Evolution and Excrement

Upson Downes said of evolution, whatever evolution may be, that how it occurs is

….the subject of 2,000 reviewed papers per year in the journals. Because HOW it occurred is the only basis for scientific knowledge and for practical applications, which are the ultimate reason for science.

Yet ironically if evolution is all “change” in a given context then its occurrence cannot be known (i.e. falsified or verified) and one would find themselves studying how something occurred without any knowledge that it actually did occur in the first place. Of course change happens, much like excrement happens but if you believe that change is an explanation for how everything happens then you may as well have excrement for brains. At a more specific level than “evolution,” whatever that may be, there is little evidence that a Darwinian form of change/”evolution” has brought about the origins of all organisms. It matters little how many people assume that evolution of this sort must have occurred and set about imagining HOW it must have happened if the evidence shows that in all probability it never happened in the first place.

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73 Responses

  1. mynym: “It matters little how many people assume that evolution of this sort must have occurred and set about imagining HOW it must have happened if the evidence shows that in all probability it never happened in the first place.”

    Perhaps this is why intelligent design has never produced any research.

    As to evolution, however, two recent examples from my limited reading, sitting here waiting for the snow.

    (1) A scientist came to doubt the prevailing theory of taste, because it could not have evolved that way. Upon research (something that ID eschews) he found a plausible evolutionary pathway—that is, HOW taste receptors could have evolved. This investigation led to his discovery of a new class of “taste modulators”–chemicals that have no taste themselves, but that can influence the taste perception of other foods. He is now developing food additives that will allow the use of less artificial sweeteners in processed foods. Without knowledge of HOW taste evolved, these compounds would not hve been discovered.

    (2) A biologist had been studying the evolution of the reptilian 3-chamber heart into the mammalian 4-chambered organ. In comparing a number of species, he found a protein whose regulation differed according to its position in the phylogenetic tree. Narrowing in on this protein, its function turned out to determine the septum between the right and left ventricles in the mammalian heart. He then found out (again, by actual day-in, day-out painstaking research in the lab, an activity unknown among creationists) that some common birth defects in human children could be traced to faulty regualtion of this protein. We can hope that cures will follow from finding out HOW evolution transformed the heart.

    To return to the theme: the IF of any research is not in itself of any value. The HOW is what produces understanding and practical applications. Because intelligent design stops at the “{F”—merely detecting design—-without going on to HOW design occurred, then ID will remain barren, and does not deserve to be science fo that reason alone.

  2. Without knowledge of HOW taste evolved, these compounds would not hve been discovered.

    This is much more vague and general than you are portraying. Any doctrine of continuity would lead to the same result as “evolution,” whatever it may be at any given time. The doctrine of plenitude guided the research of the natural theologians who evolved into modern biologists in the same way, yet IF the doctrine is true is what many people are interested in.

    To return to the theme: the IF of any research is not in itself of any value.

    You take a blind and ignorant view towards scientia/knowledge. The search for truth is of value in itself. It led to science as we know it and continues to motivate many scientists despite a shift towards the general pragmatism that you promote.

    But yes, it’s true that many scientists shift away from the pursuit of knowledge as such because it’s of no value to them. In fact, many are more concerned with whether or not their supposed science secures them a grant, secures their professional identity, promotes their political or cultural values and so on and so forth. This is the pattern of the so-called “scientific establishment” and it leaves us with many people who claim to be pursuing the truth of things who actually are not. Indeed, sometimes it seems that all Darwinists are talking about is their view of progress, their professional identity as scientists, the political authority or consensus of scientists and so on.

    …again, by actual day-in, day-out painstaking research in the lab, an activity unknown among creationists…

    You are ignorant, a long list of creationists could be cited. Especially given that people such as yourself who are more interested in pragmatic and cultural claims about what deserves to be called science based on your values than focusing on science as a search for truth often include all proponents of ID as “creationists.” If proponents of ID and creationists actually avoided lab work and so on then science as we know it would not exist. And if proponents of Darwinism generally focused on lab work and the empirical evidence and did not let pseudo-science stand based on the view that evolution MUST* have occurred then the eugenics movement would never have come about.

    *Which goes back to the IF it actually did question which you incorrectly portray as irrelevant.

  3. Ironically, your example may be counted as evidence against your main point: A scientist came to doubt the prevailing theory of taste, because it could not have evolved that way. Upon research (something that ID eschews) he found a plausible evolutionary pathway—that is, HOW taste receptors could have evolved.

    If it did or did not evolve is an open question which by your own account resulted in research. Even given your own example this question about the truth was the motivational force producing a search for knowledge/scientia, although you claim the exact opposite by arguing that IF questions are irrelevant.

    By your own logic people who dissent from Darwin or doubt evolution (i.e. ID proponents or creationists) may engage in research on this basis, something which you denied. You argue that research must always be based on the assumption that evolution did occur when even your own example shows that no such assumption is necessary because the real issue here is evolutionary creation myths, not some supposed intrinsic assumptions of science.

  4. mynym: “By your own logic people who dissent from Darwin or doubt evolution (i.e. ID proponents or creationists) may engage in research on this basis, something which you denied.”

    This topic is central to everything else that mynym asserted.

    Yes, indeed, people who dissent from Darwin may engage in research. The point is that neither creationists nor intelligent-design acolytes have ever done so. Certainly, in the history of sceince, people who believed in creationism have undertaken research. BUT NO ONE HAS EVER PERFORMED ANY ORIGINAL RESEARCH BASED UPON CREATIONIST OR ID PRINCIPLES. No one has ever even attempted to perform any experiments, observations, field expeditions, or computer simulations with a view to demonstrating the reality of creation events or of design implementations.

    Even further. No one has ever proposed a research program that would demonstrate the occurrence of creation events or design activities. The Templeton Foundation once offered the Discovery Institute a $400,000 research grant. After a whole year, the DI could not even come up with a program outlining how they might investigate ID scientifically.

    Still further. No one has ever proposed a mechanism by which creation events might have taken place or by which specific designs might have been implemented. Evolution tells us IF common ancestry occurred. Darwin tells us HOW evolution occurred, so that we can study it. The original continental drift hypothesis indicated IF continents move—but this is barren by itself. Plate tectonics gave a mechanism to study HOW continents move. IF light behaves as both particles and waves is older than Newton. Quantum theory informs us HOW this occurs, and allows us to understand and to control this phenomenon.

    Yes, those who disagree with any current paradigm or theory may conduct research. However, those who hold another view yet do not pursue its formulation, testing, and investigation, who do not expose it to their peers for criticism, are as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. Creationism and intelligent design are noisy, but have no value to science.

  5. If intelligent design/creationism (ID/C) wishes so devoutly to be accepted as scientific, then why does it just as sedulously avoid scientific research based upon its principles?

    There are three interrelated reasons for this paradox.

    Foremost, ID/C is based upon faith, not upon reason or understanding. Scientific research exposes a proposed explanation to possible falsification or modification. The study of faith, in contrast, involves apologetics—the marshaling of evidence to support the tenets of the faith, not to verify them. Experiments, observations, simulations designed to test it are therefore not encouraged. At best, such tests might confirm the belief—but the believers are already certain of it, so there is no advantage to doing so. On the other hand, such tests have the possibility for disconfirming the belief—a position that the adherents would not accept in any event.[0] So the situation is like that of the Saracens who destroyed the library at Alexandria: If a book is inconsistent with the Qu’ran, it is evil and should be destroyed; if it is consistent with the Qu’ran, it ius superfluous, and may be destroyed.

    Those who call themselves creationists admit that creationism is an article of faith, not reason.[1] The acolytes of ID deny it in public, but their own words belie this.[2] ID was born of creationism[3] and remains supernaturalistic—i.e., religious—to this day.[4] The very avoidance of research is evidence of ID’s basis as a faith. Why would the Discovery Institute avoid research, except for the reasons given here?[5]

    Second, since ID/C is based upon a supernatural creator/intelligence, any research into special creation or design entails investigating the attributes, characteristics, and limitations of this entity—that is, investigating the nature of God. This is the dirty dark secret of these theories. Since God by definition is inscrutable and omnipotent, by definition there can be no limitations, no finite attributes, no predictable actions. Any attempt at scientific analysis would be blasphemy. Worse, any attempt to control the creator/designer for our own ends has another name—sorcery. ID/C’s deceptive attempts at research are aimed solely at “detecting” creation/design. Creationists are at least forthright in stopping at “God did it” without further ado. ID has never proposed any mechanism explaining how design events took place, when they took place, where they took place—much less why they took place. Dembski famously derided any attempt in this essential direction.[6]

    Third, invocation of an unlimited, undefined force or entity cannot form the basis for a scientific research program, by definition. Suppose that Isaac Newton had asserted a gravitational force that caused material bodies to interact with each other, without specifying how that force acted, without quantifying its magnitude or direction, perhaps asserting that the force had certain unknowable motivations for acting as it did. Would anyone take that as a serious scientific theory? Would you? Then why accept a theory of life with those same attributes? In effect, ID/C says of itself that it cannot explain how anything happens, because it cannot explain the actions of its creator/intelligence. The purpose of science is to explain; ID/C, by offering the same answer to every question, explains nothing.

    In summary, undertaking any actual productive research by intelligent design/creationism would even more clearly expose it as a religious rather than a scientific enterprise. The faithful would fly away if their faith were exposed to scientific verification. A similar reaction would follow any investigation into the nature or limits of God. Attempts to define specific research programs would expose the vacuity of the theories.[7] Without support of those who adhere for purely religious reasons, all of the creationist and ID organization would fall. Who else would support their efforts at political action or education policies? No one. Therefore, ID/C must at all costs avoid any actual scientific research.

    =================
    [0] A recent book, Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection (Oxford U. Press 2009) proposes a framework for analyzing Darwinian mechanisms, and argues that they are insufficient to account for observed evolution in some cases. The author, Peter Geoffrey-Smith is a respected philosopher and biologist. The book was reviewed favorably in Science 326:368-69.

    Can you imagine a favorable review of a Richard Dawkins book in the pages of Intelligent Design for Dummies (as Dave Barry says, “I’m not making this up”) or in Creation Yesterday magazine?

    [1] The header on the Answers in Genesis Web site is “believing it, defending it, proclaiming itr”.

    [2] “This isn’t really, and never has been a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.” {Phillip Johnson, “Witnesses for the Prosecution,” World Magazine, November 30, 1996, Volume 11, Number 28, p. 18)

    “The conceptual soundness of the [ID] theory can in the end only be located in Christ.” (William Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge between Science & Theology (InterVarsity Press 1999), p. 210)

    “Definitions of science, [Philip Johnson] argued, could be contrived to exclude any conclusion we dislike or to include any we favor.” (Paul Nelson, “Life in the Big Tent: Traditional Creationism and the Intelligent Design Community,” Christian Research Journal 24:4 (2002))

    [3] Testimony of Barbara Forrest at Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005), based upon a thousand references in her book, Creationism’s Trojan Horse (2d Ed, Oxford U. Press 2007). None of Prof. Forrest’s testimony was successfully controverted or impeached upon cross-examination.

    [4] The Creationists — From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, Ronald Numbers (2d Ed, U. California Press 2009)

    [5] Under Scopie’s Law, asserting discrimination as a justification automatically loses the argument. In any event, the DI maintains the Biologic Institute and the Progress in Complexity journal as Potemkin villages to maintain the facade of research without actually doing any.

    [6] “As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: ‘Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.’ ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories.” (ISCID Web site, 9/18/2002, at http://www.iscid.org/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=000152;p=3}

    [7] As it did when the Templeton Foundation offered the Discovery Institute a $400,000 grant to pursue research into ID. The DI never submitted a proposal for actual research, and the offer was withdrawn a year later.

  6. mynym (October 30th, 2009 at 9:53 am): “Any doctrine of continuity would lead to the same result as ‘evolution,’ whatever it may be at any given time. The doctrine of plenitude guided the research of the natural theologians who evolved into modern biologists in the same way,….”

    Previous theory held that each unit of taste reception sensed multiple basic tastes (sweet, sour, salt, bitter, umami). This configuration would have required a number of receptors to evolve at the same time. The researcher looked for receptors that sense each taste separately—which could have evolved in small steps. And found them.

    MYNYM: (1) Define a doctrine of continuity applicable to this situation. (2) Explain why a doctrine of continuity would have seen the previous theory as wrong—remembering that no animals previously studied seemed to have separate receptors for each taste. (3) Explain how the doctrine of plenitude would have identified the previous theory as incorrect. (4) Describe how the doctrine of plenitude would have revealed that separate tastes have separate receptors.

    Show your work.
    ==============

    The gap between circulatory systems with three heart chambers and those with three appears to be a quantum leap not bridgeable by small steps, as required by evolution. Yet arranging animals at the point where four chambers were known to have evolved in an evolutionary tree revealed a pattern: one particular gene is regulated differently in animals having a single ventricle than in those having two. Moreover, certain intermediate cases, previously thought ot be irrelevant, correlated with intermediate amounts of the same protein.

    MYNYM:: (1) Define a doctrine of continuity applicable to a situation where the only choices are three and four. (2) Explain why a doctrine of continuity would have revealed that the difference between the number of heart chambers can be traced to a protein expression difference, without arranging them in an evolutionary sequence. (3) Describe how the doctrine of plenitude would have traced the construction of a septum to the effects of a protein.

    Show your work.
    ===============

    If intelligent design with the aforementioned doctrines could have led to these results so easily, please explain why it did not. Please explain why intelligent design principles have not led to any research, much less any applications.

  7. mynym: “You take a blind and ignorant view towards scientia/knowledge. The search for truth is of value in itself.”

    Yes. But Truth is the goal of philosophy, not of science.

    mynym: “It led to science as we know it….”

    Yes. Then science took a different road. And it was only past Bacon’s Fork that science began to flourish.

    “… and continues to motivate many scientists despite a shift towards the general pragmatism that you promote.”

    No. You confuse Truth with understanding. Attaining the former is like an enlightenment; the latter is more like solving a challenging puzzle. I’ve worked with scientists, both academic and industrial, almost every day for 45 years, and know something abnout what motivates them. Sorry to disappoint.

  8. BUT NO ONE HAS EVER PERFORMED ANY ORIGINAL RESEARCH BASED UPON CREATIONIST OR ID PRINCIPLES.

    This is false beginning with the fact that science as we know it was established on principles of ID, not to mention civilizations that successful scientists exist in like America. Newton’s view of the Cosmos as a cosmic cryptogram created by design to be intelligently decoded is a glaring example that falsifies your dogmatic assertions. By his own account his scientific theories and research were based on principles of ID and he drew his motivation and inspiration from it.

    Your dogma is revealed when you use words like “never,” not to mention the shouting and so on. History shows that dogma rooted in a false fact/value split which supposedly leaves science to deal with “how things really are” leads to abysmal ignorance about how things really are. E.g.:

    The scholars whom we shall quote in such impressive numbers, like those others who were instrumental in any other part of the German pre-war and war efforts, were to a large extent people of long and high standing, university professors and academy members, some of them world famous, authors with familiar names and guest lecturers abroad…
    If the products of their research work, even apart from their rude tone, strike us as unconvincing and hollow, this weakness is due not to inferior training but to the mendacity inherent in any scholarship that overlooks or openly repudiates all moral and spiritual values and, by standing order, knows exactly its ultimate conclusions well in advance.
    (Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes Against the Jewish People
    by Max Weinreich (New York:The Yiddish Scientific Institute, 1946) :7)

    It’s important to point out that the methodology which you promote leads us away from how things really are. I.e. it leads away from sound knowledge. This is not surprising given your lack of concern with the integral role of truth in sound knowledge/scientia and your attempts to separate it, overlook it or perhaps even openly repudiate it.

    The arrogant view that science alone deals with “how things really are” based on experiments and lab work combined with an abysmal ignorance with respect to the relevance of philosophical truth leads to ignorant conclusions of this sort:

    “And they were all doctors like me, who tried to think biologically, biology as the foundation of medical thought. . . . We didn’t want politics—we were critical of politics—but [concerned} with the way human beings really are—not just an idea or philosophy.”

    National Socialism as Applied Biology

    The nation would now be run according to what Johann S. and his cohorts considered biological truth, “the way human beings really are.” That is why he had a genuine “eureka” experience—a sense of “That’s exactly it!”—when he heard Rudolf Hess declare National Socialism to be “nothing but applied biology” (see page 31). Dr. S. felt himself merged with not only Hess (he told me, with some excitement, “I was standing no more than ten meters from him at the time!”) but with the Führer himself… S. quickly joined the Party and devoted himself to the realization of that biological claim.
    (The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide by Robert Jay Lifton :129)

    You seem intent on methodically building up the same form of abysmal ignorance in the name of science/knowledge.

    Your methodological dogma has little to do with the way that actual science comes about and little to do with how things actually are. That’s the irony, you propose a method which supposedly keeps science pure and yet history shows that it leads to ignorance and pseudo-science. At any rate, of course people have been and are inspired by creationism and ID to engage in scientific research and the scientific method is often permeated with ID principles. Your assertion that ID has nothing to do with advancing scientific knowledge has more to do with a dogma derived from your ideology than with reality.

    Creationism and intelligent design are noisy, but have no value to science.

    You do not speak for a sound form of scientia/knowledge given your apparent ignorance. The fact remains that science is the systematic pursuit of the truth, i.e. sound knowledge. Putting truth in quotations marks or capitalizing it doesn’t change the fact that if you stop seeking the truth you stop finding it.

  9. Those who call themselves creationists admit that creationism is an article of faith, not reason.[1] The acolytes of ID deny it in public, but their own words belie this.[2]

    This assertion is false and has more to do with your own false fact/value split than the truth of what creationists have said. Creationists believe that their faith is reasonable for many reasons, including but not limited to scientific reasons. In this they are merely following Christian thinkers have condemned fideism and pointed out the role of reason in faith for centuries. Your dogma is based on ignorance.

    Your quote of Phil Johnson is disingenuous. He would never agree that creationism and ID are articles of faith, not reason. You are adding your own false dogma with respect to a fact/value split to his attempts at defending a fundamentally reasonable faith in an unreasonable world.

    ID was born of creationism[3]

    And I suppose that Aristotle was born of Abraham? For those more interested in the search for truth than proto-Nazi forms of scientism and censorship the world of ideas is more important than political arguments designed to bring about the indoctrination of ignorant schoolchildren.

    …and remains supernaturalistic—i.e., religious—to this day.

    Even given the petty politics typical to highschool biology teachers there is no separation of “religion” and State because as ID proponents Jefferson and the majority of the Founders were more interested in freedom of expression and freedom of thought. I.e. they would reject your banal politics, your dogmas and your methodical attempts to close the mind.

    The very avoidance of research is evidence of ID’s basis as a faith.

    There is no such thing as faith on one side and reason on the other.

    Why would the Discovery Institute avoid research, except for the reasons given here?

    They are not avoiding research. They have to do it on their own, that’s all. Your ignorance is not necessarily my responsibility.

    It has always been a bit odd that those who argue the most strenuously for separation so often demand research while simultaneously claiming that ID must not be allowed in science, must not be allowed any scientific resources, cannot receive funding, cannot be taught to students and so on. If you want research then students must be taught, etc. Often the same ideologue who just finished arguing that ID should be censored or separated from scientific discussion will also act like it has not been.

  10. Previous theory held that each unit of taste reception sensed multiple basic tastes (sweet, sour, salt, bitter, umami). This configuration would have required a number of receptors to evolve at the same time. The researcher looked for receptors that sense each taste separately—which could have evolved in small steps. And found them.

    We are far from predicting a trajectory of adaptation based on a theory of evolution here, aren’t we? In fact, your example would seem to be capable of verifying many theories of evolution. But at any rate, note that observing continuity and similarity and hypothesizing evolution or hypothesizing evolution and then observing continuity or similarity can just as easily stymie scientific progress as promote it. I am not a dogmatist, as you are given your assertions about science, so I do not feel the need to argue that Darwinism and/or the hypothetical goo typical to hypotheses of evolution have “NEVER” been linked to scientific progress. Mainly because they have been linked to scientific progress. However I would say that ultimately evolutionary hypotheses of the sort that often degenerate into evolutionary creation myths have more often harmed than helped.

    Taking your example, it used to be thought by some Darwinists that Darwinism applied to the human body, with each organ engaged in a struggle against another. They could have predicted the existence of receptors that evolved in small steps based on an imaginary struggle. The odd thing is that they could also predict the exact opposite. And if they or the research that you’re apparently citing did not find the existence of such receptors would the theory of evolution be falsified? Would they then have made the broad conclusion that “evolution,” whatever it may be, is falsified? Of course not… although apparently some find the mental illusions typical to the supposed verification of evolution quite “overwhelming,” apparently due to limited intellects.

  11. No one would deny that Newton was inspired by or motivated by his theism, but the truth of his theory is independent of his metaphysical commitments. In fact, I would say that the foremost salutary effect of the “Scientific Revolution,” especially well-represented by Bacon, has been the separation of science and metaphysics. Whereas for Aristotle, physics (the study of nature) was only intelligible in relation to metaphysics (the study of being as such), that is not the case for us today. Darwinism is metaphysics-neutral, as is science in general.

    On the other hand, I don’t deny that we’d probably have better science education and better science policy if scientists were trained to reflect on the cultural implications of their research. It used to be that it fell to philosophers to do that kind of thing, but in the twentieth century, philosophers have fallen down on the job in a rather spectacular way. As a result, most people don’t care what philosophers have to say, nor do most philosophers care about communicating with non-philosophers. The professionalization of philosophy is the best and the worst thing that’s happened to it.

    More generally, however: your argument, Mynym, rests on what seems to you to be an self-evident truth, and what seems to me to neither true nor self-evident: that it is inconsistent, perhaps even flatly absurd, for someone to hold that a combination of unplanned variation and natural selection can yield intelligence and rationality as one of its products, just as much as it can yield photosynthesis or camouflage. (I hope you’ll understand that I’ll present this thought in less colorful language than you do.)

    Put otherwise, the thought is this: if one believes that one’s own cognitive faculties are the result of natural selection operating on unplanned variation, then one has a reason to doubt whether one is even thinking rationally in the first place. After all, there’s no reason to believe that accurate representation of a mind-transcendent reality would be selected for! Selection operates only on behavior, not on beliefs — even radically false beliefs could be selected for, if they play a role in causing generally adaptive behavior.

    To the best of my knowledge, the best argument for this conclusion has been provided by Alvin Plantinga, though I’ve been told there’s a version of it in C. S. Lewis. (There’s a nice presentation of this argument in Plantinga’s review of Dawkins’ The God Delusion; the meat of the argument is on pages 7 and 8 of the review.) The only problem is that I do not think it works, because it relies on what I take to be a deeply mistaken view about what a belief is. Rather, as a pragmatist, I take the view that a belief just basically is a disposition to behave. So belief and behavior cannot come apart in the way that Plantinga imagines they can.

  12. No one would deny that Newton was inspired by or motivated by his theism, but the truth of his theory is independent of his metaphysical commitments. … Darwinism is metaphysics-neutral, as is science in general.

    It is the desacralization of nature (through the belief of Christ as the one and only true sacrament) that allowed Newton to attribute an apple falling to the ground to something other than, say, some pagan tree spirit.

    However, with Darwinian evolution*, superstition/mysticism has come back into science full force. Origin, form and function is attributed to what amounts to magical forces of nature, operating in ways that are admittedly so secret, so hidden and so unverifiable that all we can do, in effect, is say that there must be some powerful gods of Chance at play in the cosmos. That’s the religion of evolutionary science in a nutshell, and it has been working out its theological exegesis and creation myths for 150 years now.

    (* and the rejection of the one true sacrament which, remember, is the flesh and not the spirit of Christ. Perhaps God knowing how materialistic we are, figured we would do much better with a flesh and blood revelation, than with a cold spiritualism or mysticism.)

    So, Carl, I see it differently than you do. Science has simply dropped one metaphysical system and embraced another.

  13. No one would deny that Newton was inspired by or motivated by his theism, but the truth of his theory is independent of his metaphysical commitments.

    Apparently Upson Downes would deny that Newton’s science was caused by his theism and principles of ID, whatever Newton might say.

    Upson’s main point:
    To return to the theme: the IF of any research is not in itself of any value. The HOW is what produces understanding and practical applications. Because intelligent design stops at the “{F”—merely detecting design—-without going on to HOW design occurred, then ID will remain barren, and does not deserve to be science fo that reason alone.

    Putting aside the fact that how design occurs and unfolds can in fact be studied, he is making use of a fact/value split that sounds good in theory which is false in reality. Pragmatically speaking the notion that questions of “if” and truth are not of any value has actually led to the absence of sound science in the past, which should not be surprising to anyone given the integral role of the search for truth in life as we know it. It is as impossible to separate metaphysical mind from physical matter as it is to separate form from matter. If matter exists without form, we have no knowledge of it. The notion that purely objective matter can be studied sans a subjective mind is false.

    You are merely stating Upson Downes’ abysmal philosophical ignorance in different language. His main point is that the metaphysical and the physical must be treated as separate things and you make the same point. In the case of Newton’s metaphysics you are saying that they can be safely overlooked or perhaps even openly repudiated, leaving a “purely” objective physical science. This is not actually true, his basic metaphysical claims and assumptions cannot be separated from his science.

    Darwinism is metaphysics-neutral, as is science in general.

    That is equally incorrect. This false claim has had disastrous consequences. For example, this claim resulted in Darwin being able to predict the extermination of what he viewed as lower races as a scientific fact while lamenting it based on his values. The ignorant claim that physical science can be metaphysically neutral also led to what Robert Lifton notes as a process of “doubling”/separation in Nazi Germany which allowed those who eventually did what Darwin predicted to think of themselves as following purely objective laws of nature known by a purely objective science. A public vs. private split developed based on the notion that science is purely physical and metaphysics is “just an idea or philosophy,” this led many to believe that their public professional identity could be separated from their private and subjective beliefs. And so on. Even if you could deal with the fact that your attempts at separating metaphysical mind from physical matter are continually self-refuting one could still know something of the falsity of the idea by its fruits.

    The only problem is that I do not think it works, because it relies on what I take to be a deeply mistaken view about what a belief is.

    It’s true that there is no reason to doubt that unthinking processes created thinking minds if thinking minds are themselves actually the behavior of brains, the cause of which can be traced back in an unbroken mechanistic chain into the past. There’s no reason to doubt it only because there is no reason for anything given such a view. The only way that such a view can be correct is if the behavior of certain brain states just happen by some happy happenstance to correlate with “knowledge” about the entire universe which just happens to be correct, for no reason at all. It just is, just so. Imagine that!

    At any rate, science as the systematic pursuit of the truth rooted in reason tends to show that the only thing which “just happens” is excrement. In contrast, sound knowledge has to be sought and found by those of a mind to find it.

  14. First, a historical point: the “desacralization of nature” was a very complicated process in which far more than belief in Christ was involved. If you really wanted to do justice to the story, you’d have to take into account the critique of myth that begins with Xenophanes and runs through Parmenides down to Democritus, Plato, and Aristotle; the subsequent debates among Aristotelians, Stoics, and Epicureans; the revival of Aristotelian physics in the medieval period by Islamic, Jewish, and Catholic theologians (in that order); the Neoplatonic-inspired backlash against the Roman Catholic Church during the Renaissance, out of which come Copernicus and Galileo, among many others; the rise of experimental science with Bacon, Harvey, Hooke, etc. It’s a long way from Homeric nymphs to Newtonian mechanics, and the rise of Christianity is a chapter in that story, but it’s far from being the whole story. I know you know that, but it never hurts to make it all explicit.

    Secondly, it’s because Darwinism is silent on the ultimate causes of variation that it can be metaphysically neutral. I would have spoken more precisely if, instead of “unplanned,” I’d said, “unplanned so far we human beings can detect with our present-day empirical methods.”

    Cumbersome, sure, but it brings out an important point: that the lack of foresight in variation is not a metaphysical doctrine, but an epistemological conclusion. Theists and atheists remedy the neutrality in different ways: theistic evolutionists argue that God is guiding variation in ways that are empirically undetectable to us, and atheists argue that what seems to be unplanned, really is unplanned.

    As I see it, then, it’s not that evolutionary theory itself is committed to any deep metaphysics, but that certain vocal advocates of evolutionary theory confuse their preferred metaphysics with the theory — as do the opponents of that metaphysics.

    As you know, I’m a Darwinian (of some sort) and a naturalist (of some sort), but I’m first and foremost a philosopher. So I try to keep clear in my mind that when I argue with a theistic evolutionist, I’m arguing about metaphysics; when I argue with a design theorist or creationist, I’m arguing about science.

  15. The only problem is that I do not think it works, because it relies on what I take to be a deeply mistaken view about what a belief is. Rather, as a pragmatist, I take the view that a belief just basically is a disposition to behave. So belief and behavior cannot come apart in the way that Plantinga imagines they can.

    Plantinga writes:
    “The naturalist can be reasonably sure that the neurophysiology underlying belief formation is adaptive, but nothing follows about the truth of the beliefs depending on that neurophysiology. ”

    Where Plantinga mentions “adaptive”, one may easily substitute “subject to external influences (cultural, environmental, etc.)” – which is what I think you are getting at with “dispostion to behave”. Because otherwise, one can just as easily counter your claim that a “disposition to behave” or a belief, is simply a product of unguided evolution; a roll of the genetic dice.

    But feigning a pragmatic stance, while calling a view of what a belief is as “deeply mistaken” is self-refuting, and most definitely not pragmatic in the “true” spirit of postmodernism! You make efforts to separate yourself from the metaphysics of Dawkins, yet your points almost always seem to reduce to the metaphysics of Dawkins. Anyhow, that’s how see it based on my own dispositional behavior!

  16. . In the case of Newton’s metaphysics you are saying that they can be safely overlooked or perhaps even openly repudiated, leaving a “purely” objective physical science. This is not actually true, his basic metaphysical claims and assumptions cannot be separated from his science.

    I find this claim deeply puzzling as it is stated here. You seem to be saying that Newtonian mechanics cannot be understood by someone who does not share Newton’s theology. Have generations of physicists been duped? Would you want to say that they do not really understand what they seem to understand? I’m baffled — please clarify!

    And I don’t really understand what the science/metaphysics distinction has to do with the public/private distinction or the mind/body distinction. The mind/body distinction is a metaphysical distinction, so it doesn’t really correspond to the science/metaphysics distinction. I can almost see how the public/private corresponds with science/metaphysics, but only in a weird way — the key thought here being that science relies on publicly available evidence, whereas metaphysics is a matter of personal conviction or choice. Something like that? I’d have to have a better sense of what you’re getting at here before I can weigh in with my own thoughts about it.

    (As for the Darwinism-Nazism connection, I regard it as so much fluff, rhetoric, and misinformation that I won’t engage with it. Feel free to say whatever you wish about my character.)

  17. Mike, I never claimed to be postmodern! 🙂

  18. Secondly, it’s because Darwinism is silent on the ultimate causes of variation that it can be metaphysically neutral.

    How ultimate is “ultimate,” would quantum events causing variation based on the sentience which typifies living things be metaphysically neutral or metaphysical? Assuming that the physical is metaphysically neutral, as a matter of course…

    I’m not sure what you’re saying but Darwinism is not and was never metaphysically neutral. It was built on the metaphysics of modern/mechanistic philosophy which generally arose from the rejection of Aristotle. Ironically science has proceeded to undermine the type of philosophy which is often said to be a part of its definition on its own terms.

  19. I find this claim deeply puzzling as it is stated here. You seem to be saying that Newtonian mechanics cannot be understood by someone who does not share Newton’s theology.

    Newtonian mechanics cannot be studied if basic metaphysical assumptions that Newton openly stated are not agreed to. E.g., the universe is intelligible to us because it has been created by a Mind based on language which we can have some vague understanding of in our own mathematical language. The laws that have been written into it are universal and so the law that Newton tried to specify in the language of mathematics is not going to suddenly change tomorrow, instead it can be subjected to repeated observation and so on. Newtonian mechanics cannot be understood by someone who does not agree with Newton’s metaphysical claims, they can only be studied, taken for granted or assumed without reason.

    Have generations of physicists been duped? Would you want to say that they do not really understand what they seem to understand? I’m baffled — please clarify!

    Fortunately most physicists have not rejected Newton’s basic metaphysical claims. Those who try to seem to quickly find themselves dealing with imaginary worlds of their own making (e.g. imaginary time, multiple imaginary universes, etc.) and seldom seem to focus on “cracking the cosmic code” evident in the real world as Newton did.

  20. As for the Darwinism-Nazism connection, I regard it as so much fluff, rhetoric, and misinformation that I won’t engage with it.

    Even if you can’t engage with that directly for whatever (lack of) reason, similar patterns of thought lurk in your continued attempts at separating supposed scientific/physical facts from mere metaphysical values. I’m often using the arguments and summaries of anti-Nazi historians and so on to reply to your pattern of thought. It seems to me that the reason that you cannot engage with this is because often there is nothing more to be said. For example, if mendacity was inherent in Nazi scholarship because it separated and isolated itself from spiritual or metaphysical realities and so on (as historians familiar with Nazi patterns of thought have argued) then any science you seek to build on the same foundation is equally mendacious.

  21. I don’t dispute that materialistic metaphysics inspired the rise of modern science, but it seems to me quite confused if one thinks that the truth or falsity of materialism affects the validity of the theories. In just the same way, Newtonian mechanics works for macroscopic objects traveling far below the speed of light, regardless of whether or not God exists. In some sense, I’ll concede, one cannot really comprehend the depths of what Newton was doing without taking into account his theology. But there is a distinction between what Newton undertook as his life’s work and the theory which he developed, and the validity of the latter is detachable from the former, for Newton as for Darwin.

    similar patterns of thought lurk in your continued attempts at separating supposed scientific/physical facts from mere metaphysical values

    For what little it may be worth to you, I don’t accept the correlation between science/metaphysics and fact/value. And I certainly don’t accept the material/spiritual distinction which seems to be operating in the background here!

    If it helps at all for you understand where I’m coming from: I think that “matter” is an abstraction and idealization, only manifest under certain conditions of nature, and certainly not that which underlies nature as a whole. Likewise I understand “spirit” to be a manifestation of nature in one of its aspects, and no more fundamentally real than other aspects.

    All this is, of course, metaphysics — a metaphysics I take quite seriously — and I regard as distinct from contemporary evolutionary theory as a scientific theory.

  22. Mynym, my statement was NO ONE HAS EVER PERFORMED ANY ORIGINAL RESEARCH BASED UPON CREATIONIST OR INTELLIGENT-DESIGN PRINCIPLES.

    This was met with a surfeit of blather about who was or was not motivated by a belief that God designed the universe, the primacy of philosophical truth over science, and the”reductio ad Hitlerum” logical fallacy (Hitler liked X, so X is false).

    Look, all you have to do is give a counterexample. What could be easier? Relate how some ID/creationist investigator formulated a principle or a theory or a mechanism or a model that differentiates ID/C from evolution, then engages in original research—experiments, field trips, or computer simulations—to gather evidence in support of the principle, and exposes it to criticism from his scientific peers.

    Here’s an example. Wilfred K. Windsock of the Biologic Institute, formulates a Point of Origin Principle (POOP), which holds that the genetic diversity of a species will be at a minimum in the geographic locality where it was first designed. Dr Windsock organizes field trips of IDEA Club members to assess the genetic diversity of corn at various places in North America. They find minimum diversity in central Iowa, and publish a paper in Answers Research Journal proclaiming that corn originated just north of East Overshoe, Iowa.

    What could be easier? Yet no ID/C follower has done this, or lifted so much as a corn tassel in the attempt.

    Here’s another example. Investigators Chick & Gordon Blue of the Biodesign Department of Liberty University have come up with a Theory of Intelligent Habitat Selection (TIHS). This Theory states that a beneficent God created the different kinds of plants and animals in the environment best suited for them. He and his lab acolytes perform experiments by introducing a number of species into locations where they are not native, to determine that they are less successful in their new environments than in their original habitats. Results on transplanting camels to Antarctica, penguins to Brazil, and whales to East Overshoe, Iowa are successful. The Blues Brothers’ composition sails through reviews at the Creation Research Journal and is greeted with riffs from the faithful.

    What could be easier? Yet no ID/C follower has done this, or lifted so much as a zebra mussel in the attempt.

    One more, to show how really easy this is. Prof. N.E. Daynow, of the University of Southeastern North Dakota at Hoople, limns a theory on a Plural Entities Environment to explain what he perceives as defects in ID/C. According to the PEE theory, there are not one, but hundreds or thousands of independent designers of biological systems, engaged in a universe-wide economy. He writes a computer simulation based upon complexity theory that shows how multiple competing designers lead to predators and prey, how specialized OEM parts designers explain common components across multiple species, and how changing fashions produce extinctions when environmentd are remodeled. Vestigial organs? One supplier designs intestinal tracts for many different brands—so the components for some animals may have unneeded parts. This saves information in the total scheme of things. Prof. Daynow publishes in the Progress in Complexity and Design Journal (its first paper in five years), and induces incontinence in the entire scientific community.

    What could be easier? Yet no ID/C follower has done this, or lifted so much as a coding sheet in the attempt.

    But soft! Dr. Jonathan Ills of the Dyscovery Institute initiated a “Just Say No” program for junk DNA. He has marshaled every one of the lab rats there, both Senior and Junior, to proclaim that Design avers that all of the forgotten 50% of the genome does in fact have some function. So what happened then?

    Did any of the Fellows, Senior or Junior, take up their pens to suggest what any of these functions might comprise? Not a chance. Did the staff scientists at the fully funded Biologic Institute turn on their vaunted fume hoods to search for a possible function? Don’t hold yer breath. Did any faculty member of Biola, Libery, or Bob Jones University conduct experiments to show that junk DNA might explain the failure of Jerry Falwell’s curse on Dover, Pennsylvania? We can only hope.

    Did any one find any function for junk DNA? Why, yes, now that you mention it. Mainstream scientists—atheist, Hitler-loving evilutionists all—who wondered, for no particular reason except intellectual curiosity, whether at least some of the swampy half of the human genome might actually be good for something. In fact, they had commenced their research before the ID/Creationist acolytes had even formulated their anti-junk prediction. And still continue, quietly turning up new results every once in a while.

    In fact, if the intelligent-design/creationist loudmouths would like to join them, there is still about 47% of the human genome left which is either broken pieces of former genes, ERVs which can no longer reproduce themselves, dysfunctional transposons, SINES and LINES, or other stuff that no one has any idea what it’s for.

    But, so far, there seem to be no volunteers among the ID/C crowd. They seem to have plenty of money to lobby for laws and school policies, and to publish glossy books and pay for speakers. Maybe they could divert some of those funds for research. Perhaps even mynym would deign to help? Does he know what DNA actually looks like? I mean on an x-ray plate, not in a kindergarten cartoon.

  23. Mynym, my statement was NO ONE HAS EVER PERFORMED ANY ORIGINAL RESEARCH BASED UPON CREATIONIST OR INTELLIGENT-DESIGN PRINCIPLES.

    And that’s false. The ironic thing is that you’re citing examples like a researcher finding receptors just as they would expect given the “theory” of evolution when theories of evolution can and do predict the exact opposite just as well. If the receptors were not observed the “theory” would not be falsified, yet if they are it is cited as an example of its verification. It’s little wonder that those whose intellects are easily overwhelmed by evidence of this sort often speak of how overwhelming “evolution,” whatever it may be, seems to them. It’s in this general context of pseudo-science that you are demanding that ID research take place and so on, yet you pretend that ID must supposedly meet the highest standards of science. I’m generally not arguing that ID is a high form of science, that it’s similar to the theory of gravity and so on. I leave charlatanism of that sort to Darwinists. What I would say is that if Darwinism is science, then ID is science.

    This was met with a surfeit of blather about who was or was not motivated by a belief that God designed the universe…

    The principles of science were generally established based on principles of ID. Progress in science is linked more to progress in technology rooted in the admission of principles of ID in copyright law (thanks to the Founder’s principles and awareness of “intelligence in the design” as Jefferson put it) than the pseudo-scientific theories that you promote. If intelligence is an illusion that cannot impact matter then why try to identify and treat the products of mind as intellectual property? And so on. Progress in science and technology is linked to principles of ID that admit to the impact that mind can have on matter, progress generally has not been linked to evolutionary creation myths. That’s why you find yourself straining to find examples like that rather silly reptilian heart example: “We can hope that cures will follow from finding out HOW evolution transformed the heart.”

    You can keep hoping that while others make use of technology and scientific knowledge that came about thanks to patent and copyright laws which treat the products of mind not as an illusion brought about by natural selection but as a metaphysical reality which impacts and brings about results in the physical world.

    …the primacy of philosophical truth over science, and the”reductio ad Hitlerum” logical fallacy (Hitler liked X, so X is false).

    That wasn’t the argument at all, you simply lack the intellect to understand that the mendacity inherent in proto-Nazi scholarship is also inherent in your own.

    Look, all you have to do is give a counterexample.

    If it is science at all your example does not seem to rise far beyond pseudo-science because you cannot allow evolution, whatever it may be, to be falsifiable. Given your dogma evolution will always be verified as your way of looking at the world evolves and flows around all possible circumstances thanks to the hypothetical goo typical to theories of evolution. If those receptors had not been observed you would not include it as evidence falsifying evolution, whatever it may be, yet you do include it as evidence verifying evolution.

    At any rate, there is no theory of evolution.

    Did any one find any function for junk DNA? Why, yes, now that you mention it. Mainstream scientists—atheist, Hitler-loving evilutionists all—who wondered…

    Your childish tantrum reveals how many mainstream scientists come to be ignorant of history, an ignorance often noted by Stephen J. Gould and other scholars. Given the level of ignorance among scientists it seems that there have been more apologies from the Church for failing to resist the culmination of the eugenics movement in Nazism than from scientific organizations that actively promoted eugenics.

    …for no particular reason except intellectual curiosity…

    That’s a touching little picture you’re painting there. Motivations vary and they’re people, just like everyone else.

    In fact, they had commenced their research before the ID/Creationist acolytes had even formulated their anti-junk prediction.

    Uh huh… Lol. Maybe they should have waited until after observations had been published and then hypothesized that it was just what their “theory” predicted all along in order to meet the scientific standards typical to biologists?

    I would note for discerning readers that reality is more complicated than the simple pictures that a crude propagandist like this fellow paints. He seems quite intent on cultivating a simplistic pictures of IDists and Creationists on one side, stopping all scientific progress and never engaging in the scientific method and Darwinists and evolutionists on the other promoting it. The truth is that many people from both sides have contributed to science and there is no reason for anyone to be excluded based on false dogmas.

  24. UpDn: “Mynym, my statement was NO ONE HAS EVER PERFORMED ANY ORIGINAL RESEARCH BASED UPON CREATIONIST OR INTELLIGENT-DESIGN PRINCIPLES.”

    mynym: “And that’s false.”

    Possibly. Yet, 783 words later, mynym has not presented any facts that might make it so. No example of an ID/C scientific research effort that formulates a testable principle, model, or hypothesis about how biological designs occur (or occurred), or about the specific nature of the designs or the Designer. No field work. No data analysis. No presentation of results. Much less any exposure to criticism by peers.

    I even gave mynym a free shove down the slide. It took about ten minutes each to come up with a number of specific suggestions for research projects.[1] How to formulate them. How evidence might be gathered. How they might be tested. (Actually, the cutsey acronyms, following mynym’s “evolution and excrement” theme) took up most of that time.) It’s so easy, one could imagine that even a Senior Fellow of the Dyscovery Substitute might think of them. Especially after being offered a $400,000 grant to do just that. But they didn’t, and poor mynym can’t show that they did.

    Verifying any of those suggested hypotheses would lend credence to ID/C. And possibly offer practical applications for the betterment of mankind. Even a negative result would not falsify ID/C entirely, but would point the way toward critical discussion, better hypotheses, and further research. This is what real science does, after all: iterative searches for deeper understanding and practical applications. Raising questions even as it answers them.

    Mynym’s posts do, however, illustrate a pervasive ID/C tactic. As we lawyers say, if you can’t pound the facts and can’t pound the law, pound the table. Foment a diversion. Don’t answer the question, change the subject. This is why ID/C has a rep as a shell game. The pea is never under the shell you’re looking at. Thimble riggers know how to divert the mark’s attention away from what they are really doing toward what they pretend to be doing. Change the subject—perhaps no one will notice. The faithful certainly will not.

    Once again, NO ONE HAS EVER PERFORMED ANY ORIGINAL RESEARCH BASED UPON CREATIONIST OR INTELLIGENT-DESIGN PRINCIPLES.

    If ID/C wishes to be a player in the game of science, it must follow the rules of science. Such as doing research. But ID/C is more like a pigeon playing chess: It knocks over the pieces, craps on the board, and flies back to its roost squawking victory.

    ============
    [1] Actually, I think the Point Of Origin Principle (POOP) has merit as a research effort. It feels right. When a species is designed, it seems logical to design it in one place, and to create just a few nearly identical individuals, so they can interbreed easily. Then, as they spread throughout their range, the descendants will randomly accumulate mutations (lose information, if you will) and become more diverse. But the original population, being more alike to begin with, will become inbred, conserving their pristine genome.

    Gathering evidence will be relatively easy. Select a few species such as maize, rice, house cats, silkworms, and humans. Then measure the genetic differences for different locations. You don’t have to sequence a whole genome to measure diversity, if you know what to look for. (Well, that might be a leap of-uh-faith.)

    Then analyze the data, plot it on a map, and determine whether a pattern can be teased out.

    Oops, one more step. I picked those sample species because there is independent evidence for where they originated. (You might question as to human origin because it is not so recent as the others, but the archeological record is quite specific and quite clear on the Rift Valley of central Africa. Get over it.)

    No, two more steps. You must finally publish a paper in a refereed journal. But will not at least one of the minor journals be interested in such an experimental result? Of course, this does expose your work to the criticism of other scientists, who love nothing more than ripping someone else’s pet theory into small confetti. Someone might point out, for example that there is a Monsanto factory in East Overshoe, Iowa, and every farmer for fifty miles around plants their MON863 genetically modified hybrid—so of course that area is uniform. But, such are the trials and tribulations of actual research, as opposed to mere haranguing.

    Evidence from this research might also buttress efforts for other hypotheses. For instance, showing that the geographic origin deduced from POOP is also the optimal environment for that species would strengthen the Theory of Intelligent Habitat Selection (TIHS). Yay, a twofer.

    Such a small step, such a minuscule finding, may be infra dignitate the Senior Fellows who make a lot of money speaking and publishing glossy books Still and all, they could claim much more research than they have ever done before. Will you suggest this effort to them, or shall I?

  25. The more fundamental question is, why does intelligent design/creationism wish to cloak itself in science at all? Why is it not enough to settle in as a philosophical/religious principle or tenet? Mynym claims that philosophy leads us to Reality. Creationists know that their faith is absolute Truth. What further heights can mere science scale that philosophy and theology cannot? Are they so weak that science must prop them up?

    Or perhaps science is such a strong competitor for allegiance that it must be either forced into conformity or lashed into submission. It’s a power struggle, pure and simple.

    In ancient and medieval times, philosophy ruled the educated world. Science, where it existed separately, was its ancilla. Even Galileo wished to be appointed court philosopher, not court astronomer—the former was a much more heavenly rank. Then modern science came along, and began to usurp. Today, rightly or wrongly, philosophy that cannot claim to be “scientific” is marginalized. Postmodernist deconstructionism can be seen as a rebellion against this status—then the battleground dissolved in laughter when Alan Sokol snookered them with a deadly hoax in 1996.

    Likewise, religion was the center of the world for both ancient and medieval societies. The temple, synagogue, or church was where the folk met, where they engaged in common group activities, and where their leaders instructed them. Even kings lived in fear of the perdition that priests could dispense. Then a funny thing happened. People began to interest themselves in the burgeoning scientific discoveries of the mid and late 19th century. Popular science magazines were snapped up by the newly literate middle class. Moreover, people began to realize that vaccination could cure more diseases than exorcism, and that steam engines could make people richer than prayers. Religion, in short, was being displaced.

    The primacy of science continues to grow. Who lionizes philosophers these days? Cosmology has the interesting questions as to where the universe came from and where it’s going. No longer can Martin Luther overthrow heliocentrism by quoting scripture to the contrary. Then the ultimate put-down: Science has begun to study the evolutionary origins of religion.

    One avenue, however, remains open. Just as modern warfare becomes asymmetrical, with a few terrorists effectively defeating whole brigades of troops, the forces of religion in particular have seen an opportunity to defeat the enemy from within. The objective is no longer to defeat science, but rather to force it to incorporate religious beliefs. This was certainly Philip Johnson’s stated goal: “Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”[1]

    Therefore, believers in ID/C find themselves in a quandary. They must undermine the principles of science in order to subvert it to their goals. But, to make the game worth the candle, they must acknowledge its primacy over religion. If by undermining the structure of science they destroy its value to society, this is of little concern. Just as a jihadist will gladly bomb his fellow believers in order to terrorize the survivors into accepting his rule.

    =============
    [1] American Family Radio, Jan 10, 2003.

  26. Possibly. Yet, 783 words later, mynym has not presented any facts that might make it so.

    As I’ve said, your ignorance is not necessarily my responsibility.

    No example of an ID/C scientific research effort…

    I’m not attempting to refute your assertions because we mean different things by ID and creationism. What you seem to mean by ID is a relatively small movement begun in America in the 1990s while what I mean by “intelligent design” is the idea that mind is a metaphysical reality that can impact physical matter. Given that I’m interested in anyone from Newton to Thomas Jefferson or Aristotle while in contrast, you mean small movement in America (which nonetheless inspires great fear)

    …that formulates a testable principle, model, or hypothesis about how biological designs occur (or occurred)…

    Your demands are disingenuous given that your own examples do not meet your supposed standards. As I’ve already pointed out, the notion that a singular “theory” of evolution provided a testable model which predicted the existence of receptors is false. There is no theory of evolution and evolution, whatever it is, is perfectly capable of predicting that receptors will be observed and that they will not be observed.

    If ID/C wishes to be a player in the game of science, it must follow the rules of science. Such as doing research.

    You don’t speak for science. Your so-called rules are pseudo-scientific. If IDists proposed unfalsifiable “theories” or cited their own imaginations as a form of evidence you would be the first to point it out, yet you allow for such things when it comes to evolutionary creation myths.

    Mynym’s posts do, however, illustrate a pervasive ID/C tactic. As we lawyers say, if you can’t pound the facts and can’t pound the law, pound the table. Foment a diversion. Don’t answer the question, change the subject.

    Your questions are based on the false premise that the evolutionary creation myths you promote have met the scientific standards typical to physical theories (and therefore ID must do the same). Your arguments are philosophical, theological and often political, things which have little to do with physical theories. There is actually nothing wrong with that, as philosophy and theology are more important than science. However, whenever your arguments are answered you try to hide in science as if some physical theory that actually makes predictions about the physical world is at issue.

    You also try to hide in science when your political arguments about progress are answered. The answer to your political arguments about ID is that admitting to the basic principles of ID (admitting that the impact of metaphysical mind on physical matter is a reality to the point that it can be bought and sold as a commodity, i.e. intellectual property) has led to far more progress than your pseudo-science and evolutionary creation myths have. For every supposed example that you strain to find (e.g. imagining things about reptilian hearts evolving into mammals and so on supposedly being linked to progress in the medical field) I can cite hundreds of cases where admitting to the fact that we can identify intelligent design in principle led to technological progress. Not to mention the fact that evolutionary creation myths have been highly destructive to progress in the medical field if one takes the view that the medical field is about preserving human life.

    Your arguments generally seem to be more political than scientific but SETI is also linked to principles of ID and it has led to research. Your argument actually is: “NO ONE HAS EVER PERFORMED ANY ORIGINAL RESEARCH BASED UPON…INTELLIGENT-DESIGN PRINCIPLES.” Putting aside your assertions about a specific movement begun in America in the 1990s and taking a principled look at ID (since that’s supposedly what your claim is about) one can note that principles of ID have already been researched in forensic science, in patent law, SETI and more. I’m not saying that all science is equal and therefore ID theory is the equivalent of the great physical theories. But I would note that science capable of identifying design often reaches a higher epistemic standards than your examples where you claim to have identified evolution based on observing “primitive” receptors which are somehow linked to evolutionary ancestry and so on. Given that there’s not necessarily any direction to evolution, whatever it may be, are those receptors ancestral to the others or would you imagining things the other way around? Similarly, are you imagining that similarities between reptilian and mammalian hearts is evidence that reptiles evolved into mammals?

  27. The more fundamental question is, why does intelligent design/creationism wish to cloak itself in science at all?

    That’s clearly projection. You cloak all of your philosophical, theological and even your political arguments in claims about “science.” I’ve always said that science is not the be all, end all. Indeed, the great physical theories would not exist if not for the metaphysical ground on which they stand.

    Darwinism has resulted in a widespread movement in which philosophical and theological arguments are “cloaked” in science or physical theories. You argue that creationist or proponents of ID want to do exactly what you do when even your own quote mines indicate that this is not the case. They can freely admit that science need not be the be all, end all of truth.

    Panda’s thumb type theological arguments are the most glaring example of Darwinian hypocrisy on this issue. They are included in “science” and biology textbooks thought to be teaching science, yet they are inherently theological. Ironically those who most often attempt to make use of the false notion that a metaphysical philosophy or spiritual theology can be separated from “purely” physical sciences build upon their error with hypocrisy. This is as it must be because it is impossible to separate metaphysics from physics. (Not to say that biologists have developed a knowledge .)

  28. Ah. yes. The SETI gambit. A last-ditch attempt to change the subject. Mynym understood, as did everyone here, that the subject at hand concerns a transcendent intelligence responsible for designing and/or creating living organisms, if not the entire universe, saecula saeculorum, in the first place. We have not been speaking of merely the familiar human minds studied by forensics and archeology, or the advanced but still bounded intelligences of putative alien species.[1] Even here, mynym destroys his own argument; sciences such as forensics and archeology do frame hypotheses about the human minds that they investigate—their motives, capabilities, and so forth, then gather evidence about the hypotheses, and expose their work to the criticism of their peers—in journals or in court. Again, ID/C sedulously avoids such undertakings as to their intelligence/deity.

    So, as if there were ever any doubt, you may read the issue as:

    NO ONE HAS EVER PERFORMED ANY ORIGINAL RESEARCH INTO THE ORIGIN OF THE EARTH/UNIVERSE OR THE PRIMARY DESIGN OF LIFE BASED UPON CREATIONIST OR INTELLIGENT-DESIGN PRINCIPLES.

    On the other hand, neither the original nor the modified issue was ever limited to any particular movement, as mynym claims. Mynym may wish to show, for example, that, after publication of William Paley’s Natural Theology in 1802, scientists generated hypotheses to explain how different species were designed, then flocked to their laboratories and organized explorations to gather confirmatory evidence and publish. After all, creation/design was then the dominant paradigm—no discrimination, no snotty atheists to impede their research or publication.

    In short, mynym may cite any research aimed at experiments, field studies, simulations showing, in mynym’s own words, how “the impact of metaphysical mind on physical matter” might have been implemented. From any source, from any time.

    Strangely enough, the avowedly religious creationists seem to be ahead of the ID congregation in erecting at least a facade of research. For example, mynym may wish to help Georgia Purdom design an experiment to test whether bacterial pathogenicity resulted from the Fall. Or to aid Ira Loucks’ work toward a biblical creation model for mycology: to tease out what was the originally intended role of fungi in creation, which Day they were created on, and where they were created. [2]

    Once more, let’s hear mynym describe ANY ORIGINAL RESEARCH INTO THE ORIGIN OF THE EARTH/UNIVERSE OR THE PRIMARY DESIGN OF LIFE BASED UPON CREATIONIST OR INTELLIGENT-DESIGN PRINCIPLES

    Intelligent design and creationism are not content with roles as philosophical principles or theological beliefs. I have no brief with that. They wish to invade the halls of science, to force their way politically into science textbooks and to be taught in biology classes. Once more, science requires research.[3] Show me the research. Or stuff a sock in it.

    ==========
    [1] Which SETI will never find if the aliens are too different from us, because it assumes similarity. For example, the aliens in Frank Schatzing’s The Swarm lived among us for a million years before we even saw them as intelligent.

    [2] Another reason that the Point Of Origin Principle (POOP) is appropriate for ID/C investigation is that it stands in direct opposition to an evolutionary theory holding that maximum diversity occurs at the location where a species originated. (Google Vavilov’s Law.) In the cited examples, this law has been verified from other evidence. And it has been further applied, for example, to trace the migrations of Polynesian peoples from their original home in—wait for it—Taiwan. (No one had expected that beforehand.) Curiously enough, the results were later substantiated by linguists who independently built up a phylogeny of the Polynesian languages.

    A practical application of this evolutionary principle is due to Vavilov himself. Since cultivated plants lose diversity, he stocked a repository of seeds to replenish any crops that might fall to diseases or pests. His Law pointed out where to look for them. Others continue Vavilov’s effort, and it becomes more critical now than previously.

    Sorry. POOP has already been shown to be wrong. Back to the drawing board, ID—if you ever had a drawing board.

    [3] See, e.g., the widely acclaimed recent Making Modern Science, Bowler & Morus (U. Chicago Press 2005), esp. pp.341-366

  29. Ah. yes. The SETI gambit. A last-ditch attempt to change the subject. Mynym understood, as did everyone here, that the subject at hand concerns a transcendent intelligence responsible for designing and/or creating living organisms, if not the entire universe, saecula saeculorum, in the first place.

    The subject of a transcendent intelligence is theological and philosophical, something which science points to as a result of the basic principles of ID which are used in science every day. After all, the fact that the principles of the science of ID point back towards classical theology is why you can’t even admit that it is science. Your assertions where about the scientific principles of ID, not the theological and philosophical truths that science points to.

    It is ironic though, as apparently bigots can admit that a search for extraterrestrials is “scientific” but a search for anything extracosmosial supposedly is not, i.e. aliens yet but angels no and so on. Yet on the other hand, the same sort of people have proposed multiple universes and so on. Their science is not separated from the transcendent, it is total. In fact, the only place in which there is a distinction and limitation to science is within classical theology itself. Similarly, the Founders argued for a separation of church and state based on religious principles and there is evidence that when their principles are denied, totalitarianism (i.e. no distinction between church and state, i.e. Nazism) is the result.

    They wish to invade the halls of science, to force their way politically into science textbooks and to be taught in biology classes. Once more, science requires research.[3] Show me the research. Or stuff a sock in it.

    As I’ve said, your ignorance isn’t necessarily my responsibility. It’s curious though, that now you don’t seem quite so helpless and you’ve begun citing such research on your own and so on. At any rate, you haven’t dealt with the fact that your original examples* are pseudo-science so you certainly can’t speak for the “halls of science” until your own pseudo-science is dealt with.

    You need not read further because I’m not going to try to meet your passive aggressive demands and so on. You can continue to play pretend as if I should have done so or as if it is even possible as you like.

    For other readers notice the passive pattern typical to his claims, with others supposedly “invading” and imposing and so on. Many of his claims seem to have more to do with the psychological dynamics typical to those with a Darwinian urge to merge back into Mother Nature than with a systematic search for true knowledge, i.e. science. For some effete little fellows it seems that everyone else will always be imposing on them, “forcing” things on them and so on. Given the “overwhelming” banality of this mental pattern I’ve often wished that they would find their metaphysical mind of the synaptic “gaps” to “force” a little intelligence on their own imbecility. But unfortunately there is typically no “hard” or “imposing” theoretical or metaphysical specification to the so-called theories of evolution which typify the effete wing of Darwinism. Instead they are generally content to overwhelm their rather limited intellects with hypothetical goo that seems to emerge from them as naturally as excrement. What the philosopher David Stove called the Soft Men of Darwinism typically cite examples which allow them to wallow around in hypothetical goo of that sort due to an original lack of consistent theoretical specification:

    What I call the Soft Man way out can be quickly dealt with. Strictly speaking, it is not so much an attempt to resolve the inconsistency between Darwinism and human life, as a mere failure to notice that there is any inconsistency to resolve.
    The Soft Man is intellectually at ease. Having been to college, he believes all the right things: that Darwin was basically right, that Darwin bridged the gap between man and animal, etc., etc. He also believes, since he is not a lunatic, that there are such things as hospitals, welfare programs, priesthoods, and so on. But the mutual inconsistency of these two sets of beliefs never bothers him, or even occurs to him. He does not think that his Darwinism imposes any unpleasant intellectual demands on him. …. Still less does he think that his Darwinism requires him to advocate eugenics, or to oppose welfare programs, as the Hard Men do. In fact the politics of the Darwinian Hard Men fill Soft Man with horror.
    ….
    Utter helplessness almost always has something very appealing about it, and intellectual helplessness is not exception to this rule; while Soft Man is an extreme instance of such helplessness, or (in Samuel Johnson’s phrase) of “unresisting imbecility.” (Darwinian Fairytales by David Stove :19)

    Based on Upson Downes type of pseudo-science Newton could have predicted that his mythic apple would go up as well as down. Overwhelming, isn’t it? The ironic thing about this sort of fellow and his so-called “science” is that he is often the first to try to speak for science as if he actually has knowledge.

  30. After thousands of words of excuses and evasions, the facts remain.

    Intelligent design and creationism claim the mantle of science, with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereto.

    Intelligent design and creationism refuse to shoulder the responsibilities of science to perform research and to expose the results to peers.

    Therefore, intelligent design and creationism are pseudoscientific mountebanks.

  31. Intelligent design and creationism claim the mantle of science, with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereto.

    Some may, yet most are well aware of metaphysical or spiritual realities as well as the limitations typical to physical science. That’s why they generally do not try to methodically force science into creating a total worldview for them. Claiming that science does not conflict with or points towards metaphysical truths is not the same thing as trying to build a philosophy based totally on “physical” science. In contrast, creationists have generally resisted the totalitarian political systems or the “rights and privileges” that seem to emerge naturally from your methodological claims.

    Intelligent design and creationism refuse to shoulder the responsibilities of science to perform research and to expose the results to peers.

    I’ve never said that creationism or ID are the epistemic equivalent of the theory of gravity and so on.

    IDists and creationists have generally answered charlatans to the same extent that you’ve proven your pseudo-science. If you make an argument about similarities between reptilian and mammalian hearts based on evolutionary creation myths in order to link an imaginary mythology of Progress with actual progress in medicine, pointing out that evolutionary mythologies of Progress have been linked to eugenics and Nazism answers arguments about progress on their own terms. Similarly, if you point to embryos and real or imagined similarities between them in order to find “overwhelming” evidence for evolutionary creation myths then all one need do is imagine things differently. And so on.

    Therefore, intelligent design and creationism are pseudoscientific mountebanks.

    You have demonstrated ignorance with respect to science given the pseudo-scientific claims you have made about receptors and so on, therefore you cannot speak for science.

  32. mynym: “You have demonstrated ignorance with respect to science given the pseudo-scientific claims you have made about receptors and so on, therefore you cannot speak for science.”

    I have a master’s degree in mathematical physics, law school, and 45 years as a patent attorney dealing daily with research scientists from universities and from the best industrial research facility in the world, at IBM. Dealing in disciplines from astronomy to zoology, in the US and Europe. And 5 years as chairman of a bioinformatics committee. Plus the usual books on the history and philosophy of science—a lot more than most scientists have read, unfortunately.

    I can speak for science as science is actually done. Since you have challenged mine, would you care to relate your actual experience or other qualifications? Or do you use Harold Hill’s “think method”?

  33. Oh, yeah. Along the way, I have participated in a number of Daubert hearings. In a court case involving a purported scientific finding, the parties may challenge whether the relevant theory, hypothesis, experiment, study, observation, or model is supported by an adequate amount of acceptable scientific evidence.

    This is where the neoprene meets the road as to scientific standards—what is science and what is junk.

    I would welcome hearing about any comparable experience that mynym may have.

  34. Upson Downes, you’re pursuing the wrong strategy in your argument against Mynym. I don’t think you really understand his (her?) position.

    Like me, UD, you have a pragmatic conception of science: science is about solving problems. We can tell when a problem has been solved because we’re able to have slightly better (more complicated, more interesting) interaction with some bit of the natural world.

    Well, I shouldn’t say that this is your view, but it seems to me that it is, and if isn’t, I’d like to know why. In any event, it is my view of what science is, and it’s part of why I view science as so extraordinary in some respect and so limited in others.

    This puts science in a quite different category than metaphysics, which retains its venerable status as being that sphere of human cognitive activity in which we seek to comprehend the wholeness of existence. Whereas scientific theories are partial glimpses of what is, in metaphysics we seek the whole. And perhaps we would not have what genuine glimpses we do have if we were not inspired to seek a vision of the whole. Nevertheless, science and metaphysics are not the same.

    Now, it seems to me that Mynym’s view is that this is somehow quite badly mistaken, as a conception of what science is, and as a conception of the relation between science and metaphysics. On his (or her?) view, scientific theories presuppose metaphysical foundations (or is it only that Darwinism does?).

    Nor do I think that science rests upon sny metaphysical “foundation.” Indeed, I would say that the major effect of the “Scientific Revolution” from Bacon through Newton to Dewey has been a divorce of science and metaphysics. (I should add that I don’t think that ethics rests on a metaphysical foundation either, though that’s a different matter — it may be that metaphysics rests on an ethical foundation!)

  35. Carl: “Indeed, I would say that the major effect of the ‘Scientific Revolution’ from Bacon through Newton to Dewey has been a divorce of science and metaphysics.”

    Yes; certainly in th4e minds of scientists. My background is the enterprise of science, as it is actually conducted. By and large, scientists have no more concern with the philosophy of what they do than baseball players have for Newtonian physics. I like to delve into its history, but, frankly, philosophy often seems like not much more than one of Wittgenstein’s word games.

    Historically, science has gravitated (heh heh) toward methodological naturalism,[1] culminating with Darwin. This certainly has resulted in a burgeoning of theories and useful technologies. I think that is reason enough to preserve it.

    From my long experience with real scientists in their natural habitat, mynym has a weird view of what a scientific principle is, what constitutes evidence, and how the scientific process works. Perhaps because he desires so much to change it that he can only see it as (he believes) it should be.

    Once again, I have no brief with creationism or ID as a philosophical tenet or as a religious principle. But, if they aspire to science, then they must follow the rules of science. Science is a pot luck. If you wish to eat, you must bring something to the table.

    ==========
    [1] Carl: “Nor do I think that science rests upon any metaphysical ‘foundation.'” It does; it has to. I’d like to minimize it, because of Occam’s Razor, but it does need some basis other than itself. Nothing can be turtles all the way down.

  36. A scientist came to doubt the prevailing theory of taste, because it could not have evolved that way. Upon research (something that ID eschews) he found a plausible evolutionary pathway—that is, HOW taste receptors could have evolved. This investigation led to his discovery of a new class of “taste modulators”–chemicals that have no taste themselves, but that can influence the taste perception of other foods. He is now developing food additives that will allow the use of less artificial sweeteners in processed foods. Without knowledge of HOW taste evolved, these compounds would not hve been discovered.

    I assume you would agree that “how taste evolved”, or even, “if taste evolved” was not demonstrated in this research. What was clearly demonstrated was a previously unknown property/behavior of taste. It seems to me that the new knowledge has no truth bearing on the assumptions that: 1. taste evolved, and 2. taste evolved in some “specific” way.

    A few basic questions would be:

    1. Is it probable that someday something else will be known about taste by making a completely contradictory assumption of how it evolved than this scientist did, or even if it evolved at all? Doesn’t this ever happen?

    2. Is it probable that the same ‘taste modulators’ could have been discovered in another way? Perhaps the scientist might now say: “Oh yeah, if I had only looked at what’s happening with A, B, and C, I would have seen it all along…”. Something to that effect? Since he can now “reverse-engineer” a bit, given the knowledge.

    3. Aren’t scientific assumptions actually tested in the raw terms of specific disciplines like chemistry, genetics, physics etc..? These seem to have been co-opted under the banner of “evolution”, even though evolution as a theory has never been specified in the equations and formulas of those sciences.

    So, on the surface “evolution” may seem to be a productive model to work from (an IF assumed to be true). But perhaps if we take a real close look at the hypothesis’ being made, the language they are stated in, and how they are actually tested, we may discover that “evolution” is getting way more credit than it should be.

  37. I can speak for science as science is actually done.

    So could eugenicists in their day but their “high standing” in the scientific establishment did not change the pseudo-scientific nature of their claims about evolution just as your standing does not.

    Since you have challenged mine, would you care to relate your actual experience or other qualifications?

    You do not seem to have realized that I enjoy refuting and questioning the false premises of your questions more than answering. In this case, what level of qualifications and so on will supposedly cause you to conclude: “Why yes, given this fellow’s qualifications I now see that what I have claimed here about evolution is pseudo-science! Maybe I should approach the question of origins with an open mind instead of being so overwhelmed by evolution.”?

    For others interested in seeking the truth about origins I would note that Upson has generally failed to deal with the subject. That’s the reason that I’ve spent half my time talking past him. The few times he tried to deal with the topic he fell almost immediately into pseudo-science of one sort or another, perhaps because it is not a scientific issue. Now he seems intent on hiding in an ivory tower and I am generally content to leave him there as that also has nothing to do with the truth about origins.

  38. Like me, UD, you have a pragmatic conception of science: science is about solving problems.

    Opinions vary about what problems are, what progress is and so on. Your view seems to make science a matter of opinion instead of a systematic pursuit of truth open to all.

    Nevertheless, science and metaphysics are not the same.

    I would agree that physical science and metaphysical philosophy are not the same.

    I would say that the major effect of the “Scientific Revolution”…has been a divorce of science and metaphysics.

    A separation or divorce of physics and metaphysics is impossible. That is why the idea that they can be divorced only leads to philosophy being cloaked in science and metaphysics passed off as the equivalent of physics. Note that the original idea that science and philosophy can be or ought to be divorced is metaphysical and that the only way to see that science and metaphysics are not the same is if science and metaphysics are not divorced.

  39. Once again, I have no brief with creationism or ID as a philosophical tenet or as a religious principle.

    I’m not sure that anyone cares. Perhaps someone does but I generally do not because I’m more interested in whether or not creationism and ID are true than whether or not they’re scientific. We have already generally assumed that ID is true in America in patent law, political philosophy and so on. This despite the eugenics movement of old and now a small minority of biologists and scientists who have generally been trained to imagine design away in the name of science. Oddly, biologists of this sort sometimes even cite their training with respect to imagining things about the past as some type of imaginary evidence against what we already know to be designed by a mind. Kenneth Miller and mouse traps come to mind, the odd thing is that the fellow takes something we already know to be designed by a mind based on knowledge, shows that he can imagine that it has not been designed and then apparently concludes his capacity to imagine things has something to do with reality. If anything, it seems to me that all he has shown is that biologists are perfectly capable of imagining away design which is in reality based on sight, knowledge of function and the application of intelligence towards a goal. If biologists can imagine away design in the case of mouse traps one can only imagine what else they are capable of missing.

    (Sorry about the italics but apparently some people have a hard time keeping some basic distinctions in mind.)

  40. De gustibus disputandum est

    Mike and mynym have reached a hermeneutic crisis as to my taste-bud example. The point was quite simple, and, I thought, obvious.

    The previous theory of taste sensation, employing multi-taste units, had been widely accepted for a long time. No one questioned it for decades. No one deigned to look for single-unit sensors. Why should they?

    Prof. Zuker did question the prevailing theory, solely for the reason that it seemed inconsistent with evolution. Multi-taste units would require multiple changes at the same time. Single-unit sensors, by contrast, would be able to evolve one unit at a time, separately from the others. Therefore, he mounted a research effort to look for single-taste sensor units, and, after lengthy experimental work, found something that no one else had bothered to look for.

    The whole, entire, complete, and exclusive point of this example is that a significant discovery was made because evolution prompted a scientist to engage in research that no one else had even thought to undertake, because no one else had considered the evolutionary consequences of the prevailing theory.

    That is, evolution can prompt research even where it is not the immediate subject of the research. Did Prof. Zuker ever learn how taste sensors had evolved? Probably not. That wasn’t important. It still isn’t.

    This example was also chosen because a design/creation framework would not have prompted this research. The Designer/Creator may fashion as he chooses. Multiple-unit sensors can be designed just as easily as single sensors. No reason to prefer one over the other. Evolution suggested research that led to a discovery, ID/C did not.

    Despite M&M’s diversionary distractions, the point remains simple. An evolutionary model has initiated research, even where evolution was not directly at issue. On the other manual appendage, design/creation principles have never resulted in any research in any area of biology ever.

  41. The whole, entire, complete, and exclusive point of this example is that a significant discovery was made because evolution prompted a scientist to engage in research…

    Pseudo-science has often* prompted scientists to engage in research, that does not mean it is not pseudo-science.

    This example was also chosen because a design/creation framework would not have prompted this research. The Designer/Creator may fashion as he chooses. Multiple-unit sensors can be designed just as easily as single sensors.

    Hypotheses of evolution are equally capable of predicting both. I’m still curious, are you imagining that the single sensors are ancestral to the more complex sensors? This actually does look suspiciously like the old, not to mention idiotic, idea that different organs in the body are engaged in some sort of evolutionary struggle with each other. I’m also curious as to what imaginary scenario involving natural selection would select for new and improved sensors while still preserving the old.

    At any rate, I do not deny your “….whole, entire, complete, and exclusive point…” that the pseudo-science typical to hypotheses to evolution can prompt scientific research. And I’m not sure why you apparently assumed I was denying it.

    The problem is that your wider point is:
    Historically, science has gravitated (heh heh) toward methodological naturalism,[1] culminating with Darwin. This certainly has resulted in a burgeoning of theories and useful technologies. I think that is reason enough to preserve it.

    Darwin was not the Newton of biology, as he was not a genius. Newton rejected the metaphysics that led to Darwin’s pseudo-science. A “burgeoning of theories and useful technologies” can come about for reasons as diverse as humanity but generally it has more to do with patent law and so on which treats intelligent design and the impact of a metaphysical mind on physical matter as an objective fact than with evolutionary creation myths rooted in Darwinian pseudo-science. In contrast, the Darwinian tendency to gravitate toward denying metaphysical realities in the name of physics seeks to explain away intelligent design and metaphysical realities in general in terms of physics. Methodically denying metaphysical realities has generally stifled progress in science and technology where it has been widely practiced (e.g. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union) as it gives birth to totalitarian politics, naturally.

    *E.g.

    Problems in eugenics stimulated research in genetics, whilst developments in genetics informed the evolution of eugenics. This is a typical pattern in the development of any science and its practical application.The Persistence of Eugenics

  42. And if his discovery was not made, “evolution” would have surely corroborated that too. After all, we already knew how taste evolved. Many discoveries about taste were already made based on how we already knew taste evolved. So what good is a model that corroborates every result?

    Evolution, since it is not speficied in precise terms that can actually be quantified, can’t possibly predict anything. About the only thing it’s apparently good for is stimulating the imagination. That is, it encourages creative thinking. (The eugenics sure were creative with evolution too, weren’t they?).

    As far as I know, the evolution of human taste sensors has never actually ever been observed. All one can do is imagine how it might have evolved, and hope that what is imagined leads to a particular result. Even if what is imagined is in direct contradiction to what someone else may have imagined in order to acheive a different (or even the same, possibly) result.

  43. M&M miss the point yet again.

    mynym: “Hypotheses of evolution are equally capable of predicting both.”

    If evolution is capable of predicting both, why did Prof. Zuker choose only one? In the face of long-established theory, yet.

    Mike: “And if his discovery was not made, “evolution” would have surely corroborated that too.”

    Corroborated what? That a discovery would not be made?

    One more time, then I’m done:

    THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION CAN AND HAS PROMPTED A GREAT DEAL OF BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS. ID/CREATIONISM PRINCIPLES HAVE NEVER LED TO ANY BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH OR APPLICATIONS.

    Have you ever had a dog who crapped in the house? When you dragged him by the collar to the pile, he refused to look at the evidence of his offense. We have here a primo example of what Carl Zimmer calls “willful ignorance.”

  44. mynym (Nov. 12th, 2009 at 8:32 am): “[UpDn said] ‘Once again, I have no brief with creationism or ID as a philosophical tenet or as a religious principle.’ [mynym replied] I’m not sure that anyone cares. Perhaps someone does but I generally do not because I’m more interested in whether or not creationism and ID are true than whether or not they’re scientific.”

    So the denouement is finally that mynym, after bloviating hurricanes of electrons defending intelligent design and creationism as real science, pulls the ripcord on his last emergency parachute. Now he doesn’t care any more. Meh.

    mynym has loudly claimed that intelligent design/creationism are science, but has failed at providing a single example of any original research into the origin of the earth/universe or the primary design of life based upon creationist or intelligent-design principles.

    mynym has railed at great length as to how science operates and what scientists think and do. Yet he has not offered a scintilla of experience nor qualifications whatsoever in this field.

    To paraphrase Little Buttercup,

    “Mynym’s not what he may seem.
    Skim milk masquerades as cream;
    Highlows pass as patent leathers;
    Jackdaws strut in peacocks’ feathers.”

  45. Corroborated what? That a discovery would not be made?

    Of course! How clearer can I be? If the single-taste receptors were not discovered, it simply means that taste receptors didn’t evolve in the proposed “new way”, but evolved in the currently accepted way.

    Here’s a dumbed-down example:

    From an evolutionary point of view, it seems to me advantageous that humans would have evolved eyes in the back of their heads; to see potential predators coming from behind and such. I can certainly imagine how human evolution could have worked out that way, and the benefits it could bring to the species. Somewhere along the line, primates could have picked up the trait. And after all, other creatures in nature have more than 2 eyes. Well, to test my assumption, perhaps I should shave my head and take a look. Nope. No eyes there. Therefore humans evolved with only 2 eyes in the front, just as we already knew they did. Evolution has got me covered in either case.

    Or perhaps I looked for two eyes in the back of my head, but instead, discovered I had EARS on the side of my head (I had long hair and couldn’t see them before). AHA! What a Discovery! That’s how humans can know a lion or a bigfoot is coming up behind them! Therefore I can safely join your professor friend in saying that evolution was responsible for the discovery of human ears!

    Mynym, however, simply went to the local barber and discovered he had ears when he looked into the mirror.

  46. (sorry – screwed up the blockquote tag above)

    Corroborated what? That a discovery would not be made?

    Of course! How clearer can I be? If the single-taste receptors were not discovered, it simply means that taste receptors didn’t evolve in the proposed “new way”, but evolved in the currently accepted way.

    Here’s a dumbed-down example:

    From an evolutionary point of view, it seems to me advantageous that humans would have evolved eyes in the back of their heads; to see potential predators coming from behind and such. I can certainly imagine how human evolution could have worked out that way, and the benefits it could bring to the species. Somewhere along the line, primates could have picked up the trait. And after all, other creatures in nature have more than 2 eyes. Well, to test my assumption, perhaps I should shave my head and take a look. Nope. No eyes there. Therefore humans evolved with only 2 eyes in the front, just as we already knew they did. Evolution has got me covered in either case.

    Or perhaps I looked for two eyes in the back of my head, but instead, discovered I had EARS on the side of my head (I had long hair and couldn’t see them before). AHA! What a Discovery! That’s how humans can know a lion or a bigfoot is coming up behind them! Therefore I can safely join your professor friend in saying that evolution was responsible for the discovery of human ears!

    Mynym, however, simply went to the local barber and discovered he had ears when he looked into the mirror.

  47. If evolution is capable of predicting both, why did Prof. Zuker choose only one? In the face of long-established theory, yet.

    Perhaps it has to do with a infinte regress of natural selection operating on the brains and mating habits of ancient ape-like creatures over time to arrive at that specific electrochemical brain state on that particular day in that particular lab.

  48. @Upson Downes/Olorin

    “Mynym’s not what he may seem.
    Skim milk masquerades as cream;
    Highlows pass as patent leathers;
    Jackdaws strut in peacocks’ feathers.”

    There once was a man named Olorin.
    He huffed and he puffed and was borin’.
    He complained and he moaned.
    He cried and he whined.
    And the readers were left a snorin’.

  49. If evolution is capable of predicting both, why did Prof. Zuker choose only one? In the face of long-established theory, yet.

    Evolution is not a “theory,” let alone a long established and highly specified theory. If it is then merely point out how the theory specifies what should be observed in this case. Zuker imagined things differently than others, that is all. The link between imagining things and progress in science does not make someone’s imagination the epistemic equivalent of empirical evidence or a falsifiable theory.

    Mike: “And if his discovery was not made, “evolution” would have surely corroborated that too.”

    Corroborated what?

    Evolutionary creation myths that are rooted in imaginary evidence, not science. As you’ve already noted, the “long established theory” was thought to be a valid “theory” either way.

    THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION CAN AND HAS PROMPTED A GREAT DEAL OF BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS. ID/CREATIONISM PRINCIPLES HAVE NEVER LED TO ANY BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH OR APPLICATIONS.

    There is no theory of evolution. You’re merely babbling more words without specified meaning. The closest that biologists have come to having an actual theory is the Darwinian theory of evolution based on natural selection. And even that has some hypothetical goo mixed in but to the extent that it is specified in a verifiable way it generally predicts preservation and destruction, not the progressive construction typical to evolutionary creation myths. The theory has been verified to the extent that it has been specified and it generally refutes evolutionary creation myths.

    Have you ever had a dog who crapped in the house? When you dragged him by the collar to the pile, he refused to look at the evidence of his offense.

    Time and again I’ve tried to drag you back to look at your pseudo-science in the light of the epistemic standards that typify actual scientific theories and science based on a systematic pursuit of the truth. Instead of focusing on the pursuit of truth you have focused on consensus, professional identity, a philosophy of naturalism, a methodology for building a philosophy of naturalism and so on. You avoid the truth by refusing to look at the metaphoric excrement that emerges from you, naturally.

  50. frankly, philosophy often seems like not much more than one of Wittgenstein’s word games.

    I resemble that remark! (Sorry; I teach philosophy at the university level, and W. is one of my specialties.)

    From my long experience with real scientists in their natural habitat, mynym has a weird view of what a scientific principle is, what constitutes evidence, and how the scientific process works. Perhaps because he desires so much to change it that he can only see it as (he believes) it should be.

    I don’t think it’s that — rather, I think that Mynym believes that science is valuable only insofar as it aims at truth. I’m quite willing to take Mynym at his/her word when he/she says that his/her interest is in what is true, not in whether or not something counts as science.

    [1] Carl: “Nor do I think that science rests upon any metaphysical ‘foundation.’” It does; it has to. I’d like to minimize it, because of Occam’s Razor, but it does need some basis other than itself. Nothing can be turtles all the way down.

    Why not? Does carpentry need a “foundation”? Does mountain-climbing? I’ll happily grant that science, as a human practice, needs a ‘foundation’ in the same sense that other practices, such as carpentry and mountain-climbing, need a ‘foundation’ — and, conversely, that it does not need a foundation in any sense that carpentry and mountain-climbing do not. Science, like carpentry and mountain-climbing, consists (most essentially) of skills.

  51. So the denouement is finally that mynym, after bloviating hurricanes of electrons defending intelligent design and creationism as real science…

    I suppose you can blame your Mother Nature for whatever hurricanes have happened to happen.

    I’ve always said that I’m more interested in seeking the truth than established Science© and I’ve never said that ID or creationism are established Science© or the epistemic equivalents of the great physical theories. After all, ID contains elements of higher forms of knowledge without which physical theories would not exist and creation models, although scientific, are not the epistemic equivalent of physical models or all “science” in general. As a propagandist there is very little specification and distinction in your assertions. You have occasionally stated or implied that I write too much, yet this is only the result of the lack of specification which typifies your propagandistic assertions. It’s generally up to me to draw out distinctions.

    Now he doesn’t care any more. Meh.

    I never did care about the Science© typical to tin-pot totalitarians more interested in safe guarding a professional identity and establishing political “rights and privileges” for themselves than seeking the truth.

    mynym has loudly claimed that intelligent design/creationism are science…

    Where? That’s merely another one of your propagandistic statements.

    …but has failed at providing a single example of any original research into the origin of the earth/universe or the primary design of life based upon creationist or intelligent-design principles.

    There are more important topics but one example is Darwin’s falsification of a (non-biblical) creation model based on observing the distribution of species on islands.

    Yet he has not offered a scintilla of experience nor qualifications whatsoever in this field.

    I speak about science as a systematic and logical pursuit of the truth. Your problem with verification and falsification is the logical link between the two, citing your professional identity as an excuse to violate logic merely denigrates science. As I am interested in the truth I will ask again, what level of qualification would supposedly cause you to focus on a logical pursuit of truth or supposedly cause you to conclude: “Why yes, given this fellow’s qualifications I now see that I have been making unfalsifiable assertions about evolution. In fact, I haven’t even specified a theory of evolution!” I would submit that there is no level because it is an issue of facts, logic and evidence, not one of professional identity, the cause of progress in science, etc.etc.

  52. Mike: “Corroborated what? That a discovery would not be made?
    Of course! How clearer can I be? If the single-taste receptors were not discovered, it simply means that taste receptors didn’t evolve in the proposed “new way”, but evolved in the currently accepted way.”

    What we have here a gross failure of reading comprehension.

    UpDn: (Nov 12th, 2009 at 1:40 pm): “Prof. Zuker did question the prevailing theory, solely for the reason that it seemed inconsistent with evolution.”

    It seems somewhat obvious that if the multi-unit sensors are “inconsistent” with evolution, then evolution can’t explain them.

  53. Re (Nov 13th, 2009 at 5:59 am):

    Thanks, Shrink! I knew I could count on you for a rollicking limerick. I can only wish to be able to do that.

  54. @Upson Downes – Happy to be of service. 😉

  55. What we have here a gross failure of reading comprehension.

    UpDn: (Nov 12th, 2009 at 1:40 pm): “Prof. Zuker did question the prevailing theory, solely for the reason that it seemed inconsistent with evolution.”

    It seems somewhat obvious that if the multi-unit sensors are “inconsistent” with evolution, then evolution can’t explain them.

    Then I feel sorry for any poor scientists who made past discoveries about taste based on what was the prevailing theory (or way of imagining things). Turns out they had no reason toot the evolutionary horn! Perhaps Prof. Zucker will be among them someday.

  56. UpDn: “…frankly, philosophy often seems like not much more than one of Wittgenstein’s word games.”
    Carl: “I resemble that remark!”

    Since you teach philosophy you understand that W did not use this term in the popular pejorative sense. My intent was to cast philosophy itself as not a be-all and end-all in itself, but as one of many language games (better term?) that W describes for other activities.[1]

    Mynym certainly does not understand that science is a word game. He infuses his own meanings into terms such as “evidence” and “theory” which may be appropriate to the religion word game, or to his own worldview, but which are not appropriate for science. In other words, mynym has a degree in equivocation.[2]

    Carl: “I don’t think it’s that — rather, I think that Mynym believes that science is valuable only insofar as it aims at truth.”

    Mynym’s contention was (Oct 30th, 2009 at 9:53 am) that: “[quoting UpDn] ‘ …again, by actual day-in, day-out painstaking research in the lab, an activity unknown among creationists…’
    You are ignorant, a long list of creationists could be cited….. If proponents of ID and creationists actually avoided lab work and so on then science as we know it would not exist.”

    In fact, he could not cite any original research based upon any specific ID/C principles, even when given a shove down the chute with four possible projects based upon ID/C hypotheses that took less than a half hour to think up.[3]

    Absolute truth in a philosophical sense is not the “only” value of science, perhaps not a value at all. At most, science seeks contingent truth—explanations that are likely to provide an understanding of how the physical world works, and to provoke further questions. (Is light really truly actually a wave or a particle? Or neither? This may be a philosophical concern, but not a scientific one.) Then there are all those practical applications of scientific theories that allow us to cure diseases, to produce more food (R.I.P., Norman Borlaug), or to build powerful computers. Are they without value?

    Mynym has beliefs about what science should be, but he has no conception of what science is. Certainly he has no qualifications whatsoever to judge what science considers itself to be.

    Carl: “Science, like carpentry and mountain-climbing, consists (most essentially) of skills.” [and has a foundation in one sense, but not in another]

    Disagree. (Modern) science has a philosophical foundation in methodological naturalism.[4] Science has an operational foundation in processes of hypothesis formation, evidence gathering, testing, publication of results to peers, and criticism and replication. Skills do not form any essential part of science, either specific skills or skills in general.

    All interesting, but concert season is in full swing here, and rehearsals are becoming denser than mynym’s skull.

    ===========
    [1] Is it relevant that W’s Investigations follows the same format as the Qur’an? Probably not…

    Mynym in particular should (re)read sura …uh… aphorism 31 with reference to science. “… We may say: only someone who already knows how to do something with it can significantly ask a name.”

    [2] A good example relates to the term “information.” If you look in dictionaries, every meaning of this word asserts or implies that an intelligence is the only possible source of information. Yet science says that I=Sigma(p(i) averaged over al ensembles, is a quale of a system, not an ontos that forms a part of the system itself. (OED is the only one I’ve ever found that includes—along with a dozen other definitions—this Shannon definition. No one includes the Kolmogorov definition.) Stephen Meyer yearns a living out of equivocating this term in his recent Signature in the Cell.

    [3] The omitted portion of the above quotation does speak of the pursuit of “truth,” but only as what mynym demands that science pursue, not what science actually does, or how scientists themselves view their craft. Did he miss the divorce between philosophy and science in the 17th Century?

    [4] Eliminating the supernatural is not an arbitrary decision. Supernatural beings can by definition act arbitrarily, whereas science deals only in the predictable. Supernatural beings tend to be inscrutable, whereas science wishes to understand how things work.

    Occam’s razor also plays a cameo role. Consider mynymn’s claim that Newton achieved his results because he believed that God acts rationally. Then consider Laplace’s claim that he achieved his results because the universe can be understood rationally. These claims are identical, except that, as Laplace himself said, ”Sire, I have no need of that [God] hypothesis.”

  57. Mike: “Then I feel sorry for any poor scientists who made past discoveries about taste based on what was the prevailing theory….”

    Your crocodile tears are misplaced. Consider: Newtonian mechanics was superseded by Einsteinian relativity. Yet we still calculate planetary orbits according to Newton. But, if we apply Newton to geolocation with GPS satellites, Newton comes up short where Einstein succeeds.

    Understand now? Probably not.

  58. Consider: Newtonian mechanics was superseded by Einsteinian relativity. Yet we still calculate planetary orbits according to Newton. But, if we apply Newton to geolocation with GPS satellites, Newton comes up short where Einstein succeeds. Understand now? Probably not.

    Yep. What I also understand is that one need not rely on imagining things about the evolution of human taste receptors if one is working from an analogous mathematical representation of it in the first place.

  59. No, I thought not.

  60. All I understand is that Magic Theories of Chance tend to inspire one to doubt their validity when in gets down to the nitty-gritty of actual applied science. That is essentially what your example demonstrates.

  61. After all, if evolution was actually specified in quantifiable terms, then determining that something “couldn’t have evolved that way” would equate to “couldn’t have evolved”. Can’t have that!! Rather, let’s settle for “could have evolved this way“, and keep our magic theory intact.

  62. Did he miss the divorce between philosophy and science in the 17th Century?

    I didn’t miss the emergence of technically proficient barbarians in nations that adhered to your method of divorcing philosophy from science in order to build evolutionary creation myths. Philosophy was never divorced from science, you are merely methodically cloaking your own type of philosophy in science.

    …whereas science deals only in the predictable. Supernatural beings tend to be inscrutable, whereas science wishes to understand how things work.

    Science does not “wish” this, “say” that and so on and so forth, you do based on your philosophy. And in the case of regularities vs. singularities what you’re saying is wrong, scientific knowledge about singularities is possible.

    Consider mynymn’s claim that Newton achieved his results because he believed that God acts rationally. Then consider Laplace’s claim that he achieved his results because the universe can be understood rationally. These claims are identical, except that, as Laplace himself said, ”Sire, I have no need of that [God] hypothesis.”

    Considering the methodical and mechanistic role of science and scientists in the Holocaust perhaps they did have need of that hypothesis after all. But unfortunately it seems that science will never “wish” to see any evidence except that which you wish to see and never supposedly “say” anything except that which you say. If you and other cold toads were only speaking for a myopic form of scientia/knowledge that was as sharply limited as your intellects instead of methodically building vast evolutionary creation myths then I would say little of it. But that’s not the case.

  63. After all, if evolution was actually specified in quantifiable terms, then determining that something “couldn’t have evolved that way” would equate to “couldn’t have evolved”.

    The irony is that given the logical link between verification and falsification the avoidance of falsification brings about a lack of verification as well. Unfortunately it seems that some cold toads don’t realize that merely covering themselves in “overwhelming” amounts of hypothetical goo not only does not add one bit of theoretical specification and verification to hypotheses of evolution, it also makes verification impossible.

  64. Consider: Newtonian mechanics was superseded by Einsteinian relativity. Yet we still calculate planetary orbits according to Newton. But, if we apply Newton to geolocation with GPS satellites, Newton comes up short where Einstein succeeds.

    Physics has little to do with your receptor example. What general trajectory of adaptation is predicted by the so-called “theory of evolution”? What theory of evolution have you been talking about? Given the orthodox theory, how is the “force” of natural selection specified to operate on the receptors and how was it verified? For that matter, what trajectory of adaptation should one expect to observe next?

    Understand now? Probably not.

    Why have biologists gravitated to comparing their supposed knowledge to physics for well over a century while physicists have not gravitated towards comparing their knowledge to biology? Do you understand why this is so? I doubt it.

  65. Then there are all those practical applications of scientific theories that allow us to cure diseases, to produce more food (R.I.P., Norman Borlaug), or to build powerful computers. Are they without value?

    Ironically your mechanistic philosophy and technique of methodically building a supposed science divorced from philosophy and devoid of spiritual values has already been tried and it led to disaster, not progress as we know it and value it. You speak of your science “saying” and “wishing” things as if it has values as result of your false philosophy, not as a result of sound science. Your blind philosophy cannot “say” whether exterminating all of humanity with nuclear or biological weapons or some other technology based “purely” on science is of value or not.

    As sentient beings who value things, we wish for things and we say things. Any science which overlooks or denies this merely leads to having a metaphysical “seeing” philosophy cloaked in a supposedly physical “blind” science, this is why you’ve begun to say that science wishes for things and other imbeciles of the same sort have begun to say that we are manipulated by our genes and so on. You have not and cannot mechanistically and methodically eliminate or overlook sentience, intelligence and sight as a fact of life/biology because it is a fact of life.

  66. If the divergence of science and metaphysics is to blame for the Holocaust, then the Enlightenment is to blame for the Holocaust.

  67. The Enlightenment as I understand it, embraced the absolutes of metaphysics while inventing a modern religion of secular humanism, essentially of man worshiping himself, upon which ground it.

    Eventually, of course, the modern man realizes the logical inconsistency of not basing his metaphysics on a transcendent, and necessarily lapses into Nihilism, because it seems a natural progression to him.

  68. In that case, Mike, you and I have a very different understanding of the Enlightenment!

  69. If the divergence of science and metaphysics is to blame for the Holocaust…

    Strawman, try again:
    Considering the methodical and mechanistic role of science and scientists in the Holocaust perhaps they did have need of that hypothesis after all.

  70. “Strawman”? “Try again”? I’m not trying to win a debate with you, Mynym. I’m interested in having a conversation. Maybe I got carried away. I’m sorry; I apologize.

    There are some issues here that I’m interesting in distinguishing. I don’t know if I’d made this clear, but you know, I’m generally persuaded that ethics requires metaphysics (and epistemology): you can’t have one without having all three. The truly great philosophers all understand this, despite their massive disagreements with each other.

    So what was Nazism? It was not, it must be clear, it was not a political failure. Hitler was democratically elected. The political institutions worked as they were supposed to. It was an ethical failure of entire culture. And I suppose, in some deep sense, a metaphysical failure — a failure to apprehend reality, including (or especially?) the reality of the humanity of the people they murdered and exterminated.

    (I am distinguishing between ‘murder’ and ‘extermination’. The Nazis treated Jews and others as we treat the other species we call “pests” and “vermin”. But who are we to decide what species may live and die?)

    I don’t we disagree on the thought that the Holocaust was a colossal ethical and metaphysical failure — though certainly we differ as to the language in which we describe that failure, since I’m not part of the Christian tradition. (Whether or not there is a single correct framework or language in which to talk about ethical and metaphysical concerns is another deep question on which we might disagree.)

    And yet, there remains the quite distinct questions:

    (1) should science be distinct from the plurality of distinct metaphysical views (e.g. theism, materialism, dualism, Aristotelianism, idealism)?

    (2) should public policy be distinct from the plurality of distinct ethical/religious views (e.g. humanism, Christianity)?

    It seems to me that the answer in both cases is “yes,” and for roughly similar reasons: we need separation of science and metaphysics for roughly the same reason that we don’t want the state to endorse any particular religious or ethical doctrine.

    As for the Enlightenment, I give you Louis Dupre, who is by no means uncritical of the Enlightenment. Defining Europe in the 18th century as “a prolonged period of critically examining the validity of its spiritual vision,” Dupre continues:

    “The doubt and anxiety that accompanied the West’s reassessment of its past have marked the rest of the modern age. Since then Europe has known its own horrors, causing us to question the adequacy of the Enlightenment’s answers as well as the effective of its solutions. But it permanently inured us against one thing: the willingness to accept authority uncritically. The particular merit of the Enlightenment did not consist, as some have claimed, in abolishing moral or religious absolutes. Indeed, the loss of moral absolutes, whether caused by Enlightenment or not, lies at the root of the inhumanity of the past century. But the need to question has advantageously distinguished our culture from others. Islamic culture has, of course, known its own crises, none more painful and less deserved than the loss of its status in the modern world, yet it was never forced to question its traditional worldview. The Enlightenment was a Western phenomenon that defined the future of the West.”

    In talking with several of you here, it often seems to me that I am talking with people who, on the one hand, enjoys the liberty of thought, speech, and action and yet, on the other hand, think that the Enlightenment was a bad idea. Would you want to return to a world in which people like us could not exist?

  71. “Strawman”? “Try again”? I’m not trying to win a debate with you, Mynym. I’m interested in having a conversation. Maybe I got carried away. I’m sorry; I apologize.

    I don’t mind having a debate or a conversation but in either case this: Considering the methodical and mechanistic role of science and scientists in the Holocaust perhaps they did have need of that hypothesis after all. does not equal “…is to blame.” One could say that colonialism, world politics and the collapse of the German economy had a role as well, although there is some overlap. I.e. imperialism had happened before and economies had collapsed before but when interpreted in a Darwinian scheme in which each nation is striving and struggling against others for resources and “living space” then traditional ethics change and evolve.

    I am distinguishing between ‘murder’ and ‘extermination’. The Nazis treated Jews and others as we treat the other species we call “pests” and “vermin”. But who are we to decide what species may live and die?

    Just another species struggling for life?

    It seems to me that the answer in both cases is “yes,” and for roughly similar reasons: we need separation of science and metaphysics for roughly the same reason that we don’t want the state to endorse any particular religious or ethical doctrine.

    There is a distinction between science and metaphysics to the same extent that there’s a distinction between the brain and the mind. You speak of separation and have claimed a “divorce” a number of times but that only results in death in the individual as well as death in the body politic.

    E.g. of the conscience of a nation being separated from its politics and science:

    Divorce From Politics Welcomed
    Many good Catholics-and this includes many priests, this correspondent has ascertained-welcome the church’s divorce from politics; these always deplored the connection, even in self-defense. Others honestly hold it is the duty of every good German to ‘go into the State in order to help stabilize and save it from extremists.’ Many others still believe the Nazi promises…..
    Finally, there is a goodly number to whom the brown uniform is a part of business, especially since opposition to it spells economic suicide.

    There are few Catholics, therefore who are fighting at present for a restoration of ecclesiastical political power. Even the arrests of priests for indiscreet utterances against the Nazi State as a rule have aroused little opposition, a perfectly good Catholic might be heard to remark, ‘Well, we’ve got to be quiet and so can they.’
    ……
    Significantly, the mass of the populace here has never even heard of the Neopagans who have caused such havoc in the ranks of the Protestants in the North.

    If, therefore, the church should be compelled to fight it must select an issue which will put the struggle on a strictly religious basis….. The Nazis, however, with the clever tactics of ‘elastic’ attack and war of attrition have dodged the issue so far, which is their biggest success.
    ……
    Many Catholics believed the Nazi sterilization law such an issue because it is wholly contrary to church doctrine. But wiser heads of the church soon realized this issue could scarcely be discussed in public and not at all in church and school. Therefore a compromise was reached: the church obtained exemption of Catholics from active participation in administration of the law, but not from passive sufferance under the law. Catholic physicians and nurses in hospitals do not need to assist in sterilization operations but sterilization subjects, even when Catholics, must submit to temporal power….

    A provision introduced into the penal code permitting euthanasia [mercy killings] under certain circumstances likewise is contrary to Catholic doctrine but not a decisive issue.

    The closest approach to open conflict is the struggle over schools and youth organizations. The school conflict just beginning is still not clear as to its ultimate ramifications.
    …..
    (Nazis and Church Groping for Issue
    The New York Times, Feb. 14, 1934, pg. 4
    by Otto D. Tolischus)

  72. Considering the methodical and mechanistic role of science and scientists in the Holocaust perhaps they did have need of that hypothesis after all. does not equal “…is to blame.”

    I’m pleased to see that you don’t regard modern science as having sole blame for the rise of Nazism, but it seems to me that your argument comes down to something like this: If scientists had not divorced questions of ultimate truth from the practice of everyday science (experimentation, analysis of data, etc.), then it is more likely that they would have resisted the Nazis’ use of science. Therefore, scientists bear some responsibility for their complicity with the ethical failure of Nazi Germany. Is that a more fair approximation of your argument?

    There is a distinction between science and metaphysics to the same extent that there’s a distinction between the brain and the mind.

    Interesting way of putting it, but I find myself confused by the analogy, since whether or not the mind and the body are distinct things, or the same thing, or distinct aspects of the same thing, etc — are all metaphysical options, not scientific ones. Would you be willing to help me out with a slightly different analogy?

  73. If scientists had not divorced questions of ultimate truth from the practice of everyday science (experimentation, analysis of data, etc.), then it is more likely that they would have resisted the Nazis’ use of science.

    Yes, a Nazi being more interested in the truth of things (whether ultimate or not, whatever ultimate means) than their place in society or the party, the usefulness of their experiments to their nation, their identity and professional standing as a scientist or other pragmatic concerns would tend to resist experimenting on Jews. I would argue that given the nature of self-evident truths that are evident in the Self which pragmatic concerns, scientific consensus and so on can blind one to. Therefore, when you say that science must be divorced from basic truths and so on you are merely repeating the mistakes of the past. You’re still arguing for a divorce as if it is a good thing when all it results in is a form of occult/hidden metaphysics.

    Interesting way of putting it, but I find myself confused by the analogy, since whether or not the mind and the body are distinct things, or the same thing, or distinct aspects of the same thing, etc — are all metaphysical options, not scientific ones.

    Alright, there is a distinction between physics and metaphysics to the same extent that there is a distinction between men and women. When they are divorced or merely blurred together civilization is undermined but when they are married together then civilization results.

    As far as the mind and the brain go, in all probability they’re aspects of the same thing. After all, it is unlikely that the body is a hard “physical” substance made of little metaphoric billiard balls bouncing around mechanistically which leaves the mind as a metaphysical ghost in a physical machine of that sort. It’s more likely that mind and matter are as inseparable as form and matter just as Aristotle argued thousands of years ago. At any rate, given your notions about pragmatism and a divorce between science and metaphysics should those Catholics have become involved in the scientific issues and resultant public policy of their day or not? It seems to me that given your philosophy they would have no basis to do anything other than divorce themselves from such issues.

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