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Expelled and ID: Part I, Intelligent Design

March 24, 2008

One of the things that I detest about religion in America is it’s willful ignorance and hostility towards science. This is most vividly fronted in the creationist doctrine of intelligent design, and an upcoming movie called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I wasn’t planning on covering this, as it’s been done on some 40 other blogs and frankly the subject is beneath my contempt, but the idiocy of intelligent design and the slimy and underhanded tactics of the movement’s “leadership” have pissed me off enough to merit some writing time. In other words, I need to vent my spleen.

For those not familiar with the concept of intelligent design (lucky bastards), I’ll sum it up (obviously not briefly, what blog do you think you’re reading?) so you can share in my disgust. Before intelligent design was a glimmer in the eye of pseudoscience, creation science was the keyword of the day. In 1987, in the US Supreme Court heard the case of Edwards vs. Aguillard, a case that ruled unconstitutional a Louisiana law requiring the teaching of creation science in public schools where evolution was also taught. At this time, a textbook promoting creation science, called Of Pandas and People, was in the process of being written. When the verdict of Edwards vs. Aguillard was issued, the writers of Of Pandas and People scrambled to put together a new draft of the book that replaced all mentions of creation with the new term “intelligent design”. All references to god and religion were also removed. This was done in order to ensure that the book would not be banned from the classroom under the Establishment Clause. Tricksy, very tricksy. Unfortunately, this bit of subterfuge was discovered in research for the case of Kitzmiller versus the Dover area School District, the first trial of ID under US law where not only did it fail to prove the theory constitutional, but failed to prove ID was, in fact, science.

So, what is ID? This question is not as easy as you may think. At it’s most basic, intelligent design is an attempt to make creation mythology into a scientific theory. Unfortunately, this has many problems. Despite the fact that ID has been around for more than a decade, it still has not forwarded a single testable hypothesis. In fact, Michael Behe, a leading proponent of ID, has been quoted in a 2005 Time article as saying. “You can’t prove intelligent design by an experiment.” (link) Those are pretty damning words from a man that wants to get this crap into the science classroom.

In fact, ID proponents, well aware that intelligent design does not fit into the scientific method, have proposed that the definition of science needs to be changed, replacing the scientific method of gaining knowledge through observation and repeated testing of hypotheses with a concept that the leader of the ID movement, Phillip E. Johnson calls “theistic realism“, created specifically for ID and proposes that “true knowledge begins with the acknowledgment of god as the creator of the universe”. This completely flies in the face of real science, as it discards a core element in that all hypotheses must be falsifiable. So, since ID can’t be made compatible with real science, we must change science to be compatible with ID even though the scientific method does not preclude the existence of a creator. Nauseous yet?

You may be wondering at this point, “What does ID propose other than the untestable theory of ‘Goddiddit’?” Well, not much other than attempts to disprove the Theory of Evolution. See, ID has no scientific theories or research of it’s own, so it is relegated to pointing out the flaws in evolution rather than enaging in any actual scientific work. How does it do this? Observe:

  1. Irreducible complexity – tries to point out that some parts of biology are composed in a way that if you remove one part, it ceases to function in a meaningful way. The key examples of this as pointed out by IDiots are the eye and the bacterial flagellum, despite the fact that the evolution of the eye has been observed, and parts of the machinery of the bacterial flagellum have been observed to perform a different function in other types of bacteria, meaning irreducible complexity in the bacterial flagellum is a myth.
  2. Specified complexity – the idea that complex information that has a specific function must have an intelligent creator. The author of this idea, William Dembski, uses DNA information as an example of specified complexity. According to Dembski, the information carried by DNA is too complex to have come about randomly, and therefore must have a designer. He explains the concept as, “A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex. A long sentence of random letters is complex without being specified. A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified.” on page 47 of his 1999 book, Intelligent Design. Since this idea is mathematical in nature, in the vein of infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters, it’s validity as a biological argument has been questioned as evolution is anything but a random process.

There’s the main points behind intelligent design. Note that neither of them are provable or falsifiable. Unprovable because real science is not able to prove something outside of nature, i.e. the designer, and unfalsifiable because, again, science does not deal with things that are outside of nature. Therefore, unless the definition and methods of science are changed, the only way to falsify irreducible and specified complexity is to prove something else. Considering a scientific theory must stand on it’s own merit or be changed to correlate to the proven data, neither of these can be considered a sounds scientific theory.

Now, if the proponents of ID used only these two pseudoscientific principles to promote their ideas, ID could be considered as no more than shoddy science and summarily ignored. However, IDiots have engaged in less honorable tactics in forwarding their claims. Let’s take a look at the dirty tactics these people engage in:

  • evolution “just a theory”
  • inflammatory phrases to describe science, such as Big Science (think Big Tobacco), Darwinism, and materialism
  • “teaching the controversy”
  • hiding the religious nature of ID in order to sneak it into the science classroom
  • Linking evolution to Nazism

Calling evolution “just a theory” exhibits a profound ignorance of science at it’s most fundamental level. The implication here is that evolution is an unsubstantiated guess about how life came to be as it is today, in the same way that there is a theory that Elvis is still alive. This could not be farther from the truth. In science, a theory is a consistent framework based on observed evidence that describes a natural phenomenon, is testable, and predicts verifiable results. There is no theory more supported by factual data than the Theory of Evolution, and the proven data has been used to advance such other sciences as medicine and engineering. So, not only is evolution supported by fact, but it has made itself useful outside general research. Any time that tested knowledge refutes a theory, that knowledge is incorporated into a modified theory. A good example of this is the Theory of Gravitation, which had to be modified from it’s Newtonian origin with the tested mathematical data from Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, which superseded Newton’s idea of gravity as a force to Einstein’s idea of gravity as a curvature of space.

Usage of phrases such as “Big Science” is a grade-school attempt to play on people’s fear and ignorance by disparaging science as a monolithic and draconian institution that will brook no resistance. Obviously, since science thrives on falsification and modification through proven data, the idea that science will accept no alternate theories is ridiculous and sophomoric. This also helps to set up ID proponents as the underdog, in order to mine sympathy from the uneducated. The ID movement is rife with such manipulation, and counts on the scientific ignorance of those it hopes to sway.

Another tactic that the IDiots use is to persuade schools to “teach the controversy”. This assumes that there is a controversy in the scientific community regarding the veracity of evolution, when none really exists. As I mentioned earlier, evolution is more supported by factual evidence than any other major theory, and more is found in it’s support with amazing frequency. ID proponents point to “gaps” in the fossil record as evidence that the theory doesn’t explain everything, ignoring the fact that more of these “gaps” are filled every day, for example, the evolution of whales, particularly the drift of the nostrils to form the blowhole. Outside of the tiny fringe group of ID “scientists”, there is no controversy regarding evolution, and any attempt to posit one is pure manipulative bullshit.

The one thing that changed in the switch from creation science to intelligent design was the removal of any religious undertones from the “theory”. This was done for one reason only, to bypass the unconstitutionality of teaching a religious idea as a scientific theory. Intelligent design ostensivly makes no prediction about who the “designer” is, but in much of the information and opinion provided by proponents, it is obvious that the “designer” equates to “God”. More manipulation, more bullshit, more subterfuge.

The last example of the ID movement’s loathsome falsehoods is the most egregious of all: linking the Theory of Evolution to the racism, eugenics, and genocide inflicted on the world by the Nazis. Even if there was an iota of truth to this, which there is not, the actions of one horrible madman would not disprove evolution as a valid scientific theory. For a more intensive study on this, I refer you to Skeptico and the Panda’s Thumb (Part I, Part II), who tackle the subject more completely than I could. Definitely worth a thorough read.

So, I hope I’ve brought to light some of the more questionable aspects of Intelligent Design. I’ve demonstrated that ID is not science, has no testable hypotheses, is based solely on refuting evolution, and that the tactics that the movements leadership exhibits are less than honest. In the next part, I will show you how all of this is demonstrated in the ridiculous piece of claptrap called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

NOTE: I am well aware of the strong language used in trashing this most ridiculous of concepts. Anyone who has a problem with such terms as “bullshit”, “IDiot”, and “ignorant” can kindly blow it out your ass. You can’t have the freedom to believe in ridiculous things without holding those beliefs up to ridicule. Instead of blindly supporting this movement, I suggest you educate yourselves about science. It’s not as difficult and scary as it seems.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. nemski permalink
    March 24, 2008 2:51 pm

    You need to visit the ID museum in Tennesee. 🙂

  2. March 24, 2008 4:07 pm

    Yes, I can see the headlines, “Delaware Man Forcibly Removed From Creation Museum, mocked dinosaurs-with-humans display then wept openly”

  3. cassandra m permalink
    March 24, 2008 6:08 pm

    This is an excellent post, Joe. Did you see PZ Myers’ account of going to the premier of this movie? The producers threw him out, but left Richard Dawkins in the theater. Hysterical. A friend has suggested that we get a group together to go see this movie, sit in the front row, and watch it MST3K style. This would be a great deal of fun, I’m thinking, especially if there are many cocktails before the movie. The drawback, however, is that we have to spend money to see the thing and who wants to put money in the pocket of these modern day alchemists?

  4. March 24, 2008 7:14 pm

    Thank you, and yes I did hear about Dr. Meyer’s brush with “the law”. That will be a part of Part II of this post, which FSM help us, may be even longer than this one.

  5. mynym permalink
    March 25, 2008 4:24 pm

    I don’t necessarily support proponents of ID. I was even censored from Dembski’s blog for arguing against censorship so as far as attacks against them for being bad fellows and so on go I’m not the one to defend them. Putting such things aside, there still seem to be some problems with your reasoning.

    You say that biological evolution isn’t random, yet natural selection is only filtering and culling “random” mutations so any creative aspect in the process does indeed arise randomly.

    You apparently argue that Darwinian reasoning (the theory of evolution) is superior to Newtonian reasoning (the theory of gravity) because you say that no theory has been verified to the same extent as evolution. If that’s the case then who has encoded the theory of natural selection in the language of mathematics and then verified a trajectory of adaptation in a group of organisms based on it?

    As far as strong language goes, given Darwinian reasoning couldn’t supposed symbols and signs of your own design be reduced to an artifact of natural selection operating on a group of ancient worm-like creatures? Are your brain events defined by natural selection or intelligent selection?

    I don’t necessarily agree with ID’s modern proponents but I do agree with a long history of philosophers who have pointed to the truth of intelligent design for sound philosophical and empirical reasons. Your history is a modern caricature that neglects the venerable history of intelligent design. Apparently you’ve based it on the political concerns typical to the American judiciary and the activists who seek to sway them rather than historical and philosophical accuracy.

  6. mynym permalink
    March 25, 2008 4:28 pm

    You also say: Outside of the tiny fringe group of ID “scientists”, there is no controversy regarding evolution, and any attempt to posit one is pure manipulative bullshit.

    What do you mean by that?

  7. March 25, 2008 5:37 pm

    “You say that biological evolution isn’t random, yet natural selection is only filtering and culling “random” mutations so any creative aspect in the process does indeed arise randomly.”

    The mutations may be random, mynym, but the process of selection of beneficial mutations is not. If a mutation makes a lifeform more apt to thrive and procreate, then that mutation, random only once, is passed on to later generations. So, while one apsect of the process may have a random quality, the process itself is far from it.

    You apparently argue that Darwinian reasoning (the theory of evolution) is superior to Newtonian reasoning (the theory of gravity) because you say that no theory has been verified to the same extent as evolution. If that’s the case then who has encoded the theory of natural selection in the language of mathematics and then verified a trajectory of adaptation in a group of organisms based on it?

    You are under a misapprehension. The reasoning used in the Newtonian Theory of Gravitation and the Theory of Evolution are equally valuable, as they are both scientific methods of reasoning. However, it’s no secret that modern physics relies more on algorithms from General Relativity to predict gravitation more than Newton’s unless the work can be quick and dirty. Newtonian Gravity is still useful, but not as useful General Relativity for ongoing research. Hence, Newtonian has been superceded by GR. As for your other point, mathematics is used to predict aspects of evolution such as genetic drift, and is most useful in evolutionary computing. However, as we are not talking about physics, evolution relies more on fossil records and gene theory (which contains a healthy dose of it’s own math) than it does straight algorithms. Just the reliance on evolution for germ theory, medicine, and vaccination shows support of evolution through chemical mathematics.

    However, if you’re referring to an algorithm that can predict an evolutionary path for a specific organism, I’m not aware that one exists, though I am not perfectly educated in evolutionary theory. Even if one doesn’t, that does not mean that one won’t exist in the future. If a predictive algorithm is discovered, I’m sure it will be through the scientific method, rather than prayer.

    As far as strong language goes, given Darwinian reasoning couldn’t supposed symbols and signs of your own design be reduced to an artifact of natural selection operating on a group of ancient worm-like creatures? Are your brain events defined by natural selection or intelligent selection?

    I’m going to have to ask you to rephrase the first question. However, a lot of work is being done on the evolution of thoughts and idea, through the very young research into memetics. If by brain events, you mean firing of synapses, brain size, and storage of memories, then yes, that’s straight natural selection.

    I don’t necessarily agree with ID’s modern proponents but I do agree with a long history of philosophers who have pointed to the truth of intelligent design for sound philosophical and empirical reasons. Your history is a modern caricature that neglects the venerable history of intelligent design. Apparently you’ve based it on the political concerns typical to the American judiciary and the activists who seek to sway them rather than historical and philosophical accuracy.

    My concern is the very new idea that ID is science. If it was presented as a philosophy, have at it; put in in a philosophy class and let it be debated. However, it has no place in the science classroom, because is it not anything close to science. You telling me that I’m making a caricature of ID because of it’s long history as a philosophy is like chiding the idea that we need green cars while I ignore the history of transportation. ID may have a rich philosophical history, however as a science, it’s young and absurd.

    When people are trying to get pseudoscience into the science classroom as a way of intruding religious ideas, you’re goddamn right I have a political concern about that! I also have intellectual and ethical concerns about it.

    You also say: Outside of the tiny fringe group of ID “scientists”, there is no controversy regarding evolution, and any attempt to posit one is pure manipulative bullshit.

    While there are facts that are under constant, and sometimes heated, debate in the field of evolution, that theory that we animals evolve through natural selection is so widely accepted by the scientific community, that anyone who disputes it is “fringe”. The IDiots that lie about there being such a controversy are using people’s ignorance of science and the state of the scientific community to manipulate them into seeing ID as valid science.

  8. mynym permalink
    March 26, 2008 5:51 pm

    So, while one apsect of the process may have a random quality, the process itself is far from it.

    The very aspect of the process which originates form is said to be “random,” yet those who engage in Darwinian reasoning typically argue that they are explaining the origins of all form and specification seen in species. Ironically Darwinian reasoning typically isn’t an explanation for origins, instead it explains culling and filtering form, information and variation which already exists or which arises “randomly.” Chance is not an explanation, it’s a statement of ignorance with respect to cause and effect. So it seems that on the key issue of origins Darwinian reasoning is not the scientia/knowledge that it claims to be unless you have empirical evidence which shows that natural selection is creative.

    However, as we are not talking about physics….

    Well, in a way we are because organisms exist in fields of energy and matter and so on based on physics. Besides you already said that the theory of evolution based on Darwinian reasoning has been verified and is more sound than any other theory and so on, so it should meet the same epistemic standards and more. Often Darwinian reasoning seems to be based on such low standards that it’s almost the material of satire: “If I could not imagine a way for an organism to come about in a step by step process then my theory would absolutely break down, yet when I act like my own imagination is empirical evidence then the evidence becomes overwhelming to me!” or “God wouldn’t have created the panda’s thumb this way, my theological arguments are scientific but anyone who answers them isn’t being scientific.” And so on. Why do such arguments exist to this day if the theory of evolution is a higher form of knowledge than the theory of gravity?

    Just the reliance on evolution for germ theory, medicine, and vaccination shows support of evolution through chemical mathematics.

    If there was a group of humans and some were born without hands, then those with hands ate some poison which those without hands did not eat so there were more handless people, what implications could be drawn about the origins of hands and humans themselves? I would say none no matter what mathematics were used to understand it. What you seem to be arguing is that because some things can be understood using algorithms based on Darwinian theory it is similar to the theory of gravity and a failure to explain and predict what it is said to explain, origins, need not be dealt with. Insecticide resistance and many other rather trivial observations are said to support Darwinian reasoning, the problem is not that such knowledge is wrong but that Darwinian reasoning is said to explain the origins of all specification and form found in all species based on empirical evidence that is merely the culling of variation in pre-existing populations. There is something odd about Darwinian reasoning always reducing things to past causes and never admitting to the possibility of causes, apparently based on a pseudo-Newtonian worldview. For example, you apparently believe that your brain events must be reduced to being caused by the past and point to supposed progress in reducing your intelligence to the mating habits of ancient worm-like creatures. Yet why should one use looking to the past as a working assumption?

    It seems that orthodox Darwinists still control the working assumptions in biology so looking for similarities and imagining things about the past is common, yet some biologists disagree. For example:

    The viewpoint of Coyne et al. (1988) is one in which past events are argued to explain, in a causal sense, the world around us. Such explanations cannot be verified or tested, and the only biological observations they require are that variation and differential reproduction occur. [I.e., “Things change or somethin’.”] This is not a caricature, as a reading of Coyne et al. will verify. [Those with the urge to merge will claim that all definition is false, including their own. I.e., “Strawman, I say!” And if you pin down their mind with their own texts and language then they will snivel about “quote mining,” “semantics” or “rhetoric” as definition brings an end to their merging.] In keeping with this general viewpoint, proponents claim that species are explained with reference to history. Important characters are hence “mechanisms” that have established and maintained the separation between diverged lineages of an ancestral population. According to Coyne et al., even the adaptive purpose of the changes that resulted in these mechanisms is irrelevant.
    We would ask where biology enters into this schema. The answer is that it does not. Rather, biology is interpreted in terms of a range of historical processes, including selection of variation over time. This could, with equal relevance, be used to understand any nonbiological phenomenon such as the development of the automobile, agricultural methods, culture, or men’s suits (Lewontin, 1976).
    […]
    Let us outline the terms of the disagreement so as to avoid any possible confusion. Within contemporary biology it is commonly argued (e.g., Mayr, 1988) that, in order to maintain the distinctness of species, their integrity must be protected. This protection will have evolved as a result of a history of natural selection on individual genes and characters that have the “function” or “effect” (sensu Williams, 1966) of isolating one species from another. The isolation concept of species is, therefore, not separable from such a historical approach to biology. According to this viewpoint, species are only understandable in terms of history, as Mayr (1988) so correctly recognized.
    In contrast, our view is that the biological-process of mate recognition results in species self-definition, and mate recognition represents the most appropriate basis for the delimitation of particular species (Michaux et al., 1990). Rather than regarding mate recognition as a set of independent traits that isolate species, we view it as a highly integrated communication system. As such, it is not amenable to selectionist and/or reductionist analyses. In a more general sense we suggest that biology should have primacy over historical scenarios (Lambert et al., 1989). That is, although we acknowledge that all attempts to investigate the world are colored by theoretical perspectives, we strongly believe that explanations should derive from knowledge of demonstrable biological phenomena rather than historical suppositions.
    (Points of View
    Species and Neo-Darwinism
    By C. S. White; B. Michaux; D. M. Lambert
    Systematic Zoology, Vol. 39, No. 4. (Dec., 1990), :400-401)

    As far as the politics go, we are enjoying all the fruits of the Founders philosophy which was grounded in ID yet now we’re supposed to believe whatever petty little tyrants in the judiciary pull from their own penumbras instead of what the Founders actually wrote.

  9. March 26, 2008 9:21 pm

    Mynym, I’m going to have to request that you pay closer to attention to my arguments rather than presuming in order to build a strawman argument. Also, it’s fairly evident that your forte is philosophy, rather than science, which makes your arguments particularly frail. Unlike philosophy, you can’t just suppose an argument and run with it with no evidence. Science has definite right and wrong answers that are found through the scientific method. Because it deals only with the natural world, it is provable, unlike philosophy. Sure, most scientific theories have somewhat of a philosophical base, but there’s a hue difference between “I can’t find my book, so ghosts made it disappear” and “I can’t find my book, my wife probably put it somewhere”. Both are as yet unsubstantiated, but one has it’s base in the natural world and is therefore more scientific. The second I can prove, the first would get me laughed at! I’m not dissing philosophy here, but I am arguing that philosophy is an insufficient way to argue science. With all that said, here we go…

    The very aspect of the process which originates form is said to be “random,” yet those who engage in Darwinian reasoning typically argue that they are explaining the origins of all form and specification seen in species. Ironically Darwinian reasoning typically isn’t an explanation for origins, instead it explains culling and filtering form, information and variation which already exists or which arises “randomly.”

    The science of evolution does exactly attempt to explain the origin of each of the species that we’ve seen through time. That’s the whole point of the theory. What you fail to understand is that there are aspects of organisms that make then a completely separate species, this would the form and variation changes that you write of. Evolutionary theory is supported by the evidence of the changes in previous species that make later ones, not just through fossil record, but through studying the genetics of species. There is no irony here, only your misunderstanding of the theory. I don’t feel that I should have to repeat that only a small part of evolution is random mutation, but the actual process, selection, is not.

    Chance is not an explanation, it’s a statement of ignorance with respect to cause and effect.

    I hope my readers will appreciate the very real irony of calling random mutation a statement of ignorance, when the ID takes the stance of “You can’t explain it yet, so god did it”.

    Well, in a way we are because organisms exist in fields of energy and matter and so on based on physics.

    So, in a way, I’m a mechanic when I exist in a garage, or a marshmallow because I’m carbon-based? Perhaps I’ll go the the circus and exist as an acrobat this weekend! Kidding aside, this is very faulty reasoning for science, but kinda neat for philosophy. Unfortunately, even the point of “existing in fields of energy” will need a less vague explanation before you’re even coming close to making a scientific point. Evolution does not enter into the world of energy and matter because it is, as yet, not useful to do so.

    Besides you already said that the theory of evolution based on Darwinian reasoning has been verified and is more sound than any other theory and so on, so it should meet the same epistemic standards and more.

    The epistemology of scientific knowledge is based on the scientific method, and in that way, evolution has become better proven than Newtonian Gravitation. You can’t use physics to prove evolution (at this point) using physics any more than you can show the strong atomic force using biology (even though both are composed of matter).

    “If I could not imagine a way for an organism to come about in a step by step process then my theory would absolutely break down yet when I act like my own imagination is empirical evidence then the evidence becomes overwhelming to me!”

    Science is not about imagination. It’s about making an educated guess, and testing that guess. If the experimental data does not support the theory, the theory must change. Any scientist that acts like his imagination is more worthy than evidence is going to get laughed out of the scientific community, much like ID proponents are. This has been shown in cold fusion and perpetual motion machines, as well as intelligent design.

    or “God wouldn’t have created the panda’s thumb this way, my theological arguments are scientific but anyone who answers them isn’t being scientific.”

    Real scientists do not use theological arguments, as thy are outside of nature. ID proponents use theological arguments and fallaciously call them scientific. One of the major gripes of the IDiots is that those that answer their theological arguments are not being scientific because they dismiss the idea of “Goddidit”.

    Why do such arguments exist to this day if the theory of evolution is a higher form of knowledge than the theory of gravity?

    AgainEvolution is not a higher form of knowledge than the Newtonian Theory of Gravitation, as both are scientific. Evolution is simply better proven by research and data. Surely, you must see the difference?

    If there was a group of humans and some were born without hands, then those with hands ate some poison which those without hands did not eat so there were more handless people, what implications could be drawn about the origins of hands and humans themselves?

    This argument is absolutely ridiculous, yet I will refrain from ridiculing it, as I think you are being honest and not satirical. How does the lack of hands make this particular human group more apt to avoid poison? You are completely ignoring the selection part of evolution, and instead have a bunch of handed idiots deciding to eat poison! This is not selection unless another aspect of their physiology, such as the ability to recognize dangerous foods, makes them more able to live and procreate. The hands have nothing to do with it. Sure, the handless live to make more handless babies, but those handless babies may decide to eat poison, thus ending that genetic line.

    What you seem to be arguing is that because some things can be understood using algorithms based on Darwinian theory it is similar to the theory of gravity and a failure to explain and predict what it is said to explain, origins, need not be dealt with.

    As I said before, the similarity between evolution and Newtonian gravity is in the scientific method. Any further similarity has been supposed by you. Evolution has and continues to explain the origins of more and more species as testing continues.

    Insecticide resistance and many other rather trivial observations are said to support Darwinian reasoning, the problem is not that such knowledge is wrong but that Darwinian reasoning is said to explain the origins of all specification and form found in all species based on empirical evidence that is merely the culling of variation in pre-existing populations.

    Yes, insecticide resistance, as antibiotic resistance do support evolution. The triviality of that is subjective to your own mind. Whether you respect support for a theory or not does not have any affect whatsoever on the veracity of that support. Yes, the scientific reasoning used in evolutionary research does “explain the origins of all specification and form found in all species based on empirical evidence that is merely the culling of variation in pre-existing populations.” What is your problem with that?

    There is something odd about Darwinian reasoning always reducing things to past causes and never admitting to the possibility of causes, apparently based on a pseudo-Newtonian worldview. For example, you apparently believe that your brain events must be reduced to being caused by the past and point to supposed progress in reducing your intelligence to the mating habits of ancient worm-like creatures. Yet why should one use looking to the past as a working assumption?

    The whole Theory of Evolution is based on how past species changed into new ones! The possibility of causes are admitted at every step, but not in the way that you apparently want: that god did it. So what if my my brain evolved from that of a worm-like creature? Whether you like a conclusion or not has absolutely no effect on whether or not research supports a conclusion! You don’t like the fact that we share a common ancestor with the other great apes? Tough shit! It’s supported by fossil and genetic evidence!

    I’m not going to quote that whole C.S. White thing, because I’ve taken up enough space and the internet is almost full. However, quoting a quite sarcastic 17-year-old argument refuting the 19-year-old points of “Coyne et al” . The part of the article after the ellipsis is useful, though. Honestly, I don’t know what the state of biological theory was two decades ago, as I was only 11 at the time. As to the second chapter, it is widely recognized that for multi-celled organisms, ability to mate is generally a good marker for a species. This breaks down, and a further look has to be taken in the case of species that do not reproduce sexually and some hybrids that are not able to reproduce with their own kinds: mules, for instance. Obviously, it is also difficult to define extinct species in this way, since fossils can’t tell us who they got busy with. The simple fact is, there is no catch-all for speciation yet, so scientists use a combination of reproductability, genetics, phylogenetic, ecological, and a number of other species concepts to get the job done. As evolutionary research solves more riddles, speciation becomes more clear.

    As far as the politics go, we are enjoying all the fruits of the Founders philosophy which was grounded in ID yet now we’re supposed to believe whatever petty little tyrants in the judiciary pull from their own penumbras instead of what the Founders actually wrote.

    Being a philosophy guy, you are well aware that this is an appeal to authority. Just because the Founding Fathers may have believed in a form of creationism, which is unproven by the way, does not make the scientific theory of intelligent design true. I think you understand that. Also, you have completely failed to prove that ID is science and belongs in the science classroom, and instead defaulted to the normal ID approach: poke holes in evolution and hope that people don’t recognize that ID is not a scientific alternative.

    At this point, we are both guilty of a type of the fallacy of “proof by verbosity”, so I think I have to say I’m done. For now 😉

  10. mynym permalink
    March 28, 2008 6:17 pm

    I hope my readers will appreciate the very real irony of calling random mutation a statement of ignorance, when the ID takes the stance of “You can’t explain it yet, so god did it”.

    You complained of strawmen but didn’t specify any. That is a strawman of ID based on the tremendous amount of hubris which surrounds nearly everything you say about scientia/knowledge. You simply neglect the empirical evidence and mathematical or engineering principles brought forth or specified by ID proponents and instead act as if imagining things about the past or looking at millions of organisms and imagining things about similarities is an explanation which must not be questioned. You seem to assume that there will always be an inevitable sort of progress in “explanations” which seem natural so any reasoning which contradicts them can be avoided entirely in the name of knowledge/”science.” It’s interesting that those who often engage in imagining progress in the past while imagining they’ve “explained” something also begin to imagine that they are safeguarding progress in the present as well. They also seem to imagine that there will be an inevitable sort of progress for as long as they focus on what seems natural and useful to them. The problem with that sort of pattern is that they’ve stopped pursuing the truth and instead will only be willing to pursue what seems natural or useful, yet then they claim to have true knowledge in the next breath. The basic pattern: “For culture we need language, for instance, but language has to evolve…. this all has to be built up from scratch… settling for anything less in the way of an explanation would be just giving up.
    …I will address the important theoretical questions about how language and the human mind could evolve in the first place by Darwinian mechanisms.” (Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life by Daniel Dennet : 341-342, emphasis added)

    Sometimes those engaged in Darwinian reasoning will even say things like “If you imagine this story…” and so on, yet then somehow that is often turned into a “scientific fact.”

    For instance, you write that your words may have more to do with natural selection operating on ancient worms and so what if it is true that they are. So if the brain events that cause you to think that natural selection leads to progress as we know it may as well be excrement they still somehow cause you to have true knowledge? You seem to forget the history and process of reasoning by which a self-refuting conclusion has been come to. A Darwinian process of reasoning typically begins with philosophical or theological rules about what seems “natural” and “useful” instead of trying to follow the evidence wherever it leads, yet when it comes to conclusions you shift back and act as if you and those who engage in Darwinian reasoning were only concerned with the truth all along. Perhaps you should follow logic and evidence wherever they lead instead of making rules which define the basic form of your conclusions in advance.

    Given all the “rule” type arguments used to prop up Darwinian reasoning it’s not clear how knowledge of it is a sort of ultimate truth which everyone ought to be forced to support, be schooled in, etc. If Progress is why I would only note what Karl Kraus said of the cultural milieu of scientism/biologism in his day: “Progress will make purses of human skin.”

    Evolution does not enter into the world of energy and matter because it is, as yet, not useful to do so.

    Evolution is not some sentient being that it will do one thing rather than another. (An interesting book: The Quantum Brain by Satinover sp?) The interesting thing about those who are schooled to believe that intelligent agency is an illusion designed by the “Blind Watchmaker” that makes us watch her through time is that they often begin to write as if “science” came over and whispered in their ear the other day so that they can say, “Now listen here, science says whatever I say.” and so on. It seems that they believe in knowledge without being sentient of it.

    At any rate, the eugenics had its peer reviewed literature, experts and scientific consensus yet it was wrong. You may imagine that it was proven wrong by the inevitable Progress you link with science but history shows that its links with Nazism and a continent being reduced to cinders had something to do with it. Progress is not assured by science at all.

    I haven’t seen the film so I cannot comment on it but if it shows a link between Darwinian reasoning and Nazism then that is accurate. Perhaps you answer could be: “So what if it’s true.” I actually agree but I’d note that biologists have a history of missing truths that are more important than what they suppose to be biological “facts.”

    At this point, we are both guilty of a type of the fallacy of “proof by verbosity”, so I think I have to say I’m done.

    At this point it’s a Friday night and I’m going out. I suppose that according to you I can thank natural selection operating on the reproductive and excretory organs of ancient ape-like creatures for that but I like to keep other things in mind. Try not to lose your mind in your own imagination…. something that Darwinian reasoning seems to lead to.

  11. March 29, 2008 8:13 am

    Your strawman is set up by forwarding evolutionary theory as something that it’s not and arguing against that false claim: that evoution is a poorly thought out and argued theory. Even your constant usage of the phrase “Darwinian reasoning” is a sign that your arguments lack any kind of logical cohesion. Evolutionary scientists use the scientific method in their research and conclusions. Despite the fact that evolution had it’s base in Darwin’s theories, he would be had-pressed to understand the current state of the field, as there wasn’t even a theory of genetics in his time. Because of this, using the phrase “Darwinism” is also a straw man as it tries to forward that the thoery has not even changed since he first thought of it. There’s your first logical fallacies.

    You simply neglect the empirical evidence and mathematical or engineering principles brought forth or specified by ID proponents and instead act as if imagining things about the past or looking at millions of organisms and imagining things about similarities is an explanation which must not be questioned.

    Empirical evidence? Mathematical and engineering principles specified by ID proponents? Care to cite any, or do we need to take your word that this research is out there? You are once again failing to bring any valid research in favor of ID to the table. Also, evolutionary theory is under constant scrutiny and refutation, just like any other scientific theory. That’s science! Trying to say that it’s not and arguing against that is completelfy false and yet another strawman. When ID proponents bring up scientific research backed by testing and valid data, they will be up to the same scrutiny from the scientific community.

    You seem to assume that there will always be an inevitable sort of progress in “explanations” which seem natural so any reasoning which contradicts them can be avoided entirely in the name of knowledge/”science.”

    This progress has been evident and accelerating since the inception of the science of evolution, so assuming it will continue is a very safe assumption. What has ID discovered? How are they testing that god created species as they are now? Where’s the scientific data proving that certain biological machines are irreducibly complex? See in real science, including evolution, data that contradicts a theory is absorbed and the theory changes. Period. Scentists are trying to describe reality truthfully, not prove that some monolithic theory that you falsely posit is correct.

    The problem with that sort of pattern is that they’ve stopped pursuing the truth and instead will only be willing to pursue what seems natural or useful, yet then they claim to have true knowledge in the next breath.

    Oh, for the love of…. Science deals only with the natural world! That’s all that is testable! The fact that science has done nothing but make progress using natural means to explain the world should be a pointer as to the validity of the method! If you fail to understand that, then arguing against it is not going to be a successful venture for you. And, for the record, it hasn’t been.

    …I will address the important theoretical questions about how language and the human mind could evolve in the first place by Darwinian mechanisms.” (Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life by Daniel Dennet : 341-342, emphasis added)

    Yes, all theory is “could have” until it’s upheld or refuted by research and testing. Your point? The important point that you continue to ignore is that all theory in science is researched and tested until it supports a theory or renders it false. If false, it is immediately dropped. Period. I can’t believe I have to keep explaining Science 101 to you.

    Sometimes those engaged in Darwinian reasoning will even say things like “If you imagine this story…” and so on, yet then somehow that is often turned into a “scientific fact.”

    Yes, after it’s tested and proven correct. Science 101 yet again. Unless it’s tested and proven right, these imaginings get no more respect from the community than ID does.

    I’m going to hold off on refuting every one of your arguments that show your ignorance of how science works, as it’s become too frustrating. Ignorance of science makes you average in America (unfortunately), but trying to argue against a scientific theory when you obviously don’t understand its most basic method is ridiculously absurd.

    Evolution is not some sentient being that it will do one thing rather than another.

    Of course, I was talking about the state of the theory, not making evolution an entity. I’m surprised you failed to understand that.

    At any rate, the eugenics had its peer reviewed literature, experts and scientific consensus yet it was wrong. You may imagine that it was proven wrong by the inevitable Progress you link with science but history shows that its links with Nazism and a continent being reduced to cinders had something to do with it. Progress is not assured by science at all.

    Your knowledge of history is also incomplete. Eugenics under the Nazi regime unethically misused the science to try to create a “pure” race, which was an obvious and reprehensible abomination. However, the science of eugenics was never proven wrong, and 5 minutes of research would have shown you that. Eugenics remains today as a way to fix genetic mistakes that cause diseases such as cystic fibrosis, or for ideas such as the Genius Sperm Bank. Your lack of knowledge of this is frankly unbelievable.

    I haven’t seen the film so I cannot comment on it but if it shows a link between Darwinian reasoning and Nazism then that is accurate. Perhaps you answer could be: “So what if it’s true.” I actually agree but I’d note that biologists have a history of missing truths that are more important than what they suppose to be biological “facts.”

    “Darwinian reasoning” again… No, scientific reasoning has nothing to do with eugenics in Nazi Germany. They misused science to commit atrocity based on adherence to Catholic and Lutheran anti-semitism. There is a link, but it is as superficial as their misuse of religious views on race.

    I suppose that according to you I can thank natural selection operating on the reproductive and excretory organs of ancient ape-like creatures for that but I like to keep other things in mind.

    If your natural desire to get laid results in you having and raising more babies to be as ignorant of science as you are, then I will certainly not be thanking natural selection for it.

    Try not to lose your mind in your own imagination…. something that Darwinian reasoning seems to lead to.

    Something that you’ve failed to prove, in the same way that you have completely failed, with all your words, to prove that ID is a valid science. I hope your attempt to get some last night was a success, but I hope you respected natural selection enough to use a condom.

  12. March 29, 2008 8:22 am

    Oh, and here’s some more Science 101 that you don’t seem to understand: proving evolution wrong will not make ID correct. ID has to stand on its own as a valid scientific theory. This is something that it has failed to do since it’s inception.

  13. mynym permalink
    March 29, 2008 12:39 pm

    Despite the fact that evolution had it’s base in Darwin’s theories, he would be had-pressed to understand the current state of the field, as there wasn’t even a theory of genetics in his time. Because of this, using the phrase “Darwinism” is also a straw man as it tries to forward that the thoery has not even changed since he first thought of it. There’s your first logical fallacies.

    You’re seeking to avoid definition and specification now but Darwinism is used by the proponents of Darwinian reasoning to specify it often enough. Examples:

    Whenever Darwinism is the topic, the temperature rises, because more is at stake than just the empirical facts about how life on Earth evolved….(Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life by Daniel Dennet : 21)

    ….the most powerful challenges to Darwinism have always taken this form: are Darwinian mechanisms powerful enough, or efficient enough, to have done all that work in the time available? (ib. :126)

    In describing the power of the central claim of Darwinism in the previous section, I helped myself to a slight (!) exaggeration: I said that every living thing is a descendant of a living thing. This cannot be true…. (Ib. 156)

    There are people in the world who desperately want not to have to believe in Darwinism. ….there are people, including many working in what they call (often as a singular noun) ‘the media’, who just like seeing applecarts upset, perhaps because it makes good journalistic copy, and Darwinism has become sufficiently established and respectable to be a tempting applecart. (The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins :250-251)

    I do not commit any logical fallacies when speaking of Darwinism and Darwinian reasoning. You’re once again falling into your own incorrect pattern of thought in which Progress is inevitable and so somehow everyone has progressed simply because time has passed, this time we’ve supposedly progressed past using the term “Darwinism.” In a similar way you fail to deal with a text merely because it is two decades old despite the fact that it is accurate to argue that imagining things about the past is not necessarily a scientific “explanation” and so on. Apparently a naive belief in progress blinds you and leads you into ignorance, yet you claim to have knowledge of the history and descent of life forms in the past. If a blind belief in Progress blinds you to basic facts at present it’s not clear why anyone should assume that you or others with a similar pattern of thought have the vast knowledge that you claim to have about the even more distant past.

    You are once again failing to bring any valid research in favor of ID to the table. Also, evolutionary theory is under constant scrutiny and refutation, just like any other scientific theory.

    So what would falsify the “Theory of Evolution”? An absence of change perhaps? Yet what defines the notions of change and “chance” in the first place?

    That’s science! Trying to say that it’s not and arguing against that is completelfy false and yet another strawman. When ID proponents bring up scientific research backed by testing and valid data, they will be up to the same scrutiny from the scientific community.

    You’ve barred ID from science before any research though. You’ve barred it from receiving resources like State funding, a future generation of students learning about it and so on yet then you demand the very research that you’ve censored and banned. Just like those who argue against irreducible complexity based on science you cannot have it both ways, just as you cannot argue that irreducible complexity is not scientific and then claim to have refuted it scientifically it is absurd to argue that ID can never be science while using politics to ban and censor it, then argue that ID proponents must do the same level of research as those trying to use all academic resources to prop up Darwinism while censoring criticism of it.

    This progress has been evident and accelerating since the inception of the science of evolution, so assuming it will continue is a very safe assumption.

    You are apparently ignorant enough to imagine that the “science of evolution” has to do with progress as we know it when in fact the ID philosophy typical to the American Founders has much to do with it. You seem to think that you’ve explained progress merely by imagining things about the past that seem “natural” and so on but progress in America probably has more to do with patent law and the capacity for people to make a profit off of creativity and intelligent design than with Darwinian reasoning. Indeed, the whole political system contradicts Darwinian reasoning and it should be pointed out that those most likely to support Darwinism, the Judiciary, are also those who deny how the system was designed to adapt. They will simply mutate and mutilate a text (the Constitution) instead of admitting that the political system and the body politic already has a designed system of adaptation (amendments). One could go on down a list of total disagreement between the Founders and the modern version of a philosophy of naturalism which cloaks itself in “science.”

    I noticed that you almost denied the ID type of philosophy typical to the Founders so note what Jefferson wrote:

    I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripedal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organised as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms.
    We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in its course and order.
    ….So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have exited thro’ all the time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe. Letter from Jefferson to John Adams on April 11, 1823

    And when the atheist descanted on the unceasing motion and circulation of matter thro’ the animal vegetable and mineral kingdoms, never resting, never annihilated, always changing form, and under all forms gifted with the power of reproduction; the Theist pointing `to the heavens above, and to the earth beneath, and to the waters under the earth,’asked if these did not proclaim a first cause, possessing intelligence and power; power in the production, and intelligence in the design and constant preservation of the system; urged the palpable existence of final causes, that the eye was made to see, and the ear to hear, and not that we see because we have eyes, and hear because we have ears; an answer obvious to the senses, as that of walking across the room was to the philosopher demonstrating the nonexistence of motion. –Thomas Jefferson
    (The Faiths of Our Fathers: What America’s
    Founders Really Believed
    By Alf J. Mapp :14) (Emphasis added)

    I’m skipping to the end. You see, I find your ignorance tiresome.

    I hope your attempt to get some last night was a success, but I hope you respected natural selection enough to use a condom.

    Richard Dawkins said something similar, that supposedly now we have the capacity to rebel against that which “formed” us. Does it not form us now? If not, then when in the evolution of man did natural selection begin to no longer apply? Does it always apply in other organisms or do all have some form of sentience and intelligence by which they may shape their own evolution?

    The problem with denying sentience based on a pseudo-Newtonian worldview:

    Electrons and nucleons are not known to be sentient, while the higher animals are. If a rat laps up a solution of saccharine, the rational explanation of this lies in the fact that the solution tastes sweet and that the rat likes that. The tasting and liking are facts that physics and chemistry as known today cannot explain.
    And this conclusion gives the whole show away. Because it acknowledges a conscious desire by an individual capable of such desire, it leads on further to the recognition of deliberate actions by individuals and the possibilities of error on their part. Thus a whole series of conceptions emerges that are absent from physics and chemistry as known today. Indeed, nothing is relevant to biology, even at the lowest level of life, unless it bears on the achievements of living beings: achievements such as their perfection of form, their morphogenesis, or the proper functioning of their organs; and the very conception of such achievements implies a distinction between success or failure—a distinction unknown to physics and chemistry.
    But the distinction between success and failure is present in, and is indeed essential to, the science of engineering; and the logic of engineering does substantiate in fact what I am saying here of biology. No physical or chemical investigation of an object can tell us whether it is a machine and, if so, how it works. Only if we have previously discovered that it is a machine, and found out also approximately how it works, can the physical and chemical examination of the machine tell us anything useful about it, as a machine. Similarly, physical and chemical investigations can form part of biology only by bearing on previously established biological achievements, such as shapeliness, morphogenesis, or physiological functions.
    A complete physical and chemical topography of a frog would tell us nothing about it as a frog, unless we knew it previously as a frog. And if the rules of scientific detachment required that we limit ourselves exclusively to physical and chemical observations, we would remain forever unaware of frogs or of any other living beings, just as we would remain ignorant also by such observations of all machines and other human contrivances.
    The achievements which form the subject matter of biology can be identified only by a kind of appraisal which requires a higher degree of participation by the observer in his subject matter than can be mediated by the tests of physics and chemistry. The current ideal of “scientificality” which would refuse such participation would indeed destroy biology but for the wise neglect of consistency on the part of its supporters.
    (Scientific Outlook: Its Sickness and Cure
    by Michael Polanyi
    Science New Series, Vol. 125, No. 3246 (Mar., 1957), pp. 482)(Emphasis added)

    1950…now that is old! Perhaps you can imagine that you have refuted a knowledge based argument by pointing out how old it is again. Perhaps once you are older you will have a better understanding of both science and myths about Progress and leave it to the young to imagine what they will.

  14. mynym permalink
    March 29, 2008 1:09 pm

    Something that you’ve failed to prove, in the same way that you have completely failed, with all your words, to prove that ID is a valid science.

    I don’t know that I can prove that people have lost their minds, especially when they’ve never been proven to have a mind in the first place. I would just note that some Darwinian fairy tales seem to have been written by people who have lost their minds. E.g.

    What might a non-locomotor benefit [for bipedality] look like? A stimulating suggestion is the sexual selection theory of Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, of the University of Oregon. She thinks we rose on our hind legs as a means of showing off our penises. Those of us that have penises, that is. Females, in her view, were doing it for the opposite reason: concealing their genitals which, in primates, are more prominently displayed on all fours. This is an appealing idea but I don’t carry a torch for it. I mention it only as an example of the kind of thing I mean by a non-locomotor theory. As with so many of these theories, we are left wondering why it would apply to our lineage and not to other apes or monkeys.
    (The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution
    By Richard Dawkins :91)

    Supposedly I am supposed to prove that ID is valid scientia/knowledge based on very high epistemic standards like repeated empirical observation yet merely imagining things about the past is allowed within the form of “science” you already support and promote. Ironically perhaps ID can be subject to empirical observation based on knowledge of ourselves as sentient beings. At any rate, if it is not possible to substantiate intelligent agency then everything you believe is an illusion of natural selection operating on ancient worm-like creatures, including the notion of natural selection itself. In that case you lack a rationale for rationality and there is no reason to believe that what you write is rational, including notions of natural selection which you don’t even consistently apply.

    Possible lines of evidence for ID along the lines of what Jefferson was saying:

    The Moon and the Sun, as it happens, are two of the roundest measured bodies in the Solar System. Neither is precisely a geometric sphere, of course, but the Sun comes closer than just about any natural object known to science.
    […]
    The Sun is some four hundred times farther than the Moon, but it is also four hundred times larger. As a result, both bodies appear the same in our sky.
    […]
    The Moon is just large enough to block the bright photosphere but not so large that it obscures the colorful chromosphere.
    …perfect solar eclipses are optimal for measuring a range of important phenomena, such as the solar flash spectrum, prominences, starlight deflection, and Earth’s rotation. But even more than this, perfect solar eclipses provide great opportunities for discoveries about the Sun. Finally, besides inspiring awe and allowing us to discover the nature of the Sun’s atmosphere…..perfect solar eclipses became the occasion for discovering the correlation between habitability and measurability itself, hardly an insignificant point. (The Privileged Planet: How Our Place
    in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery
    by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards :9)

    If a correlation can be observed between highly specified forms of specifications necessary for the existence of Life and Life’s increasing knowledge of itself then perhaps it was designed to unfold in such a way.

  15. March 29, 2008 4:48 pm

    but Darwinism is used by the proponents of Darwinian reasoning to specify it often enough.

    Conceded, though I was not trying to avoid specification, and even detailed the manner in which you are using it, which you have not said otherwise.

    I do not commit any logical fallacies when speaking of Darwinism and Darwinian reasoning.

    You did, and I pointed out specific cases, which you have decided not to contest.

    You’re once again falling into your own incorrect pattern of thought in which Progress is inevitable and so somehow everyone has progressed simply because time has passed

    The progress that I spoke of was the progress in which new information has come to light in the research being done in the evolutionary study. You are obviously unschooled in that, as you speak only of “imagination” as if that’s the standard that evolutionary biologists adhere to, which I have said time and again is not the case. While scientists may speculate on certain areas, such speculation in no way reflects the actual work that is bing done in the field, no matter how many quotes you cherry-pick. Please familiarize yourself with evolutionary research, and then talk of “imagination”.

    Apparently a naive belief in progress blinds you and leads you into ignorance, yet you claim to have knowledge of the history and descent of life forms in the past. If a blind belief in Progress blinds you to basic facts at present it’s not clear why anyone should assume that you or others with a similar pattern of thought have the vast knowledge that you claim to have about the even more distant past.

    So, knowledge of the progress made in the field is naive? Also, this argument is not about the knowledge that I have, but the state of knowledge of the field as it is. Turning the aim of your arguments at my knowledge is yet another, say it with me, straw man.

    So what would falsify the “Theory of Evolution”? An absence of change perhaps? Yet what defines the notions of change and “chance” in the first place?

    Yet another missed chance to site research being done on ID! There are a range of things that would falsify evolution, such as genetic proof that none of the species present could have evolved from their common ancestors. However, this refutation has not shown itself. Instead scientists have found many genetic similarities that point towards support of evolutionary theory. This is the progress that I spoke of. Also, valid proof that an organism just appeared at some time in the past, with no modification from an ancestor would put a spoke in the wheels. Not only that, it would put ID in the realm of real science. So, who is researching that on the ID side? Have they found such an organism? No.

    You’ve barred ID from science before any research though. You’ve barred it from receiving resources like State funding, a future generation of students learning about it and so on yet then you demand the very research that you’ve censored and banned. Just like those who argue against irreducible complexity based on science you cannot have it both ways, just as you cannot argue that irreducible complexity is not scientific and then claim to have refuted it scientifically it is absurd to argue that ID can never be science while using politics to ban and censor it, then argue that ID proponents must do the same level of research as those trying to use all academic resources to prop up Darwinism while censoring criticism of it.

    Yes, from my throne on high, I barred ID from having a chance. Who will weep for the little man? Do you know how scientific research gets funding? By having valid claims an proposals for research in the field. As yet, ID has neither scientifically provable claims nor plans for research to prove them. Two main proposals of irrecducible complexity have been scientifically disproven: that of the bacterial flagellum and the human eye. You absolutely can refute non-science scientifically! “Goddidit” is not scientific, as it’s not testable, and when examples of “Goddidit” are forwarded, you absolutely can say “That’s not true because…” As for critique of evolution, every level of the field is up for critique and falsification. This happens during the process of peer review, not in the science classroom.

    You are apparently ignorant enough to imagine that the “science of evolution” has to do with progress as we know it when in fact the ID philosophy typical to the American Founders has much to do with it. You seem to think that you’ve explained progress merely by imagining things about the past that seem “natural” and so on but progress in America probably has more to do with patent law and the capacity for people to make a profit off of creativity and intelligent design than with Darwinian reasoning.

    Again, you are speaking of a totally different type of progress. Evolution has little to do with the progress of the American automobile, electricity, or mass transit. The progress that I’ve talked about is in the field of evolutionary research only. You’re putting some completely unrelated points into my mouth, which fails to display a cogent line of reasoning. I’ve asked you before to pay attention to what I’m saying and not argue off in some tangent that I haven’t even proposed. I’ll politely ask once again.

    I noticed that you almost denied the ID type of philosophy typical to the Founders

    Almost? So? What I actually argued is that whether or not the FFs believed in ID is completely irrelevant to it’s veracity. That is true.

    I’m skipping to the end. You see, I find your ignorance tiresome.

    So, you refuted a point I almost but never made. Well done! You win the internets!

    Richard Dawkins said something similar, that supposedly now we have the capacity to rebel against that which “formed” us. Does it not form us now? If not, then when in the evolution of man did natural selection begin to no longer apply? Does it always apply in other organisms or do all have some form of sentience and intelligence by which they may shape their own evolution?

    These are interesting questions, and I hope you give them the consideration they deserve. The summation seems to be, “Does our sentience have an effect on our purely biological instinct to breed with the pick of the litter?” I’m not familiar with the research into this question, but I know men like Dr. Dawkins are looking for methods to test it and find an answer.

    The article you present has some pretty absurd reasoning and is a fairly good example of not being able to see the forest for the trees. It states that “No physical or chemical investigation of an object can tell us whether it is a machine and, if so, how it works”. So, they seem to be saying that archaeologists can’t find particular stones in a dig and figure out they were hammers, arrowheads, or knives. Paleontologists have not been able to look at the bones of a dinosaur and figure out whether it was an herbivore or a carnivore and how it hunts. Yes, a chemical inspection couldn’t tell us that (until we completely figure out how to read genomes, that is), but a physical inspection gives all kinds of valid knowledge. Yes, most people could refute this with a knowledge-based argument without even knowing how old the article is.

    Perhaps once you are older you will have a better understanding of both science and myths about Progress and leave it to the young to imagine what they will.

    Ha! If you are older than me, as you seem to imply, then you set a poor example of evidence for your hypothesis!

  16. March 29, 2008 5:20 pm

    (Dawkins quote and then…) Supposedly I am supposed to prove that ID is valid scientia/knowledge based on very high epistemic standards like repeated empirical observation yet merely imagining things about the past is allowed within the form of “science” you already support and promote. Ironically perhaps ID can be subject to empirical observation based on knowledge of ourselves as sentient beings. At any rate, if it is not possible to substantiate intelligent agency then everything you believe is an illusion of natural selection operating on ancient worm-like creatures, including the notion of natural selection itself. In that case you lack a rationale for rationality and there is no reason to believe that what you write is rational, including notions of natural selection which you don’t even consistently apply.

    You can’t tell the difference between speculation and evidence-based knowledge, and you have the balls to say my knowledge of science is poor? That, my friend is hubris and ignorance balled up into a nice little pellet of stupidity. You exhibit no knowledge whatsoever of basic scientific method or of evolution as a current theory. Yes, you have to provide the same testable knowledge that is required for every other science. The simple fact that you’ve been completely unable to quote an article less than 20 years old, except to laud your own ignorance of the content is support for my suspicion.

    (Article and then…) If a correlation can be observed between highly specified forms of specifications necessary for the existence of Life and Life’s increasing knowledge of itself then perhaps it was designed to unfold in such a way.

    Fine, bring it out of the realm of philosophy, propose a testable theory, research, test, and come up with some data to prove it. Until you can, ID is ever philosophy, and never science.

  17. mynym permalink
    March 31, 2008 5:40 pm

    ….and even detailed the manner in which you are using it, which you have not said otherwise.

    Apparently you were unaware that the term “Darwinism” is used to this day by it’s proponents, as you argued that using the term was a sign of failing to have knowledge about the sort of progress that you seem to be imagining. You presume to lecture about science yet seem to have little knowledge of it. This paragraph is a good example: Even your constant usage of the phrase “Darwinian reasoning” is a sign that your arguments lack any kind of logical cohesion. Evolutionary scientists use the scientific method in their research and conclusions. Despite the fact that evolution had it’s base in Darwin’s theories, he would be had-pressed to understand the current state of the field, as there wasn’t even a theory of genetics in his time. Because of this, using the phrase “Darwinism” is also a straw man as it tries to forward that the thoery has not even changed since he first thought of it.

    I can cite many proponents of Darwinian reasoning arguing that it has vast explanatory powers when it comes to origins and referring to it as “Darwinism” or Darwinian reasoning. Yet when I reply to them, you focus on the past and begin imagining things about progress again instead of dealing with what is going on in the present. In truth, what you imagine about progress doesn’t really matter because some truths are timeless and therefore knowledge of them doesn’t change.

    Note that those who engage in Darwinian reasoning have even tried to argue that it is explanation for the origins of the entire Cosmos:

    …Lee Smolin added an ingenious Darwinian spin which reduces the apparent statistical improbability of our existence. In Smolin’s model, universes give birth to daughter universes, which vary in their laws and constants. Daughter universes are born in black holes produced by a parent universe, and they inherit its laws and constants but with some small possibility of random change–‘mutation’. Those daughter universes that have what it takes to reproduce (last long enough to make black holes, for instance) are, of course, the universes that pass their laws and constants to their daughters. ….
    So universes that have what it takes to make stars are favoured in this cosmic Darwinism. (The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution
    By Richard Dawkins :91)

    Multiverse hypotheses seem to be based on little more than the same type of conditioning through the use of negative stigma words like “magic” as opposed to positive words like “natural” and so on instead of facts, logic and evidence. Yet based on logic and reason one has to wonder just how “natural” the notion of many universes is, for couldn’t one Nature be logically defined as unnatural to all the rest? What if one happened to call one of these many, many universes “heaven” or “hell” would that bring up enough religion into the issue to stigmatize all scientists researching it? At any rate, isn’t evidence for a multiverse excluded as a matter of principle given that any evidence has to be of this universe by definition? As for progress in knowledge based on this type of Darwinian reasoning Antony Flew notes:

    …I did not find the multiverse alternative very helpful. The postulation of multiple universes…is a truly desperate alternative. If the existence of one universe requires an explanation, multiple universes require a much bigger explanation: the problem is increased by the factor of whatever the total number of universes is. It seems a little like the case of a schoolboy whose teacher doesn’t believe his dog ate his homework, so he replaces the first version with the story that a pack of dogs—too many to count—ate his homework.
    (There is a God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind, by Antony Flew and Roy Abraham Varghese :136-137)

  18. mynym permalink
    March 31, 2008 5:52 pm

    You are obviously unschooled in that, as you speak only of “imagination” as if that’s the standard that evolutionary biologists adhere to…

    It often is. In fact, they even engage in negative forms of theology as if “panda’s thumb” type arguments can do away with the need for actual empirical evidence. Despite all the past progress that you might imagine practicing theology in the name of science and then forbidding anyone to challenge your views (again, in the name of science) has a long tradition among Darwinists that began with Darwin himself. After all, he was educated as a theologian. I would not say that theology has nothing to do with scientia/knowledge or that it must be barred, yet I would point out the hypocrisy of engaging in it and then arguing that it must be kept separate from science.

    Note Darwin’s theological arguments:

    …though Darwin made repeated references to the Creator, he never needed to define his terms, for the modern view of God was widely accepted.
    In constructing the arguments for his theory of evolution, Darwin repeatedly argued that God would never have created the world that the nineteenth-century naturalists were uncovering. Shortly after going pub lic with his theory, Darwin wrote to a friend: “There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the [wasp] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that the cat should play with mice.”
    […]
    Nature seemed to lack precision and economy in design and was often “inexplicable on the theory of creation.” In addition to this growing list of imperfections and mistakes, Darwin questioned the way the various species were designed. He observed, on the one hand, that different species use “an almost infinite diversity of means” for the same task and that this should not be the case if each species had been independently created by a single Creator. On the other hand, Darwin observed that different species use similar means for different tasks.” This too, he argued, does not fit with the theory of divine creation.
    What exactly did Darwin expect God’s creation to look like? We may never know, but for our purposes the point is that Darwin was significantly motivated by nonscientific premises. He had a specific notion of God in view, and as it had for Milton, that view defined the framework of his thinking. Though biology was young and little was known about how organisms actually worked, Darwin believed he had sufficient evidence to show that God would not have created this world. God’s world had to fit into certain specific criteria that humans had devised.
    This view was not peculiar to Darwin. Philosophers and scientists had become quite confident in their knowledge of God. This attitude developed over many centuries, and by Darwin’s day it was internalized and needed no justification. Today this view continues to be evident in evolutionary literature, from popular presentations of the theory to college level textbooks.
    (Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil
    by Cornelius G. Hunter :12-13)

    Ironically, some of the organisms which Darwin used as examples for his theological arguments may be advanced as empirical evidence against the way he extended the theory of natural selection far beyond what can be observed of it. E.g.

    The work of Chrystal demonstrates that the larva of the wood wasp Sirex is also peculiarly accommodating towards its predator, the parasitic wasp Ibalia. Sirex bores a hole in the trunk of a conifer, in which it deposits its egg. The egg yields a grub which feeds on the wood. As the grub feeds on the wood it gradually bores a tunnel. After some years the grub turns into a pupa which finally yields the adult wasp, which, using its powerful jaws, bites its way out of the tree. The Ibalia using the hole bored by the Sirex lays its egg in the Sirex grub. The Ibalia grub gradually consumes the tissues of the Sirex grub but does not eat the vital organs until last, thus ensuring a fresh supply of meat until its development, which takes three years, is complete. The presence of the italic;” Ibalia changes the behaviour of the Sirex. Normally the Sirex larva bores deeply into the wood but when infected by the Ibalia it bores towards the surface. This is a vital behavioural change for Ibalia because it has comparatively weak jaws and would be unable to bore as far through the wood as Sirex to escape from the trunk. Yet another example of interspecific altruism? What conceivable value [for natural selection to operate on] can the Sirex grub gain by changing the direction of its boring? By what curious sequence of small evolutionary steps did the Ibalias’ predatory habit induce this vital behavioural change?
    (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
    By Michael Denton :223)

    If you can, try to refrain from pointing out how old Denton’s book is while imagining things about progress again and instead try to deal with the evidence itself. After all, what would falsify the theory of natural selection?

    Please familiarize yourself with evolutionary research, and then talk of “imagination”.

    You haven’t demonstrated a knowledge of evolutionary research but if I have made an ignorant statement then specify it. What have I written which causes you to think that I am not familiar with evolutionary research?

  19. mynym permalink
    March 31, 2008 6:13 pm

    So, they seem to be saying that archaeologists can’t find particular stones in a dig and figure out they were hammers, arrowheads, or knives.

    Ironically, that is exactly the point that ID proponents would make. In fields like forensics if we prejudice ourselves based on a philosophy of naturalism then we could never say that something happened by design. A physical and chemical analysis of hammers and so on would never reveal that they were intelligently designed to those who would not or could not stand back and see the purpose and fitness of their form and so on. Also, as ID proponents have pointed out it is not necessary to know the nature of the designer in order to systematically recognize design as SETI illustrates.

    Conversely, if recognizing design, intention and purpose really does fall outside of a form of science based on a pseudo-Newtonian worldview then that just shows the limitations of science, not the falsity of design. Another example:

    Perhaps a simple illustration will help convince us that science is limited. Let us imagine that my Aunt Matilda has baked a beautiful cake and we take it along to be analyzed by a group of the world’s top scientists. I, as master of ceremonies, ask them for an explanation of the cake and they go to work. The nutrition scientists will tell us about the number of calories in the cake and its nutritional effect; the biochemists will inform us about the structure of the proteins, fats etc. in the cake; the chemists, about the elements involved and their bonding; the physicists will be able to analyze the cake in terms of fundamental particles; and the mathematicians will no doubt offer us a set of elegant equations to describe the behaviour of those particles.
    Now that these experts, each in terms of his or her scientific discipline, have given us an exhaustive description of the cake, can we say that the cake is completely explained? We have certainly been given a description of how the cake was made and bow its various constituent elements relate to each other, but suppose I now ask the assembled group of experts a final question: Why was the cake made? The grin on Aunt Matilda’s face shows she knows the answer, for she made the cake, and she made it for a purpose. But all the nutrition scientists, biochemists, chemists, physicists and mathematicians in the world will not be able to answer the question — and it is no insult to their disciplines to state their incapacity to answer it. Their disciplines, which can cope with questions about the nature and structure of the cake, that is, answering the ‘how’ questions, cannot answer the ‘why’ questions connected with the purpose for which the cake was made. In fact, the only way we shall ever get an answer is if Aunt Matilda reveals it to us.
    (God’s Undertaker:
    Has Science Buried God?
    by John Lennox :40) (Emphasis added)

    Note that her answer would be a sound form of knowledge even if it could not be seen or verified by a lower form of scientia/knowledge dealing with the base substrate of existence.

    ….a physical inspection gives all kinds of valid knowledge.

    Yet if it is as limited as you say then Darwinists cannot presume to have explained away all purpose and design based on it. That is to say, you attained only what you were willing to seek. You began with a myopic focus on the base substrate of existence and that is all that you have knowledge of, not knowledge of the origins and/or design or lack of design of all things.

    You exhibit no knowledge whatsoever of basic scientific method or of evolution as a current theory. Yes, you have to provide the same testable knowledge that is required for every other science. The simple fact that you’ve been completely unable to quote an article less than 20 years old, except to laud your own ignorance of the content is support for my suspicion.

    Again, you demand the very things that you work to use the Judiciary and politics to censor. How am I to cite that which you would argue should never be allowed to publish. As a historian said of such scholarship, “It already knows its conclusions in advance.”

    At any rate, in your original post you attack the notion of irreducible complexity yet it is a basic empirical observation. What can generally be observed empirically is typically a form of irreducible complexity where if a part is taken away then a lack of function results. For sociological, psychological, political, theological or some other reason many scientists do not treat what is generally observed as the evidence that it already is and instead imagine it away. They simply propos “feasible evolutionary” routes in line with Darwinian reasoning: “If an organism could be found which I could not imagine coming about in a gradual sequence of events then my theory would absolutely break down.” For some reason those who are the first to blindly assert: “There is no evidence.” also seem to be those most willing to cite their own imaginations as the equivalent of empirical evidence.

    Irreducible complexity isn’t an “argument” similar to Darwinian reasoning, it’s generally an empirical observation which can be observed in the fitness, form and function of organisms. If one does not go the Darwinian route of imagining your own imagination to be the equivalent of empirical evidence you quickly see that the capacity to imagine things doesn’t change empirical facts or explain the history of all biological specification, form and species.

    As Behe has pointed out, what can be observed are limitations to what a blind process of natural filtration of form:

    …. some large evolutionary advantages have been conferred by breaking things. Several populations of bacteria lost their ability to repair DNA. One of the most beneficial mutations, seen repeatedly in separate cultures, was the bacterium’s loss of the ability to make a sugar called ribose, which is a component of RNA. Another was a change in a regulatory gene called spoT, which affected en masse how fifty-nine other genes work, either increasing or decreasing their activity. One likely explanation for the net good effect of this very blunt mutation is that it turned off the energetically costly genes that make the bacterial flagellum, saving the cell some energy. Breaking some genes and turning others off, however, won’t make much of anything. After a while, beneficial changes from the experiment petered out. The fact that malaria, with a billion fold more chances, gave a pattern very similar to the more modest studies on E. coli strongly suggests that that’s all Darwinism can do.
    (The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
    by Michael J. Behe :142)

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