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Author Topic: OSC's latest - Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design
javelin
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No, not really. I'm sure you are aware of that.

Did you have a point, Mr. Elsberry?

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Wesley R. Elsberry
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quote:

If you are looking to compare anything but they ideas behind the labels, you might want to restate your thesis.

That's all right, I think that noting that the same ensemble of arguments is made by "intelligent design" advocates as was made by "creation scientists", and "scientific creationists" before them, and "creationists" before them, and "natural theologians" before them is a strong argument. So far, I don't find the mere fact that you do not agree to be a convincing argument to the contrary. If you really wish another form of the thesis, then consider that there is no content to "intelligent design" that was not available in the corpus of earlier forms of antievolution. If you think that there is something novel to "intelligent design", I'd appreciate hearing about specifics.
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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by Wesley R. Elsberry:
quote:

If you are looking to compare anything but they ideas behind the labels, you might want to restate your thesis.

That's all right, I think that noting that the same ensemble of arguments is made by "intelligent design" advocates as was made by "creation scientists", and "scientific creationists" before them, and "creationists" before them, and "natural theologians" before them is a strong argument. So far, I don't find the mere fact that you do not agree to be a convincing argument to the contrary. If you really wish another form of the thesis, then consider that there is no content to "intelligent design" that was not available in the corpus of earlier forms of antievolution. If you think that there is something novel to "intelligent design", I'd appreciate hearing about specifics.
Interesting. Would you like to present specifics? I wasn't trying to put forth an assertion - just stating that the assertion given was full of potential holes.

Do you have any idea what ID posits? And what "Creation Science" posits?

Don't you think that the answer to those two questions matter more than the names of those who support the theories? Or do you care more about name dropping then facts?

Do you think it's a strong argument to say "I've heard it all before, and I've heard of Creationism before, so therefore, they are the same"?

[ January 21, 2006, 10:14 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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Ivan
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Jav-

The problem isn't that Card is factually wrong but rather that he's misleading in a Mooreish fashion. He takes a small subset of a group and gives it a general-sounding name that could easily be used to characterize the broader group as a whole.

The first time we hear of "Darwinists" or "strict Darwinists" is here, in the 4th paragraph:
quote:
Now the controversy is between advocates of the theory of Intelligent Design vs. strict Darwinists.
By using it in this context, Card has definted "strict Darwinist" to be "the group on the opposing side of ID in the debate".

So he's already generalized this term to mean "everyone opposed to ID". Even if he later goes on to re-define the term to fit his arguements later in the piece, we're still left with our initial impression: "Darwinist" = "everyone on the anti-ID side of the debate". By doing this, he's able to call the entire anti-ID crowd names while in the guise of defining his terms.

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Wesley R. Elsberry
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quote:

Did you have a point, Mr. Elsberry?

I had thought it was obvious: "intelligent design" advocacy relies both upon "God of the gaps" thinking, arguments from ignorance, and a persistent refusal to deal with countervailing evidence.

I was in the courtroom at the Kitzmiller v. DASD trial when Scott Minnich, expert witness for the defense, was presented with a publication detailing the evolutionary origin of the bacterial DNT degradation pathway, a complex biochemical system that originated in exactly the sort of stepwise manner that "intelligent design" advocates claim is impossible for natural causes to account for. Minnich's response? That this is just an "adaptational response". See
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day21am2.html#day21am565

And if you want to be precise about modes of address, it is Dr. Elsberry.

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Wesley R. Elsberry
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quote:

Do you have any idea what ID posits? And what "Creation Science" posits?

Don't you think that the answer to those two questions matter more than the names of those who support the theories? Or do you care more about name dropping then facts?

Do you think it's a strong argument to say "I've heard it all before, and I've heard of Creationism before, so therefore, they are the same"?

"Javelin", why don't you take a moment and plug my name into a Google search and stop treating me as a newbie on this issue?

I certainly do not think that the last question's content forms a strong argument. Fortunately, I haven't made that argument. Perhaps you would do better to take your own advice, handed out generously in this thread, to read the source materials before making statements. If you take a look at my page, I do not rely upon my authority to make points, and I have backed up what I say with references to federal court decisions and links to various online resources. But I do think that both the issues of identity of content and identity of advocates across "creation science" and "intelligent design" are valid arguments to make. If you look at the page I linked at first, you will see that the issue of the "two model" approach is approached on the basis of identical argumentative structure, not on identity of the speaker.

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javelin
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quote:
"Javelin", why don't you take a moment and plug my name into a Google search and stop treating me as a newbie on this issue?
I'm not treating you as a newbie, and I could care less about your credentials, Dr. - I care about your argument, and it isn't sound.

I did look through your pages - and here's my problem:

1. Creationist Science basically posits that the account from Genesis is literally true, and that science proves it.

2. ID posits that life was designed at some point, perhaps more than one point - and those studying it believe it can be proved through science.

How are these the same? Because, well, these ARE the theories - these are the things they posit. And if George believes both to be true, that doesn't mean what they posit are the same.

Would you disagree, Dr. Elsberry?

[ January 21, 2006, 11:47 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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javelin
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Note, the following is a quote from this site's "About Ornery.org" page - feel free to click on the link at the top of the current window:

quote:
1. We aren't impressed by your credentials, Dr. This or Senator That. We aren't going to take your word for it, we're going to think it through for ourselves.

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Wesley R. Elsberry
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quote:

1. We aren't impressed by your credentials, Dr. This or Senator That. We aren't going to take your word for it, we're going to think it through for ourselves.

Good thing I haven't asked anyone to accept an argument on my authority alone, then.

quote:

1. Creationist Science basically posits that the account from Genesis is literally true, and that science proves it.

2. ID posits that life was designed at some point, perhaps more than one point - and those studying it believe it can be proved through science.

How are these the same? Because, well, these ARE the theories - these are the things they posit. And if George believes both to be true, that doesn't mean what they posit are the same.

Would you disagree, Dr. Elsberry?

Of course, because that isn't my argument. Anytime you wish to let up with the strawmen would be fine with me.

"Creation science" is the term I mentioned, not "creationist science". And "creation science" does not "basically posit that the account from Genesis is literally true, and that science proves it." I rely here on the affidavit of Dean H. Kenyon in the Edwards v. Aguillard case that was decided by the Supreme Court in 1987. See
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard/kenyon.html

quote:

D. Definitions of Creation-Science and Evolution.

9. Definitions of Creation-Science and Evolution. Creation-science means origin through abrupt appearance in complex form, and includes biological creation, biochemical creation (or chemical creation), and cosmic creation. Evolution-science is equivalent to evolution. Evolution is generally understood by scientists (although some would disagree) to include biological evolution (or organic evolution) from simple life to all plants and animals, biochemical evolution (or chemical evolution or prebiotic evolution of the first life), and cosmic evolution (including stellar evolution) (of the universe). Creation-science does not include as essential parts the concepts of catastrophism, a world-wide flood, a recent inception of the earth or life, from nothingness (ex nihilo), the concept of kinds, or any concepts from Genesis or other religious texts. The subject of origins is a part of evolution, and the origin of the first life and tre-origin of the universe are generally regarded by the scientific community as part of evolution.

I'd suggest reading Kenyon's affidavit carefully to get up to speed on how "creation science" was actually presented. Compare the various arguments presented there with what has been presented as "intelligent design" arguments in Of Pandas and People and Darwin On Trial. Perhaps doing so would be prudent before making grand contentions about how "different" it might be from "intelligent design".
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javelin
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quote:
I'd suggest reading Kenyon's affidavit carefully to get up to speed on how "creation science" was actually presented. Compare the various arguments presented there with what has been presented as "intelligent design" arguments in Of Pandas and People and Darwin On Trial. Perhaps doing so would be prudent before making grand contentions about how "different" it might be from "intelligent design".
If that's your definition of Creation Science, then I can see where you are coming from (for some reason, this wasn't clear on your website, fyi). I don't believe that Card or I are thinking of the same thing as you, however.
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Wesley R. Elsberry
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quote:

I care about your argument, and it isn't sound.

So far, it seems that "Javelin" is having difficulty expressing in what way my argument fails to be sound. As I showed in my last post, he starts off by stating an invalid premise, mischaracterizing the content of "creation science".

That brings us to the second point:

quote:

2. ID posits that life was designed at some point, perhaps more than one point - and those studying it believe it can be proved through science.

While "intelligent design" may broadly and loosely be said to do so, the fact is that "intelligent design" does more than merely make that sort of statement. There are more arguments made under the label of "intelligent design" than "Javelin" recognizes here; read Of Pandas and People, Darwin On Trial, Signs Of Intelligence, and other sources listed as "Wedge books" by the Discovery Institute. I have. All the arguments included there and the various writings of the "intelligent design" advocates are included in the ensemble.

I would note that people who do not know the actual content of both "creation science" and "intelligent design" and believe the propaganda coming out of the Discovery Institute will have a lot of difficulty dealing with my arguments.

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Wesley R. Elsberry
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quote:

If that's your definition of Creation Science, then I can see where you are coming from (for some reason, this wasn't clear on your website, fyi). I don't believe that Card or I are thinking of the same thing as you, however.

It is clear that some have misconceptions about what "creation science" and "intelligent design" are. The misconceptions are not my fault, and what I'm posting on my weblog is intended to remove some of those misconceptions. I will try to improve the clarity on my page.
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Wesley R. Elsberry
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quote:

If that's your definition of Creation Science

I'll start on the clarity here. It is not my definition. It is the definition given, under oath, by Dean H. Kenyon, the state of Louisiana's advocate for "creation science". That's about as official as one may be able to find.
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TomDavidson
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Why does the state of Louisiana get to define terms?
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Wesley R. Elsberry
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The context was the federal court case over Louisiana's "balanced treatment" act. Kenyon is a national figure in the antievolution movement, not a Louisiana local. But it was Louisiana who sought his affidavit. They recruited the person that they thought could best make the case for "creation science".
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ngthagg
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Definitions:

Many people have shown the futility of arguing a point without definition of terms. Here are some:

Darwinist: Any person who responds to ID with one or more of the seven points listed by Card. So, if you or someone you know has done this, then you are one of those people the Card is refering to in his article. Some have said or implied that this is an imaginary group of people. However, having read this entire thread, I can say that there are a number of posters who are Darwinists.

Intelligent Design: The belief that life is too complex to have developed on its own, through the systems that we understand. Therefore, there must have been an Intelligent Designer.

Creation Science:

quote:
Creation Science was an attempt by fundamentalist Christians to give the Genesis account, as interpreted by them, a scientific veneer.
Please note that the definitions of Creation Science and Intelligent design are completely different. One takes belief and makes evidence match, and the other takes evidence and makes belief match. So, they are the converse of each other and not logically connected one way or the other.

Also note that I have drawn these definitions as best as I could from the body of the article. If you disagree with these, then please provide examples from the article to refute them. Since this is a thread started specifically to discuss this article, that is really the only worthwhile source for definitions (edit: for definitions of words that are defined in the article).

--This, I believe, is the thesis of Card's essay:

quote:
Real science does not in any way impinge on a belief that God (or some other Intelligent Designer) created the world and everything that dwells in it. At the same time, real science does not -- and never can -- prove or even support the hypothesis.

But real science also does not support a misguided faith in the teachings of a scientist who is now regarded as a prophet, and whose disciples have an emotional commitment to his theories, even when they can be shown to be inadequate to explain the data as we presently have it.

Everything before this is really just a preamble. Card explains the position of ID, explains the responses of Darwinists, and concludes that neither's beliefs should be taught in science class.


--Many people have noted that there are quite a few explanations of evolution, by biologists for laymen, available on the web. I am curious (and looking to the posters of these websites to do the work for me) how many of these were up and running before the ID debate started up?

--I am not sure that anyone else has drawn this conclusion, but this essay is not, in any way shape or form an essay supportive of ID. The only paragraph from which you might explicitly conclude this is the third to last, but he actually uses his own example as a reason not to support the proponents of ID.

ngthagg

[ January 22, 2006, 05:55 AM: Message edited by: ngthagg ]

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Lifewish
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quote:
Darwinist: Any person who responds to ID with one or more of the seven points listed by Card.
Ah, recursive definitions [Razz] It's a fair enough definition; my only worry is that it would probably include a large number of normal scientists who aren't even interested in the "controversy".

Which doesn't seem to be how OSC is considering Darwinists in his essay. For example, he says "When Darwinists do seem to explain, it's only to point out some error or omission in the Designists' explanation of a biochemical system." This is factually inaccurate (see TalkOrigins for what a Darwinist rebuttal actually looks like).

quote:
Intelligent Design: The belief that life is too complex to have developed on its own, through the systems that we understand. Therefore, there must have been an Intelligent Designer.
Add an "and this can be proven scientifically" there and I'm with you.

quote:
Please note that the definitions of Creation Science and Intelligent design are completely different. One takes belief and makes evidence match, and the other takes evidence and makes belief match. So, they are the converse of each other and not logically connected one way or the other.
I'd strongly disagree with this statement. I have seen no evidence of any of the leading lights of ID starting with the evidence and drawing unbiased scientific conclusions. (I am fairly certain that this can't actually happen - as OSC points out, ID is not in fact a scientific conclusion.)

To elaborate: Wells is a Moonie with the stated aim of destroying Darwinism. Dembski is currently teaching Critical Thinking at a seminary (I do recommend reading the syllabus). The list goes on (see "Unintelligent Design" by Mark Perakh for a more thorough discussion). To the best of my knowledge, only Behe has any remotely relevant credentials*, and his argument has been thoroughly debunked.

So, what might motivate a large number of people, most with no relevant training or apparent interest in getting that training, who happen to mostly be religious, to suddenly show an interest in an area of science that just happens to conflict with Biblical literalism? Would it be belief or evidence that motivated them?

quote:
But real science also does not support a misguided faith in the teachings of a scientist who is now regarded as a prophet, and whose disciples have an emotional commitment to his theories, even when they can be shown to be inadequate to explain the data as we presently have it.
---------------

Everything before this is really just a preamble. Card explains the position of ID, explains the responses of Darwinists, and concludes that neither's beliefs should be taught in science class.

And this is where the problem is arising, because the idea that Darwinists (using your definition here) see Darwin as infallible is fairly laughable. Darwin didn't even know about genetics. As OSC points out, Darwin didn't know about punctuated equilibrium. Darwin couldn't even dream of the cladistic methods used today to map out the tree of life. And no-one I've ever spoken to in the Darwinist community thinks that that is sufficient reason to reject those ideas. It doesn't happen. Not just it doesn't happen very often; it doesn't happen at all. Either OSC is talking about a community of zero or he's horribly misrepresenting the views of the community he is talking about.

quote:
Many people have noted that there are quite a few explanations of evolution, by biologists for laymen, available on the web. I am curious (and looking to the posters of these websites to do the work for me) how many of these were up and running before the ID debate started up?
- TalkOrigins - the motherlode. Definitely worth a few hours of browsing time.
- ScienceBlogs - a lot more informal but regularly posts both explanations of evolutionary theory and rebuttals to creationists
- Tangled Bank, an evolution-oriented blog "carnival" (roundup of interesting stories)
- Panda's Thumb, a collaborative blog that's mostly oriented towards rebuttal of creationism etc but also regularly posts on interesting evolutionary discoveries.

To the best of my knowledge, only TalkOrigins was around before the beginnings of Intelligent Design in 1987. This is more of a feature of the state of the internet than an indictment though - it's only recently that blogging has become popular enough to allow for entities like ScienceBlogs and Tangled Bank. TalkOrigins itself probably only existed as a usenet FAQ back then.

quote:
I am not sure that anyone else has drawn this conclusion, but this essay is not, in any way shape or form an essay supportive of ID. The only paragraph from which you might explicitly conclude this is the third to last, but he actually uses his own example as a reason not to support the proponents of ID.
I agree. The bit that really bothers me is the inaccurate treatment of the response to ID, rather than the treatment of ID itself (apart from the bit about them raising actual problems). If Javelin is correct in his interpretation of "Darwinian model" as referring to the knowledge we have today and not the actual theories that go into deriving that knowledge, I don't have any objection to his comments on evolutionary biology either.

* Note that use of OSC's credentialism "fallacy" is actually justified in this context. The scientific method actually has two parts - one is a methodology for ensuring that one's data and conclusions are as unbiased as possible, the other is a methodology for ensuring that none of your peers are playing silly blighters with their data/conclusions. The members of the ID community mostly fail to pass this "crank filter".

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Wesley R. Elsberry
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quote:

Please note that the definitions of Creation Science and Intelligent design are completely different.

That was argued in six weeks of trial last year in the Kitzmiller v. DASD case. Judge John E. Jones III listened carefully to the testimony taken and concluded differently.

quote:

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

The trial record is online, so please feel free to use that resource to inform your arguments.
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valkyrie
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quote:
To the best of my knowledge, only TalkOrigins was around before the beginnings of Intelligent Design in 1987. This is more of a feature of the state of the internet than an indictment though - it's only recently that blogging has become popular enough to allow for entities like ScienceBlogs and Tangled Bank. TalkOrigins itself probably only existed as a usenet FAQ back then.
You mean it didn't spring into being, fully formed, from the forehead of Darwin?
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KingNot
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"Intelligent Design" is simply creationism and theology re-packaged. It's proponents want bigotry and ignorance.

And Science also distances itself from things like Von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods?" Why? Because it is very unilikely and speculating about such things needlessly complicates the matter. We have no way of asking the "Enlightened masters of Arcturus" what they did, and likewise there is no radio frequency that get's a direct (and responsive) ear in "The man upstairs's" head.

If anyone thinks Religion is anything short of injurious to Science, just look up Benjamin Franklin's invention of the "Lightning Rod".

I've got a suggestion for you religious types: Slither back to the "Big Bang". The phenomena behind that will probably remain high-end/high-mathematics "Theoretical Physics" for millenia so you can stay in the public's eye there.

And really, why does "Creationism/Intelligent Design" HAVE to be true? It seems to me if the universe was created God could have simply created a universe where life would likely occur. He's supposed to be as SMART as he is powerful. (infinite or pretty near infinite) Study the "Fibonacchi Series" - Golden ratio/Phi - 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5...

The only problem, I think, that 'religious types' have with this is it is "New Agey" and takes the AUTHORITY from those who study religious texts and then go on as if they were the "Eyes and Ears of the Lord".

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by KingNot:
"Intelligent Design" is simply creationism and theology re-packaged. It's proponents want bigotry and ignorance.

And Science also distances itself from things like Von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods?" Why? Because it is very unilikely and speculating about such things needlessly complicates the matter. We have no way of asking the "Enlightened masters of Arcturus" what they did, and likewise there is no radio frequency that get's a direct (and responsive) ear in "The man upstairs's" head.

If anyone thinks Religion is anything short of injurious to Science, just look up Benjamin Franklin's invention of the "Lightning Rod".

I've got a suggestion for you religious types: Slither back to the "Big Bang". The phenomena behind that will probably remain high-end/high-mathematics "Theoretical Physics" for millenia so you can stay in the public's eye there.

And really, why does "Creationism/Intelligent Design" HAVE to be true? It seems to me if the universe was created God could have simply created a universe where life would likely occur. He's supposed to be as SMART as he is powerful. (infinite or pretty near infinite) Study the "Fibonacchi Series" - Golden ratio/Phi - 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5...

The only problem, I think, that 'religious types' have with this is it is "New Agey" and takes the AUTHORITY from those who study religious texts and then go on as if they were the "Eyes and Ears of the Lord".

Read the thread, the essay, and try again. This is insane.
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plunge
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Card gets it basically wrong.

1. It's easy to claim that one side of a controversy uses bad arguments if you can cite litterally anything anyone says (Card cites no one in particular at all, which makes the characterization even more shady and poorly aimed). I could make the same argument about litterally any position: the internet contains examples of virtually every position being supported by bad argumentation.

2. Many of the specific complaints Card lists can just as easily be misrepresentations of legitimate arguments people make against ID, stripping them down by reducio.

For instance, discussions of credentials aren't necessarily all suspect. Sometimes, they are perfectly on target. When a creationist misrepresents their credentials to claim false authority or expertise, it's quite legitimate to call them on it. Likewise, it is perfectly legitimate to discuss how someone going outside their field of expertise without exercising serious care can lead them into all sorts of errors. Especially since this is done in the course of ALSO explaining why they are wrong, and fits into a long history of them being wrong, it's again a perfectly legitimate part of the discussion.

This happens with misinformed ID rants all the time. Phillip Johnson, for instance, is a lawyer trained in rhetorical debate but not biology. As a result, when he scans through biology trying to find problems, he is far more likely to conclude that some seeming inconsistancy is evidence of a conspiracy and cover up rather than of his own lack of knowledge. Many ID supporters present, for instance, calculations about the probability of functional protein formation that very obviously do not take into account basic facts known to even college biochem students: like that many proteins are functionally identical and that parts of them can vary randomly without affecting their shape and function at all. Is it wrong to point out that Johnson's arguments are characteristically misinformed, ascribing slander to scientists in cases where he has just not bothered to learn about the subject? It is really wrong to point out that this sort of conduct in a debate is untoward?

Distilling this discussion down into "don't listen to these guys, their credentials are suspect!" is just not an honest way to characterize these sorts of discussions. But that's Card's problem for most of his list of complaints: he takes on straw man versions of these topics and assigns them to science generally.

Card's complaint about expertism is especially just plain unwarranted. Every rebuttal I've seen of ID is careful, even gleeful, about outlining exactly why the ID claims are wrong, teaching people about science in the process. The irony is that most ID theorists DO think you are stupid. And because they use the same techniques as creationists (again, which is not the same thing as Card's strawman point 1) like quote mining or throwing impressive technical sounding jargon like "No Free Lunch Theorems" at the public without really explaining the concept or how ID fits into it, they exploit and play on the lack of understanding in the general public.

Generally, this results in scientists having to play catchup, spending far more time to rebut a claim than it took to make it. To do so, they have to explain the concepts and research at great length, which isn't anywhere near as flashy or punchy as one-liners ID arguments pull off. People will always be more swayed by the punchy slogans than the explanations which may be too long to bother reading. But you can hardly fault the scientists for taking the longer, but more honest and exacting course.

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javelin
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And so, I give up. Too many "1st posters" coming in who really, well, I've already laid out my annoyance.

See ya!

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plunge
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Your annoyances were noted... and IMHO, wrong.

All you've really done is over and over write "read the article," despite the fact that people disagree with your take on the article, and aren't satisfied by your defenses of its gross excesses. When Card says things like "The Darwinist answer was immediate. Unfortunately, it was also illogical, personal, and unscientific." he's painting with an extremely broad brush. The idea that he's talking about a hypothetical group of people that may or may not exist and so no one should take offense unless they admit to his accusations (your defense) is absurd. He constantly referrs to "both sides" of this "squabble," which clearly includes the vast majority of mainstream biologists who think the ID movement is pernicious twaddle... and then to go on to explain in great detail exactly why they think this.

His article then presents and refutes what are essentially impoverished caricatures of many positions held by most mainstream biologists and critics of ID. There's no other way to take that then the usual "I am holier than thou scientists who are dogmatists!" dribble. He should give specific examples of who and what conduct he's talking about if he thinks one side is guilty of what he says. Otherwise, he's just blowing hot air.

The idea that anyone regards Darwin as an infaliable prophet is patently absurd. There's not a single biologist anywhere who would claim that Darwin was right about everything or had any sort of complete and sufficient theory to describe all life on Earth. Good grief, Darwin's entire model of heredity was wrong! In fact, what Darwin (or anyone else for that matter) believed is functionally irrelevant to modern evolutionary theory, which is based on testible evidence, not any ones authority. If Card can't demonstrate that there is any sizeable group of scientists or even layperson observers who disagree with the above or really have "a misguided faith in the teachings of a scientist who is now regarded as a prophet, and whose disciples have an emotional commitment to his theories" then he is simply blowing hot air.

[ January 22, 2006, 05:34 PM: Message edited by: plunge ]

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PZ Myers
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I've laid out my not-so-brief brief against Card's very poor essay here. Basically, the objection is that he's flailing against a straw man of his own creation, this imaginary "Darwinist", and he's trying to tar serious scientists with the same caricature the Discovery Institute uses. The DI has no science, Card has no science, so they're left with dishonest rants about the state of the the actual science.

I'm sure you have had enough, Javelin. It is hard to defend the indefensible.

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ngthagg
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Responses to responses:

Wayne R. Elsberry: I join javelin in saying: Read! before you post.

quote:
Also note that I have drawn these definitions as best as I could from the body of the article. If you disagree with these, then please provide examples from the article to refute them. Since this is a thread started specifically to discuss this article, that is really the only worthwhile source for definitions.
Please create a new thread to discuss the court case, and in that thread, use definitions the court uses. But in this thread, which is a discussion specifically of this article, refutation of Card's definitions should come from his article.

I recognize that you are making a valid point. The question that should be raised is why does the definition of ID by the judge and the definition of ID by Card vary so differently. From another reading, I can only conclude that Card takes ID at face value: by reading Behe's book, and drawing conclusions. The judge, on the other hand, looked at the movement as it compared to the numerous other movements fighting evolution, and concluded they are the same. I think there is room in this case for different definitions of the same term.

Lifewish: I disagree regarding the defintion of Darwinist. I think it is an explicit definition. My understanding of recursion in this sense is self-referential. If I had said that Darwinists are those who disagree with people who think Darwinists are wrong, then I would have been recursive. The group of people who are Intelligent Design proponents is well-defined I think. No one has questioned who is on that side. So, if you respond to arguments from these people with one of the seven methods listed by Card, you are a Darwinist. This is a nice simple rule that you can follow, as long as you understand the seven points Card lists. Using this definition, you can say whether or not a person is Darwinist. If I am still misunderstanding, please explain where the recursion comes in.

I think we do have a misunderstanding about the details of my definition. As best as I can tell, the people who have responded with well-stated, well-researched books, websites, etc. do not match the descriptions of Darwinists. Card said:

quote:
When somebody -- anybody -- asks hard questions of a theory, then the scientific answer is never "shut up and go away." The scientific answer is, "Let's see if we can find out."
To all the people on this thread who have responded positively by presenting solid information, you are a credit to scientists. For an example of a Darwinist (by my definition) look at KingNot's post: he uses point 1 and point 7.

Regarding the definition of Intelligent Design: I don't think it would be appropriate to add the line you suggested, but I also don't think that should hinder your agreement with it. Referring to Card's essay, he states that Intelligent Design is a theological belief, not a scientific hypothesis. Which means, of course, that you can accept the definition, and also disagree completely.

Regarding my presentation of Creation Science and Intelligent Design as converses: this didn't seem quite right last night when I wrote, and it doesn't seem at all right right now. In the best light, Creation Science is an attempt to justify and rationalize faith. Intelligent Design is an effort to find a place for faith within the framework of evolution. That is more what I meant.

Finally, I think you bring up a very good point about Darwinists. They may recognize that Darwin is fallible. (But consider those using the name. If Christian, Lutheran, Confuscian describe followers of Christ, Luther, and Confuscius, then why shouldn't Darwinist describe followers of Darwin. For those serious about the science of evolution, evolutionist is a much better name.) The problem I think Card sees is that this falliability of Darwin is not what gets communicated to the general public, either through the media or when taught in schools. I am thinking specifically of a recent (last year) National Geographic which featured on the cover "Was Darwin Wrong?". I bought it, expecting to see an interesting article on the scientific method and how work on evolution progresses. Instead, the first line was something like, "No! He was not!". This is the sort of thing Card is complaining about. A better first line would be something like, "Of course he is! Just like Issac Newton, Niels Bohr, and Albert Einstein. Heck, even Stephen Hawking has been wrong a number of times. But right or wrong is not the point of science. Instead it is to increase our understanding of how the world works." (First few lines, I suppose.) And so forth. Regarding my high school science education, I was raised in Alberta, Canada, so my experience isn't exactly the same. However, I have been constantly surprised at how much science I was taught that was either incorrect, or so dumbed down as to be useless. When evolution is presented in this way, it is easy to see how debates such as the one we are having could arise. I can't comment on the American education system, but if it is anything like what I experienced in Canada, it deserves a hard look.

javelin: I apologize for being a new poster. I read the article when it first came out, but last night was the first chance I had to make a reply.

An interesting link: Vatican on ID

This article, in my opinion, looks at Intelligent Design and comes to the same conclusion Card did: even if you agree with it, it shouldn't be taught in schools. The article also brings up something which isn't in Card's essay, but I felt he should have included: those who look at evolution and conclude that there is no God are practising theology in exactly the same way as ID proponents do. I think this link provides a nice complement to Card's article.

ngthagg

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Wesley R. Elsberry
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quote:

Read! before you post.

I did read. I just disagreed with your argument and conclusions. Also note that in the second thread dealing with Card's essay Ed Brayton was told that he shouldn't have created a new thread.

[ January 22, 2006, 10:34 PM: Message edited by: Wesley R. Elsberry ]

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Spike
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Here is a test:

In Card's essay, subsitute the DI, ID-ists and ID "theory" for science, "Darwinists", & evolution theory.

I think what you will find is that all seven points apply quite handily to the DI crowd.

Just visit: The Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture

Read the drivel they post about "Darwinists," which in their definition is anyone who disagrees with the DI.

Read what passes for scientific argument.

Then go out and look for the history and credentials of the DI Fellows. Not because their credentials mean that they lack scientific training, but becuase their credentials show that their interest in promoting DI is no different than those who promoted Creation Science before them.

Card is ignoring what is obvious, or he is deliberately mendacious when he says,
quote:
Now the controversy is between advocates of the theory of Intelligent Design vs. strict Darwinists. And some people want you to think it's the same argument.

It isn't.

When in fact, it is.

[ January 22, 2006, 11:11 PM: Message edited by: Spike ]

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valkyrie
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Poor old Javelin...

anyway, here is the piece of Card's essay that I would take away with me: that what we have is a discussion between confused science and faltering religion. "Darwinists" are people who are invested in there being no God ingredient whatsoever, no matter what the evidence may say, and IDers... well, I can't really tell the difference between them and Creationists but it seems OSC can. In any case, it's a pretty poor sign for your religion if, upon finding out that the world was not in fact sneezed out of the Great Green Grottoblaster's nose during a hyperspatial head cold, or that the earth was not in fact created in 6 days, your whole philosophical edifice is called into question.

I believe that a great deal of the tension around this has to do with a basic cultural question we're dealing with right now: what is morality, how do we recognize it, how do we teach it? My guess (this is a guess since I've never been a Christian or even really lived with them) is that religious people get rankled when their concerns about these things get dismissed out of hand. What does it mean for us as a culture if we have a consensus that we are basically a bunch of very complex talking monkeys? This is a valid question. People who laugh at it aren't doing anybody any favors.

This brings me to the Discovery Institute. I checked it out and I found this: Why We Care About Darwin Wars by David Klinghoffer (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It grabbed my attention because it pointed up some of what I had been ruminating about yesterday. (Also it was at the very top of the page.)

Basically this guy says, let's set aside the science of Darwinism and consider the moral implications of what we're teaching to our children. He writes: "In erasing God's role from the history of biological existence, Darwinism erases a primary motivation to pursue scientific discovery." He points up the fact that Darwin drew inspiration from Thomas Malthus and draws out the ugly version of "Darwinism" that gets prefixed with "social." (Not explicitly of course but it is recognizable.)

And of course there is the idea that without a creator God humans would be bestial savages with no moral code.
quote:
Wrote Darwin, "We may, therefore, reject the belief, lately insisted on by some writers, that the abhorrence of incest is due to our possessing a special God-implanted conscience." If ethics has no such secure foundation, there can be nothing sacred about doing the right thing.
Klinghoffer isn't my straw man. I'm trotting him out here because he's already shucked off the veneer of science and gotten to the heart of WHY evolution and our origins matter so much to us all. It's not about microbiology or red-shifting or carbon-dating. It's about the big question: if there's no creator, and there's no rules, and we just made all these ethics and morals and everything up ourselves, then what? How will we know how to treat each other?

Card believes we are here for "God's benificent purposes." He's secure in his belief; as he says, he doesn't need pseudo-science to justify his faith.

Me, I don't believe there is any cosmic rule-book for us to live by. Here I quote Mohandas Gandhi, as quoted by his grandson Arun:
quote:
I do dimly perceive that whilst everything around me is ever-changing, ever-dying, there is underlying all that change a living power that is changeless, that holds all together, that creates, dissolves, and re-creates. That informing power or spirit is God. . . . For I can see that in the midst of death, life persists; in the midst of untruth, truth persists; in the midst of darkness, light persists. Hence I gather that God is life, truth, light.
That which remains changeless in the midst of constant change... which creates, dissolves, and recreates... hey!

God IS evolution.

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Tom Curtis
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Javelin:

>>> Well, see, you'd have an argument if you said that the people Card is writing about are insignificant - that'd actually be refuting something he said. Since, however, you instead have to make up a straw man to beat on, I find your argument less then compelling. Show me, besides a "must have - gosh shucks it's obvious" argument, as to why you believe Card was writing about YOUR darwinists, instead of those he clearly defined?
<<<

Let's start with the most obvious and basic point. Card never "clearly define[s]" the term "Darwinist". At no point does he lay out a set of necessary or sufficient conditions for being a darwinist, and nor does he ever write, "By Darwinist I mean ..." Card's "clear definition" is a fiction invented by Javelin because he has no coherent responce to the various criticisms being made of Card's article.

What Javelin has done is to take a group of descriptions of Darwinsists and treat them as a joint implicit definition of the term "Darwinist". But he has no justification for making such a move. There is no textual basis to consider those descriptions to be intended as definitional rather than as simply descriptive. Indeed, if they are intended as definitional it renders the entire essay vacuous in that Card's criticism of Darwinists is just that they have certain features, ie, the features that Javelin chooses to view as implicit definitions.

What is worse for Javelin is that in order to play this game he must ignore other descriptions of Darwinists, many of which have a far more coherent claim to be implicit definitions than do the sentences he seizes on. The formost example of this is Card's first mention of "Darwinists:

"Now the controversy is between advocates of the theory of Intelligent Design vs. strict Darwinists."

This sentence implicitly defines "strict Darwinists" as the group currently in controversy with "advocates of the theory of Intelligent Design". Unfortunately for Card we know which group are currently in controversy with "advocates of Intelligent Design". It is the group of people mentioned by those advocates as opposing them - people such as Wesley Ellsberry, Jeffrey Shallit, Nicolas Matzke, Barbara Forrest and so on. Alternatively we could look to those currently opposing ID advocates in current legal/political controversies; ie the witnesses for the plaintiffs at Dover, the people opposing the ID inspired Kansas. This group is more extensive than the first, but shares a significant overlap.

So if we take these groups as being Darwinists as implicitly defined by Card, we find that Darwinists for Card are just Darwinists by a normal interpretation - ie, people who accept and advocate for Darwin's signature theory in its modern incarnations. But then it is painfully obvious that Card's further descriptions of these Darwinists, and in particular his description of their responce to the ID advocates is absurdly wrong.

We can make this same point by accepting Javelin's claims about Card's "clear defin[ition]". For if we accept the seven responces as implicitly defining Darwinists for Card's essay .or the abbreviated summary that Javelin has explicitly quoted as Card's definition, then Card's claim that "Now the controversy is between advocates of the theory of Intelligent Design vs. strict Darwinists" is false. The current controversy between ID advocates and defenders of science education as reported in news media does not involve any of Javelin's strawman Darwinists.

Further, Javelin's definitional shenagins are irrelevant, for Card writes that "But an astonishing number of [Darwin's] defenders today are, at least when discussing Darwinism, not scientists at all." his claim is patently false. The natural interpretation here is that "Darwin's defenders" and "Darwinist's" are the same group of people - another implicit definition - that contradict's Javelin's prefered take. Now if we do take the terms as synonomous, then Javelin's definition is false simpliciter. If, however, we do not then the group Card refers to must include Kenneth Miller, Michael Ruse, Howard Van Till and so on. And his claim that these defenders "... behave like religious fanatics whose favorite dogmas are being challenged" who "... answer their serious critics with name-calling, credentialism, expertism, sniping, politics, and misdirection, answering questions that have not been asked, using answers that have nothing to do with the real questions." Unless of course Card is astonished that - let's make a generous estimate - 1% of "Darwin's defenders" should resort to these tactics; so astonished that he thinks it appropriate to completely ignore the other and much better known 99%.

So even if Javelin's point about the definition of "Darwinist" in the essay were correct, he would still have no defence to the argument that Card has misrepresented the responce to the ID proponents beyond the point of caricature. But in fact his point about definitions is simply false.

We can and should know it to be false without all this analyses because of the simple fact that no essay is a language entire unto itself. In any essay the words take the meanings they normally would outside that essay given proper allowance for context. So absent clear and explicit redefinition, "Darwinist" in Cards essay means just what it would normally mean outside of his essay - an accepter of Darwin's theories in their modern form. Javelin may want to play Humpty Dumpty and have Cards words exactly what Javelin wants them to mean, and nothing else. But in doing so he merely makes himself absurd.

PS: I am aware that Javelin has found to his regret that the one thing Darwinists never say about criticisms of "Darwinism" is "... just stop talking about it." But others are repeating his grotesque error, so I thought I would respond anyway.

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Tom Curtis
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ngthagg:

>>>
To all the people on this thread who have responded positively by presenting solid information, you are a credit to scientists. For an example of a Darwinist [by my definition] look at KingNot's post: he uses point 1 and point 7.
<<<

For someone emphasised the importance of definitions you don't pay much attention to words. Kingnot said, ""Intelligent Design" is simply creationism and theology re-packaged. It's proponents want bigotry and ignorance."

In contrast, Card's point 1 is that Darwinist's argue "1. Intelligent Design is just Creation Science in a new suit [name-calling]."

This is why it is a straw man. There are many forms of creationism, and "creation science" is just one of them. Consequently calling ID a form of creationism is not the same as calling it Creation Science. Creation Science as popularly understood and as defined by its adherents when they are not trying to sneak past the establishment clause in court includes the belief that the Earth is less than 10 thousand years old, that no member of a phylum shares a common ancestor with any member of another phylum, that all life on Earth was created in just six days in essentially its current form, and that there was a global flood that created most of the fossil record in just one year. A significant number of ID advocates do believe all or most of these things. Indeed, of the better known ID advocates around a third would accept these beliefs. But none of these beliefs is required for the acceptance of ID, or for conistency with acceptance of required beliefs.

But ID is a form of creationism. Consistent acceptance of ID argument requires a belief in a transcendant being who made the universe and the physical laws of the universe, and was intimately involved with the formation of life such that if they had not been so involved life could not have formed or evolved into the diverse forms currently extant.

Note: parentheses changed in quote to meet forum requirements.

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plunge
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I mean, this whole "creationism in sheeps-clothing" it's a little ridiculous.

History lesson:

1. Scientific Creationism loses a major Supreme Court battle based on the establishment clause, stopping their drive to put creationism into science class.
2. The major figures of the movement regroup to think about what to do next.
3. A bunch of these people and some new faces come out in a fairly coordinated fashion with Intelligent Design, which seems to be a lot of the exact same creationist criticisms stripped of positive religious claims and a non-verifiable positive theory.

Now, maybe if that was all that had happened, criticizing ID for being the same darn movement to get religious teachings into the schools with new clothing MIGHT be overbearing in the way Card says.

But on top of that, we have:

-The supposed "ID" textbooks turning out to be Creation Science tracts reprinted almost word for word with "Intelligent Design" inserted where God used to me.
-A freaking document from the major ID group outlining the strategy of former creationists to find a new way to get around the Supreme Court precedent and overturn "scientific materialism."
-Major public advocates of ID like politicians don't seem to have a clue as to what it is, and thus don't use evasive terminology
-ID speakers that leave out the God stuff in public, and then in private religious audiences talk openly about how the ID has to be God and how ID will bring about Biblical understandings of science, etc.

Countless other examples like this.

So in the face of all this, scientists and laypeople are somehow wrong to point out the duplicity of all of this? We're just supposed to shut our eyes, whistle, and ignore it? We're wrong for cluing anyone in as to what is going on?

Give me a break.

[ January 23, 2006, 05:24 AM: Message edited by: plunge ]

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Wesley R. Elsberry
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Another relevant bit from the Kitzmiller v. DASD decision:

quote:

As Plaintiffs meticulously and effectively presented to the Court, Pandas went through many drafts, several of which were completed prior to and some after the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards , which held that the Constitution forbids teaching creationism as science. By comparing the pre and post [141]Edwards drafts of Pandas, three astonishing points emerge: (1) the definition for creation science in early drafts is identical to the definition of ID; (2) cognates of the word creation (creationism and creationist), which appeared approximately 150 times were deliberately and systematically replaced with the phrase ID; and (3) the changes occurred shortly after the Supreme Court held that creation science is religious and cannot be taught in public school science classes in [142]Edwards. This word substitution is telling, significant, and reveals that a purposeful change of words was effected without any corresponding change in content, which directly refutes FTE's argument that by merely disregarding the words "creation" and "creationism," FTE expressly rejected creationism in Pandas. In early pre-[143]Edwards drafts of Pandas, the term "creation" was defined as "various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features intact - fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc," the very same way in which ID is defined in the subsequent published versions. (P-560 at 210; P-1 at 2-13; P-562 at 2-14, P-652 at 2-15; P-6 at 99-100; P-11 at 99-100; P-856.2.). This definition was described by many witnesses for both parties, notably including defense experts Minnich and Fuller, as "special creation" of kinds of animals, an inherently religious and creationist concept. ([144]28:85-86 (Fuller); Minnich Dep. at 34, May 26, 2005; [145]Trial Tr. vol. 1, Miller Test., 141-42, Sept. 26, 2005; [146]9:10 (Haught); [147]Trial Tr. vol. 33, Bonsell Test., 54-56, Oct. 31, 2005). Professor Behe's assertion that this passage was merely a description of appearances in the fossil record is illogical and defies the weight of the evidence that the passage is a conclusion about how life began based upon an interpretation of the fossil record, which is reinforced by the content of drafts of Pandas.

http://www2.ncseweb.org/kvd/all_legal/2005-12-20_kitzmiller_decision.pdf
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benl
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The theory of evolution has been vigorously scrutinized and refined for over a hundred years. To present it as you do as a blindly defended dogma is a willful misrepresentation. "Intelligent Design" on the other hand is, literally, a copy and paste re-packaging of "Creation Science". Advocates of these beliefs are simply looking for a justification with which to force their promotion.

It's true that the physical sciences can't help us with the deepest philosophical or religious questions, but every one of your points criticizing "Darwinism" (whatever that is) is either factually wrong or a misdirection. It is trivial, although laborious, to show this. Frankly this kind of nonsense has been publicly refuted so often and so well that I'd rather spend that time enjoying the sunny winter day I see out my window.

Scott, in the past I have greatly enjoyed your fiction writing. Sadly your disgraceful contribution to this important debate has destroyed the respect I held for your talents.

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Wayward Son
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quote:
This thread will likely be short due to everyone agreeing with him on this one.
Boy, were you wrong this time, Kent. [Smile]
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Kent
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Actually everyone is agreeing with his final thought, they just like being disagreeable.
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Tom Curtis
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Kent, his final thought was:

>>>
I don't have to call upon religious faith to contradict the claims of bad science. I'll reserve it to deal with the claims of bad religion. An understanding of good science is always enough to sweep away the overclaiming of those "scientists" who, as the religious fanatics they are, wish to impose their faith on everyone.
<<<

As he calls the defence of the standard modern version of darwinism "bad science" and "a religion", that is his target in this paragraph. And he is wrong. The science taught in schools and universities does not include any religious aspects. That is the problem with Darwinism - not that it somehow endorses atheism - but that it fails to endorse theism. For a certain brand of theist, apparently including Card, that failure to endorse their religion is unforgivable.

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Bliss
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With Tom, I disagree with Card's final thought to the degree that he's applying it to Darwinism, which is, in fact, very good science.

I do, however, agree with his final thought as applied to the ID movement.

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KidA
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There is only one relevant point to make here, as far as I'm concerned.

OSC states the following:

quote:
The irony is that there are plenty of Darwinists who are perfectly good writers, capable of explaining the science to us well enough to show us the flaws in the Designists' arguments. The fact that they refuse even to try to explain is, again, a confession that they don't have an answer...

What they never seem to show is how the new understanding reveals a system that is not complex after all, one in which each step in the process confers independent benefits on the organism and therefore could have evolved through random mutation and natural selection alone.


It took me fifteen seconds to find this article in the New Yorker.

Here's an excerpt:

quote:
Behe’s main claim is that cells are complex not just in degree but in kind. Cells contain structures that are “irreducibly complex.” This means that if you remove any single part from such a structure, the structure no longer functions. Behe offers a simple, nonbiological example of an irreducibly complex object: the mousetrap. A mousetrap has several parts—platform, spring, catch, hammer, and hold-down bar—and all of them have to be in place for the trap to work. If you remove the spring from a mousetrap, it isn’t slightly worse at killing mice; it doesn’t kill them at all. So, too, with the bacterial flagellum, Behe argues. This flagellum is a tiny propeller attached to the back of some bacteria. Spinning at more than twenty thousand r.p.m.s, it motors the bacterium through its aquatic world. The flagellum comprises roughly thirty different proteins, all precisely arranged, and if any one of them is removed the flagellum stops spinning....

But Behe’s principal argument soon ran into trouble. As biologists pointed out, there are several different ways that Darwinian evolution can build irreducibly complex systems. In one, elaborate structures may evolve for one reason and then get co-opted for some entirely different, irreducibly complex function. Who says those thirty flagellar proteins weren’t present in bacteria long before bacteria sported flagella? They may have been performing other jobs in the cell and only later got drafted into flagellum-building. Indeed, there’s now strong evidence that several flagellar proteins once played roles in a type of molecular pump found in the membranes of bacterial cells.

Behe doesn’t consider this sort of “indirect” path to irreducible complexity—in which parts perform one function and then switch to another—terribly plausible. And he essentially rules out the alternative possibility of a direct Darwinian path: a path, that is, in which Darwinism builds an irreducibly complex structure while selecting all along for the same biological function. But biologists have shown that direct paths to irreducible complexity are possible, too. Suppose a part gets added to a system merely because the part improves the system’s performance; the part is not, at this stage, essential for function. But, because subsequent evolution builds on this addition, a part that was at first just advantageous might become essential. As this process is repeated through evolutionary time, more and more parts that were once merely beneficial become necessary. This idea was first set forth by H. J. Muller, the Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, in 1939, but it’s a familiar process in the development of human technologies. We add new parts like global-positioning systems to cars not because they’re necessary but because they’re nice. But no one would be surprised if, in fifty years, computers that rely on G.P.S. actually drove our cars. At that point, G.P.S. would no longer be an attractive option; it would be an essential piece of automotive technology. It’s important to see that this process is thoroughly Darwinian: each change might well be small and each represents an improvement.



Did Card even try to look for such an argument? They are readily available.

The whole article is found here.

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Kent
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Whatever Darwinism once meant, the layman likely no longer views it as a science, but rather as a world view which has become a political/social movement. Evolution is a scientific theory which incorporates most of Darwin's explanations. Darwinism for most people has become an anti-Christian agenda. Darwinists are the kind of people that have those Christian fish on the back of their cars, except they have legs growing out of the fish and the name "Darwin" in the middle of it. These folks are by and large not scientists, they are people poking fun at fundamentalist Christians (with whom I disagree on most things).

I agree that the ID'ers are stupid for trying to get a philosophy taken for science. Their philosophy does not belong in Biology class. Darwinism as I just defined it doesn't either. Evolution does (and I believe wholeheartedly in evolution)! The reactionary ID'ers are fighting this battle because they perceive that some of their "non-scientist" teachers are Darwinists who are disparaging their religious beliefs.

[ January 23, 2006, 03:13 PM: Message edited by: Kent ]

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