A new science-bashing campaign?

The science bashing film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed will soon be out on DVD (October 21st). So we will see a new phase in the intelligent design political campaign – getting the anti-science message directly into the schools and churches.

The Discovery Institute Center for Science & Culture is currently leading this campaign. A email from its director Robert Crowther (subject title Help Us Get Lawmakers Expelled) reveals two targets for the campaign: “key policy makers, opinion makers and leaders throughout the” USA and churches and schools, including “church or school bookstores.”

Discovery Institute is appealling for donations to “underwrite the cost of sending the DVD to these individuals.”

Expelled never made it to New Zealand theatres. However, I am sure there will be an effort to sell and distribute the DVD here and to organise screenings in church basements. There may even be efforts to get the DVD into some schools (as has been done by by Focus on the Family with other creationist material – see Christians challenge teaching of evolution).

Christian News New Zealand wasted no time kicking off the New Zealand campaign by excitedly posting the Discovery Institute email within minutes of its distribution.

Similar articles

Advertisements

91 responses to “A new science-bashing campaign?

  1. Oh man, another day another battle. I can see I will be writing to the PPTA Newsletter again… Last time, I objected to FotF’s pushing of The Privileged Planet onto science teachers – & someone responded that my science was bogus 🙂

    Like

  2. I think that if the churches of NZ are to avoid being deceived by this kind of anti-scientific nonsense then it’s really going to come down to the efforts of those in the church who know better.

    If you are a Christian who’s been taught that evolution is wrong (even harmful) then it’s unlikely that you are going to listen to advice from someone who doesn’t share your core beliefs about the existence of God and the death and resurrection of Jesus.

    I’m of the opinion that arguing the point from such extremes usually only serves to harden people’s beliefs. This is where I see educated Christians making a difference with respect to halting anti-scientific propaganda films like Expelled.

    It’s to their benefit that their beliefs aren’t ridiculed on so simple a point as the scientific observation that life evolves and it’s of benefit to all of us (non-believers and believers alike) that scientists can get on with doing real science rather than constantly fighting wave after wave of ignorant magical thinkers.

    Frank or Dale, if you are reading this, what do you think?

    Like

  3. Hello to Ken and your fellow rabid atheists 🙂

    I relise that you think that evolution (whatever that means) is FACT, FACT, FACT, so just out of curiosity, what would you say is the single biggest evidence (FACT) for molecules-to-man evolution?

    Cheers.

    Like

  4. Ken said,

    I am sure there will be an effort to sell and distribute the DVD here and to organise screenings in church basements

    Good thing we don’t have a basement at my church! 😉
    Damian said,

    Frank or Dale, if you are reading this, what do you think?

    Yeah, I think Christians will (often) be more persuaded by fellow-Christians when it comes to these sorts of issues. I like to make such ones aware of Christian affirmers of evolutionary processes like Ken Miller and Francis S Collins.

    Like

  5. I’ll go with that!
    In fact, while a precise scientific definition of life has some difficulties I understand the ability to evolve is an important characteristic of life.
    Of course the word “evolution” can be used in very vague ways. Many of the commenters here reject evolution but accept “micro-evolution”, “natural selection”, “speciation” etc.
    Perhaps Christian News NZ should be specific about what he is rejecting and why he is so enthusiastic about Expelled and its science-bashing.

    Like

  6. Cheers Dale,
    Just out of interest, does it worry you at all when you hear of efforts to distribute anti-evolution propaganda within the church or do you see it as a bit of a non-issue?

    The reason I ask is because the general feeling I get from Christians who acknowledge evolution is that they’d rather not rock the boat but I’ve observed many ex-Christians who lost their faith because the incongruity over the issue of evolution led them to further examine their other religious beliefs.

    (I wonder if a similar period of rejection of Christianity occurred during the transition of the church’s stance of geocentrism/heliocentrism?)

    Like

  7. Oh come on guys, you can do better than question begging 🙂

    1. We believe that humans arrived here via molecules-to-man evolution
    2. The best evidence for molecules-to-man evolution is that we are here (life)
    3. Therefore, evolution is FACT FACT FACT.

    Right then…

    Ok, well thanks for the answer anyway 🙂

    Like

  8. You asked a broad question so I gave you a broad answer. But what answer would have convinced you anyway? Best you take up your issues with other Christians who understand evolution; these kinds of conversations rarely go anywhere. Don’t you agree?

    Like

  9. Well, as Dembski and Johnson, and numerous others, have pointed out, evolutionists use the word “evolution” to mean all sorts of things, but rarely define what they mean by it! Very useful tactic that Dembski calls “talking out both sides of their mouths”.

    I made it easy for you and said “molecules-to-man” evolution. What is hard about that? Do you have no answer?

    Surely if the evidence (FACT FACT FACT) is soooo overwhelming, you could just give me the single (just one) best piece of evidence.

    Like

  10. I’m sorry CNNZ but I have no facts that you would find convincing. But I believe this is more a reflection on the unreasonableness of your dogmatic belief than on the quality of the evidence. I really can’t be bothered. Find a Christian who understands evolution and is willing to give you the time of day.

    Like

  11. “you could just give me the single (just one) best piece of evidence”

    Let’s see… If you had a argument that involved more than one peice of evidence, how relevant or useful do you think it is to ask for a single piece of evidence to the exclusion of the rest?

    If we needed both the body and the weapon to solve a murder case, how useful and relevant is it to only ask for and examine one of the two to the exclusion of the other?

    Likewise, if you could solve something by comparing two things, how useful and relevant is looking at only one of the two things that need to be compared…?

    Can you see how silly asking for just one thing is?

    Like

  12. Damian,
    Yes, the ‘anti-evolution’ stuff does worry me more and more, and I take every opportunity to appropriately resist/push-back-against the view that evolution (yes, ‘macro’-evolution, CNNZ!) presents a challenge to belief in creation – whether from Christians or anyone else…

    CNNZ,
    You may (or may not?) be interested/willing/open to look up Ken Miller? Here’s a helpful starting point.

    Also Francis Collins mp3 here ‘The language of God’ (I think this is the one I’ve listened to!)
    [audio src="http://media-2.pointloma.edu/htmlpages/Podcast/Collins/Collins_04112008.mp3" /]
    Be advised that God is the God of all truth – even scientific truth. Cheers mate!

    Like

  13. CCNZ, I’m still waiting for you to forfill your promise to explain how ID is a scientific theory.
    You always seem to be busy though.
    Hmmm.

    Your word doesn’t seem to mean much to you.

    Remember: thou shalt not bear false witness.

    Like

  14. @ Christian News NZ:

    Yes – and don’t forget to vote at the site (question: Were We Created By Design?) although one has to register. I’ve sent an email to PZ about this as he likes to keep people informed of polls).

    Actually Dembski and Johnson are not useful resources on the nature of evolutionary science. It’s a real problem when ID people talk about evolution because they mean different things. For example, Behe accepts common ancestor and natural selection. He is just unhappy with random sources of variation.

    So I ask again. What specifically within evolutionary science do you reject? Do you reject natural selection? Do you reject common ancestor? Do you reject descent with modification?

    It should be easy to provide us with an answer (if you actually have real objections and are not just on a political trip).

    Also – you have not answered my other question either: why are you so enthusiastic about Expelled and its science-bashing?

    Like

  15. “Behe accepts common ancestor and natural selection. He is just unhappy with random sources of variation.”

    Isn’t he supposed to be a biochemist?

    So-called “point” mutations (one source a genetic variation) have been worked right back to specific DNA base enantiomers that arise from specific radiation, etc., and how they are incorrectly resolved to yield the changed base sequence.

    This work has been around for a long time, too.

    I don’t know his complaints, but on the face of it, he’d have to be a biochemist denying biochemistry to want to look past that.

    Like

  16. Hello Cedric,

    Yes very busy. Replying to your demands is a low priority for the same reasons Damian uses above. Neither of us are likely to change our entrenched positions.

    On a positive note, I would agree with Jay Richards on the Opposing Views website I mentioned above. Here is his piece on “Is Intelligent Design Science?”:

    http://www.opposingviews.com/arguments/is-intelligent-design-science

    Cheers.

    Like

  17. Christian News NZ, that article doesn’t actual advance any support for ID at all. What it does it attempt to “dismiss” science by attempting to grant himself the right to ignore why science is defined the way it is. (Note that he ever really addresses why science is defined that way ether, he just excuses it out of hand.)

    This doesn’t “explain how ID is a scientific theory”, as Cedric was asking you. He doesn’t present any evidence at all, nor define what the “theory” of ID actually is, never mind show that its scientific.

    In fact he illustrates that its not.

    The huge irony of his blurb is that by focusing exclusively on trying to excuse/rework the definition of science so that it might “allow” ID in his eyes, he’s said that ID can’t measure up against science, isn’t part of science and therefore isn’t scientific. He’s actually asserting what he attempts to refute.

    Bizzare.

    Like

  18. CNNZ, “Replying to your demands is a low priority for the same reasons Damian uses above.”

    No, that won’t do.
    You claim that Intelligent Design is a scientific theory.

    You gave me your word that you would explain how it really was a scientific theory.

    You promised that you would not let the matter drop.
    On your own web-site.

    My possible reaction to your “step-by-step explanation of how ID squares up to being a really and truely scientific theory” is neither here nor there.

    You promised.
    Then you broke your word.
    You lied. Plain and simple.

    Shame on you.
    Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    Like

  19. CNNZ,
    Had a chance to look at the links I posted above?

    On your link:
    What Jay Richards and others need to realise is that ‘ID’ is a philosophical inference which attempts to be scientifically informed. It starts with an inference, and then tries to find/match it with science – or (re)interpret science to try and match it up with the inference. The inference is not scientific, but philosophical.

    And yes, it does get confusing, because people like Behe do affirm ‘evolution’ (i.e. he’s certainly no 6-day creationist), but try to widen/create ‘cracks’ in it in order to (again) match the ‘science’ up to the philosophical inference of ID.

    Like

  20. Cedric: “You promised that you would not let the matter drop. On your own web-site.” No chance of a link to the particular page?

    Have to laugh at how the articles I glanced at on their website always put a straw-man version of science, scientists, etc., right at the top of each article. Have to invent an “opponent” to strike out at first…

    Like

  21. Back to the OP – The Manawatu Apologetics are pushing it too. I’m disturbed by the phrasing they use – they want to: “widely distribute the DVD to key policy makers, opinion makers and leaders throughout the country”… I think our policy makers have enough problems without blatant propaganda about a non-issue cluttering their plate.

    Like

  22. @23: Ian, the letter is a cut’n’paste job: its identical to the one on the Christian News NZ website, from a “Robert Crowther, Director of Communications, Center for Science & Culture”. (Note the attempt at credibility.)

    Like

  23. Heraclides said: No chance of a link to the particular page?

    No problem. The more people know about Admin’s weasely nature; the better I like it. He really is a shameful little YEC wierdo.
    The classic “Liar for Jesus” type.

    It all started when I managed to get him to spit out a straight answer on whether he believed ID was a real scientific theory or not.

    http://christiannews.co.nz/2007/tired-of-hearing-the-shallow-men-the-new-atheists/

    Now here’s where he started to squirm but promised not to abandon the discussion.
    He was just “busy”.
    (Yeah, right)
    So he rounds off with…
    ……
    admin on February 4th, 2008 8:09 am
    “Hi Cedric, I have some stuff here. It is in process.”

    Cedric Katesby on February 5th, 2008 8:51 am
    “Good to here.
    Thanks for not abandoning the discussion.
    I’ll wait.”

    admin on February 7th, 2008 9:49 am
    “That’s ok Cedric. I have no intention of running away from this discussion. Time is the problem at the moment.”
    http://christiannews.co.nz/2008/id/#comments
    ……..

    Yet run he did.
    😦
    After THREE MONTHS (!!!) of delays, we get this….

    admin on March 31st, 2008 5:59 pm
    You know Cedric, I have a wife and family. I have limited time each day. Probably like you, I am a busy guy. So I engage in discussions that I think are worth while.
    Why am I telling you this?
    Because as I pointed out above, your comments come across as a mixture of sarcasm and arrogance. Do you have so much spare time that you would waste it on someone that has that sort of attitude (am I wrong?)? If you just want to sit there and ridicule everything I say, that’s fine, but don’t you think your time could be better spent?

    http://christiannews.co.nz/2008/rc-sproul-interviews-ben-stein-about-the-movie-expelled-no-intelligence-allowed/#comments

    After that, things went downhill.
    Ken’s posts started getting deleted.
    My posts started getting deleted.

    He ended up creating a little echo chamber for himself.
    He never did get around to explaining how ID was a scientific theory.

    (sigh)

    Like

  24. @ Christian News NZ:

    “On a positive note, I would agree with Jay Richards on the Opposing Views website”!!! – this is as positive as you get – a link?

    I guess that is in line with your cut and paste approach. Your blog’s post on this subject is just word for word the same email I got from the DI people. Same for the Manawatu apologists.

    In fact, Christian News NZ never seems to have anything original – almost always cut and post. Perhaps that indicates something wrong with the critical thinking process?

    I know you won’t answer questions about evolutionary science or ID (except with a link or cut and paste). Perhaps you really don’t have any personal understanding of these subjects so therefore cant respond authentically. I give up on that.

    But what about my other question: why are you so enthusiastic about Expelled and its science-bashing? Surely you have a reason for this. What about being honest about it and letting us know your motives?

    Like

  25. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Hi Dale. You said:

    What Jay Richards and others need to realise is that ‘ID’ is a philosophical inference which attempts to be scientifically informed. It starts with an inference, and then tries to find/match it with science – or (re)interpret science to try and match it up with the inference. The inference is not scientific, but philosophical.

    Firstly, I don’t think you’re right that ID necessarily starts with the inference and then looks for the data. In fact, I think manifestly the fact that ID is not a specifically religious view demonstrates that it is quite possible and reasonable for ID to be an a postiori rather than a priori inference.

    That said, I’ve been giving this idea of ID being a “philosophical” rather than “scientific” inference some thought—and I’m not sure I see a clear distinction between these. Scientific inferences have two defining characteristics that I can see: (i) they start from empirical data; (ii) they are by nature abductive (and/or inductive; but abduction really is what defines them). Abduction, however, is itself a philosophical process; so I don’t see how we can deny that scientific inference itself is intrinsically philosophical. It is simply a kind of philosophical inference. All inference is philosophical in one way or another; and abduction is arguably more influenced by philosophical concerns than straightfoward deduction.

    But if scientific inference is characterized by these two principal factors, then how is ID not a scientific inference? Empiricism and abduction seem to describe the inference of ID just as well as any uncontroversial scientific inference which comes to mind.

    Typically, I’d expect a scientist to say that I’ve omitted a third factor: scientific inferences need to be falsifiable. But there are two obvious objections to this: (a) falsifiability is a relatively modern notion in the history of science, and as such can’t be used to define science qua science. But more importantly, (b) it’s transparently evident that not all scientific inferences—indeed, perhaps not even most scientific inferences—are falsifiable. It is not inferences which scientists generally require to be falsifiable, but theories. Even then, a theory is just the conclusion of a number of inferences (ie, it is itself an inference), many of which might not be themselves falsifiable; so the demand of falsifiability seems rather arbitrary.

    Whether or not ID is true, and whether or not anyone can or has come up with falsifiable hypotheses about it, it does seem to me that Jay Richards is correct in his evaluation that it is not intrinsically unscientific. It isn’t valid to keyhole science to fit certain preconceived philosophical notions; he explains why not perfectly well. And the definition of science is not a fixed nor agreed one, and probably never will be, despite what anti-ID scientists and philosophers of science would like to say.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  26. @27: See post 19.

    You, like the author of article C.N.NZ. linked to, aren’t defining ID at all: you are busy trying to re-define ‘science’ and in doing so, ironically, inferring that ID isn’t science.

    You can’t say that some thing “X” is of some nature “Y”, if all you do is try (re)define thing “Y” without ever examining the thing “X”!

    In fact, by insisting that the nature “Y” “must” be re-defined to suit yourself, you’ve actually (very strongly) implied that thing “X” at present is NOT of the nature “Y”… (why else would you need to re-define Y…?). You’re effectively asserting what you seek to dismiss, just as the guy I referred to in post 19 is.

    (X being ID and Y and science, of course.)

    Like

  27. Well, the whole point of experimentation is to test hypotheses, so yes, scientists <i?do expect falsifiability. (Sorry, Ken, what follows is a bit long; I got on my hobbyhorse!)

    As far as intelligent design is concerned, it is simply not enough to show one theory wrong in order to demonstrate that your own is correct. Your competing theory must be based on evidence that supports your point of view, it must be testable, and it must be predictive. (See the judgement in the Kitzmiller vs Dover case: http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf).

    So, if Intelligent Design is to be given the status of a scientific theory, what is the scientific evidence that supports Intelligent Design as an explanation for the diversity of living things?

    There isn’t any, beyond the so-called irreducible complexity of living things, and some doubtful mathematical ‘proofs’ of the impossibility of evolution (which do not of themselves prove ID – see above). Favourite examples of ID, such as the bacterial flagellum, have been shown to be incorrect.

    There are no peer-reviewed papers by ID theorists published in any mainstream scientific journals i.e. there is no experimental or theoretical support for the concept among the scientific community at large. (Their own, in-house ‘journals’ don’t count, & the quality of research in those ‘journals’ is risible.) Last year I searched for “intelligent design” in the Science Direct database and found 75 scientific papers. Just nine addressed the ID hypothesis (the rest were mainly in engineering and design journals and had titles such as “Intelligent architecture through intelligent design”). And all nine were highly critical of Intelligent Design.

    As for testability… If the answer to a question is ultimately, “the Designer did it”, then it’s outside the reach of modern science, which doesn’t deal with the supernatural. I’d actually take this further, since this to me is one of the worst features of the whole ID thing: such an answer surely removes any joy or intellectual curiosity in the pursuit of science. And because scientific advancements depend on innovative, questioning thinkers, this has the potential to stifle new scientific endeavour.

    And because Intelligent Design is incapable of disproof, it lacks the predictive power of the theory of evolution. In contrast, we regularly test predictions about evolutionary relationships, using such tools as convergence of evidence, comparative methods, and radiometric dating techniques. All the historical sciences (evolution, geology, astronomy, cosmology) rely on hypothetico-deductive reasoning: we take existing data, form an hypothesis on the basis of those observations, deduce predictions from the hypothesis, and then test the predictions against further data. Intelligent design can’t be tested in this way – it’s not possible, when the ultimate explanation for biological diversity is “a Designer did it”? That is not susceptible to testing – & so ID is indeed intrinsically unscientific.

    Like

  28. Pingback: Thinking Matters Talk » Blog Archive » Is intelligent design scientific?

  29. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    A simple question – but one that we haven’t been able to get answered by Christian Newz NZ:

    What do you mean by ID? You claim “that ID is not a specifically religious view” – a view many probably disagree with.

    So, could you tell us briefly what you mean by ID?

    Like

  30. “…that ID is not a specifically religious view…”

    Yes, and to answer this must also entail defining that slippery word ‘religion’ – which is why it’s a tough statement to unpack.

    The design inference is a philosophcial one, so the link between this inference and ‘religion’ will be as strong as the link between ‘philosophy’ and ‘religion’

    Like

  31. Pingback: Dominic Bnonn Tennant » Is intelligent design scientific?

  32. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Heraclides, you don’t seem to have actually interacted with anything I said; I’m left wondering what I’m supposed to respond to which I haven’t already.

    Additionally, let me add, for everyone’s clarification, that I was not claiming that ID is a scientific theory, or even on a similar level necessarily. I was specifically addressing Dale’s comments with regard to it being a scientific inference. I am quite ambivalent about ID as a theory, not to mention its various supporters as such—and I agree with Alison that it is not enough to simply poke holes in evolution as if this proves anything positive with regard to intelligent design.

    What I am referring to when I say ID (to answer Ken’s question in particular) is simply the thesis that the universe, or some part thereof, was designed. Obviously, in terms of what I personally believe, I have a specifically Christian view—that the universe in toto was designed by God—but I understand ID as a thesis is much broader than that. I can’t speak for CNNZ though.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  33. Cross-posted “for the record”, since Dominic Bnonn Tennant has previously refused to accept my posts (for reasons I don’t agree with). The next two paragraphs only are what I posted there:

    Jay’s article doesn’t describe ID at all, as I pointed out on Ken’s blog. As a result he doesn’t say its scientific or not, either. (You can’t say that something is of some nature, without desc[r]ibing the thing. For example, if I have an object in my hand, describe the properties of a ball, but say nothing about the thing in my hand, I’ve said nothing about if the object in my hand is a ball or not.)

    Instead, Jay spends his time trying to redefine ‘science’, implying that he has to redefine ‘science’ in order for ID to be able to be considered part of ‘science’. That, in turn, implies that ID is not science as its defined…

    (Ken: excuse my using your blog in this way: since he has linked to this thread from his article, maybe some of his readers will at least see my comment if I post it here, regardless of what he does to my post on his blog. And perhaps they’ll realise some of what is missing on his blog!)

    Addendum: I’m struck by how DBT’s post and Thinking Matters Talk seems remarkably similar.

    I think that Dale’s reply on the latter is worth repeating:

    “As for what ‘ID’ is, and how it operates, it seems that it’s main attempt at being ’scientific’ is to do so in a negative (or deconstructive) sense, rather than a positive (or constructive) one. It ‘pokes holes’ at evolutionary theory or tries to show how evolution ‘needed help’, etc.”

    (I’d add that ID doesn’t succeed at its deconstructivism, either, so its fails both senses, postive and negative.)

    Dominic: if you don’t see the relevance, read my post again. It does refer to your post, alright. You essentially just did a more elaborate (some would say convoluted) version of what Jay wrote.

    Like

  34. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Heraclides, either we are talking past each other, or you haven’t understood my or Jay’s argument.

    Jay’s article doesn’t describe ID at all, as I pointed out on Ken’s blog. As a result he doesn’t say its scientific or not, either.

    This isn’t true. There is a blurb directly above the article which introduces it. This blurb says (emphasis mine):

    With about 70 billion stars and as many as 100 million life forms (at least here on Earth), the universe is a stunningly complex place. Did all of this matter evolve independently, or was it guided by a larger force – as proponents of intelligent design believe? With the debate raging in living rooms, classrooms and courtrooms, the stakes are high when it comes to determining intelligent design’s merit.

    What is wrong with this definition: that the development of the universe was guided by a larger force? How is this not a perfectly workable description of ID? You can’t claim that ID isn’t described at all—it is. If you don’t like the description, then address it; but don’t act as if it isn’t there.

    Jay spends his time trying to redefine ’science’, implying that he has to redefine ’science’ in order for ID to be able to be considered part of ’science’. That, in turn, implies that ID is not science as its defined…

    Neither Jay nor myself are redefining science. We are pointing out that scientist fundamentalists like yourself are mistaken in believing that there is some kind of exclusive definition for science which precludes ID in the first place. If you want to deny this, please interact with the comments I made regarding scientific and philosophical inference. Is scientific inference not distinguished by being abductive and empirical? If not, why not? If so, is ID not an abductive and empirical inference? If not, why not? If so, then why do you deny its scientific standing? You haven’t engaged with anything I’ve written; you’ve just posted a blanket denial, which is the very thing which Jay and my arguments are directed toward! You really appear to not have read, or at least not have comprehended, anything which has been said.

    Addendum: I’m struck by how DBT’s post and Thinking Matters Talk seems remarkably similar.

    Do you mean my comment here, or the post on my blog? I hope the former, since the latter explicitly states at the top: “This article was originally published on Thinking Matters Talk”. I’m not sure what the problem is with expanding a comment here into an article on a blog, though.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  35. I read that, but thought it had nothing to with Jay’s piece. That “description” didn’t define ID. It also wasn’t part of Jay’s letter and neither refer to eachother. In fact, the title that Jay’s post “answers to” and the title of the “description” are different, implying he’s replying to something else. I’m under the impression its unrelated, but just happens to be on the same page (it happens). Moot point anyway, since its not a definition and Jay doesn’t define ID or refer to a definition himself.

    “but don’t act as if it isn’t there” Don’t put words in others’ mouths, please. I’m not a straw man and like I said, I saw it.

    “Neither Jay nor myself are redefining science.” Erm, both you of both are: whether you recognise that is another matter. Its more obvious with Jay, for what its worth, but you’ve effectively said that you are earlier in this thread when you tried to exclude falsibility on waht are to me rather dubious grounds (to be polite).

    I’d didn’t see your remark on your blog that you were repeating/reposting others’ words. The CSS on that portion of your blog doesn’t render properly on my browser: it wraps around in an overlapping fashion, hiding the words, so it appears jumbled.

    Like

  36. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Heraclides, if my comments regarding falsifiability are dubious, then engage with them. You continue to avoid actually interacting with anything which has been said.

    May I ask what browser you are running, and at what resolution? I’d like to correct that wrapping problem if I can.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  37. (Apologies if this turns out to be a double post)

    Bnonn said…”How is this not a perfectly workable description of ID?”

    The key word here is “work”.
    You haven’t provided a scientific definition of ID.
    Nobody ever has. Nobody ever will.
    Certainly not CNNZ.

    Without it, a scientist can’t do any work.
    A scientist can’t do any research.
    You haven’t defined it. So it’s impossible to get cracking in the lab or start making predictions.
    ID is just word salad.
    It’s a science stopper.

    Bnonn continues…” science which precludes ID in the first place.”

    Total rubbish.

    What Is The Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design?
    http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hangar/2437/idtheory.htm

    Like

  38. “You continue to avoid actually interacting with anything which has been said.” If you keep trying to palm me off with words like these, honestly, why on earth should I bother? Its the second time you’ve tried more-or-less exactly the same lines. This has to be the most pathetic way of dismissing facing someone’s points I’ve seen in quite a while.

    If you can’t see the connection, you can’t see the connection: that’s not something I’m doing.

    Like

  39. Perhaps if you could point me to where you have interacted with my comments regarding the nature of scientific inference, and the nature of the ID inference, Heraclides, we could dispense with the bluster. You don’t appear to have presented any arguments—at all. If I’ve missed them, I apologize; but all I see so far are assertions and ad hominem. Same with Cedric. How come no one here is engaging with those two key words: abductive and empirical? How come no one has pointed out why I am in error regarding my doubt that scientific inferences must necessarily be falsifiable? If my original argument was so weak, then why have none of you done anything except repeat, ad nauseum, the assertions that it refutes? Where are your arguments?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  40. Intelligent Design is not scientific, it never has been. How could a 2000 year old argument be scientific when it was devised before the ground rules for modern science were ever set? And for anyone confused by the statement that ID is two millenia old, it is simply the modernized and secularized form of the teleological argument.

    Like

  41. (…can’t seem to get my post through…)

    Bnonn said…”How come no one has pointed out why I am in error regarding my doubt that scientific inferences must necessarily be falsifiable?”

    If you don’t like it then…what’s your workable alternative?

    How can a scientist do any kind of work at all without falsifiability?
    A scientist goes into the lab or into the field and does…what?
    What WORK is he or she seriously supposed to do?

    What exactly is ID? Dunno.
    How can you test it? Dunno.

    All you’re doing is waving you’re hands in the air.
    Remember Feynman.
    ……………………………………………………….

    In 1974 Feynman delivered the Caltech commencement address on the topic of cargo cult science, which has the semblance of science but is only pseudoscience due to a lack of “a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty” on the part of the scientist. He instructed the graduating class that “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.”

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

    Like

  42. @41: Post 41 is an attempt to write people off! 🙂 Go, on: re-read it.

    Your original post busied itself on about something other than the main issue, which I picked up on. Excuse me for this, but if you can’t handle that, honestly that’s your problem not mine. (I pointed out that you, like Jay, were busy going on about “Y”, then somehow trying to make out that it said something about “X” without ever saying anything about “X” at all.)

    Don’t ask me to “address” what I think is irrelevant. Why should I? I’m not your puppet 😉 If you want an argument to be a Punch and Judy show run by a single puppeter–one puppet on each hand, controlling both sides–you can do that all by yourself! 🙂 I’ll address what I see as relevant. You can’t dictate the argument 😉

    re” “ad hominem”: No, I didn’t, and AGAIN you are trying to make out that I did things I didn’t. (Which, ironically, has YOU issuing ad hominem‘s at me.) Go on, show me where I out-and-out attacked a person in this thread. Sure, I’ve criticised what some people have written or said. Absolutely. But I haven’t called people names or tried to plant actions or words on others.

    I’m tempted to presume you’re writing that because you’re concerned how readers of your blog see my posts, so you’re resorting to “painting me black”. (Food for thought.)

    (As if somehow that would make what I wrote wrong, but it wouldn’t: words should stand by what was written, not who wrote them. I’m increasingly of the opinion that “who said”, as opposed to “what was said” has a great deal to do with how Christianity creates, or gets itself into, trouble but that’s a long story and this isn’t my blog.)

    “How come no one here is engaging with those two key words: abductive and empirical?” I can’t speak for others, but perhaps others, like me, see your line of “argument” as trying to say something about “X” while only talking about “Y”?

    Others all over the internet have pointed out how ID appears to not really be a theory of anything, so much as a series of attacks on science. You can attack science (Y) all you like: until you talk about ID (X), it won’t make a jot of difference to showing ID to have merit or not.

    I’m reminded of the review of This book I saw on a pro_ID website. I didn’t read the body of their review, but they presented a long list of “objections”. Not a single one put up a positive element “for” ID, every last one was an “attack” on science. I thought that list was very telling. Although they weren’t saying so explicitly, they where very clearly showing to me that ID was nothing more than an attack on science.

    As for my not going into falsibility: Alison already had when I wrote and at the time I didn’t see the need to repeat. Cedric has now also added comments regards this.

    The bulk of my work is falsifying my own ideas. Getting the ideas is the easy bit (although getting good ideas can involve a lot work). Doing the “positive” side of the work isn’t trivial, but its only a minor portion of the total work. Most of time is spent trying to test your idea with every objection you can (within reason: we’re only human, and budgets and skills are limited). If it stands up to scrutiny, then you might have something worth showing others.

    If you aren’t going to critically examine your ideas, then the ideas could be completely worthless and you wouldn’t know.

    Your dismissal of falsibilty essentially is asking–cutting to the chase–that ID not be critically examined. I can’t see how you can not know that you’re looking at “Y” (science), wanting to define Y a particular way so that you can say something of “X” (ID), without adddressing “X”. It seems too obvious for you not to know this is what you’re doing. All I, and I presume others, are doing is cutting to the chase.

    I notice you still haven’t posted my comments on your blog.

    Like

  43. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    I’m just a thick-witted old scientist, Bnonn, so you will have to be patient and explain your ID ideas simply. I do rely on evidence and reason, rather than vague philosophical claims and hand-waving.

    So going back to simple steps (I’ll leave aside you “falsifiability” claims as I just find them laughable – from a scientific viewpoint):

    1: So we have your “simple thesis”: “that the universe, or some part thereof, was designed” by a god. (Of course, realistically, I should ask you to present this in the form of hypotheses – about, eg, design/pattern and designer/intelligent agent. But putting that aside for a moment);

    2: Next step (which should actually have come first) – What are the ’empirical data” you have started from?

    You can surely appreciate that without the empirical data (not just a claim that there is such data) this is really no point in going any further (and there is still a way to go to properly warrant the “scientific” claim).

    Like

  44. @ Cedric Katesby:

    Your comments were ending up in spam, Cedric. I can’t work our why. Hopefully I have restored them but recomment if this hasn’t worked (I sometimes end up deleting the spam accidentally).

    Like

  45. Gentlemen, I have been quite explicit that I am concerned with the thesis of ID as a scientific inference; not a theory, not an hypothesis—an inference. That is all. I have given reasons for why it is a valid scientific inference, and why it is prejudicial to dismiss it as such. The only replies I seem to have received are either in the vein that ID is not scientific at all (an assertion in search of an argument, which runs aground on my original comments); or that ID is not a scientific theory (an assertion irrevelant to my original comments, and with which I probably agree).

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  46. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    I am quite aware of your claim for inference rather than theory. It is actually a very salient feature of ID proponents’ attempts to redefine science and to attempt (rather unsuccessfully) to claim a scientific label for their theology.

    I am posting an article on this use of inference on Monday am which will go into some detail about this hand waving.

    Like

  47. Dominic B.T.:

    I now see that you have now deleted my comments on your blog. Whimpy 🙂

    Yes, I know you have your own rules, but I find them whimpy too 🙂 Judgement on people’s words should be based on their words, not who they are or appear to be to you, surely. Its actually one of several reasons why I choose use the alias: hopefully it’d help make the focus be what I write, not who I am (or not).

    @47: Any hypothesis, ID included, remains “unscientific” until someone demonstrates that it is. That’s up to supporters of ID to do. Until that’s done, by default, it’ll be unscientific, just like anything else that hasn’t (yet) been demonstrated to be scientific. Things don’t get to be considered “scientific” because someone would sort-of like them to be. They get to be considered scientific because some people do the work to show that they are.

    To tackle this, you’d first want to remove all the attacks on science or attempts to redefine science: they don’t define ID and in fact undermine, if not outright dismiss, any reason for it to be considered seriously. (I’m under the impression this may even remove all of ID!) You then want to define ID itself, something I’ve yet to see done properly. Then you get to show how you got to that point & why (the underpinning evidence, suporting arguments, etc). And so on.

    A key point is that you’ll have to stop talking about what science is or isn’t, or what words mean or don’t, and start talking about ID itself. This is, of course, why I wrote what I did earlier.

    As for running around arguments, I didn’t: I just pointed out what I saw as relevant that you were leaving out. I could accuse you of trying to “run around” my point, y’know 😉

    I’ll be interested to see what you have to say, Ken. I’ll try stay out of the way until then-I have written a bit too much on your blog lately…! (I hope I haven’t overdone it.)

    Like

  48. Be fair guys. The ‘inference’/’theory’ distinction is valid, I think – and not automatically ‘hand waving’, Ken. The fair thing to do would be to ask DBT what he means by a scientific inference – meaning, what makes the inference ‘scientific’?

    Like

  49. Well Ken, if you want to generalize my comments I will do my best to interact with that; but I’d ask you to recall that I was originally speaking specifically to Dale’s contention that ID is a philosophical as opposed to scientific inference.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  50. Cheers DBT,
    I’m following your distinction(s), and am (still) curious how you would demonstrate how this inference is a ‘scientific’ one.

    To briefly consider this, think of one of ID’s classic examples: the bacterial flagellum.

    Behe’s notion of ‘irreducible complexity’ is deconstructive in nature. It suggested that (for example) the flagellum could not have ‘constructed’ itself – that the ‘parts’ (allegedly non-functional outside of the complete system – but maybe Behe forgot about things like the Type III secretory system which is formed from a small fraction of the parts of his flagellum?) could not survive ‘on their own’. Therefore, it must have been somehow ‘designed’ by a ‘designer’.

    Now, this assertion is more-or-less, for better or worse (to coin a phrase?) ‘scientifically-worded’: it makes use of (in this case) a scientific description of the detail of the make-up of a bacterial flagellum.

    But the design inference doesn’t need this kind of wording or detailed observations. One can look at a leaf, ant or human and (philosophically) infer design. The use of scientific wording (detail/descriptions/etc.) does not make the conclusion (‘must have been designed’) a ‘scientific’ one…

    Does this help?

    Like

  51. Heya Dale, I agree that there are still issues to be addressed. Probably the main one is whether an inference is scientific until there is a way to falsify it. I think that real problems arise if one denies this, but I’ll wait and see what Ken has to say tomorrow before commenting further.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  52. @ Dale:

    Of course ‘inference’ is distinct from ‘theory’. The hand waving used by the ID proponents actually attempt to remove that distinction. To give ‘inference’ the same status as ‘theory’.

    My understanding is that DBT wants to define an ‘inference’ as scientific by claiming the inference is from empirical data. I would like him to take us through the different stages from his inference to ‘scientific’. Currently I am waiting for his response to my question about the ’empirical data’ for the ID ‘inference’. Then we can get on to the next step because ‘inference’ with or without empirical data is not, by itself, scientific.

    Like

  53. Indeed. I’d quite like to see some ’empirical data’ for ID myself. And I don’t mean material from the DiscoInst’s in-house ‘journal’, given its complete lack of independent peer review (& the laughable nature of some of the ‘experiments’ reported therein).

    Like

  54. Pingback: Is intelligent design science? A response to Ken Perrott : Thinking Matters Talk

  55. Pingback: Dominic Bnonn Tennant » Is intelligent design science? A response to Ken Perrott

  56. I have to admit what I was going to write to Dale and DBT last night, was that “debating” if the inference was “scientific” or “philosophical” is moot, as ID isn’t an inference to start with. (Inference: ‘a conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning.’)

    But that might have lead DBT in particular to start up the word-games Ken’s new article refers to.

    I’d post on DBT’s blog about his new article, except he deleted my previous posts, which I imagine sets a trend for him. Oh hail, the great censor 😉 (Hey, I’m allowed to have some fun.) Anyway, I’ve explained my position on that earlier in post 49.

    If I’ve time I’ll put a reply in the appropriate thread on this forum instead. But a quick note in the meantime. DBT says “If answer (1) is scientific, then answer (2) is as well” but somehow never mentions anywhere in his post about evidence underpinning things as being important… The difference isn’t in the word games DBT played with these two phrases, but in the evidence underpinning them, specific the abundance evidence for the former and sheer lack of evidence for the latter. (The evidence is, of course, the reason why statement (1) could be made; this evidence can’t be transferred to (2) by swopping words around.)

    So we’re back to defining ID and showing evidence for it again. Precisely why I tried to cut to the chase earlier…

    DBT’s conclusion is full of contradictions and generally a mess. I’ll deal with that some other time if someone else doesn’t first.

    Like

  57. Heraclides, when addressing the question, “What is the best explanation for the appearance of design in the universe?” what specific evidences are you thinking of in support of the view that naturalistic processes are the best answer?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  58. DBT, shame on you for deleting comments.

    “What is the best explanation for the appearance of design in the universe?”

    Well, think about it this way….
    http://www.waleg.com/archives/000371.html

    Is it the object or is it just the people?

    Like

  59. DBT:

    Get yourself to a library and do your own homework, I’m not your lackey. There are literally hundreds of books providing the background. BUT you’ll find evolution is taken as a whole, not from a handful of isolated examples or whatnot.

    Now you’re behaving like a troll.

    Sorry, but I’ve seen this ploy before. Either you get back a few isolated cases which is trivial to abuse or you ask for more than people have time for. The obvious solution is for you to do you homework.

    You can’t criticise what you don’t understand. If you don’t already understand, then your criticism is moot. So why ask me for examples: if you are genuinely in a position to criticise, you’ll already know them. If don’t, then you’re not in a position to criticise.

    A small sample of examples very obviously can’t speak for all evolution. Think about it. How many different kinds of life are there? Different types of life have different life histories and consequently different speciation issues.

    Just like my cutting to the chase earlier, I’m looking ahead here as I’ve seen this path before.

    What’s really important is this:

    It shows how little you have to support ID, that you have to avoid defining ID or presenting evidence for ID, by trying constantly trying to keep the focus on science and evolution. (Can you now see the extent I’ve seen this ploy before?)

    That you persistently won’t focus on ID rather strongly implies that ID is vapourware, or rather that, it only consists of an attack on evolution rather than anything of substance itself. Its exactly like the example of book review I gave earlier. That you only address “the other side”, says that all you have: an attack on evolution. You don’t have anything “for” ID. You’re welcome to prove me wrong.

    As for the evidence for evolution, like I said: take yourself to a library. I’m not stupid enough to try drag a horse that so obviously refuses to drink to water when an endless source of water surrounds it.

    Here’s for starters, but you’ll have to drink (read) for yourself.

    Mayr, Gould, Zimmer, Margulis, Lewin, Futuyma, Davidson, Weiner (e.g. The Beak of the Finch), Shubin (Your Inner Fish), and literally countless others give “softer” accounts for those not used to reading the scientific literature.

    Hell, even wikipedia, for all its flaws, has some starter material (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution). It even has, shock, horror… examples.

    Like

  60. To be fair to DBT, he does have an excuse for deleting comments, its just one I don’t agree with. I don’t actually expect him to accept my posts given his rules: my complaint as such is more with the rules themselves, than the blocking of posts.

    He claims to insist on real names, and posts without them will be deleted, but words really ought to be judged on what the words say, not the name of who wrote them. Sure, words can have context, but a person’s name itself isn’t a context for their words.

    Silly thing is that it’d be trivial to come up with a false “real name”, but I don’t like the idea in case it proves to be someone’s real name.

    I don’t mind if people are up-front their blog rule and are open and honest about the reasons why they do it. Its their blog after all. Its just the reasons he gives don’t stack up to me. But that’s me, I guess.

    Like

  61. Heraclides, I asked you,

    Heraclides, when addressing the question, “What is the best explanation for the appearance of design in the universe?” what specific evidences are you thinking of in support of the view that naturalistic processes are the best answer?

    Notice that I did not ask you for evidence of evolution. It’s telling, however, that you seem to consider evolution to be if not the only, then at least the primary evidence against intelligent design. But how? What about evolution actually disproves intelligent design, even from a purely biological point of view, and ignoring cosmological questions? Is it not true that many people who believe in evolution also believe in intelligent design?

    You don’t seem to have actually understood the argument I made in my most recent response to Ken. That’s unfortunate, though also unsurprising. I can only suggest re-reading it, as I’m not inclined to repeat myself ad nauseum given your history of reading incomprehension.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  62. I told you before that I look ahead to where you’re going. I did so in my last post, too.

    BTW: YOU wrote “naturalistic processes” in that question. YOU earlier distinguished ID from naturalistic processes yourself. Etc., etc. I guess you “forget” your own arguments. But then, lets see, we have a youth, who on falling for a religious girl, “converts” and now thinks he knows all about life, when he’s barely lived. Including thinking he knows so much about science he’s obviously never studied that he can tell others “how it is”. Really smart. (Not.) Very obviously you have a lot to learn, and not just from a textbook.

    “You don’t seem to have actually understood the argument I made in my most recent response to Ken.”

    Actually I do, its just I think ahead to where this is going. Just like Ken did in his more recent post. We’ve been around the block more than you have 😉

    “though also unsurprising” “your history of reading incomprehension”

    But given you wish to be patronising on top of the rest of your many faults, forget it. I have better things to do. You lose, that’s what resorting to that sort of thing is. Its giving up and attacking the person. Every time I’ve seen a creationist boxed in with logic, that exactly what they resort to. They give up and attack the person.

    Like

  63. Heraclides, avoiding my arguments on the basis that you think you “know where they’re going” is still avoiding them. You have consistently refused to interact with any of the actual philosophical reasoning I’ve provided for my position, and which speaks for itself in refuting your oft-repeated assertions.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  64. If you can’t figure out how to get from what you say to what I do, perhaps you should consider that you can’t figure out how to get from what you say to what I do.

    ” You have consistently refused to interact with any of the actual philosophical reasoning” – Not true, I’m afraid, I simply am not interested in things that are irrelevant as I already have told you several times. I allso did explain why they are not relevant earlier. (You are travelling in circles, going back to the point before it was explained to you, another common trait I’ve seen in creationists arguing with others). If you can’t see the relevance after its been explained to you, that’s really not my problem.

    Please don’t direct any more posts to me, thank you. I have no further interest in you.

    Like

  65. Heraclides,
    I think you should take a 5-min walk before each of your posts. 😀 I know blogging can be frustrating, but your constant sarcasm doesn’t help real engagement.
    Now shall you loose your venom on me because I dared point this out?…

    Like

  66. BDT said:

    Heraclides, when addressing the question, “What is the best explanation for the appearance of design in the universe?” what specific evidences are you thinking of in support of the view that naturalistic processes are the best answer?

    Notice that I did not ask you for evidence of evolution. It’s telling, however, that you seem to consider evolution to be if not the only, then at least the primary evidence against intelligent design. But how? What about evolution actually disproves intelligent design, even from a purely biological point of view, and ignoring cosmological questions? Is it not true that many people who believe in evolution also believe in intelligent design?

    The theory of evolution, and the overwhelming evidence from a range of different areas in science, is the best current explanation for what you choose to call the appearance of design ie the diversity of life and the way that natural selection shapes living things. For some reason you now want to re-shape this to imply that evolution is evidence against ID. Evolution per se doesn’t disprove ID, that’s not the way things work. But science itself disproves ID – as far as it’s capable of disproof: as I’ve said before, where ‘goddidit’ is the ultimate explanation, it rather kills off scientific enquiry! As far as I’m aware, none of the so-called evidence for intelligent design has stood up to any sort of serious scientific scrutiny. Dale & Heraclides have talked about this in previous posts & I’m not going to repeat it here.

    And can we please distinguish between acceptance & belief? I accept evolution as an explanation for life’s diversity, because on the basis of currently available information it is the best scientific model we have. ‘Belief’ implies faith, and from what I’ve seen doens’t necessarily have to have any evidence underpinning it. For example, BDT, you seem perfectly happy to profess a belief in ID but have yet to produce any evidence whatsoever to suggest that this belief is based on anything more than faith.

    Like

  67. 67: I don’t write with sarcasm 😉 “Thanks” for shifting the “tone” of my posts after the fact… I write literally. Excuse me for that, but I don’t like people re-working my posts, including giving them another tone 😉

    (My final few posts to DBT do include giving him a good clip on the head, but he deserves that much.)

    For example:

    If you can’t figure out how to get from what you say to what I do, perhaps you should consider that you can’t figure out how to get from what you say to what I do.

    – is a literal statement. I could write it with sarcasm if I wanted to. Like pre-pending the likes of “well, lookie…”, etc. Instead its a straight statement.

    Sure, my logic is hard on him, but that’s what you should expect from someone honestly putting the points without beating around or putting in flowery language.

    Forgive me for this, but for others (i.e. you!) to read sarcasm into literal statements, may say much more about how they are approaching the post than anything else, i.e. biasing the reading of it before even starting to read. An irony of this is rather than suggesting I should take a walk, perhaps its that you should discard any preemptive bais before your reading my posts and read them as they are written…? 😉

    I have no need to “take a walk” in the sense of calming down either 🙂 I’m not particularly concerned about DBT, in fact I don’t really give much of a toss about him. From long experience, I’ve learnt to use the “lurkers” as my target audience, so that whatever offensive idiocies creationists write don’t bother me personally. I just consider them things to reveal to the lurkers. If the lurkers get to see these, then I consider the effort worthwhile.

    Its also a pragmatic thing. I’d say it’d be very exceptional for a creationist to change their stance from an internet “discussion”. All those I have read who changed their stance did so on their own via reading, working in an environment that taught them otherwise, etc. I’m not expecting DBT to change a jot.

    The great thing I think about creationists posting on the internet is that they show themselves to be cranks, which puts people off wanting to be like them.

    I once read the replies to someone asking posters how they feel about evangelistic Christian posts on another forum. What was very striking was the huge number of lurkers that popped up to say that the evangelists posts were very disconcerting and put them off any form of Christianity.

    Since I read that thread, I’ve always borne its message in mind when “arguing” with creationists.

    Like

  68. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    The theory of evolution, and the overwhelming evidence from a range of different areas in science, is the best current explanation for what you choose to call the appearance of design ie the diversity of life and the way that natural selection shapes living things.

    Alison, in what way does the theory of evolution—a biological theory—address the sorts of cosmological fine-tuning arguments which make up a significant aspect of the ID thesis?

    But science itself disproves ID – as far as it’s capable of disproof: as I’ve said before, where ‘goddidit’ is the ultimate explanation, it rather kills off scientific enquiry!

    I don’t see how. (i) Even assuming that goddidit does undermine scientific inquiry, in what way does this prove that goddidit is an invalid thesis? You’re begging the question. (ii) Since goddidit deals with different kinds of causes (supernatural) to science (natural), in what way does it undermine scientific inquiry at all? I believe that God causes and upholds all natural phenomena, from weather events to the movement of the stars (Job 38). Does this preclude me from investigating and affirming the natural mechanisms by which he upholds these? Are you aware that the scientific revolution was founded on Christian supernatural assumptions (how could a PhD scientist not be aware of this)? You are drawing a false dichotomy if you believe that theistic suppositions are a hindrance to scientific inquiry; on the contrary, they underwrite that inquiry. You should know that, so it bemuses me that you would forward such a jejune and disingenuous objection.

    And can we please distinguish between acceptance & belief? I accept evolution as an explanation for life’s diversity, because on the basis of currently available information it is the best scientific model we have. ‘Belief’ implies faith, and from what I’ve seen doens’t necessarily have to have any evidence underpinning it. For example, BDT, you seem perfectly happy to profess a belief in ID but have yet to produce any evidence whatsoever to suggest that this belief is based on anything more than faith.

    You seem to have forgotten our exchange of a few months ago where we talked about the definition of knowledge as justified (or warranted) belief. I don’t mean to sound rude, but have you really thought through what I just quoted? Belief, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing”. Do you not have confidence that evolution is the best scientific explanation for the diversity of life? Or perhaps you are more comfortable with definition 3: “conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence”. How is your “acceptance” of evolution not a belief, by that definition?

    More importantly, your “acceptance” of evolution is itself based on numerous other beliefs which are faith commitments. You believe in evolution because you believe in the scientific method. This in turn commits you to believing in the regularity of nature—an assumption you cannot prove. It commits you to believing in the reliability of your cognitive faculties—an assumption you cannot prove. Again, I don’t mean to sound rude, but when a PhD biologist starts talking about “evidence” as if it only applies to empirical data; when she obviously doesn’t realize that “evidence” is actually data (whether empirical or logical) interpreted according to some presupposed assumptions; and when she doesn’t seem to realize that these presuppositions are necessarily faith commitments (however reasonable they may seem)…it reflects poorly on scientists in general. If you are representative of most evolutionary scientists, then your terrible (no offense) education in matters of fundamental import to the questions you’re weighing in on is a real impediment to dialog. You quite evidently don’t even know enough to know that you don’t know enough. Again, I don’t mean to be offensive, and I don’t expect you to be a philosopher as well as a scientist—but what kind of scientist doesn’t understand the basic foundations of her discipline? What kind of scientist tries to argue philosophical matters when she doesn’t even understand the basic terms being used in the discussion?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  69. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    “Alison, in what way does the theory of evolution—a biological theory—address the sorts of cosmological fine-tuning arguments which make up a significant aspect of the ID thesis?” – this is an unacceptable cop-out – an attempt to avoid the discussion. Alison was clearly referring to living organisms. Cosmological ‘fine tuning’, and ‘fine tuning’ in general, is a scientific issue – not specific to ID.

    This is like Ben Stein’s criticism of “Darwinism” – it can’t explain gravity!! Surely you can see that response is pathetic.

    Such evasions indicates to me that you actually either don’t wish to engage with specific discussion, or are avoiding it because you don’t understand the specific issues.

    When, for example, are you going to respond to my specific question about the “empirical data” which you argue enables you to called the ID “inference” scientific?

    Like

  70. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Sorry Ken, I don’t see how pointing out that ID is not a specifically biological thesis is a “cop-out”. The probabilities of various mutations occurring in evolution in such a way as to produce human life are very low; but they are nothing compared to the probabilities of various cosmological variables obtaining with values favorable to human life. For example, according to William Lane Craig, “Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of our universe’s low entropy condition obtaining by chance alone are on the order of 1:10^10(123)”. Now, that number is so astronomical that the calculation would have to be inconceivably far off before the ID thesis is threatened. Craig again:

    For example, the odds of our solar system’s being formed instantly by the random collision of particles is about 1:10^10(60), a vast number, but inconceivably smaller than 10^10(123). (Penrose calls it ‘utter chicken feed’ by comparison [The Road to Reality (Knopf, 2005), pp. 762-5]).

    This is the sort of empirical data which naturally supports an inference that the universe was designed. Either it was designed, or it was not; if it was not, then the obvious alternative is that these specific conditions obtain by chance. Since the probability of these conditions obtaining is so unbelievably low, by corollary it is very likely that the universe was designed.

    There is, of course, a great deal of such data, and none of the examples which come to mind are specifically relevant to evolution (which is why Alison’s and Heraclides’ responses were simply non-sequiturs to me). For example, the specific location of our solar system in the galaxy; the specific magnitude of our sun; the specific distance of the earth from it; the specific rotation and tilt of the earth; the specific kind of moon it has; the specific orbit of this moon; the specific amount of water on earth… Any of these variables alone suggests a low probability of human life developing, even given the vastness of the universe—but when they are combined, we see a situation in which, in a purely naturalistic universe, by rights we should not exist. Especially when combined with cosmological variables like entropy, the strong and weak forces, gravity, etc—which, out of the very large range of possible values for each, would prevent human life obtaining if even slightly different—we can plainly see a situation in which it is far more likely that patently absurd things should obtain (like solar systems being formed instantly by a random collision of particles) than human life. Thus, abductively, the most rational, reasonable inference is that this specific universe did not obtain by chance, but was designed to support human life.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  71. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    I take it from your reply that you either do not wish to use biological “empirical data”, (or are unable to find any) to support your claim that your ‘ID inference’ is scientific. Because all you have done is use the typical ID ploy of claiming (incorrectly) that evolution cannot explain something (“The probabilities of various mutations occurring in evolution in such a way as to produce human life are very low”) – the very tactic you criticised ID proponents for in your recent post.

    I give up on that request. Instead let’s assume you are using the ‘fine tuning’ argument, the specific values of cosmological and standard model theory constants as your ’empirical data’ to claim that your wider ID ‘inference’ is scientific. That will enable us go on to the next step.

    You have ‘inferred’ “that the universe was designed.” I’ll assume you mean by some sort of intelligent being. I could, of course ‘infer’ lots of other things from that ’empirical data’ ranging from some sort of intelligence as in this cartoon (LHC)- to quantum fluctuations, vacuum energy, big bangs, eternal universes with periodic ‘big bangs’, etc., etc. We can also ‘infer’ ideas relating to the very nature of matter and energy (for example all these constant are, beneath it all, related and therefore cannot vary in the way you imagine).

    So the next, step (and this is what starts to make it science) is to formulate hypotheses. We all know this is being done these days. Many of these hypotheses have actually been tested and either rejected or included in our developing theories of the formation and development of our universe. You cannot have missed the news coverage of the LHC and the relevance this instrument will have for testing some of our current ideas about the early stages of our universe – or indeed about the very nature of matter/energy/space (words used in the widest possible way) itself.

    Notice how we can go from ‘inference’ to hypotheses, experiment, testing, theory and further testing and validation of our theories against reality. And humanity is doing this. What use is a ‘science’ which doesn’t do this? Would you board a plane designed and built using principles derived only from ‘inference’, without any subsequent scientific hypotheses, testing, theory, etc.?

    But also notice that the ID proponents stop with the ‘inference’. They can worry and misrepresent the fine tuning of cosmological and standard model theory but they stop there. They don’t even say “I don’t know” (which is the common scientific response – usually followed by “let’s find out”). They say “we do know – God did it.” No reason to do any more work. “No reason to advance a testable hypothesis because we have (and always have had) the answer.” Come on – we know that doesn’t work.

    The fine tuning issue is often misrepresented. I have discussed this elsewhere – Fine tuning argument – so won’t divert the argument further here.

    But – my question is. What hypotheses are being proposed to convert your ID ‘inference’ (still only a belief or only an idea) into something which can be tested and validated? In the way that non-ID ‘inferences’ are currently being tested? Until you step out on that path you cannot honestly claim ID to be ‘scientific.’

    Like

  72. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Ken, I never claimed to use biological data in support of intelligent design. I don’t think it’s the best approach. I also didn’t claim that evolution cannot explain human life, or that it is impossible to have produced it; I said that the probabilities of all the mutations occurring as necessary are simply very low—which to the best of my knowledge is an accurate representation. It was an off-hand remark; it concerns me that you continually read everything I say in the most suspicious and cynical light possible, instead of doing the charitable thing and granting me the benefit of the doubt.

    Equally, I am quite obviously using the fine-tuning argument. This is, in fact, an argument based on empirical data (cosmological data); it draws an abductive inference of design from that data, and I would argue that it’s the only reasonable inference which can be drawn.

    As regards getting from inference to hypothesis, do I need to remind you yet again that I have never claimed that ID is a scientific hypothesis? Do I need to remind you that, in fact, I expressed my doubt as to whether ID can be considered a scientific hypothesis or theory at all? Remember how the exact reason I used the term inference was to point out that ID might not necessarily get to the point of being an hypothesis, but that it is nonetheless reasonable as far as inferences from data go?

    Having said that, is it, or is it not the case, that scientists are attempting to falsify the idea that the universe developed through purely random and naturalistic processes?

    If not, why not? But if so, then in what way are they not already testing for intelligent design?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  73. @ Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

    “inference of design from that data, and I would argue that it’s the only reasonable inference which can be drawn.” – sure you would – it fits with your pre-conceived beliefs. But, the point is that a number of inferences can be drawn from that data. That’s why we don’t stop with inferences.

    I’m happy with you stopping at the inference stage. However, don’t claim anything more for it than it is. It has no more value than a personal belief or superstition. It is not science. Your assertion of a scientific inference just doesn’t hold water.

    There are a number of hypotheses currently being tested for universe origins/evolution and fundamental nature of matter. Some of them wildly speculative. But the important thing is that they are being tested. It causes considerable anguish to honest scientists when their brilliant ideas/hypotheses can’t be tested for one reason or another (technological, funding, etc.). By the very nature of probing the unknown our concepts, hypotheses and theories are not naturalistic (in the dictionary sense of known and understood). I believe you are using that word (naturalistic) as a surrogate for testing with evidence.

    No, nobody is testing for intelligent design – specifically because there is no hypothesis to test. Believe me, if there was and there was a chance of confirming an ID theory people would flow into the area with the visions of lavish funding and Noble prizes. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with such a radical breakthrough – if it were genuine and not the current fraud. However, even the DI’s Biologic Institute has not acknowledged testing any real ID hypothesis.

    Like

  74. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Tell me something if you would, Ken. Do you consider the uniformity of nature to be a scientific inference? Do you consider the notion of philosophical naturalism to be scientific? If not, do you think that they have no more value than a personal belief or superstition?

    Now, I didn’t ask you before if anyone is testing for intelligent design per se. I asked whether “scientists are attempting to falsify the idea that the universe developed through purely random and naturalistic processes”. And I repeat the question now.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

    Like

  75. DBT, as Ken’s said, you’re not dealing directly with my comments. I was clearly talking about living things. And it’s a straw man worthy of Ben Stein himself to complain/imply that evolution can’t/won’t address cosmological questions – of course evolution can’t do this, & evolutionary biologists have never claimed otherwise!

    And similarly, cosmology is a scientific issue – & mainstream cosmologists don’t accept the anthropocentric ID viewpoint any more than evolutionary biologists do (Guillermo Gonzalez & his Priviledged Planet notwithstanding). Your comments on probability have been made by others; and equally, they’ve been dissected fairly thoroughly by people with better maths than mine. But I would remind you that the probability of these events is small – but it’s NOT ZERO.

    I haven’t forgotten our earlier exchange on acceptance & belief. And given that I lecture on history of science, I am very well aware that science had its origins in ‘a christian worldview’ – in the sense that many (but not all) scientists also had a theological background. This does not mean that modern science incorporates a christian worldview. If it did, we’d still be at the point of a geocentric universe, for example. The rest of your comments are an ad hominem attack (if you didn’t intend to be rude then you wouldn’t have made them) & I see no particular reason why I should respond to them. You have no knowledge of my background, training, personal faith or anything else beyond what’s available on the web, but seem to be making unsupported assumptions about them on the basis that we have divergent attitudes to science.

    Like

  76. @ alison:

    “I lecture on history of science, I am very well aware that science had its origins in ‘a christian worldview’ “ – how extensively is this subject (history of science) taught these days? It’s always interested me but we just didn’t get the opportunity in my days.

    On this specific issue (role of Chrsitianity) have you followed the debate between AC Grayling & Steve Fuller (Origin of the specious and the two follow-up articles)? Grayling really takes issue with the overemphasis of Christian input into modern science – although he doesn’t really mention the early Muslim input (a subject which I also find interesting and must read more about).

    It’s a harsh debate but I really enjoyed Graylings style.

    Like

  77. 78 – 67 = 11 posts (and long ones) since I posted… Work/study have me far too busy to meaningfully contribute, I’ll try if I have time…

    Like

  78. 79: I wouldn’t bother, DBT post’s are fundamentally dishonest, even if only to himself. His apparently erudite words are just posturing, a smoke-screen if you like. For a little while the words make him look different, but in the end he’s just the same as otehr creationists just with a different line in bluster.

    If you manage to box him in, very likely he’ll just start behaving like he did to me, dismiss things out of hand, write silly put-downs and start travelling in circles. I’ve cornered several creationists and it has always been the same.

    One of the strengths of science is that if something is shown to be wrong, you can accept it. My guess is that (strict) creationists aren’t able to accept ID/creationism as wrong, or accept evolution as right, as admitting either would be to deny their world-view. It’d explain why they behave they way they do when boxed in. For the same reason, they’ll deny they have gotten anything wrong (sidestep or just pretend it didn’t happen). Its a contradiction of their world-view to accept evolution, and for that matter to even honestly investigate it, so it would seem this sort of behaviour is pretty much inevitable in the end.

    Or put another way, Superman Returns is a hell of lot more interesting than DBT acting out a overly familiar pattern! 🙂

    Cheers.

    Like

  79. [Off-topic]

    Ken: http://royalsociety.org/news.asp?id=8008

    (Royal Society statement regarding Professor Michael Reiss)

    PZ Myers also has a thread on this. Seems he been asked to resign.

    Excuse my posting this here, but I’m having trouble locating a better thread! I thought you had one on teaching creationism in schools, but I’m not having luck locating it (but then I’m not trying hard either: work calls, etc).

    Like

  80. Whoops, I remember now, I was thinking of Alison’s blog! Oh, well…

    (I’ve left a very short post on your blog, Alison)

    Like

  81. Ken (#78) – history of science isn’t taught particularly extensively, as far as I know. And this is a pity as I think our students would gain considerable benefits from learning how science develops, all that NOS stuff, instead of simply ‘the facts’. I run a course on evolution & diversity of life & teach a section on history of science with a focus on development of evolutionary thought. One reason being that the science ed. literature indicates that students are more likely to get a real handle on evolution if they can see how the theory developed. (The other reason is that I really enjoy the topic anyway 🙂 )

    As I said, I don’t think we teach NOS particularly well, not at university & definitely not in the schools. Although things may change in the latter with the new school curriculum, which places nature of science right at the top as an organiser for everything else. The issue there, of course, is how well teachers will be resourced & supported to deliver on this.

    Yes, I’ve been following the Fuller/Grayling thing with interest. I agree that there’s an overemphasis on the link between christianity & science, to the detriment of our understanding of early scientific endeavours from elsewhere in the world.

    Like

  82. 78 & 83:

    Great to hear that you lecture on the history of science, Alison. My pea-body brain can’t remember if I’ve read that before or not. *Sigh* And I can’t remember for the life of me if I’ve written about this to you or not either, but its something that I wish was taught within science cources more (i.e. not separately, although that too is good). Ditto for the “nature of science” stuff.

    I did my post-grad at a university with a long history, surrounded by labs with history. One of the things that prompted me to realise was that one thing lacking in my undergrad courses were a lack of “how it happened”, in the sense of history. I tried to read odd bits about my own field to cover for some of that. (I’ve probably forgotten a lot of it by now.)

    To me, learning how things happened tells you the “why things are they way they are”.

    I think one of the reasons that older senior scientists are able to know a field well, is that they have seen the history of it unfold over their time, so that they understand why its come to the point that it currently is at, not just the logic within the individual papers.

    On a longer time scale there are interesting issues too, no doubt what you teach.

    I agree with the comment about historic science outside of “Christian” nations not being including in teaching or school books and the like. I have, for example, visited an early observatory in Central Asia.

    While I’m writing, are there any particular books on the history of science that you favour? I have a copy of Gribbin’s The Scientists that I’d find time for if I had a more sensible income (!). I suspect that’ll be more about the things done, rather than their context. And that its “soft”, its meant for a more general audience really. (I picked it up very cheap at a booksale, so feel free to dismiss it as worthless! In another sale I picked up Thinking about Science by Fischer and Lipson. I have a few others which I can probably email to you about to save people here the boredom….)

    (Perhaps I ought to be doing this on your blog?)

    Dinner calls…

    Like

  83. Hey, I don’t mind where we chat 😉 I enjoyed Gribbins “A history of science” (might be your “The scientists” under another name? It’s certainly for a general audience but it’s not too ‘soft’). You’ve probably read Bill Bryson’s book “A short history of almost everything”, which has some great teaser stories. Apart from that, I tend to read in the areas that interest me most. So, Janet Browne’s biography of Darwin (for me, the definitive biography) is much more than that, because it contains so much contextual information. The Desmond biography is OK but not – I think – as good as Browne’s. (Quite probably others would disagree!) Deborah Cadbury & Chris McGowan have both written on the way our understanding of dinosaurs developed (particularly in Europe) & offer some great cameos; one’s called “The dragon hunters” & the other’s “The dinosaur hunters”, but I’m writing from home & most of my library’s in my office at work so I can’t check! Carl Zimmer, who’s always excellent, has “Soul made flesh”, on the development of our understanding of the brain & how it works… Quite a few others but, as I say, the library is somewhere else!

    On a related topic, I’ve read the pseudogenes paper – can’t resist a challenge so blogged on it as well. Next is a notes upgrade, before I teach that topic again. I very much appreciate you alerting me to it 🙂

    I would love to offer a paper on history & development of science, but alas! not too likely to happen at the moment. You’d have to demonstrate a continuing demand. Maybe as a continuing education course; that might work…

    Like

  84. Don’t encourage me, or I’ll start updating whole chunks of your course! 🙂 One of these days I ought to revert to my real name so that I can take credit to things like that… wouldn’t hurt 🙂

    Speaking of encouraging me, if someone paid me to write a textbook, I’d love to… but then, wouldn’t most of us?

    I think Gribbin’s A History of Science is a different book to his A history of science, but I’d guess he’s almost certainly used the same material for both. I think that they are written around the same time, too. Amazon.com lists them separately, so I think I’m right. The authors should be Gribbins and Hook, I left one out.

    I had mixed feelings about Byron’s effort. He writes well, and the accounts of meeting people are good, as you’d expect from his travel writing. But some of the science isn’t quite right (one in particular I knew to be wrong in a fundamental way). I got the impression he started waiting to represent a bit of the main areas he thought important, when I think he either needed a specialist editor or some encouragement to drop or beef up the weaker bits. I think its a good effort for the intended target audience.

    I liked Desmond’s Huxley. A huge book, but what a life.

    Pat Shipman’s books review well at Amazon.com, there are several of her’s that I’d like to try.

    My Ph.D. studies get a whole paragraph in an obscure science history book 🙂 Not exactly fame, but its nice.

    There are some good books on the human brain, its an incredibly interesting topic. I’d better let this go and check out your blog 😉

    Like

  85. Oh yes, I like Pat Shipman’s work. “Taking wing”, about Archaeopteryx, is excellent.

    Like

  86. It is my impression that the Expelled DVD is not so much about ID as it is about academic freedom in America – something theists and non-theists, ‘evolutionists’ and ‘creationists’ alike should be equally interested in. Not having seen it myself, I prefer to withhold judgement. Has anyone actually seen the documentary and qualified themselves to comment on the content?

    Stuart

    Like

  87. @88: Stuart, promoting ID of Expelled isn’t about academic freedom, but essentially the opposite. As others have pointed out, ID (and the film) is very much about putting down evolution, to the point that this seems to be all that its about.

    Like

  88. @ Stuart:

    If Expelled were as you say it would have highlighted the cases of individuals who had been sacked for supporting evolutionary science. It doesn’t. The academic freedom ploy is a tactic. The cases mentioned in the video are misrepresented.

    We will probably not get an opportunity to see the video here (except by downloading it when pirated versions go on-line or attending a showing run by one of the local fundamentalist groups – they are the only groups promoting it).

    However, there are plenty of reviews on the internet. Comments are either extremely enthusiastic (obviously those who support a fundamentalist position) or extremely critical (obviously those who support a scientific position).

    From these reviews and comments from the producer and Ben Stein (“science leads to killing people”) I think it is safe to accept that the video is basically just science bashing. However, I am open to changing my view if/when I see the video. Stuart – do you have any knowledge about any showings in New Zealand? I notice you are in the Christian Apologetics network. Are they planning any showings?

    Like

  89. Pingback: earn 24h blog » Blog Archive » Is intelligent design science? A response to Ken Perrott

Leave a Reply: please be polite to other commenters & no ad hominems.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s