural selection with that of the theory of gravity.

    Again, if holding Darwinian theory to this type of epistemic standard is supposedly so unreasonable then the leading proponents of Darwinism should not have advanced arguments based on it for well over a century.

    Note that it has also been an argument typical to those making political arguments:

    Try to teach physics without talking about the theory of the atom.

    Try to teach astronomy without discussing the theory of gravity.

    It can’t be done. These theories are among the foundation stones of our knowledge of the universe. No elementary or secondary school education would be complete unless it gave each and every student a basic understanding of these topics.

    The theory of evolution carries the same standing in the world of biology.
    (Guelph Mercury (Ontario, Canada)
    November 1, 2000 Wednesday
    SECTION: THE EDITORIAL PAGE; Pg. A8
    HEADLINE: There’s a missing link in our schools) (Emphasis added)

    A scientific theory has considerable status, because it must be supported by massive amounts of solid evidence. It is worth remembering that both the theory of gravity, and the theory of relativity have exactly the same status, in science as the theory of evolution.
    (The Toronto Sun
    August 28, 1999, Saturday, Final EDITION
    SECTION: EDITORIAL/OPINION, Pg. 17) (Emphasis added)

    It is hard for us to believe that some members of the State Board of Education would try to dismiss the force of gravity as “only an untested theory.” Couldn’t they prove it to themselves by jumping off a tall building?
    (Topeka Capital-Journal (Kansas)
    June 15, 1999, Tuesday
    HEADLINE: ‘Letters to the editor)

    The theory of evolution is as accepted today by the scientific community as is the theory of gravity.
    […]
    Keep in mind, Galileo did not know exactly how and why the Earth revolves around the sun, but that did not make him wrong. If creationism were to be placed under the same standards of scrutiny as evolution, creationism would have been abandoned decades ago. And yet evolution still stands strong.
    (Buffalo News (New York)
    February 25, 2005 Friday
    FINAL EDITION
    SECTION: VIEWPOINTS; Pg. A11
    HEADLINE: EVOLUTION IS ACCEPTED BY SCIENTISTS AS THEORY)

    It’s very refreshing to see the debate concerning evolution brought back into public discourse, because it allows me to bring to light some other troubling theories that we should avoid “indoctrinating” our children with, as letter-writer Marjie Shulsinger described the teaching of evolution.
    The first is the theory of gravity. ….
    (The Denver Post
    January 27, 2005 Thursday
    FINAL EDITION
    SECTION: DENVER & THE WEST; Pg. B-06
    HEADLINE: THE OPEN FORUM – Letters to the editor)

    Yet when I take the comparison seriously you reply: “mynym irks me and many others with incessant demands for evidence of evolution, while offering no positive physical evidence at all for design.

    Yet I wouldn’t claim that recognizing design is the equivalent of basic forms of empirical evidence or a highly specified form of theory with strong predictive power, etc. Not to mention the fact that I haven’t proposed that the State must support design and only design as an explanation and that local communities can’t decide what to teach school children lest “science” and progress crumble away or some such ignorant drivel. If I had done things of that sort then maybe you could come to me demanding positive physical evidence for transphysical things in that contradictory way that you have but note that I haven’t done anything of the sort. It’s your type of charlatanism, you can try to support it.

  32. Here is some possible evidence of things that probably did not come about by natural selection and which even seem to be designed to resist naturalistic explanations. There is actually a long list of biologists who could be cited who have compiled the evidence against Darwinism. Bringing forth evidence against Darwinism has generally been a thankless task so you’ve probably never heard of many of them but in this case I’d cite the work of Michael Denton, as he inspired Michael Behe and much of the ID movement. Possible lines of evidence of things designed to resist naturalistic explanation:

    The living world is full of innumerable other systems, particularly among the insects and invertebrates, for which gradual evolutionary explanations have never been provided. A particularly fascinating case is the mating flight of the dragonfly. The male flies ahead of the female and grips her head with terminal claspers. The female then bends her abdomen forward and receives the sperm from a special copulatory organ which is situated toward the front on the under surface of the abdomen of the male dragonfly and which he fills with semen from the true reproductive aperture before the start of the mating flight. This strange manoeuvre, which seems a curiously round about way to bring sperm to egg, depends on the unique and complex machinery which forms the male copulatory organ. Although in its detailed structure it varies enormously in different species, the fundamental design of this extraordinary complex organ is essentially the same in all species of dragonfly. No other insect possesses anything remotely like it, nor is it led up to gradually by a sequence of simpler transitional structures.

    As Tillyard remarked:
    “The copulatory apparatus of the male Dragonfly is one of the most remarkable structures in the Animal Kingdom. The “palpal organ” on the pedipaip of the male Spider, and the hectocotylous arm of the Cephalopod Mollusc, extraordinary as they are, do not defy all explanation, since in each case they are modifications of an appendage already present. But the apparatus of the male Dragonfly is not homologous with any known organ in the Animal Kingdom; it is not derived from any pre-existing organ; and its origin, therefore, is as complete a mystery as it well could be.”
    An interesting example of a very widespread invertebrate phenomenon, the origin of which is in most cases difficult to account for in gradualistic evolutionary terms, is that of metamorphosis. Many invertebrates undergo a dramatic metamorphosis between the egg and adult form. As described in Chapter Seven, in the case of certain types of insect such as butterflies, beetles, bees and ants, which undergo what is termed complete metamorphosis during a quiescent pupation stage, the transformation involves virtually the complete dissolution of all the organ systems of the larva and their reconstitution de novo from small masses of undifferentiated embryonic cells called the imaginal discs. In other words, one type of fully functional organism is broken down into what amounts to a nutrient broth from which an utterly different type of organism emerges.
    (Evolution: A Theory In Crisis
    By Michael Denton :219-220)

    I actually don’t believe that imagining things about the past qualifies as much of an “explanation” but it is interesting to note that when it comes to many organisms those who do believe in their own imaginary explanations apparently haven’t been able to imagine something. Imagine that! So there is no mythological narrative of naturalism for the copulatory organ of the male dragon fly?

    Very well… I will now fill in the gap with overwhelming evidence!

    Once upoon a time there was a group of dragonfly ancestors. Now the problem with this group of ancestors was that they lacked a good copulatory organ. So the male dragonflies were buzzing around after the females and few survived. Sometimes they would buzz after a female and bump into each other. Then in their lil’ proto-dragonfly heads they would think, “Hey man, can’t you see I’m trying to evolve a better copulatory organ here, now out of my way!” But these poor proto-dragonflies didn’t have what they needed and died. But one day a mutant thought, “Man I bet if I flew ahead of her and gripped on with these terminal claspers thingies, this would work better!”

    So he did and it was a success, so all the lil’ dragonfly babies began to look like the daddy dragonfly, who just happened to mutate his lil’ terminal claspers. So all the dragonflies lived happily ever after until humans came and destroyed Mother Earth. The End.

  33. What mynym is pointing out here is what bothers me most about the proponents of natural selection. It seems that anyone who has investigated, researched and theorized something, which is contrary to the sacredness of the theory of evolution, is considered to be a scientific blasphemer. I have read dissenting articles on naturalism by non-believing scientists, which seem to bring up the same or similar issues as ID proponents. Are dissenting works and opinions not allowed, since evolution has evidently risen to the same level as the theory of gravity, as the above quotes so vividly point out? I have to believe that the answer to this question, at the moment, is yes.

  34. Mynym wrote:
    “Here is some possible evidence of things that probably did not come about by natural selection and which even seem to be designed to resist naturalistic explanations.”

    Another interesting one is the concept of Genetic Reserves:

    When the arctic fox has a gray coat of fur in summer, which blends with the tundra, it has
    in its genetic reserve the white fur it will wear in winter. The fox’s white fur in winter blends
    with the snow but its genetic reserve still contains the gray fur for the following summer.
    Similarly, the rock ptarmigan draws from its genetic reserves to display feathers of mottled
    reddish-brown in spring, then brownish-gray in fall, then white in winter. Trees leaf and bloom
    in spring, fruit in summer, then drop their leaves in the fall. Birds nest and rear young in spring
    and summer, then migrate in the fall. These periodicities are from the organism’s cyclical DNA
    genetic reserves and go on repetitively for its lifetime with punctuality and precision. The fox has
    white fur for the first snowfall, not the last, and gray fur for the first thaw, not a week or a month
    later. And it never grows red or green or orange or blue fur by trial and error like evolutionists
    would have us believe. If its cyclical genetic reserves were not engineered for precision and
    punctuality, it could not survive one season.

    Joseph Mastropaolo, Biology Confronts Evolution
    http://www.lifescienceprize.org/data1.html

  35. DB wrote:
    It seems that anyone who has investigated, researched and theorized something, which is contrary to the sacredness of the theory of evolution, is considered to be a scientific blasphemer.

    I think this is easily explained in religious terms. If Naturalism is one’s religion, then evolution is THE primary doctrine of that religion (their great god Nature has revealed it to them via science). So, it’s no wonder they treat dissenters as blasphemers!

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