Science and the Sacred

Science and the Sacred


In Defense of Dover

Judgejohnjones.jpg

Every Friday, “Science and the Sacred” features an essay
from a guest voice in the science and religion dialogue. This week’s
guest entry was written by David Opderbeck. Opderbeck is a professor of law at Seton Hall University School of Law and serves in the school’s Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology. His blog Through a Glass Darkly addresses issues in theology and the science and religion dialogue.

On December, 2005, Judge John E. Jones, III (left) issued his opinion in the now-infamous Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District intelligent design case. Like many thoughtful evangelical Christians at the time, I was impressed with intelligent design theory. I had read many of the ID movement’s foundational texts, and felt confident that ID offered an intellectually and theological satisfying alternative to the extremes of young earth creationism and atheistic Darwinism. Shortly after the Kitzmiller decision was issued, I blogged and wrote publicly
about Judge Jones’ opinion, which I thought was largely mistaken.

I still think Judge Jones’ opinion in Kitzmiller missed the mark in some important ways, even though I think (and have always thought) the end result was correct. Moreover, I remain impressed with the energy and intelligence of the ID movement’s thought leaders. Scholars such as Bill Dembski and Mike Behe have made some interesting arguments about epistemology, divine action, and causation. However, when I dove into the broader ID discussion after the Kitzmiller case, I came to believe that many aspects of the ID movement are not as helpful as I had first thought – and, indeed, that ID rhetoric is often used to hinder positive interaction between the truths of the Christian faith and truths learned through the natural sciences.

What I’d like to start to explore in this post is how my thinking about ID, Kitzmiller, and the interface of faith, science, and the public schools, has, and hasn’t, changed since 2005. In order to begin this discussion, we need to consider some legal history.

Most readers of “Science and the Sacred” likely are familiar with the Scopes case from 1926, in which a legal challenge to the teaching of evolution in public schools failed. I won’t rehearse the details of the Scopes case here, nor will I attempt to enter into the lively debate about whether the play “Inherit the Wind,” based on the trial, really does justice to all the participants. More significant for our purposes is a series of cases in the 1980s in which young earth creationists attempted to introduce “creation science” into the public schools. The key cases include McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 529 F. Supp. 1255 (1982) and Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987).

The “creationism cases” capture a fascinating, if troubling, moment in evangelical cultural history. A decade earlier, Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s famous abortion decision, had galvanized previously complacent evangelicals into social action. The model of engagement evangelicals tended to adopt was one of confrontation through legislation and litigation. By the 1980s, the “religious right” was on the ascendancy. The creationism cases represent a wave front of culture war activity that swept over the popular evangelical subculture and continues to reverberate today.

It’s not surprising that the courts in the creationist cases uniformly struck down efforts to introduce “creation science” into public school curricula. The results in McLean and Aguillard were not, I believe, the results of “judicial activism,” but rather reflected a standard and appropriate application of Supreme Court jurisprudence under the establishment clause of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was clear from the record in the creationist cases that “creation science” represented a particular interpretation of a uniquely religious perspective on the origins of the universe. The source of young earth creationist beliefs was a supposedly “literal” interpretation of the Bible. In effect, the proponents of “creation science” desired introduce their Biblical apologetics into the public schools.

In the same way, I don’t think Judge Jones was playing the role of “activist judge” in the Kitzmiller case. It seems clear from the trial record that the Dover, Pennsylvania school board officials who promoted the ID curriculum did so in an effort to support their belief in a particular form of direct creationism. Although ID is ostensibly a religiously neutral theory, the local pro-ID school board officials in Dover appeared to have specifically religious motives for introducing it into the curriculum. This was enough reason, I think for Judge Jones to have rejected their efforts. (In a separate post, I’ll address Judge Jones’ ruling about whether ID is “science,” which I believe reflects a number of problems in how the law handles the question of how to define “science.”)

I’ve come to believe that the misuse of ID theory by those Dover school board members reflects a common misuse of ID in the Church generally. In my experience, it’s widely assumed by evangelical church-goers – contrary to the official statements of leaders in the ID movement – that ID supports belief in God, or more specifically supports young earth creationism, over and against evolution. Countless apologetics programs, websites, and publications designed for evangelicals respond to any suggestion that biological evolution may be true (or that direct creationism may be false) with a passing reference to Mike Behe and Bill Dembski. These would-be apologists are sometimes shocked to learn that many ID theorists accept common descent, which definitely is not compatible with special creationism (or sometimes they know better and conveniently fail to mention that fact in their presentations!).

The unfortunate reality, in my judgment, is that ID theory – or rather, a crude distillation of ID theory – has been reduced to a tool in the culture wars both inside and outside the Church. Whether the leaders of the ID movement intended for this to happen or not, Christian proponents of ID are using it just as they tried to employ “creation science” in the 1980s. Within the Church, this tends to remove ID from the realm of ideas that can be calmly and reasonably discussed, and places it instead into a “hot button” category. Even worse, the Christian believer who has been schooled to view ID as a rock-solid defense against atheism will find his or her faith shaken if the central claims of ID theory fail to withstand scrutiny. This further heightens the perceived stakes in the culture wars: a failure of ID theory is viewed as a public blow to the credibility of the Christian gospel. In my view, this is a grave mistake, underwritten by some highly questionable theological assumptions.

In my next post, I’ll discuss problems with how American courts handle the question of “science.” In another post to come, I’ll unpack what I believe are the problematic theological assumptions underlying popular evangelical appropriations of ID theory for use in the public square.

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dag

posted October 30, 2009 at 9:22 am


“…I’ll discuss problems with how American courts handle the question of science.”
I hesitantly look forward to this. When it comes to science education I don’t think it’s appropriate for children to be the ones deciding what is valid and what is not… isn’t that what scientists are for? I’m afraid the “teach the debate” mantra might have leaked into your views on this :(



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Mere_Christian

posted October 30, 2009 at 10:30 am


“Even worse, the Christian believer who has been schooled to view ID as a rock-solid defense against atheism WILL FIND HIS OR HER FAITH SHAKEN if the central claims of ID theory fail to withstand scrutiny.
This further heightens the perceived stakes in the culture wars:
a failure of ID theory is viewed as a public blow to the credibility of the Christian gospel.
In my view, THIS IS A GRAVE mistake, underwritten by some highly questionable theological assumptions.”
////
Once again, a declaration that evolution is a doctrine of salvation.



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Wm Tanksley

posted October 30, 2009 at 12:07 pm


“Once again, a declaration that evolution is a doctrine of salvation.”
That’s not what a “declaration” is. Nor what a doctrine of salvation is. The passage doesn’t mention salvation. What it does mention implies that if someone identifies a theory of intelligent design as being part of Christianity, when and if that theory gets cast into doubt (which is possible, since none of those theories are inerrant or infallible) that person will incorrectly think that the foundations of Christianity are cast into doubt.
This seems very simple and hard to misunderstand. It has nothing to do with soteriology, nor does it have anything to do with evolution. Therefore, it cannot POSSIBLY be “a declaration that evolution is a doctrine of salvation.”
-Wm



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Glen Davidson

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:12 pm


I don’t agree with all of Jones’s decision either, notably his claim that science rules out supernatural causation. It doesn’t properly do so at all, it simply rules out (as being outside of epistemology/epistemics) causation that can’t be demonstrated–which still rules out ID, only not with preconceived notions regarding the “supernatural.”
What I don’t get with Opderbeck’s article is why he brings up “ID theory.” Even IDists such as Paul Nelson, Phillip Johnson, and Michael Medved admit that ID’s lack of theory is a serious problem for it. Well, yes, you could say that, but its lack of science precedes its lack of theory, and stems from the fact that ID is really just apologetics, and not very impressive apologetics either.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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hlvanburen

posted October 30, 2009 at 2:56 pm


“Once again, a declaration that evolution is a doctrine of salvation.”
Hardly. It is simply a reminder that, just as in Vietnam, the domino theory fails when applied to the Bible as well.



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Dan

posted October 30, 2009 at 3:46 pm


Mere Christian,
You wrote “Once again, a declaration that evolution is a doctrine of salvation.”
This again? You sound like a broken record.
I honestly recommend that you buy this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Reading-Comprehension-Success-Minutes-Builders/dp/1576854949
Enjoy!



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RBH

posted October 30, 2009 at 9:46 pm


Glen Davidson beat me to it. I’ve read a good deal of ID work, from Johnson (one book) to Wells (one book) to Dembski (three books and a number of essays) to Behe (both books and a number of essays), and I have yet to find an articulated ID “theory” that has more content than “Sometime or other something designed this here flagellum, and then somehow or other manufactured it in matter and energy, all the while leaving no independent evidence of the design process, the manufacturing process, or the presence (or even the existence) of the designing and manufacturing entity(ies).
Anyone who can provide any actual content for the various placeholders in that statement based on IDist writings please let me know specifically where I can find it.



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creatine

posted October 31, 2009 at 12:54 am


Hello
This is a good post and its interesting to read it.Thank you very much for giving such a good information.I like the way you have discussed this topic.



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Mere_Christian

posted October 31, 2009 at 9:24 am


Dan,
“Will find” and “grave.”
I do understand them thar wurdamuhthingamugigs.



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pds

posted November 1, 2009 at 7:47 am


David,
Interesting post. We of course agree that ID has been misunderstood and misapplied in pop culture. It’s a little funny that you largely blame believers for wrongly applying ID. Wouldn’t you agree that its opponents inside and outside the church are also to blame for misrepresenting it? Lots of urban myths are constantly peddled in the comments on Jesus Creed.
You don’t get to a solution. Isn’t the key solution for everyone to represent ID accurately and promote reasonable applications?
The title is a little funny too. It seems hardly a “defense of Dover,” especially after your heavy duty attack on Judge Jones reasoning, which I think is more of a must read:
http://www.tgdarkly.com/blog/?p=294



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Knockgoats

posted November 1, 2009 at 7:51 am


There is no such thing as “ID theory”. A scientific theory is a coherent explanation of a range of observable facts, capable of guiding further research. It must rule out at least some possibilities within its domain of explanation. “ID theory” meets none of these conditions: without a specification of the principles the “designer” used, it fits any biological discoveries whatever, and so explains nothing. ID “scientists” have produced no worthwhile research for this very reason. ID is indeed, just creationism in drag. Anyone who doubts this should google “Wedge document” and “cdesign proponentsists”.
It’s an interesting fact, and one I only became aware of recently, that the revival of “Young Earth Creationism” among doctrinally orthodox Christians is a rather recent phenomenon. It was adopted from the Seventh Day Adventists (Ellen White and George MacReady Price) only in the 1960s; until then, Christian anti-evolutionists mostly adopted either the “gap” or “day-age” explanations of the overwhelming geological evidence for an old Earth.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted November 1, 2009 at 8:42 am


“It’s an interesting fact, and one I only became aware of recently, that the revival of “Young Earth Creationism” among doctrinally orthodox Christians is a rather recent phenomenon.”
When large-scale civil works projects began cutting tunnels, channels and passes through layers of earth at the turn of the 18th century, geologists were forced to re-evaluate the traditional belief that earth’s geologic features could all be explained in terms of a single recent world-wide flood. And this happened during a time when practically all geologists were young-earth / global flood. After many attempts, there was no way to fit the new data into the traditional scenario without inventing hundreds of ad-hoc global floods to explain the eons of time that separated the different sedimentary formations. By the late 1830’s, the church had largely abandoned “scriptural geology” — they just couldn’t make it work. All of this took place before Darwin published on Evolution.
The Seventh Day Adventists retained their belief in flood-geology. After the US fell behind Russia in the 20th century space race, there was a push to beef up public science education — which included teaching the scientific consensus on geology and earth history. In response to this, Morris and Whitcomb dropped a huge bomb with their publication of “The Genesis Flood” in the 1960’s — which was basically a re-hash of the same geologic arguments that were refuted by “scriptural geologists” over 100 years earlier.
Now here we are…



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Daniel Mann

posted November 2, 2009 at 10:06 am


David Opderbeck,
You are correct that many IDers do believe in some form of evolution, and that ID falls far short of the objectives of creationists. Nevertheless, it constitutes the ONLY challenge to Darwinian Naturalism, which has now been granted a virtual monopoly by Dover.
Jones’ decision has helped to enshrine an errant, biased and exclusivistic definition of science as “naturalism,” and in the process has stifled its only opponent – supernaturalism! Although we all agree that the universe largely functions formulaically in predictable patterns, it is no more than a baseless philosophical assumption that the underlying laws are natural and unintelligent. They might simply be laws that find their existence and continuance in the Mind of God.
In fact, I think that there are many substantial reasons to opt for the latter paradigm. Besides, the noticeable exclusion of supernaturalism from any scientific discussion preaches volumes, as Bruce Malone has written:
“Prior to graduation from college, I had not once been shown any of the scientific evidence for creation either in school or in church. Little wonder, that by the time I started my career [as a chemist], God had little relevance in my life. It wasn’t as though I had any animosity toward God or religion. It simply held no relevance to the world around me. This should be no surprise when the subject never came up in school and everything seemed to be explained without reference to a Creator.” (SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH)
One addition problem with Dover – If IDers can be silenced based upon religious motivations, then people of religion can justifiably be silenced in EVERY public arena. In addition to this, Dover seems to be unwilling to recognize that Darwinists also come to the table with a strongly set religious agenda. Should they not also be silenced?



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Knockgoats

posted November 2, 2009 at 10:39 am


Daniel Mann,
Your screed is of course packed with the usual creationist distortions. Supernaturalism has little place in science simply because of its repeated failure to give rise to any useful research. But even today, supernaturalist hypotheses do get tested – for example, concerning the power of prayer. When these return negative results (as those with adequate controls invariably do), supernaturalists either simply refuse to accept the findings, or retreat to the “you can’t test God” excuse.
Since there is, literally, no scientific evidence supporting either young Earth creationism or “intelligent design”, they are rightly excluded from science classes, because they are not science. If you want your particular religious beliefs taught as if they were science, why not those of other religions – Hinduism, Mormonism, Scientology? They have just as strong a claim.
Dover seems to be unwilling to recognize that Darwinists also come to the table with a strongly set religious agenda.
That this is false is easily seen from the fact that evolutionary biologists include Christians, religious Jews, Muslims and Hindus, as well as agnostics and atheists.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:09 am


My Dear Knockgoats,
I had a feeling that we would Knockheads again sometime soon! You asserted, “Supernaturalism has little place in science simply because of its repeated failure to give rise to any useful research.”
On the contrary, it was the ID (supernaturalism) hypothesis that had led the early scientists in their quest for the orderly laws by which God governs the universe (Jeremiah 33:25).
However, this wasn’t my issue. I had argued that naturalism, the philosophy that has taken science captive, isn’t even scientific! In fact, there isn’t a shred of evidence to support the philosophical contention that laws are natural and unintelligent rather than laws that find their origin in the Mind of God. (Since you didn’t challenge this central issue, I would assume that you are agreeing with me??)
Furthermore, you claimed that my contention is wrong: “That this is false is easily seen from the fact that evolutionary biologists include Christians, religious Jews, Muslims and Hindus, as well as agnostics and atheists.”
Although you are correct, your assertion actually coincides with what I was arguing. I wasn’t trying to say that all evolutionists have the SAME world view, but that they all have a religion or a worldview, and also that it would be wrong to silence someone for having a religion or a worldview. This would render us all mutes.



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Knockgoats

posted November 2, 2009 at 12:55 pm


Sorry – an unintended repost: this is not a robust commenting system!
Daniel Mann,
On the contrary, it was the ID (supernaturalism) hypothesis that had led the early scientists in their quest for the orderly laws by which God governs the universe
In fact the first scientists we know of were the Ionian school of the 6th century B.C.E., who would have been completely unaware of Jeremiah. Science made considerable advances among the Greeks of the Hellenistic era (for example, measuring the circumference of the Earth with remarkable accuracy), who would also probably have been unaware of Jeremiah, and certainly wouldn’t have regarded it as a source of truth, but their endeavours were largely destroyed by Christians as soon as they had the power to do so. What survived was largely preserved by Muslims, who would indeed have shared the theistic assumption you identify with Christian scientists of late medieval and early modern times. However, I was referring to more recent events, and this could have been clearer. Supernaturalist hypotheses were indeed common in early modern science: it is since the late eighteenth century that they have been progressively abandoned, because they have never led anywhere useful. Naturalism, in other words, is not an assumption but a conclusion based on experience. If convincing evidence against it arises, it will be abandoned.
In fact, there isn’t a shred of evidence to support the philosophical contention that laws are natural and unintelligent rather than laws that find their origin in the Mind of God.
Or the whims of the fairies at the bottom of my garden, or of aliens from the planet Zog. Since an omnipotent being could, if it wished, remove all evidence of its activities, the “supernaturalist hypothesis” in general is forever immune from refutation – but this is not a strength, so far as science is concerned, but a fatal flaw.
That the laws are natural and unintelligent is the simplest, most parsimonious hypothesis, which science prefers – again, because experience shows that this way of proceeding works best. However, this could turn out to be wrong: if we found passages of Genesis encoded in the human genome, for example, I would take that as conclusive evidence against naturalism – which is, in contrast to supernaturalism, potentially refutable.
However, what you are arguing for is not the supernaturalist hypothesis in general, but young Earth creationism, which is not only refutable, but comprehensively refuted – originally, mostly by devout Christians in the late 18th and early 19th century.
it would be wrong to silence someone for having a religion or a worldview
Creationists are not being silenced. They are being told they cannot peddle their religious beliefs to children in public school science classes: science classes should teach science, and there is absolutely no scientific evidence for either creationism or “intelligent design”. I notice you ignored my point about the religious beliefs of Hindus, Mormons or Scientologists: are you happy to have their creation stories presented as science?



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Daniel Mann

posted November 2, 2009 at 2:15 pm


Knockgoats,
I am delighted that you seem to indirectly admit that there isn’t any evidence for naturalism. Instead, to fill the evidence void, you argue, “That the laws are natural and unintelligent is the simplest, most parsimonious hypothesis, which science prefers.”
While you are correct that science does prefer the “simplest, most parsimonious hypothesis,” I’m afraid that naturalism can’t deliver in this regard. Let’s just consider some phenomena that any theory must be able to account for and then naturalism’s desperate gyrations:
1. THE ORIGIN OF THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS OF LIFE: Naturalism attempts to explain the origin of proteins and DNA in terms of self-organization. However, there is not a shred of evidence for this. These substances are produced in no other place than in living cells.
2. THE ORIGIN OF THE CELL OR OF LIFE: Panspermia (seeded from extra-terrestrial life) is no explanation at all. It just forces the explanation abroad. There seems to be no other “natural” contender.
3. CONSCIOUSNESS: Just a natural outgrowth of matter when it becomes complex enough?? Please notice that there is nothing simple or parsimonious about the desperate contortions of naturalism!”
4. FREEWILL: Naturalism can’t explain it, so naturalists often deny it exists! Now that’s putting one’s head in the sand.
5. THE ORIGIN OF THE LAWS OF NATURE: The Big Bang? Is that really an explanation? Since when do explosions create unchanging laws?
6. THE FINE-TUNIG OF THE UNIVERSE: If there are an infinite number of universes (something logically incoherent!) then it would be likely that one of them is this perfectly tuned universe! However, there is no evidence for even a second universe.
7. MORAL ABSOLUTES: Again, naturalism finds it more convenient to deny that such things exist. Consequently, injustice isn’t ABSOLUTELY wrong!
8. LOGIC AND REASON: Naturalists usually say, “Well, we might not have an explanation, but eventually we’ll have one!” Now that’s faith!
9. IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY: Co-option and faith!
Please notice that in order to explain each phenomena, naturalism must invoke an entirely different mechanism (if they can pull one out of the hat?). In contrast, the ID hypothesis need only posit our One all-powerful God. Now that’s simplicity!



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Knockgoats

posted November 2, 2009 at 2:42 pm


Daniel Mann,
First, an all-powerful god must necessarily be more complex than the entire universe, since it must comprehend that universe. It is, therefore, never a parsimonious explanation of anything whatever about the universe.
1. THE ORIGIN OF THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS OF LIFE: Naturalism attempts to explain the origin of proteins and DNA in terms of self-organization. However, there is not a shred of evidence for this. These substances are produced in no other place than in living cells.
False. both amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and nucleic acids (the building blocks of DNA) have been detected in meteorites. Both will polymerise if the chemical conditions are right.
2. THE ORIGIN OF THE CELL OR OF LIFE: Panspermia (seeded from extra-terrestrial life) is no explanation at all. It just forces the explanation abroad. There seems to be no other “natural” contender.
Nonsense. While we do not yet know exactly how the first cells came into existence on Earth, panspermia is not by any means a leading hypothesis. Look at the work of Jack Szostak and George Church for the current state of the science.
3. CONSCIOUSNESS: Just a natural outgrowth of matter when it becomes complex enough?? Please notice that there is nothing simple or parsimonious about the desperate contortions of naturalism!”
Yes. Read Dennett’s Consciousness Explained. No desperate contortions are involved.
4. FREEWILL: Naturalism can’t explain it, so naturalists often deny it exists! Now that’s putting one’s head in the sand.
It does exist, and is completely compatible with naturalism, and indeed, determinism (although current science suggests the universe is not deterministic). Read Dennett’s Freedom Evolves,
5. THE ORIGIN OF THE LAWS OF NATURE: The Big Bang? Is that really an explanation? Since when do explosions create unchanging laws?
It’s not a complete explanation, but it tells us a good deal more than “Goddidit”. It wasn’t an explosion (I’m afraid your ignorance is showing).
6. THE FINE-TUNIG OF THE UNIVERSE: If there are an infinite number of universes (something logically incoherent!) then it would be likely that one of them is this perfectly tuned universe! However, there is no evidence for even a second universe.
I’ve demolished this argument on an earlier thread. Briefly, we don’t know the range of conditions which would allow life, even if we did we could not apply probabilistic reasoning because we don’t know what the equiprobable events would be, and even if we could work that out and the probability of a life-permitting universe turned out to be low, all that would tell us is that we live in an unlikely universe. Whatever the probability of a life-permitting universe is, that of a me-permitting universe must be lower. Can I validly deduce that the universe was designed to produce me?
7. MORAL ABSOLUTES: Again, naturalism finds it more convenient to deny that such things exist. Consequently, injustice isn’t ABSOLUTELY wrong!
There are no moral absolutes, and would not be even if there were a god.
8. LOGIC AND REASON: Naturalists usually say, “Well, we might not have an explanation, but eventually we’ll have one!” Now that’s faith!
I would bet no naturalist has ever said anything of the kind. We have evolved logic and reason because they generally promote survival.
9. IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY: Co-option and faith!
“Irreducible complexity” has never been demonstrated, only asserted.
Now, how about your explanation of the vast accumulation of evidence against the Earth being only a few thousand years old, against there having been a recent universal flood, in favour of common descent, against any such event as the Exodus… I really could go on indefinitely.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm


Knockgoats,
You wrote against my assertion that the ID hypothesis is the simplest and most parsimonious:
“First, an all-powerful god must necessarily be more complex than the entire universe, since it must comprehend that universe. It is, therefore, never a parsimonious explanation of anything whatever about the universe.”
While an adequate explanatory scientific hypothesis must posit a cause which is greater than the effect it hopes to explain, the greatness of the cause (a cause adequate to explain all the phenomena within its scope) never violates the concerns regarding simplicity and parsimoniousness. An illustration might prove helpful.
While Darwinism is invoked to explain the development of species, other naturalistic explanations must be sought out to explain the fine-tuning of the universe and the origin of DNA and life itself. With each additional force or explanation that the naturalist is compelled to pull out of his hat, naturalism becomes less likely. It’s like the womanizing husband who is forced to explain to his wife his extended “business trips,” mysterious phone calls, missing pay checks, and the bra found in his luggage. Although he has a “credible” explanation for all of these things, when put together, they become unbelievable.
The ID hypothesis is preferable because it requires the scientist to posit only ONE leap. Whereas, naturalism forces us to bounce around like bunnies and loses any credibility. You dismissed my list of problems for naturalism, demonstrating that each problem required either denial or different implausible contortions. Although you came up with an assortment of one-liners, these one-liners proved my point about naturalism failing the simplicity test.



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Charlie

posted November 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm


Knockgoats and Daniel Mann,
Can you please get each others e-mail addresses so that you can discuss what you want with each other without filling up every comment box on Science and the Sacred? None of your discussions are about the essays. Thank you.



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mania

posted November 4, 2009 at 9:54 pm


a good time to remind everyone you can watch it here:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/beta/evolution/intelligent-design-trial.html
the judge did the right thing. ID is DOA.



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tm19

posted November 4, 2009 at 10:53 pm


There are even more parallels here between the roles of young earth creationism (YECism) and ID in the culture wars.
IDers learned from the YEC movement not to litigate their beliefs into the classroom, so what happened in Pennsylvania is not exactly parallel to what happened in Louisiana and Arkansas (it’s more like what happened with the Georgia BOE in 2004, but anyhoo…). In the McLean case, Judge Jones made his decision based in part on a definition of what scientists think and do. Philosopher of science, Larry Laudan, put it this way: “The victory in the Arkansas case was hollow for it was achieved only at the expense of perpetuating and canonizing a false stereotype of what science is and how it works.”
So it is not quite true that the “results in McLean and Aguillard” merely “reflected a standard and appropriate application of Supreme Court jurisprudence under the establishment clause of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” There were important philosophical issues in the bad old days of YECism as well.



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Neil Schipper

posted November 5, 2009 at 1:15 am


Prof. Opderbeck,
It seems peculiar that your having learned that the form of ID typically used on the ground floor of the culture wars is a distortion of the ID emanating from some of the more credentialed ID folks could be a basis for a reassessment of Dover. Your reasoning seems to be tied to the intentions of the actors on the school board. Shouldn’t the focus remain on whether ID is anything other than refined Abrahamic apologetics long on infatuation with gaps and short on falsifiability?
You say you were impressed by your reading of Dembski and Behe; did this reading follow a serious inquiry into mainstream evolutionary ideas, their long history, rich evidences and predictive power?



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Beaglelady

posted November 10, 2009 at 11:51 pm


Even worse, the Christian believer who has been schooled to view ID as a rock-solid defense against atheism will find his or her faith shaken if the central claims of ID theory fail to withstand scrutiny.

It seems that claims of IC have already failed to withstand scrutiny.
And they unfairly shield themselves from further scrutiny by not allowing questions about the designer.



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Knockgoats

posted November 11, 2009 at 11:11 am


Charlie,
Are you one of the blog owners? If they ask me to limit my posts, or stop posting, I will comply. If you are not, may I suggest the simple expedient of not reading my comments, or those of Daniel Mann?



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Knockgoats

posted November 11, 2009 at 12:42 pm


While an adequate explanatory scientific hypothesis must posit a cause which is greater than the effect it hopes to explain – Daniel Mann
Nonsense, literally: “greater”, without qualification such as “greater mass” or “greater temperature” has no scientific meaning.
With each additional force or explanation that the naturalist is compelled to pull out of his hat, naturalism becomes less likely.
Forces and explanations are not “pulled out of a hat”. They are hypothesized on the basis of evidence and previous findings, and tested by their ability to predict further findings. Practically every sentence you wriet shows your utter ignorance of how science works.
Although you came up with an assortment of one-liners, these one-liners proved my point about naturalism failing the simplicity test.
I see you have no substantive response to any of my answers. Presumably, if you were defending an accused in a court case, you would consider you had won if you asked ten different questions about the prosecution case, and received ten different answers, each of them meeting the point raised in a specific question.
“ID” has no explanatory value whatsoever, because, without specifying the principles the alleged designer used, it can be used to “explain” absolutely anything. It is in no sense a rival to evolutionary theory, naturalism, or anything else. It is absolutely worthless.



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Rich

posted November 17, 2009 at 9:42 am


Hi David. We miss your calm demeanor and even handedness on the ASA e-mail list. Do I have your permission to forward this there? Thanks and keep up the good work.



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We're Moving
Science & the Sacred is moving to our new home on The BioLogos Foundation's Web site. Be sure to visit and bookmark our new location to stay up to date with the latest blogs from Karl Giberson, Darrel Falk, Pete Enns, and our various guests in the science-religion dialogue. We're inaugurating ou

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 11, 2009 | read full post »

Shiny Scales, Silvery Skins, and Evolution
  Source: Physorg.comIridescence -- a key component of certain makeup, paints, coatings of mirrors and lenses -- is also an important feature in the natural world. Both fish and spiders make use of periodic photonic systems, which scatter or reflect the light that passes against their scales or

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 09, 2009 | read full post »

A Stellar Advent Calendar
Looking for a unique way to mark the days of the Advent season? The Web site Boston.com offers an Advent calendar composed of images from the Hubble Telescope, both old and new. Each day, from now until the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, the calendar will offer a beautiful image from the hea

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 09, 2009 | read full post »

Belief, Guidance, and Evolution
Recently BioLogos' Karl Giberson was interviewed by Marcio Campos for the Brazilian newspaper Gazeta do Povo's Tubo De Ensaio (i.e. "Test tube") section. What follows is a translated transcript of that interview, which we will be posting in three installments. Here is the first. Campos: Starting o

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 08, 2009 | read full post »

Let's Come at this From a Different Angle
Every Friday, "Science and the Sacred" features an essay from a guest voice in the science and religion dialogue. This week's guest entry was written by Peter Enns. Enns is an evangelical Christian scholar and author of several books and commentaries, including the popular Inspiration and Incarnatio

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 04, 2009 | read full post »




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