Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Why Darwinists Have a Hard Time Being Civil

posted by David Klinghoffer

It’s been so illuminating to me, dealing with Darwinists all the time on this blog — cleaning up after them (unpublishing their rude comments, personal insults, etc.). Their purpose is intimidation. Normal people don’t enjoy dealing with rudeness, so they are understandably reluctant to enter into the comment thread discourse. Do you not find this to be true?

What you have to understand about these people — I mean, those committed to Darwinism — is that many operate in a world of academics, would-be academics, and failed academics. The last is most common of all, I’d bet. Others are, quite simply, unemployed, which poses its own challenges. Such dynamics set the tone with these folks.

In university life, the pinnacle is tenure, where you are thenceforth free to be a jerk to people because you have a guaranteed job. That’s the ideal! Everything leading up to it consists of a ruthless scrabble for preference. It’s all terribly destructive.
In the real world, of course, there is always a built-in and very practical reason to learn to play nicely even if you don’t agree with someone, even if you don’t like him: Your job may depend on it. So to the extent that Darwinism is the creation of an academic Guild — and that extent is about 97 percent — you are going to find that its defenders are challenged when it comes to being civil.
My commitment is to keep trying to keep things clean here so that an interesting public discussion may proceed. They will call that “censorship.”


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Karen Brown

posted July 23, 2009 at 8:58 am


Do you only notice the rudeness of ‘Darwinists’?
There’s a level of humor there, given that you have been told over and over again that not only is ‘Darwinist’ inaccurate, but it is insulting. And to continually refer to someone with a name they find insulting would be.. what’s that word?
Oh yeah…
Rude.



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Joel

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:20 am


If you really want to keep the discourse “civil,” you might consider not making off-topic, ad hominem assertions, like when you suggested above that those who disagree with you are unemployed losers.
And if you are really serious about civility, I would also recommend not dividing the world into “Darwinists” and “normal people.”



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Turmarion

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:04 pm


Karen: Amen!
You don’t call someone who accepts that the Earth goes around the sun a “Galileist” or a “Copernicanist”. You don’t call someone who accepts classical physics a “Newtonian” or who accepts relativity an “Einsteinist”. Notice I use the word “accepts”, not “believes”. That 2+2=4 is manifestly true–it’s not a matter of belief, it just is. One could refuse to “believe” it only through ignorance, obstitance, or perversity. Now most things in science aren’t quite that obviously true, but when science is done properly, one gets close to that level. No one who understands the evidence rejects the heliocentric cosmos or relativity or Newton’s physics or such. Can they be proved with the certainty of mathematics? No. But then again, a solipsist will say that you can’t prove anything exists beyond himself. This is unfalsifiable, but it’s also crazy.
Incidentally, this applies equally to incomplete areas of science. Pick up a book on modern physics, and you’ll see that gravity is the most vexed, controversial, and least-understood areas remaining. However, even if the hows and whys are unclear, the what is perfectly clear. No one doubts that the acceleration due to gravity on Earth is 9.8 meters per second per second, all the more complex issues aside! Gaps in the understanding do not imply uncertainty or bad science.
The suffixes -ist and -ism imply a religious, philosophical, or ideological belief; e.g. Judaism, Platonism, Buddhism, Marxism, libertarianism, etc. Now, I have religious and philosophical commitments myself. Nevertheless, such ideas lie outside the realm of empiricism. I think there are good reasons for my faith and my philosophical beliefs, but I don’t delude myself that I can demonstrate their truth with the certainty that I could do a mathematical proof or demonstrate the acceleration due to gravity. I might add that no philosopher or theologian that I know of would say that faith or philosophy can be demonstrated in that way, either. This is why we call it faith, people.
This is what David and his allies are trying to do when they call those who accept evolution “Darwinists”. They are subtly trying to cast them not as empiricists who merely go where the evidence leads, but as ideologues, philosophers, or followers of a pseudo-religion. This has the following effects: 1. It avoids having to deal with the actual scientific evidence, which massively favors evolution. 2. It implies that those who accept evolution are actually ideologues and thus arguing in bad faith based on faulty evidence. 3. It sows doubt in people’s mind since it paints those who accept evolution as following an ideology–people rightly are leery of ideologies. 4. It implies that “Darwinism” is some insidious opponent of established religions. This is all false, and ad hominem reasoning.
For those who don’t already know, “ad hominem” is short for the Latin argumentum ad hominem, “argument towards the man”. In other words, rather than arguing based on the evidence or the facts of the case, you call the person who espouses them name. Example: Al: “Two plus two equals four.” Bob: “Al is a wife-beating, no good, cheating, lying, alcoholic thug!” Note well–even if Bob is right (which makes Al a bad person), two plus two is still darn well equal to four!!! Likewise, calling those who accept evolution “Darwinists” is implicitly calling them names, painting them as dishonest ideologues. This is to avoid dealing with actual facts.
Finally, while David doesn’t use nasty words, he falls very far short of civility in many ways. Let’s look at some.
1. In this very post, David takes a truly ugly swipe at the unemployed. Guess what, David? There are people who are on your side who are unemployed, too. Guess what else? Most people out of work are competent workers who are out of a job through no fault of their own. Guess what else again? Unemployed people are as intelligent and competent as anyone else. Anyway, how do you know who here is unemployed, or a tenured academic, or a street sweeper, anyway? This is a disgusting ad hominem and frankly an outright slander. It does not say, but strongly implies. It paints a picture without coming out and saying it: “Oh, these nasty posters! They can’t even hold a job so all they do all day long is say nasty things about poor little me on this blog! Alas!” This is especially revolting in light of David’s post on Deuteronomy, which I thought was a good post, in fact. He eloquently speaks of having a family near insolvency and the duty to remember God’s providence. Then he has the unmitigated gall to slur people who are insolvent and who are in situations where it’s much harder for them to remember Providence than it is for him to do so. Try re-reading the Tanakh, especially the Nevi’im, and see what they said about treatment of the poor and indigent. For a start, here are some verses on slander.
2. David’s swipe against academics isn’t much better. Yes, anyone of us who’s ever been to college has encountered a tenured jerk. You know what, though? In the “real” world, it’s not always a matter of being polite so you don’t irk a boss and get fired. Lots of people who are polite to a fault and do everything they should still get canned because of office politics or because the company is going under because some CEO (who never loses his golden parachute) ran it into the ground, and the lowly groundlings are the ones who pay for his malfeasance. Or haven’t you been reading the news the last six months? Anyway, it’s the ad hominem fallacy again. Let’s assume that all who accept evolution are unemployed cranks or tenured SOB’s. That still has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the science!.
3. Finally, to acknowledge someone is usually considered to be civil. I have been asking David several questions for some time, re-posting them several times. I have asked them in a civil fashion, as anyone who reads this blog can verify. Not only has he not answered them, he hasn’t even acknowledged them. Square one basic courtesy dictates that if he’s not going to answer these questions, he at least needs to tell me that he doesn’t want to do so, or can’t, and to give a reason why. Heck, if he even told me to go &^%* myself, at least that’s a sort of acknowledgment! But what do we hear? Crickets. Is this the behavior of a civil person? Is this the way to foster “an interesting public discussion “? Am I missing something?



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Turmarion

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:10 pm


Just to maintain the tradition:
David, in his post on Francis Collins: “On the other hand, that life has an evolutionary history including billions of years of change — that is unassailable as science and unobjectionable to me as a Jew.” Please explain to me how this is one whit different from theistic evolution. David, you said on that same post that you’d like to see someone debate Collins or ask him some pointed questions; yet you resolutely avoid all such questions and attempts at debate here. This one, which seems to me a statement of what almost anyone would refer to as theistic evolution, is especially egregious.
Finally, this does not count as a response to what we’ve been asking you about Maimonides (as I said above, a one-sentence quote from an author of a biography about him isn’t arguing his philosophical statements!). We’re still waiting. Also, I’m still waiting to hear you speak to the issues of randomness and alien intelligence vis-à-vis the “image of god”.
I know this is getting repetitive, but I think anyone reading this will agree that I’m not using nasty language and that I’m being perfectly polite. Don’t you think the civil thing is at least to acknowledge the questions, even if for some reason you don’t want to answer them? And if you don’t want to answer them, you might at least give us an idea why not.



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olegt

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm


David,
I wonder what you are trying to achieve with this post. You hardly know people that comment here, yet you are quick to label the majority “failed academics” and “unemployed.” Your caricature of the tenure process (“ruthless scrabble for preference,” “terribly destructive”) tells me that you don’t know much about academia. Such a mixture of arrogance and ignorance is not going to win you many friends.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:40 pm


In Expelled, Stein, with his trademark monotone, takes on the role of a Michael-Moore-like muckraker bent on exposing the allegedly closed minds of scientists who champion Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
The documentary links such scientists to Nazis. The reaction was what one would expect.
“We wanted to generate anger,” Ruloff said.
http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/thesearch/archive/2009/01/03/no-apologies-allowed-producer-defends-anti-darwin-movie.aspx

Does David address this? No.
It’s the only thing he knows to do, bad-mouth “Darwinists,” make claims about them that he has never–and apparently cannot–backed up, never address the evidence and arguments that we present in response to his bad-faith and evidence-free attacks, and then he complains about how badly treated such dishonesty and such unfair attackers are.
The real question is, why can’t David or the rest of these people ever engage in an honest discussion of evidence and of interpretation of that evidence? And why do they think that their often successful attempts generating anger really supports their claims?

What’s the Matter with Kansas?
Dishonest Darwinists — coming to a state near you.

That’s the title at the top, and the subtitle below, of one of David’s article. He just attacks ad hominem, with no respect for the opposition, no good-faith discussion of the issues, and no support of his attacks.
Here’s the conclusion of his article:

Unfortunately, scare tactics like these persuaded voters to unseat key members of the Kansas board of education. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Much the same thing happened in Ohio.
In February, Darwinists succeeded in pressuring that state’s board of education to repeal the Ohio science standard requiring that students, “Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” In Ohio, too, the media warned of the danger to “the future of the nation” from a policy that they said encouraged scientific illiteracy.
The dogmatism and dishonesty of some orthodox Darwinists is simply breathtaking. Yet, having prevailed in Ohio, they triumphed in Kansas and further victories elsewhere may be expected. So it seems increasingly likely that students will be kept in the dark after all about an issue with not only scientific ramifications but critically important moral ones too.
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTA1Y2IzMTk1MDYzNzI5MGFhZmJjOWE3MWM0Y2ZkOGI=

As we all know, he doesn’t address the matters that we bring up, but then why would he, since he clearly doesn’t respect what he labels “The dogmatism and dishonesty of some orthodox Darwinists” (you know, those who oppose the Wedge–all who care about honest public education). That’s the point of his ad hominem fallacies, for otherwise he’d have to explain how the Wedge doesn’t mean what it means, and that we have cause to believe in the honesty of the DI’s proclaimed concern for looking at “both sides” of evolution (has David ever shown that ID is any sort of “side” in science? No, hence the unwarranted and unsupported attacks).

Their purpose is intimidation. Normal people don’t enjoy dealing with rudeness, so they are understandably reluctant to enter into the comment thread discourse. Do you not find this to be true?

You know why we enter into the comment thread discourse in spite of your name-calling and attempted intimidation, David? It’s because, unlike you, we can and do support our claims.

is that many operate in a world of academics, would-be academics, and failed academics. The last is most common of all, I’d bet. Others are, quite simply, unemployed, which poses its own challenges. Such dynamics set the tone with these folks.

Just more ad hominems from one who has always used name-calling as his primary mode of “discussion” of these matters. Suppose it were true, though? Would his contempt for such people obviate his need to honestly address the issues brought up? No, but he never will.

My commitment is to keep trying to keep things clean here so that an interesting public discussion may proceed. They will call that “censorship.”

Even Dembski knows that’s a crock:

In contrast to the respectful review of Darwinism: Science or Philosophy? a decade ago, we now face an academic and scientific world that is increasingly hostile to intelligent design and that seeks to crush it rather than engage it as a serious intellectual project. This may seem unfair and mean-spirited, but let’s admit that our aim, as proponents of intelligent design, is to beat naturalistic evolution, and the scientific materialism that undergirds it, back to the Stone Age. Our opponents, therefore, are merely returning the favor.
DEALING WITH THE BACKLASH
AGAINST INTELLIGENT DESIGN
By William A. Dembski
version 1.1, April 14, 2004

It’s true that most academics aren’t much interested in engaging with ID, although obviously many of us here are. The reason, of course, is that ID has been adequately answered, and it has not come up with appropriate answers in response to the answers it has been given, hence it is not worthy of further consideration on the merits. We engage because it doesn’t go away, but we still receive none of the answers that would be needed to take it seriously in an intellectual sense.
That notwithstanding, Dembski admits that their goal is not engagement, it is the death of evolutionary theory that he and they want. That’s why David only rubbishes the opposition, rather than engaging.
And David, of course you can censor your blog, but if you end up with the echo chamber of UD (especially in the past, but even now the censorship there is intolerable), you’re not going to have anyone commenting here with any intelligence. Your blog will then languish. At least you’ll be able to use your ad hominem attacks with impunity, only to be applauded. However, the only people who’ll read you will be those like Ruloff, who want to generate anger without ever being able to deal with the issues, yet you won’t be able to attack anyone unfairly here again, because we’ll be gone.
What’s the fun of attacking us sans evidence or propriety, if we’re not here?
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:47 pm


I’ve been a regular poster on the ID blog Uncommon Descent for about a year now. There are many defenders of Darwinism there. Many of them are cordial, and I would by no means want to silence their input. I have learned much from them. Over the last several months UD made their moderation policy a little more open to opposing views, and this resulted in what I believe to be more substantive discussion. It’s still moderated to avoid insult and innuendo, which I think is appropriate.
On the other hand, there are still many posters there on both sides of the debate who get into heated arguments, which I don’t find helpful. I avoid that kind of controversy, because I’m only interested in substantive debate, and in understanding the arguments from the other side.
I disagree that the use of the term “Darwinist” is disparaging. It’s a label, that’s true, and labels are quite often wrong and misleading. But this particular label is helpful in defining a particular metaphsycal POV. Creationists are not upset when we label them as such, and they of all people in the origins debate are the victims of the most slander in my view. So let’s keep this in perspective. I don’t use disparaging terms that attempt to question the intelligence of defenders of a particular POV. I don’t use “Darwinbots,” or “Darwinistas,” for example, and I don’t think on the other hand it’s appropriate to call us “IDiots.” I will use terms like “militant Darwinists” to define those who use their position to attack those who disagree with them, and I can’t think of a more appropriate label.



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Turmarion

posted July 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm


CannuckianYankee: [Darwinism is] a label, that’s true, and labels are quite often wrong and misleading. But this particular label is helpful in defining a particular metaphsycal POV.
See, this is the problem. Evolutionary theory is not a metaphysical point of view at all. As several of us have pointed out before, there is a difference between methodological materialism and metaphysical materialism. As the existence of theistic evolution and its proponents such as Ken Miller and Francis Collins ought to make clear, acceptance of evolution does not commit one to metaphysical materialism.
An example I’ve used before: If my car breaks down, I don’t assume that God smote it or that Satan bedeviled it. I take it to a mechanic who looks for the material cause of the problem. The mechanic and I work as methodological materialists. Does that make us metaphysical materialists, atheists, or such? That would be a ridiculous assumption. In fact, all of us, in daily life, most of the time, are methodological materialists. We assume that colds are caused by viruses, that physical processes make our clocks and computers work, etc. etc. This does not make us raving secularist materialists!
Thus, to use “Darwinist” to imply that those who accept evolution are making a metaphysical statement thereby is as absurd as calling a car mechanic, say, a “Chevroletist”, since car repair is obviously a metaphysical POV! We know what a questionable bunch those mechanics are!
Don’t you think there are many on the ID side that are rather “militant”?
I might also point out that supporters of theistic evolution are “creationists”–they think God created the universe, although they don’t think the Genesis 1 account is accurate as to how He did it. That’s why I usually use the term “young-Earth creationist”, since “creationist” by itself is ambiguous. I might point out that even IDers such as David, Micheal Behe, and, I think, Dembski, don’t take Genesis 1 literally, since they recognize that the evidence against literalism is monumentally overwhelming. That young-Earth creationists, who are perforce literalists, arrogate the term to themselves is their way of trying to disparage theistic evolution, by implying that those who accept it don’t really believe in creation.
In light of this, one who is a young-Earth creationist believes something on a par with flat-earthers or geocentrism. While a person who believes the Earth is flat or that the sun goes around it might be an otherwise intelligent and good person, they still would hold a ridiculous belief. Thus, “young-Earther” should be as disparaging a term as “flat-Earther”, from an intellectual perspective (while not denigrating such a person’s other good qualities).
Finally, while I agree with your points about civility, I think many of us have pointed out many ways, with specific examples (e.g. this very post) of egregious lapses of civility on David’s part many, many times. You may disagree, but it seems pretty clear to me.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 23, 2009 at 1:30 pm


Just a note on formatting. I pasted the following in my comment:

What’s the Matter with Kansas? Dishonest Darwinists — coming to a state near you.

The second sentence was below the first, but apparently the browsers don’t concur with my desires. Hence the subtitle is after the title, not below, as I’m sure most inferred.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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sdm

posted July 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm


David, I am not Jewish but I do enjoy reading your blog. It is true that so many people feel perfectly comfortable saying the rudest things…I do not understand the point. I mean after one or two times they cannot possibly hope that you will be convinced to change YOUR mind so I find their relentless efforts to be an exercise in plain viciousness and futility.



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Olorin

posted July 23, 2009 at 3:54 pm


“Why Darwinists Have a Hard Time Being Civil”
Quite a sweeping generalization from the opposers of a Darwin-bashing blog to an entire class of people. An analogy may be helpful: Why Jews Have a Hard Time Being Civil to Muslim Suicide Bombers?
The crime differs, but the principle is the same. Honesty in research is a foundational requirement in science. Later levels of knowledge build upon results of earlier levels. If you can’t trust the lower levels, then the higher ones lose validity as well. Thus review by peers, replication of results, and tests of predictions. Dishonesty is professional death—q.v. Hwang Woo-suk, Pons & Fleischman, and the entire Tobacco Institute.
So those who perform and who understand science become incensed to the point of—yes!—incivility when confronted with deliberate creationist ID lies, misdirections, and fallacies. Continual, flagrant, unrepentant dishonesty invites contumely for the likes of Stephen Meyer, Jonathan Wells, and the entire Discovery Institute.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 23, 2009 at 5:00 pm


The biggest problem I have with the ID side of the debate is the lack of intellectual honesty.
It’s not enough for them that evolution by natural selection be wrong.
They also have to say that Darwin himself was bad man, and that people who accept evolution by natural selection are bad people who do bad things because they accept evolution.
And they lie–I know I run the risk of David deleting my post now, but there is no better word for it. Look how David treats quotes, for example.
Given this, it is disingenuous for David to claim that the “Darwinists” are so awful and rude.
“Those seeking equity must come with clean hands”, is an ancient legal maxim.
It especially grates when David refuses to engage in debate on substantive issues, without explanation or acknowledgment.



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kernestm

posted July 23, 2009 at 5:23 pm


You seem to be ignoring the facts that you continually insult ID, christians, and non believers in evolution, then you have the cheek to complain if someone points out your shortcommings.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 23, 2009 at 5:49 pm


you continually insult ID, christians, and non believers in evolution, then you have the cheek to complain if someone points out your shortcommings.
Assertions you make typically without evidence, kernestm.
There is a difference between an insult, and pointing out that you are ignorant or lying. You may not like being called ignorant, or told you are lying; but that is based on your actions, and those are questions of fact. If I demonstrate that you are ignorant, or that you have lied about something, I have not “insulted” you.



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Turmarion

posted July 23, 2009 at 6:04 pm


kerenstm: You seem to be ignoring the facts that you continually insult ID, christians, and non believers in evolution, then you have the cheek to complain if someone points out your shortcommings
I am a Christian, as are Collins, Miller, and many others in evolutionary biology. To point out the errors in ID is not to insult it. By linking evolution to Hitler, Nazism, eugenics, death camps, Lenin, Communism, and pretty much everything else bad in the 20th and 21st Centuries, David and his side have done more than insult–they have slandered those who accept evolution in a way that is disgraceful.
Finally, while I believe that those who reject evolution are misguided or confused, most of them are good and decent people, even intelligent. After all, highly intelligent people often believe strange things. What many of us here don’t have patience with is non-believers in evolution trying to get it removed from biological education or to slander those who work in that field as being evil secularists destroying the basis of our society. It should hardly be surprising that such an attitude elicits insults.
While I’m at it, when am I going to hear any answers, David?



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Olorin

posted July 23, 2009 at 6:05 pm


kernestm: “You seem to be ignoring the facts that you continually insult ID, christians, and non believers in evolution, then you have the cheek to complain if someone points out your shortcommings.”
Well, the professional cdesign prononentsists deserve it. The Discovery Institute takes lessons from the Tobacco Institute in persistent persiflage and profligate prevarication.
Please cite an example here that insults Christians.
“Non-believers in evolution” is an oxymoron. No one demands that anyone “believe” a scientific theory. We ask that they accept it based upon a qualified review of the evidence and assessment of its utility and predictive power. And would you “believe” that, at this moment, several teams of evolutionary biologists are busy looking for life forms that are not descended from a common ancestor? Truth.



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Unapolgetic Catholic

posted July 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm


Rich.
Darwinists are accused of beign uncvil by the same person who compares them to Nazis.
http://blog.beliefnet.com/kingdomofpriests/2009/07/peace-in-our-time-with-francis-collins-how-far-is-too-far.html
Yeha, they wouldn’t possibly be offended by such a comparison. Then you accsue them of a worldwide conspriacy to corrupt science, conceal experimental results and defuad taxpayers.
And they are supposed to say, “Thank you, sir, more please.”
You have no shame.



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Unaplogetic Catholic

posted July 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm


Rich.
Darwinists are accused of beign uncvil by the same person who compares them to Nazis.
http://blog.beliefnet.com/kingdomofpriests/2009/07/peace-in-our-time-with-francis-collins-how-far-is-too-far.html
Yeah, they wouldn’t possibly be offended by such a comparison. Then you accuse them of a worldwide conspiracy to corrupt science, conceal experimental results and defraud taxpayers.
And they are supposed to say, “Thank you, sir, more please.”
You have no shame.



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Yaakov

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:15 pm


As scientific discoveries continue to reveal the complexity of the universe, I find myself awed by the emunah exhibited by those who cling to their faith in evolution.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm


As scientific discoveries continue to reveal the complexity of the universe, I find myself awed by the emunah exhibited by those who cling to their faith in evolution.
As scientific discoveries continue to reveal the complexity of the universe, I find myself awed by the emunah exhibited by those who cling to their faith in books written by priests.
As scientific discoveries continue to reveal the complexity of the universe, I find myself awed by the emunah exhibited by those who cling to their faith in the terrible secret of space.
As scientific discoveries continue to reveal the complexity of the universe, I find myself awed by the emunah exhibited by those who cling to their faith in gravity.
See, yaakov, anyone can do that. Your contribution to the discussion so far is: 0



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:43 pm


I’ve been a regular poster on the ID blog Uncommon Descent for about a year now. There are many defenders of Darwinism there. Many of them are cordial, and I would by no means want to silence their input. I have learned much from them. Over the last several months UD made their moderation policy a little more open to opposing views, and this resulted in what I believe to be more substantive discussion. It’s still moderated to avoid insult and innuendo, which I think is appropriate.
On the other hand, there are still many posters there on both sides of the debate who get into heated arguments, which I don’t find helpful. I avoid that kind of controversy, because I’m only interested in substantive debate, and in understanding the arguments from the other side.
I disagree that the use of the term “Darwinist” is disparaging. It’s a label, that’s true, and labels are quite often wrong and misleading. But this particular label is helpful in defining a particular metaphsycal POV. Creationists are not upset when we label them as such, and they of all people in the origins debate are the victims of the most slander in my view. So let’s keep this in perspective. I don’t use disparaging terms that attempt to question the intelligence of defenders of a particular POV. I don’t use “Darwinbots,” or “Darwinistas,” for example, and I don’t think on the other hand it’s appropriate to call us “IDiots.” I will use terms like “militant Darwinists” to define those who use their position to attack those who disagree with them, and I can’t think of a more appropriate label.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm


Turmarion,
I’ve addressed on another blog the issue of the difference between methodological naturalism and what Barbara Forrest terms “philosophical naturalism,” which I think is essentially the same as what you call “metaphysical materialism.”
However, you need to distinguish between materialism and naturalism. They are not the same. I realize that many conflate the two terms, but such a conflation is not warranted. The Darwinian scientific commitment as defined by Forrest and others is called “methodological naturalism,” not “methodological materialism.” The reason this is important is because Forrest uses the same argument you use, but she states that “science can only look at natural causes, not supernatural causes” (this is a paraphrase, but it’s accurate and common knowledge to anyone who knows Forrest). Forrest states that there’s a difference between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, yet she defies this difference in her insistence upon “only natural causes.” When she posits her definition of the scientific method via methodological naturalism, she states also that the evidence must be empirically supported.
While most would not have a problem with the empirical part, I believe many would have a problem with the natural/supernatural dichotomy, simply because “supernatural” is never defined. It is merely asserted. It’s a straw man. Nobody on the ID side is saying that a design inference necessarily involves “supernatural” causes, even if a god is involved. The reason for this is because supernatural is not necessary to most theists or atheists. Christian and Jewish theology in particular view God as more than simply supernatural, rather, that He is a necessary transcendant being. Miracles, in fact, do not necessarily equate with supernatural events. God could be as natural as nature, only immaterial and transcendant. Furthermmore, as I pointed out, Forrest does not define the natural/supernatural dichotomy. Where’s the boundary between what would be considered natural and what would be considered supernatural? Nobody has sufficiently defined this.
So yes, “Darwinism/Darwinist” is an appropriate term for a metaphysical POV. The problem I perceive is that many Darwinists categorically deny that they have a metaphysical bias. I cannot honestly pretend that they don’t. For me to stop using the term would be to give in to what I disbelieve about supporters of the unguided mechanism of random mutation and natural selection.
Darwin himself stated that his objection to teleological explanations was because “a designer would not have designed the world as it is.” This is another metaphysical assertion. How would anybody presume to know how a designer would or would not design? Do we have the mind of God?
This is the real reason why Darwinists (and I will continue to use the term because I believe I have sufficiently and fairly defined it) continue to ignore design arguments – not because they don’t have merit, but because they don’t fit within the Darwinian metaphysic.
One need only look to Antony Flew as an example of a former Darwin supporter, who made a significant paradigm shift precisely because he detected this Darwinian metaphysical flaw. His conclusion to the matter is that one must not make metaphysical assumptions, but go where the evidence leads. If the evidence implies design, so be it. One has to be true to the evidence, not to one’s precluded assumptions.
I will agree with you on your distinctions between different types of Creationists. I would say rightfully that I am a Creationist. I don’t support Creation Science per se, but I do believe that God created everything that exists apart from Himself. I hold that view quite apart from my support for ID. The implications of ID compel me to believe in a Creator. One problem that I see Darwinists failing to do is to distinguish between Christian Science and Creationism over all. This is precisely what was done at the Dover trial. All of the previous legal precedent was intended to keep the teaching of Creation Science out of public schools. Dover thus falsely equated ID with Creation Science. So I do appreciate that you understand there are differences.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:54 pm


Sorry about the reposting of a previous one. It’s what popped up when I tried to post the above response. I really do not like this format here. Any changes coming?



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Michael

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:01 pm


David,
I disagree with you on this point not because there is no truth in what you say, but because I think what you experience on your website is symptomatic of a larger problem. Intellectual discourse has been corroded, mostly by the left because of their reliance on political correctness, rather than reason when reflecting on questions such as raised in your blog. These vitriolic responses are not reasoned, they are simply emotional outbursts. The people who take unwarranted offense from their ideological opponents are so simple-minded that their only refuge is the snide remark.
Emotion is the basis of political correctness. Political correctness arises from the belief that ideological differences can be offensive. On the whole, leftists seem particularly prone to the habit of judging their opponents as bad or offensive. Is it any wonder that some people coming to this website, having been sheltered from the intellectual and experiential rigors of the real world, can only respond with calumny.
Cheers,



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LRA

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:06 pm


One of the reasons I get snarky with “cdesignproponentists” is because every time I ask them for scientific data to support their “science” I am given nada. I have a master’s degree from Columbia in neuroscience/molecular bio (completed my thesis in the lab of a Nobel prize winning neuroscientist) and I used evolutionary principles to engineer viruses so that I could explore the genes involved in learning and memory.
What studies have ID people done? None. Zilch. Nada.
I happen to know Rob Koons of the Discovery Institute. He is a professor of philosophy at my school. He’s no scientist and neither are most of the people at that political institution. In addition, the ones that are actual scientists are likely biochemists and not experts in genetics or evolution (or paleontology or any of the other numerous sciences that have provided mounds of evidence for an old earth, evolution-based explanation of biodiversity).
My bottom line is: where is your evidence, intelligent design people?



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:10 pm


Turmarion,
“Don’t you think there are many on the ID side that are rather “militant”?
Oh, absolutely. I do. This is why we need to focus on the merits of arguments rather than on the personalities of those making them. One of my favorite supporters of Darwinian evolution on the UD blog is a gentleman from Japan. Always polite and always intriguing. He’s one of the most civil posters on the blog from either perspective. I’ve never seen him use personal attacks against anyone. I think it’s a very admirable skill to develop: State your case, but don’t state your distaste. I have to admit that I’m not always as self-controlled as this gentleman is. BTW, he has never shown any objection to the term Darwinist, and he uses the term himself.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:13 pm


How would anybody presume to know how a designer would or would not design? Do we have the mind of God?
Cannuckian Yankee, you have hit exactly on why ID is not and cannot be science.
If the design is excellent, you praise the skill of “the Designer”. If the design is poor, you talk about “the Designer’s” unfathomable motives.
Is there any set of characteristics an organism could exhibit that you would admit precludes the possibility of design?
For example, Isaac Newton proved that if the law of gravitation varied inversely with the square of distance, then objects could only move along paths which are conic sections.
Using this prediction astronomers could predict where to find Uranus before it was ever spotted in a telescope.
Suppose he had said that planets could move in any way whatsoever. It would have been impossible to test his theory. If Mercury had the wrong orbit for Newton’s theory–which it has–Isaac Newton could just say “You can’t fathom gravity’s motives”.
If scientists really thought like that, science would never make any progress-it would just be a collection of fads, arguments from authority, and wishful thinking. You wouldnt’ be able to predict, say, eclipse hundreds of years in the future.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:50 pm


Gabriel Hanna,
“If the design is excellent, you praise the skill of “the Designer”. If the design is poor, you talk about “the Designer’s” unfathomable motives.”
I made no distinction between “excellent” and “poor” design. Darwin saw what he thought were flaws in design and made a metaphysical assertion about what a designer would or would not do. To assume a flaw is to put the cart before the horse. I’m not making any quality judgment whatsoever, and that’s what I think science needs to preclude – no value judgments. After all, if random mutation and natural selection is true, how could any flaw whatsoever be detected? Why not rather leave the question to the file of the unanswered? Detecting a flaw categorically implies design. This is what disturbs me about the whole circularity of Darwinian thinking.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:04 am


Gabriel Hanna,
“For example, Isaac Newton proved that if the law of gravitation varied inversely with the square of distance, then objects could only move along paths which are conic sections.
Using this prediction astronomers could predict where to find Uranus before it was ever spotted in a telescope.
Suppose he had said that planets could move in any way whatsoever. It would have been impossible to test his theory. If Mercury had the wrong orbit for Newton’s theory–which it has–Isaac Newton could just say ‘You can’t fathom gravity’s motives.'”
Gravity is not necessary, but contingent. It does not have a mind of its own, and therefore does not have motives. It follows laws.
A designer on the other hand, does not have to follow detectable laws, but can have his/her own motives. Such motives might be detectable, but Darwin did not show any evidence that he could detect a hypothetical designer’s motives. So allowing a designer to have whatever motives he/she will, while not automatically assuming his/her existence or non-existence leaves open the ability to detect design if such evidence could be detected. You are thus arguing a strawman. ID theorists do not argue in the manner that you suggest. The only difference between the metaphysic of Darwinism and the metaphysic of intelligent design is that design theorists do not categorically rule out design due to metaphysical assertions about what a designer would or would not do.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:43 am


ID theorists do not argue in the manner that you suggest. The only difference between the metaphysic of Darwinism and the metaphysic of intelligent design is that design theorists do not categorically rule out design due to metaphysical assertions about what a designer would or would not do.
Except that what a designer would or would not do is not a METAPHYSICAL assertion! If it were, engineering would be in the humanities!
If something is designed, it is constructed to achieve some purpose in the mind of a designer. Archaeologists do not need to be metaphysicians to say that an arrowhead was most likely designed and a pebble most likley was not.
Your emphasis on what DARWIN thought is another giveaway–working biologists spend little time on that, any more than physicist spend any time thinking about what Newton thought.
Scientific theories move on. ID is incapable of doing so. Once you invoke design, and refuse to speculate on the motives or identity of the designer, you have abdicated science.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:49 am


After all, if random mutation and natural selection is true, how could any flaw whatsoever be detected?
Pandas have stomachs adapted for eating meat, so they waste most of what little nutrition bamboo provides. You can tell because you can compare a typical herbivore’s stomach with a typical carnivore’s.
If the purpose of eating bamboo is to provide nutrition for a panda, much better ways exist in other organisms.
Now pandas do have other compelling reasons to eat bamboo, but they have to work with the stomachs they have. Natural selection may not be able to help them get much better ones, for developmental reasons.
Designs are evaluated by how well they achieve a given function under given constraints.
Are you going to say that the purpose and effectiveness of a panda’s digestive system is a metaphysical question inaccessible to science? That is just special pleading. You want to apply a special rule to evolutionary biology that you don’t apply to anything else.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:58 am


Canuckian Yankee, imagine an engineer who purposefully builds a bridge which will fall down when cars pass over it.
You might argue with him, saying that is a terrible design for a bridge. He may respond that he is a social critic who thinks automobiles encourage consumerism and should be destroyed. Or he may respond that the bridge is conceptual art. As social criticism or conceptual art the bridge may be a success, but at holding cars up the bridge is a failure. This is not a metaphysical question.
Organisms have problems of survival and reproduction to solve and limited resources with which to solve them. An organism that solves problems poorly and wastes resources may be successful at conceptual art, but it is a poorly designed from the standpoint of survival, reproduction, and efficiency.
No, Darwin didn’t consider organism design as a cosmic joke, political statement, or the result of a three-day bender, but that does not make evolution invalid.



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Your Name

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:04 am


“The only difference between the metaphysic of Darwinism and the metaphysic of intelligent design is that design theorists do not categorically rule out design due to metaphysical assertions about what a designer would or would not do.”
Scientists don’t categoriaclly rule out “design” either.
Think for a second. Scientists study design all the time, especially forensic criminologists, anthropologists and many others.
What scientists do is rule out supernatural events. Supernatural events cannot be scientifically studied. There may well be a precise numeber of angels that can be placed on a pinhead, but the question is outside science.
The problem CY, is you aren’t talking about a “designer” at all. You are talking about a supernatural being not limited by the physics of our unverse at all.
Listen to this: “A designer on the other hand, does not have to follow detectable laws, but can have his/her own motives.”
But designers are, depsite your assertion, limited by detectable laws. Otherwise cars would get unlimtied gas mileage. But they can’t, becausse the design envelope is clearly constricted by physics.
You instead are employing a euphemism to describe God. Science unfortuately can’t study God precisely becasue God is not subject to physical laws.



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Turmarion

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:08 am


CannuckianYankee: This is a long one, but necessarily so.
OK, consider: you’re at the Wedding at Cana–you’re a scientist who has time-traveled back with equipment. You examine the water–it is basic or acidic, hard or soft, pure or with impurities, etc. etc. You look at the jugs–they’re made of such-and-such type of clay, glazed or unglazed, etc. etc. Now Jesus tells the servants to take this water and fill the jugs. You look in the jugs and see they now contain wine. You analyze the wine–such-and-such percent alcohol, tannins, etc. etc. This was a miracle, but both before and after you have ordinary materials obeying all natural laws to any possible observation. In other words, the wine may be 10% alcohol, or have tannins, sugars, and other congeners–but there is no experiment you can perform on it that shows it to be of Divine creation. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, in the aftermath of a miracle, the materials conform to the ordinary, everyday run of things. There is no “residue of holiness” that can be perceived! Even during the miracle itself, you can’t detect Divine power coming from on high, through Jesus, and into the water.
Thus, the antecedents and results of the miracle are perfectly normal. The question is, what about the miracle itself? That’s the kicker, and that’s where interpretation comes in.
There are two different assumptions one can make: that miracles, in principle, are possible; or that they are in principle impossible. Neither of these propositions can be proved or disproved (though most people probably think otherwise, regardless of which position they hold). In essence each is a “leap of faith”–faith that miracles do occur, or that they can’t occur. Many scientists would argue that miracles are impossible on empirical grounds, but Hume long ago showed the weaknesses of empiricism. On the other hand, believers would say that miracles are possible; but this doesn’t really settle the matter, because monotheists, polytheists, and non-theists (such as Buddhists) all may believe in miracles while attributing them to different causes (God, Allah, Zeus, the meditative power of an arhat, etc.).
Going back to our hypothetical case: A scientist who is committed to the belief that miracles can’t occur won’t interpret the water-into-wine as a miracle. He will say it was a clever trick, or a unique chemical phenomenon, or he may say that he doesn’t know what it is, since it would require repeated study. In short, the scientific method does not and can not of itself point to the supernatural.
On the other hand, suppose the scientist does think miracles possible. This still doesn’t settle the issue. He may say, “Truly this is the Son of God!”; or he may say, “He does this by the prince of demons!”; or he may say, “Behold an ascended master!”; and on and on. The Bible itself demonstrates this: the Pharisees, witnessing Jesus performing an exorcism, say that he does it through Beelzebub (Matt 9:34). They observe the miracle firsthand and do not attribute it to Jesus’ divinity! I think this is part of the reason for Jesus’ aversion to performing signs, saying that it is a “wicked and adulterous generation” that wants to see them (Matthew 12:39 and Mark 16:4). He knew that in the long run miracles couldn’t be the basis for faith (also see Luke 16:27-31 and John 20:29 in this regard). Something to think about for those eager to read biology as indicating such “signs”!
The point is that science and scientific observation per se can never prove or disprove a miracle or supernatural act–in this respect I agree fully with Forrest. All such observation can say is that something happened that can’t at the present time be explained by ordinary means. After all, some thing that are routine to us would be miraculous to our forebears, and some things our descendants find humdrum and ordinary might seem miraculous to us. See Arthur C. Clarke on this! To go further and state that a miracle did or did not occur depends on one’s metaphysical outlook–but such an outlook is a “leap of faith” not derivable from science or religion either one!
Another example, this one from my life, and non-miraculous. I met my best friend in college, call him Lou, when I was 21. About a year or so afterward, he casually mentioned incidents X and Y, which happened to me the ages of about 16 and 18, respectively (nothing lurid, but I’m compressing for space). Now Lou had never met me before I was 21, and though he met me through a high-school friend, call him Chuck, I knew that Chuck almost certainly didn’t know about X, and definitely didn’t know about Y. Moreover, there were aspects of X and Y that I hadn’t told anyone, and which therefore Lou couldn’t know or find out from anyone. I pondered and puzzled–I had certainly never told Lou, and there was just no other way he could possibly have known. I badgered him, but he wouldn’t tell me how he knew. It drove me totally bonkers. I have always been highly skeptical of the paranormal, but I began after several months to consider that maybe this was an actual psychic event. Maybe Lou actually read my mind. Finally, Lou gave in and told me. The previous year, he said, I had come into the student lounge &%$#-faced drunk (well, it was college), babbled to him all about X and Y, and proceeded to pass out, remembering nothing the following day.
Now had Lou never told me, I’d have gone through my life not being able to figure it out. Perhaps if I told it to a believer in the paranormal, they would cite that as evidence for psychic phenomena. Maybe others would have said that Lou did it through supernatural means. I don’t know if I’d have eventually agreed, or maintained a resolute, skeptical, “I don’t know how he did it” attitude. Once more, the point is that even an event that seems totally inexplicable by any known means cannot be proof of, or even evidence for, the supernatural or paranormal. It depends on one’s a priori commitments.
Now, as a matter of fact, I do believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he performed miracles. It seems to me the evidence is more probable than not. However, it is ultimately a leap of faith on my part. Jesus’ miracles didn’t even convince everyone who saw them, so they can’t be the basis of my faith by themselves.
On other matters: Defining “natural” is vexed enough, let alone “supernatural”–once more, see Hume. However, it doesn’t have to be hard. Even ancients knew that water doesn’t spontaneously turn into wine, that women don’t become pregnant without men, that the dead don’t come back to life, that people don’t levitate, etc. They may have been more willing to believe these phenomena than we, but they knew as well as we do that they went beyond the ordinary run of events. In fact, even among the ancients, not all believed that miracles could happen (e.g. Aristotle). I think a rough-and-ready definition of “supernatural” is “capable of happening only by the intervention, action, or agency of God, an angel, a demon, or other spirit (non-material) being, directly or working through a human”. “Natural” is everything else. Thus, levitation, raising Lazarus, or changing water into wine are all obviously miracles, since no one can do these by any known means without Divine or demonic intervention or assistance.
Miracles, in fact, do not necessarily equate with supernatural events. God could be as natural as nature, only immaterial and transcendent….Where’s the boundary between what would be considered natural and what would be considered supernatural?”
I spoke to this in a post awhile back. If I get an unexpected check in the mail for $1000 exactly the day before I desperately needed it to avoid foreclosure, and after desperate prayer on my part, I might describe this as a “miracle”. However, it happens through completely “natural” or if you prefer, “ordinary” means–my long-lost Aunt Gertrude died, and her will stipulated me, etc. God may be working through the “normal” events (as I contend He does in the seemingly random events that cause evolution), but this is not “miraculous” in the sense I defined above, i.e., a seeming abrogation of the normal way things work. This is what I’d consider the boundary between the supernatural properly so-called, and the natural, if you want to use those terms. Squishing grapes and fermenting the juice–natural. Wedding at Cana wine production–supernatural.
The problem I perceive is that many Darwinists categorically deny that they have a metaphysical bias.
Everyone has a metaphysical bias. Even the belief that anything besides myself exists is a metaphysical bias, since solipsism, after all, cannot be refuted. What you seem to be saying is that believing in evolution tends to cause people to develop a materialist (or as you say, naturalist) bias. I deny this. Many evolutionary biologists (Collins, Miller, and so on) do not have such a materialist/naturalist bias. Heck, not even everyone who doesn’t believe in God has such a bias (e.g. Buddhists). Western society has been moving in secular, atheist/agnostic, materialist direction since the Enlightenment, long before Darwin. Thus I think that, rather than it being the case that evolution or science in general turns people into materialists, it is the other way around. More people are materialists and such people are more likely to be drawn to science since religion is not necessary for it (which is not the same thing as saying that religion is in opposition to it). Moreover, plenty of people on both the Dawkins and ID side have, somewhat perversely in my view, joined forces in buying the canard that religion and evolution are mutually exclusive. Thus, many people who go into biology probably buy this too and think they have to jettison their faith. Once again, a fallacy.
Darwin himself stated that his objection to teleological explanations was because “a designer would not have designed the world as it is.” This is another metaphysical assertion. How would anybody presume to know how a designer would or would not design?
The first two sentences here I agree with. As to the last, it automatically refutes ID–if you don’t know “how a designer would or would not design”, then how the heck can you find signs of it by science or any other method?!
[Flew’s] conclusion to the matter is that one must not make metaphysical assumptions
I’m not quite sure that’s exactly how he put it. You can’t not have metaphysical assumptions. It’s a metaphysical assumption that I’m not a brain in a vat or Neo plugged into the Matrix!
For all these reasons, I once more deny that acceptance of evolution–what you erroneously call “Darwinism”–is a metaphysic. Or do you think that Francis Collins, for example, shares the same metaphysical POV as Richard Dawkins? They both accept evolution, but disagree on most other things.
The implications of ID compel me to believe in a Creator.
Even if you assume that ID is correct (which I also deny), all that gets you is a Designer, not a Creator. It could be God–or it could be the evil Demiurge of Gnosticism. It could be Zeus or Kronos or Odin or Wakantanka or Oludumare or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, to name a few. It could be aliens from Sirius who designed life here as a project (and thus were designers, not creators). See? To assume that the designer of life is the Judeo-Christian God is another one of those “metaphysical assumptions”!
Dover thus falsely equated ID with Creation Science.
You know, Hindus, Muslims, Daoists (in some sense), and many other religions believe that God or gods created the world and the life in it. In light of this, it is interesting that with maybe one or two exceptions, almost every single IDer is Christian, and almost all Evangelicals at that!. If it’s really about the science, one would expect lots more ID Hindus, ID Muslims, ID believers in Panspermia, ID proponents of our design by aliens, and so on. The almost 99% dominance of the ID field by Evangelical Christians sure makes it look to the rest of us like any distinction between ID and Creation Science is either trivial or a matter of actual dissembling. Of course, this is not surprising, since the real reason for ID is as a Trojan horse to get religion into the public schools. Google the Wedge Document and read it, if you don’t believe me. Or if you still don’t, why is it that there aren’t huge numbers of Hindus (India is on a scientific par with us in its better universities, and as I said, Hindus believe in God) independently doing ID research?
It is also interesting to many of us that lots of the IDers, in public contexts such as Dover strenuously deny any Christian connections to ID, and then turn around and talk Christianity and getting Christian ideas and values back into society when speaking to Christian groups. To us, this seems like dishonesty and dissembling, in some cases outright lying (no, I’m not being nasty–have a look here as to how William Buckingham, in the Dover trail lied under oath about the Christian connection).
To conclude: You really ought to read Miracles and The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis. In the former, he gives an eloquent and elegant refutation of metaphysical materialism (what he calls “naturalism” which is probably what you’d call it, too). In the latter, he explains why it is not contradictory to accept man as having evolved, even giving a brief sketch of his views on it. It’s really good reading.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:14 am


CY, let’s try another example.
Suppose I make an aluminum cube on a milling machine, about six inches across. I don’t tell you what it’s for or why I made it.
You ask yourself, what is this cube good for? As a ball bearing or an axe, it is useless. As a paperweight, not so bad. As a coffee table, way too small.
You can evaluate the ability of the cube to fulfill a function that you specify without ever knowing what my motives were.
If you ordered a ball bearing, you are not going to pay for my cube. You will say that is a terrible design. If I say that it is a ball bearing, but my motives in building it that way were to transgress the boundaries of semiotic discourse or some such, you might suggest that I try to sell it in an art gallery.
Biologists are interested in how organisms survive and reproduce; and thus they evalute the quality of a design by THOSE criteria.
It is no good inventing your own random ones and demanding biologists are doing their job wrong because they don’t use yours.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:15 am


CY, let’s try another example.
Suppose I make an aluminum cube on a milling machine, about six inches across. I don’t tell you what it’s for or why I made it.
You ask yourself, what is this cube good for? As a ball bearing or an axe, it is useless. As a paperweight, not so bad. As a coffee table, way too small.
You can evaluate the ability of the cube to fulfill a function that you specify without ever knowing what my motives were.
If you ordered a ball bearing, you are not going to pay for my cube. You will say that is a terrible design. If I say that it is a ball bearing, but my motives in building it that way were to transgress the boundaries of semiotic discourse or some such, you might suggest that I try to sell it in an art gallery.
Biologists are interested in how organisms survive and reproduce; and thus they evalute the quality of a design by THOSE criteria.
It is no good inventing your own random ones and demanding biologists are doing their job wrong because they don’t use yours.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:16 am


Gabriel Hanna,
“Scientific theories move on. ID is incapable of doing so. Once you invoke design, and refuse to speculate on the motives or identity of
the designer, you have abdicated science.”
Forgive me for disagreeing here, but Darwinism has not “moved on” when its own predictions failed. I could give you several examples here, but I think you know what those are if you are honest. Let’s assume that you are.
ID most certainly is capable of moving on – (which is another way of saying that it is falsifiable). If Darwinists can show how irreducibly complex systems and complex specified information could arise via random mutation and natural selection, ID will have to move on. Darwinists have not shown this. If random mutation and natural selection are shown to be incapable of providing a mechanism for the development of IC and CSI systems, then there is a more reasonable alternative – that rather than unplanned chance and necessity, design is the best inference.
Also, Darwin firmly believed in refering to explanations that can readily be observed in the here and now. We have evidence in the here and now that complex systems do not arise apart from intelligent input. We know this from human designed structures like computers and airplanes. We have current examples of the only known mechanisms for attaining highly complex systems, and those mechanisms are designs, which require complex specified information.
I think you need to read Stephen C. Meyer’s writings. I haven’t read the new book “The Signature in the Cell” yet, but I’ve seen several interviews where he explains the arguments in the book. He has a PhD from Cambridge University in the Philosophy of Science, with a focus on origins of life. This is what makes his work important. He goes back to the question of how the complex information found in the DNA code could have arisen via Darwinian mechanisms, when any development of such a code precludes the existence of complexity in cells in the first place. I.e., you need code to get the code. Darwinism cannot explain this. A design inference is the only viable alternative. So at this point, ID is not required to move on.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:27 am


If Darwinists can show how irreducibly complex systems and complex specified information could arise via random mutation and natural selection,
CY, this is just a trick. “Irreducibly complex” means, by definition, that it couldn’t have evolved.
Every time biologists show how an “irreducibly complex” system DID in fact involve, the ID people just try to think of another one.
It’s just another God-of-the-gaps argument. No one can prove, a priori, that there IS such a thing as an “irreducibly complex” system. ID proponents are just saying “If you can’t solve my newest puzzle, then evolution is wrong”, without any reference to how many have already been solved.
It’s like if I denied gravity, saying that since every speck of dust and grain of sand in the galaxy has not had its orbit computed, we can’t prove that the theory of gravitation is true.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:32 am


any development of such a code precludes the existence of complexity in cells in the first place. I.e., you need code to get the code. Darwinism cannot explain this. A design inference is the only viable alternative. So at this point, ID is not required to move on.
Okay, CY, suppose I go along with you and agree, so where did the intelligence come from that designed the code? You’ve just refuted your own argument.
If the intelligence doesn’t need to be explained, than neither does the informtation in the DNA! It would be more parsimonious to assume that the DNA “just happened” or leave it unexplained, than to say that it was designed by some mysterious intelligence whose motives and methods cannot be explained.
You can’t inovke greater complexity to explain complexity without involving yourself in infinite regress.
Evolution works the other way; complexity evolves from simplicity, with the first replicators being simple enough to arise by chance, and there is no regress.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:33 am


Also, Darwin firmly believed in refering to explanations that can readily be observed in the here and now. We have evidence in the here and now that complex systems do not arise apart from intelligent input. We know this from human designed structures like computers and airplanes. We have current examples of the only known mechanisms for attaining highly complex systems, and those mechanisms are designs, which require complex specified information.
Actually, CY, you have only ever seen HUMANS design anything; so your argument, if true, would imply that all life was created by humans.
What nonhuman intelligence can you point to physical evidence of? None.



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Turmarion

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:36 am


CannuckianYankee: A designer on the other hand, does not have to follow detectable laws
So if he/she/it/they don’t choose to follow detectable laws, nothing he/she/it/they design can be detected as having been designed then!
but can have his/her own motives.
What Gabriel said about this.
So allowing a designer to have whatever motives he/she will, while not automatically assuming his/her existence or non-existence leaves open the ability to detect design if such evidence could be detected.
This is muddled. If I send a probe to Mars to detect life, I may have no assumptions about whether there is life there or not, but I have to know what life is like, else I won’t recognize it if I see it! If I don’t have an idea of what a “designed” object looks like or what characteristics it has, I can never “detect design” with any amount of evidence.
On the other hand, using your logic, I could argue that a piece of driftwood or a rock in my front yard was designed by a famous artist. Rubbish, you say. But I respond that she cleverly designed it to look so natural that I could never show it to have been designed–that’s what a good artist she is!
As to the 1:16 AM post, the issues you mention have been debunked again and again and again. Saying “Darwin didn’t predict X” is a canard–Newton didn’t predict relativity or quantum theory, but that doesn’t mean he was wrong. Science develops. It’s also interesting that like David, you keep coming back to Meyer. One author (who is a philosopher of science, not a trained scientist) against the millions of biologists, geologists, physicists, mathematicians, paleontologists, and yes, philosophers of science, who have established evolution as firmly as the heliocentric solar system over the past century and a half! Really! And though you haven’t said anything about it, it wouldn’t surprise me if, like David, you proved unwilling to read Francis Collins, Ken Miller, or other proponents of theistic evolution.
Finally, you made some good points about civility. Don’t you see the ways in which David has slandered and attacked his opposition in scurrilous ways, connecting them to Hitler and implicitly calling them unemployed losers? Is this OK behavior?!
Also, David, if you’re reading this, what about reading those books yourself? What about the other questions I keep posting? Huh?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:49 am


Turmarion, be grateful for CY.
He is civilly responding to our arguments; not ignoring them and just posting some new slander or distortion like David does.
I wish David was doing what CY is doing. We would all learn things. But David is not interested in debate–he is “proselytizing” for ID.
As one author David likes to cite said:
“What, for example, would we say about a poster that was supposed to advertise a new soap and that described other soaps as ‘good’?
We would only shake our heads.
Exactly the same applies to political advertising.
The function of propaganda is, for example, not to weigh and ponder the rights of different people, but exclusively to emphasize the one right which it has set out to argue for….
The broad mass of a nation does not consist of diplomats, or even professors of political law, or even individuals capable of forming a rational opinion; it consists of plain mortals, wavering and inclined to doubt and uncertainty. As soon as our own propaganda admits so much as a glimmer of right on the other side, the foundation for doubt in our own right has been laid.”
(If David recognizes the source, will he delete my post? I claim that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.)



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 24, 2009 at 2:41 am


Turmarion, (Gabriel, I’ll get to your response after I address Turmarion’s)
I bet my response ends up longer than yours.
I’ve heard explanations like this before. Surprised? :)
There are some scriptural problems with this. You should put it in context with what the Apostle Paul stated in Romans Chapter 1:
1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people39 who suppress the truth by their40 unrighteousness,41 1:19 because what can be known about God is plain to them,42 because God has made it plain to them. 1:20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. [NetBible]
So a true biblical perspective on God’s existence is that He can be detected in nature. In fact, this is one of the primary beliefs among the earliest believers, and rightfully so. They understood Paul. You have to understand that there is also a concept that developed early on in Chuch history – the concept of the two types of revelation – Special Revelation, which is that which is given to us through miracles and written text, and General Revelation, that which is revealed through the creation.
There are many other scriptural passages, which demonstrate this in both the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures. Romans 1 is not the only text on the matter.
So given that there is a kind of revelation of God’s work among us in nature, one needs to interpret Jesus’ proclamation regarding signs as specific signs, which would demonstrably show his own authority. After all, that is exactly what the religious leaders were questioning. They didn’t doubt God’s existence, but Jesus’ authority.
Now let’s deal with the whole miracle issue. God has a nature [let’s assume that he does in-fact exist here, and that Jesus is who he said he is, for the sake of the argument]. God’s nature is not the nature of material. His nature is such that he can intervene in the molecular makeup of a vat of water, changing it into wine. I don’t presume to know how he can do that, and there is an element of faith involved. However, faith is not [as is often erroneously asserted] a belief in what is impossible – rather, what is possible for God as the necessary first cause of all that exists. If He had the ability to bring the world into existence – i.e., it wasn’t impossible for Him, then He has the ability to brind about a miracle by his nature, which is also not an impossible feat.
Now the reason why ID specifically does not attempt to identify the designer, is because ID theorists do not currently believe that such an identity can be scientifically determined. It’s currently a matter for philosophy and theology.
However, if God created the universe and everything in it, it is reasonable that one should be able to detect the results of design, and such a view also harmonizes with scripture. It is unreasonable to assert that based on a few observations at a time when not much was known about the vast complexity found at the cellular level [I’m talking about Darwin’s time], a designer would not have designed the world as it is. It’s not a good scientific perspective, and it certainly is not a good biblical perspective either. So you see, from my perspective, there’s really no quarrel between religion and science either. I just happen to believe that the design perspective is the best scientifically and biblically. It’s the best scientifically because it makes no assertions about what a designer would or would not do – it’s only interested in the question: “is design detecatable, and if so, is it the best, most parsimonious perspective on the reality of biological nature?” It’s also the best scripturally for the reasons I stated above.
“To assume that the designer of life is the Judeo-Christian God is another one of those ‘metaphysical assumptions’!”
I have never made the argument that I don’t have my own metaphysical assumptions. You are correct that ID does not tell us the identity of the designer, and I have already argued that the identity question, at least as it now stands, is one that science cannot address. This question is therefore, better left to philosophy and theology. I don’t believe that science is the only purveyor of truth. I beleive there are reasonable arguments in support of the designer being the God of the Judeo-Christian perspective, but those arguments I make separately from the design inference. Many Evangelicals who are YEC would disagree with me, but many of them are also catching on. It is true that Evangelicals and other Christians for the most part have neglected biological science due to their aversion to Darwinian metaphysics, and I think they have very good reasons for rejecting it from scientific, philosophical and biblical perspectives.
“almost every single IDer is Christian, and almost all Evangelicals at that!. If it’s really about the science, one would expect lots more ID Hindus, ID Muslims, ID believers in Panspermia, ID proponents of our design by aliens, and so on”
These kinds of cultural arguments don’t impress me. Have you considered other alternatives to the argument that ID can’t be science becuase only Evangelicals beleive it? Even if that were the case, it would by no means falsify the merits of the argument. First of all, you are incorrect in this assertion. There are ID supporters from around the world, including Muslims and Hindus. There are even many atheist and agnostic supporters of ID. Furthermore, one would expect that ID would be most popular among Evangelicals, because the strongest ID arguments got their start here in the U.S. among Evangelicals. I think it would be more ingenuous of you to stick to the merits of the argument, rather than attacking the demographics of its supporters.
“ID proponents of our design by aliens, and so on. The almost 99% dominance of the ID field by Evangelical Christians sure makes it look to the rest of us like any distinction between ID and Creation Science is either trivial or a matter of actual dissembling. Of course, this is not surprising, since the real reason for ID is as a Trojan horse to get religion into the public schools. Google the Wedge Document and read it, if you don’t believe me. Or if you still don’t, why is it that there aren’t huge numbers of Hindus (India is on a scientific par with us in its better universities, and as I said, Hindus believe in God) independently doing ID research?”
I don’t know where you get the 99% number of Evangelicals in the field of ID. I would have to say that is false. Perhaps supporters of ID might reach that number, but the actual theorists come from varied backgrounds.
The Wedge document argument is tiresome. It represents an attempt to polute the waters. If you know the history behind the Wedge document you will understand that it did not involve a discussion of ID, but of the problems in our society that some attributed to the influence of purely materialistic perspectives. It was not a scientific conference, but an ideological one. Not all ID theorists even support the Wedge document strategy, and in fact, the strategy was abandoned. It’s people standing around brainstorming about how to deal with a problem. Darwinists make these sorts of polemics all the time, and there doesn’t seem to be much outcry. Again – argue the merits of the theory, rather than try to divert attention over to side issues. I’ll make you a deal: you refrain from sidestepping into irrelevant issues like the Wedge document, and I’ll refrain from ever mentioning PZ Meyers and the New Darwinists, except where theier arguments warrant, and not simply to attack their ideology. Deal?
“It is also interesting to many of us that lots of the IDers, in public contexts such as Dover strenuously deny any Christian connections to ID, and then turn around and talk Christianity and getting Christian ideas and values back into society when speaking to Christian groups. To us, this seems like dishonesty and dissembling, in some cases outright lying (no, I’m not being nasty–have a look here as to how William Buckingham, in the Dover trail lied under oath about the Christian connection).”
William Buckingham was the most inept supporter of changing the curriculum at Dover High School, and he was the head of the curriculum committee! The discovery Institute did not support what the school board tried to do in Dover. The ignorance that those school board members showed towards science in no way represents a consensus among Evangelical Christians. To argue such is to be quite ignorant of what Evangelicals believe. Mr. Buckingham actually made a statement that he rejected evolution [all evolution – micro and macro], because he didn’t believe he came from apes. So he did not understand common descent, nor did he make any attempt to educate himself on the issue before he made the decision to delay the approval of the schools’ biology text.
I think you would benefit from reading the Discovery Institute’s response to the Dover decision: Traipsing Into Evolution. You might not agree with the argument, but I think it might give you a better perspective on the DI’s involvement in the trial.
“To conclude: You really ought to read Miracles and The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis. In the former, he gives an eloquent and elegant refutation of metaphysical materialism (what he calls “naturalism” which is probably what you’d call it, too). In the latter, he explains why it is not contradictory to accept man as having evolved, even giving a brief sketch of his views on it. It’s really good reading.”
Awe shucks, I have Mere Christianity and Miracles, but not the Problem of Pain. While I respect C.S. Lewis, I would disagree with him if in fact he supported Darwin. Nevertheless, having read The Abolition Of Man many years ago, I recall him making the argument that naturalism was a deathblow to the human condition. I doubt if Lewis was able to detect that metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism are pretty much the same. I find no difference between the two. This is the point I made in my reference to Forrest. She thinks there is a difference, but she fails to make a convincing case for her view. Her view is somewhat tautological in that she says pretty much the same thing for both. She argues on the one hand that metaphysical naturalism is the belief that only material phenomenon exist, while stating that methodological naturalism limits what can be known to natural causes. Again – she fails to define “supernatural,” and she fails to validate the natural vs. supernatural dichotomy.
I think you should come over to UD and post. I think you would gain some interesting perspectives there. There are some excellent posts on the arguments for design, and other posts on religion and philosophy. We don’t have many TEs there, so your perspective would be welcomed and attacked at the same time. :) Sound exciting?



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jdg

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:33 am


First of all, the “wedge strategy” is an important issue even if you don’t admit it. This document details the ways you creationists want to destroy evolution. You need to understand that there is no creator, we are the products of many millions of years of evolutionary change. This evidence is overwhelming. ID is nothing more than religion “in a non religious sense” since you can’t use the word “creation” in any laws you clowns try to influence on state law makers.



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jdg

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:35 am


CY wrote
“1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people39 who suppress the truth by their40 unrighteousness,41 1:19 because what can be known about God is plain to them,42 because God has made it plain to them. 1:20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. [NetBible]”
You are really delusional, aren’t you???



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UppruniTegundanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:53 am


To answer the admittedly rhetorical question about why darwinists have a hard time being civil: they don’t. Human beings of all stripes go about their lives and exhibit varying levels of politeness and cooperation depending on their individual character. I have seen no discernible correlation in ability to be polite and civil that sides with any particular belief system. The illusion that one’s own group is more civil is predicated on the fact that people tend to be more open and friendly with people who possess similar characteristics to them.
I have attended a few skeptics meetings in my time, and have always found that people are universally kind, generous and polite, although they are all atheists. I’m sure you find the same with your co-religionists. The reason is not because of any particular characteristic that is unique to a particular group, but rather that humans are driven to be nicer to people like them than those that aren’t. I happen to think that this is not a very good characteristic: we should be equally civil and polite to everyone regardless of their group, but human nature is hard to repress and it doesn’t always happen that way.
However , once we hit the internet, things change slightly. Arguably we are not quite used to the opportunity that the internet affords us: i.e. to be able to communicate with people of vastly differing worldviews that we would not otherwise encounter. This has lead people who had previously been discussed among one another as bogeymen to be brought together to confront their differences. The anonymous nature of the internet allows people to feel that the normal social protocols that we obey in face to face discourse have been lifted. Hence the tendency for comment threads about anything from science and religion to flower arranging to degenerate into a stream of insults.
With the evolution question, the belief among the more pious believers is that people who accept evolution are morally equivalent to genocidal mass murderers, incapable of moral behaviour, vile, disgusting, degenerate human beings whose existence among the faithful constitutes a horrific contamination of a once pure earth. But don’t worry, the short amount of time that an individual darwinist (whatever that is) spends alive will be followed in the only appropriate manner: to be subjected to horrific torture that will eventually amount to more pain and suffering than has been visiting upon every living being on the planet since the dawn of time, and will then continue on into infinity. This is justifiable in the minds of many.
If you think that this is going to happen to someone, you may find the notion that that person is a nice, kind individual extremely painful to bear. So to defend yourself from feeling awful about the torture they are going to be put through, you force yourself to think that they are degenerate and deserving of the punishment by approaching the argument in a way that guarantees the discussion will be heated.
In my time, I have not only been told that I am going to hell, but also that my family will, that my dead brother is there now, that I am morally equivalent to Hitler, that I am sub-human and don’t deserve the rights of believers, that I would be murdered if the person who I was talking to came across me in real life. I have been told that I “love” death, and that I “hate” religious people. I have literally been punched in the face for commenting that I wasn’t religious. Has this left me feeling that religious people can’t be civil? NO!! Because to do so would be to make the exact same mistake that you are: thinking that these people’s behaviour actually reflects a fundamental quality of the group, rather than the more accurate answer that it reflects a negative aspect of human nature: xenophobia.
I’m sure it is very tempting to think that your beliefs give you some kind of magical access to morality that other people can only envy, and I imagine it makes you feel very good to think this. But however good it may make you feel, you are wrong in that belief. All people are capable of moral and immoral behaviour in equal measure.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:53 am


jdg, your comments are not helpful… while I am convinced that CY’s arguments are wrong, he does engage his opponents civilly and answers their arguments as best he can.
Typically if you wanted to cite something from the Bible you ought to say what parts of it you are quoting. Quoting passages without context doesn’t help your case, the Bible says a lot of things.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 24, 2009 at 4:30 am


Gabriel,
I’m going to answer this response first, and I’ll get to your other responses tomorrow. BTW, thanks for your kind words about my posts.
“Okay, CY, suppose I go along with you and agree, so where did the intelligence come from that designed the code? You’ve just refuted your own argument.”
Where did the intelligence come from? That’s the prime question that Darwinian evolution cannot answer. I would revert backwards here to information. This is the argument that Meyer starts out with. He believes that information is the bedrock of biology. Without information, you don’t get anything. In fact, information is present in all matter.
Now let’s talk about some basics of information. We understand information as existing in spaces. All matter contains information, but not all matter is a conduit of information such as the double helix structure of the DNA. The brain is another conduit of information. It processes information.
What I mean by all matter contains information:
Even the smallest particle of matter contains information – and that information is that it is a small particle of matter. It has a structure and mass, and so forth. It’s kind of referential information.
A given cube of ice contains information – it’s cold, it’s frozen, it has a particular shape, mass and hue.
Now suppose we talk about the information in a book. First of all the book itself is information – it is made of paper, glue and ink, and it has a particular mass and a particular structure. that’s the ony true information the book contains. All the other information that is written in the book is not actually in the book. It’s expressed in the book, but the information actually comes from somewhere else. In fact, if it’s a book of facts, the information expressed is probably incomplete, and it may or may not be sufficient. It may also be false information, but it is still no less information. So the information expressed in a book might be false, but the information contained in the book is true, because it only refers to the book’s real material features. Ok, so you get the concept. I’m not an information theorist, so this is just my own limited understanding. Trust me when I say that Meyer gives a far more rigorous explanation than I could hope to give, and I may have some of his concepts entirely wrong here, so bear with me.
Now let’s apply the concept to the 3 digit code found in each strand in the double helix of DNA. That is a code of expressed information. Like the information that is expressed in the book, it too could be incomplete, but sufficient for the purposes of the code.
Now I’m not going to pretend that I know what all that code stands for, but let’s just agree [as most evolutionists agree] that the DNA expresses a digital code, which functions like a computer chip, and that code provides the information needed for the functioning and characteristics of the cell.
OK, so let’s go up to the cellular level. The cell contains DNA – a breathtaking amount of DNA, and thus DNA code.
If we’re talking origins of life, Darwinism has a problem, because even the simplest cingle-celled organisms contain that breathtaking amount of DNA code in order for the cell to function as a living system. You asked where the intelligence came from. I think you need to ask where the information came from first, and if you argue through chance and necessity, you have a problem. Let’s assume several possibilities:
The cell developed the code – we know from a reasonable inference that this cannot be possible. The cell requires the code to function as a living organism – or for that matter, even as a simpler living organism.
The information formed as the cell formed. This doesn’t sound reasonable, since the cell requires all of the code in the first place.
The only viable alternative is that the information existed prior to the material cell, and I have already demonstrated that the material of the cell cannot exist without information, but information can exist outside of matter. So this sounds like the most parsimonious explanation. Remember, the cell cannot develop the necessary information on it’s own, because it requires the information to function. The information is the fuel that drives the animation functions and characteristics of the cell.
Now if you apply this to the very first living organism ever on the face of the earth [which is a Darwinian perspective, and not necessarily an ID perspective], you have to explain where the information came from. It’s an infinite regress problem that naturalistic mechanisms cannot address. The only viable explanation is that the information came from some sort of intelligent agent that is outside the organism. So the information was added concurrent with the matter. complex information that drives a function always comes from an intelligent source. We know this to be true in engineering, and so it is only reasonable to infer that it is also true in biological systems. We do not currently know of any situation where this is otherwise, so it is the best inference.
OK, there’s another possibility – the matter was created first, but was inanimate, and the expressed information was added later. This is a possibility, and it harmonizes with the design argument quite well.
That’s as far as ID goes. That’s a design inference in a nutshell. It does not address who the designer is, but can reasonably infer a designer.
Either way, you are forced to make a design inference at the origins of life level. What’s to stop you from also making such inferences at any other time during evolution? In fact, evolution cannot operate without design. Yet Darwinian evolution states there is no design. So it is self-refuting. You stated that my argument is self-refuting, I have just refuted yours. Keep in mind again, that I am not a scientist, so my understanding is quite limited. If this argument intrigues you, I would suggest reading Meyer’s new book The Signature in the Cell. I’m sure his book is far more interesting than my posts here.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 24, 2009 at 5:01 am


Gabriel,
Ok, one more then I’m off to bed. lol
“Canuckian Yankee, imagine an engineer who purposefully builds a bridge which will fall down when cars pass over it.
You might argue with him, saying that is a terrible design for a bridge. He may respond that he is a social critic who thinks automobiles encourage consumerism and should be destroyed. Or he may respond that the bridge is conceptual art. As social criticism or conceptual art the bridge may be a success, but at holding cars up the bridge is a failure. This is not a metaphysical question.”
I’m assuming that this is a response to my contention that finding flaws in biology does not make sense for Darwinism. Allow me to explain:
Darwinism as stated is a purposeless mechanism of evolution via random mutation and natural selection – organisms adapt to their environments and evolve. They evolve from less complex structures to more complex, and are driven to do so via a survival instinct of some sort.
There is no way to tell within this paradigm that something is a flaw. If evolution is purposeless apart from the need to survive, it makes no sense to assume that anything is a flaw. All flaws, in fact, are simply mutations, within the process of evolution.
The only paradigm where detecting a flaw is reasonable, is within a design paradigm.
I understand that Darwin was arguing against a designer, because such a designer would not have left flaws, but this too is a metaphysical assertion, and not a scientific argument. Darwin precluded a designer’s non-existence, and he used the so-called flaws as evidence. In otherwords, he assumed the truthfulness of his assertion, and fitted the evidence to support the assertion. This is not how science is done. What he determined were flaws might have had explanations, and indeed, some of them did – the appendix, for example – once thought to be a vestegial organ by Darwinists, is now known to serva a function in our bodies’ immune systems. There are many such assertions made by Darwin’s defenders.
You know, I just realized that we’ve gotten way off topic for this thread. I hope he doesn’t mind. I think we’re demonstrating civil discourse. hehe.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 24, 2009 at 5:48 am


jdg,
“First of all, the “wedge strategy” is an important issue even if you don’t admit it. This document details the ways you creationists want to destroy evolution. You need to understand that there is no creator, we are the products of many millions of years of evolutionary change. This evidence is overwhelming. ID is nothing more than religion “in a non religious sense” since you can’t use the word “creation” in any laws you clowns try to influence on state law makers.”
I don’t have a reason to admit it, because it isn’t true. I am not a supporter of the wedge strategy, so it has nothing to do with me. I accept ID on the merits of its argument, and not despite these distracting issues. I think you need to understand that philosophically the existence of God makes far more sense than that there is no God. Without the existence of a necessary first cause of everything that exists, you are faced with what philosophers call an infinite regress. Infinite regresses are logical absurdities.
Atheists counter this argument merely by asking “who designed the designer?,” – thinking that they have passed the infinite regress problem onto the theist; but this is simply question-begging. It assumes that a designer needs to be designed. One does not if the designer is the necessary being and all other existences are contingent on the designer. The atheist philosophy is metaphysically inferior to theism, since it cannot solve some basic logical absurdities.
The first cause argument is known more popularly as the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and has been posited most recently by Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig. Craig travels across the country mainly debating atheists. None of his opponents has given a reasonable refutation to his argument.
The evidence for Darwinian evolution is not as overwhelming as you suppose. There are huge gaps in the fossil record, which forms the largest evidential part of the theory. Scientists are continually baffled when the expected transitionary forms are not found, which Darwin predicted should be in abundance. Also, the Cambrian Explosion demonstrates a sudden arriveal of new species over a relatively short evolutionary period of time, rather than a gradual development of species over vast eons of time. Darwinists like Steven J. Gould had to posit a fixing mechanism to the theory called “Punctuated Equilibrium,” in order to address this problem. There are many flaws in Darwin’s theory, and I believe that the theory is slowly but surely collapsing in on itself. There may be limited applications for Darwinian theory in the future, such as some applications for natural selection and adaptation in a micro-evolutionary limitation, but the evidence for transitional macro-evolution is greatly lacking, and most Darwinists, if they are honest, realize this fact.
The days when Darwinism will explain why bald men are more attractive to younger women, or why babies grasp their mothers’ hair, or why body hair now no longer serves a function on humans, since we wear clothes now, and other Darwininian “just-so” stories will be a think of the past, as the Darwinian establishment finally comes to its senses.
The evidence for Human macro-evolution is dismally lacking. If you look at the fossil record there are huge gaps over millions of years, and much of what some posit as transitional forms, are doubted as such by others.
I don’t get involved in politics, so I have no opinion either way as to whether ID should be taught in public schools. I do, however, support the teaching of the strengths and weaknesses of evolution in schools, because this teaches children to be critical thinkers, rather than memorizers of current “established” facts. What is an established fact today, could well be a sufficiently debunked notion tomorrow. We owe it to our children not to indoctrinate them in any ideology apart from their own free choice. Nobody forced me to be a Christian – I made that decision on my own, and I’m happy to have had that choice.



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Ernest Anderson

posted July 24, 2009 at 10:35 am


God bless you for remaining faithful to the biblical account of creation. It is by faith we believe the worlds were made by the hand of God. No one is smart enough to be an atheist. It is interesting to hear othrs explain how morality and ethics evolved. Without God there would be no right or wrong, nothing at all!!!



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Turmarion

posted July 24, 2009 at 11:40 am


CannuckianYankee: There are some scriptural problems with this.
Well, this gives up the game. So it is about Christianity and not science. I follow Thomas Aquinas in saying that God cannot contradict Himself–reason and revelation both tell us about him. I also follow John Henry Newman in saying that if reason and science are in conflict with Scripture, and the reason and science of the particular case are unassailable, then it is our understanding of Scripture that has to change. The same arguments you’re using were used by those who opposed Galileo. However, the science won out, and the interpretation of Scripture regarding the sun and Earth became figurative.
You have to understand that there is also a concept that developed early on in Church history – the concept of the two types of revelation – Special Revelation, which is that which is given to us through miracles and written text, and General Revelation, that which is revealed through the creation.
I’m quite aware of these concepts, as well as Natural Law, etc. I’m not sure that general revelation is quite as clear and unambiguous as Paul indicates. Were that so, there would be no other religions. For that matter, even the Christian revelation must not be as clear as it could be, or there wouldn’t be hundreds of different churches! Moreover, as Isaiah 45:15 and statements by both Jesus (Matthew 13:13-15) and Paul (Romans 11) seem to indicate, it is part of God’s providence that some or perhaps many not be able to see and hear and grasp God’s purposes or even existence. It seems that leaving the traces of His work ambiguous and susceptible of various interpretations, including non-religious ones, is part of God’s providence.
God’s nature is not the nature of material.
Of course not. As the Scholastics, the Church Fathers, and John of the Cross point out, everything we can say about God must be analogical. We can’t even say He “exists” in the same way that we do. This is why John of the Cross says God is “nada“, “nothing”. Not that He doesn’t exist–he is “no thing” of any type that we know, since He is wholly transcendent.
His nature is such that he can intervene in the molecular makeup of a vat of water, changing it into wine. I don’t presume to know how he can do that, and there is an element of faith involved. However, faith is not [as is often erroneously asserted] a belief in what is impossible – rather, what is possible for God as the necessary first cause of all that exists.
True enough, but irrelevant. He could also intervene through seemingly chance events that drive evolution. What’s the problem with that? Also, to say that faith doesn’t believe the impossible since all is possible with God begs the question. To one who doesn’t believe to begin with, that’s not going to wash. You have to argue why someone should accept that God exists to begin with before you start arguing what He can or can’t do. BTW, He can’t do logically impossible things, such as creating a married bachelor or making the sum of the angles of a triangle in a plane greater than one hundred eighty degrees or making 2+2=5. Almost all major theologians would agree with this.
If He had the ability to bring the world into existence – i.e., it wasn’t impossible for Him, then He has the ability to bring about a miracle by his nature, which is also not an impossible feat
Yes, but observation indicates that He very, very, very rarely intervenes with miracles, preferring to use the ordinary laws of nature.
Now the reason why ID specifically does not attempt to identify the designer, is because ID theorists do not currently believe that such an identity can be scientifically determined. It’s currently a matter for philosophy and theology.
Even if ID could be established, it will never be possible to scientifically determine the identity of the Designer. By definition that is a philosophical/theological question, not a scientific one! If the Pharisees could watch Jesus perform miracles and still not believe him, I don’t see how you can possibly think that science could ever “prove” that God is the Creator. I guess you could say that they obstinately refuse to believe out of bad faith, but I think I’d give them (and even the Pharisees!) a little more credit than that!
Put it this way: if a man came up to you and under the most rigorous conditions proceeded to perform a series of undoubted miracles, and then attributed them to the power of Isis and Osiris, would you leave Christianity and become a follower of the Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) religion? Or would you instead say that you witnessed a human or demonic deception? (In this regard, see Matthew 24:23-27) If the answer is the latter (as I suspect it would be), then you need to realize that it is the same way for a scientist–the interpretation of an extraordinary event as an act of God proceeds from one’s prior metaphysical commitment, not from the event itself.
However, if God created the universe and everything in it, it is reasonable that one should be able to detect the results of design
See, this is the problem. On this ground Galileo’s opponents argued against the heliocentric model since that would make Earth just one among many planets, rather than the center of the cosmos through God’s provident design. Many things that were later found out to work by natural laws were originally thought to be signs of God’s direct action, e.g. the perpetual motion of the planets. I would tend to say that the fact that the universe exists at all is a sign of God’s action–but anything within it has to be based on the evidence; and the evidence is for evolution.
I just happen to believe that the design perspective is the best scientifically and biblically. It’s the best scientifically because it makes no assertions about what a designer would or would not do – it’s only interested in the question: “is design detectable, and if so, is it the best, most parsimonious perspective on the reality of biological nature?”
Well-intentioned, but muddled again. Whether it’s best biblically is beside the point. If I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with my car, I don’t consult Scripture; I go to a mechanic. Arguably the Medieval notion that the planets are moved by angels is “better” Scripturally, but the fact that gravity sufficiently and accurately explains their motion of necessity knocks out that model. You can’t start by asking if it’s better Scripturally–you have to see how things are, and then figure out the theology from there. ID is not best, or even adequate scientifically since there simply is no evidence for it. And once more, if we don’t know what the Designer would or wouldn’t do, then we can’t even define what the characteristics of “design” are; and if we can’t do that, we can’t look for it, or recognize it if we see it. If you tell me to go look for a wombat and I’ve never seen or heard of one, it’s going to be a loooong search!
I have never made the argument that I don’t have my own metaphysical assumptions.
Glad you admit it!
I don’t believe that science is the only purveyor of truth.
I agree–however, we have to go with the truths it does purvey. To say that the sun goes around the Earth because Scripture says so, or that Earth is flat on the same grounds, and to defend it against the scientific evidence by saying that science is “not the only purveyor of truth” would, of course, be ridiculous.
Have you considered other alternatives to the argument that ID can’t be science because only Evangelicals believe it?
That’s not quite what I said. I didn’t say it can’t be science because only Evangelicals believe it. I said that if it is being driven purely by the science and not ideology, you ought to have lots of people from different religious backgrounds, and even atheists and agnostics, who were developing it. Methodists are no more likely to study organic chemistry than Zoroastrians, for example! The extreme preponderance of Evangelicals is rather fishy to me, to say the least.
I don’t know where you get the 99% number of Evangelicals in the field of ID. I would have to say that is false.
I don’t have the time to do the research, but perhaps someone could give us the religious affiliation of the major ID “theorists”? As Don Henley said, “I could be wrong, but I’m not!”
Perhaps supporters of ID might reach that number
I appreciate your honesty in conceding this!
I must respectfully disagree with your interpretation of the Wedge Document. The major movers and shakers behind it are also the ones bankrolling the DI and most ID people. To the extent that it has been “abandoned” it is because 1. they’re trying to take a lower profile and 2. because many of its stated goals crashed and burned (such as winning a court case–see Dover).
William Buckingham was the most inept supporter of changing the curriculum at Dover High School
Then why did they call him? Why did he lie outright?
The discovery Institute did not support what the school board tried to do in Dover.
Then why did Michael Behe testify?
While I respect C.S. Lewis, I would disagree with him if in fact he supported Darwin.
You ought to at least read The Problem of Pain. Also, if you carefully read Miracles, you’ll see that he didn’t even believe that all the Old Testament miracles literally happened.
I doubt if Lewis was able to detect that metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism are pretty much the same.
See, this is where we disagree. I don’t detect that metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism are pretty much the same, because they aren’t. If this were true, it would be impossible for believers to be scientists, or for that matter car mechanics, whereas this is manifestly not the case. I’d have to read Forrest in greater detail, but even if she fails to make a case for the difference, I think that such a case can be easily made. I won’t make it here, for lack of space, but I think it can be easily done. I do think I made a fairly robust definiton of “supernatural” vs. “natural” in the last post.
Anyway, while I don’t doubt your good faith and appreciate your courtesy, I must disagree with your premises. I can say that you at least respond to questions and make arguments–something our moderator here adamantly refuses to do!



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Turmarion

posted July 24, 2009 at 11:53 am


UppruniTegundanna, excellent post. I agree with you that we must be civil even to those with whom we sharply disagree, and that people, alas, fall far short of that ideal. People on both sides of the argument here should remember that before they do ad hominems, name-calling, or the types of slanders and slurs in which David regularly deals.



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Mike McCants

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:50 pm


“Their purpose is intimidation.”
That’s just wrong.
Their purpose is to point out that evolution is supported by all of the scientific evidence and no “alternative” is supported by any scientific evidence.



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David Klinghoffer

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm


No, Mike McCants, I’m sorry, you’re wrong. Whether in academic life or in humble comment threads on a Beliefnet blog, Darwinists make other people with different views anything ranging from afraid to simply uncomfortable about expressing dissent. That’s call intimidation.



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Turmarion

posted July 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm


So David, since you’re here, what about my questions? I’ve been posting and re-posting. How is what you said about life’s “evolutionary history of billions of years” different from theistic evolution? What about randomness and the implications of alien intelligence? What about the image of God? If you don’t even acknowledge the questions, it implies that you either have no answers, or are being plain rude-like all those awful “Darwinists” you’re always condemning!
By the way, having no answers is no shame in itself. If you say, “Gee, let me think about it,” that would be acceptable. However, not acknowledging the questions isn’t the way to go. Also, “let me think about it” doesn’t mean “I’m gonna answer or not whenever I darn well feel like it.” At least CannuckianYankee has actually been trying to engage us on the other side. Why can’t you?



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 24, 2009 at 10:27 pm


Turmarion,
“Well, this gives up the game. So it is about Christianity and not science.”
How so? You made an argument that since Jesus said “no sign shall be given,” God’s design cannot be detected in nature.
I stated that there are scriptural problems with this, and cited Romans 1, where it explicitly states that God’s existence CAN be seen through the creation.
In this I am arguing your point, not ID. ID is a totally separate issue.
Besides that, it appears you yourself make specifically religious claims that allow you to support Darwin. How is this not making metaphysical assumptions?
This is a problem for me, because Darwinists do not admit that they make metaphysical assumptions when doing science. They think their arguments are completely empirical, and that they have a monopoly on science truth. They do not.
This is why I find it completely reasonable to call them Darwinists, because they make the same accusations against me as incapable of doing science due to my metaphysical assumptions, when in fact they make the same assumptions themselves.
So you see, it really is a two way street.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 24, 2009 at 10:40 pm


Turmarion,
“I follow Thomas Aquinas in saying that God cannot contradict Himself–reason and revelation both tell us about him.”
I also follow this. I don’t find any contradiction between scripture and science. I agree with you that if science should show a contradiction, then it is how we interpret scripture. On the other hand, I also believe that God spoke through human beings with a particular perspective on reality. That perspective largely does not exist in our modern world. Scripture is not a science manual, as some seem to think, but it doesn’t contradict science, since science is not the end game of all truth. Science understanding in fact evolves.
What was scientifically valid at one time may no longer be – I posit Geocentrism as an example of this. Geocentrism was the best explanation from obersvation at one time. Now it is not.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 24, 2009 at 10:53 pm


“I’m not sure that general revelation is quite as clear and unambiguous as Paul indicates.”
Even an atheist like Dawkins stated that complex biological organisms give the appearance of design. What’s ambiguous about that?
Dawkins goes to great lengths to argue that appearance away, but this appears to me as a striking denial – counterintuitive nature notwithstanding.
If something appears to be designed, it is not unreasonable to suggest that such appearance might indicate that it has indeed been designed. You would probably argue that this can’t be done scientifically, while I would argue that such a position comes from a metaphysical objection (your notion that God can’t be detected in nature), not a scientific one.



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Olorin

posted July 25, 2009 at 12:13 am


CannuckianYankee: “If something appears to be designed, it is not unreasonable to suggest that such appearance might indicate that it has indeed been designed.
True. BUT—the appearance is not evidence of design. It is only an analogy, which must then be rested. In the classic Müller-Lyer illusion, one line very convincingly appears to be longer than the other one. However, when we apply the ruler of evidence, reality falls away, even though the appearance remains. As a scientist once remarked, if common sense were reliable, why would we need science?



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Olorin

posted July 25, 2009 at 12:17 am


(I really messed up that last post. I can only plead lateness of hour)
CannuckianYankee: “If something appears to be designed, it is not unreasonable to suggest that such appearance might indicate that it has indeed been designed.
True. BUT—the appearance is not evidence of design. It is only an analogy, which must then be tested. In the classic Müller-Lyer illusion, one line very convincingly appears to be longer than the other one. However, when we apply the ruler of evidence, reality differs, even though the appearance remains. As a scientist once remarked, if common sense were reliable, why would we need science?



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 25, 2009 at 12:39 am


Olorin,
CannuckianYankee: “If something appears to be designed, it is not unreasonable to suggest that such appearance might indicate that it has indeed been designed.”
Olorin: “True. BUT—the appearance is not evidence of design. It is only an analogy, which must then be tested. In the classic Müller-Lyer illusion, one line very convincingly appears to be longer than the other one. However, when we apply the ruler of evidence, reality differs, even though the appearance remains. As a scientist once remarked, if common sense were reliable, why would we need science?”
I think you would benefit from following my argument more closely. I never stated that appearance of design is evidence of design. I made the argument that it is reasonable, since complex biological organisms give the appearance of design, to look into them to see if in fact they are designed.
The only objection to this seems to be a metaphysical assumption – that a designer would not have made things as they are with all the apparent flaws. This is not a scientific argument.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 25, 2009 at 12:55 am


Turmarion,
“I’m not sure that general revelation is quite as clear and unambiguous as Paul indicates. Were that so, there would be no other religions. For that matter, even the Christian revelation must not be as clear as it could be, or there wouldn’t be hundreds of different churches!”
I perceive that you maka a lot of assertions about Christianity that are not necessarily so. You assert, for instance that Paul’s words are ambiguous, and this is why there are so many churches. This does not follow. First of all, I don’t believe that Paul’s words are as ambiguous as you suggest. He makes statements that if interpreted in context without eisegetical presumptions, are quite clear.
So the reason why there are so many churches does not find its explanation in Paul’s failure to be clear. Allow me to suggest several alternative explanations: Perhaps it’s because we as human beings have failed to understand Paul. Perhaps it’s because we as humans have alterior motives. Perhaps the number of churches is not indicative of disagreement on key issues, but on minor issues. There are a lot of alternative explanations that could be reasonably infered.



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Turmarion

posted July 25, 2009 at 1:36 am


CannuckianYankee: I stated that there are scriptural problems with this, and cited Romans 1, where it explicitly states that God’s existence CAN be seen through the creation.
Interestingly, my church’s Bible study group is studying Romans right now. I think the quote you gave misses the context. In super, super brief, Paul is here condemning the Gentiles in typical Jewish terms (they ignorantly deny God and worship the creations of their own hands). In following chapters, he condemns the Jews as not living up to the demands of their own Torah (no offense, David–I’m giving the usual exegesis of Paul here, not expressing my own opinion on Judaism). From this he derives the idea that all have fallen short, in preparation for his proclamation of our salvation by faith in Christ. Thus, I don’t think this quote by itself can be used to argue for whether or not God’s action in the world is easily perceptible (or perceptible at all by normal means).
Besides that, it appears you yourself make specifically religious claims that allow you to support Darwin. How is this not making metaphysical assumptions?
We all make metaphysical assumptions, you, me, everybody. However, if my metaphysical assumptions entailed a belief that the Earth is flat or that 2+2=711 (things that can be disproved on non-metaphysical grounds), then my metaphysical assumptions are either misunderstood or wrong. The state of current scientific evidence is that belief that evolution didn’t occur is on a par with flat-Earthism or belief that 2+2=711. That could change, but until it does it would seem that any metaphysical assumption that denies evolution is wrong.
This is a problem for me, because Darwinists do not admit that they make metaphysical assumptions when doing science.
That’s because they don’t. You have stated that you think the distinction between methodological and metaphysical materialism (or naturalism, as you prefer to say) is nonexistent or practically so, but I think you’re grievously mistaken there.
This is why I find it completely reasonable to call them Darwinists, because they make the same accusations against me as incapable of doing science due to my metaphysical assumptions, when in fact they make the same assumptions themselves.
In physics there is an idea called the Anthropic Principle (Google it). In short, it says that the universe is suitable for life (weak AP) or must be suitable for life (strong AP–I’m grossly oversimplifying here for space). Now it is controversial, but many scientists who are agnostics or even atheists have accepted the AP in various forms. Some say it implies God, but others say that perhaps intelligence itself produces the cosmos. The point is that people from various religious and even non-religious or anti-religious backgrounds have accepted this principle. This is because the evidence points that way. That almost no biologists have embraced ID indicates to me that the evidence does not point that way. When and if it ever does, I’m sure they’ll turn around. If such evidence never is established, then theistic evolution would seem to be a better idea than ID.
Scripture is not a science manual, as some seem to think, but it doesn’t contradict science, since science is not the end game of all truth. Science understanding in fact evolves.
I completely agree.
What was scientifically valid at one time may no longer be – I posit Geocentrism as an example of this. Geocentrism was the best explanation from observation at one time. Now it is not.
Also completely agreed. At some time in the future, it may be that ID will actually become scientifically valid. It is not now so.
I perceive that you maka a lot of assertions about Christianity that are not necessarily so.
And I perceive the exact same thing about you! “Both read the Bible day and night/ But thou read’st black where I read white.”–William Blake
Perhaps [the number of different churches is] because we as human beings have failed to understand Paul.
I’m not sure that’s much different from his being obscure.
Perhaps the number of churches is not indicative of disagreement on key issues, but on minor issues.
Tell that to the members! If everyone agreed that disagreements were on minor issues (and as C. S. Lewis points out in the preface to Mere Christianity, Christians can’t even agree on what issues are minor), the Wars of Religion of the Renaissance, the Know-Nothingism of the 19th Century, and inter-church debate in the present would never have occurred, would they?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 25, 2009 at 2:52 am


CY:
Where did the intelligence come from? That’s the prime question that Darwinian evolution cannot answer.
You are asserting this. You have not proved it. Darwinian evolution does answer it, but you reject the answer.
Either way, you are forced to make a design inference at the origins of life level.
Again, an assertion without proof. You talk about information, but you don’t know much physics. Information is spontaneously created all the time–I often use the example of a snowflake. A drop of water has very little information. A snowflake has a great deal. Is every snowflake designed? Of course not.
A primitive replicator might be rather like a snowflake, more like a chemical than like an organism. As long as it can replicate itself, and it has properties which influence its ability to replicate, then it can evolve by natural selection.
You stated that my argument is self-refuting, I have just refuted yours.
No, you have talked a great deal about a technical concept of which you know little, and asserted that it proves me wrong. Information is spontaneously created all the time. This is a subtle consequence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which requires some knowledge of statistical mechanics to understand.
Waves sort pebbles on a beach. Water freezes to ice. Rubber bands get cooler as you stretch them. All of these require increases of information. Is God intervening in each one? You never knew that any of these things involve “information”, just as much as DNA does, because you listen to people like Meyer, and
I am not a scientist, so my understanding is quite limited.
True. If you are faithfully summarizing Meyer’s views, either his understanding is as limited as yours, or else he has deceived you deliberately.
They evolve from less complex structures to more complex, and are driven to do so via a survival instinct of some sort.
Neither of these clauses is strictly true. The basis of evolution by natural selection is this:
A population of organisms exists, more or less well adapted to its environment. Because individuals in the population differ, some are better adapted than others. The hereditary characteristics of the population will in time come to be dominated by the characteristics of those individuals better adapted to the environment.
“Adaptation” means that some combination of survival and reproduction is better for some individuals and worse for others. A cat that eats its own kittens may live to be 100, but it will not pass on any of its characteristics to a new generation.
There is no way to tell within this paradigm that something is a flaw. If evolution is purposeless apart from the need to survive, it makes no sense to assume that anything is a flaw. All flaws, in fact, are simply mutations, within the process of evolution.
First, evolution requires REPRODUCTION as well as SURVIVAL. Mayflies live only days. Trees live for centuries. But there are still mayflies, because they reproduce faster than their environment can kill them. Evolution is NOT only about survival.
A “flaw” means that an organism does not survive and reproduce as well as its relatives. This is a very absolute standard.
If death were entirely random, there could be no evolution. Death is not random. Slower rabbits get caught more often by foxes. All else being equal–and the qualification is VERY important–the population will be dominated by the descendants of faster rabbits. Obviously the rabbits’ speed cannot increase forever, because faster rabbits have to give up some other advantage, because resources are limited. Maybe a slower rabbit which has litters twice as large will leave more descendants than a faster rabbit.
But it is the fox that decides which rabbits live and which die when chased by foxes. There is nothing random about this.
You are arguing with a caricature of evolution by natural selection.
The only paradigm where detecting a flaw is reasonable, is within a design paradigm.
Nonsense. An organism is well-designed or poorly designed by how well it leaves descendants. It has nothing to do with the intentions, or lack thereof, of the designer, if any.
Just like my ball bearing example, I can have whatever intentions I want when I design it, and choose any standard I like, but a bad ball bearing ruins the equipment it is placed in, regardless of what my design intentions.
If God designs an animal made of Jello that can’t run without tripping over its own feet, and can only breed during solar eclipses, that animal will go extinct in short order. It is a bad design by the only criterion that makes sense biologically–how well does the organism survive and reproduce? This has no reference whatever to what the designer was trying to accomplish.
You are trying to draw the bullseye around where you shot the arrow.
I understand that Darwin was arguing against a designer, because such a designer would not have left flaws, but this too is a metaphysical assertion, and not a scientific argument. Darwin precluded a designer’s non-existence, and he used the so-called flaws as evidence. In otherwords, he assumed the truthfulness of his assertion, and fitted the evidence to support the assertion. This is not how science is done. What he determined were flaws might have had explanations, and indeed, some of them did – the appendix, for example – once thought to be a vestegial organ by Darwinists, is now known to serva a function in our bodies’ immune systems. There are many such assertions made by Darwin’s defenders.
This is all irrelevant. Does an organism’s body enable it to survive and reproduce well relative to other organisms? It’s a very simple, non-metaphysical question which can be answered merely by looking at the world around you.
Pandas are terrible at digesting bamboo. Cows are very good at it. Animals to eat something to live. Very simple. It has no bearing whatever on what God’s intentions in building a panda might have been.
Without the existence of a necessary first cause of everything that exists, you are faced with what philosophers call an infinite regress. Infinite regresses are logical absurdities.
This was a great argument 2000 years ago. There is a great deal you do not know about cause and effect. Modern physics has forced us to revise many philosophical notions.
Here’s one problem-you assume that time and events must have a beginning, or else be logically absurd. Doesn’t it follow that they must also have an end? Why not? Why is it okay for time to be unlimited in one direction, but bounded in the other? There is nothing logically wrong with time never having had a beginning. I do not argue that there was no beginning to time–obviously a physicist today would not make such an argument, since we almost all accept the Big Bang.
Atheists counter this argument merely by asking “who designed the designer?,” – thinking that they have passed the infinite regress problem onto the theist; but this is simply question-begging. It assumes that a designer needs to be designed.
So why do you get to just invent qualities for your designer, but I have to prove everything? You have one rule for me and the opposite rule for you. But your argument is even weaker than that.
You say “information” must be created by a designer. Dembski talks about “conservation of information”. Does a designer require information?
If the answer is “yes”, then either a) the designer must have also had a designer, or b) the designer has information not created by a designer, which contradicts your premise.
If the answer is “no”, then information was created by something without information, which contradicts your premise.
This is why you argument is, as I said, self-refuting.
(“Question-begging” doesn’t mean what you think it means. If you say, “How do anesthetics work?” and I answer “They work by putting people to sleep”, I have begged the question.)
The first cause argument is known more popularly as the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and has been posited most recently by Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig. Craig travels across the country mainly debating atheists. None of his opponents has given a reasonable refutation to his argument.
This is actually not true. You just don’t listen to the answers. In the lab I see events without causes all the time. The universe has been known to be fundamentally indeterministic for over a century now.
There are huge gaps in the fossil record, which forms the largest evidential part of the theory. Scientists are continually baffled when the expected transitionary forms are not found, which Darwin predicted should be in abundance.
This is not true. Thousands of transitional fossils have been discovered: whales, horses, trilobites, dinosaurs, primates… They are in abundance. But this is just a trick.
I show you two fossils, A & B. You say, where is the transitional form, C? I find it. Now you say, where is the transitional form D between A and C, and E between B and C? If I find those two, you will demand four more. The game goes on forever.
Also, the Cambrian Explosion demonstrates a sudden arriveal of new species over a relatively short evolutionary period of time, rather than a gradual development of species over vast eons of time.
Also not true. The Cambrian Explosion happened over a period of 80 million years. During this time species gradually developed, but more quickly than at other times, for unknown reasons. This is “vast eons of time”. To go from a world of dinosaurs to a world of mammals took only 65 million years.
Darwinists like Steven J. Gould had to posit a fixing mechanism to the theory called “Punctuated Equilibrium,” in order to address this problem.
This is not what “punctuated equilibrium” is about at all. Gould in “The Panda’s Thumb”:
Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists — whether through design or stupidity, I do not know — as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. The punctuations occur at the level of species; directional trends (on the staircase model) are rife at the higher level of transitions within major groups.
There may be limited applications for Darwinian theory in the future, such as some applications for natural selection and adaptation in a micro-evolutionary limitation, but the evidence for transitional macro-evolution is greatly lacking, and most Darwinists, if they are honest, realize this fact.
There is no difference in kind between micro- and macro-evolution. Macro-evolution is the sum of micro-evolutions. There is also a great deal of evidence for macro-evolution, which you shut your eyes to. For example, in whales, Ambulocetus, Rhodocetus, Basilosaurus, Dorudon, Squalodon are transitional forms between Pakicetus and modern whales.
I have a transitional form in my aquarium at home, Polypterus ornatipinnis. It is a fish that looks like a snake with feet. It can breathe air and store it in a modified swim bladder, and crawl on land for short distances. You would have to be perverse to deny that such a creature’s descendants could not gradually spend more time on land.
I do, however, support the teaching of the strengths and weaknesses of evolution in schools, because this teaches children to be critical thinkers, rather than memorizers of current “established” facts.
These would have to be presented fairly, which ID proponents at the Discovery Institute cannot be trusted to do, as shown by what they write about evolution and how they distort quotes.
Even if this where the case, why stop at evolution? Let’s give equal time to astrologers, alchemists, people who don’t believe in relativity or quantum mechanics or Newtonian physics. Let the children sort out for themselves what is science and what is not. What could possibly go wrong?



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Olorin

posted July 25, 2009 at 4:06 pm


Canuckian Yankee: “I never stated that appearance of design is evidence of design. I made the argument that it is reasonable, since complex biological organisms give the appearance of design, to look into them to see if in fact they are designed. [graf] The only objection to this seems to be a metaphysical assumption….”
No, no, a thousand times no. The objection to the appearance of design is that there is no actual evidence for it.
Design was in fact the default hypothesis for thousands of years. Not because there was any positive evidence for it, but only because of the compelling appearance. Then came Darwin, and we suddenly had an alternative, which came with a ton of evidence for common descent from 20 years of fieldwork before publication, and which proposed a plausible mechanism: variation, overfecundity, and selection.
Meanwhile, design (natural theology) was no farther along than it had been a thousand years earlier.
The metaphysics is important only in this respect. Darwinian evolution proposes a mechanism, a model that follows natural laws, which is capable of being tested and of making useful predictions. Design, on the other hand, has no useful consequences. It can’t be tested, because the Designer’s motives and goals are unknown, his actions arbitrary and unpredictable by definition. It can’t make predictions because the Designer is assumed to be beyond natural law.
Sorry, that just doesn’t work. Supernatural vel non has nothing to do with the matter.
[BTW, my wife is also a Canuckian Yankee. So I undersatnd your pain.]



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PsiCop

posted July 25, 2009 at 5:37 pm


I’m not sure you realize this, but there is no such thing as a “Darwinist.” Evolution is not “Darwinism,” any more than relativity is “Einsteinism,” the atomic model is “Bohrism,” or celestial mechanics is “Newtonism.” Calling the evolution model “Darwinism,” and the scientists who work on it “Darwinists,” implies that they are worshipping a religion founded by Charles Darwin … just as you who are Christians are followers of Jesus Christ.
This is not the case, however. Charles Darwin is not worshipped as a prophet. His ideas were, to be sure, the launch-pad for what is now the evolution model, however, it has been revised in the 150 years or so since his time, and is not precisely the same. By the same token, in another 150 years, I expect it will be different than it is now. The evolution model has not resisted change, as religions resist change.
By implying that the evolution model is a religion, you are misrepresenting its nature. In other words, you’re lying about it. Please describe why it is you believe yourself entitled to lie, in order to propagate your metaphysics?



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Theo Magyar

posted July 25, 2009 at 6:25 pm


I’m not sure whether any “Darwinists” will still be reading this post: I want to thank them profusely for their posts and arguments. I am so impressed at your patience and persistence in refuting illogical arguments. I don’t bother to post anymore (I’m one of The Stranger’s flying Slog monkeys brought here by DK’s views on gayness) as Mr Klinghoffer seems disinterested in logic and discourse. Thanks!



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Olorin

posted July 25, 2009 at 11:49 pm


Theo the Hungarian, some of us darwinistas just can’t sleep at night worrying about the vacuity of some peoples’ minds.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 26, 2009 at 12:13 am


Theo the Hungarian, some of us darwinistas just can’t sleep at night worrying about the vacuity of some peoples’ minds.
I’m not concerned about IDers being converted to mainstream biology. That is never going to happen. I don’t much care what people believe.
I post here because David and the other DI fellows say things about science and scientists that are not true, to audiences that don’t know better.
If astrologers or alchemists or flat-Earthers were lobbying school boards and state legislatures to get their debunked ideas into the educational system, I would be doing the same.



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Olorin

posted July 27, 2009 at 12:21 am


Gabriel Hanna: “If astrologers or alchemists or flat-Earthers were lobbying school boards and state legislatures to get their debunked ideas into the educational system, I would be doing the same.”
Ah yes, as did poor Rudolf Boltamann. Faced with disparagement of his atomic theory, he took out ads in every Tagesblad, lobbied every Rathaus in his country to adopt his theory in the schools, financed theater performances on how Continuum Theory caused the bubonic plague. In short, he did everything except conduct research for 30 years. Not.



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LRA

posted July 27, 2009 at 3:22 pm


Well, I waited a few days and my post with the link to Kenneth Miller’s talk on “The Collapse of Intelligent Design” was never posted (that’s ok– just go to YouTube and put in the author and the talk’s title and it will pop up). My point is that ID has been *throughly debunked*.
It is so thoroughly debunked that it is not considered worth talking about in academic circles except for discussions about how IDers are using the political machine to peddle their snake oil on a largely un-educated audience (and primarily in churches… yet they claim not to be creationists, go figure).
Yet, IDers complain that we are uncivil. Well, how silly! We have debunked your pseudo-scientific claims over and over and over and over, but you keep putting them out there and eventually we lose patience. That’s not uncivil, it’s normal.
Plus, you want to sling your debunked ideas in our public schools, and that is just unacceptable (Texas State Board of Education, anyone?). We are tired of you. Give us some actual data, not some philosophical writings which revolve around quote-mining of real science, and we might take you seriously.



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Marion Delgado

posted July 29, 2009 at 3:42 am


What everyone else said. You’re not civil. Neither are any creationists. This essay rests on a foundation of falsehood.
It reminds me of the “Evolution Fairytale” forum which claims to be the only civil, balanced, fair, etc. place to discuss evolution. Can you see why that’s a contradiction? Would you regard a place that called itself Judeo-Christian Fairytales as being the only place that’s civil and balanced and reasonable to discuss religion – or would that be a lie?
The people in Dover, PA lied – they said for Jesus. It’d be interesting to see how civil you regard that behavior as being. What you think of what they said about Judge Jones. About how they slandered honest, hardworking and impoverished local reporters. And so on. About the death threats and reams of obscenities against moms and dads who wanted to obey the law.
Again. Your entire premise rests on a lie. Please abstain until you can produce something not so founded.



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Jim

posted July 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm


Karen Brown: “…you have been told over and over again that not only is ‘Darwinist’ inaccurate, but it is insulting.”
Why is it insulting? How is it inaccurate? It seems to me that “Darwinist” is a quite apt term for describing anyone who subscribes to the fundamental tenets of Darwin’s theory. It’s certainly less obfuscatory than referring to someone as an “evolutionist.” Darwinists may differ over certain details of naturalistic evolution, but they all agree with Darwin’s principle claim: that life evolved via random variations and natural selection. Evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis, for example, takes issue with the neo-Darwinian claim that random mutations provide the variations that evolution needs, but she nonetheless describes herself as a “Darwinist.” Indeed, the Darwinian blog Panda’sThumb posted an essay titled: “Lynn Margulis: Definitely a Darwinist.”
http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/09/lynn-margulis-d.html
Furthermore, if “Darwinist” is so insulting, why do some of the leading proponents of naturalistic evolution refer to themselves as “Darwinists”? Richard Dawkins, for example, described himself as a “dyed-in-the-wool Darwinist” in “Climbing Mount Improbable.” And in an effort to deflect criticism from Darwinian gradualists, punk-eek theorist Niles Eldredge called himself a “knee-jerk Darwinist.” He also wrote: “I confess that I am a true Darwinist.”
http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2006/spring/eldredge-confessions-darwinist/
In “Finding Darwin’s God,” evolutionary biologist Kenneth Miller wrote: “By and large, Darwinists believe that whales evolved from a land mammal.” Was he trying to be insulting, or was he merely being descriptive?
A person who accepts contemporary Darwinian theory, yet is offended if someone refers to him (or her) as a “Darwinist,” has awfully thin skin. If you want to see insulting, try “IDiots.”



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