Tom Gilson

Intelligent Design’s “Negative Science”

What If?

Intelligent Design is often accused of being nothing but an attack on evolution, offering no positive theory of its own, and hence not a science. I want to do some thought-play with that. Certainly ID includes negative science, the attempt to demonstrate that naturalistic evolution cannot be correct, that it is inadequate to account for life as we see it. Without conceding that ID is merely negative, let’s do some what-if thinking. Suppose ID were nothing but an attack on evolutionary theory–what then?

Michael Denton’s 1986 book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis was something very much like that. Without ever mentioning Intelligent Design and without any proposed solutions, it raised serious questions about evolution. Remove the inference to intelligence from Intelligent Design discussions since then (this is what-if, remember), and a very large proportion of what remains consists of an assault on the adequacy of evolution (from this point, by “evolution,” I specifically mean naturalistic or unguided evolution).

Michael Behe has proposed Irreducible Complexity as something that evolution could not accomplish, in principle. More recently in a book by the same name he described what appears to be a severely limited “edge of evolution.” Ralph Seelke is experimentally testing to see whether evolution can accomplish two adaptive changes at the same time, and has so far come up negative. These are quite candidly attempts to show that evolution cannot explain life’s complexity and variety.

We could cite other examples. That’s enough, though, to illustrate what ought to be obvious: even if one looks only at its negative aspects, ID involves scientists doing scientific investigations. Is Intelligent Design “A Science?” If your definition of “A Science” requires that it include a scientifically describable and testable theory, that’s a debatable question. One could argue that the inference to design is not scientific, that it’s philosophical instead; and that since it’s an argument by analogy, it’s not testable. For my part, I do see that inference on the other side of a line of demarcation between science and philosophy. Separating these disciplines is difficult, though, and answers are debatable.

Or maybe they are moot. Undeniably, when ID-sympathetic scientists conduct research to contest evolution, they are working in science. Note the heated discussion on Behe’s The Edge of Evolution. Behe says that in the case of malaria and HIV, trillions of opportunities for evolution have never accomplished more than a small number of adaptive changes. He makes his case on the basis of studying the actual organisms and their genomes. This is unquestionably work in the field of science. His disputants on the Amazon blog and elsewhere are primarily asking him scientific questions.

So why prolong this debate over whether Intelligent Design is a science? If it is not “A Science,” it certainly is “science,” the inference to intelligence notwithstanding.

What Objections?

But our what-if scenario here supposes that it’s all negative science, nothing but an attack on evolution, with no theory to propose in evolution’s stead. If that were so, the whole thing would need a new name; perhaps Evolutionary Skepticism in place of Intelligent Design. Other than that, what problems would there be with such a program? Based on my impression of the debate, mainstream science would still object on three points:

1. Evolution cannot be questioned. Where evolution sits, where no doubts can be voiced, no dissent raised, no questions asked. Evolution must be true.

2. All doubts raised toward evolution are religiously motivated, and religion ought to keep its interfering nose out of science’s business.

3. Evolutionary skeptics are not publishing in peer-reviewed articles; therefore they are not doing science.

No Other Answer Allowed

The first two objections interact. Evolutionary theory is mightily committed to philosophical and/or methodological naturalism. The first of these in particular is a strong version of atheism. Philosophical naturalism says that no matter what question you ask about the natural world, the only right answer is that all causes are strictly natural. Evolutionists committed to this include Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Richard Lewontin, Barbara Forrest, and G.G. Simpson. Methodological naturalism is slightly different: it says that the only right scientific answer is that all causes are strictly natural. Careful thinkers can distinguish philosophical naturalism from methodological naturalism, but such careful thinking is far too rare.

Under naturalism, there is no other option but evolution, as this brief syllogism shows:

P1. No explanations can be proposed or admitted for any natural phenomena except such as are entirely natural.
P2. Evolutionary theory (in one of its forms) constitutes the only entirely natural explanation available.

Therefore

C. Evolution is the only explanation we can propose or admit.

Given the premises, no contrary evidence could overcome the inexorable logic of the conclusion. Evolution is evidentially invulnerable. Any positive evidence it can garner is sufficient (little or much, it matters not), for it carries no obligation to overcome negative evidence.

Evolutionists might splutter in objection, “We’re not claiming we’re invulnerable! We know that if we ever found a human buried with a dinosaur, that would disprove everything! We’re open to the evidence!” Well, just how open are you? You acknowledge the appearance of design in everything, you admit the astonishing volume of information in DNA, you can show no other system that can assemble information like that by strictly natural processes, you have never produced observational evidence of evolution happening beyond the very narrow limits Behe described, you think a secretory system that likely developed after the flagellum may have been a step on the way to the development of the flagellum, and you think a mousetrap assembling itself one piece at a time is a good counter to Irreducible Complexity!

Religion Getting In the Way?

Regarding religious motivations for opposing evolution, several things could be said. In the first place, it’s irrelevant. Evidence against evolutionary theory is evidence against evolutionary theory, no matter what the motivation behind its discovery or analysis. To say otherwise is to commit the genetic fallacy. In the second place, science cannot simply slam the door on religion’s nose. Christianity in particular makes claims regarding origins, and these claims pose what philosophers of science call “external conceptual problems” for science. There is no reason an external conceptual problem cannot be brought into the domain of scientific investigation. That doesn’t mean that science must perform religious tests on the problem; science performs scientific tests. But external problems may certainly be brought in to science for its special kind of inquiry.

Beyond all that, it’s simply not true that all doubts are religiously motivated. Michael Denton’s doubts were not religiously motivated: he looked at evidence, and saw that some of it didn’t fit. Where’s the religion in that? Where’s the religion in running an experiment to see whether evolution can accomplish two things at once?

Unpublished?

The third objection, that ID theorists, are not publishing in peer-reviewed journals, has been debated widely enough elsewhere. It would have considerably more merit if not for the obviously scientific discussion taking place around Behe’s Edge of Evolution. If it’s not science, why raise scientific objections? And then of course there is the chilling effect of the Sternberg affair; and just how good would an evolutionary skeptical paper have to be to get past Nature’s screens? Can’t we all just admit that no journal is going to publish anything skeptical of evolution in the near future, and quit fussing at ID for running up against that barrier?

Negative Science Is Science

To summarize, even if ID were purely negative science, it would still be science. If evolution were shown to be incapable of what has been claimed of it, that would be a scientific discovery. If ID proponents were the ones to lead in that discovery, they would be doing so as scientists doing scientific work. That would be so regardless of whether they were to propose an alternative scientific explanation. It would be so even if they had religious motivations behind their work.

Thus ends my what-if. Charges that ID is not science are at best sloppy: a little nuanced thought would acknowledge there is scientific investigation going on under ID’s auspices, whether or not it involves any positive scientific theorizing.

Commenting Restored

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80 thoughts on “Intelligent Design’s “Negative Science”

  1. I’m sorry Tom, but your facts are simply wrong.

    Evolution does create information and complexity, and genetic algorithms prove it. Behe’s work has been soundly refuted – evolution is multidimensional and simultaneous mutations are not required. There is no significant evidence against evolutionary theory, and certainly none comparable to the evidence for evolutionary theory (especially common descent).

    Where’s the religion in running an experiment to see whether evolution can accomplish two things at once?

    If IC were a scientific enterprise, it would have given up because it has been soundly, mathematically refuted. It only persists for political/religious reasons. IC is refuted because two mutations don’t have to occur at once. Running experiments in an effort to deceive people to an ideological position is not science.

  2. There continues to be very significant dispute about your “facts,” doctor(logic), and the dispute seems to line up along very similar lines to the philosophical dispute regarding naturalism. This philosophical question intersects, obviously, with religion, but it is naive oversimplification–distortion, I think–to call it “only … political/religious.” For one thing, Christianity has its own knowledge base which supplies external conceptual problems to other disciplines including science, so “only” is disingenuous. For another, the philosophical issues surrounding naturalism are significant ones, also providing very serious external conceptual difficulty for evolutionary explanations.

    I will leave the question of genetic algorithms for others to dispute with you. I’ve read both sides, and I remain highly unconvinced that they can do as claimed without intelligent goal-setting and other interventions of mind. I do not consider myself well-versed enough to write on it, however.

  3. Tom,

    I have read your blog for over a year. I think you are very bright, and articulate your opinions well. I have never commented, although I have gotten close to doing so whenever you discuss ID. I can understand and appreciate how your faith motivates you to defend it. I want to believe that you try to do this as intelligent as you possibly can.

    Hence this comment – Tom, you can do better than this.

    God of the gaps as a defense for ID? Lack of complete knowledge, or changing knowledge does not discredit science and the way it works. It might discredit a religion which has dogmatic statements, of course. But not science. Quite the contrary, as you well know.

    A conspiracy theory against ID by the scientific community (and journals) as proof of ID’s legitimacy? The thing about conspiracy theories is that you can’t prove them, even if they are true. I thought you would be above beating this drum, as it contributes nothing concrete to the discussion. It’s just whining. YEC’s, 9/11 and moon-landing hoax conspiracy theory supporters do this all the time. You can do better.

    Arguing from incredulity? Nothing more needs to be said, except that once again, you should know better as this proves nothing.

    I think it is time for Christians to stop trying so hard to convince themselves and others that their faith is something other than in their own minds. Practice your religion if you want, just realize what it actually is.

    Please stop blogging about ID, unless you are going to use sound logic. I like your blogging in general as I like to hear what ‘thinking Christians’ are, well, thinking about. But when you (and others) talk about ID, it just exposes Christianity so painfully for what it is: a popular mythology containing a lot of wishful thinking. By not forcing Christianity to interface with the real world, you will be more successful – for example you recent series on “What Christ Does For Us.”

    Cheers!

  4. Comment deleted for irrelevance, and for using this space for advertising purposes. See the discussion guidelines just above the comments box.

    Tom

  5. The Quest for Right:

    The photon, a highly imaginative ghost particle, is conjured up in a failed attempt to explain the photoelectric effect.

    Quite remarkable.

    ————————————–
    The reference here is to the C. David Parsons post, now deleted. doctor(logic)’s pithy point is well taken, but the line he’s quoting had to be removed.

    Tom

  6. I’ve not got any difficulty accepting evolutionary theory. I don’t hold it as holy writ but I’d not be surprised to find almost all evolutionary claims are accurate.

    I don’t see how that has any relevance to my faith in Christ as God and Messiah.

    The questions over evolution seem cloudy because on both sides its treated as a religiously tinged issue.

    Arguments which bring evolution into doubt are seen as veiled anti-materialism and anti-science. Often they are.

    However this politically-influenced discussion gets in the way of a reasonable discussion of the limits and weaknesses of the current form of evolutionary theory.

  7. Intelligent Design creationists invoke magic. That’s all intelligent design is, magic performed by a magic man, also known as god. They invoke magic because they are too lazy or too ignorant to understand the science of evolution.

    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” [Charles Darwin]

    “So why prolong this debate over whether Intelligent Design is a science? If it is not ‘A Science,’ it certainly is ‘science,’ the inference to intelligence notwithstanding.”

    No, that’s wrong. Spreading lies about science is not science. Being too stupid to understand science is not science. Claiming a problem can’t be solved by science is not science. Intelligent design is anti-science. No competent scientist in the world invokes intelligent design, also known as magic, because invoking magic has never solved any problem. Invoking magic is lazy and childish.

    Michael Behe, unless he is even more stupid than I think he is, doesn’t believe anything in his books. Behe is a professional liar and he knows he’s a liar. He’s also a disgrace to his profession.

    I also would like to make a comment about the religious implications of evolution. Humans are an ape species. This is an undisputed scientific fact. We are apes, and we are cousins of the chimps, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas. So how come only the humans apes have a soul? When people understand humans are only animals and only one branch on a vast tree of life, they have no reason to believe their species was selected by some god for special treatment. Also, even jesus was an ape. So my question is, why worship an ape? Also, why believe there’s a soul and an afterlife and all the other christian myths? I know there are people who find a way to both believe in god and accept evolution, but I think they are lying to themselves. In my opinion Darwin killed god. We now know the diversity of life has absolutely nothing to do with any god. There are still some gaps in our knowledge but why bother sticking a god there if it’s only going to be chased out by scientists eventually? It just makes no sense to continue believing in a supernatural magician in the 21st century. I suggest people should grow up, educate themselves, and face facts. There’s no invisible man living in the clouds creating things. The god idea is childish and insane. It’s about time to throw this magic man nonsense out and accept reality.

  8. BobC, I’m curious about the anger or frustration that animates your post putting aside the content for a moment.

    From a materialist perspective I don’t see how you can rationally think it’s in a person’s best interest to reject mistaken but beneficial beliefs like Christianity. The recorded benefits that organized faith give in health and psychological well-being, would seem to make religion useful even if nonfactual.

    Why would anyone have a motive to reject a faith that was personally beneficial if your nihilist outlook were factual?

  9. Econ,

    Answering your question to BobC…

    First, the truth is important. If I don’t think the truth is important, then nothing is important. How would I even know that something were beneficial if I deceived myself all the time?

    Second, just because one is a materialist does not mean that honesty with one’s self cannot be a personal value.

    Third, your claim about the benefits of Christianity is dubious.

    Fourth, even if Christianity is beneficial, it’s pretty unlikely that the benefits of Christianity derive from faith in God in particular. One probably just needs to live in an environment with promotes social cohesion and focuses on well-being rather than distraction.

  10. I don’t mean this in a sarcastic way but doctorlogic are you personally familiar with BobC?

    I’m interested in his answers since he seems to have a sense of frustration or aggression in his post towards Christians.

  11. BobC,

    Here’s another aphorism for you: To the extent you can make your opponent’s case look ridiculous, to that same extent you probably do not understand it.

    Case in point: you said,

    Claiming a problem can’t be solved by science is not science. Intelligent design is anti-science.

    Think this through with me, and you’ll see that it goes in some non-obvious but very rational directions.

    First to you it is obviously a serious epistemic failing when one is doing “not-science.” The assumption is that every question ought to be solvable through science, and that if one concludes that there is a question not solvable by science, then one is epistemically at fault: lazy, “stupid,” ignorant, blinded by religion, or whatever.

    This is both self-defeating and begging the question at the same time. It’s self-defeating in that if you hold up the value that every question must be solvable by science, how will you solve the question of what properties are necessary to determine a question is solved?

    I fear I wrote that unclearly. Here’s another way to look at it. You seem to claim that if a conclusion is reached by some means other than science, that it is epistemically deficient. But can you reach that conclusion through science? No, and philosophers for the last 50 years or so have agreed on that. You believe science is the only determiner of truth; is that a truth that has been determined for you by science? No.

    Second, it’s begging the question. If you hold it as necessary that every question should be solvable through science, then you put blinders on. Religions are not the only sources of blinders. The blinders you put on are those that will only let you observe or see that which is within the regular natural order. If there is an Intelligent Designer, you will not see him/her/it. If there is a God, you will not see His working in nature. You will only see what you allow yourself to see.

    And as I’ve written and I’m about to write further, in a blog post later this morning, that means your conclusion is over-determined by your presuppositions. You presuppose that every finding must be scientific, which means that all evidence must be interpreted naturalistically, which means that everything must be naturalistic to you. There is no evidence that could change your mind. This is a very dangerous position to place yourself in.

    Finally, calling ID anti-science is also something to treat with some depth of thought. ID is indeed opposed to mainstream biology. If you want to call that anti-science, I think you’ve chosen a very inexact term, but generally the charge sticks if you define it carefully enough that way.

    ID is not anti-science in the sense of being opposed to discovery in the natural world. That charge does not stick in any sense of the word.

    ID is not committed to science being the sole source of truth or the sole means of analysis; it refuses to beg the question as I spoke of above. Is that anti-science? Hardly. It is employing science to the max, wringing every possible discovery and inference out of it, but not assuming that every truth is accessible that way.

    Somewhere, somehow, “non-scientific” got equated with false or stupid. Not always, my friend.

    So please be careful how you throw around the word “stupid.” You don’t have a lock on rationality. We’ve thought this through too.

  12. doctor(logic) and Mr. Hyde,
    Compare comment #1 to DL at 8: 57 (hey Tom, can you number comments?) for another instance of the selective skepticism and inability to dispassionately apply a standard by DL.
    DL’s daily affirmations once again merely expose his bias.

    And, once again, GAs tell you nothing about evolution and nature. A computer can play chess, but not by RM and NS.
    Behe has been rebuffed and rebutted, but has not been refuted, and your example that “simultaneous mutations are not required” does not address his case in anything but strawman form.
    And, once again, DL’s facts are not facts and DL does not speak from authority on this issue.

  13. econ grad stud: “Why would anyone have a motive to reject a faith that was personally beneficial if your nihilist outlook were factual?”

    It’s a terrible waste of a life to believe in the nonsense of any religion. Faith is not a virtue, it’s an illness. Faith is a lazy excuse for not thinking.

    Also, what doctor(logic) said is correct. The truth is important, more important than anything else. Human progress depends on it.

    econ grad stud: “I’m interested in his answers since he seems to have a sense of frustration or aggression in his post towards Christians.”

    You are correct about my frustration. Everywhere I look I see sick people who don’t want to be cured. I see them attacking science education. I see them lying to their children. They are slowing down human progress. Religious people are so harmful to our country it would be immoral to ignore them.

    Hello Tom Gilson. You said “If you hold it as necessary that every question should be solvable through science, then you put blinders on. Religions are not the only sources of blinders. The blinders you put on are those that will only let you observe or see that which is within the regular natural order. If there is an Intelligent Designer, you will not see him/her/it. If there is a God, you will not see His working in nature. You will only see what you allow yourself to see.”

    I wish people would stop using words like “Intelligent Designer” or “God” or “Intelligent Design”. It would more honest and more accurate to use the word “magic”. People who invoke god or designer or creator are invoking magic. They are being dishonest when they call magic “god” or “designer”.

    Now let’s rewrite two of your sentences to make them more accurate: “The blinders you put on are those that will only let you observe or see that which is not MAGIC. If there is MAGIC, you will not see MAGIC. If there is MAGIC, you will not see MAGIC in nature.”

    Sorry, but I could never believe in magic. I wish the people who indoctrinate their gullible children with god nonsense, would tell the truth about what god really is, a belief in magic.

    Every question is solvable through science. There’s a reason for everything. Those reasons do not include magic.

    Some questions will never be answered because they are unanswerable. That is no excuse to invoke magic. The correct thing to say about unanswerable questions is “there is a natural explanation, scientists are still working on it, if they never solve the problem, who cares?”.

  14. BobC,

    Every question is solvable through science.

    Really? OK. Here’s a question: is every question solvable through science? Please use only science to answer. Thanks.

    People who invoke god or designer or creator are invoking magic.

    No they’re not.

    They are being dishonest when they call magic “god” or “designer”.

    No they’re not.

    Hmm..it doesn’t seem assertions get us very far, do they? I would say assertions, rather than faith, are a lazy excuse for not thinking. Maybe we should start instead by defining terms. That would be a sign of good, careful thinking. So what do you mean by “magic”?

  15. BobC, I think you’re missing the point about Christianity as you keep invoking “magic”.

    Christianity has nothing to do with science or magic or explaining any physical phenomenon.

    Christianity is about growth in righteousness.

    Human ‘progress’ seems pointless because our species is physically determined to go extinct. Even if Christianity were false progress would be indistinguishable from immediate extinction. We’d simply be changing the date at which our species ends. Science offers no hope because our physical existence has no lasting meaning. We cannot change the physical fate of our Universe which is annihilation.

  16. Hello Aaron Snell.

    An invisible man in the clouds, or wherever you think it lives, creating things, is performing magic tricks. Why you want to deny god is a magician I don’t understand. Perhaps because you know a belief in magic is childish, and you understandably don’t want to think of yourself that way.

    Hello econ grad stud.

    I don’t understand where you get this “Science offers no hope”. Without science we would still be living in caves trying not to become some other animal’s lunch. Perhaps you mean “we have only one life” equals “no hope”. I don’t get that. We are lucky to be alive at all. Any number of things could have prevented our existence. I suggest count your blessings and don’t complain about reality offering no hope.

    To everyone: Instead of automatically rejecting my idea there’s no god, why not think about what life would be like without the god myth. Think about how free you would feel not being a slave to a fantasy.

  17. As a preliminary matter, there is no scientific theory of “intelligent design.” Philip Johnson and William Dembski have admitted this. There is no research to develop such a theory. Michael Behe has admitted this at the Dover trial. ID consists entirely of efforts to destroy Darwinian evolution, the theory whose mechanism is common descent by heritable variation, overfecundity, and natural selection.

    But let’s do, argumenti causa, change the name from ID to Darwin Denial (DD), and consider the purely negative goal of showing Darwin’s broad theory impossible by scientific evidence. Is this science? Certainly. Then what’s the big problem with this new theory of DD? Nothing, when stated in a neutral way. But several things, when presented as it was in Tom’s post.

    First, Tom’s syllogism.[2] P1 is true. Science studies “natural” phenomena by means of “naturalistic” theories. Why not? You’ve had 400 years of scientific successes to get over this. P2 is false. Darwinian theory as stated is broad, but not the only naturalistic theory. Easy alternatives include, very briefly, Lamarkism, panspermia, Lysenkoism, and Sheldrake’s morphogenetic fields. [3] Ergo, C is not demonstrated.

    Second, a contrived trinity:

    (1) “Evolution cannot be questioned.” Research papers continually question aspects of evolution. [1] These aspects may be more or less basic to the central theory. A new fossil doesn’t seem to fit in its previously assigned place in the “tree of life.” The evidence for group selection is disputed. Mutation rates seem to increase when certain bacteria are under environmental stress, and may have a directional component, rather than being strictly neutral as to fitness. But, as in other sciences, an apparent paradox or contradiction is investigated within the paradigm, rather than scrapping the entire theory at the first sign of weakness. This is how science works: the more evidence there is for a theory, the stronger the evidence needed to refute it.[4]

    (2) “All doubts are religiously motivated.” Not true. Only 99.999% of them are religiously motivated. And the stronger the religious motivation, the more the scientific evidence is dismissed out of hand. Religion has been the only significant obstacle to acceptance of evolution. Almost no one has a problem with it in China, India, Japan, and the other places where biological research is increasingly moving from the US.[5]

    (3) “[S]keptics are not publishing…, therefore they are not doing science.” True and true. First, not only are ID proponents not publishing ID research, their involvement with ID has limited all of their output. For example, Guillermo Gonzales’ publications have declined dramatically since coming to ISU and getting involved with the Discovery Institute; thus the denial of his tenure. Michael Behe’s overall publication rate has crashed in all areas. Brian Seelke has not published a single paper on any professional subject since 1987. One could surmise that ID stunts a scientist’s ability to do any kind of research! Second, there seems to be little or no original research by IDers even to prove their own points. The DI’s Biologic Institute? Not a peep in almost 3 years. Dembski’s complexity journal to self-publish ID research? No articles in the past 2 years—nothing at all. Brian Seelke’s experiments with bacteria? No attempt to publish results after several years.[6] Did Behe attempt to create irreducible complexity in his own lab? No; “it would not be productive,” he said at the Dover trial. The junk-DNA flap? A huge claim for ID, but no ID proponent even tried to actually find a function for it; that was done entirely by mainstream scientists.[7] Has Dembski ever attempted to apply his vaunted “explanatory filter” to a specific system, biological, natural, known artificial—anything at all? No. So: no publications _and_ no science.

    Tom accuses scientists of genetic fallacies as regards the DD sources of skepticism. Many scientists, the ones who don’t merely laugh it off, do get their pipettes in a crank about it. This is caused mostly by the long-standing and pervasive dishonesty with which ID and DD have been presented. Biologists laugh about the “Dishonesty Institute,” and deride its tactics as “Lying for Jesus.” You may bristle, but the examples are legion. A UK blogger recently looked at 300 of the DI’s list of “700 Scientists,” and found only 5 names of practitioners in the research areas that would be familiar with the scientific literature in the field of evolution. In 2002, the DI presented an Ohio school board with a list of 44 publications said to controvert evolution. The NCSE got suspicious, and asked all the authors whether this was true. Uniformly and vehemently, they denied it. They also challenged the DI’s quotations from the papers as distortions of their results and their views. The DI did later post a disclaimer as a result of this take-down. However, they have continued to tout the list, without including the disclaimer. You—and the DI—cite the example of Michael Denton’s 1986 book as evidence against evolution. Michael Denton has reversed his views since then, and has even written the DI to forbid use of his name. Does that stop them? Of course not. Michael Behe claims certain limitations on malaria and HIV in The Edge of Evolution. A grad student has shown his HIV claim to be completely wrong, from her own research. Does Behe issue a retraction, a correction, or even decrease his promotional efforts? Of course not. Two years ago, a commenter on Uncommon Descent showed that natural selection fulfilled the criteria for Dembski’s “intelligence” for ID purposes. When he was unable to rebut her arguments, he banned her from the blog and erased all her comments. Talk about “Expelled”! Scientists hate dishonesty, as Hwang Wook-soo found out when he faked some cloning data. [8] There are many, many other examples. A genetic fallacy? Yes. But unless ID or DD proponents can shed this miasma of deliberate prevarication, scientists will disbelieve what they say until proven otherwise. At some point you just dismiss Baron von Munchhausen as an inveterate liar. Especially when he avoids real scientists altogether and concentrates entirely on manipulating the minds of naive school boards and scientifically illiterate cardinals.

    This does not answer all your points. I chose a couple of the most significant in order to limit this comment to even half-way manageable size. The executive summary is that: (A) there is no mainstream or DI/DD negative evidence that would throw serious doubt on the overall theory of Darwinian evolution, and (B) the DI and other ID proponents deliberately distort the research of others in order to manipulate the minds of people who do not understand the relevant science.

    =============================
    [1] The lay public seems to think that all evolutionary research is focused entirely on verifying evolution. This is ridiculous. Evolutionary research is aimed at determining the evolutionary beginnings of cancer to understand what went wrong and trying to fix it; at figuring out why salamanders can regrow limbs but mammals cannot; at trying to find out what the selective advantages of sex really are; at SINES/LINES analysis to improve the accuracy of genetic evidence for forensics and for building evolutionary trees. Byproducts of this research may confirm or disprove some aspect of evolution—or might conceivably throw the whole theory into more or less doubt. But verification for its own sake is hardly ever the primary goal..

    [2] “P1. No explanations can be proposed or admitted for any natural phenomena except such as are entirely natural. P2. Evolutionary theory (in one of its forms) constitutes the only entirely natural explanation available….. C. Evolution is the only explanation we can propose or admit.”

    [3] And, of course, C. David Parson’s inchoate theory, described grandiosely at his website, cited in his comment hereto.

    [4] Consider the theory that the red/yellow/green lights above intersections control traffic flow. The theory has been confirmed time and again. But there is evidence that some vehicles do not stop at red lights. Further investigation shows that almost all of these vehicles display flashing red and blue lights. I think you’d amend the theory to include police cars, rather than ditching the whole theory. Still, a the occasional non-police car bombs through a red light. Throw out the theory? Would you stop at all green lights and peer in both directions, just in case? Would you run red lights because you think they’ve been falsified?

    [5] A prominent Indian scientist recently said that the US will not continue to be able to import its scientists from India. Singapore advertises extensively for American scientists to move to a more congenial research environment.

    [6] One can understand, that, however. The design of his experiment is so flawed that he would be laughed out of the library for submitting it to a peer-reviewed journal. And he probably knows it.

    [7] A paper just recently published offers a way to test any “junk DNA” snippet to determine whether or not it has a function.

    [8] Actually, a number of his results were later confirmed by other labs. But the act of falsification could not be pardoned. (And don’t even bother bringing up the ghost of Haeckel.)

  18. I will make it easy for you.
    If your belief requires faith, then there is obviously a serious lack of proof. And please don’t give me the tired “Faith in the air outside” argument. When something is “True”, there is no faith required. You have faith that something is true because you WANT or NEED it to be true. No other reason.
    The Intelligent Design theory is a manifestation of human fear. Fear that evolution is correct. Fear that when they die that is the end. Fear that there is no safety net called heaven. Fear that their prayers are in fact falling on deaf ears.
    Fear.
    Fear is powerful. That is why religion arrived so soon into society. And why it will not soon go away. Fear is why you can convince a 14 year old to walk on a bus with 45lbs. of TNT strapped to his or her torso.
    More Americans than ever are understanding this and while the Christians expect you to believe that their numbers are increasing the truth is more and more Americans are moving away.
    Christians are unable to keep their religion private and must thrust it upon other Americans in an almost feign attempt to justify their beliefs by adding to their count.
    Fear is the key. If all Christians were comfortable with their religious decision, then the rest of us could live out our lives and enjoy our constitutional right that prevents us from having to choose a religion. Especially a mandated one.
    Seeing the pitiful attempts of the Dover, PA school board to inject ID along side evolution in a bona fide science classroom was amazing. But, the most amazing part was how they couldn’t hear themselves. They have American flags flying because we are at war trying to stop Afghanistan from doing just what they are trying.
    Fear.

  19. Pantalaimon, thanks for documenting the dishonesty of the Discovery Institute. If only christians understood everyone who works for this anti-science organization is a professional liar. Every time I hear about a quote from the Discovery Institute, I know the person I am talking to is a gullible victim of these immoral fake scientists.

  20. BobC,

    An invisible man in the clouds, or wherever you think it lives, creating things, is performing magic tricks. Why you want to deny god is a magician I don’t understand. Perhaps because you know a belief in magic is childish, and you understandably don’t want to think of yourself that way.

    Again, some interesting assertions, but this does nothing to answer my pointed questions. As a friendly warning, if you want people to take you even remotely seriously, you must do two things: a) back up your assertions, and b) interact meaningfully with your interlocutors.

    Also, again, there’s a lot I could respond to in your comments, but to see if there’s any hope of us interacting meaningfully on this stuff, let’s keep it simple. Here’s question numero uno again:

    Is every question solvable through science? Please use only science (as per your own statement) to answer. Thanks.

    Once we get through this first step, we’ll get back to my second question.

    I’m doing you the courtesy of taking you seriously. I only ask that you reciprocate. (Notice I didn’t respond, as you did, with something like, “Why you want to avoid my question, I don’t understand. Perhaps because you know you don’t have a adequate answer, and you understandably don’t want to have that exposed.” Technically, this is called an ad hominem counter-argument, and it is totally fallacious, not to mention in violation of the guidelines for comments on this blog.)

  21. BobC and Stacy,

    I have seen the light! Your cognitive powers are clearly greater than all religious people who have ever lived, so I am going to jettison my beliefs in favor of yours, because obviously I have no “proof” that the proposition, “God exists,” is true.

    But heck, now that I think of it, if I am going to use that (obviously brilliant) epistemic model, I better change a lot of my beliefs! Here are a few propositions that I believe that I cannot “prove” in a strict, scientific sense of “prove”! I guess I need to throw these out too:

    – Objective moral properties attach to human actions and states of affairs.
    – Other minds like mine exist.
    – Objective human rights exist.
    – I, the world, and the rest of the human race didn’t pop into existence 5 minutes ago along with false memories that we have all existed all our lives.
    – The objective property of “being beautiful” attaches to the image of a sunset over the ocean.
    – Human beings have objective value and rights that transcend their status as material entities.
    – I am not in a Matrix.
    – Fregean propositions exist.
    – The external world is not an illusion.
    – I am not a brain in a vat in the office of a mad scientist who is piping in false experiences to my brain.
    – My choices are freely chosen and aren’t causally determined by physical interactions in my brain.

    Whoo boy! Before I met you guys, I thought I was perfectly rational in believing all these things, just like I thought I was rational in being a theist. But now that I’ve thrown all these silly and stupid beliefs out, life is looking a lot less rosy, so maybe I should just go kill myself. Thanks for freeing from my self-induced religious stupor! Goodbye cruel (material) world!!!!!!

  22. Aaron, if I answered every stupid question I am asked, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. So instead of telling the person his question is stupid, which would be impolite, I usually ignore it.

    Aaron, all scientific problems can be solved by science eventually, except unanswerable questions which I already talked about.

    There are questions like “what should I have for breakfast this morning?” that can’t be answered by science, but that’s obvious, isn’t it?

    A god who creates things is magically creating those things. That makes god a magician and it makes a god believer a believer in magic. Christians usually deny they believe in magic, but they are lying to themselves. Of course who would want to admit his beliefs are just childish insane beliefs in magic?

    The solution for christians is obvious. They need to admit they have been brainwashed. A mental illness can’t be cured unless a person understands how sick he is.

  23. all scientific problems can be solved by science eventually, except unanswerable questions which I already talked about.

    If this is an unanswerable question, then why do you presume to know the above statement is true with any level of certainty? The question I asked bears absolutely no resemblance to “what should I have for breakfast this morning?” other than both end with a question mark.

    Okay, Bob, I guess we’re done then. I’m sorry you think a question that has been fertile ground for philosophers for years is “stupid”. I might suggest you do some reading on scientism, positivism, verificationalism, etc. In any event, I guess I won’t even bother to point out why this assertion of yours is built on sloppy thinking, or help you see any of your other mistakes or misunderstandings – further dialogue with someone so unable to examine the basis for their own beliefs would be a colossal waste of time, and unfruitful in the extreme.

  24. Aaron, your question was, in my opinion, kind of dumb, because the answer is so obvious – science can eventually solve any scientific problem.

    What I meant by questions that can’t be answered, and please see my previous comments about this, is a question like “what was there before the big bang”. Perhaps even this question could be answered some day by somebody in the distant future. My point was, if a problem has not been solved yet, that’s no reason to invoke magic. Even if it’s not likely a problem will ever be solved, it’s pointless to pretend magic is the solution. There’s a natural explanation for everything even if it’s impossible to know what the natural explanation is. Invoking a god, also known as magic, is childish, it solves nothing, and it’s wild guessing. I just answer these unanswerable questions this way: Scientists are working on it. I know there’s a natural explanation for everything. I know magic is never a reason for anything, because magic equals insanity. If scientists never determine the natural explanation, who cares? Why waste time worrying about it? It’s nutty to make a problem worse by invoking god. Then there’s a new problem – how did the god get created? “There has always been a god” equals “there’s always been an invisible magician”. This god stuff is an idiotic waste of time, and I wish god believers had the decency to tell the truth about it – God equals magic. Any educated child who has not been brainwashed with god nonsense knows magic is impossible.

  25. Whooee, there’s a lot of confusion going on here. There’s a raftload of false assertions about Christianity, for one thing. And contrary to my expectations, I’ve been unable to participate, because of a nasty stomach bug that’s kept me down all day.

    One thing that’s really of concern is that several commenters are not treating this as a dialogue, where they listen to what’s been said and respond to it, but as a chance to spout their own views on ID without connection to previous discussion. That’s not what this blog is for.

    I wish I had the energy to go back and point to specifics, but I don’t.

    BobC, please look at the discussion policies. You’re close to getting booted.

  26. “BobC, please look at the discussion policies. You’re close to getting booted.”

    Thanks Tom Gilson. I came here to share my knowledge and ideas for free. I used up a lot of my limited time. Does anyone thank me? No. Instead I am threatened with being thrown out.

    If you are so afraid of my honesty, no problem. I’m not interested in helping people who don’t want any help.

    The guidelines call for a genuine dialogue conducted in respect. I’m interested in that. I don’t mind disagreement, but the discourtesy you have displayed here is not the kind of thing I would invite into my home, I wouldn’t want to overhear it sitting at a restaurant, and it’s not welcome on the blog. Two recent comments of yours, which I’ve already deleted, are prime examples. So you participation here ends now.

    Tom

  27. BobC, I don’t know exactly how Tom’s comment policy works, but I would guess that you’re close to getting booted not because of your undaunting moral courage to tell us theists what we need to “admit,” but because your comments so far have consisted of about 80% insults and 20% argumentation.

    And, perhaps, if that 20% did not consist of a single dubious point (religious beliefs = magical beliefs) repeatedly typed until your fingers are likely bloody from the endeavor, he might even be a little less likely to boot you. As it is, I hope he doesn’t, because a martyr complex is a terrible thing to encourage.

    As to your main point – that religious beliefs are on an epistemic par with magical beliefs – I really don’t even know what to say. Even a freshman religious studies major can tell you the numerous differences between magic and theism. As it is, you haven’t even defined “magic,” you just keep giving examples of religious beliefs and then saying that they are the same as magical beliefs. As of yet I haven’t seen you do the following things:

    1) Define “magical belief” and tell what the differences there are, if any, between magical and theistic beliefs.
    2) If you do admit any differenes, show that those differences are inconsequential in this discussion and that hence magical and theistic beilefs are both equally unjustified.
    3) Briefly describe your epistemic model and just what it is about it that is supposed to be the final word about why religious beliefs are irrational.
    4) Take a laxative and calm down.

    Then, perhaps, minus the ad nauseaum repetition, the venom-laced insults, and the self-important posturing, and with a few decent arguments under your belt, you, me, Aaron, and whoever else wants to join in this discussion might be able to have a fruitful exchange.

  28. There’s a good reason for the relevance policy on comments. It’s in the discussion policies. I have a policy of involvement in the discussions. I cannot practice that policy when commenters can take the topics in any direction they choose. You, as commenters, have the option to ignore anything I write, but I don’t really have the option with what you write. So I have to exercise some discipline; otherwise I’d by trying to keep up with a dozen different topics at once.

    That’s from my perspective as blogger. There’s another reason besides, and it’s in the nature of the word discussion. Discussions ought to pay attention to what other speakers/writers say, and not wander all over the place. That makes it more focused and productive for every commenter here.

  29. BobC’s signoff: “I’m not interested in helping people who don’t want any help.”

    If you’re still reading, Bob, don’t give up. At the intersection of science and religion, the two most important institutions of our age, the people who least want your help are the ones who are most in need of it.

  30. Somehow I missed a comment by Arlo Jason Kipfer a couple days ago. I appreciate the encouragement that’s in it, but I have to respond to several points of misunderstanding there.

    First, Arlo missed the whole point of the post. It was not an attempt to show that ID is correct; it was a demonstration that charges that ID is not science, just because it is allegedly negative science, are misdirected. So all of Arlo’s concerns about my using these methods to “prove ID” miss the point entirely.

    More specifically:

    God of the gaps as a defense for ID? Lack of complete knowledge, or changing knowledge does not discredit science and the way it works. It might discredit a religion which has dogmatic statements, of course. But not science. Quite the contrary, as you well know.

    The “God of the Gaps” error occurs when one calls on God as an explanation for what we do not know yet, scientifically, and it is an error just because we may someday make the discoveries that will close that Gap. But my post was not about what we do not know; it was about what we do know (potentially, that is; it’s a “what-if” thought experiment). What we may know, though it remains to be confirmed, is that some features of the natural world cannot in principle be explained by naturalistic means. If that is the case, then this is no “God of the Gaps” that can be corrected by future scientific discovery.

    A conspiracy theory against ID by the scientific community (and journals) as proof of ID’s legitimacy? …. Arguing from incredulity? Nothing more needs to be said, except that once again, you should know better as this proves nothing.

    That’s not what I said; as addressed above.

    These are minor points, though, compared to:

    I think it is time for Christians to stop trying so hard to convince themselves and others that their faith is something other than in their own minds. Practice your religion if you want, just realize what it actually is…. By not forcing Christianity to interface with the real world, you will be more successful – for example you recent series on “What Christ Does For Us.”

    I’m not “trying to convince” myself my faith is something other than in my own mind, Arlo. If God is real, and if (for example) what I’ve been writing in that series that you like is true, then God interfaces with the whole world, and His word applies to the whole world.

    What you wrote here makes me wonder if you have accepted the fact-value dichotomy that says the values of Christianity can be worthwhile even if the facts are not. But how can it make sense to follow Christ if there was no Christ? How can it be right to exalt God as above all if God is not above all? I could go on, but I will not.

    I urge you, Arlo, to choose a worldview in which your facts and your beliefs do interact.

  31. Tom, et al:

    BobC is all too typical of people who think they have understanding, when all they have is derision. How ironic that these two lines by BobC are ones I agree with – and why I hadn’t bothered to respond to him: “I’m not interested in helping people who don’t want any help.” and “So instead of telling the person his question is stupid, which would be impolite, I usually ignore it.”

    Beyond the usual caricatures of faith and Christianity, I’m also seeing the typical “no true Scotsman” that skeptics like to throw around. That is, the attitude that anyone supporting ID or anything other than absolute naturalism is a substandard scientist. There’s a presuppositional component here that very few ID critics, or skeptics in general, either mention or understand.

    I disagree with much of Richard Dawkins’ philosophy, and the way in which he confuses presupposition and interpretation for absolute fact. But I’m not in a position to criticize his scientific ability. Men like Behe have demonstrated considerable scientific knowledge. I think anyone who wants to criticize them as poor scientists should check their own credentials, and then tread carefully. Some of the commenters here have an extremely inflated opinion of their own scientific ability.

    The same goes for those who take the Hitchens-Harris-esque position that religion has no benefits. The entire framework of modern science was born and nurtured in a theistic Christian worldview. Smirking at the idea that religion can be beneficial is both ignorant and shallow.

  32. I also have to bring this up:

    Every time a skeptic throws out the “God of the gaps” argument, they should be ready to explain why their view couldn’t be called “naturalism of the gaps”.

    If your attitude is, “I don’t have a naturalistic explanation for this, but I’m 100% sure there is one,” then you’re using a ‘gap’ argument. Deriding the idea that there could ever be something beyond the physical is self-defeating to your own attacks on theism.

  33. Hi Tom – thank you for your time to respond. I realize you are very busy.

    I am sorry that I posted, as it probably was not a good use of my time. I try to resist, but sometimes it just seems so appropriate (to post a comment).

    I did not miss the point of your post. However, I believe only the early part of your post had directly to do the ‘what if’ of ID being negative-science. Starting after the “No Other Answer Allowed” subtitle, though, you seemed to quickly move into what I tried to address in my post. I do realize you were trying to wrestle with the issue, play with the ‘what if’ a bit. However, I would encourage you to stick more to the point. When you start defending ID, you are not persuasive as you can be. To give a clear parallel, I offer that I have heard similarly styled arguments from believers in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM), as I hear you use when talking about ID. I challenge you to re-read your post, and subsitute CAM for ID, medical community/doctors for scientific community/scientists, and a specific CAM doctor (and his CAM theory) for Behe (and this ID theory). I think you will see what I mean. Of course, if you are a big CAM proponent, then the point will be missed 🙂

    I think the main thing that prompted me to comment on your post was the long winded-ness as you continued to go on about ID not getting respect. The reason I try not to comment on blogs is that usually it is useless – folks whose minds are already made up just nit-pick the little points, rather than dealing with the main point.

    The main point you wanted to throw out there is that calling ID “negative science” seems wrong. I agree, as this goes too far. I would guess that you like ID (or at least thinking and talking about it) because it seems to fit into what you already believe the world to be like – a Bible-based Christian world view. However, if you could do an ‘outsider test’ of sorts (like the substituting exercise I suggested), I believe you would find that ID doesn’t really sound like science at all. “Negative science” probably goes too far. Is CAM, “negative medicine?” I think not. The comparison to CAM is just to help you see it from the outside. From the inside, I’m sure it seems troublesome that nice reasonable people could ever be against ID. But from the outside…

    Best regards to you, and good luck!

    ** About your recent series – it was not for myself that I liked it. However, I know you are very serious about growing in Christ (and your readers as well) and therefore thought it was well written from the Christian viewpoint. Additionally, I do actually have a “worldview in which [my] facts and [my] beliefs do interact.” 🙂

  34. Every time a skeptic throws out the “God of the gaps” argument, they should be ready to explain why their view couldn’t be called “naturalism of the gaps”.

    Because a universe without God is supposed to be the ‘default position’ – even though it never has been the default position…including today! It’s only the default position in the mind of the skeptic who has managed to ignore centuries of critical thinking.

  35. MedicineMan,

    If your attitude is, “I don’t have a naturalistic explanation for this, but I’m 100% sure there is one,” then you’re using a ‘gap’ argument. Deriding the idea that there could ever be something beyond the physical is self-defeating to your own attacks on theism.

    I actually quite agree with this. However, there’s a very good naturalist position that doesn’t go that far, and it is simply this: the only proper explanations are predictive, and some (but not all) things have a proper explanation.

    This is why I think the proper form of naturalism isn’t physicalism. If there are non-physical laws and regularities, I (and I expect other naturalist/scientist) would be quite thrilled to accept them. The reason that physicalism dominates is that we have found no non-physical laws. (Not unless we want to call the laws of computation an mathematics non-physical.)

    The supernatural is then just a synonym for inexplicable in my predictive sense of the term. Supernatural claims are either a restatements of what is to be explained or else names for explanatory theories we have yet to invent.

  36. Doctor(logic):

    That’s an interesting position. I’m curious as to whether or not there’s room for something like the Christian conception of God in your “non-physicalist naturalist” position. If you’re advocating a preference for physical (natural) explanations, but a willingness to consider non-physical (super-natural) ones, then you and I are in relatively close agreement.

    I think it would be fair to say that such a view differs from “normal” naturalism enough to say that you’re not actually a “naturalist”.

    I certainly don’t agree with your assessment that only predictive explanations are proper, even allowing for a few exceptions. There are many, many events that we attempt to explain using facts and logic, but whose supporting evidence and eventual explanation offer no predictive value.

  37. SteveK:

    I can agree with half of your statement: that the “no God” position is “supposed” to be the default, in the minds of the skeptics. That’s especially ironic, since the scientific progress that we enjoy today would never have been possible outside of the theistic worldview.

    I’m a little more reserved about calling anything the “real” default position. Part of what the naturalists often overlook is that some things require presumptions. You can’t prove everything, you have to start with some kind of assumptions. How you choose to interpret a set of facts has a lot (if not everything) to do with the assumptions you start off with.

  38. Arlo, I appreciate the spirit in which you offer your ideas and advice, and I’ll take your good words to heart, as a perspective to be aware of, as I continue to blog.

  39. MedicineMan

    That’s an interesting position. I’m curious as to whether or not there’s room for something like the Christian conception of God in your “non-physicalist naturalist” position.

    In principle, God could be natural under my meaning of the word. There could be predictive relationships. For example, prayers could work reliably, so that we could at least say that the universe works “as if” there were a God. God would at least be a label for something predictable.

    In actual Christianity, God is totally hidden, and defies every attempt to verify his existence. More than a little convenient, I think. That’s why God is not explanatory. Whatever happens tomorrow neither raises nor lowers confidence in God because nothing about tomorrow is predicted. People who see God in their daily lives are using an epistemology that deliberately amplifies personal bias and reduces objectivity. Alternative epistemologies would “test” God they say. This strikes me as one of your hopeless hypotheses’. A God who exists, but hides from rational inquiry, and only appears to people when they cannot tell if they are deluding themselves. Very ‘leprechaunish’.

    There are many, many events that we attempt to explain using facts and logic, but whose supporting evidence and eventual explanation offer no predictive value.

    Such things may feel explanatory, but they are not.

    You’ve not seen the conversations on this blog in the past, but what I have been saying for a long time sort of fits in with your initial statement. Imagine if the gaps-naturalist in your original article made a stronger statement. “It’s not just that everything is explicable, but everything is explicable by The Theory of Everything (ToE).”

    By definition, the ToE can explain everything. It has the power to do so by definition. Of course, your gaps-naturalist will admit that we only know little bits of the ToE, i.e., known physics.

    I ask you, would it be appropriate for our gaps-naturalist to claim that the ToE was actually explanatory? Would it be okay if he satisfied his desire for explanation with the ToE, given that he doesn’t know the theory yet?

    I say that he would not be justified in being so satisfied. He is just satisfying himself with the name for the explanatory theory he one day hopes to have. His theory is not predictive in any specific way.

    God is the supernaturalists ToE. By definition, a God theory has the power to explain the universe, and if only we knew the mind of God, predictions would work for us. God always chooses the best way to act, and if we had the requisite information, we could predict what he would do in any given circumstance.

    As with the gaps-naturalist’s ToE, the Christian conception of God is gutted of everything that makes it explanatory. Yes, God is not natural, not material, a person, all good, etc. But this is no better than saying that the ToE is lawful, regular, non-personal, morally neutral, etc. By themselves, those attributes do not qualify as-yet-uninvented theories as explanatory.

  40. MedicineMan (1/13/2008 at 1:59 pm): “Every time a skeptic throws out the “God of the gaps” argument, they should be ready to explain why their view couldn’t be called ‘naturalism of the gaps’.”

    Maybe scientists shouldn’t call it “naturalism.” After all, scientists have done several studies on the effectiveness of intercessory prayer for hospital patients, which necessarily investigates a supernatural entity.. What is the object of science? Understanding—understanding in terms of a theory that unites as many physical phenomena as possible. Scientific theories all propose a “mechanism” or “model” that can be used to express a regularity in the phenomena: Under conditions A, B always results.[5]

    Consider the theory of traffic lights in my earlier comment (1/12/2008 at 3:35 pm, footnote 4). If we observe that traffic stops at red lights, passes green lights (and, of course, speeds up for yellow lights), with regularity,[1] then any ultimate cause is irrelevant to the theory—scientists would call it “naturalistic” despite the fact that (human) “intelligence” is responsible for the observed effects. But suppose drivers decided to completely ignore traffic lights.[2] Then there is no scientific theory. Not because of ultimate cause of the random behavior, but because there is no regularity. The “theory” has no further value in understanding traffic phenomena, guiding research, or controlling traffic flow.

    Likewise, I think that biology is, at the research level at least, not really concerned so much with a dichotomy between natural and supernatural, but rather with whether whatever causes the phenomena dependably follows the mechanism of the theory. If we can reliably predict planetary orbits, does it matter whether God or a central attractive force holds them in his/its sway?

    ID proposes that an “intelligence” designed biological organisms. What’s the problem with this? Not the intelligence per se, but an inherent capriciousness of the intelligence, that the intelligence may act arbitrarily—thus defeating the regularity required for science. This is, I think, the difference between ID and theistic evolution. ID holds that some unknown intelligences decided to do this, could have done it differently—and may decide to do it differently in the future. Theistic evolution says that God did it, but He follows His own laws, and we can depend on Him to continue to do so regularly.[3]

    ID is a research stopper as regards science because it proposes no regularity. Why does cell meiosis proceed from 2n to 4n to 2n to n chromosomes, rather than directly from 2n to n? Evolution proposes circumstances where that phenomenon will manifest itself. Aha! A proposed regularity, for a particular reason.[4] Let’s see whether it holds up in similar circumstances. ID’s answer: Because the designers arbitrarily decided to do it that way, and we might observe something entirely different next week, or in Dr. Noitall’s lab, or in pink lawn flamingos, for no reason. No regularity.

    Too long a comment to make a simple point. “Naturalism” is perhaps a red herring on both sides. Regularity is the touchstone—and ID does not offer that: The mere fact of design explains everything—and therefore explains nothing.

    ===============
    [1] With provision for amendments to the theory, as noted previously.

    [2] They say that in northern Italy, traffic lights are the law, in Rome they are a suggestion, and in southern Italy, they are an insult.

    [3] Pure naturalism would merely say that we can depend upon some principle of regularity, without assuming any causal entity. From the point of view of science, naturalism and theistic evolution are equivalent to each other, and different from ID.

    [4] The longer process defeats the evolution of sister-killer genes by not allowing them to know where their victims are located. Any attempt to kill the victim would just as likely destroy the killer gene itself. Thus, a negative selection advantage for them.

    [5] The prayer study _assumes_ regularity—and then tests it. The (negative) result doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but only that He does not answer prayer with any regularity that we can determine.

  41. Hi Pan,
    Your last comment is well-thought out and I usually leave such comments alone – no matter the points of disagreement.
    But as dangerously off-topic as it is, I do want to nip one of your points because it is one that is circulating to urban legend status. That being the claim that “the” study on intercessory prayer produced a negative result.

    The prayer study _assumes_ regularity—and then tests it. The (negative) result doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but only that He does not answer prayer with any regularity that we can determine.

    I am aware that this was not a main point in your comment, but it is one that I think requires clarification. I do note as well that you mentioned that this does not prove that God does not exist. Likewise, few Christians would cite positive studies to demonstrate that He does. Many would not put much weight behind the idea of testing prayer at all. But as you have drawn some conclusion from it I would like to point out that even this may be unwarranted.

    Anyway, first of all, I presume you are talking about the Benson study. I mention with a touch of irony that it is only the negative study that seems to get such wide circulation.
    http://www.templeton.org/pdfs/articles/060331Reuters.pdf

    CHICAGO (Reuters) – A study of more than 1,800 patients who underwent heart bypass surgery has failed to show that prayers specially
    organized for their recovery had any impact, researchers said Thursday.
    In fact, the study found some of the patients who knew they were being prayed for did worse than others who were only told they might be
    prayed for — though those who did the study said they could not explain why.

    But the above study does not examine God, miracles, faith healing, or prayer for loved ones, etc., and was not intended to.

    Nothing they discovered would be evidence for or against any of these concepts. They wanted to study a much more specific variable: Does a patient’s knowledge that he or she is receiving prayer affect the surgical outcome?

    The Spiritual Brain
    In addition, the publishers of this study, The American Heart Journal, and their editors had plenty of reasons to criticize the study and its design. They concluded that the study itself was likely the cause of the higher than expected complications ( stress and possible nocebo effects may have played a part, for instance – this not being a blind study). Even some participants were critics, mentioning that the prayers were pre-written and “canned”.

    On the other side, (and not without with their critics) there are those studies which do demonstrate a statistically significant efficacy to intercessory prayer:

    Some studies had already provided evidence that intercessory prayer makes a difference. For example, William Harris and collegues found that “supplementary, remote, blinded, intercessory prayer produced a measurable improvement in the medical outcomes of critically ill patients”

    The Spiritual Brain, page 240-242

    That study can be read here

    Another look at this and other studies:
    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/prayer.html

  42. doctor(logic):

    In principle, God could be natural under my meaning of the word.

    That seems to agree with what you said. I would still point out that your definition of “natural” is different enough from the normal that it’s probably best to call it something different.

    For example, prayers could work reliably, so that we could at least say that the universe works “as if” there were a God.

    This requires the assumption that God is obligated to answer every prayer that is ever offered to Him, in exactly the way that they expect. Alternatively, you have to presume that God is mindless and bound to act without free will.

    In actual Christianity, God is totally hidden, and defies every attempt to verify his existence.

    I disagree absolutely and completely. Christianity holds that God has revealed Himself through both general and special revelation. Obviously, you may not believe in such things. But it’s patently false to claim that the Christian God is “totally” hidden, or that He “defies” attempts to verify Him. Christianity holds that God’s claims are in fact testable; not everyone is willing to actually test them.

    …because nothing about tomorrow is predicted.

    Not true, according to Christianity. Just because it doesn’t provide predictions for everything doesn’t mean it makes no testable claims about the future.

    This strikes me as one of your hopeless hypotheses’. A God who exists, but hides from rational inquiry, and only appears to people when they cannot tell if they are deluding themselves. Very ‘leprechaunish’.

    Then I’d have to say you’ve completely misunderstood the notion of a hopeless hypothesis. I’ve defined those as ideas that are devoid of value, regardless of their truth value. If Christianity is indeed true, then there are some very important reasons to live according to it. Even if it’s not, there are benefits to be gained. The concept is not about proof or disproof, it’s about value versus non-value.

    Philosophically, I don’t disagree with the notion that you have to take some things on faith. Whether it’s faith in an as-yet-incomplete Theory of Everything, or faith in an as-yet-incomplete divine plan, one has to choose where to align their assumptions at some point. Too many naturalists forget this, and assume that their assumptions are the only valid ones.

    I still disagree with your notion that anything which is not predictive is necessarily not explanatory. That’s essentially presuming that human beings have an infinite capacity for understanding. Hindsight empowers us to explain things that we would never have been able to predict.

  43. Pantalaimon,

    “ID proposes that an “intelligence” designed biological organisms. What’s the problem with this? Not the intelligence per se, but an inherent capriciousness of the intelligence, that the intelligence may act arbitrarily—thus defeating the regularity required for science.”

    Here I step beyond Intelligent Design theory into theism, which is somewhat distinct as you know if you’ve read much here.

    God is not capricious but acts in accord with His settled character to achieve His ends. His ends manifestly include two things that mitigate against Him intervening in the regularity of nature except for special purposes. One of those ends is that we humans would have significant freedom of will and genuine effect in the world; also that the world would have predictable effect on us. This is so that we can be morally significant creatures, so that we can learn, so that we can experience predictability, and so on.

    Another end to which God has committed Himself is making Himself known to humans. If God were truly capricious–if He were doing miracles right and left, willy-nilly–there would be less awareness of God, not more. The signal-to-noise ratio would be too low. For God’s signal to break through, it has to have something through which it can break. Otherwise we would conceive of the world as chaos, not as a place designed by a rational God (if we had power to conceive anything at all in such circumstances).

    It’s been said a hundred times: it was the Europeans’ confidence that the universe was created by a rational God, and that this God was pleased to be known by humans, and that His very creation was a means to knowing Him, that provided the foundation for modern scientific thinking. There’s a reason true theory never developed elsewhere in history.

    Is ID a research-stopper? That’s not just a theoretical question, it’s a sociological one. Do ID theorists stop researching when they decide there was an intelligent designer? Where’s your evidence of that? Where, in particular, did you get this howler from?

    ID’s answer: Because the designers arbitrarily decided to do it that way, and we might observe something entirely different next week, or in Dr. Noitall’s lab, or in pink lawn flamingos, for no reason. No regularity.

    Again and again and again, ID opponents think they’ve shot it down. They’re deer hunters in the woods who shout “I got it! I got it!” when they have successfully put their bullet in the bark of a tree. Nice shot, I say. Go ahead and draw a picture of a deer around the bullet hole and it will look even nicer.

  44. Pantalaimon:

    I was going to make some generic responses, nothing controversial, and much in agreement, but my system crashed and it’s not important enough to re-create. Perhaps another time.

    I was wondering if Lyra’s typing for you; I can’t imagine a pine marten trying to type without help. 🙂

  45. Medicine man, if you input your thoughts directly to the internet via Dust as I do, you would be immune to system crashes. I do not require a human to type for me.

  46. As for me, I’ll take a Macintosh over Dust any time 🙂 . And for an Alethiometer (truth-teller) give me a word from the true God, not from a Dusty Compass, please!

  47. Tom, I agree with most of your comment of 1/14/2008 at 8:39 am. And I think this should be evident from footnote 3 of my comment on 1/14 at 12:03 am. But note that I distinguished theistic evolution from ID. I argued that “naturalism’ is a proxy for “regularity,” and that without dependable regularity, there is no science.[1] TE and naturalistic science are in agreement; TE says that God is rational and not capricious; while naturalism merely “has no need of this hypothesis,” as Laplace said to Napoleon about his Mecanique Celeste. Science is godless in the same sense that plumbing is godless.

    ID differs from TE in that it proposes designers [2] which arbitrarily construct living organisms. Why do I assume their capriciousness? Because ID not only does not characterize them in any way, but makes a point of refusing to do so, or to propose any mechanism or any model or rationale for their actions.[3] So we have designers who are unknown, who operate according to unknown goals and principles. Of course, some IDers cheat a little on this, shall we say, Theory of Ignorance: Why should junk DNA be evidence of ID? Because designers don’t intentionally make useless things. But this assumes a characteristic of the designers,[4] which is forbidden.

    There is no scientific theory of intelligent design. We not only have no evidence [10] for such a vacuous theory, we don’t even know what kind of evidence would be required to demonstrate it—because IDers say we must necessarily remain ignorant of the nature of the designers.

    Returning to the main theme of this thread, I’ve argued earlier (1/12 at 3:35 pm) that ID fails even as a denier of Darwinian evolution.[6] It fails for two reasons. First it has failed to conduct credible experiments or produce data that is in principle unexplainable by the mechanisms of Darwin’s broad model.[5] Further, Darwin’s is not the only model for naturalistic evolution. DI claims that _any_ naturalistic evolution modality is not only wrong, but impossible in principle. This is a huge project. There may be an infinite number of naturalistic models for evolution. One would need to show that physical laws absolutely prohibit evolution in some way that physicists can’t even dream of at this point in time.

    Tom: “Is ID a research-stopper? That’s not just a theoretical question, it’s a sociological one. Do ID theorists stop researching when they decide there was an intelligent designer? Where’s your evidence of that?”

    By this time, I think this should be obvious. As noted above, Dembski has said that ID has no more to say, once design has been detected. Consider a dialog between father and young son:
    “Why is the sky blue?” / “Because God made it that way.” / “Why are leaves green?” / “Because they were designed that way.” / “They would be ever so much more efficient if they were black.” / “Well, they’re not.” / “But why not?” / “Because the designers chose not to do that.. Go eat your Malt-O-Meal.” Physicists say a theory that explains everything explains nothing. ID is such a theory. And you can imagine whether the boy in this conversation might or might not be motivated to pursue a career in science.

    But this is theoretical. Is there any practical indication that ID is a science-stopper? As I noted before (#3 in the 1/12 at 3:35 pm comment), not only have no ID researchers published or otherwise presented any research supporting it, their publication rates in mainstream science have plummeted too. Although undoubtedly other factors are involved as well [7], the US is importing scientists, because not enough Americans pursue this career. (When you read about new discoveries, notice the prevalence of Asian names.) Recently a Woods Hole researcher refused to perform part of his assigned task because of his creationists beliefs.[8]

    Tom says “Where, in particular, did you get this howler from? ‘ID’s answer: Because the designers arbitrarily decided to do it that way, and we might observe something entirely different next week, or in Dr. Noitall’s lab, or in pink lawn flamingos, for no reason. No regularity.’”

    ID proposes no mechanism upon which predictable regularity might be based. ID in fact denies the existence of such a mechanism. ID has conducted no research to propose any regularity. Regularity is the very subject of science; without it, science stands mute. Can you understand why scientists consider ID a science-stopper? Ex nihilo nihil.[9]

    =============
    [1] Remember that scientists do not give up searching for regularity when an initial theory contains flaws. They then look to regularize the exceptions, and so on to deeper levels. If the flaws cannot be accounted for within the current scientific model, then they seek a new model that will produce a regularity.

    [2] Again, I pluralize this term because biological systems are much more complex than human-designed cars, aircraft, iPhones, etc, all of which require tens or hundreds od separate designers.

    [3] “ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots.” {William Dembski, in ISCID Web site, 9/18/2002) Earlier, he had said that ID merely detects design, that any attempt at characterizing the designs or the designers is explicitly not within the scope of ID.

    [4] Of course humans, the only intelligence we know about, do make “useless” things. Such as Bach oratorios. What would a three-eyed alien think of the St John Passion? Probably dismiss it as functionless quasi-random bits of sound.

    [5] I can think of only four occasions on which this was even attempted: (a) Behe & Snokes’ paper on double point mutations; (b) Seelke’s clandestine bacteria experiments; (c) Robert Marks’ unpublished, unreviewed computer simulations at Baylor; and (d) Behe’s borrowed mutation data in The Edge of Evolution. Each of these is so flawed as to be held in contempt by practicing scientists. (Details upon request—if you’d really like to know about tryptophan deprivation.)

    [6] The Discovery Institute denies other mainstream science as well. For example, they claim that humans have had no effect upon global warming. See their “Politically Incorrect Guide to Science” book.

    [7] But many of them having to do broadly with the denial of science and demonization of scientists. Government interference with scientific conclusions for political reasons. Stringent limitations on stem-cell research. (Note that stem cells from skin was discovered in Japan.) Castigations of scientists as atheists and supporters of eugenics programs (Jon West). And so on.

    [8] See http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/12/slackjawed_creationist_surpris.php

    [9] I also object to ID on theological grounds. It makes God into an inept craftsman who has had to destroy most of his created organisms, who wired the vertebrate eye backwards, and who grows eyes in cave-fish embryos, only to resorb and destroy them before the fish are born. In The Edge of Evolution, Behe says that his designer may well be evil. But this is another subject.

    [10] Lacking evidence, they resort to delusional arguments. Consider this gem from ARN’s top ten news items of 2007. Premise 1: Chemical & Engineering News (not a peer-reviewed journal, by the way) called the ribosome a “factory,” a “miniature machine.” Premise 2: Intelligence is required to design factories and machines. Conclusion: Ribosomes were designed, and could not have evolved. Sheesh.

  48. Pantalaimon,

    “ID differs from TE in that it proposes designers [2] which arbitrarily construct living organisms. Why do I assume their capriciousness? Because ID not only does not characterize them in any way, but makes a point of refusing to do so, or to propose any mechanism or any model or rationale for their actions.[3] So we have designers who are unknown, who operate according to unknown goals and principles. Of course, some IDers cheat a little on this, shall we say, Theory of Ignorance: Why should junk DNA be evidence of ID? Because designers don’t intentionally make useless things. But this assumes a characteristic of the designers,[4] which is forbidden.”

    I agree that ID cannot fruitfully proceed without some hypotheses about the nature of the designer. It must assume the designer is very powerful, very intelligent, and purposeful at the least. This is a valid criticism of some ID work.

    Further, Darwin’s is not the only model for naturalistic evolution. DI claims that _any_ naturalistic evolution modality is not only wrong, but impossible in principle. This is a huge project. There may be an infinite number of naturalistic models for evolution. One would need to show that physical laws absolutely prohibit evolution in some way that physicists can’t even dream of at this point in time.

    Another valid point, to an extent. But what if DI/ID didn’t show that all naturalistic models were wrong? What if they just showed that neo-Darwinian evolution is not how life came about? Would you still say they had wasted all their time? Sure, it would be a tad disconcerting if we had one theory washed out and none to take its place, but that’s better than having one theory that every says is Fact! Fact! FACT! when it isn’t. So even if ID didn’t make its chief goal, it’s still scientific investigation on a valid scientific issue.

    That’s one of the points I’ve been trying to focus on: not that ID is necessarily right in all its assertions and predictions; I’m not qualified to tell the world the answer on that! Rather, that it’s ridiculous to squash it the way is being done.

    (Frankly, I could wish that ID were nothing but a research program. It got tied to some ill-advised school board initiatives and came under political attack, which has not helped. I’m in favor of school policies in which the full picture of evolution, including its evidential challenges, is taught, and to the extent schools are teaching philosophical naturalism that ought to be stopped cold. The DI takes the same stand; it was not in favor of the Dover school board policy, for sure. There is other history that colors the whole thing now, though.)

    By this time, I think this should be obvious. As noted above, Dembski has said that ID has no more to say, once design has been detected. Consider a dialog between father and young son:
    “Why is the sky blue?” / “Because God made it that way.” / “Why are leaves green?” / “Because they were designed that way.” / “They would be ever so much more efficient if they were black.” / “Well, they’re not.” / “But why not?” / “Because the designers chose not to do that.. Go eat your Malt-O-Meal.”

    This is just blatantly outrageous, overstated, and ridiculous. I don’t know the context of Dembski’s comment, but I’m sure he was saying something scientists would want him to say: once we reach the edge of what science can do, let’s not pretend we can do science on the other side of that barrier. He didn’t say let’s sell off all our test tubes and go fly kites!!!

    (Distortions, distortions. This is why I blog on ID–not because I know the answers, but because I get so exercised over how the questions get distorted over and over again!)

    Your flamingo is still a howler. ID operates on the basis of regularity in the universe and seeks to discover exceptions to that principle, fully aware that they are quite exceptional–and fully aware that (going back to your example) meiosis is regular, and that where regularities are found they are exactly that.

    Regularity is the very subject of science; without it, science stands mute. Can you understand why scientists consider ID a science-stopper? Ex nihilo nihil.

    The only “mechanism” proposed by any other science to explain regularity is natural law. ID accepts natural law as the normal mode of the universe’s operation. If you propose that natural law must be viewed more strongly than that–if you think it is the exclusive mode of the world’s operation, rather than its normal mode, you are a philosophical naturalist. There you run into other very, very difficult problems, which I have discussed elsewhere.

    Far better to view natural law as the regularity of the world, against and within which personal free will (human and divine) makes its moves.

    From your footnotes:

    Earlier, he had said that ID merely detects design, that any attempt at characterizing the designs or the designers is explicitly not within the scope of ID.

    That’s a very philosophically astute statement. More here.

    I also object to ID on theological grounds. It makes God into an inept craftsman who has had to destroy most of his created organisms, who wired the vertebrate eye backwards, and who grows eyes in cave-fish embryos, only to resorb and destroy them before the fish are born.

    This is just silly anthropomorphizing. Why do you assume that God did all that because He screwed up in the first place? Talk about theorizing with no basis!

  49. Tom, thank you for the speedy and detailed response. Over at Panda’s Thumb and Pharyngula, everyone agrees with me, and that doesn’t sharpen my thoughts very much.

    I think you totally misunderstand ID in general and the Discovery Institute in particular, when you say, “Frankly, I could wish that ID were nothing but a research program.” (comment on 1/15 at 8:20 am) ID is not a scientific research program in any sense, and never has been. Scientific understanding is of no intrinsic interest to ID. Any “research” they may undertake is strictly subservient to the philosophical goal of crushing naturalistic science for religious and philosophical purposes. [1] ID changed its name from creationism in order to avoid court decisions against the latter, and to achieve a public-relations win by hitching the religious faith of the public to the high regard in which the public regards science.[2]

    Tom (Again from 1/15 at 8:20 am: “But what if DI/ID didn’t show that all naturalistic models were wrong? What if they just showed that neo-Darwinian evolution is not how life came about? Would you still say they had wasted all their time? Sure, it would be a tad disconcerting if we had one theory washed out and none to take its place, but that’s better than having one theory that every says is Fact! Fact! FACT!”

    The first thing to note is that you misunderstand the definition of a scientific fact. Theories do not somehow grow into facts as we accumulate more evidence. [3] The DI, of course, encourages the common misconception of “scientific fact,” as they do for “theory.”

    Secondly, as I said before (1/12 at 3:35 pm, second graf) there is nothing wrong with the negative goal of showing, by scientific research, that perhaps Darwin had his beak on backwards, regardless of their underlying motivation. But, as I’ve outlined previously, ID supporters, and the DI specifically, do this dishonestly. They cherry-pick isolated “evidence” that fits their purposes, while disregarding and distorting evidence that does not. [4] For example, a Behe & Snoke peer-reviewed paper [5] described an experiment to show that a certain form of mutation would require 20,000 years to produce a certain double mutation. First, that kind of mutation is only one of many types which evolution may employ, so the experiment does not even prima facie controvert evolution. Second, the soil sample size he used was about one load of a pickup truck, when he should have used a sample at least a billion times as large. So even the result that he claimed was hopelessly improbable was reduced by a rather huge factor. The paper has never been cited in the literature, except three times to rebut its conclusions. And yet. And yet the DI to this day keeps that article on its list of peer-reviewed papers that support ID, and they trot it out in support of the “scientific” nature of ID. I have mentioned before (1/12 at 3:35 pm) the list of 44 papers that ID fraudulently presented to the Ohio school authorities—and that they still use, despite having been called on its falsehoods by the NCSE.

    Tom: “ID accepts natural law as the normal mode of the universe’s operation. If you propose that natural law must be viewed more strongly than that–if you think it is the exclusive mode of the world’s operation, rather than its normal mode, you are a philosophical naturalist.”

    Reread footnote #1. ID does not accept “natural law.” Sometimes, they are pushed to the wall, when the evidence becomes so overwhelming that even their intended audience of scientific illiterates starts to guffaw. This is what happened in The Edge of Evolution. They originally denied evolution altogether. Latterly, as more and more evolution is demonstrated beyond any doubt, they have split it into “micro” evolution, driven by natural law, and “macro” evolution,” beyond natural law. [6]

    I do think that natural law is the only mode of operation proper to science. And that science—and thus natural law—should be pushed to its uttermost limits in trying to understand and control the world of physical phenomena. And that mankind will benefit if we don’t give up this pursuit. [7] Natural law is not the only way of knowing. The NAS booklet is perhaps a bit naive in saying that science and religion are not in conflict. If an item of faith makes a claim that can be tested scientifically, then, as I said in another thread, there is a conflict, and we must assess the certainty of our faith and the weight of the scientific evidence. That’s what both of us are doing right now. You have a religious vocation, and come down more heavily of the supremacy of faith. I’ve spent my professional life dealing with scientists, am more familiar with the evidence and the process, and tend to give it more weight to it that you perhaps would.

    Finally, Tom said: “Is ID a research-stopper?… Do ID theorists stop researching when they decide there was an intelligent designer? Where’s your evidence of that?”

    Let’s take two examples, both of which are important hot buttons to ID. And which are important to ID precisely because the science in those areas is in its infancy—that is, there are many “gaps” for ID to appropriate.

    Abiogenesis. Biologists have been investigating this for decades, centuries even. How did life first come about? What chemicals are necessary, and how can they combine? Many experiments have been performed, but no single theory [8] has been realized as yet. In fact, time may have erased the evidence beyond our capability to reconstruct what actually happened. But that most certainly does not stop scientists from proposing hypotheses and testing them. The Urey experiments may be flawed, but he made the effort. Thinking has shifted from yesteryear’s “warm pond” origin to volcanic ocean vents, to clay matrices, and to many other proposals. The major current debate is the priority of replication and metabolism—one of them may have come before the other. Various models are being actively investigated, and efforts have focused upon trying to find, e.g., chemical reactions that do not require an explicit replicator. That is, scientists are searching diligently, even though the answer may be beyond them forever—because of the time involved, or because natural law may prove not up to the task. But they do not give up.

    Shall we contrast this with ID research in abiogenesis? “Life began by design,” they say. End of story. Have you ever heard any ID supporter anywhere suggest how, when, or where the first life was “designed”? Please let me know if you have; I certainly have not. ID proponents would find it puzzling that you would even suggest that they should try to determine how this design occurred, or that its consequences might be useful for understanding anything about the physical world.

    Fine tuning. My own background is not in biology, but in physics and music, so I am more familiar with the music of the spheres. ID makes a lot of noise these days about the “design” of certain physical constants—what cosmologists call “The Goldilocks problem”: not too hot, not too cold, but juuuuust right. There are no answers, maybe not even the beginning of an answer. But that does not stop real scientists. They have not only developed hypotheses, but whole branches of possible physics in researching this problem. String theory. Brane theory. Quantum loop gravity. Symmetry requirements may link the values together or limit their ranges. Many-worlds, parallel universes. Some of these are exceeding difficult to test—yet scientists float suggestions for inquiry. Parallel universes don’t interact—but maybe they might via gravitation, and this might be shown by slight variances in its force under certain circumstances. At the far end of fine tuning, a few cosmologists are even attracted (pardon the pun) to the “strong anthropic principle,” which seems to come within a quark’s breadth of purposeful design. Yet even those few struggle, like Odysseus chained to his mast, to answer the Siren call of natural law, some kind of material mechanism for this principle. Never give up.

    Shall we contrast this with ID research in fine tuning? “The constants were specifically set by an unknowable intelligence,” they say. End of story. Have you ever heard any ID supporter anywhere suggest any reason for this, or how inquiry might further our knowledge of cosmology? Please let me know if you have; I certainly have not. ID proponents would find it puzzling that you would even suggest that they should try to determine how this design occurred, or that its consequences might be useful for understanding anything about the physical world.

    These are major examples, although certainly not the only ones, of how intelligent design is a science-stopper. This is not a coincidence or an unintended consequence. ID is driven by a religious and philosophical agenda that has nothing inherently to do with understanding natural phenomena. Reread footnote #1 yet again. Sorry for foaming at the mouth. I do wax wroth on this subject. Ten years of observing the Dishonesty Institute have led to a rather robust theory as to their true purpose: to defeat science in favor of their particular beliefs.

    ===========
    [1] “This isn’t really, and never has been a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.” (Phillip Johnson, “Witnesses for the Prosecution,” World Magazine, November 30, 1996, Volume 11, Number 28, p. 18)

    “Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.” (Philip Johnson, American Family Radio, Jan 10, 2003 broadcast.)

    “…we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. (“The Wedge Document,” online at http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html)

    “Father’s words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle” (Jonathan Wells, 1999.)

    “The world is a mirror representing the divine life. The mechanical philosophy was ever blind to this fact. Intelligent design … readily embraces the sacramental nature of physical reality. Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory” (William Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science & Theology, Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 1999, p. 84)

    “Intelligent design itself does not have any content.” —DI Senior Fellow George Gilder (From Joseph P. Kahn, “The evolution of George Gilder,” The Boston Globe, July 27, 2005.)

    This is a sampling of many consistent quotations from a number of DI members and other ID supporters.

    [2] Thus taking advantage of the miserable state of public knowledge of the scientific method in general and of evolution in particular. In the Kitzmiller trial, one of the Dover school-board members was asked to define ID. The definition she gave was compatible with Darwinian evolution!

    [3] You might want to read the National Academy of Sciences booklet, “Science, Evolution, and Creationism” (Jan. 2008). It’s available free on-line. “In science, a ‘fact’ typically refers to an observation, measurement, or other form of evidence that can be expected to occur the same way under similar circumstances. However, scientists also use the term ‘fact’ to refer to a scientific explanation that has been tested and confirmed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing it or looking for additional examples. In that respect, the past and continuing occurrence of evolution is a scientific fact. Because the evidence supporting it is so strong, scientists no longer question whether biological evolution has occurred and is continuing to occur. Instead, they investigate the mechanisms of evolution, how rapidly evolution can take place, and related questions.”

    This is not “dogma,” as the DI would have it—it’s common sense. After a few thousand passes through traffic lights, you dial down your efforts to disconfirm the theory that they control traffic, and accept it as a “fact.” Then you use that to determine other facts, such as how much you must speed up to get through a yellow light—because you take as fact that you must stop for the following red light.

    This also influences the debate about “fair and balanced” treatment of evolution and ID. When you have achieved factual status for traffic lights, should you really spend any time at all telling high-school students in drivers’ ed classes that red lights just might not exist for the purpose of indicating you should stop, that maybe they are merely ornamental? You’re only confusing them. As another example, there is a great deal of doubt—much more than about evolution—about quantum mechanics and relativity, because they are indisputably in conflict with each other at certain scales. Does the DI ever argue that we should “teach the controversy” in that area of science? Donbesilly.

    [4] This they share with their biblical creationists progenitors, who, for example, infer a warrant for a global Noachic flood from the discovery (by mainstream geologists, not by their own people) that the Lake Missoula flood in Oregon released 540 cubic miles of water in a matter of days when an ice dam broke during the last ice age. (Hint: a Noachic flood would require about 14.8 billion cubic miles of water, many hundreds of times the amount of water presently on the planet.)

    [5] “Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues, Protein Science, 13 (2004): 2651-2664.

    [6] This is like splitting gravitation into micro gravitation, which obviously causes apples to fall to the ground, and macro gravitation, an unobserved force of a completely different kind that some say may hold planets in their orbits. It was exactly Newton’s paradigm-shifting insight that these two forces are one and the same thing—the only difference is orders of magnitude of mass. Similarly, the mechanism of “micro” evolution is exactly the same as that of “macro” evolution—the only difference being great gouts of time.

    [7] This is not to say that scientists should always have the last word on how their discoveries are put to use, however.

    [8] Abiogenesis is of course not a part of the Darwinian theory of evolution, as much as the DI likes to lump them together.

    [9] There is no footnote [9].

  50. Pantalaimon:

    The first thing to note is that you misunderstand the definition of a scientific fact.

    BarryA at UD had some interesting comments regarding your footnote (3).

    Under the second NAS definition, Ptolemy’s epicycle theory was a “fact” even more than Darwinian evolution is a “fact.” Ptolemy was tested and confirmed so many times over the course of 1,400 years that many scholars no longer saw a compelling reason to keep testing it.

    Is Barry’s comment fair?

    Edit:
    Referencing my comment here, I think the Theory of Life only from Life is also a scientific fact according to BOTH of the NAS definitions. Why then do you suppose some scientists think the Theory of Life only from non-Life is a better theory?

  51. Pantalaimon, this is irresponsible, out of context, and incorrect quote-mining:

    ID is not a scientific research program in any sense, and never has been. Scientific understanding is of no intrinsic interest to ID. Any “research” they may undertake is strictly subservient to the philosophical goal of crushing naturalistic science for religious and philosophical purposes.

    I know you have it footnoted, but your quote-mines are out of context and do not represent the full thinking of any of the persons quoted.

    ID changed its name from creationism in order to avoid court decisions against the latter, and to achieve a public-relations win by hitching the religious faith of the public to the high regard in which the public regards science

    Certainly ID took note of creationists’ mistakes. That doesn’t mean it’s all just PR. But you’ll view it that way no matter what I say here so I won’t belabor it.

    The first thing to note is that you misunderstand the definition of a scientific fact. Theories do not somehow grow into facts as we accumulate more evidence. [3] The DI, of course, encourages the common misconception of “scientific fact,” as they do for “theory.”

    You sure hate the DI, don’t you? You didn’t footnote this assertion, though, did you? By the way, not only have I read the booklet you’ve referred to in footnote 3, I’ve reviewed and critiqued it in three blog posts already. I do understand the meaning of a scientific fact and theory, and how they interrelate, and I stand by my statement.

    Reread footnote #1. ID does not accept “natural law.”

    Reread what I wrote. ID accepts natural law as the normal course of operations. Pantalaimon, you are incredibly committed to distortion in the pursuit of your points–and yet you accuse the DI of dishonesty??

    The next time you make a reference to the “Dishonesty Institute” will be your last visit here.

    You may find your comments cut off if you push this theme in other ways as you have been.

    I do think that natural law is the only mode of operation proper to science. And that science—and thus natural law—should be pushed to its uttermost limits in trying to understand and control the world of physical phenomena. And that mankind will benefit if we don’t give up this pursuit.

    So do I. So does everyone I read who speaks to this issue from the ID side. We also believe that when science has been pushed to its limits, when the limits of science has been reached, the limits of knowledge have not been reached. Not all knowledge, even of the natural world, has to come from scientific methods.

    Your “science-stopper” example is ironic, considering how close your second example is to Guillermo Gonzalez’s field of habitable zones and exobiology.

  52. Tom said (1/15 at 6:45 pm): “Pantalaimon, this is irresponsible, out of context, and incorrect quote-mining:”

    I stand by the quotations as accurate representations of the views of the speakers. There are many more of the same ilk. If you feel they are inaccurate or out of context, please provide the context and your interpretation of their views.

    I have been quite abrasive about the agenda of the, uh, Discovery Institute. But it’s true; they could care less about advancing science. If they did, they’d try to persuade scientists, not school boards and church congregations. Wegner and Boltzmann and many others spent decades trying to convince their peers of their theories, but they did not lobby textbook publishers or appeal to “fairness.” Sorry if that ruffles the feathers of your preconceptions, but I intended to make you sit up and take notice.

    And I do realize that it is hard to reason yourself out of a position that you did not reason yourself into.

  53. Pantalaimon:

    I think you started this thread out quite well: you are knowledgeable about the subject matter, and your reasoning skills are an order of magnitude above those of BobC, DL, and Paul. Your points were more or less cogent, and posed challenges to caricatures of Darwinism that should not be avoided.

    But, you went downhill from there—descending to your own caricatures and outright errors—and I think some of those deserved what they got from Tom and others.

    I’ve made my position quite clear here: currently, as far as I can tell, despite its weakeness and holes, the theory of descent with modification as subsequently altered to fit available facts, is the best description (as opposed to explanation—an important philosophical distinction) of what occurred in the development of life on earth. From the philosophically-technical perspective, descent with modification is termed a “reasoned fact” (as opposed to “fact per se”), and deserves that recognition.

    Significant holes remain, of course, and the current theory(ies) are so susceptible to foolish philosophical interpretations, that it is indeed difficult to wade through and separate good science from bad philosophizing—on both sides. (I would love to place Dawkins and Dembski in the same room, lock the door, and see what evolves from these cantankerous characters…) Calling ID “creationism” is just as a non-scientific joke as Dawkins thinking evolution disproves the existence of God. My recent going after DL (as did others) is to show he is not thinking but emoting upon personal, subjective presuppositions: he is NOT doing science, and certainly not philosophizing.

    ID has, in my opinion, philosophical problems that cannot be overcome, for these errors touch upon the very nature of what the modern empirical sciences are: what their strengths and limitations are. Behe and Dembski are wrong—dead wrong—when they claim “specified complexity” (philosophically the formal cause, i.e., the “whatness” of a thing) and “design” (philosophically the final cause) can be empirically detected. They cannot, and there’s a deep equivocation over the kinds of being made that, quite ironically, mimics the equivocations Dawkins and others make. It would take much time and presuppose some philosophical knowledge to expound on these, so I won’t. Suffice it to say both sides are confused and talking past each other: neo-Darwinists (a label I use to refer to scientists who stray out of their field of competence to make philosophically-inept claims) and IDers (scientists doing REAL science in a negative way but who bring a certain level of philosophical ignorance to their work) are BOTH confusing ontological considerations with mathematical complexity.

    There are NO philosophical barriers to preclude descent with modification IF looked at from the strictly mathematical perspective: generally speaking, “higher” animals are mathematically more complex than “lower” animals, but that in no way precludes change along such an axis. But from there ontological perspective there are great differences that simply state these ontological differences cannot be reduced to mathematics (meaning those things observable by the MESs and hence correlatable into mathematical formalisms or schema), and hence must be accounted for in a FULL explanation by more than biology. For example, a mountain, roughly speaking is six orders of magnitude more “complex” than a human being… yet a mountain can’t “do” science: it IS a distinction in KIND, not merely in DEGREE. The same thing applies in comparing brute animals with rational animals: there IS an ontological distinction in KIND, but barely any (when considering, say, chimpanzees) in DEGREE… the brute animals, among many other things, cannot “do” science.

    From this perspective, the IDers are correct in saying purely material entities and physical phenomena cannot account for the complexity of life and its development… but that is NOT science: specified complexity and design are categories beyond the MES that demand a nous (intelligence) by which to reason to their existence. (The sad thing is the IDers—like Dawkins and company—have little if any competence in natural philosophy to support their claims.) I am opposed to teaching ID as a theory in biology classrooms, but I applaud their exposing the “explanatory” holes in the current theories of evolution. I bemoan the fact that schools (not just universities) don’t require students to take bare minimum courses in philosophy, or students on a science track a requirement to take a bare minimum of courses on the philosophy of nature—which includes, by definition, an exposition on the strengths AND limitations of the modern empirical sciences.

    It sickens me that the outcome of these wholly unnecessary wars (usually run by little, self-important general like Dawkins and Dembski) is we have two casualties and one missing-in-action: the casualties are science and faith, while the one MIA is a philosophy of nature. My beef with the Discovery Institute is they are (albeit inadvertently) playing with peoples’ faiths: once the unscientific character of ID is brought out more fully, a lot of people who have contributed significant amounts of money will potentially face difficult questions regarding their faith. (It may be a smaller but nonetheless just as damaging outcome as the Scopes Trial.) They are also as guilty as those across the aisle of imposing philosophical (incorrect, I hasten to repeat) baggage upon science. My beef with Dawkins (apart from his philosophical ineptitude) is he is doing more to dissuade people from doing good science than any religious fideist could do given his exposure.

    I don’t want to get into a beef with you: I urge you to stick with the science you are doing, but I also urge you not to blithely impose personal caricatures upon the DI (“could care less about advancing science”—that emotive little tidbit is, to employ DL’s term, “stupid”) or on people of faith who see (but with eyes wider than those of the MESs) the problems with descent with modification.

  54. Pantalaimon wrote,

    “I stand by the quotations as accurate representations of the views of the speakers. There are many more of the same ilk. If you feel they are inaccurate or out of context, please provide the context and your interpretation of their views.”

    You want me to track down the source of your quotes? Well, that’s a lovely tactic. No, thanks.

    But I am preparing now to write a balancing perspective, so I’ll do at least that much in response.

  55. Pantalaimon, I missed this earlier:

    Latterly, as more and more evolution is demonstrated beyond any doubt, they have split it into “micro” evolution, driven by natural law, and “macro” evolution,” beyond natural law.

    You’ll find that distinction is the topic of a whole chapter in Ernst Mayr’s What Evolution Is. Stephen Jay Gould give it considerable space in his parting magnum opus, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. I suppose you’re going to say they did wrote those to advance Intelligent Design? Oh, and it’s also in that NAS book you suggested I read.

    Your footnoted analogy to gravity is irrelevant. The distinction between micro- and macro-evolution is real. It’s the difference between changing gene frequencies and adding new information, structure, and functions.

  56. SteveK said (1/15/2008 at 6:23 pm): “Under the second NAS definition, Ptolemy’s epicycle theory was a ‘fact’ even more than Darwinian evolution is a ‘fact.” Ptolemy was tested and confirmed so many times over the course of 1,400 years that many scholars no longer saw a compelling reason to keep testing it.”

    First, scholars did keep testing and improving its paradigm over the years. Epicycles were added to cycles. Deferents were added to epicycles. Equants were added to deferents. The whole structure kept getting more and more complex. By Kepler’s time, it could have toppled of its own weight alone.

    Second, if scientists felt no further need to test Ptolemaic astronomy, what were Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo doing?

    Third, astronomy was not really considered a science until around Newton’s time. Its purpose was not to explain anything, but rather to predict celestial positions for navigation, eclipses, Easter, and so forth. The celestial navigation that I learned in college was based upon Ptolemaic astronomy—and I’m really not that ancient. The Church was copasetic with the Galileo as long as he put forth heliocentrism as merely a mathematical conceit for prediction. But Galileo made the mistake of proposing his theory as reality—that the Earth actually does scurry around the Sun. This was what got their miters thumping.

    The scientific meanings of “fact,” theory,” “explanation,” and so forth are not simple ones. They are somewhat fuzzy, and do change somewhat over time and in different settings. For example, we now think that Newton’s explanation, his “mechanism,” was wrong—but we still have the fact of gravitation. What happened was to change its mechanism from a force to a curvature of space-time. Changes in the theory did change the “fact” of gravitation to a very small degree. However, NASA still uses Newtonian mechanics to calculate space-probe trajectories.

    We now know that the calorific theory of heat is wrong. Heat just has too many differences from other known fluids—such as exactly zero viscosity. But the factual behavior of heat remains almost exactly the same, and engineers commonly treat it as a calorific fluid in designing boilers.

    Just so, it is (barely, at this point) possible that Darwinian theory of evolution will be shown to be irretrievably incorrect, but the fact that evolution occurs will not go away like a daemon when its human dies. Indeed, more “facts” of evolution accumulate evidence every year—more than 1,570 peer-reviewed research papers last year alone.[1]

    The DI has been forced into the contrived equivocation of micro and macro evolution, admitting that some evolution is fact beyond dispute. But “The Edge of Evolution” keeps getting pushed back; Behe has already, just a couple of months out of the starting gate, been shown by original research to be wrong about one of his two primary examples of this edge, the HIV virus.

    This is off-topic. Tom may wish to delete it as irrelevant to the main question of negative science. But SteveK raise an interesting question. Well—perhaps interesting only to me.

    ===========
    [1] A group of science blogs has adopted a policy of describing and discussing original research in peer-reviewed publications. Look for the logo on the posts: a piece of lined paper with a large green check mark. Pharyngula, Quintessence of Dust, Panda’s Thumb are prominent members.

  57. The scientific meanings of “fact,” theory,” “explanation,” and so forth are not simple ones. They are somewhat fuzzy, and do change somewhat over time and in different settings.

    Then why did you say to Tom, “The first thing to note is that you [Tom] misunderstand the definition of a scientific fact.”?

  58. Tom (1/16 at 1:26 pm: “And who contrived it?”

    The DI contrived it. The terms indeed existed for many years. But it was the DI that contrived the false equivocation that they differ in that micro is within natural law and macro is outside it. Both operate according to exactly the same overall principle, just as gravitation does at all scales, whether or not you call apples “micro” and planetary orbits “macro” for some purposes.

    (It may be interesting—or not—to note here that the SINES/LINES technique for determining evolutionary descent is exactly the same as that for establishing relationships among people. The difference is only in the scale: micro v macro. So if you accept DNA evidence in court, you may be hard put to deny the common ancestry of homo and bonobo.)

  59. Pantalaimon, I wish you would listen. This gets tiresome (and not for the first time–alternate reference, original URL here).

    1. There is a distinction between micro and macro.
    2. There is no reason on earth not to investigate whether the distinction makes a difference.
    3. There are theoretical grounds for investigating it. One adds no new information, structure, or function, the other does.
    4. What kind of scientific closed-mindedness would tell anybody not to investigate whether adding new genetic information makes a difference?

    You can make an entirely supportable inference of common descent from genetic relatedness. The inference of purely naturalistic causes for common descent is another step removed.

  60. Pantalaimon, et al:

    It’s non-scientific to ignore the possibility that micro-evolution and macro-evolution operate in different ways and with different mechanisms.

    By analogy, physicists know full well that matter interactions have very different mechanisms and capabilities on the macroscopic, molecular, atomic, and subatomic levels. There are points of relation, but different things happen at each different level. In fact, physicists have also shown that some ‘possible’ elements aren’t naturally occurring – they have to be deliberately made in non-natural ways. Might it be that some biologically possible things can’t actually be set up other than by non-natural means?

    There’s nothing unscientific about applying an open-minded and investigative attitude towards the specifics of evolution. The contrival is in presuming that what applies to the rest of science need not – indeed, cannot – apply to evolution.

  61. Tom (1/16t at 3:52 pm):

    >>1. There is a distinction between micro and macro.

    Perhaps, for some purposes; for others, not.

    >>2. There is no reason on earth not to investigate whether the distinction makes a difference.

    Or not.

    >>3. There are theoretical grounds for investigating it. One adds no new information, structure, or function, the other does.

    Both add genetic information, as that term is commonly used by biologists. Micro/macro is a distinction without a difference for this purpose.

    >>4. What kind of scientific closed-mindedness would tell anybody not to investigate whether adding new genetic information makes a difference?

    See #3. A difference that makes no difference is no difference.

  62. Good point, MM. Pantalaimon, if your analogy had been to something other than gravity–the strong nuclear force, say–you would not have been able to carry it to the end you did. Some things really are different at different scales.

  63. MedicineMan (1/16 att 4:08 pm), I don’t understand your analogy. Seems to me that the same basic forces operate at all levels, merely with different distance scales. So your analogy would say that micro and macro evolution run at different scales with the same mechanism, which they do.

  64. Pantalaimon,

    Seems to me that the same basic forces operate at all levels, merely with different distance scales.

    That would be oversimplifying it and introducing error. Just like magnetism doesn’t have the same effect on aluminum or wood as it does on ferrous materials – but there is a distance component to it. There are subatomic forces that have no effect on the macroscopic levels, such as the weak and strong forces.

    To clarify, you might want to think of mine as an analogy in reverse. Micro-evolution corresponds to the macroscopic matter interactions. There are some changes that can occur, but nothing fundamental.

    Macro-evolution corresponds to the subatomic level. If you want to change lead into gold, you have to do it at the subatomic level – and you can’t do it by macroscopic means. The two can affect each other, in some ways, but you can’t get subatomic effects just by macroscopic influences.

    If you want to turn a worm into a snake, or a fish into a frog, you can’t do it by micro-evolutionary means. You have to have macro-evolutionary effects. There is a big difference between changing ice into water, or wood into ash, and turning hydrogen into deuterium. There are some non-overlapping effects at work.

    The difference is worth investigating for the same reasons as in physics. You can’t explain an atomic bomb without understanding how subatomic interactions are different than macroscopic ones; and that the bomb can’t work unless the subatomic interactions are right.

    Then consider that some elements can only be made by deliberate, intelligent actions, not by nature. I think it’s reasonable to think that some biological structures can only be made by deliberate, non-natural intervention, just as some atomic structures can only be made by deliberate, non-natural intervention. If we can show that some unique, elemental particles can’t be formed outside of “intelligent design”, why not look for the same in biology?

    Ununoctium is real, but it doesn’t have natural origins. Perhaps the same is true for DNA?

  65. MM:

    If we can show that some unique, elemental particles can’t be formed outside of “intelligent design”, why not look for the same in biology?

    Ununoctium is real, but it doesn’t have natural origins. Perhaps the same is true for DNA?

    I don’t know what Ununoctium is, but I like the point you make here.

    Similar to these manmade particles, every scientific test known to mankind says that living beings must participate in the creation of other living beings somewhere along the causal chain of events. What scientific reason is there to think otherwise? Where’s the empirical evidence that says it can be done any other way?

    Where’s the beef?!

  66. The only censorship on this blog is what’s described in the Discussion Policies, applied for the purpose of staying on topic and keeping things civil.

    The preceding complaint about censorship is in fact a violation of those discussion policies, but giving the irony of the situation I’m going to allow it to remain.

  67. How do you feel on the subject matter of Intelligent Design being taught along side with Evolution in a schools science class?

  68. I don’t think that’s the best approach. Evolution needs to be taught, but it needs to be taught with a full set of information, including the evidential challenges it has to deal with.

  69. First off i do agree that Evolution needs to be taught will all its holes and doubts so i agree with you there. But the thing that is bothering me the most is the fact that I feel if such a thing as Intelligent Design, which acknowledges some form of a higher power, were to be teached in our schools it would violate the Establishment Clause which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”. So if one were to try to pass a law alloting the teaching of ID along side with Evolution wouldn’t this conflict with this law?

  70. I don’t know of any responsible, well-informed persons who would be in favor of passing such a law. That includes ID supporters. This keeps coming up in the debate as if ID proponents were pushing it, but no one is. I don’t know why the word is not getting out there more accurately.

  71. If you dont mind me asking, what are the reasons you feel that “any responsible, well-informed persons who would be in favor of passing such a law”. Im just trying to get both sides of this argument as much as i can.
    Thank you for your time.

  72. Excuse my grammer, to rephrase my question why do you feel its so preposterous to pass such a law. Why do you feel that any responsible, well-informed person would not be infavor of passing such a law.

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