Maybe They Really Can’t Tell the Difference

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This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Is ID Creationism?


Several times in the last few days the term “Intelligent Design Creationism” has crossed my line of sight. It’s a misnomer, a duct-taped concatenation of concepts that overlap somewhat, but not enough to merit being stuck together the way ID opponents have done. Robert Pennock is perhaps the worst, but Barbara Forrest, Richard Dawkins, and P.Z. Myers are also frequent offenders.

The difference between the two terms is straightforward. Creationism begins in Genesis and argues for certain conclusions based on a certain understanding of the Scriptures. It is known for its persistence in seeking scientific data that fits that interpretation of Genesis, and for finding creative but irregular interpretations to help in that search. As such it has gained an unsavory scientific reputation.

Intelligent Design has a completely different starting point in observations of nature, and in both empirical and philosophical interpretations of scientific data. It sees phenomena like the high information content in biological organisms, instances of apparent irreducible complexity, or fine-tuning of the cosmos for life, and argues that the best explanation for them is to be found in a designing intelligence.

The two overlap in rejecting any a priori insistence that nature is a closed system of physical cause and effect, acting strictly according to natural law or unguided chance. There is also an overlap among their supporters, in that virtually all creationists are theists (Christian, Jewish, or Islamic), and most (not all) ID supporters are too. Still, many creationists are uncomfortable with ID methods and conclusions, and many ID supporters similarly disagree with creationist approaches and conclusions.

In a word, the two are not the same. But opponents insist on blurring the distinction.

I have theorized in the past that their reason for doing so was simply to manipulate the rhetoric of the discussion, to tar ID with the same unscientific reputation held by creationism. This weekend another possibility occurred to me: maybe they really can’t tell the difference.

I don’t mean that quite as negatively as it might seem, or I should say, not in the way it might seem. I don’t mean to imply that they are too unintelligent to make a distinction. What I’m wondering about is whether they are handicapped by worldview blindness. I’m not drawing a conclusion; I’m just wondering.

Worldview blindness, if it exists in the form I’m thinking of, would go like this: There is the scientific, rational way of viewing the world, and there is everything else; and everything else is superstition or religion. The scientific rational way is the intelligent way, the way that comports with reality, the refined and educated way of looking at things. The religious way, on the other hand, is undifferentiated; it’s all of one irrational sort. Distinctions within the religious way are therefore just semantical, since it’s all really just one thing.

If this analysis is true for some ID antagonists, it is an ironic one. They consider themselves to be the careful, rational, empirical thinkers, but there is a whole landscape they cannot even see.

It’s not only ironic, though. We have a term for people who say, “Everyone like me is good, and as for those who aren’t like me, well, I can’t tell any difference between them anyway.” It’s not a very favorable term, either.

I wish I could think of some other explanation than the two I’ve suggested here. I would welcome other ideas. For now, it seems to me that the failure to distinguish ID from creationism stems either from intentional rhetorical manipulation, which is dishonest, or from worldview blindness, which is a different kind of fault but not much better.

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228 Responses to “ Maybe They Really Can’t Tell the Difference ”

  1. Well, I’m honored to be reminded of that by the man who first discovered it (if I recall correctly).

    If your two words are to explain it, then your position must be that there actually is no distinction between the two concepts, even though they have different definitions and different sets of supporters who don’t fully agree with each other. Is that the case, and if so, how do you explain two concepts being with different definitions being one and the same thing?

  2. Different definitions? The definition of “intelligent design” *originated* by deleting “creationist” and its cognates, and inserting “intelligent design”, “design proponents”, etc., from the book Of Pandas and People. The rest of the definition (and the text of the book it was in!!) remained exactly the same. It happened after the 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard decision. This is all extremely well known, but you completely fail to address it in your argument.

    This is all available with a few seconds on google, but here are some highlights…

    I guess ID really was “Creationism’s Trojan Horse” after all
    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/10/i-guess-id-real.html

    Missing link: “cdesign proponentsists”
    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/11/missing-link-cd.html

    Yet another version of the origins of ID
    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/05/yet-another-ver.html

    “Cdesign Proponentsists”
    http://ncseweb.org/creationism/legal/cdesign-proponentsists

    …aaand have a look at what “ID” proponent and Pandas author Dean Kenyon was doing in 1984:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard/kenyon.html

    There is tons more, the above stuff is just the icing on the cake. E.g. virtually every argument (flagellum, information, IC, etc.) was made by the “creation scientists” before the IDists picked them up. Also, almost everyone in the ID movement is a straight-up creationist of the young-earth or old-earth variety, i.e. denies common ancestry and believes in the special creation of humans (Behe is virtually the only exception).

  3. Nick, you can run as far as you desire with the genetic fallacy, and it won’t change the fact that Intelligent Design and creationism have different definitions.

    There was a time when “suffer” and “allow” meant the same thing. Now that fact is a historical/philological curiosity. Same with ID and creationism. Whether they meant the same thing at one time is (a) disputable, and (b) irrelevant, a historical curiosity. Since it is (b) irrelevant, I don’t care to (a) dispute it. It’s time to catch up with history and deal with what the terms mean today.

    So are you unwilling to accept the difference between them, or are you unable, or is there something else going on that I don’t quite understand? Because trying to make them mean the same thing is just not going to work.


  4. For now, it seems to me that the failure to distinguish ID from creationism stems either from intentional rhetorical manipulation, which is dishonest, or from worldview blindness, which is a different kind of fault but not much better.

    I don’t think most fail to recognize that there are differences in the beliefs of people who think God is our designer ranging from, at one extreme, those who believe God set up the cosmological constants to allow life to naturally evolve in our universe to the young earth creationists at the other. With positions being held at just about any point you can imagine between those two extremes. It seems pretty obvious that creationism and ID aren’t fundamentally different things: all creationists are ID proponents and virtually all ID proponents are believers in some form of creation (though often mixed with some natural evolution as well).


    ntelligent Design has a completely different starting point in observations of nature, and in both empirical and philosophical interpretations of scientific data.

    A completely different starting point or a new rhetorical approach?

    Many think that ID is mostly just used as a legal strategy because of creationism’s consistent failure to get itself into the American classroom.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

    I suspect they’re mostly right.

  5. So you do believe in evolution after all!

    Seriously…was ID different than creationism in 2004-2005? Because back then they were defending the use of Of Pandas and People in public schools, and Jon Buell, head of the Foundation of Thought and Ethics, described Pandas as “the first place where the phrase ‘intelligent design’ appeared in its present use”.

    Chunks of Pandas are currently on the Discovery Institute website. The authors of Pandas include DI fellows Stephen Meyer (VP of the DI, director of the DI’s Center for Science and Culture, organizational head of the ID movement), Michael Behe, Dean Kenyon (YEC), and Nancy Pearcey (YEC). Dembski and Wells coauthored a new edition. Phillip Johnson, Dembski, Behe, etc. all endorsed the old edition of Pandas in print, and Behe defended Pandas as “intelligent design” in court. Shouldn’t I take their word about what is ID over your opinion?

    And yet, the definition of ID in Pandas is identical to the definition of creationism in earlier drafts of the book, except for the creation/design switcheroo.

  6. And of course I believe in evolution! Everybody does. I object to one specific application of the term, in which it is applied to large-scale undirected biological changes.

    I can distinguish between concepts, as can all ID supporters on this issue. I’m asking whether you’re willing or able to do the same with respect to ID and creationism.

  7. David,

    Suppose it were true that all ID proponents were creationists, and vice versa. It’s not the case, but let’s just suppose it, since you think that argues for the concepts being the same.

    Basically you are saying that Group A = Group B, and Group B = Group A. Thus Group A = Group A; and because Group A is just one group, the members of Group A can think only one thing. Is that a general principle? I doubt you would say so.

    All atheists believe ethical duties and values have their source outside of any God, gods or spiritual forces. Most persons who believe ethical duties and values have their source outside of any God, gods, or spiritual forces are atheists. Does that mean that the concept atheism and the belief ethical duties and values have their source outside of any God, gods, or spiritual forces are identical? Of course not.

    A completely different starting point or a new rhetorical approach?

    If it’s a new rhetorical approach to the same thing, then you would find it wrapping back around eventually to saying the same thing. You can test this by looking in any decent book on ID and seeing whether it comes around to arguing that Genesis is its authoritative source. Give it a try and let us know what you find out.

  8. No, a genetic fallacy would be if I claimed ID was wrong because ID was derived from creationism. I’ve spent plenty of time elsewhere arguing that ID arguments are either wrong scientifically (their negative arguments against evolution), or untestable (their very vague positive claim that ID did something somewhere).

    The argument about whether or not ID is creationism, and/or whether it was derived from creationism, is just another important argument — it’s a point that is important for understanding history, judging the forthrightness of ID proponents, the informedness of ID fans, and the constitutionality of ID in public schools. Thus it is worth arguing about.

    You haven’t rebutted any of my evidence. I’ve shown that (a) the Pandas definition of ID was current in 2005 and (b) that definition was the same as the definition of creationism used in the 1980s, until 1987. If words have meaning, I’ve made my case.

    PS: Do you know what happened in 1987?

  9. PS: Was “creation science” based on science, or Genesis? Guess what the creation scientists claimed…

  10. The genetic fallacy may not apply in its most technical sense. But just as the genesis of an idea is not the determinant of its value, so the genesis of a term is also not the determinant of its current definition.

    The history is obviously important, but partly so we can recognize when it’s over. It’s time to deal with the current definitions.

    I’m not going to rebut your evidence because it’s irrelevant to the distinction that genuinely, currently exists between the two concepts.


  11. Suppose it were true that all ID proponents were creationists, and vice versa. It’s not the case, but let’s just suppose it, since you think that argues for the concepts being the same.

    Read what I said more carefully. I didn’t say they were the same. ID is a broader concept that includes creationism as a subset. Its true, though, that virtually all ID proponents are creationists of some variety or other. But its also true that they vary in the degree to which they reject natural evolution (if they reject it at all–as I mentioned, some don’t).

    These are facts I recognize and they don’t seem to be something you dispute.


    If it’s a new rhetorical approach to the same thing, then you would find it wrapping back around eventually to saying the same thing. You can test this by looking in any decent book on ID and seeing whether it comes around to arguing that Genesis is its authoritative source. Give it a try and let us know what you find out.

    The whole point of the “wedge” approach is to avoid the use of such language for pragmatic reasons (though, as Nick pointed out, they started out doing so in very obvious and clumsy ways).

  12. So I guess you mean that we should innocently believe the extra-vague definition of ID that the Discovery Institute literally invented during the Kitzmiller case in order to make ID seem as un-creationist and secular as possible? Anyone who’s been paying attention to the movement for longer than that has a right to be cynical I think.

  13. Well then, I guess you believe words *don’t* have meaning, and people are allowed to change definitions as legal and political convenience dictates.

    And I guess it’s OK with you if people to tell one audience (the religious one) one thing, and tell another audience (courts, politicans, the press) another thing, and it’s totally illegitimate for anyone to point out the double-talk.

  14. David Heddle lives about five miles from me, we’ve team-taught a course on faith and science, and we have breakfast together fairly often. We’re friends, even though we don’t require each other to agree on everything. I have a pretty good sense of what he believes on the topic.

    The motivations of the ID movement do not make ID equivalent to creationism, nor do they make a term like “Intelligent Design Creationism” more accurate than “Intelligent Design” or “Creationism” taken separately.

  15. “The definition of ID and creationism today are not determined by a fund-raising letter of many years ago.”

    Were the writers of the Wedge document lying about the definition of ID back then? Or were they just uninformed about their own movement, while they were sitting at ID headquarters in the Discovery Institute in 1998?

    All we’re doing is **paying attention to what ID proponents actually have said and done**. You’re the one sticking your head in the sand, advocating that we ignore history, ignore double-talk, and let ID proponents redefine themselves to evade criticism when the heat is on.

    Which one of us is really guilty of “worldview blindness”, here? The one paying attention to the evidence of the detailed historical record, or the one avoiding it?

  16. RE your 9:41 post: I don’t see a lot of inconsistency in the current definition of “Intelligent Design.” I don’t see it being equated with creationism anywhere in the literature. I don’t deny some overlap in ID’s and creationism’s agendas: both are opposed to philosophical materialism, to be sure; and a goodly proportion of ID proponents agree with creationists in believing in God. That doesn’t make the two concepts equivalent.

  17. I’m sure you know what that unfavorable term was that I didn’t quite state in the blog post. Actually you can take your choice: it’s either stereotyping or bigotry. I’m not applying it to you, Nick, because as I said, I was just wondering about worldview blindness. But if you continue to insist there is no distinction between ID and creationism, you might re-read those paragraphs and ask whether one of those terms comes uncomfortably close to reality.

  18. The closest thing in the Wedge document to a definition is this:

    We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

    ID’s opposition to philosophical materialism is acknowledged. The “science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions is clearly, in light of other ID writers’ clear statements, not intended as creation science as creation science has been known. It is instead science consonant with the conviction that we live not in a closed system of physical cause and effect, but in one where a designing intelligence has a part.

    So even the Wedge does not support your contention that creationism is equivalent to ID, and it does not support the use of “Intelligent Design Creationism” in serious discussion.

  19. So here’s your argument: ID is a religiously-motivated movement, historically derived from creationism by literally a search-replace creation/design word switch, a movement mostly made up of creationists who believe in special creation rather than common ancestry, a movement devoted to challenging evolution, a movement which to this day is after the public schools, which we nevertheless are supposed to think of as a movement obviously different from creationism, and any disagreement raising any of these points is just “worldview blindness.” Yeah, right.

    This argument might give you some inkling about why ID has failed so spectacularly in the scientific community, the press, and the courts. Evading evidence with hair-splitting and arbitrary, convenient re-defining terms does not get you very far in any long-term, informed discussion.

  20. Nick, one of those words (stereotyping or bigotry) is bound to apply to someone who puts so many words in someone else’s mouth. You’re really demonstrating, “Everyone like me is good, and as for those who aren’t like me, well, I can’t tell any difference between them anyway.”

    I won’t dignify your statement of “my argument” with any other reply.

  21. Um, you missed this part of the Wedge document:

    Governing Goals

    * To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

    * To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

    Gee, human beings created by God? How could anyone ever have gotten the idea that this was creationism?

    (And since the major players in the Wedge document were people like Stephen Meyer, Paul Nelson, and Phillip Johnson, all believe in the special creation of humans — which they get from Genesis, of course — we know we’re not dealing with some vaguer notion of “created by God”.)

    Then there’s this:

    “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 very beginning of this strategy, the “thin edge of the wedge,” was Phillip ]ohnson’s critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeatng Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe’s highly successful Darwin’s Black Box followed Johnson’s work.”

    This is just the age-old creationist “tree of evil” imagery. This goes back to the 1920s in creationist works. See:

    e.g. the creationist tree image on the cover of the book “God’s Own Scientists”
    http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Own-Scientists-Creationists-Secular/dp/0813520444#reader

  22. That’s a goal statement, not a definition. And “created by God” is not “creationism” as creationism has historically been understood (science driven by a particular interpretation of Genesis).

  23. “Nick, one of those words (stereotyping or bigotry) is bound to apply to someone who puts so many words in someone else’s mouth.”

    I was just summarizing the points you’ve conceded in this thread.

  24. No, that’s not what you were doing, Nick. You have three choices to describe what you actually are doing here, as far as I can see. You are intentionally distorting the facts, or you are egregiously, culpably blind, or you are stereotyping me in a most bigoted manner. Which do you prefer?

    I really try to give the benefit of the doubt to commenters here. But there isn’t enough truth in what you wrote to give any benefit to it at all.

    Specifically you were stretching the truth—far beyond recognition—when you said I argued that:

    – ID was derived from Creationism by a search-and-replace word switch.

    – ID is mostly made up of creationists who deny common ancestry

    – ID is after the public schools

    – Any disagreement with any of these points is just “worldview blindness”

    I did not mention any of the first three at all, and “worldview blindness” was something I suggested as one tentative alternate explanation specifically in the case of some people who have trouble distinguishing the definitions of ID and creationism.

    You brought some very interesting dialogue to some earlier posts here, Nick, and you led me to some good thinking and new reading, but I have nothing positive to say about the way you’ve represented those you disagree with here, or about how you have represented yourself this time.

    You’re continuing to demonstrate the attitude, “Everyone like me is good, and as for those who aren’t like me, well, I can’t tell any difference between them anyway.” That’s the only way you could assign all those beliefs to me.

    It’s not doing your position a bit of good, by the way.


  25. The definition of ID and creationism today are not determined by a fund-raising letter of many years ago.

    I never said they were. But that doesn’t mean I need pretend to be ignorant of the actual motives and agenda of most ID proponents. Nor to pretend most of them aren’t also creationists.


  26. That’s a goal statement, not a definition. And “created by God” is not “creationism” as creationism has historically been understood (science driven by a particular interpretation of Genesis).

    One doesn’t even have to believe in the Bible to be a creationist. There are creationists in other religions. You seem to be using a very narrow definition of creationism for rhetorical purposes.

    You’re wasting our time and, as Nick has already ably critiqued your position, I see little need to beat this dead horse any further.

  27. The topic of the post was definitions of terms and distinctions between concepts.

    So perhaps it would be simplest to acknowledge that both terms (ID and creationism) have meant different things to different people at different times, and that some of those meanings have overlapped (intentionally or accidentally) to the point where confusion and conflation is inevitable, and should not be unduly criticized.

    I’m actually not very interested in the slogans and the labels. I’m much more curious about the epistemological assumptions of the soi-disant IDist or creationist. (I’m pretty sure that most of the disagreement in the recent series of postings on “historical evidence” are due to fundamentally different approaches to epistemology.)

  28. Nick:

    So I guess you mean that we should innocently believe the extra-vague definition of ID that the Discovery Institute literally invented during the Kitzmiller case in order to make ID seem as un-creationist and secular as possible?

    Nick, this is so irrelevant to anything going on in the world today including discussions about ID, creation, evolution etc. In fact, it was already an outdated issue when you initially began beating the drums awhile back.

    I can understand the importance of such a finding in the circumscribed setting of the court room that came into existence because school administrators told 9th grade science students to look into Of Pandas and People in the library as a resource for Intelligent Design. In that setting, the finding is extremely relevant. And given Nick’s role in the court room drama, I can understand why he thinks it is so important. But that’s 2005. Beyond that, and in the post-wedge world, why is the history of this text and the socio-political ID movement all that relevant everywhere else?

    here

  29. “Still, many creationists are uncomfortable with ID methods and conclusions, and many ID supporters similarly disagree with creationist approaches and conclusions.”
    You could say the same thing about Young Earth vs. Old Earth Creationists. The fact is that you’re using a definition of “Creationism” that is too narrow. Creationism is not in any way limited to Abrahamic faiths, so it’s incorrect to describe it as “starting from Genesis.” One of the more notorious TV specials with a Creationist bent was NBC’s The Mysterious Origins of Man, which made pseudoscientific arguments for Vedic Creationism!
    Here are some facts that I think are extremely relevant to determining whether ID is Creationism:
    – “Intelligent Design” appeared on the scene first as a search&replace in a Creationist book. It was literally indistinguishable from the earlier “Creation Science” movement, which is pretty much what you describe as being Creationism.
    The Wedge Document, written and undersigned by the Discovery Institute who is almost the sole proprietor of “Intelligent Design” and including people who contributed to the original Pandas and People textbook, explicitly states that the goals of ID are to “to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” Part of the plan outlined in the document includes “# To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God. … To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life. 5. Spiritual & cultural renewal: … Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation & repudiate(s) … Positive uptake in public opinion polls on issues such as sexuality, abortion and belief in God” All emphases added.
    – When given a perfect and important opportunity to truthfully delineate between Creationism and ID on the stands at Kitzmiller before an impartial judge, the IDists could not.
    – Contrary to the description of ID as starting with data and moving towards the conclusion of a Creator or Designer, ID grows directly out of old-school “Creation Science” as an attempt to secularize their already failed arguments so that they can be taught in public schools. A lizard may shed one skin for another, but it’s still a lizard. The IDists were Creation Scientists, some of a more sophisticated type than others but all, almost to the man, being Creationists before doing their “work” with ID. This speaks against the “data first, Design as conclusion” distinction you attempted to make and exposes the case for an a priori opinion of “Design!” only later informed and refined into an apologetics position by selective literacy in science.

    I’m not an atheist, but I think it reflects badly on the Christian faith when people are taken in by and promote the ID scam. Swallowing their artificial distinction between ID and “Creationism” is part of that scam. Do you have some kind of argument for a significant distinction that doesn’t depend on limiting Creationism to “begins with Genesis?” It should be trivially obvious that there are forms of Creationism that do not depend on a literal reading of Genesis, and I have not seen a good reason to exclude ID from that set.

  30. Mr. Gilson,

    1. I don’t think you anywhere state what this mysterious new defintion of ID is that is different from that propounded in the Wedge Document, Of Pandas and People, and the Kitzmiller case? Please say what it is (you do, however, rehearse the old definition to be found in those documents in the third paragraph of the original post). (by the way, the meaning of suffer has not changed: Suffer not a witch to live still mans what it always did).

    2. What do you make of the fact that ID proponents (and I’m thinking of Expelled) mocked Dawkins when he suggested that the best scientific case for ID would involve aliens as the designers–that at least could be teted and is falsifiable. They mocked him because they all believe in the Judeo-Chrisitan god as the creator. Observe also that it is a joke to suggest that creationism be taught in schools on the basis of Hesiod’s Theogony. Creationism and ID share the identity of being attmepts to get fundamentalist Christian dogma taught as scientific fact in Public schools–nothing else about them is of the least importance (they are both lauhgable in themsleves as supposed scientific theories), so for that reason, in addition to any other historical consideration, they are identical.

    3. What you refuse to admit, is that ID is a conspiracy (see again the wedge document) to get creationism taught in schools, a conspiracy based on fraud and deception. You yourself have evidently been thoroughly deceived by the conspirators (the Discovery Instistute, etc). Yet you stubbornly refuse to see the truth when it is placed in front of you. How do you do that? Are really so persuaded that all of physical science, all the scientists for the last two centuries, have been involved in a conspiracy to attack Christianity–they just developed an understanding of the universe that produced modern technolgy as an accidental by-product–but none of it works the way scientists think it does (which it wouldn’t if science was such a conspiracy). Do you think, like the Yemeni Jews evacuated to Israel after the war and mentioned by Scholem in Major Trends, that the airplane really flies by the power of the divine name and the pilots were just lying to them about the engine and gasoline? Because science is either right or it is not. If it is wrong about evolution its wrong about aero-dynamics, becuase they were both establsihed by the same means and to the same degree of certainty.

  31. Tom, forgive me for intruding, but you really seem to be talking past the people disagreeing with you.

    The Intelligent Design you’re referring to is not the Intelligent Design we’re referring to.

    There is a tradition of intelligent design philosophy and argumentation, including various teleological arguments, fine-tuning arguments, etc. Perhaps you believe that we are tarring, intentionally or not, this pre-existing group of people with our pontificating.

    Not so. Intelligent Design as a term has quite simply been hijacked for the political purposes of sidestepping the First Amendment in education when Creation Science finally failed its constitutional test.

    In that sense, it is a movement rather than a philosophy, maintaining a veneer of investigation.

    I do not make this accusation of the Intelligent Design movement lightly. They have keelhauled what could have been respectable philosophy.

    Instead of morphing from its original idea into something respectable, which would indeed validate a complaint of the genetic fallacy, they have instead followed a path which would, to an outsider’s perspective, make it look as though they had either lost the will to keep up appearances, or went investigating and found out that they were wrong.

    They couldn’t keep up their nominal journal (ISCID), they snuck papers into places where they could bypass the journal process (Sternberg affair), they get paltry papers published in a different field and then claim vindication in biology for things not claimed in the paper (IEEE paper) their approach to this very day is anti-evolution instead of pro-intelligent design, including their more famous purportedly pro-intelligent design arguments like No Free Lunch, which pretends but egregiously fails to represent evolutionary “searching”, they invent laws out of whole cloth like the “Law” of Conservation of Information, they have consistently denied refutations of the few testable hypotheses they have put forth by moving the goalposts over and over again – Behe’s at that yet again in his post yesterday on glucocorticoid receptor evolution – and they are to this very day dedicated to public relations, not research.

    Have you read their rolling screeds on Evolution News & Views? Do these sound like the sort of people involved in the philosophy of intelligent design that you’re thinking of?

    Now I guess there’s indeed one way in which I am “blind”, that I “can’t tell the difference”, and that is that I am blind to the difference in the general approach between the Intelligent Design movement spearheaded by the Discovery Institute and the Creation Science movement. Certainly, there are specifics that are different, but I have a blue book of writings and analyses from that time, and they look far, far too familiar.

    By the way, that “intelligent designer” theme in Of Pandas and People has changed once again. This time, the search-and-replace is with “sudden emergence” in Dembski’s The Design of Life as of late 2007, I believe.

    I understand your concern that we might be painting these folks with an ideological brush that they do not deserve because they share a common branch with creationism.

    I would retort that their actions and words to this very day, years later than their foundation, speak louder than their nominal philosophy, and that they have also thereby usurped and polluted the extant intelligent design philosophy to which I believe you were referring in your post.

    If you believe the Discovery Institute folks to be “the real deal”, I’d be intrigued as to why.

    My sincere apologies for any unclosed tags – I feel some trepidation without a Preview function 😉

  32. Actually, ID is creationism for atheists. By deliberately obfuscating the nature of the designer it is possible for an intellectually unfulfilled atheist (i.e. an atheist who recognizes the absurdity of philosophical materialism) to embrace the design argument without the accompanying “religious” baggage. Secular creationism, so to speak.

    But the real argument is whether the blind interaction of unknown forces is sufficient to explain the world as we know it. Now, creationism may be wrong, I really can’t say for certain and neither can anyone else I have read or heard, but to arbitrarily excise this answer from any definition of science is effectively to say that you would rather have the wrong answer than an answer which you find personally disconcerting. I don’t give a rats %*& what you believe personally but if you subscribe to that view you will never convince me that what you practice is science in any meaningful sense of the term.

    I have studied the question for more than a decade, having started out as an unregenerate evolutionist. I have read the arguments, pro and con, and quite frankly, the ID and the creationists offer analyses of the data while the evolutionists offer the old “You’re a creationist so I don’t have to listen to you!” rebuttal. And that strategy is not working any longer.

    If you want to convince me that ID and/or creationism are false you will have to provides something more than the usual ad hominems and just so stories. The only really convincing argument for the evolution of species is philosophical materialism because if philosophical materialism is true then something like evolution must have happened. But philosophical materialism is intellectually untenable. Once philosophical materialism is off the table then evolution must stand or fall on its merits and evolution, as it is currently modeled, has little in the way of merits.

  33. Geoff,

    Thank you for that refreshing moment of thoughtful discussion on this thread. The epistemological assumptions are of great importance, as are the ontological assumptions.

    Wheels,

    Maybe you didn’t read the above exchange; you have repeated Nick Matzke’s talking points, and added little else.

    Helen C.,

    I think I did show that there is a difference between ID today and the “definition” in the Wedge document. I have not read Pandas and People, so I am not going to comment on its definition, and the Kitzmiller case used more than once definition so I don’t know which one you’re talking about.

    Regardless, there is today (and has been for some time) a difference in the two concepts’ definitions, which ID opponents seem not to want, or to be able, to acknowledge.

    Is ID a conspiracy? It’s a movement, certainly, with a set of goals. Is global warming science a conspiracy? It too is a movement with a set of goals.

    Are really so persuaded that all of physical science, all the scientists for the last two centuries, have been involved in a conspiracy to attack Christianity?

    Heavens, no, Helen, and I have no idea where you got that from. I wasn’t talking about all of science. I was talking about a handful of prominent people who don’t distinguish between creationism and ID. To repeat the question you asked, me, “How do you do that?”

    Because science is either right or it is not. If it is wrong about evolution its wrong about aero-dynamics, becuase they were both establsihed by the same means and to the same degree of certainty.

    How do you do that?

    Ritchie,

    Intelligent Design as a term has quite simply been hijacked for the political purposes of sidestepping the First Amendment in education when Creation Science finally failed its constitutional test.

    I don’t know of any prominent ID supporter that is asking for ID to be taught in public schools unless and until it earns its way as a science. For now it seems totally fair and appropriate to inform students that there are phenomena in the natural world that are not easily explained on the basis of evolution and its accompanying assumptions (assumptions that play into the origin of life and origin of the universe).

    Thank you, too, Dave.

    Mixed up in all the above comments there were some good points I do want to respond to in a moment.

  34. The good that I glean out of the above discussion is this:

    There are multiple versions of Creationism, and the one I used in the original blog post is a narrow one. A wider view of the term could well apply to Intelligent Design. I think this is largely true; most ID proponents accept some version of some creation account, or are at least open to the possibility.

    I ask, though, what you think would have been the result back around, oh, 1996 or so, if you had surveyed biologists and asked them, “What is creationism?” I’m quite sure you would have gotten the answer I gave above. So I think for purposes of this discussion, the definition I have been working with is the operative one.

    If people who speak of “Intelligent Design Creationism” meant something like what proponents mean by ID, with the additional thought that most proponents are open to there having been some kind of creation event, that would be fairly accurate. But I think what most of them mean is “Intelligent Design is nothing but the old-style Bible-driven pseudo-science with a different name.” Several of you commenting here have just said that very thing. I would think for the sake of intellectual integrity you would want to be aware of and to recognize distinctions of meaning.

  35. Sigh. Tom, I give you an opportunity to retreat gracefully from an unfortunately dogmatic position, but you still assert that “for purposes of this discussion, the definition I have been working with is the operative one”. Worse, you imply that if people don’t accept your “distinctions of meaning” they must lack “intellectual integrity”.

    Speaking of “intellectual integrity”, would you care to express your opinion of the DI’s “cut-and-paste” job? You’ve made it clear that you are intimately familiar with the Kitzmiller case (writing, e.g., that “the Kitzmiller case used more than once definition”), so instead of this…

    If your two words are to explain it, then your position must be that there actually is no distinction between the two concepts, even though they have different definitions and different sets of supporters who don’t fully agree with each other.

    …”intellectual integrity” would seem to demand that you acknowledge that the cut-and-paste event is largely responsible for the present conflation. Yet you have yet to utter a peep of criticism against the DI….

  36. This isn’t about the DI or about Pandas and People, Geoff. It’s about the meanings of terms, and how not to obfuscate them.

    Since you all think the history is so important, bear in mind that ideas and terminology develop over time; in other words, the full history in its context is what is important (and I agree with that completely). Ideas and terminology can even develop contemporaneously. The empirically-based approach that we now know as ID was a concept in search of a name at one time. Thaxton has written about this, and about how “creationism” was used for a while even though they knew it was not really the right term to describe what they were working on. Once it had a name, it was still a concept being developed. It was a process over time, as new ideas often are.

    There were mistakes made along the way, and the inaccurate term “creationism” was used in P&P until it was replaced with the more accurate one Intelligent Design, with an embarrassing failure among those replacements. That was around the time creationists lost court cases, so it’s easy to assume that was the only reason the word was changed. Yet it was also the same time the concept of ID was being developed as distinct from creationism. If you’re going to mount a historical argument, you ought to look at the whole history, not just the part that seems convenient to you. The term was changed in the book not because creationism had been tossed out, but because creationism was the wrong word for what they were describing. That is the authors’ explanation, and it fits the facts as well as the more sinister one ID antagonists favor. (Actually it fits the facts better, for the sinister explanation assumes that a Berkeley law professor would be stupid enough to think that changing a single term while not changing the concept would satisfy the courts. I don’t think Berkeley law professors would make such an obvious error. I don’t even think a layman who has ever encountered a few legal issues in his or her life would make such an elementary mistake.)

    Now before you hoot and howl and say, “Tom thinks the court case had nothing to do with it! What an IDiot!” let me head that off by saying black-and-white thinking will get you nowhere on this, either. Obviously if Edwards had come out differently, people would be less cautious about using the term “creationism” in textbooks. That’s too obvious. But that would not make creationism identical to ID, ID proponents would still be dealing with scientific and philosophical challenges, and thus they would still have had every reason to distinguish ID from creationism.

    Let me backtrack to your first paragraph, Geoff. I accept that there is more than one meaning for creationism, but I gave my reasons for holding that one of them is operative, that is, it is the one that most speakers and most listeners will assume is meant when the word is used. Because it is being used either carelessly or manipulatively, it is throwing confusion into the debate for no good reason.

    I certainly stand by my opinion that those who fail to distinguish ID from creationism, after they have had opportunity to think about the matter and be exposed to alternate views, ought to consider whether their stance displays intellectual integrity. I did not make the bald assertion you said I made about this. Any dogmatism on that point was introduced by you, not me. I will repeat that statement here, for convenience of readers:

    If people who speak of “Intelligent Design Creationism” meant something like what proponents mean by ID, with the additional thought that most proponents are open to there having been some kind of creation event, that would be fairly accurate. But I think what most of them mean is “Intelligent Design is nothing but the old-style Bible-driven pseudo-science with a different name.” Several of you commenting here have just said that very thing. I would think for the sake of intellectual integrity you would want to be aware of and to recognize distinctions of meaning.

    Now, if you think I am wrong to think that “what most of them mean is ‘Intelligent Design is nothing but the old-style Bible-driven pseudo-science with a different name,'” then feel free to argue that point, and if you make your case I’ll certainly respond and adjust my thinking on the matter.

  37. The main problem the critics have (and our old friend Nick is perhaps the best example possible) is a conceptual inability to distinguish between people and concepts.

    For them, “creationism” isn’t a concept that consists of a number of particular claims about the origins of life and the universe, but rather it’s a group of very evil people who happen to be called “creationists” and the very evil actions those people take.

    Instead of “creationist” being defined as a person who believes in creationism, the critics define “creationism” as anything said or done by a creationist.

    Of course, with creationism being defined in terms of creationists rather than the other way around, it becomes rather difficult to tell if a person is a creationist in the first place. However, the critics have devised a fool-proof method. It goes like this:

    1) Find another person that you *know for sure* is a creationist (via self-identification or participation in 1980s court cases, for instance).
    2) Find out if the known creationist has ever said or written anything at all similar to anything said or written by the person in question, or if the person in question has ever mentioned the known creationist in a non-negative manner.
    3) If so, the person in question is a creationist, and can henceforth be used as a known creationist in future decisions over whether someone is a creationist.

    To see the method in action, simply read the Nick Matzke comments above. It really works quite marvelously.

  38. It is my opinion that the account presented in Wikipedia is substantially correct, and that this represents the general view of the matter. Tom probably disagrees. I’ll leave it at that; I personally have no great interest in the labels, as I have already said. I’m happy to let creationists and IDers sort out who has dibs on what term. It’s their beliefs and how they act on them that matter, not the label.

    I would, however, be interested (amused?) to hear your (i.e. Tom’s) reaction to Dave’s comment:

    Actually, ID is creationism for atheists. By deliberately obfuscating the nature of the designer it is possible for an intellectually unfulfilled atheist (i.e. an atheist who recognizes the absurdity of philosophical materialism) to embrace the design argument without the accompanying “religious” baggage. Secular creationism, so to speak.

    Personally, I think this is bullshit: the vast majority of ID advocates endorse a supernatural designer, rather than any secular alternative. (And if Dave can identify any others, they’re probably hoping for some Templeton money. Yeah, that’s a cheap ad hominem, but it’s likely to be accurate.)

  39. Stating ID and creationism are the same thing is ridiculous. That would be like saying Lutherans and Methodists are the same. Preposterous! I mean, they use completely different letters and everything.

  40. “Tom Gilson says:
    October 11, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Nick, I think we should use the current definition. You’re still five years behind.”

    “Tom Gilson says:
    October 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    That’s a goal statement, not a definition. And “created by God” is not “creationism” as creationism has historically been understood (science driven by a particular interpretation of Genesis).”

    You are seeing a difference between creationism and intelligent design by applying special pleading: for ID, you use the most modern definition (which has evolved to survive as well as possible in the current legal environment), while for creationism, you are insisting on an historical understanding. Creationism has evolved, one adaptation of which is to deny its own name for camouflage. Since William Paley also advocated the ideas now covered by ID, it is not a change in the content the ideas between historical creationism and ID so much as a change in focus and rhetoric.

    There is a spectrum of beliefs ranging from YEC, OEC, ID, theistic evolution, and materialistic evolution, but creationism includes at least YEC, OEC, and ID (some argue that theistic evolution should be included as well), unless you are using special pleading to exempt ID.

  41. Funny, I was about to make a distinction between the people and the ism, too.

    If someone calls, say, Jonathan Wells an IDC, where is the inaccuracy? After all, he is both an IDist and a Creationist. The same essentially applies to Discovery Institute as a whole. Its historic roots are demonstrably in Scientific Creationism, and its proponents are, in practice, creationists. The political goals of Scientific Creationism and the so called “ID Movement” have also been quite identical. So the suffix is apt.

    To be sure, there is more to “IDC” than just being accurate: it is used to emphasize both that a person indeed is a creationist, especially when (s)he admits it only some of the time, and that there are good reasons to believe that the “Intelligent Design movement”, as represented by DI, really is veiled creationism; veiled for political reasons. Who is Tom Gilson to demand that these true identities and histories are not to be unveiled at each opportunity, so as to follow a later definition coined by the targets themselves, at least partially to serve as a veil? It is possible that Tom Gilson only protests against the term “IDC” when it is used to describe people / think tanks that are not creationists, but then he should be more open about it.

    Personally, I would not use the term “IDC” for the likes of David Heddle, because I can’t see the historic nor present connection between Heddles’s thinking and Scientific Creationism that is so obvious between DI and SC. Still, out of curiosity I asked Heddle himself whether he would object to being called a “creationist”. Maybe he does. But I find reasons why he might actually like such labeling. After all, Heddle is very open about his ID position being metaphysical, and also about how he hates it that most ID proponents do not share this openness. So even at the risk of becoming personally associated with Discovery Institure or even with Kent Hovind, he might want all those who believe in creation to be labeled as creationists.

  42. You are seeing a difference between creationism and intelligent design by applying special pleading: for ID, you use the most modern definition (which has evolved to survive as well as possible in the current legal environment), while for creationism, you are insisting on an historical understanding. Creationism has evolved, one adaptation of which is to deny its own name for camouflage.

    That all hinges on what speakers/writers have in mind when they use the “Creationism” as part of “Intelligent Design Creationism,” and on what listeners/readers understand was the intent. That’s where I draw my definition from. It is current, and therefore not special pleading.

    I do not deny that there are other ways of understanding “creationism.” I just don’t think that when it is used in common practice it is intended or understood in those other ways. As I told someone else above, you’re welcome to argue otherwise.

  43. Esko,

    If someone calls Jonathan Wells an Intelligent Design Creationist, very likely that is accurate, depending on connotation in the mind of the speaker and the listener of course.

    To call the DI an ID Creationist institution, that appellation is misleading because a great many DI fellows are not creationists in the sense that the term usually carries. I don’t think the Discovery Institute is perfect, nor do I think they have carried out all their programs flawlessly; but I also do not think that pinning a misleading name on them helps lead to a productive discussion.

    You say “the suffix is apt.” But how can it be? It translates to this:

    A scientific and philosophical research program investigating the proposition that there are certain features of the natural world that are best explained by reference to a designing intelligence, which is not committed to any particular religious view of origins, is not committed to opposing common descent, and is not committed to a Young Earth view of origins; which is committed to the book of Genesis, is opposed to common descent, and holds to a Young Earth view of origins.

    Kindly explain to me how that helps clarify debate, if you think it does.

    Is that an unfair representation of what IDC means? Then tell me how it is. Twice now (this will be the third time) I have invited commenters here to argue that creationism as commonly understood in discourse, when no qualifying concepts are attached to it does not mean Biblical Young Earth pseudo-science in the mind of speaker and listener. Absent some persuasion, I don’t have any reason to change my mind on this. But I’m still open to it if someone will put forth the argument.

    Who is Tom Gilson to demand that these true identities and histories are not to be unveiled at each opportunity…?

    If you don’t think I have anything important to say, then by all means feel free not to listen. If I have something important to say, then who I am doesn’t matter.

  44. Tom,

    Don’t underestimate the power of changing terminology. Simply look at the current political climate with the replacement of Democrat with Socialist or Nazi to see how a term change can radically alter peoples’ perceptions. In this case, however, it is because of the then-current lack of the term “Intelligent Design” that alters perception by coining a new term that does not include the baggage of “creationism”. There are substantive changes of terms and there are merely rhetorical changes in terms. I don’t know enough about ID and the current debate to say whether it is one or the other in this case, but terminological change can be a powerful tool.

    While I know this is not in line with the topic here, I’m curious if you have a response to this post against Dembski’s NFL and Irreducible Complexity arguments. I don’t care for the non-substantive name-calling in the post, but the main point seems to be pretty cogent.

  45. I’d like to encourage readers to follow the link (#56) to the Venture Free blog post. It’s a good example of dealing with these questions thoughtfully, which is what I’d love to see more of, even though it includes some criticism of what I’ve written here.

  46. Kevin, this is not a good time for me to be picking up a new topic. This one is keeping me busy enough, and I have other projects waiting besides.

    Otherwise I agree with what you have said here. Terminology is vastly important.

  47. “I do not deny that there are other ways of understanding “creationism.” I just don’t think that when it is used in common practice it is intended or understood in those other ways. As I told someone else above, you’re welcome to argue otherwise.”

    Are you backing away from the assertion that people who don’t see a distinction between ID and creationism “are handicapped by worldview blindness”? This was your original point; the burden of proof falls on you to provide evidence for it. You haven’t provided links to what Robert Pennock, but Barbara Forrest, Richard Dawkins, or P.Z. Myers said that you have a problem with.

    The people you singled out probably do believe that the differences between YECs, OECs, and ID proponents are so much smaller than the differences between all of them and the scientific consensus that all of them belong under the umbrella labeled “creationism”. As you said: “There is the scientific, rational way of viewing the world, and there is everything else; and everything else is superstition or religion. The scientific rational way is the intelligent way, the way that comports with reality, the refined and educated way of looking at things.”

    This is not the same thing as: “The religious way, on the other hand, is undifferentiated; it’s all of one irrational sort. Distinctions within the religious way are therefore just semantical, since it’s all really just one thing.”

    If you had produce a commentary by one of them that argued that ID is false by arguing against a YEC claim, I would agree that there is such an unjustified blurring. I have never seen this; arguments against ID that I have seen focus on specific claims made by Behe, Demski, etc in their books.

  48. So much argument over semantics. Both sides seem to agree that ID evolved from scientific creationism after the selection event of Edwards v. Aguillard. The disagreement is over the definition of “creationism”. I submit that there isn’t a single definition, and you’re all chasing your tails. A definition still used by some is that a creationist believes that God is the ultimate cause of the universe and life, without reference to how Genesis is interpreted.

    Nick is right only in that “creationism” is popularly used to mean “scientific creationism”, the movement that seeks to prove their religious beliefs by pseudoscientific arguments. Its popularly used as a generic categorization of all movements mixing religion and science. This includes YEC, OEC, ID, and all the little philosophical and organizational schizms within each of those catagories.

    Tom is right only in that pro-science activists lump all the anti-science movements together under the term “creationism” in a way that the proponents might object to, basically because the pro-science activists don’t care. Its convenience mixed with malice.

  49. Mike,
    I would agree that the argument is largely semantic, but whether the argument is semantic is part of the argument.

    Tom stated
    “Actually you can take your choice: it’s either stereotyping or bigotry. I’m not applying it to you, Nick, because as I said, I was just wondering about worldview blindness. But if you continue to insist there is no distinction between ID and creationism, you might re-read those paragraphs and ask whether one of those terms comes uncomfortably close to reality.”
    Arguing that calling ID creationism is a form of bigotry. Demonstrating that the argument over whether ID is creationism is semantic disproves the entire point of his post by demonstrating a legitimate way people could believe ID is creationism.

    “Its convenience mixed with malice.” I see no malice; scientists see everything under the creationist umbrella as both wrong and similar enough to be grouped together.

  50. I should mention that I do it myself, use “creationism” as a category label. Though I prefer the term “scientific creaationism” so that I can use “creationism” to mean something that isn’t involved in pseudoscience, I am definitely in the minority.

    You can’t claim that calling someone an Intelligent Design creationist is any more a conspiracy than calling a Blackfoot an American Indian. Its simply popular usage.

  51. \Malice\ only in that pro-science activists aren’t going to stop calling ID creationism because the DI says so.

  52. Mike seems to have hit the nail pretty well on the head.

    The nail was hit by Philip Johnson coming on twenty years ago.

    Is Johnson a creationist? The trial lawyer answers the question cautiously, demanding to define the term. “In what sense?,” he asks. “The word ‘creationist’ has been turned by the media into a very specialized word: it means a young-earth, six-day, Biblical literalist. In that sense, I’m not a creationist. However, the concept of creation can mean simply that we are here as the result of a preexisting intelligence which planned our existence for a purpose–whether through instantaneous creation or 4.6 billion years of gradual development, to which you could attach the word ‘evolution.’ The length of time and the nature of the mechanism is not the key issue. It’s whether there’s an intelligence and purpose behind our existence–or our existence is random and accidental. I’m on the former side of that, and if that’s creationism, let them make the most of it.”

    Of course this, and likely the discussions above, means that the view promoted by Matzke’s side at Dover was wrong (and P.Z. Myers is right)- theistic evolutionists are creationists, too; and that includes Ken Miller

  53. Wow, this discussion has continued much longer than I expected. I thought we were flogging a dead horse 35 comments ago.

  54. Re: Charlie comment #65

    The terminology is inadequate. A theistic evolutionist isn’t the same thing as a scientific creationist, but because of the inadequate popular usage Myers, et al., can make them out to be synonomous.

    The bulk of the blame for the confused terminology can be given to the anti-science education campaign. Their objective is effective propaganda to support ruining science education, and dictating the labels can frame the argument in their favor.

  55. Hi Mike,
    Are you sure about all of that?
    It looks to me by the comments above that a theistic evolutionist is, in fact, a creationist.
    Maybe somebody who believes in directed panspermia is as well (of course this would fail the standard set by the Edwards v. Aguillard decision … but then so does ID and scientific creation).
    In fact, the very justification of calling an ID proponent a type of creationist would seem to argue for that fact.

    What is the anti-science education campaign bent upon ruining science education? Is that really the goal of some group? It seems you might be slipping into the same rhetorical labeling that you wrote quite well against only a few comments ago.

  56. Tom –

    I’m glad Nick Matzke jumped into the fray, since it was Nick who found the “missing link” between “scientific” creationism and Intelligent Design creationism. I have heard some charitably describe Intelligent Design creationism as “Madison Avenue-styled creationism” (for being all flash and no substance, period) and, most memorably, noted Columbia University philosopher Philip Kitcher has dubbed it “dead science” in one of his recent books. However, as Nick can attest, I have preferred using the phrase “mendacious intellectual pornography” as an apt description of the most peculiar propaganda I have seen being disseminated by the Dishonesty Institute – oops, I mean Discovery Institute – Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, and similar organizations of the same ilk.

    The bottom line Tom is that both “Scientific Creationism” and “Intelligent Design creationism” was soundly rejected by scientists early in the 19th Century. While the Discovery Institute has made a most vigorous series of presentations to promote its propaganda…. eh, I mean, “thought”…. the sad fact remains that not one scientific experiment has been done by Discovery Institute “scientists” and their “colleagues” or the results of such an “experiment” ever been submitted for publication in mainstream scientific journals like Nature, Science, Paleobiology, American Naturalist, Ecology, Evolution, etc. etc. Instead, so-called scientific “research”, including on Intelligent Design, have been published in “symposium” volumes and books not subjected to rigorous scientific peer review, by either Christian publishers or those mainstream publishers like, for example, Harper Collins, that have a religiously-oriented imprint.

    Sincerely yours,

    John Kwok

  57. John, the question was not about the scientific status of Intelligent Design, but about the definition of Intelligent Design vis á vis creationism.

    Somehow it seems like any mention of any topic related to ID brings out a fusillade of criticisms of everything the Discovery Institute has ever done or that ID hasn’t done. Let me encourage you that you can relax on the standard criticisms; they’re well-known already. And they’re also off topic, since this post had a specific focus that wasn’t about all of that, and I do like to stay focused, as I note in my comment guidelines linked from just above the combox.

    I’ll encourage all commenters here to stay on topic, please, and also to be aware of all the comment guidelines. Thank you.

  58. Tom,

    If you want to know why those of us whom you might condemn as “evil atheistic evolutionists” (which I am not, but count as a friend, noted theistic evolutionist Ken Miller) can’t tell the difference between Intelligent Design creationism and other flavors thereof, then it is because there is none. I presume you are already familiar with Robert Pennock’s excellent “Tower of Babel”, in which demonstrates that close intellectual kinship – dare I say “family relationship” – which clearly shows how and why Intelligent Design creationism is merely “Madison Avenue-styled creationism”.

    I own and use Leica M rangefinder cameras and am familiar with other brands, such as those from Konica (The now discontinued Konica Hexar), Voigtlander (actually now a brand of Cosina) and Zeiss (Virtually all of its lenses and the Zeiss Ikon rangefinder cameras are built under close Zeiss supervision at the same Cosina factory which also manufactures Voigtlander rangefinder cameras and M-mount rangefinder cameras.). While there are individual differences, there is still enough in common to recognize that all of these are 35mm rangefinder cameras based on the time-tested Leica M-mount.

    This same analogy can be used successfully – and has been, not only by me, but of course too, by Nick and Robert Pennock, and many others, who recognize that there is fundamentally no difference between creationism and Intelligent Design creationism (MEMO to Tom: I hope you’ve read or seen excerpts of my “pal” Bill Dembski’s talks to Fundamentalist Protestant Christian audiences. It is as though he’s doing a credible Yassir Arafat routine, by telling the mainstream scientific community that there is no shred of any connection whatsoever between Intelligent Design and Christianity, while, almost simultaneously, to his fellow “Christians”, admit that Intelligent Design creationism, like other forms of Creationism, is inspired directly from the word and deeds of the Christian GOD (Arafat did the same thing by telling peace-loving Europeans and Americans that he sought peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians, while telling his fellow Palestinians that they would drive the “Zionist Entity (Israel” back into the sea”.

    So Tom, the bottom line is this: there ain’t no difference between Intelligent Design creationism and “traditional” creationism. It’s the same old junk, cleverly repackaged by a Madison Avenue public relations firm.

    John

  59. there is fundamentally no difference between creationism and Intelligent Design creationism

    Reminds me of reductionist/materialist thinking that says, fundamentally, there is no difference between a thought and a brain state. And then there’s PETA – a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.

  60. @Tom

    This isn’t about the DI or about Pandas and People, Geoff. It’s about the meanings of terms, and how not to obfuscate them.

    Since you all think the history is so important, bear in mind that ideas and terminology develop over time; in other words, the full history in its context is what is important (and I agree with that completely). Ideas and terminology can even develop contemporaneously. The empirically-based approach that we now know as ID was a concept in search of a name at one time. Thaxton has written about this, and about how “creationism” was used for a while even though they knew it was not really the right term to describe what they were working on. Once it had a name, it was still a concept being developed. It was a process over time, as new ideas often are.

    There were mistakes made along the way, and the inaccurate term “creationism” was used in P&P until it was replaced with the more accurate one Intelligent Design, with an embarrassing failure among those replacements.

    Kenyon, actual co-author of Pandas, explicitly admits that his writing in the book was specifically religious:

    About his reasons for writing “Pandas,” Davis told The Wall Street Journal in 1994: “Of course my motives were religious. There’s no question about it.”

    The other co-author, Dean Kenyon, was explicitly a “scientific Creationist” before he even signed up.

    In 1980, the San Francisco State University Department of Biology had a dispute over Kenyon’s presentation of creationism, then called “scientific creationism” in Biology module 337 Evolution. At that time, Kenyon challenged anyone on the faculty to a debate on the merits of evolutionary theory versus “scientific creationism.” According to SFSU biology professor John Hafernik, “There was much discussion in faculty meetings as well. Eventually the faculty voted (none opposed, seven abstentions) not to alter the description of Biology 337 to include creationism. The precedent set, in the context of the 1980 discussions, was that the Department did not support teaching creationism.”[3]

    Thaxton’s pleading seems weak and strains credulity, as all the arguments used in Pandas were already employed by “Scientific Creationism,” which differed only in explicitly mentioning that it aimed at supporting the Genesis account. All the other features of Pandas and subsequent ID material lines up with previous SciCreo effort and attempts to look scientific, including the lack of any actual scientific validity.

    So the starting point is with religion, namely Christianity in this case. The arguments used in Pandas were all Scientific Creationism arguments. The terminology used in Pandas‘ early drafts were all old-hat Creationism. When ID was substituted, the arguments and substance of Pandas did not change.
    Now you keep saying that this isn’t about Pandas or the DI, but when they basically invented the term “Intelligent Design” in its current form and it apparently has not significantly changed, exactly how far can it be divorced from them? Or do you think it really has changed in the intervening years?

    I would think for the sake of intellectual integrity you would want to be aware of and to recognize distinctions of meaning.

    Do you have such a distinction? I don’t think the one in your opening post is sufficient because it doesn’t accurately describe the process of Intelligent Design’s acceptance. Your definition assumes that an unbiased observer could see the bare data and conclude that there was a Designer behind it all, but that’s not what actually happens. Rather, people from religious backgrounds who are familiar with the idea of a Supreme Creator and perhaps know little or nothing of biology are exposed to this or that “complex” feature and fit it into their view of Supreme Creation, whether their view conforms more strictly to Genesis or only generally. I know of exactly ONE non-believer IDist (agnostic David Berlinski, who also buys into Astrology!), out of how many who were believers? Such people are the outliers, statistically insignificant. The model of ID you presented does not seem to fit well with the reality.
    You say that ID is an empirically-based process, but it’s not. Rather it’s a rhetorically-based one. Behe didn’t come to his subtle anti-Darwin stance by examining the evidence first, by his own admission he was convinced from reading material by Michael Denton, then a Young Earther (recently returned). ID’s “empirical” approach was basically to recycle wholesale the arguments already used by Creationists (not even specifically those of “Scientific Creationists,” though they were the direct antecedent). Since that time they have added basically no argument that isn’t in substance or reasoning different! All of ID can basically be reduced to the same fundamental argument of the SciCreo’s before them: “I can’t believe X Process happened by chance and natural phenomena, therefore, it did not!” Whether it’s the blood clotting system for ID or the eyeball for Scientific Creationism, it’s the same argument in different rhetorical dressing. There isn’t really any EMPIRICAL support for the ID conclusion or approach, it’s merely a familiar thought process behind Creation Theism in general applied to natural phenomena uncritically and without any empirical rigor.

    The only reason ID lacks appeals to Genesis is because its advocates recognized that this would instantly invalidate it from being teachable in public schools. It has all the hallmarks of a political tactic and none of the characteristics of a budding branch of empirical thought sufficiently distinct from its predecessor to merit being placed in a different set.

  61. Creationism is not inherent in ID — creationism is just a philosophical implication of ID. In actual practice, ID is just the study of the probability that the complexity and diversity of living things could have arisen by random genetic variation and natural selection alone.

    I never liked the term “intelligent design” because it implies the existence of an intelligent designer, and such implication is not necessary in the study of ID. But as Juliet said in Romeo and Juliet, “what’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

    Nick Matzke’s first comment is telling: “Two words: cdesign proponentsists.” There is a hell of a lot more to this debate than just that typographical error. Nick’s arguments are based on stereotyping an guilt-by-association.

    Ironically, many religious creationists reject intelligent design. One of the reasons why they reject ID is that they feel that God’s word does not need scientific evidence to support it. Some creationists feel that it is blasphemous to even imply or suggest that God’s word needs scientific evidence to support it. [link]

    One of the main reasons why Darwinists insist that ID is creationism is to have a basis for using the Constitution’s establishment clause to attack ID.

    Also, many people make the mistake of assuming that ID is the only scientific (or pseudoscientific) criticism of evolution theory. For example, coevolution can be a big problem for evolution even if irreducible complexity is not. [link]

  62. Tom Gilson: What I’m wondering about is whether they [ID opponents] are handicapped by worldview blindness.

    It seems clear to me that if there is any worldview blindness going on, it must be in the group that sees ID as not creationism – for the simple reason that the opposing groups do not have a common worldview to blame.

    You, Tom, focus on the fact that there are scientists that think ID is a form of creationism. But there are also creationists that think ID is a form of creationism. And there are even some ID proponents, like Kenyon (who literally wrote a book on the subject) that think ID is a form of creationism. It is quite a stretch to claim your opponents are suffering from ‘worldview blindness’ when the folk who oppose you include both Barbara Forrest and Dean Kenyon!

    *****

    I am also very confused as to your claim for a new definition of ID. In post 6 and 15 you’re essentially arguing that the definition of ID given in Of Pandas and People (OPAP; cited first by Nick) is outmoded. But then in post 47 you seem to reverse, and claim the OPAP gives an accurate definition for ID, it just used the word creation in early drafts to describe the ID concept.

    I hope you can clarify this. The OPAP definition of ID (fish with fins, etc…) is on the table: both you and your opponents have referred to it in support of your arguments on this thread. Do you, Tom, think the OPAP definition for ID is accurate and useful, or not/no longer accurate? If you think its no longer accurate, then I have two follow-up questions: what about it is inaccurate, and what is the new contrasting definition?

    After all, why dance around the new definition? Why not just post it, with citations showing the ID community using the new one and arguing against the old one? I have to say that as a personal matter, I find the argument the definition has changed entirely unconvincing when you don’t actually say what the new definition is, and won’t say what about the old definition you disagree with.

  63. Speaking of telling quotations:

    “Nick Matzke’s first comment is telling: “Two words: cdesign proponentsists.” There is a hell of a lot more to this debate than just that typographical error. Nick’s arguments are based on stereotyping an guilt-by-association.”

    Larry is clearly unaware of the history of OPAP (and the Dover trial). The reason why Nick cited this is because early drafts of OPAP used “Creationists” and then used a sloppy find process to replace them with “Design Proponents”. It is not a case of guilt-by-association, but rather the authors of OPAP being caught red handed trying to cover up their creationist text with ID terminology.

  64. eric said (#77): there are even some ID proponents, like Kenyon (who literally wrote a book on the subject) that think ID is a form of creationism.

    The key word above is “some.” There are also some Darwinists who think that Darwinism is a form of atheism — that does not make it so. You Darwinists would lose a kindergarten debating contest.

    Jeff said (#78): Larry is clearly unaware of the history of OPAP (and the Dover trial).

    “Unaware of the history of Of Pandas and People (and the Dover trial)”? My blog has scores of articles about the Dover trial — just look at all the sidebar’s post labels about Kitzmiller v. Dover and Judge Jones (each post label represents up to 20 articles — the reason for the repetitive post labels is that my blogging software limits me to 20 articles per label). And I am fully aware of the history of OPAP — I probably know quite a bit more about that history than you do.

    Jeff said: It is not a case of guilt-by-association, but rather the authors of OPAP being caught red handed trying to cover up their creationist text with ID terminology.

    Wrong — that is exactly a case of guilt-by-association — all ID proponents are being associated with the authors and publishers of OPAP.

    BTW, in my last comment, lower-case g’s in “god” were automatically changed to upper-case g’s — how did that happen?

  65. Larry,

    So your argument is that Creationism is a proverbial square but not all Intelligent Design is?

    If the creators of Intelligent Design have defined it to be a “square,” which they conclusively did (comparing pre & post Edwards v Aguilard drafts of OPAP), then who are these others who conclusively define it to be something else?

    To whom do these others refer as the intellgient designer? Is it, yet again, an evasion tactic to avoid naming the designer as God in the way OPAP did, or are these advocates of ID naming names for once?

  66. Sorry folks, I’ve been busy for the weekend and am just catching up now.

    When I wrote that ID is “creationism for atheists” the point I was making is that philosophical materialism fails to explain the both the existence of life and the existence of the conscious intelligence exhibited by the human beings who study the world.

    The more we observe about the requirements for life to exist – DNA and integrated cellular processes – the less tenable time and chance appear. Yet the committed materialist cannot, in the now (in)famous words of Richard Lewontin, “allow a divine foot in the door.” So anything which postulates teleology (intent) must be dismissed as “creationism” because the philosophical implications inevitably lead one to the consideration that perhaps a designing intelligence does underpin reality as we know it.

    The second difficulty, accounting for the existence of a consious intellect by which we study and learn about the world around us, is even more problematic. A materialist universe is, by its very nature, a deterministic universe and since material causes are sufficient to explain all observed phenomena then all observed phenomena must be determined by prior events. A summary of the argument is here;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_(book)#Argument_from_Reason

    ID was developed for the benefit of those who come to realize the limitations of philosophical materialism as an explatory filter yet, like Lewonton, have been conditioned by their peers to avoid divine feet. One may simply avoid the metaphysical implications and follow the evidence wherever it leads. Of course, the evidence will eventually lead one to certain metaphysical speculations about divine feet but the divine foot is not a prerequisite for the practice of science any more than athiesm is a prerequisite. ID is formally and deliberately neutral on the metaphysical questions.

    However, for most of the last century science has been dominated by one metaphysical paradigm, philosophical materialism (also called naturalism or physicalism etc.) and the proponents of philosophical materialism have successfully redefined anything that does not conform to their philosophy as “religion” and have further used influence to remove from discussion anything which does not conform to their narrow definition of “science”.

    ID is a threat to these materialistic ideologues because it is a scientific examination of the world which does not a priori dismiss a substantial portion of the evidence. They will accomodate theistic evolution to the extent that the proponents of theistic evolution avoid any evidentiary claims for their belief but anything which asserts and evidentiary claim for a teleological world must be violently eradicated. Which might help to explain the precipitate arrival of Mr. Kwok and Mr. Matzke to defend their materialistic faith.

  67. All too typical. Tom makes the quite unremarkable point that the Darwinist atheists are continually obfuscating the difference between young earth creationism and Intelligent Design, and then the Darwinist atheists swarm in to illustrate the point in real time. Even John Kwok adds his unique insights.

    Come on, guys. We all know full bloody well that it is atheism uber alles for you, and that if obfuscation serves the cause, then it is obfuscation that you will be dishing out. It’s damned tiresome. You guys have not come up with a decent/cogent counterargument since 1996.

  68. Hi Larry,
    Because God is a person and God is His name Tom prefers that we follow proper rules of grammar around here and not make a point of using a lower case ‘g’ when discussing Him.
    It’s in the discussion policies.

    Tom will probably notice Jeff’s comments at a later date.

  69. Jeff said: If the creators of Intelligent Design have defined it to be a “square,” which they conclusively did (comparing pre & post Edwards v Aguilard drafts of OPAP), then who are these others who conclusively define it to be something else?

    Many Darwinists object to being called “Darwinists,” saying that Darwin is not the “creator” of evolution theory, nor did he “conclusively define” it, but that he merely made important contributions to it. In the same way, ID does not have an identifiable “creator” or “conclusive definer” — many different people have contributed to ID over the years.

    “Intelligent design” is just a name, and what counts are ideas, not names. Going back to my original comment (#76):

    Creationism is not inherent in ID — creationism is just a philosophical implication of ID. In actual practice, ID is just the study of the probability that the complexity and diversity of living things could have arisen by random genetic variation and natural selection alone.

    I never liked the term “intelligent design” because it implies the existence of an intelligent designer, and such implication is not necessary in the study of ID. But as Juliet said in Romeo and Juliet, “what’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

    . . . . . Also, many people make the mistake of assuming that ID is the only scientific (or pseudoscientific) criticism of evolution theory. For example, coevolution can be a big problem for evolution even if irreducible complexity is not.

  70. […]

    When I met Meyer shortly after the book was published and heard him describe this theory and its critics, it occurred to me that many defenders of materialistic naturalism may themselves be guilty of arguing from ignorance. Meyer agreed. The purely materialistic argument essentially appears to be:

    Premise One: No materialistic cause of specified complex information is known.
    Conclusion: Therefore, it must arise from an unknown materialistic cause.

    On the other hand, Meyer describes the intelligent design argument as follows:

    “Premise One: Despite a thorough search, no material causes have been discovered that demonstrate the power to produce large amounts of specified information.
    “Premise Two: Intelligent causes have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified information.
    “Conclusion: Intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate, explanation for the information in the cell.”

    […]

    http://www.spectrummagazine.org/reviews/book_reviews/2009/10/06/signature_cell

  71. What has theology ever done for science?

    Denis Alexander

    […]

    Here I want to pick up on a question posed by Daniel Dennett who sat in on this particular session, which is “What has theology ever done for science?” There was not enough time in the discussion to give this question the attention it deserved, so I’d like to pick up on a few further thoughts here.

    […]

    http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/Issues_Alexander2.php

  72. @Matteo:

    All too typical. Tom makes the quite unremarkable point that the Darwinist atheists are continually obfuscating the difference between young earth creationism and Intelligent Design, and then the Darwinist atheists swarm in to illustrate the point in real time.

    I’m sorry, I don’t see Tom specifying YOUNG EARTH Creationism anywhere. Does that mean that ID is Old Earth Creationism? Progressive Creationism? Day-Age? Gap? Those are all varieties of CREATIONISM, which Tom is clearly trying to distinguish from Intelligent Design. I think you’ve misinterpreted his argument (hopefully he’ll correct me if I’m mistaken), because he’s saying that ID doesn’t warrant having the word “Creationism” appended to it as often happens, giving the popular abbreviation IDC. Nobody here has argued that ID is specifically Young Earth Creationism, though there are certainly Young Earthers who take up the banner of ID and slip into its Big Tent.

    @Dave:

    When I wrote that ID is “creationism for atheists” the point I was making is that philosophical materialism fails to explain the both the existence of life and the existence of the conscious intelligence exhibited by the human beings who study the world.

    Science doesn’t use “philosophical materialism.” so scientists who reject ID aren’t doing it because they’re ideologically opposed to it from the start. Ken Miller, Catholic and biologist, is a well-known opponent of ID because he recognizes that there isn’t any science involved, that it’s just bad and recycled arguments from earlier anti-evolution efforts, and that it’s not compatible with his own faith regarding Creation and understanding of the world. Any attempt you might make to bring “philosophical materialism” into this is simply inappropriate and irrelevant.

    So anything which postulates teleology (intent) must be dismissed as “creationism” because the philosophical implications inevitably lead one to the consideration that perhaps a designing intelligence does underpin reality as we know it.

    That’s patently untrue, science has several fields that recognize and look for signs of teleology to account for observations. Archeology and SETI are both good examples, and the Discovery Institute has recognized this and attempted to claim them as legitimacy for Intelligent Design ideas. Unfortunately neither field uses “Intelligent Design” methods when detecting and assigning the role of design to observations, as explained here for SETI. None of the IDists’ proposed methods for detecting design, from “Complex Specified Information” to “Irreducible Complexity” to the “Explanatory Filter” actually work. If they did, you can bet they’d have a place among the REAL sciences and empirical argument.

  73. Hello Wheels

    Science doesn’t use “philosophical materialism.”[…] Ken Miller, Catholic and biologist, is a well-known opponent of ID because he recognizes that there isn’t any science involved, […]

    As I stated above…

    ID is a threat to these materialistic ideologues because it is a scientific examination of the world which does not a priori dismiss a substantial portion of the evidence. They [philosophical materialists] will accomodate theistic evolution to the extent that the proponents of theistic evolution avoid any evidentiary claims for their belief but anything which asserts and evidentiary claim for a teleological world must be violently eradicated.

    Regarding teleology…

    That’s patently untrue, science has several fields that recognize and look for signs of teleology to account for observations. Archeology and SETI are both good examples,….

    So then you have no problem with intelligent agency as a viable account for some observed phenomena? You agree that signs of intelligent agency are detectable?

    …and the Discovery Institute has recognized this and attempted to claim them as legitimacy for Intelligent Design ideas.

    Didn’t you just agree that intelligent agency is detectable by science and, in some cases, may be the best explanation for observed phenomena?

    …Unfortunately neither field uses “Intelligent Design” methods when detecting and assigning the role of design to observations, as explained here for SETI.

    Ohhh… hmmmm… we’re looking for “atificial” signals… well, that explains everything! So…. How do you tell the difference?

  74. @Dave: ID is not science. You’re probably familiar with why that is by now, though you choose to characterize the accepted scientific method as “philosophical materialism.” Even though it isn’t, and science clearly does not a priori dismiss the possibility of “design.”
    I have no problem positing “design” where it’s appropriate. ID has not given us any reason to think it’s appropriate when explaining things like how Earth can support life or why most mammals use the same blood clotting scheme (whales and dolphins, however, lack some of the specific factors described by Behe has necessary to the “irreducible” clotting system in their own systems, yet they form clots ably). There are good reasons to conclude “design” in archeology (for example we are already familiar with human forms of manufacture and could identify those or variants of them readily in association with sites of human occupancy), or if we ever find a suitable signal from space. There have been no good reasons given to conclude “design” in natural biology on an empirical basis, though.
    ID and SETI work differently because of the reasons given in the link, which you apparently did not read. I also said that the specific methods employed by ID do not work, but you did not address this. This is simple enough to clear up if you can try to understand what I posted.

  75. Wheels,

    I’m sorry, I don’t see Tom specifying YOUNG EARTH Creationism anywhere.

    I guess I was too coy about it. I thought people would understand this in the OP:

    Creationism begins in Genesis and argues for certain conclusions based on a certain understanding of the Scriptures. It is known for its persistence in seeking scientific data that fits that interpretation of Genesis, and for finding creative but irregular interpretations to help in that search.

    Going on, you wrote,

    Does that mean that ID is Old Earth Creationism? Progressive Creationism? Day-Age?

    The quick answer is simply no.

    The longer answer is, ID does not take an a priori position on this, but is looking to the empirical data to tell what it can tell.

    Those are all varieties of CREATIONISM, which Tom is clearly trying to distinguish from Intelligent Design.

    They are all varieties of creationism, but if you think that all of them piled in one heap together fill up all the available conceptual space for Intelligent Design, then you are lacking in creativity and imagination, not to mention you aren’t paying close enough attention.

    But your point is still accurate in this: I was not just contrasting ID to young-earth creationism. I was contrasting it to any version of creationism that fits the description above: Scripture-driven, irregular in its interpretations, etc. That is not the only extant definition of creationism, nor necessarily even the best one, but I have argued that it is the one that ID opponents are trying to convey when they use the term.

    Your response here illustrates my point, in a way: Creationism is a word that needs to be used with care or else it won’t communicate clearly at all.

    Science doesn’t use “philosophical materialism.”

    No, but a lot of scientists do. Dawkins, Provine, Simpson, Weinberg … I could go on, but I won’t.

    Ken Miller, Catholic and biologist, is a well-known opponent of ID because he recognizes that there isn’t any science involved, that it’s just bad and recycled arguments from earlier anti-evolution efforts, and that it’s not compatible with his own faith regarding Creation and understanding of the world.

    Granted. ID proponents think that Miller is wrong scientifically. But that’s part of the overall tapestry of the debate, and certainly not something I want to introduce into the discussion here.

    Unfortunately neither field uses “Intelligent Design” methods when detecting and assigning the role of design to observations, as explained here for SETI.

    Interesting link there, probably worthy of a whole blog post someday. They say they’re not looking for complex information:

    We’re not looking for intricately coded messages, mathematical series, or even the aliens’ version of “I Love Lucy.”

    They’re looking for something like a “whistle” or a Doppler-shifting signal that could indicate it is coming from a rotating planet.

    But why is this? Is it because they believe that whistles or Doppler-shifting signals are better indicators of intelligence out there than mathematical series? No.

    Our instruments are largely insensitive to the modulation–or message–that might be conveyed by an extraterrestrial broadcast.

    Here’s what’s going on: they have set the bar rather low, and appropriately so. They need to sweep a huge cosmos for a signal of unknown characteristics, so there is no way they could tune their search to one specific, complex kind of signal. They have to start with what is feasible. But I’m willing to bet that if somehow they stumbled over a broadcast of the prime numbers in series, they wouldn’t set it aside and say “ho-hum, not what we were looking for….”

    In other words, if SETI doesn’t use ID approaches, it’s not because they don’t apply, but because they’re impractical.

    None of the IDists’ proposed methods for detecting design, from “Complex Specified Information” to “Irreducible Complexity” to the “Explanatory Filter” actually work. If they did, you can bet they’d have a place among the REAL sciences and empirical argument.

    Perhaps. But ID is not seeking only to survive among the REAL sciences and empirical argument, because that’s too narrow a scope. There is REAL science being conducted, but there are also philosophical implications being explored, by rigorous academic means.

    Anyway, I’m not sure what all this has to do with the definition of ID and creationism, or why ID antagonists don’t distinguish the two. I hope I’m not leading us too far off topic.

  76. Wheels:

    ID is not science.

    Oh.

    Now you tell me.

    I had no idea it would be that simple in the end.

    Why didn’t anybody explain it that clearly before now?

    I’ll get on the phone to Steve Meyer and tell him he might want to check out this new information. He’ll probably withdraw his new book from the market. I’m sure he wouldn’t have even written it if you had gotten to him earlier with this.

    I could contact Bradley Monton about it, too. I’m sure he’ll be surprised to hear it. I mean, in his book Seeking God In Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design, he makes quite an excellent case for ID being science.

    But I’ll let him know you said he was wrong. I’ll break it to him gently, I promise.

    By the way, what are your demarcation criteria for what is or is not science? Before you try Judge Overton’s criteria, be aware that Michael Ruse argued against them. And before you try Judge Jones’s criteria, you might want to look at how Monton took them apart.

  77. Charlie said,
    Hi Larry,
    Because God is a person and God is His name Tom prefers that we follow proper rules of grammar around here and not make a point of using a lower case ‘g’ when discussing Him.
    It’s in the discussion policies.

    According to Jews, God has no name. And I am afraid that if I capitalize the name, people will falsely assume that I am a bible-pounding holy-rolling fundy. And why did you capitalize “him”? That’s not in the discussion policies.

    Wheels said (#87),
    Ken Miller, Catholic and biologist, is a well-known opponent of ID because he recognizes that there isn’t any science involved, that it’s just bad and recycled arguments from earlier anti-evolution efforts, and that it’s not compatible with his own faith regarding Creation and understanding of the world.

    Regarding the statement, “it’s not compatible with his own faith regarding Creation and understanding of the world,” William Jennings Bryan had a good answer for that:

    If those who teach Darwinism and evolution, as applied to man, insist that they are neither agnostics nor atheists, but are merely interpreting the Bible differently from orthodox Christians, what right have they to ask that their interpretation be taught at public expense?

    As for the term “intelligent design creationism”: it is clear that the intent of the users of this term is to obfuscate. They are playing with words, trying to take advantage of the ambiguity of the term “creationism.” Nothing that they say will change that fact.

    Even if intelligent design is a part of creationism, what purpose is served by adding the qualifier “creationism” to the term “ID”? If ID is unique to creationism, then wouldn’t just “ID” alone be a sufficient description? Adding that qualifier implies that ID is part of other things as well — how about “intelligent design science”?

  78. According to the Jews, God does have a name, but it is not to be written or uttered. Charlie is welcome to capitalize pronouns referring to God if he wishes. If you read my discussion policies you’ll understand why I have made them the way I have.

  79. @Tom, thanks for the reply.
    Here’s a problem, though:

    The longer answer is, ID does not take an a priori position on this, but is looking to the empirical data to tell what it can tell.

    I addressed this earlier but you seem to have overlooked it. This is not how ID really works. This is, instead, the picture of ID presented by the Discovery Institute, as is your cherry-picked definition of “Creationism” and how it’s different from ID. I’m wondering why you are relying on their distinction when you know they’re dishonest at every opportunity when it comes to explaining ID or, especially, their opposition? When it comes to semantics you seem to have put your trust in a group that’s notoriously untrustworthy on that front (or any), and I’m at a loss as to why, especially when the history of modern ID is abundantly available.

    As to the use of “Creationism,” I personally try to use “anti-evolutionists” whenever possible. I do that precisely because seemingly the only major difference between a Theistic Evolutionist and a Young Earth Creationist lies in how far they’re willing to let science inform their faith rather than vice-versa. “Anti-evolutionism” includes ID because they claim that certain features in biology could not have evolved (and persist in doing so long after evolutionary pathways are found and scrutinized) and that it’s necessary to posit something beyond evolution to explain them. They do not do this based on empirical evidence but rather on their preconceived religious notions.
    If it were really empirical, they’d give up as soon as the superior explanation was available for each case, when in fact they don’t. Individual scientists have this problem too, but Science by and large does not let it persist for long because they want the better answer and won’t stick with a loser. ID, by contrast, has yielded precisely NOTHING of their original schtick even when when it’s demonstrably bad. They still appeal to complexity arguments, even specific arguments long disproven. They still appeal to the methods proposed by Dembski for detecting design, even when those are shown to be useless. Not just flawed but usable like Newtonian laws, mind, literally useless for their proposed function of detecting design. Their lack of utility is amply demonstrated by the fact that IDists produce essentially zero research despite decades of the program’s existence and millions of dollars in funds. It’d be one thing if they produced research without results, but they can’t even do the research! No, ID has no tell-tale marks of any empirical program and I’ll say that even its philosophy is old hat and useless (Pennock ably eviscerates the philosophy side if ID, and if you think he’s missed the mark on that besides labeling it Creationism then please do explain).
    As to your explanation that SETI would be looking for complexity if they had different equipment, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. They gave the reasons for searching for simple tones; it’s probably artificial and distinct from natural background noise. It would be easy to pick out for us and easy for ETs to transmit, because of the inherent efficiency of broadcasting in a narrow band. This is why SETI tuned their equipment and selection of such for narrow searches, they wanted to spend money and effort where it would have the most chance of success. This was explained in the example of pulsars. They did not get the equipment set up and then build a methodology around those limitations, they targeted their search to a method that would be good at detecting signals that have a higher chance of being artificial.

  80. Ken Miller, Catholic and biologist,….

    Ahhh, but what of poor old Francis Collins

    http://richarddawkins.net/article,4104,Monday-must-be-Pick-On-Francis-Collins-Day-,PZ-Myers—Pharyngula

    http://www.scientificblogging.com/rugbyologist/10_things_they_hate_about_you_francis_collins

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/steven-pinker-on-francis-collins/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/27/opinion/27harris.html?_r=2

    […]

    In contrast to the majority of scientists whose wondrous discoveries seem to inspire humility, today’s advocates of scientism can be every bit as dogmatic as the William Jennings Bryans of yesteryear. We saw an example a week ago, when the New York Times reported that many scientists view “outspoken religious commitment as a sign of mild dementia.”

    The reporter was Gardiner Harris, and the object of his snark was Francis Collins—the new director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins is perhaps best noted for his leadership on the Human Genome Project, an effort to map the genetic makeup of man. But he is also well known for his unapologetic talk about his Christian faith and how he came to it.

    Mr. Harris’s aside about dementia, of course, is less a proposition open to debate than the kind of putdown you tell at a private cocktail party where you know everyone in the room shares your orthodoxies.

    […]

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704429304574467320574576460.html?mod=rss_opinion_main#printMode

  81. There is no difference–conceptually–between Creationism and Intelligent Design. Both accept Intelligent agency operating in nature, causing biological production. It is an insult of intelligence to suggest any tangible difference between the two. Discovery Institute IDism has always sought to distance itself from Creationism based on a misguided legal agenda. They actually forgot that all Federal Judges are Darwinists.

  82. “They are all varieties of creationism, but if you think that all of them piled in one heap together fill up all the available conceptual space for Intelligent Design, then you are lacking in creativity and imagination, not to mention you aren’t paying close enough attention.”

    First, in order for the label “creationism” to be accurate for ID, all other creationist philosophies don’t have to overlap it. They just have to be close enough that making a distinction looks like splitting hairs.
    Second, you are the one who isn’t paying close enough attention:

    “The naturalistic philosophy of modern science has created a dilemma for evolution. No known laws of nature allow complex, living, information-containing systems to develop from the random interactions of matter. Yet, this is what is required in order for life to have evolved in the universe. Creationists accept that life appeared on earth as a direct creative act of God. The design and information that we see in all living things is a result of an intelligence—not random occurrences.”
    from http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/design

  83. @Tom

    I’ll get on the phone to Steve Meyer and tell him he might want to check out this new information. He’ll probably withdraw his new book from the market. I’m sure he wouldn’t have even written it if you had gotten to him earlier with this.

    Will you similarly be telling Michael Behe that, despite his sworn testimony to the contrary, Astrology is likewise not science? S’only fair you know. Or perhaps you think it is?
    The short of it is that ID offers no testable, non-trivial, unique predictions based on its own standards. ID claims to reveal nothing about the nature of the “Designer,” except apparently that it’s intelligent. Great. Now how are we supposed to build testable predictions around that? We have to know what qualities the Higgs Boson should have if we’re ever going to confirm/disprove it, that’s why CERN’s Large Hadron Collider was built to specific electron-volt levels. That’s why we were able to leave blank spaces on the periodic table for elements to be discovered in the (then) future, and later fill them in as expected: we could predict the qualities of those elements like valence electron numbers and general properties and then look for things with those characteristics. What sort of predictive power does ID have, since it doesn’t claim any knowable information about the Designer? None. This was clearly summed up by William Dembski, one of ID’s chief architects, in a revealing post on a discussion board:

    You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” 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. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC [irreducibly complex] systems that is what ID is discovering.

    So where does that leave room for ID to be science, if it cannot offer coherent explanations and mechanisms? Instead it’s nothing more sophisticated in type than “God of the Gaps,” a divine placeholder where they say evolution has no explanation. This is why successful scientists who aren’t “philosophical materialists” like Dave pretends, among them Francis Collins, recognize it as a useless sham.

    ID offers no consistent system for making predictions that offer explanatory power over the scientific alternative of evolution, but this hasn’t stopped IDists from making testable claims (which is different). When those claims turn out to be falsified readily, IDists do not abandon them. Irreducible complexity, specified complex information, explanatory filters, none of them work. When we found that bacterial flagella could evolve after all, Behe never backed down. Same with the blood clotting system of mammals; one of the specific factors he claimed was necessary to the irreducibly complex system turned out to be lacking in cetaceans, without them bleeding to death over slight cuts. Behe even had the audacity to claim that there wasn’t a suitable explanation for the immune system, and when stacks of such material were presented to him at Kitzmiller, he admitted he hadn’t read it and dismissed it as unimportant. Evidence DOES NOT MATTER to Intelligent Design. In science, evidence is what matters most.

    Instead of waiting for Meyer’s new popular book for mass consumption, I’d instead wait for him to publish a paper in the appropriate, peer-reviewed venue of real scientific press explaining why ID is science. I expect it won’t fly for the same reason a paper submitted for theologians to review claiming that Jesus was based on Horus won’t fly, the evidence does not support it.

    Thanks for reminding me about Brad Monton, btw. Unfortunately he doesn’t really making a strong case, rather he basically asserts that science should be an anything-goes kind of affair. Like Behe, his attempts to address the demarcation problem would admit all kinds of pseudoscience and hokey like Astrology into the realm of science. It’s not enough that you can look at the claims and see that they’re false, you also need to be able to look at the argument and see if the thinking that got you to those claims is consistent and able to make explanatory predictions. ID has given up on the idea of explaining who, what, when, how, and why for ID, instead focusing only on the “where” Design is found and doing that solely as a negative argument against a competing alternative (natural evolution). But even if you could show that evolution did not satisfactorily explain what you were looking at, this isn’t reason to conclude in favor of ID. That’s a classic False Dilemma fallacy. ID generally cannot make explanatory predictions because it cannot explain features of the natural world, at best it can hope to poke holes in the widely accepted alternative. If you said that the blood clotting cascade was designed, well, now what? Designed when? How did it go from “design” to implementation? How would you be able to tell that it was implemented by one mechanism and not another? Who did the designing? How could you tell if it was God or shoe gnomes looking for a new line of work?
    By contrast, evolution is remarkably confining in terms of possible explanations for a given observation. If we observe the same basic clotting system in mammals but not in fish, we can conclude that the mammalian system evolved after the divergence of mammals and fish. (it turns out that this is the case).
    We could explain the differences in clotting systems among kinds of animals by showing how you go from one to the next with small changes over time. We might be able to identify “why” factors, such as whether or not a certain part of the system works in cold vs. warm blooded metabolisms. ID cannot explain this pattern of similarities being the way it is with testable, competetive hypotheses, even WITHIN a Design paradigm. Evolution is a mechanism, if you want to claim that things evolved a certain way you have to be prepared to show why they did in more or less detail. ID leaves you with no conclusion other than, “because that’s the way it was Designed.”

    But I’m sure if you feel my explanation isn’t up to snuff, there are plenty of more knowledgeable and capable experts (including professional scientists) at the Panda’s Thumb who could do better. You might also check the ID section of the Index to Creationist Claims at TalkOrigins. I’d recommend either of those routes before judging the scientificalness of ID based on my arguments alone.

  84. There is no difference–conceptually–between Creationism and Intelligent Design.

    Of course there is. Creationism (in the common parlance) is based upon the revelation of Genesis whereas ID is based upon the observation of and deduction from natural phenomena. Other than the fact (coincidence?) that both postulate the activity of a designer, in the creationist case and identified designer in the ID case an unknown and possibly unidentifiable designer, there is little in common between the two.

    Both accept Intelligent agency operating in nature, causing biological production.

    An intelligent agent does not a deity make. Hence we have been treated to Francis Crick’s speculations about directed panspermia (later withdrawn) and Richard Dawkins’ assertion that life on earth could have been designed by some alien intelligence (which had itself evolved according to Darwinian principles). Neither is, in priciple, opposed to a designer.

    Evolutionists demand blind causal forces acting upon material elements – like writing a 30 volume book by randomly drawing characters from a bag of Scrabble pieces.

    Gotta go, this intelligent(?!?) designer will have to return to the thread after it has evolved a little more.

  85. Silly people. Creationism is surely different than Intelligent Design. After all, Creationism starts with a presupposition that the book of Genesis literally is true, whereas, ID starts with the presuppostion that the Gospel of John is true.

    “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory”

  86. Thank you, Ray, for helping me to demonstrate my point here. That is, I don’t know whether it’s an unwillingness to see the difference, or an inability, or something else, but certainly you’re not seeing that there is a difference.

  87. Tom,

    You say that Wheels is wrong when he declares that ID is not science, and you ask him:

    By the way, what are your demarcation criteria for what is or is not science?

    But you have never offered a demarcation point of your own by which you seem to take the position that ID is science, so the question cuts both ways.

    I’d be careful, too, stepping back to the “science is what scientists do,” position, as Monton, et al are not scientists, and Behe and his group aren’t doing what looks like science to any of their peers as well. (Books don’t count — I can write a book.)

    Seriously, most of this seems to take the position that we should all re-check our previous assessment and brace ourselves for the new wave of exciting science to come from ID — it’s just our close-mindedness that prevents us from realizing this.

    I don’t mind being wrong, but I prefer being shown the evidence before I make my amends. Without that, there’s really no reason for me to step back and reconsider that what was true a short time ago does not remain so today.

  88. Chiefley,

    Thank you for that. It will be helpful for me to have available as an answer some time when ID gets accused of quote-mining out of context.

  89. Tony,

    Scientists are not the first people to go to for a definition of what is or not science. Philosophers of science—like Monton—actually are. I can’t replay all of Monton’s arguments here, unfortunately.

    I had originally posted several articles here in support of the view that ID is science, but I changed my mind in view of the fact that it’s off topic. The question is whether ID equals creationism, not whether ID qualifies as science.

  90. Tom,

    Let me see, you list 6 sources for why ID is science. 3 of them are hosted at the Discovery Institute’s website. Forgive me, but this is akin to reading Phillip Morris’s position on why cigarettes are not bad for me.

    The first one I looked at that’s not a Discovery Institute PR job is a short article in the Guardian (not a scientific journal, by the way) written by a Dr. Richard Buggs, that tries to make a case for ID being science because, “according to Randerson, ID is not a science because ‘there is no evidence that could in principle disprove ID”. Remind me, what is claimed of Darwinism?’ Well, as anyone who is interested in the debate knows, lots of things could disprove Darwinism. And Darwinism does claim a lot that predicts and explains. If the author’s best case is that the two are similar there, then he’s wasting our time.

    But here’s the funny part, at least for me. I google the Richard Buggs, the author of the article you linked to that explains why ID is science, and 4th link down is this page ( http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/RichardBuggs ), where 7th paragraph down, is this:

    Buggs is a young earth creationist, confirmed by an e-mail received in 2007 from a friend of his. While at Oxford, he was involved in the Woodstock Road Baptist Church. The pastor at this church is a Dr Keith Stokes who is on the Council of Reference of Biblical Creation Ministries.

    Can you not see why some of us find it hard to see a significant difference between ID and creationism?

  91. Tony, as you can see I edited those out of my comment. I had (as I originally said before editing them out) chosen the quickest, easiest sources to find, which were of course at the DI’s website. I was in a hurry and did that in about one minute. I recognized that (a) that’s not the best way to find good sources, and (b) it’s off topic. So I pulled them down.

    Read Monton. He is not a young earth creationist, I promise. And by the way, I was wrong earlier when I said I couldn’t link you to a source: here’s one.

  92. Tom, while you may have edited out appeals to the Discovery Institute (and a YECer on what is/isn’t science), it’s disheartening that you are still TRYING to appeal to them. As I said before, they’re just plain dishonest. You seem unwilling to kick the dust from your heels and leave their pretense behind for some reason. I asked you before and never got an answer as to why you persist with them.
    In the meantime, I’m still waiting for some kind of response to the things I’ve pointed out about ID not being empirical but rhetorical.

    Scientists are not the first people to go to for a definition of what is or not science. Philosophers of science—like Monton—actually are.

    Pennock is a philosopher of science too. Pennock generally represents the majority of scientists/philosophers’ opinion in this case, Monton not withstanding. I’ve already read Monton’s review of the Kitzmiller decision and that’s what I based my assessment of his views on. Do you think the definition of science should include astrology? I don’t. That’s why I reject Monton’s arguments.
    Another philosopher of science is Vic Stenger, who disagrees with Pennock mainly in that he considers it possible to test supernatural claims scientifically, and that such tests falsify supernatural claims, especially in the case of ID.
    I don’t think it’s fair to say that’s off-topic when you replied to me replying to someone else who claimed that it was. In fact I don’t even think it’s fair to say it’s off-topic when you invoke ID as based on empirical evidence. Its lack of empiricism should be evidence to use in discussing the matter.

  93. One of the problems is that many people interpret the term “intelligent design” literally — they start asking, “who is the intelligent designer?” “What does the intelligent designer look like?” etc.. But there are many figurative or idiomatic terms and expressions that do not really mean what they appear to literally mean. “Intelligent design” could be defined as the study of whether living things have the appearance of being intelligently designed, i.e., whether it appears that it is unlikely that they could have arisen from unintelligent causes such as random genetic variation and natural selection. Describing the identity and/or characteristics of an imaginary “intelligent designer” is beyond the scope of ID, just as describing the origin of life is beyond the scope of evolution theory, but critics of evolution theory do not keep insisting that evolutionists describe the origin of life. As for whether or not ID is “good” science, there is no constitutional principle of separation of bad science and state.

  94. Hi Larry,
    You asked a question and I answered it. No need to get all bent and defensive. Your hosts policies are as they are and you can abide or not. As to why I capitalize pronouns referring to God, that’s my preference.

  95. As usual, the final* word goes to The Onion

    THE HEAVENS—In what is being described by advance marketing materials as “the first divine creation in more than 6,000 years,” God Almighty, Our Lord Most High, introduced a brand-new species of bird into existence Monday.

    “Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve, prepare thine eyes for the most exciting line of avian wildlife in millennia,” God announced as He released an estimated 14 million first-run models into the important bird markets of North America, Australia, and Eurasia. “This new bird has it all: slicker wings, a more streamlined beak, better-than-ever capacity for beautiful song. Plus, all of the grace and majesty you’ve come to expect from the Eternal Creator of Life Itself.”

    “The bird is back,” God continued, His booming voice parting the very heavens. “And baby, it’s never looked better.”

    According to the latest specs, etched in two tablets of stone and handed down from atop Mount Sinai, the new bird is anticipated by God to be His finest creation to date. Available in two colors-—male and female—the bird reportedly combines everything God has learned from His previous works into one “new twist on an old favorite.”

    Etcetera. Priceless!

    * Well, we can hope.

  96. Hello Wheels

    In the meantime, I’m still waiting for some kind of response to the things I’ve pointed out about ID not being empirical but rhetorical.

    Speaking of rhetorical, here is an interesting video…

    “Dr. John Angus Campbell explores how Charles Darwin used his rhetoric skills to persuade others of the creative power of natural selection. The logic and structure of Darwin’s Origin of Species is analyzed in this fascinating interview. Presented as part of the Focus on Origins series from UC Santa Barbara.”
    View Online
    http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=7007

  97. Charlie said,
    Hi Larry,
    You asked a question and I answered it. No need to get all bent and defensive. Your hosts policies are as they are and you can abide or not. As to why I capitalize pronouns referring to God, that’s my preference.

    It’s just that your capitalization of “his” and “him” did not follow the reasoning you gave for capitalizing “God” — i.e., that “God” is a proper name and that capitalizing it therefore follows the rules of grammar.

    BTW, ever hear of e. e. cummings?

  98. Very true, Larry.
    In fact, I think Tom doesn’t have a policy about exclamation marks either, but I generally shun them. Just another aspect of my own quirky nature which is not dictated by his preferences about how his blog runs.

    e.e. cummings. Well, I guess you really got me there.

  99. I think eric, post 77, made a fundamental question: If the thread is about defining concepts then why there are so few definitions?. I kept waiting someone answered eric and posted the development of ID definition (as Tom points a lot that 10 year or 5 year or x year ID def diferences are vital), perhaps something like:

    1980 (or X year) we have this definition
    1990 this one, main supporter MR. M
    2000 this one, main supporter MR. N
    2005 this one, main supporter MR. O
    2009 this one, main supporter MR. P

    Now someone could do the same with creationism:
    1980 nnn
    1990 xxx
    etc.

    Then we could check the differences, I think this is the easiest and straigth way to resolve the debate, and it’s so simple, I guess that Id being a scientific theory must have some few well defined concepts.

    I tried my best to read all the thread, but if someone already answered and gave thos definitions and I didn’t see it I apologize.

  100. Hello hector

    Now someone could do the same with creationism:
    1980 nnn
    1990 xxx
    etc.

    And you could call it the evolution of creation… Do you not find it intriguing that evolutionists would allow their view to change and accept different hypotheses from different schools of thought whereas they expect those who dissent to have one single hypothesis which never changes.

    Methinks thou dost protest too much.

  101. Dave asks

    Do you not find it intriguing that evolutionists would allow their view to change and accept different hypotheses from different schools of thought whereas they expect those who dissent to have one single hypothesis which never changes.

    It would certainly be intriguing if there were any evidence that it were true.

    Most of us “evolutionists” really don’t give a toss about whether anti-evolutionists describe themselves as creationists (with or without qualification), IDists, Raelians, or anything else. You can all sort it out among yourselves – like different kinds of Christianity. You can’t seem to agree among yourselves (about categorizing your beliefs concerning evolutionary biology or Christianity), so why should you expect us to be able to tell the difference?

    If you claim that what you’re doing is science, you need a better approach than repeated Arguments From Personal Incredulity. You know, falsifiable hypotheses, repeatable experiments, predictions, data, that kind of stuff.

  102. Tom,

    If the scientific (as opposed to scriptural) approach is indeed what differentiates ID from creationism, then it is pertinent to this discussion to discuss whether ID is scientific.

    I, for one, have heard lots of pronouncements about the falsifiability hypothesis being inadequate, but I’ve never heard a different definition of scientific persuit given such that, say, we could make important meaningful distinctions such as, as has been mentioned a few times in this thread, whether astrology is a science, or alchemy, etc. Within a philosophy of science perspective, then, I’m afraid that the definition of science in ID (or lack thereof) is too loose to be useful as a distinction (like “magic”). Put one more way, if we define science too loosely then everything we do is scientific, which then makes the term itself impotent as we can’t then differentiate science from, say, literary analysis, aesthetics, or philosophy (even though I think there is a very close tie between philosophy and science, they are still different disciplines and we need to be able to differentiate them).

    Let me also comment on one argument that has been given many times, but not explicitly answered: you have claimed that ID begins with science and then reaches the ‘logical’ conclusion of an intelligent designer, but it has been repeatedly argued that that is not how most IDers do their work. Most, in fact, are believers in the Genesis account (even if they don’t read it literally) and began their ID work from that belief rather than coming to it from the side of scientific analysis. So the definition of ID that you gave is interesting, but it is not played out in practice by the large majority of ID proponents, which makes it suspect and, I believe, is one of the things that is fueling the misunderstanding. IDers shout about how they base their views on science, but the reality is that for the large majority of them, the science came later, after the scriptural belief and in an attempt to justify it. Pointing to the work of any atheist who has been convinced of ID is secondary to this point as they are the huge minority and thus cannot be taken as representative of the position as a whole.

  103. @Dave:
    I’m sorry I don’t have an hour to devote to the video, care to summarize his points for the rest of us?

    I did have time, however, to search for John Angus Campbell on Google. Seems he’s another (former?) fellow at The Discovery Institute.

  104. Kevin, I’m working backwards through your comment…

    Most, in fact, are believers in the Genesis account (even if they don’t read it literally) and began their ID work from that belief rather than coming to it from the side of scientific analysis.

    There is motivation and there is methodology. I don’t think there’s a single ID proponent who argues from Genesis, which is what counts for the discipline.

    Within a philosophy of science perspective, then, I’m afraid that the definition of science in ID (or lack thereof) is too loose to be useful as a distinction (like “magic”).

    ID is a program that includes science, like biochemistry, population genetics, and information theory. To study cellular machinery, as Behe does for example, is clearly science. But there is more to ID than that; there is a philosophical program alongside it. I have said that from the beginning; and I have said more here and here.

    If the scientific (as opposed to scriptural) approach is indeed what differentiates ID from creationism, then it is pertinent to this discussion to discuss whether ID is scientific.

    It is the approach in general that differentiates ID from creationism (speaking of what I have termed the “relevant” definition of creationism, that is). ID approaches the question from an empirical and philosophical starting point, as opposed to creationism’s Biblical starting point; so they are differentiated whether or not one calls ID “science.” Your point really doesn’t carry weight, in my opinion.

  105. Tom,

    There is motivation and there is methodology. I don’t think there’s a single ID proponent who argues from Genesis, which is what counts for the discipline.

    Ok, but as has been argued before, ‘creation science’ does the same thing: they don’t just point to Genesis and say that thus and such is the case, case closed. Rather, they try to point to this or that scientific fact as justification for their acceptance of the Genesis account. Thus they don’t argue from Genesis either (probably with a few exceptions), even though it is their foundation (as it is for many ID proponents). Every theologian in Christian history has tried to justify their views through the science of the day, so what makes ID so different when most of its proponents follow the same path?

    ID is a program that includes science, like biochemistry, population genetics, and information theory. To study cellular machinery, as Behe does for example, is clearly science. But there is more to ID than that; there is a philosophical program alongside it.

    Ok, but the main claim is that ID is scientific. I’m asking what that means and if it posits a meaningful definition of science that allows for important distinctions (e.g., astrology, alchemy, etc.). I haven’t seen this yet and this is central to whether ID is science and, thus, whether ID is different from creationism.

    ID approaches the question from an empirical and philosophical starting point, as opposed to creationism’s Biblical starting point

    Again, this doesn’t seem to be how things play out in reality: most IDers have started from the Bible and then sought out “empirical and philosophical” support and very few (if any) have meaningfully started from the empirical and philosophical and then came to the Bible. In other words, the claim doesn’t match the reality: the Bible is the infallible starting point for most IDers, which is a significant fact that is a genuine source of confusion for ID opponents. So you can make these claims for the desired methodology all you want, but the reality is significantly different.

  106. Tom, you keep repeating that ID doesn’t start with Genesis, but in effect it really does because that his what shapes the opinions of the people who came up with and promote ID. In that regard ID is not really different from other varieties of Apologetics, especially previous forms of Creationism. The only significant difference is that ID pretends not to have anything to do with religion, which is betrayed by the words and actions of its formulators and practitioners alike.
    You claim that ID includes science, but there isn’t any science in ID, just “stamp collecting” by looking for things that the IDist says is evidence of Design. In doing so they are careful to cherry-pick features for which they think there is no suitable evolutionary explanation (even if there really is!), and then argue about how evolution cannot produce those features, never a good positive argument of how Design produces them. They are picking and choosing the “facts” to fit their conclusion and doing a poor job of it.

  107. Kevin,

    Ok, but as has been argued before, ‘creation science’ does the same thing: they don’t just point to Genesis and say that thus and such is the case, case closed. Rather, they try to point to this or that scientific fact as justification for their acceptance of the Genesis account.

    If you are arguing that everything a creation scientist does should be disavowed by every thinking person, then you will need to skip dinner tonight, and breakfast tomorrow, because creation scientists undoubtedly eat meals. But I certainly don’t think you would take that unreasonable stance. If creation scientists start from science (as I say ID does) and successfully find justification for some Genesis interpretation, then more power to them! If they start from some empirical data and fail to find support for some Genesis interpretation, then so be it. You can fault them for their failure if they fail, but I’m sure you don’t fault them for starting from some empirical starting point.

    Does it then bother you that they are trying to prove a Genesis hypothesis? What are hypotheses for, but to be tested? And for purposes of this discussion, ID differs anyway, because it’s not trying to prove a Genesis hypothesis except in the very loosest, broadest, almost metaphorical sense.

    Ok, but the main claim is that ID is scientific.

    No, the main claim is that ID is unscientific or antiscientific. ID’s answer is, no, we are neither of those, and we’re using science along with philosophy to study origins. As Bradley Monton said, we could argue all day whether ID is scientific; the more interesting question is whether it is true.

    Again, this doesn’t seem to be how things play out in reality: most IDers have started from the Bible and then sought out “empirical and philosophical” support and very few (if any) have meaningfully started from the empirical and philosophical and then came to the Bible.

    Apparently you didn’t follow my links to additional information. I acknowledge and address what you have just said. I don’t think it undermines anything ID is doing.

  108. Wheels, see the links I gave here on ID’s supposed starting with Genesis and whether it matters.

    There is science in ID. Whether you agree or disagree with the conclusions ID proponents draw from it is a separate question, one that really doesn’t pertain to the overall discussion.

  109. Tom, where is the science in ID? What scientific methodology do they use? They effectively do not use or do any science, and the few examples people have tried to offer up as “science” in ID such as Behe’s biochemical musings are not up to the standards of science, regardless of whether their conclusions are right or wrong. Science is a method, not a set of facts.
    As to your “three threads,” I see problems all over the place. A) There isn’t really an “empirical difficulty with neo-Darwinism” that stands up to scrutiny. B) “Objections to Philosophical Naturalism” has nothing to do with evolution, because evolution isn’t based on a philosophical premise of this sort of Ontological Naturalism. The only way you can object to evolution and P.Nat. is to say that while evolution may be true, there are forces behind it that are not natural. This is not the case with ID, which specifically claims that evolution is NOT true for certain cases of biology. C) Your chart has “Empirical Research,” but as I pointed out there isn’t any (unless you’d care to do something you haven’t been doing much here and that’s give us some kind of specifics). D) The Philosophical and Theological Implications is actually part of the Groundwork, as I’ve explained out before. Almost nobody looks at the evidence and independently concludes “DESIGN!” rather they let their preconceptions about Creation guide their thinking first. They are, in effect, no different from typical Creationists except in hushing up their connection to Creationism.
    In your other link about the book from the NAS, you’re taking one phrase out of context. Here is is in the proper context:

    In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing. Definition of Science The use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process. Because observations and explanations build on each other, science is a cumulative activity. Repeatable observations and experiments generate explanations that describe nature more accurately and comprehensively, and these explanations in turn suggest new observations and experiments that can be used to test and extend the explanation. In this way, the sophistication and scope of scientific explanations improve over time, as subsequent generations of scientists, often using technological innovations, work to correct, refine, and extend the work done by their predecessors.

    It becomes clear that science is restricted to natural explanations because other explanations do not work sufficiently well to extend the range of our understanding. Supernatural explanations are not considered testable, therefore we cannot use them to make exclusive testable predictions, so they’re useless within science. The Supernatural is thus not dismissed a priori as you like to think, but a postieri because they do not work. This has already been explained in this comment thread but you have apparently ignored it.

    You may be able to see how people could get frustrated here when you basically justify your assertions by repeating your assertions.

    And you never did answer me about the Discovery Institute. Seriously, why do you insist on using the terms and materials of that bunch of professional liars?

    Your behavior here is really disheartening. It doesn’t seem that you can engage in a meaningful discussion and so I think I’m just wasting my time with this.

  110. Tom:

    To get back to the topic of honesty and semantics, when you say “There is science in ID”, don’t you mean by “science” something quite different from what the scientific community regards as science, both in a definition and operational sense?

  111. What I mean by “honesty and semantics” is the phenomenon where differing definitions lead to a comedy of errors, lack of communication, and unintended consequences. There’s more than a little of that in the popular debate over evolution.

  112. Mike, I mean something like biochemistry, population genetics, information theory…

    And for both you and Wheels, let me repeat:

    Whether you agree or disagree with the conclusions ID proponents draw from it is a separate question, one that really doesn’t pertain to the overall discussion.

    , and

    ID’s answer is, no, we are neither of those, and we’re using science along with philosophy to study origins. As Bradley Monton said, we could argue all day whether ID is scientific; the more interesting question is whether it is true.

    , and to get back to the question of the post,

    ID approaches the question from an empirical and philosophical starting point, as opposed to creationism’s Biblical starting point; so they are differentiated whether or not one calls ID “science.”

    ID is not creationism (according to the definition I have termed “relevant” in this discussion).

  113. Wheels:

    Science is also a human creative process done within a community. One of the things that bothers me about the popular debate over evolution is how easily the average person discounts the concensus opinion of the scientific community. Science isn’t done in isolation, or locked up in a Seattle thinktank.

  114. Hi Wheels

    I’m sorry I don’t have an hour to devote to the video, care to summarize his points for the rest of us?

    Why am I not suprised? Would you be open to reading/listening to/watching anything which questions your dogmatic adherence to Darwin and his disciples?

    I did have time, however, to search for John Angus Campbell on Google. Seems he’s another (former?) fellow at The Discovery Institute.

    Wow… another (not)surprise! Two in a row. I’m devastated by your irrefutable argument. Speaking of the DI, they do seem to be attracting more and more scientists, not to mention lay-drudges like myself. Maybe its because they actually do have something worthwhile to say.

    It’s better than reading your rather repetitive arguments which may be summarized as “They’re creationists so I don’t have to listen to anything they say!”

  115. … the more interesting question is whether it is true.

    Which is something everyone would understand as theology, a respected academic field. Clear communication, and no one outside of Dawkins, Myers, et al., would get excited. Aren’t you calling it science to satisfy a motivation to convince nonscientists that evolution science is wrong?

  116. “They’re creationists so I don’t have to listen to anything they say.”

    I know of only one person (one person who isn’t a creationist – sorry, that includes ID), a libarian by occupation, who continues to devote large amounts of time to collecting and reading anti-evolution books. He doesn’t do it hoping to find something convincing. Its his hobby to keep up with the anti-evolution movement, and collect the books. Most of the rest of us interested in the movement get fatigued after a short while. When a creationist says the sky is blue we have to go outside to look.

  117. Tom Gilson says:
    “If creation scientists start from science (as I say ID does) and successfully find justification for some Genesis interpretation, then more power to them! If they start from some empirical data and fail to find support for some Genesis interpretation, then so be it. You can fault them for their failure if they fail, but I’m sure you don’t fault them for starting from some empirical starting point.”

    WTF? You were trying to argue that there’s a difference between creationism and ID. You said
    “They are all varieties of creationism, but if you think that all of them piled in one heap together fill up all the available conceptual space for Intelligent Design, then you are lacking in creativity and imagination, not to mention you aren’t paying close enough attention.”

    So we point out that other versions of creationism do in fact cover ID’s “conceptual space”, you concede the point, and your response is “so what?”?

  118. qbsmd,

    No, my response was, it’s not all black-and-white, which you seem slow to recognize. (And people accuse Christianity of being dogmatic!) I gave reasons for my answer.

    And I do not think you actually showed that other versions of creationism “cover” ID’s conceptual space. I think you just showed that people from differing perspectives can work on similar problems in similar ways. Is that surprising?

    (P.S. mind your acronyms, please, I have stricter comment guidelines than some other bloggers and I do enforce them.)

  119. Geoff Arnold said (#117),
    Most of us “evolutionists” really don’t give a toss about whether anti-evolutionists describe themselves as creationists (with or without qualification), IDists, Raelians, or anything else.

    So why should anti-evolutionists care how evolutionists describe themselves, e.g., as atheists, agnostics, and Darwinist cafeteria Christians who reject the bible’s creation story while accepting the less credible gospel as literal (the creation story is fairly straightforward whereas the gospel is full of illogic, inconsistencies, ambiguities, and unintelligibility)? As William Jennings Bryan said,

    If those who teach Darwinism and evolution, as applied to man, insist that they are neither agnostics nor atheists, but are merely interpreting the Bible differently from orthodox Christians, what right have they to ask that their interpretation be taught at public expense?

    Geoff said,
    If you claim that what you’re doing is science, you need a better approach than repeated Arguments From Personal Incredulity.

    Personal incredulity is OK if it is backed up by reasoning.

    You know, falsifiable hypotheses, repeatable experiments, predictions, data, that kind of stuff.

    A lot of evolution theory is not subject to repeatable experiments and cannot predict the course of evolution.

    Kevin Winters said (#118),
    I’ve never heard a different definition of scientific persuit given such that, say, we could make important meaningful distinctions such as, as has been mentioned a few times in this thread, whether astrology is a science, or alchemy, etc.

    Some differences between ID, geocentrism, astrology, and alchemy:

    ID and geocentrism have challenged scientific theories. However, astrology and alchemy have never challenged scientific theories, because there have never been scientific theories that said that (1) motions of celestial bodies cannot influence events on earth or (2) that elements cannot be transmuted.

    Kevin Winters said,
    IDers shout about how they base their views on science, but the reality is that for the large majority of them, the science came later, after the scriptural belief and in an attempt to justify it.

    A lot of evolutionary scientists also start out with preconceived notions.

    You Darwinists have still not answered my question: when you use the term “intelligent design creationism,” what other kind(s) of ID are you trying to distinguish IDC from?

    If ID is a loophole that constitutionally allows the fundies to sneak “creationist” ideas into public schools through the back door, isn’t that just too bad? Courts should base their decisions on the law, not on Darwinists’ whims and prejudices. In the play “A Man for All Seasons,” the following exchange takes place:

    Master Secretary: this silence was not silence at all, but most eloquent denial!

    Thomas More: Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim of the law is, “Silence gives consent.” If, therefore, you wish to construe what my silence betokened . . . you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.

    MS: Is that in fact what the world construes from it? Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it?

    TM: The world must construe according to its wits. This court must construe according to the law.

  120. You Darwinists have still not answered my question: when you use the term “intelligent design creationism,” what other kind(s) of ID are you trying to distinguish IDC from?

    Excellent point, Larry.

  121. Tom Gilson says:
    “qbsmd,

    No, my response was, it’s not all black-and-white, which you seem slow to recognize. (And people accuse Christianity of being dogmatic!) I gave reasons for my answer.”

    You claimed that people who confuse ID and creationism do so either as a propaganda technique or as a result of “worldview blindness”, meaning philosophical naturalists believe “the religious way… is undifferentiated; it’s all of one irrational sort”. If “it’s not all black and white”, are you at least willing to admit that there is enough reason for someone to call ID creationism without being dishonest or “blinded”?

    “And I do not think you actually showed that other versions of creationism “cover” ID’s conceptual space. I think you just showed that people from differing perspectives can work on similar problems in similar ways. Is that surprising?”

    You haven’t fully defined ID’s conceptual space. You mentioned empirical evidence, so it was demonstrated that that is not unique to ID.

    “(P.S. mind your acronyms, please, I have stricter comment guidelines than some other bloggers and I do enforce them.)”
    Replace it with “What?” if you feel that is appropriate.

  122. Tom,

    I don’t see any way to make progress in a discussion like this until you engage with the question about what it is that meaningfully distinguishes ID from creationism.

    Are creationism and ID identical? Of course not. Can they be safely conflated by the scientific community in the same way that astrology and alchemy can? It appears so.

    You say that whether or not ID constitutes science is unimportant to this discussion, but I think that the question defines it.

    ID is a program that includes science, like biochemistry, population genetics, and information theory. To study cellular machinery, as Behe does for example, is clearly science.

    As someone else said, science isn’t facts, it’s a methodology. I define science as empirical data used in a workable hypothesis. That’s why I don’t qualify ID as science, and why I don’t think it’s meaningfully different, despite all the smoke and mirrors, from creationism or all other religions and philosophies that borrow the odd scientific fact, polish it up, and claim it supports their theory.

    But you have still not provided a definition of science, and I think that you must offer one if you think that ID is, as you claim, scientific. I have a feeling that your definition for science is the problem, because I think we can all more easily agree on what ID is.

    But there is more to ID than that; there is a philosophical program alongside it.

    For all appearances, it is the same philosophical program of creationism. This does not help to differentiate ID from creationism, and it appears to have so stunted ID’s attempts at science that it has produced nothing scientific.

    I admit that I see no harm in using the term ID creationist, although I admit that it’s redundant. As I’ve tried saying, though, ID doing something scientifically productive, starting out with a workable hypothesis, would improve my grammar in this regard instantly.

  123. This is my attempt to summarize\index the argument made so far. Hopefully it will be useful in some way.

    Tom Gilson’s point, as far as I can tell, is
    1. That you believe ID and creationism are distinct because “ID approaches the question [of human origins] from an empirical and philosophical starting point, as opposed to creationism’s Biblical starting point; so they are differentiated whether or not one calls ID ‘science.'”
    2. That people who confuse the two do so either as a propaganda technique or as a result of “worldview bias”, meaning philosophical naturalists believe “the religious way… is undifferentiated; it’s all of one irrational sort”.

    the following points have been made and not refuted (that I have seen):
    3. ID originated, at the very least, from something that was called creationism at the time.
    4. Creationism has a wide range of versions, and a valid definition must cover all of them.
    5. Creationists, whether YEC, OEC, Scientific Creationist, or other, make arguments in which they claim to have empirical evidence for their beliefs.
    6. There is evidence that ID proponents are religiously motivated; ID proponents sometimes claim to be coming from an empirical starting point and sometimes claim to be coming from a religious starting point.
    7. The name change from creationism to ID occured soon after a court case banning the teaching of Scientific Creationism.

    Therefore, it must be concluded that:
    8. The definition of Creationism must allow for empirical arguments; something is not excempt from the creationist label for arguing based on evidence. (4,5)
    9. ID cannot be objectively distinguished from the set of versions of creationism. (1,8)
    10. It is difficult to distinguish ID from the set of versions of creationism using custom definitions tuned for just that purpose. (9,3,6,7)
    11. A naturalist worldview bias, i.e. assuming all non-natural beliefs are automatically indistinguishable, is not required to believe that ID is a form of creationism, though not identical to other forms of creationism. (2,9,10)
    12. Your original points are both unjustified. (9,10,11)
    *. Since we exist, if we were designed, then at some point after that design process we must have been brought into existence, created if you will, by someone with access to that design, a creator if you will. Therefore ID implies creation. (hasn’t been brought up, just follows from the meanings of design, create, and exist)

  124. It is truly amazing that this discussion of the relationship of ID and Creationism continues for so long without any precise definitions of either one.

    Creationism is defined quite differently in different sources. Here is a broad one form About.com:

    “Creationism is the religious doctrine, opposed to naturalistic evolution, that life on this planet was created by a special, unique act of God. Creationism goes beyond this traditional religious belief, however, in asserting that this belief can be proven empirically and scientifically.”

    Intelligent design is, I think, purposely defined vaguely, so that the DI can always raise the “strawman” flag. (You can’;t fight what you can’t see.) Withal, here is an official definition from the CSC Web site:

    “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    The only significant difference that I see is whether ID’d “intelligent cause” is necessarily supernatural. Although they waffle on that point, the clear implication is that the intelligence is “supernatural”—in the sense of beyond any natural law, now known or later discovered. In that sense, ID is functionally equivalent to creationism.

    Please critique with the proposed definitions and their implications.

  125. It is truly amazing that this discussion of the relationship of ID and Creationism continues for so long without any precise definitions of either one.

    Creationism is defined quite differently in different sources. Here is a broad one form About.com:

    “Creationism is the religious doctrine, opposed to naturalistic evolution, that life on this planet was created by a special, unique act of God. Creationism goes beyond this traditional religious belief, however, in asserting that this belief can be proven empirically and scientifically.”

    Intelligent design is, I think, purposely defined vaguely, so that the DI can always raise the “strawman” flag. (You can’;t fight what you can’t see.) Withal, here is an official definition from the CSC Web site:

    “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    The only significant difference that I see is whether ID’d “intelligent cause” is necessarily supernatural. Although they waffle on that point, the clear implication is that the intelligence is “supernatural”—in the sense of beyond any natural law, now known or later discovered. In that sense, ID is functionally equivalent to creationism.

    Please critique with the proposed definitions and their implications….

  126. Olorin:

    Creationism is defined quite differently in different sources. Here is a broad one form About.com:

    “Creationism is the religious doctrine, opposed to naturalistic evolution, that life on this planet was created by a special, unique act of God. Creationism goes beyond this traditional religious belief, however, in asserting that this belief can be proven empirically and scientifically.”

    Supported by physical evidence is a fairer description. It’s a good time to point out that there are some who believe the first cell (cells) were created and that life subsequently evolved. A combination of creation and ID evolution. This is not contrary to standard evolutionary theories for evolution starts with an existing cell. Taking it to a precursor level goes beyond what the empirical evidence will sustain. We all know that mainstreamers are horrified at the very thought.

    …here is an official definition from the CSC Web site:

    “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    The only significant difference that I see is whether ID’d “intelligent cause” is necessarily supernatural. Although they waffle on that point, the clear implication is that the intelligence is “supernatural”—in the sense of beyond any natural law, now known or later discovered.

    ID is restricted to physical evidence for findings that relate to intelligent, purposeful causes. Creation includes faith i.e. extending reasoned implications to point to God as the ultimate causal origin. That’s a substantial difference,

    In that sense, ID is functionally equivalent to creationism.

    No more than abiogenesis is the functional equivalent of evolution. There are different sets of starting assumptions making clear distinctions between the four approaches.

  127. qbsmd,

    If “it’s not all black and white”, are you at least willing to admit that there is enough reason for someone to call ID creationism without being dishonest or “blinded”?

    Of course. I never made a dogmatic statement about it. I said I was wondering, asking a question. I’m still in that place.

    Tony,

    I don’t see any way to make progress in a discussion like this until you engage with the question about what it is that meaningfully distinguishes ID from creationism.

    If the meaningful distinctions I’ve described repeatedly here do not suffice, then I guess I won’t be able to provide for you what you think you need.

    You say that whether or not ID constitutes science is unimportant to this discussion, but I think that the question defines it.

    The question is whether ID is creationism. Let’s suppose that ID is not science in any way, and that creationism is not science in any way. Let’s also observe that music is not science in any way, and neither is painting or sculpture. Let’s just get the science question off our minds. If we agree that ID and creationism are not science, then does that mean they are identical? On what grounds? Are they both then identical to music and painting and sculpture?

    Are creationism and ID identical? Of course not. Can they be safely conflated by the scientific community in the same way that astrology and alchemy can? It appears so.
    Funny you should bring up astrology and alchemy. If the historic roots of a discipline determine what that discipline is from then on (as you and others have been saying about ID and creationism), then science is astrology and alchemy.

    I define science as empirical data used in a workable hypothesis.

    Then New Testament hermeneutics is science. There is empirical data and there are hypotheses. Did you know that about hermeneutics? That’s the problem with defining science, and many have run into it.

    But you have still not provided a definition of science, and I think that you must offer one if you think that ID is, as you claim, scientific.

    See above. I don’t think I have to defend ID’s scientific status in order to answer the question I’ve raised here.

    For all appearances, it is the same philosophical program of creationism.

    You have three options, Tony. There are differences between the two. Are you (a) unwilling to recognize the distinction, (b) unable to recognize it, or (c) is something else going on so that you don’t see or acknowledge the distinction that exists.

  128. qbsmd,

    Your point 3 does not need to be refuted because in general it is true.
    Your point 4 is irrelevant, because I have been talking about ID’s being distinct from a specific form of creationism, and I have acknowledged that it is not distinct from every conceivable definition of creationism.
    Your point 5 doesn’t seem to fit into any argument here. Everybody in science and even in other disciplines uses arguments based on empirical evidence. I used arguments today, based on empirical evidence, in favor of a certain leadership approach in an organization. So I don’t know what you’re trying to say with this.
    Your point 6 does not need refuting because it is true.
    Your point 7: same. Already acknowledged and discussed.

    Your conclusion 8 is fine with me. I think creationism does allow for empirical arguments.
    Your point 9 does not follow from your points 1 through 8. It’s simply a non sequitur.
    Your point 10 rests on point 9, so it has no foundation.
    Your point 11 has little relation to the rest of the discussion anywhere here.
    So point 12 has no basis in fact or argument.

  129. Olorin,

    It is truly amazing that this discussion of the relationship of ID and Creationism continues for so long without any precise definitions of either one.

    It’s amazing you didn’t read the first three paragraphs of the OP, and follow-ups here, here, and here.

    I am arguing that there is a definition of creationism that predominates in the popular press and among ID antagonists, and that ID is not the same as creationism so defined. Because that is the argument that I have brought forward, I am trying to keep us on the topic of whether ID is distinct from creationism so defined. We have discussed other definitions of creationism, too. I think you have missed quite a bit here.

  130. Tom, the post and the comments, including the ones you cited, are mostly vague, and certainly differ from each other.

    Agreeing on a single definition of each is necessary before they can be compared. I don’t see any such agreement.

    If you wish to restrict creationism to what the popular press understands, how would you phrase a definition of that understanding?

    Also, no one else has laid out a precise definition of intelligent design. Is there a reason we should not use the one advanced by the Discovery Institute on their Web site for the past decade?

  131. Tom,

    Me: I don’t see any way to make progress in a discussion like this until you engage with the question about what it is that meaningfully distinguishes ID from creationism.
    You: If the meaningful distinctions I’ve described repeatedly here do not suffice, then I guess I won’t be able to provide for you what you think you need.

    I am working with the broadest definition of creationism here. If you mean that creationism truly contains only the tiny number of people who start from Genesis then I believe that your original question is probably a result of your (overly) narrow definition of the word creationism.

    The question is whether ID is creationism.

    Actually, I think the question as you framed it is more along the lines of Is the term ‘Intelligent Design Creationism’ based on malice or ignorance? (As David Ellis astutely recently pointed out on the other post dealing with this issue, those using the term might simply find it necessary to add the word “Creationism” to “Intelligent Design” because that most accurately describes the subset group they wish to discuss; if you do not belong to that group, maybe you should simply take no offense.)

    If we agree that ID and creationism are not science, then does that mean they are identical?

    Well, I said previously:

    Me: Are creationism and ID identical? Of course not.

    So I don’t know why you’d show that the two are not identical.

    Tom: [In reply to my definition of science.] Then New Testament hermeneutics is science. There is empirical data and there are hypotheses. Did you know that about hermeneutics? That’s the problem with defining science, and many have run into it.

    My problems with your allowing hermeneutics into my definition of science aside, I offered a definition as a point of discussion. You are steadfastly refusing to do this, and you are simultaneously taking the position (even though you oddly hold that it is irrelevant to this discussion), that ID is science.

    Why is this a problem? You cannot assert that ID is science (a debated, and widely rejected assertion) without offering the definition by which you are so allowing. Failing to provide us with that simple and reasonable request dooms this as a discussion, one that it seems many people feel is still worth having.

    I will say this because I guess it needs to be stated: the statement “ID is not identical to creationism” is vacuous. What is meaningful is the assertion that “ID is meaningfully different from creationism because…”

    Now you say that ID is meaningfully different than creationism because it has different origins, but from the vantage of those you singled out (Dawkins, Forest, Myers.) this is obviously immaterial; my view that the moon determines what I will feel hungry for tomorrow might be entirely my own invention, but that doesn’t make it any more deserving of respect than Astrology.

    You have three options, Tony. There are differences between the two. Are you (a) unwilling to recognize the distinction, (b) unable to recognize it, or (c) is something else going on so that you don’t see or acknowledge the distinction that exists.

    I have already said that ID and creationism are not identical. I am waiting for you (or others who agree with you; I don’t mean to be put all the pressure on you), as are others here, to show why we should care any more about the philosophical musings of ID (which I find to be sometimes sophisticated but ultimately empty) than we do for creationism (which I find to be primitive and ultimately empty).

  132. Since Tom has, at the time I started writing this, decided he’d rather quietly ignore my arguments and questions than acknowledge and answer them, let me finish up here and then I’ll be off.

    Hi Wheels

    Hi, Dave!

    Why am I not suprised? Would you be open to reading/listening to/watching anything which questions your dogmatic adherence to Darwin and his disciples?

    Usually, when I’m not dealing with a hyper-active half-grown Boxer pup who’s bored because it’s been raining all day, and dealing with other sundry errands and chores that keep me popping in and out of the ‘net in 20-minute bursts while the sun’s out. In that context, a solid hour of video interview can get kind of fragmented, which is why I asked if you’d be kind enough to summarize the key points yourself (since you seem to already be familiar with the video). I guess… I guess you’re not. Oh well, thanks anyway! 🙂

    I did have time, however, to search for John Angus Campbell on Google. Seems he’s another (former?) fellow at The Discovery Institute.

    Wow… another (not)surprise! Two in a row. I’m devastated by your irrefutable argument.

    I hadn’t made an argument, I used a two-minute Google Search to find out more about this Campbell fellow and it turns out he’s connected with the single largest clearinghouse of Intelligent Design advocacy and lobbying around, which I found rather disappointing. I was hoping (vainly, it seems) to find an impartial third-party weighing in on the science/ID question. I don’t know why, really, I could expect that. In fact for 3/4s it’s basically a lecture about rhetoric and its use in Darwin’s published works. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually address the SUBSTANCE of Darwin’s significant theories, even in the last quarter when he later says that he’s increasingly finding them problematic (no real explanation given). What he’s mainly doing is explaining the rhetorical devices Darwin used to overcome the inertia of popular thought at the time. Then as final minutes draw to a close, he says that people should be open to the possibility of Design. Science, it turns out, is open to that suggestion (archeology and SETI for example), but ID hasn’t offered a compelling case because it has no scientific substance or method compatible with science itself (not specific scientific IDEAS like evolution, but how science is actually and productively done). Then he talks about how unimpressed he was with the reaction of legitimate scientists and other academics to Phillip Johnson, characterizing it as a dogma. (In realty they’re probably just tired of dealing with Johnson’s old-hat misconceptions and Creationist arguments because they’ve mostly been already addressed, several times over, for years. It’s not that Johnson has anything new to bring to the table and they’re shutting him out, it’s more like closing the door on a vacuum cleaner salesman who keeps bringing back the same model he did for the last fifteen years. People get impatient with persistent misunderstanding.)
    MY point in bringing out the use of rhetoric in ID was to show that it has no substance behind it, unlike his tale of Darwin’s publications. It’s just the same old Creationism with a different phraseology and a rule about not mentioning Genesis. Contrary to Tom’s characterization, it’s not a new approach or a new way of thinking about the world which leads one to the legitimate conclusion of Design, it’s just the same shhh– stuff, different label.

    Speaking of the DI, they do seem to be attracting more and more scientists, not to mention lay-drudges like myself.

    They actually do not seem to be attracting more scientists. Campbell, for one, isn’t a scientist, and apparently isn’t a fellow at the DI anymore. Not only that, the DI seems to be attracting even more of the YECs Tom said was distinct from ID, not to mention lay-dredges like yourself (your words, not mine).

    Maybe its because they actually do have something worthwhile to say.

    So worthwhile that they mainly attract old-school Creationists and people who think Astrology is science. It has famously attracted Jonathan Wells, who was sent to Berkeley to get a degree in biology so that he could better serve Reverend Moon’s wish to attack the idea of evolution. In fact, from the roster on Wikipedia, they seem to attract at least as many lawyers as scientists. Not so worthwhile as to attract top biologists and researchers like, say, Francis Collins, Carl Woese, Edward O. Wilson, etc.

    It’s better than reading your rather repetitive arguments which may be summarized as “They’re creationists so I don’t have to listen to anything they say!”

    I really don’t think I’ve said that, what I have done is question why some people here rely on arguments, terminology, and ultimately credibility from the Discovery Institute, knowing of its history as a promoter of lies, polemics, and misinformation. In fact I think I’ve done that in addition to, rather than instead of, responding to specific arguments made, something I feel can be said for our host.

    Oh, and thank you for not assuming the worst when I couldn’t watch your video right away. It’s nice to be given the benefit of the doubt.

  133. Tom wrote:
    \Granted. ID proponents think that Miller is wrong scientifically.\

    They may SAY that, but if they THINK that they’d be doing science instead of apologetics aimed at ignorant laypeople.

    \But that’s part of the overall tapestry of the debate,…\

    But debate isn’t science. Science is a way of producing new data about our world by testing hypotheses. The new data are useful whether or not the hypothesis being tested is true, but no ID proponent has ever empirically tested an ID hypothesis to produce even a single new datum. The hypothesis that ID is pseudoscientific fraud predicts that this will continue to be the case.

    \But ID is not seeking only to survive among the REAL sciences and empirical argument,…\

    ID has nothing to do with REAL science, Tom. REAL science produces NEW, REAL DATA. ID has never, nor will it ever, do anything of the sort.

    \… because that’s too narrow a scope. There is REAL science being conducted…\

    There is NO science being conducted in the form of testing an ID hypothesis. NONE. It’s a fraud.

    \I’ll get on the phone to Steve Meyer and tell him he might want to check out this new information. He’ll probably withdraw his new book from the market.\

    His book has no new data, because ID is not science.

    \ I’m sure he wouldn’t have even written it if you had gotten to him earlier with this.\

    I’m sure that he would have.

    \I could contact Bradley Monton about it, too. I’m sure he’ll be surprised to hear it. I mean, in his book Seeking God In Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design, he makes quite an excellent case for ID being science.\

    Does he cite any data that were produced from testing an ID hypothesis? They can be published on a cocktail napkin for all I care.

    \By the way, what are your demarcation criteria for what is or is not science? \

    Testing hypotheses. If you’re not testing an ID hypothesis, you can’t be claiming to be doing ID science.

    \Scientists are not the first people to go to for a definition of what is or not science. Philosophers of science—like Monton—actually are.\

    According to whom?

    \I don’t think there’s a single ID proponent who argues from Genesis, which is what counts for the discipline.\

    But it’s not science if it’s just arguments.

    \ID is a program that includes science, like biochemistry, population genetics, and information theory.\

    Utterly false, Tom. No one in the ID movement has ever done anything in any of those fields to test an ID hypothesis.

    \To study cellular machinery, as Behe does for example, is clearly science.\

    Behe quit studying cellular machinery when he adopted ID more than a decade ago. When we scientists say that we are studying something, it does not mean that we cherry-pick the primary literature, it means that we produce primary literature. \Primary\ in this context is not equivalent to \peer-reviewed,\ it means containing new data.

  134. Dave asked:

    Would you be open to reading/listening to/watching anything which questions your dogmatic adherence to Darwin and his disciples?

    Hi, Dave! I’m perfectly open to anything that includes new data. Do you have anything like that?

    As for questioning alleged dogmatic adherence to Darwin, are you aware that we biologists are fully aware of non-Darwinian mechanisms of evolution?

    Can you name one?

    And since we acknowledge non-Darwinian mechanisms, doesn’t that prove beyond any doubt that there is no such thing as dogmatic adherence to Darwin?

  135. 150 posts later, its still a dishonest rhetorical ploy to append “creationism” to the term “intelligent design”. Its primarily a way to dismiss the ID argument without having to address the key aspects of it, which are scientifically based, not religious.

    I asked Barbara Forrest about her reckless overuse of the term “creationist”, no response. I think the “it all just happens” crowd is addicted to the term!

  136. Tom:

    If creation scientists start from science (as I say ID does) and successfully find justification for some Genesis interpretation, then more power to them!

    But you saying that doesn’t make it true. Look at the verbal gymnastics you’re doing–what exactly does “start from science” mean, anyway, but a lame attempt to make ID look sciencey when its hallmark is the lack of sufficient faith to put a single ID hypothesis to the test?

    If they start from some empirical data and fail to find support for some Genesis interpretation, then so be it.

    But science doesn’t start from *some* data, it starts from *all* the data, and it produces more data! Picking the data to start from is simply dishonest.

    You can fault them for their failure if they fail, but I’m sure you don’t fault them for starting from some empirical starting point.

    I fault them for lacking the faith to test their hypotheses. They are afraid of failure, so they do apologetics instead of science. They don’t even try.

    Does it then bother you that they are trying to prove a Genesis hypothesis?

    Absolutely, because in real science, no hypothesis is ever considered to be proven. Real scientists are trying to disprove a hypothesis when they test it.

    What are hypotheses for, but to be tested?

    And to be disproven or supported, but never, ever proven. Do you have any idea as to your vast ignorance of elementary scientific epistemology, Tom?

    And for purposes of this discussion, ID differs anyway, because it’s not trying to prove a Genesis hypothesis except in the very loosest, broadest, almost metaphorical sense.

    Arguments don’t constitute scientific effort or progress. New data do.

    ID’s answer is, no, we are neither of those, and we’re using science along with philosophy to study origins.

    More silly gymnastics. Why doesn’t ID ***DO*** science, Tom?

  137. Everyone please see here. The point of the current discussion is not dependent on ID’s scientific status.

    There are numerous errors of fact in recent comments, especially in what John has written, but I have no reason to suppose we would get anywhere by arguing them. I’ve seen this played out over and over again, and it always comes out the same. There are others, scientists, who could do a better job on this than I could (it’s not my area of specialization in this debate).

    So let me repeat what I said above, already linked in this comment:

    “The question is whether ID is creationism. Let’s suppose that ID is not science in any way, and that creationism is not science in any way. Let’s also observe that music is not science in any way, and neither is painting or sculpture. Let’s just get the science question off our minds. If we agree that ID and creationism are not science, then does that mean they are identical?”

    The answer is no.

  138. “Let’s just get the science question off our minds. If we agree that ID and creationism are not science, then does that mean they are identical?

    The answer is no.”

    Hi

    Putting aside the issue of science, the question is not whether ID and creationism are identical.

    The question is, from the OP: Are people justified appending the term ‘creationism’ to the term ‘intelligent design’? The two concepts do not have to be identical for this to be justified.

    In my opinion, whilst the two concepts differ in some respects, they have large areas in common, as has been discussed at length above. ID’s ancestry is in creationism. It has diverged from its ancestor sufficiently to at least be regarded as a variant, thus ‘intelligent design creationism’. But as many agree that ID still has more similarities with its progenitor than differences, the ‘creationism’ suffix remains apt.

  139. Hello John

    As for questioning alleged dogmatic adherence to Darwin, are you aware that we biologists are fully aware of non-Darwinian mechanisms of evolution?

    Would you be referrring to molecualr evolution, horizontal gene transfer, or epigenetics? Each of which has been, or is in the precess of being, shoe-horned into the “grand Darwinian narrative” – that (in)famous “universal acid” – which purports to explain everything from the beginning of the universe to why you scratch your nose when it itches. The Darwinian narrative is rhetorically powerful but scientifically thin – the point of the interview linked above which Wheels lacks the time to view.

    Darwin was able to connect to the “spirit of the age” and offered an hypothesis which purported to explain life (the final frontier of reductionist materialism) in materialistic terms plausible to the 19th C. imperial narrative. Subsequent discoveries have reduced the plausibilty factor by an order of magnitude which has led some scientists to reject the theory as it is presently formulated.

    And since we acknowledge non-Darwinian mechanisms, doesn’t that prove beyond any doubt that there is no such thing as dogmatic adherence to Darwin?

    Hello John, I do believe my words were…

    dogmatic adherence to Darwin and his disciples?

    The defining characteristic of Darwinism is its dogmatic defense of philosophical materialism as the only acceptable formula for the study of nature. The linking factor of Dawinism, by which his philosophy follows upon the older philosophies of Epicurus, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Locke and supports to the modern philosophies of Marx, Neitzsche, and Dewey, not to mention the post-modernist embrace of absolute subjectivism (an oxymoron).

    So, while you may accept non-Darwinian mechanisms for evolution in the sense that you incorporate mechanisms which have been discovered since Darwin, you dogmatically insist that any such discovery must be interpreted via the same materialist philosophy which Darwin championed. Darwin (and, by extension, you) based his theory upon a metaphysical assumption about the nature of the universe which is essentially beyond the purview of scientific investigation and has more in common with religious revelation than scientific investigation.

    So no, your acceptance of “non-Darwinian” mechanisms doesn’t “prove beyond any doubt that there is no such thing as dogmatic adherence to Darwin?” Darwin constructed a rhetorical framework within which he fit particular observations. Although subsequent observations challenge the veracity Darwin’s framework but his disciples insist the the framework is the only viable model – even if we don’t know how it works, and even though it often leads to absurd conclusions.

  140. Tom wrote:

    The point of the current discussion is not dependent on ID’s scientific status.

    Well,

    1) you keep bringing it up, and
    2) it is incredibly silly to discuss whether two things are different or not while claiming that their greatest identity (masquerading as science to fool scientifically illiterate laypeople) is off limits.

    The answer is no.

    As Nick and Cameron have pointed out, the ID movement evolved from the creationist movement.

    If only it actually communicated that way, Cameron; but the actual effect of it is almost never that nuanced.

    Nick pointed out the supporting data, but you didn’t like that.

    Dave says:

    Would you be referrring to molecualr evolution, horizontal gene transfer, or epigenetics?

    Nope!

    Each of which has been, or is in the precess of being, shoe-horned into the “grand Darwinian narrative”

    What shoehorning is required for the sequence data, exactly? Please don’t reiterate the standard lie of omission that the terabytes of sequence data represent nothing more than vague similarity.

    – that (in)famous “universal acid” – which purports to explain everything from the beginning of the universe to why you scratch your nose when it itches. The Darwinian narrative is rhetorically powerful but scientifically thin – the point of the interview linked above which Wheels lacks the time to view.

    You didn’t bother to name an actual non-Darwinian mechanism, so you’re just ranting now.

    Darwin was able to connect to the “spirit of the age” and offered an hypothesis which purported to explain life (the final frontier of reductionist materialism) in materialistic terms plausible to the 19th C. imperial narrative.

    False. Darwin’s hypothesis (now theory with massive empirical support, particularly the *differences* between all those sequences that you are incapable of addressing) explained how life changed over time, not “life” period.

    Subsequent discoveries have reduced the plausibilty factor by an order of magnitude which has led some scientists to reject the theory as it is presently formulated.

    Name one of those alleged scientists who produces new data, please.

    I do believe my words were…dogmatic adherence to Darwin and his disciples?

    The existence and widespread understanding (obviously not including you) of non-Darwinian mechanisms makes the term “disciples” loony. Any disciple that fits the description would neither discover non-Darwinian mechanisms nor call them non-Darwinian.

    The defining characteristic of Darwinism…

    I’m talking about non-DarwinIAN MECHANISMS (you can’t even name one), while you are pretending to respond by talking about DarwinISM as though it’s a political philosophy.

    So, while you may accept non-Darwinian mechanisms for evolution in the sense that you incorporate mechanisms which have been discovered since Darwin, you dogmatically insist that any such discovery must be interpreted via the same materialist philosophy which Darwin championed.

    Where exactly did I do that, Dave? I merely challenged you to name one and you failed miserably.

    So no, your acceptance of “non-Darwinian” mechanisms doesn’t “prove beyond any doubt that there is no such thing as dogmatic adherence to Darwin?” Darwin constructed a rhetorical framework within which he fit particular observations.

    No. He constructed a theoretical framework that predicted massive amounts of FUTURE observations, something no one in the ID movement has the faith to do.

    Although subsequent observations challenge the veracity Darwin’s framework but his disciples insist the the framework is the only viable model…

    How can that be, since we clearly label some of them (you are so blind that you can’t name one) with the term non-Darwinian, Dave?

  141. John, you say,

    1) you keep bringing it up, and
    2) it is incredibly silly to discuss whether two things are different or not while claiming that their greatest identity (masquerading as science to fool scientifically illiterate laypeople) is off limits.

    1. I’m not bringing it up now.
    2. I have demonstrated that they are different in spite of their having features in common.

    Joseph Stalin and Mother Teresa both had two eyes, one nose, two ears, and the usual count for appendages, heart, liver, stomach, etc. They both thought with their minds, they both communicated with language, they both had emotions, goals, aspirations, dreams, and drives. They both worked to accomplish their goals by gathering a group of like minded people to share the work with them. They both achieved international fame, and they both made a very significant difference in the world. They had an awful lot in common. Some might say they had more in common than they had to distinguish them. Some might say it’s silly to discuss whether they were different from each other.

    As Nick and Cameron have pointed out, the ID movement evolved from the creationist movement…. Nick pointed out the supporting data, but you didn’t like that.

    John, forgive me, but this is tiresome. I have acknowledged what you say Nick and Cameron pointed out, I have discussed some nuances attached to that acknowledgement. Please don’t throw this back into the discussion as if it were never mentioned or dealt with previously. Please see Items 4 and 11 in the Discussion Policy. Though it’s not explicitly stated there, I think you can see that one thing I don’t appreciate is spinning our wheels.

  142. John, you say,

    1) you keep bringing it up, and
    2) it is incredibly silly to discuss whether two things are different or not while claiming that their greatest identity (masquerading as science to fool scientifically illiterate laypeople) is off limits.

    1. I’m not bringing it up now.
    2. I have demonstrated that they are different in spite of their having features in common.

    Joseph Stalin and Mother Teresa both had two eyes, one nose, two ears, and the usual count for appendages, heart, liver, stomach, etc. They both thought with their minds, they both communicated with language, they both had emotions, goals, aspirations, dreams, and drives. They both worked to accomplish their goals by gathering a group of like minded people to share the work with them. They both achieved international fame, and they both made a very significant difference in the world. They had an awful lot in common. Some might say they had more in common than they had to distinguish them. Some might say it’s silly to discuss whether they were different from each other.

    As Nick and Cameron have pointed out, the ID movement evolved from the creationist movement…. Nick pointed out the supporting data, but you didn’t like that.

    John, forgive me, but this is tiresome. I have acknowledged what you say Nick and Cameron pointed out, I have discussed some nuances attached to that acknowledgement. Please don’t throw this back into the discussion as if it were never mentioned or dealt with previously. Please see Items 4 and 11 in the Discussion Policy. Though it’s not explicitly stated there, I think you can see that one thing I don’t appreciate is spinning our wheels and going nowhere.

  143. Cameron said (#154) —
    In my opinion, whilst the two concepts differ in some respects, they have large areas in common . . . . . But as many agree that ID still has more similarities with its progenitor than differences, the ‘creationism’ suffix remains apt.

    OK, “intelligent design” and “creationism” overlap in some respects, but does that mean that it is appropriate to combine the terms? Richard Dawkins said that evolution theory makes it possible to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist,” but does that make it appropriate to constantly use the term “evolution atheism”? The term “intelligent design creationism” is just plain stupid, and Darwinists’ widespread adoption of the term shows their herd mentality.

    And I am still waiting for an answer to my question: when you Darwinists use the term “intelligent design creationism,” what other kind(s) of ID are you trying to distinguish IDC from?

  144. Yes, intelligent design theory is to creationism as Joseph Stalin is to Mother Teresa.

    It’s all clear to me now. Why didn’t you just say something like that from the start?

  145. Hello John

    You didn’t bother to name an actual non-Darwinian mechanism, so you’re just ranting now.

    So enlighten me. I’m always ready to learn something new, which non-Darwinian mechanism did I fail to name?

    I’m talking about non-DarwinIAN MECHANISMS (you can’t even name one), while you are pretending to respond by talking about DarwinISM as though it’s a political philosophy.

    Which would be why DARWINISTS persist in appealling to courts and politicians to enforce their dogamtic belief in materialism rather than name the elusive non-Darwinian mechanism.

    I really would like to know the mechanism to which you refer. If my knowledge of the debate is deficient then please illumine me.

  146. And I am still waiting for an answer to my question: when you Darwinists use the term “intelligent design creationism,” what other kind(s) of ID are you trying to distinguish IDC from?

    I don’t speak for any other Darwinists, but if I were to use the term I’d mean for it to distinguish between those who are proponents of ID as a religious and political movement, as opposed to those who are adherents of ID as science alone. Seeing as how ID does not employ a scientific methodology for its proponents to adhere to, I find it unnecessary to use the term, and when I say Intelligent Design I mean the religious and political movement.

    I am coming to see, though, why those in the public forum might use the term, as a necessary pre-emption to those on the ID side who insist upon representing ID as a scientific movement without every providing evidence to that effect.

  147. Hello David

    Yes, intelligent design theory is to creationism as Joseph Stalin is to Mother Teresa.

    Speaking of analogies…

    I remember reading an essay a while ago which postulated that all European literature is simply descended with modification via random copy errors and can be traced an obsucre 9th C. original. Multiple copy errors in reproduction have brought us such diverse texts as Chaucer, Dumas, Cervantes, and Goethe.

  148. Hello Tony

    I am coming to see, though, why those in the public forum might use the term, as a necessary pre-emption to those on the ID side who insist upon representing ID as a scientific movement without every providing evidence to that effect.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie

    Only by your narrow definition of ‘science’ as the pursuit of material explanations for observed phenomena, a philosophical belief which cannot be confirmed within the bounds of your own definition of science.

  149. Tom @153: The question is whether ID is creationism

    I have to agree with [email protected] about this. If you’re going to limit “creationism” to Young Earth Creationism (YEC), and “ID” to some new definition you’ve made up in the last five years, the answer is no. But you’ve merely scoped the problem down until it is uninteresting and irrelevant.

    What we should care about is whether the same non-scientific, religious concepts that religous fundamentalists earlier attempted to improperly add to H.S. Biology classes under the name “creationism” are now being snuck in under the name “ID.” And to that question I think the answer is: yes.

    Today’s ID still uses the same false dichotomy (claiming that no known mechanism for x is positive evidence that x was designed). It still posits a supernatural designer. It still says nothing testable about the design event – no detail, no when, no where, no how, no nothing It still makes the ludicrous claim that nature cannot produce information, when it does. And its followers still refuse to do any research or publish their opinions in ways that allow other scientists to independently test those opinions. (Behe and Dembski claims they’ve calculated the CSI of the flagella decades ago. Why won’t they post the calculation? Its not like we’re asking for anything novel; you don’t have to do any more work, just show the work you claim to have completed! But I digress.)

    Given all that, I frankly don’t see how it matters whether you want to call it a type of creationism or not. You’ve still got a dead fish on your hands – you’re just quibbling over the fact that today’s flounder is not technically the same dead fish as yesterday’s tuna. The stink is just as noxious.

  150. Eric, you say,

    I have to agree with [email protected] about this. If you’re going to limit “creationism” to Young Earth Creationism (YEC), and “ID” to some new definition you’ve made up in the last five years, the answer is no. But you’ve merely scoped the problem down until it is uninteresting and irrelevant.

    I think that scoping down of the problem is exactly what ID antagonists do when they call it creationism and fail to point out they mean something other than the usual (default understanding of what “creationism” means. They take all the nuance out of the discussion.

    I am not limiting creationism to YEC. (Please, why do I have to repeat myself so? Maybe you’re new to this thread and you haven’t read it all.) I am saying that communicators who fail to clearly delineate what they mean by creationism should expect their audiences to take the default definition as what they meant, and that default definition is YEC.

    What we should care about is whether the same non-scientific, religious concepts that religous fundamentalists earlier attempted to improperly add to H.S. Biology classes under the name “creationism” are now being snuck in under the name “ID.” And to that question I think the answer is: yes.

    I don’t mind if you care about political agendas or the scientific quality of ID, but the topic of this post is neither of those, it is the definitions of terms and the quality of discussion in the face of confused and confusing rhetoric. Today’s ID is not creationism according to the default definition of creationism.

  151. What we should care about is whether the same non-scientific, religious concepts that religous fundamentalists earlier attempted to improperly add to H.S. Biology classes under the name “creationism” are now being snuck in under the name “ID.” And to that question I think the answer is: yes.

    Are you equally concerned that science lessons in question begging and gap thinking, formerly taught as “We don’t have empirical evidence for this and it isn’t falsifiable anyway”, are now being snuck into classrooms under the name “The Theory of Everything”?

  152. Hello eric

    As I noted in #42 “ID is creationism for atheists.” The main difference between the two is that creationism per se begins with the Creator and looks at nature through that paradigm. ID begins with nature and deduces from what it observes that someone or something acted with foresight and intention (intelligence) when causing what we observe.

    The materialist (naturalist/physicalist) begins with philosophical materialism and looks at nature through that paradigm – it is anti-creationism – and anything which hints of foresight and intent is verboten, whether or not it fits the observation. To the materialist anything which implies foresight and intentionality is creationism because foresight and intentionality imply agency and agency implies personality and personality implies the Creator God of the Bible. Science has nothing to do with it.

  153. Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die.

    On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873)
    By Friedrich Nietzsche
    http://www.e-scoala.ro/biblioteca/friedrich_nietzsche.html

  154. Larry said (#160) –

    (Cameron) “In my opinion, whilst the two concepts differ in some respects, they have large areas in common . . . . . But as many agree that ID still has more similarities with its progenitor than differences, the ‘creationism’ suffix remains apt.”

    Larry: “OK, “intelligent design” and “creationism” overlap in some respects, but does that mean that it is appropriate to combine the terms? Richard Dawkins said that evolution theory makes it possible to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist,” but does that make it appropriate to constantly use the term “evolution atheism”? The term “intelligent design creationism” is just plain stupid, and Darwinists’ widespread adoption of the term shows their herd mentality.”

    Hi Larry. It is justifiable to combine the terms if the extent of the overlap between the two concepts is substantial. Of course, the extent of overlap between two concepts is many times a subjective judgement. In the case of ID and creationism, as you acknowledged, there is significant objective evidence of their common origin, common arguments, common philosophies, and that the vast majority of ID proponents are, in fact, also creationists. Is this sufficient justification to treat ID as a variety of creationism? Let me quote (gasp) Charles Darwin on a similar problem in biology:

    “… [W]hen a naturalist can unite two forms together by others having intermediate characters, he treats the one as a variety of the other, ranking the most common, but sometimes the one first described, as the species, and the other as the variety. But cases of great difficulty, which I will not here enumerate, sometimes occur in deciding whether or not to rank one form as a variety of another, even when they are closely connected by intermediate links.” (Origin of Species, Chapter 2).

    Clearly this is one of those cases of “great difficulty” — has ID sufficiently diverged from its ancestor, creationism, to be treated as a distinct concept? Or is it still connected so closely to its ancestor by many similarities that it should be treated as a variety of creationism?

    In my view, and it seems the majority of those following the history of ID, it still cannot be be “uncoupled from its creationist antecedents”. Thus, the term “ID creationism” is, in my view, still apt.

    Larry: “And I am still waiting for an answer to my question: when you Darwinists use the term “intelligent design creationism,” what other kind(s) of ID are you trying to distinguish IDC from?

    As explained above, “intelligent design creationism” is used to describe ID as a variety of creationism, and serves to distinguish ID creationism from YEC creationism, OEC creationism, etc.

  155. Hello Cameron

    In my view, and it seems the majority of those following the history of ID, it still cannot be be “uncoupled from its creationist antecedents”. Thus, the term “ID creationism” is, in my view, still apt.

    Beginning at the 1 minute mark John Maynard Smith describes the impact evolution had upon his religious beliefs.

    http://meaningoflife.tv/video.php?speaker=maynard%20smith&topic=complete

    This so completely echoes the stories of so many evolutionists that perhaps we should refer to evolutionists as “evolution atheism”. What’s good for the goos is good for the gander and it is quite clear that, for most people, evolution cannot be uncoupled from its atheistic antecedents.

    Epicurus (341-2 71 B.C.) was first and foremost a moral philosopher, not a natural philosopher. His goal was the achievement of tranquility; the means to this goal was materialism. “Do not believe there is any other goal to be achieved by the knowledge of meteorological phenomena,” Epicurus admonishes his readers, “than freedom from disturbance.” Epicureanism is, then, a way of life seeking a universe to support it. Epicurus employs the atomistic materialism of Democritus, not because he has empirical evidence that it is true but because it fits his ethical goal of freedom from disturbance. If we were already tranquil, he says, “we would have no need of natural science.” We may begin to grasp this relationship of ethics to physics by examining Epicurus’s famous four-part cure.

    Don’t fear god;
    Don’t worry about death;
    What is good is easy to get;
    What is terrible is easy to endure.

    Take the second part first. Epicurus is right that the fear of death is a great cause of anxiety. Not only do we fear extinction, but we also dread divine punishment or we hope for eternal reward. All this anxiety could be cured, however, if the universe were such that these concerns are groundless. The “cure” is materialism: Eliminate the soul, and such worries may disappear with it. Epicurus adopts Democritean atomism for just this purpose. Following Democritus, Epicurus claims that the universe is constituted by only two thing: atoms and void.

    http://soli.inav.net/~jfischer/jul99/benjamindwiker.html
    [bold added]

  156. Hi Dave

    Cameron: In my view, and it seems the majority of those following the history of ID, it still cannot be be “uncoupled from its creationist antecedents”. Thus, the term “ID creationism” is, in my view, still apt.

    Dave: Beginning at the 1 minute mark John Maynard Smith describes the impact evolution had upon his religious beliefs …
    This so completely echoes the stories of so many evolutionists that perhaps we should refer to evolutionists as “evolution atheism”. What’s good for the goos is good for the gander and it is quite clear that, for most people, evolution cannot be uncoupled from its atheistic antecedents.

    Sorry, I can’t see videos where I am.

    The defect in your argument is that around 40% of natural scientists profess belief in a personal God (E.J. Larson and L. Witham, Scientists are still keeping the faith, Nature 386 (3 April 1997), 435-436.) Thus, evolution and atheism clearly do not share enough in common for evolution to be regarded merely as a variety of atheism. In other words, if you know someone is an evolutionist, that really doesn’t tell you whether or not they are an atheist.

    In any case, the question before us is whether it is justifiable to conflate ID and creationism. As I said, this should be decided by considering the similarities and differences between the two concepts; if the similarities substantially outweigh the differences, then the term “ID creationism” is justifiable.

    And I think this is the case. If you know someone is an ID advocate, it is virtually certain that they are a theist (very probably an evangelical Christian), that they are an anti-evolutionist, and that they accommodate YE and OE creationist views and espouse virtually all the same arguments that originated with YE and OE creationism.

    Thanks
    Cameron

  157. Dave wonders (#172) whether, if we refer to ID as creationism, we should call evolution a form of atheism..

    I hope that was spoken in jest. (in this area, we must always consider Poe’s Law.)

    In the Dover trial, Barbara Forrest showed with over a thousand references that ID started from creationism. Since it still employs the same arguments (although in a more sophisticated manner—information v 2d Law of Thermo, e.g.) and posits a creator of some kind, we are justified in treating it still as a variety of creationism, along with YEC and OEC.

    Evolution was not birthed fromn an atheistic movement, nor as a religious or philosophical principle. Dawkins may use evolution as a tool to justify atheism, just as others may employ the existence of evil for this purpose. But evolution is itself a scientific theory with no inherent religious claims one way or the other. Otherwise, “theistic evolution” would be a contradiction.

  158. Hello Cameron

    The defect in your argument is that around 40% of natural scientists profess belief in a personal God (E.J. Larson and L. Witham, Scientists are still keeping the faith, Nature 386 (3 April 1997), 435-436.) Thus, evolution and atheism clearly do not share enough in common for evolution to be regarded merely as a variety of atheism. In other words, if you know someone is an evolutionist, that really doesn’t tell you whether or not they are an atheist.

    You presume that the 40% of scientists who believe in a personal God support Darwinian evolution. How do you know?

    It is equally likely, given the level of discrimination against theists in the halls of academe that some of the 40% of scientists who believe in a personal God are in the closet to protect their careers.

    In an article titled, “Scientists Are Still Keeping the Faith,” published in the April 3, 1997 issue of Nature, Edward Larson and Larry Witham revealed that about 40 percent of all American physical scientists believe in a personal God (presumably, still more of them believe in a non-personal God). Considering science’s widespread reputation for being godless, that’s a pretty sizable fraction. But in a subsequent study, the authors discovered that among members of the National Academy of Sciences-science’s high priests-a mere 7 percent believe in a personal God.
    […]
    During my years at Harvard, I recall a physics professor teaching undergraduates about the seminal contributions of the early twentieth-century Cal-Tech physicist and Nobel Prize-winner Robert Millikan. Millikan is renowned for his brilliant and historic oil-drop experiment, in which he discovered that every electron carries an indivisible electric charge. It’s too bad, lamented the Harvard professor, that Millikan, a devoutly religious man, was such a “low-brow” (his exact words) when it cane to his personal beliefs.

    http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Secular-Philosophies/Can-A-Smart-Person-Believe-In-God.aspx

    Edward J. Larson, professor of law and the history of science at the University of Georgia, and science journalist Larry Witham, both theists, polled National Academy of Sciences members in 1998 and provided further confirmation of Leuba’s conjecture. Using Leuba’s definitions of God and immortality for direct comparison, they found lower percentages of believers. Only 10 percent of NAS scientists believed in God or immortality, with those figures dropping to 5 percent among biologists.

    http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/evolution-religion-and-free-will/1

    Hmm… the thot plickens.

  159. Hello Olorin

    I hope that was spoken in jest. (in this area, we must always consider Poe’s Law.)

    Thanks for the patronizing comment.

    In the Dover trial, Barbara Forrest showed with over a thousand references that ID started from creationism. Since it still employs the same arguments (although in a more sophisticated manner—information v 2d Law of Thermo, e.g.) and posits a creator of some kind, we are justified in treating it still as a variety of creationism, along with YEC and OEC.

    Perhaps you could answer this one question… If evolution is not the justification for atheism why do so many evolutionists argue against theism and its corollary, creation? If you can answer that without saying ‘creation isn’t science’ I promise not to throw the genetic fallacy at you.

    Evolution was not birthed fromn an atheistic movement, nor as a religious or philosophical principle. Dawkins may use evolution as a tool to justify atheism, just as others may employ the existence of evil for this purpose. But evolution is itself a scientific theory with no inherent religious claims one way or the other. Otherwise, “theistic evolution” would be a contradiction.

    Theistic evolution is a contradiction. It is tolerated by otherwise militant atheists so that they may point to ‘weird uncle Harry and his quaint beliefs’ (read Francis Collins) to demonstrate that evolution atheism isn’t a religion. (A strategy that has, to date, worked quite well) Darwin himself lamented the inclusion of the term “creator” in his “Origin of Species”.

    Darwin dismissed the entire controversy as pointless and premature: “It will be some time before we see slime, protoplasm, etc., generating a new animal. But I have long regretted that I truckled to public opinion, and used the Pentateuchal term of creation, by which I really meant ‘appeared’ by some wholly unknown process. It is mere rubbish, thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter” (1973, p. 594; the quote from Darwin appears in an extremely anti-religious letter he wrote to J.D. Hooker on March 29, 1863, as reproduced in Francis Darwin’s Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, 1887, 3:17, emp. added).

    http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2100

  160. Dave wrote:

    So enlighten me. I’m always ready to learn something new, which non-Darwinian mechanism did I fail to name?

    All of them. Let’s start with drift.

    Which would be why DARWINISTS persist in appealling to courts and politicians to enforce their dogamtic belief in materialism rather than name the elusive non-Darwinian mechanism.

    Last time I checked, I hadn’t done anything of the sort, and no one is refusing to name any non-Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms. BTW, I think the Dover case was about the Constitution of the United States of America, not your ill-defined “dogmatic belief in materialism.” Tell me, do you believe in a materialistic mechanism underlying our communication here, Dave?

    I really would like to know the mechanism to which you refer. If my knowledge of the debate is deficient then please illumine me.

    Your real deficiency is the idea that this is a debate, and not about the data. I notice that you never addressed the bit about the sequence data–is that because you are intellectually armed with nothing but the standard creationist lie of omission?

  161. Tony Hoffman said (#163) —
    I don’t speak for any other Darwinists, but if I were to use the term I’d mean for it to distinguish between those who are proponents of ID as a religious and political movement, as opposed to those who are adherents of ID as science alone.

    Your disclaimer “I don’t speak for any other Darwinists” says it all — so what you are describing is not necessarily the meaning or message that the term “intelligent design creationism” conveys to most people. And what about those — like myself — who see ID as both a political/religious movement and a scientific movement?

    Cameron said (#171) —
    It is justifiable to combine the terms if the extent of the overlap between the two concepts is substantial.

    As Tom Gilson pointed out, Stalin and Mother Teresa arguably have more in common than they have in differences.

    In the case of ID and creationism, as you acknowledged, there is significant objective evidence of their common origin, common arguments, common philosophies, and that the vast majority of ID proponents are, in fact, also creationists.

    I never acknowledged any such things — I only said, “‘intelligent design’ and ‘creationism’ overlap in some respects.” You are putting words in my mouth and I strongly resent that.

    Before the term “intelligent design” became popular, scientific evidence — whether good or bad — that was presented in support of religious creationism was called “creation science” or “scientific creationism.” In fact, the Louisiana law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard used the term “creation science” (the court’s opinion says, “The Creationism Act forbids the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools unless accompanied by instruction in ‘creation science.'”). And the term “creation science” appears 31 times in the Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion! So the correct terms to use for making an historically accurate connection between ID and creationism are “intelligent design creation science” or “intelligent design scientific creationism,” not “intelligent design creationism.”

    You lose.

  162. Larry said (#179)

    It is justifiable to combine the terms if the extent of the overlap between the two concepts is substantial.

    As Tom Gilson pointed out, Stalin and Mother Teresa arguably have more in common than they have in differences.

    As I said, and as you removed from your quote of me, “Of course, the extent of overlap between two concepts is many times a subjective judgement.” It depends upon in what respect one is assessing the similarites and differences. Stalin and Mother Theresa are very similar if our purpose is to compile a list of notable persons of the 20th century. They are very different if our purpose is to compile a list of persons exemplifying moral virtue.

    The relevant purpose here, per the OP, is to determine if ID shares enough similarities with creationism to justify using the term “ID creationism.”

    In the case of ID and creationism, as you acknowledged, there is significant objective evidence of their common origin, common arguments, common philosophies, and that the vast majority of ID proponents are, in fact, also creationists.

    I never acknowledged any such things — I only said, “‘intelligent design’ and ‘creationism’ overlap in some respects.” You are putting words in my mouth and I strongly resent that.

    I made an assumption that your acknowledgement of the overlap included the things I listed, as these are the things for which there is objective evidence. What areas of overlap do you acknowledge, then, if not these?

    Before the term “intelligent design” became popular, scientific evidence — whether good or bad — that was presented in support of religious creationism was called “creation science” or “scientific creationism.” In fact, the Louisiana law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard used the term “creation science” (the court’s opinion says, “The Creationism Act forbids the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools unless accompanied by instruction in ‘creation science.’”). And the term “creation science” appears 31 times in the Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion! So the correct terms to use for making an historically accurate connection between ID and creationism are “intelligent design creation science” or “intelligent design scientific creationism,” not “intelligent design creationism.”

    But the historical connection between ID and creationism is not the only thing they have in common, as I listed above. Whilst they differ in that creationism is biblical and mentions God, in my view the similarities overwhelm the differences, so the suffix “creationism” is apt.

    And, frankly, I don’t see this discussion progressing if you see it is a “win/lose” proposition. My purpose in discussion is to ventilate and illuminate, not to win.

    What bothers me most, I suppose, is that something that seems so simple is the subject of such intense contention. We have:
    – YEC – Young earth creationism
    – OEC – Old earth creationism
    – IDC – Intelligent design creationism
    Just simple labels to denote the concepts we are talking about. I really don’t see that the non-biblical nature of ID is sufficient to remove it from the camp of creationism.

    Maybe that’s just me.

  163. Cameron said (#180) —
    I made an assumption that your acknowledgement of the overlap included the things I listed

    You had no right to make that assumption, and you even made assumptions about what I thought about the degree of each alleged similarity — e.g., saying that I “acknowledged” that “the vast majority of ID proponents are, in fact, also creationists.” That was despicable. I am deeply offended that anyone would be so cavalier about misrepresenting me.

    But the historical connection between ID and creationism is not the only thing they have in common

    You pretend to be concerned about an “historical connection” between ID and creationism, but you ignore the fact that the term that is the immediate predecessor of ID is “creation science,” not “creationism.”

    What bothers me most, I suppose, is that something that seems so simple is the subject of such intense contention.

    Simple to you, but not to people with some powers of discernment.

    We have:
    – YEC – Young earth creationism
    – OEC – Old earth creationism
    – IDC – Intelligent design creationism

    I have already pointed out that ID can be defined in a way that avoids the creationism issue entirely. ID can be defined as the study of whether living things — or other things in nature — have the appearance of being intelligently designed, or, alternatively, a study of the probability that those things arose from unintelligent causes such as random genetic variation and natural selection. The term “creationism” in IDC is at best superfluous and at worst inappropriate. And as I said, one of the biggest reasons for adding the word “creationism” is to try to provide a basis for using the Constitution’s establishment clause to attack ID in the courts.

  164. Tom @167: I am saying that communicators who fail to clearly delineate what they mean by creationism should expect their audiences to take the default definition as what they meant, and that default definition is YEC.

    Tom, you have yet to clearly delineate what you mean by ID. So why shouldn’t I take the default definition provided in OPAP (fish with fins, etc…)?

    You keep talking about this “new definition” but you never actually give it.

    [the topic of this post is] the definitions of terms and the quality of discussion in the face of confused and confusing rhetoric. Today’s ID is not creationism according to the default definition of creationism.

    In order to make a judgement over whether today’s ID is not creationism, I have to know the definition of today’s ID. You have yet to say what that is.

    My only reference point for “new ID” is your original post, but its the same old schtick. Irreducible complexity is an argument over what evolution can’t do. It is not positive evidence for design, unless you subscribe to the false dichotomy. So if I use your original post as a guideline for what the new ID is, it looks like new ID is using the same false dichotomy that the old creationism used.

    So whether or not your new ID is creationist in the historical sense (I’ll grant for the sake of argument that it isn’t), it still seems to be creationist in content. But I look forward to you proving me wrong. Tell me the content of this new ID. Even better, cite some ID journal article that gives this new ID definition and repudiates the old one. Show me that the new definition of ID rejects the false dichotomy of creationism and and does not posit the same untestable, supernatural force that creationism does. Show me an ID hypothesis that ID scientists are working in the lab or field to test and demonstrate, which is not simply the same old calculation of what evolution can’t do.

  165. Larry,

    Your disclaimer “I don’t speak for any other Darwinists” says it all — so what you are describing is not necessarily the meaning or message that the term “intelligent design creationism” conveys to most people.

    Are you saying that you know what “intelligent design creationism” conveys to most people? If you are, I am curious how you would know this. If you don’t provide formal data on how this word is understood by most people, I’ll assume that you are working with the same as the rest of us – familiarity with the language, an understanding of the topic, a dictionary, and the occasional anecdote and quote.

    And what about those — like myself — who see ID as both a political/religious movement and a scientific movement?

    I don’t see why I should be expected to use terms that I do not find accurate; if you insist that you are a horse, that does not compel me to refer to you as “Larry Fafarman, the horse.” Similarly, if you insist on referring to yourself as “Larry Fafarman, PhD,” and I have knowledge that your degree is phony, it would be reasonable for me to refer to you in turn as “Larry Fafarman, the PhD imposter” or something to that effect.

    Lastly, and this should be obvious, if I refer to a group of people as “professional soldiers who are trained to kill,” it is possible that I am referring only to those soldiers who are trained to kill, as opposed to those who are drafted as conscientious objectors, who are still drafted into the military but are not trained to kill for reasons of conscience.

  166. Hi John

    Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, I missed your post in all the clutter.

    All of them. Let’s start with drift.

    Genetic drift has been part fo the neo-Darwinian synteses since the 2nd WW. I assumed you might be referring to more recent and relevant problems with the theory. Drift doesn’t require a shoehorn.

    The concept for genetic drift was first introduced by one of the founders in the field of population genetics, Sewall Wright. His first use of the term “drift” was in 1929, though at the time he was using it in the sense of a directed process of change, or natural selection. Later that year he used it to refer to a purely random process, or change due to the effects of sampling error. It came to be known as the “Sewall-Wright effect”, though he was never entirely comfortable to see his name given to it. He preferred “drifting at random”, and “drift” came to be adopted as a technical term in the stochastic sense exclusively.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_drift#History_of_the_concept

    BTW, I think the Dover case was about the Constitution of the United States of America, not your ill-defined “dogmatic belief in materialism.” Tell me, do you believe in a materialistic mechanism underlying our communication here, Dave?

    That depends on what level you mean “materialist”

    Evolution and religion may not be at war, but no agreement seems possible in their most basic tenets. Traditional religions are based on dualism, and evolution is strictly materialist. Dualism is founded on a belief in the supernatural. The materialist position forms the basis for belief in naturalism, which holds that “the empirical procedure of exploration and verification is the only known reliable method of discovering truth” (Smith, 1952). For the materialist, the supernatural has no basis in reality but instead is an unwarranted distraction brought about through mythology.

    http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/purpose.html

    Your real deficiency is the idea that this is a debate, and not about the data. I notice that you never addressed the bit about the sequence data–is that because you are intellectually armed with nothing but the standard creationist lie of omission?

    I looked through the whole thread here and didn’t find any sequence data, nor did I find any links to sequence data, all I found was this and other similar repetitive mantras…

    ID has nothing to do with REAL science, Tom. REAL science produces NEW, REAL DATA. ID has never, nor will it ever, do anything of the sort.

    which, if nothing else, is a rather sweeping generalization. However, I will try to comply with your request for more data, “NEW, REAL DATA.”

    In the MSNBC interview with Richard Dawkins, titled “The Not-So-Angry Evolutionist,” Dawkins says the following:

    “You can actually plot a picture of the pattern of resemblances and differences between every animal and plant and every other animal and plant, and you find out that it fits on a beautiful, hierarchical, branching tree, which can only sensibly be interpreted as a family tree. When you do the same thing with a different gene, you get the same tree. Do the same thing with a third gene, and you get the same tree. It’s overwhelmingly powerful evidence.”

    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/10/14/2097873.aspx

    Now, that quote from Dawkins is another, rather sweeping, generalization. But if you have followed the less public discussion of genetics and phylogeny there are some rather troublesome discontinuities between genetic trees and phyolgenic trees. Discontinuities the vocal atheist proselytes of Darwinism are at pains to obscure in their public discourse.

    It’s also overwhelmingly false. No molecular systematist would make this claim.

    Now, either Dawkins knows this, and therefore is lying to his audience, or he doesn’t know, and has been cribbing from erroneous Talk.origins FAQs. Either option is bad news. One should not accuse someone of lying without solid evidence, so let’s just say that Dawkins is wildly irresponsible.

    The incongruence of gene and species trees is a standing obstacle, or research problem, in molecular phylogenetics. Look at figure 2, for instance, from this paper (open access — you’ll need to click on the figure to enlarge it):

    http://genomebiology.com/2007/8/6/R109

    Note that all possible topologies, among the groups considered, are supported by significant numbers of genes.

    In the context of Dawkins’s claim, this means that gene A supports grouping X, but gene B supports grouping Y, whereas gene C supports grouping Z, and so on. In short, one doesn’t get the same species tree from any given gene. This problem of gene and species tree incongruence is so widely known in molecular systematics that it now arguably represents an entire field of study.

    Huertas-Cepas et al., the authors of this paper, note:

    “The finding that all three possible topologies, including the one widely considered as wrong in the literature, are supported by a significant number of trees illustrates the inherent difficulty of resolving the species phylogeny from gene phylogenies.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/shilling-for-darwin-the-wildly-irresponsible-evolutionist/#more-9120

    Now… what was that about “lies of omission”?

  167. Hi Dave (“Perhaps you could answer this one question”)

    Your contention was that evolution is a form of atheism in the same sense that ID is a form of creationism. In support, you said (#176): “If evolution is not the justification for atheism why do so many evolutionists argue against theism and its corollary, creation?”

    This is irrelevant to whether evolution was born from atheism or is a variety of it. LaPlace used Newtonian gravitation as a justification for atheism. (“I have no need of that hypothesis.”) Does that mean that atheism spawned gravitation? Does that mean that gravitation is a variety of atheism? The Big Bang has been and still is dragooned into support for atheism. Does that imply that cosmology is a variety of atheism, or was born of atheism?

    Employing a scientific theory as support for a philosophical position does not make them the same thing, nor imply ancestry.

    (As a side note, a recent informal study suggested quite a different reason why so many scientists are non-believers.)

  168. Tony Hoffman said (#183) —
    Are you saying that you know what “intelligent design creationism” conveys to most people?

    No, I never said or implied that. — I said that what you described is “not necessarily” what “intelligent design creationism” conveys to most people. You yourself said that you were not trying to describe what “IDC” conveys to most people — you said that you were speaking only for yourself.

    “And what about those — like myself — who see ID as both a political/religious movement and a scientific movement?”

    I don’t see why I should be expected to use terms that I do not find accurate

    I was just pointing out that I and many others do not fall neatly into one of the two categories of people you are trying to distinguish between: people who see ID as a political/religious movement and people who see ID as a scientific movement.

  169. Hello Olorin

    Let us consider your argument from a different perspective…

    “This is irrelevant to whether [creation] was born from [theism] or is a variety of it. [Newton] used [-] gravitation as a justification for [theism]. [Divine harmony] Does that mean that [theism] spawned gravitation? Does that mean that gravitation is a variety of [theism]? The Big Bang has been and still is dragooned into support for [theism]. Does that imply that cosmology is a variety of [theism], or was born of [theism]?”

    All of the statements above are accurate. The difference between the two paragraphs is the interpretive framework into which the facts or observations are placed. Laplace chose an atheistic framework, Newton a theistic (deistic?) framework, and Einstein was ambivalent.

    Employing a scientific theory as support for a philosophical position does not make them the same thing, nor imply ancestry.

    Exactly my point. I’m pleased to see that we agree on one point. Now perhaps we can consider the validity of the arguments for or against design.

  170. eric said (#182) —
    Tom, you have yet to clearly delineate what you mean by ID. So why shouldn’t I take the default definition provided in OPAP (fish with fins, etc…)?

    Many books, articles, and comments have been written about ID, so why should Of Pandas and People be regarded as the definitive book about ID? Also, Pandas is a comparatively old book, and a lot has happened in ID since the last edition of the book was published in 1993.

    Irreducible complexity is an argument over what evolution can’t do. It is not positive evidence for design, unless you subscribe to the false dichotomy.

    Finding what evolution can’t do is very useful. When Thomas Edison was accused of not making progress in his efforts to create a practical electric light, he answered, “I’ve made lots of progress — I now know lots of things that won’t work.”

    Olorin said (#185) —
    LaPlace used Newtonian gravitation as a justification for atheism. (”I have no need of that hypothesis.”) Does that mean that atheism spawned gravitation? Does that mean that gravitation is a variety of atheism? The Big Bang has been and still is dragooned into support for atheism. Does that imply that cosmology is a variety of atheism, or was born of atheism?

    Employing a scientific theory as support for a philosophical position does not make them the same thing, nor imply ancestry.

    Why can’t the same thing be said about the relationship between ID and religion? If my own doubts about evolution were not motivated by religion, so what if some other people’s doubts about evolution have been motivated by religion? What has that got to do with me?

  171. Intelligent Design, as invented by the Discovery Institute, is a tactic, not a philosophy.

    One thing that is missing from the mix here is that it needs to be noted that when we are talking “creationism” in the first place, we are not talking about old rank-and-file yes-Genesis-is-true creationism. We are talking about Creationism as defined by the “Creationism movement“.

    Just as Intelligent Design as espoused by the Discovery Institute has usurped the semblance of intelligent design as a study or philosophy, Creationism usurped varieties of Christian creationism in the same manner.

    Even before it blebbed off a piece into “Creation Science” to try to skirt around the constitutional issues, the Creationism movement was attacking evolution with bald-faced lies: misrepresentation, crass speculation, quotes out of or even in modified context, credential inflation, false equivocations, maverick worship (hey – this one scientist thinks birds came from crocodilomorphs, so evolution is wrong!), schoolyard insults, digging for gaps and crowing about them, implying hoaxes make up most of the evidence, pretending hoaxes fooled the whole scientific community, ascribing journalist’s errors to scientists, goalpost-moving, false dichotomies, appeals to “fairness”, playing the martyr, purposefully misinterpreting papers and articles, rank denialism and cherry-picking of the worst sort.

    …but it was all for a good cause, yes?

    Why do this?

    Well, disinformation campaigns work. We have seen this with political campaigns, HIV denialism, anti-vaccination campaigns and anti-condom propaganda. They don’t have to be right; they just have to work.

    (and, as with many such campaigns, it can be hard to distinguish the true believers from the cynical promoters)

    The Creationist movement and Intelligent Design movement continue on technically separate tracks, but they both treat evolutionary science in the same manner. Inasmuch as that is the case, I believe, and it has been legally shown, that it is to the same ends.

    If the Intelligent Design movement dropped the disinformation campaign, then I might decide to give them the benefit of the doubt vis-a-vis whether they are pushing a legitimate philosophical.

    Until then, I do not have to pretend that they are not talking out of both sides of their mouths.

    I do not have to pretend that Wells’ “Icons of Evolution” was legitimate research, or that the new Design of Life’s “sudden emergence” is not Genesis restated yet again, or that Meyer got into a biology journal legitimately, or that the Expelled movie was created with honorable intentions, or that they didn’t know that the Santorum Amendment had no force in law or that they make textbooks instead of doing research because they “don’t want anyone teaching intelligent design until it’s been proven out”. I am no mugu for their campaign.

    They do terrible things to truth, regardless of your beliefs.

    It is their own doing that Intelligent Design: the tactic has overtaken Intelligent Design: the philosophy.

    I’m sorry that you take us to be referring to the philosophy whenever we refer to Intelligent Design as Intelligent Design Creationism. Your insistence on our “worldview blindness” would only be legitimate in that context, but you still seem to be arguing on that basis, or on sidelines thereof.

    We have good reason not to take the Discovery Institute at face value. I do not know on what basis you do not seem to want to take us at face value.

    I know that, on the whole, we may ultimately fail to convince you. I had hoped that, even though you may not agree with us, that you might ultimately understand our positions. It is merely the case that your worldview speculation and assignation of malevolent intent to Nick is incorrect.

    It has been an interesting, albeit somewhat derailed, conversation 🙂

  172. One thing we do know is that the terms “creationism” and “intelligent design” mean different things to different people. So why add to the confusion by putting the two terms together?

  173. Hello Ritchie Annand

    Even before it blebbed off a piece into “Creation Science” to try to …. etc.

    Boy, you sound really ticked…

    You know, one of the things that really raises my confidence in ID et al is the way you guys go off the deep end attacking anyone who is vaguely associated with the concept. I forever buy books written by evolutionists about evolution and find them filled with fallacies and leaps of faith about why evolution is true, hoping to find a good evidential argument against which I can measure the claims of DI etc. and am always disappointed. I haven’t read Poor Richards latest but excerpts I have read don’t look real promising either. ABG

  174. Dave, your word-substitution version (#188) is also correct—and also irrelevant.

    I understood your question as, is evolution a variety of atheiasm for the reason that atheists use evolution as “evidence” of atheism. My answer was, and is, no. At least, not unless you see all of science as atheism because it does not allow supernatural forces as explanations.

    But, is ID a variety of creationism? Yes. It was born of creationism. Its “intelligence” remains functionally equivalent to the creationists “creator,” in that neither is limited by natural law. (Note that ID takes great pains to avoid characterizing or limiting the intelligence in any way.)

    Therefore: Evolution is not a variety of atheism. ID is a variety of creationism.

  175. Dave,at #188: “Now perhaps we can consider the validity of the arguments for or against design.”

    Tom says that’s not the subject here. I think you will find, however, that all of the positive arguments for design turn out to be arguments against evolution, with the inference that evidence against Theory A qualifies as evidence for Theory B. Meyers’ “Signature in the Cell” might serve as a vehicle. I have not come across any comprehensive reviews yet.

  176. Hi Olorin

    I understood your question as, is evolution a variety of atheiasm for the reason that atheists use evolution as “evidence” of atheism. My answer was, and is, no. At least, not unless you see all of science as atheism because it does not allow supernatural forces as explanations.

    All of science is atheism to the extent that it a priori dismisses the possibility of super- and/or sub- natural forces. The fact is that the Big Bang is a super- and/or sub- natural event… because there was no “nature” until after the event. As many physicists have noted all the laws of physics and math fall apart as they approach the singularity.

    Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that the Big Bang (or whatever else may have brought the universe into existence) cannot be comprehended, nor am I saying that “super- and/or sub- nature” are there to find, what I am saying is that “scientists” – those who study the universe in which we live – should not eliminate from consideration any possible explanation because they find the explanation philosophically distasteful.

    Supernaturalism (of one sort or another) is the default position for most people throughuot all of time and even in our modern world. An elite group of intellectuals has decided, contrary to most human experience throughout all of recorded time, that supernaturalism equals superstition. No doubt in many, if not most, cases it is superstition. But that is, by no means, proof that supernaturalism is false. Nor does it prove that supernaturalism is irrational.

    I am placing a link below to a video of a debate over theism featuring Peter Atkins

    (born August 10, 1940) is an English chemist and a fellow and professor of chemistry at Lincoln College of the University of Oxford. He is a prolific writer of popular chemistry textbooks, including Physical Chemistry, 8th ed. (with Julio de Paula of Haverford College), Inorganic Chemistry, and Molecular Quantum Mechanics, 4th ed. Atkins is also the author of a number of science books for the general public, including Atkins’ Molecules and Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science.

    Atkins is an atheist and a supporter of Richard Dawkins. He is explaining how to reconcile atheism and the Big Bang. Listen to his argument. The whole tape, including the rebuttal by his opponent in the debate (to which you need not listen) is 6 min 7 sec.

    http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/peter-atkins-explains-how-to-easily-reconcile-the-big-bang-and-atheism/

  177. Hi Olorin

    Tom says that’s not the subject here.

    Oh well, I have a bad habit of getting seriously off-topic. It really anoys some people. 8^>

    I think you will find, however, that all of the positive arguments for design turn out to be arguments against evolution, with the inference that evidence against Theory A qualifies as evidence for Theory B.

    I would qualify your observations somewhat. Positive arguments for design turn out to be arguments against [materialism/physicalism/naturalism] – many ID proponents accept limited evolution (often called “micro” evolution) as an explanation for much of the diversity of life. Many IDers, as far as I can figure, accept even more dramatic “Origin of the Species” type evolution. They would say the evolution is a “necessary”, but not a “sufficient”, explanation for the diversity of life. (evolution happens, but that not the only thing going on here)

    Evolution, in the limited sense, is accepted by virtually everybody, including most Biblical Creationists. Things change and characteristics present in parents are inherited by offspring. Characteristics may be selected by breeding. None of this is controversial. We enter the realm of controversy when we suggest that evolution is a “sufficient” explanation for the diversity of life.

    Meyers’ “Signature in the Cell” might serve as a vehicle. I have not come across any comprehensive reviews yet.

    I have it on order, I’ll let you know. There are several review out there and if you go to the website “signatureinthecell.com” you will find the favorable ones and a short promo video.

  178. Dave wrote:

    Genetic drift has been part fo the neo-Darwinian synteses since the 2nd WW.

    It’s non-Darwinian by any rational measure, but you were too ignorant to name it.

    I assumed you might be referring to more recent and relevant problems with the theory. Drift doesn’t require a shoehorn.

    Assumptions are your problem. Of course drift doesn’t require a shoehorn, because unlike you, we biologists have mechanisms to correct for the human tendency toward dogmatism. You’re merely projecting yours onto others.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_drift#History_of_the_concept

    You can cut and paste, but do you understand anything, Dave?

    That depends on what level you mean “materialist”

    I didn’t introduce the term, you did. Are you a materialist when it comes to remembering if you put your socks on in the morning? Was Jesus Christ about abstractions or about what we do in the real world? What did He mean when He said, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

    I looked through the whole thread here and didn’t find any sequence data, nor did I find any links to sequence data, all I found was this and other similar repetitive mantras…

    How does one put terabytes of sequence data into a blog comment?

    However, I will try to comply with your request for more data, “NEW, REAL DATA.”

    What follows is hysterically funny…

    In the MSNBC interview with Richard Dawkins, titled “The Not-So-Angry Evolutionist,” Dawkins says the following:

    Dave, let’s see if you can wrap your head around a very basic concept: what people say about the data isn’t the data.

    Now, that quote from Dawkins is another, rather sweeping, generalization.

    It’s true.

    But if you have followed the less public discussion of genetics and phylogeny there are some rather troublesome discontinuities between genetic trees and phyolgenic trees.

    Your statement makes no sense.

    Now, either Dawkins knows this, and therefore is lying to his audience, or he doesn’t know, and has been cribbing from erroneous Talk.origins FAQs.

    You do love your false dichotomies, Dave. The reality is that the discontinuities are washed away by increased amounts of sequence evidence.

    Either option is bad news.

    Good thing neither is true. Where are the data you promised?

    One should not accuse someone of lying without solid evidence, so let’s just say that Dawkins is wildly irresponsible.

    I’ll say that the dishonest one here is you, pretending that the rare exception is the norm.

    The incongruence of gene and species trees is a standing obstacle,…

    Why are both nested hierarchies if both were designed?

    or research problem, in molecular phylogenetics. Look at figure 2, for instance, from this paper (open access — you’ll need to click on the figure to enlarge it):
    http://genomebiology.com/2007/8/6/R109

    You’re getting closer to the data, finally! BTW, I know how to read papers online–I’m a geneticist; I write them!

    Note that all possible topologies, among the groups considered, are supported by significant numbers of genes.

    That’s not even close to what the analysis shown in the figure represents.

    In the context of Dawkins’s claim, this means that gene A supports grouping X, but gene B supports grouping Y, whereas gene C supports grouping Z, and so on.

    Not even close, Dave. You’re still avoiding the actual data by completely misrepresenting an analysis.

    In short, one doesn’t get the same species tree from any given gene.

    In short, that’s not what it means. In short, how many species were sampled in this study, and what proportion of the total number of eukaryotic species were they? What evidence is there that more genomes sequenced won’t easily swamp any present uncertainty? Note that nothing in the figure refers to “numbers of genes” as you falsely claimed.

    This problem of gene and species tree incongruence is so widely known in molecular systematics that it now arguably represents an entire field of study.

    How would you know? You can’t even accurately represent a single figure from the primary literature.

    Huertas-Cepas et al., the authors of this paper, note:

    “The finding that all three possible topologies, including the one widely considered as wrong in the literature, are supported by a significant number of trees illustrates the inherent difficulty of resolving the species phylogeny from gene phylogenies.

    They also note: “Topological variations among phylogenies for different genes are to be expected, highlighting the danger of gene-sampling effects in phylogenomic analyses.”
    “All in all, the results presented here constitute a preliminary but broad overview of the evolutionary history of the human genome, which is not taken as an average or represented by a limited number of genes, but instead is regarded as a complex mosaic of thousands of individual phylogenies.”
    “Overall, our results indicate that there is a great topological diversity affecting the three unresolved scenarios that we have discussed (ecdysozoa versus coelomata, relationships among rodents, primates and laurasatheria and the unikont hypothesis). This and other recent findings [85] reinforce the older view [86] that topological differences among phylogenies of proteins are to be expected even in the absence of HGT and underscore the danger of gene-sampling effects when combining the phylogenetic signals of several genes [34]. ”
    How many organisms were sampled in this paper, Dave? Did you read it, or just scan it for quotes you could pull? Do you even realize that they picked the phylogenies shown in that figure precisely because they were the most ambiguous among the eukaryotes?

    Now… what was that about “lies of omission”?

    You performed precisely as I predicted, lying by omission about all the trees that aren’t disputed.

  179. Dagve (#.195): “All of science is atheism to the extent that it a priori dismisses the possibility of super- and/or sub- natural forces.”

    Excuse me, I did not say that science excludes supernatural forces from existence. I said it excludes them as scientific explanations. Science is limited to the study of natural events that can be tested, predicted, and duplicated—i.e., natural causes. Unless you wish to limit the power of God, then supernatural causes do not meet these criteria, and their study via scientific methodology is feckless.

    Science is not a limit on the universe, it is a limit on what a specific methodology may fruitfully study. If you wish to treat that as an arbitrary definition, that’s your choice. That’s the definition, and that’s the reason for it.

    Good night. Ka ha o ke akua ‘oe.

  180. Hi Olorin

    […] Science is limited to the study of natural events that can be tested, predicted, and duplicated—i.e., natural causes.[…]

    In most cases this is most certainly true. But in the cases of evolution and cosmology this is only partly true. We may test and predict but most of what is tested and predicted cannot be duplicated. How do you create a universe, or travel back in time to watch it happen? We observe and extrapolate and when it doesn’t fit the theory we add “dark” matter or energy or a cosmological constant to “fix” the theory until we find another glitch.

    But if materialism is false then all the theories are based upon materialism will necessarily be false as well. The least error in the beginning is magnified a thousandfold at the end. My problem isn’t with materialist philosophy per se but with the efforts of materialists to use every means at their disposal to silence debate (read censor any dissenting point of view). They can be as wrong as they want for a long as they want, but let me follow my own road and keep away from my kids.

    Finally, materialism necessarily posits a deterministic universe, which means that every event is the result of a prior cause. The consequence of this is, as many intelligent and educated people will tell you, mind is an illusion, white noise in the materialist machine. We are driven by genes and memes and we have no free will.

    My other class was under Will Provine, one of the world’s most famous atheistic theorists. I was apprehensive at first that all the people in the class were a bit older and more qualified and I was basically a little intimidated. However, I soon realised I had two advantages: I understood medical genetics and was not taking the course to get a degree. I could chance my arm and did, and the professor seemed to enjoy my outspoken participation that I believed helped to make the class lively. The class has made me a determinist who believes we cannot blame or praise anyone as there is no free will; all that we do is a result of our genetic make-up and our environment.

    http://www.alumni.cornell.edu/orgs/int/London/rafik_taibjee.html

    Here is another little essay which is “interesting” to say the least. I haven’t quite figured out if the man is serious, but he is worth the read.

    I have been a materialist about the mind for forty years, since first I considered the mind-body issue. In all that time I have seen exactly one argument for mind-body dualism that I thought even prima facie convincing. And like many other materialists, I have often quickly cited standard objections to dualism that are widely taken to be fatal, e.g. [Lycan 187: 2-3]—notoriously the dread Interaction Problem. My materialism has never wavered. Nor is it about to waver now; I cannot take dualism very seriously.

    Being a philosopher, of course I would like to think that my stance is rational, held not just instinctively and scientistically and in the mainstream but because the arguments do indeed favor materialism over dualism. But I do not think that, though I used to. My position may be rational, broadly speaking, but not because the arguments favor it: Though the arguments for dualism do (indeed) fail, so do the arguments for materialism. And the standard objections to dualism are not very convincing; if one really manages to be a dualist in the first place, one should not be much impressed by them. My purpose in this paper is to hold my own feet to the fire and admit that I do not proportion my belief to the evidence.

    http://www.unc.edu/~ujanel/GIVING%20DUALISM%20ITS%20DUE.pdf

  181. Hello John

    How does one put terabytes of sequence data into a blog comment?

    You might try by using one keystroke at a time.

    You’re getting closer to the data, finally! BTW, I know how to read papers online–I’m a geneticist; I write them!

    Are you now? You’re also condescending and abusive. So, other than fitting the profile, how do I know you are a geneticist?

  182. Hi Olorin

    BTW I’m not a dualist in the Cartesian sense, I suspect the truth is far more complicated than either dualism or materialism imagine. We are material being with a foot in the supernatural – the two are not separable.

  183. Dave, John, and Olorin,

    This really is off topic, it’s getting nasty, and I agree with John that terabytes of data would (quite obviously) not do so well on a blog comment, even (especially!) one keystroke at a time.

  184. Tom, as I noted re Dave (#194), “Tom says that’s not the subject here.”

    Dave does, however, raise one interesting point re definitions. He asserts that, if ID is a variety of creationism, then evolution—and perhaps all of science—is a variety of atheism. I disagree.

    Would you consider that issue within the ambit of discussion here? Does anyone else care?

  185. Sure, go ahead and run with it.

    I don’t know that I would agree with Dave’s parallelism, that ID:Creationism::evolution:atheism. Atheism is not, after all, a theory of origins as the other three terms are.

    I think rather that atheism entails evolution, as far as anyone can guess or surmise now. If there is no God, no designing intelligence, then there is no explanation for life other than evolution. That leads to some pretty interesting conclusions, for example, that if a person is committed to atheism, then he or she is bound logically to accept evolution, regardless of the evidence. For those people (which I do not claim includes all evolution-believers), there is a religious reason to hold to evolution, and I think those like Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne bring a religious fervor to their insistence on evolution.

  186. Tom wrote:

    This really is off topic, it’s getting nasty, and I agree with John that terabytes of data would (quite obviously) not do so well on a blog comment, even (especially!) one keystroke at a time.

    Tom,
    You do have an irony meter! Dave is the perfect embodiment of the pseudoscientific identities between creationism and ID–when challenged to grapple with the actual data, he instead cuts/pastes a blog post that doesn’t even get the units right in the figure to which it directs the reader.

    Also, the idea of calling someone “condescending” while at the same time, one is claiming to understand that someone’s profession better than he does is rich.

    So Dave, may I take it from your response that your intent was to deceive your audience into thinking that you have an understanding of the evidence, instead of reality, which is that you have a pathological fear of the evidence?

    What does the Bible say about using hearsay? Good things?

  187. Tom (#206): “Atheism is not, after all, a theory of origins as the other three terms are.”

    Really? I thought atheism asserts that the universe originated from the laws of physics, and life originated according to the laws of chemistry.

    BTW: The CAPTCHA sequences are hard. Although they do fall easily to machine character-recognition programs that I worked on 30 years ago at IBM. Sigh.

  188. Atheism doesn’t assert that the universe originated from the laws of physics, unless the laws of physics existed (somewhere?) before the universe, whatever “before the universe” might mean. Atheism entails that the universe originated from some unknown and unknowable source, or that it has existed from eternity past. Both of those pose severe philosophical difficulties, but I think in view of the multiple theories possible on atheism (apart from those philosophical problems), we can safely say what I said before, that atheism is not a theory of origins.

  189. Hi Olorin

    Really? I thought atheism asserts that the universe originated from the laws of physics,…

    While that is essentially correct it is also essentially false. Within the on text of the Big Bang the “laws of physics” do not exist until a few seconds after the Big Bang event. They are potentialities which are not actualized until the universe exists. There is no “laws of physics” until there is a universe. Theoretically the “laws of physics” could be different which is what led some physicistst (atheist) to speculate that the universe was “fine tuned” for life, also known as the “anthropic principle”.

    … and life originated according to the laws of chemistry.

    Again, that is essentially correct and it is also essentially false. Life utilizes chemical processes which proceed according to the “laws of chemistry” but the substructure of life in not an expression of the “laws of chemistry”. When biologists study cell functions they find an underlying set of instructions which cause different components of the cell to perform particular tasks. An analogy I find helpful is that one can describe a book by describing the chemistry of ink and paper but the chemistry of ink and paper can not explain the book. It cannot tell you what the book contains because the contents of the book, the letters on the pages of the book, contain information which eists independent of the medium in which it is expressed. It is not composed by the “laws of chemistry”. (Or at least, no one has figured out how random chemical interactions could compose detailed instruction sets)

  190. Dave,
    This ink and paper analogy an oft quoted pubjacking of Polayni’s Boundary Condition argument from his paper called Life’s Irreducible Structure.

    http://www.culturaleconomics.atfreeweb.com/Anno/Polanyi%20Lifes%20Irreducible%20Structure%20Acience%201968.htm

    It has been so shamelessly ripped off by the Discovery Institute, that they fail to recognize that it implies the exact opposite of what P was saying about hierarchical complexity and boundary conditions.

    The analogy also fails because there is no indication that chemistry does not explain how genes are expressed and how they manage the workings of a cell. And there is no indication that the chemical processes of a cell are random. One can simply read a Chemistry 101 textbook to find that out.

    As for the “no one has figured out how random chemical interactions could compose detailed instruction sets” comment, I submit that this is simply an appeal to ignorance, which is disqualified from the get go. That we don’t know exactly how the first replicating organic life forms were formed is no indication that the process of evolution does not explain what gave rise to the diversity of life.

    Furthermore, there is considerable excellent work going on in the field of pre-Darwinian abiogenesis. I invite you to look up the work of Carl Woese and see how much he has published on the subject.

  191. Dave,
    Also, your last statement “Or at least, no one has figured out how….” is simply an appeal to ignorance, which is immediately disqualified. For example, the fact that we do not yet have a vaccine for the common cold does not disprove germ theory. There is no evidence that random chemical processes along with selection processes (which are decidedly nonrandom) could not have produced self replicating molecules such as DNA. You might find it difficult to imagine, but personal incredulity is not usually an accurate guide to judging the veracity of scientific theories.

    Additionally, there is considerable research being done in how pre-Darwinian abiogensis may have taken place. I recommend looking up the work of Carl Woese.

    I submit that there is no reason why natural processes cannot encode information on a chemical substrate. And furthermore there is no indication that the workings of a cell are not governed by chemistry, mostly determined by genetic information. (the rest by other chemical influences).

  192. Hi Chiefley

    Here is my favorite counter-example. It is an elegant experiment to determine the reliance of migrating birds on star constellations for navigation.

    Sounds impressive… how does the fact that a living being (a being which I suggest exhibits characteristics of design) has the particularly startling capacity (from the evolutionary perspective) to navigate by the stars prove that random chemical processes can produce information? You assume what you set out to prove.

    Re: random processes vs. natural selection. Even allowing for the dubious claim that natural selection is not random (predators, climate change, natural disaster, disease) it is still a random process until the “self replicating molecule” (a lovely, vague, and completely hypothetical entity) forms through what must necessarily be random processes – unless, of course, you are suggesting it was designed.

  193. Chiefley,

    Also, your last statement “Or at least, no one has figured out how….” is simply an appeal to ignorance, which is immediately disqualified.

    But if you say “nature has figured out how…” that is an appeal without evidence. There is no sign anywhere in nature that it has figured out how to produce information approaching the order of that in a DNA strand. The only evidence for it, at least at the origin of life, is this:

    1) We know there was some first appearance of life having information like that found in DNA.
    2) We know that nature produced it, because we don’t believe in an intelligent designer.
    3. Therefore we know that nature can produce life with information like that found in DNA.

  194. And I have to agree emphatically with Dave that your paper-and-ink example is very inadequate. The question was whether one can explain the information in a book in terms of the chemistry of paper and ink alone. You said, sure, it’s easy. “Insert paper and ink into a funnel, and in the morning you have information based on the paper and ink alone. Oops, I forgot, you need a bird in there too.” Do you suppose the bird brings any information with it?

  195. @Tom (#215)

    Do you suppose the bird brings any information with it?

    Of course the bird brings information with it. Natural processes are quite non-random, therefore they contain lots of information. And that information can be transmitted by some medium to other natural processes which may or may not be affected by it.

    My example speaks directly to the veracity of the ink and paper analogy that Dave was using to suggest that a natural process could not encode information on a chemical substrate. I believe any of us could easily imagine plenty of counterexamples to this claim using ever simpler natural encoders.

    For example, the trees in my woods have changed colors and are dropping onto my lawn. They have responded to the information that is brought to them through the rather non-random process of the oncoming winter.

    For another example, my immune system becomes more effective against a given flu virus after it has been once exposed to it. The flu virus has come to me carrying information about itself which ends up being encoded somewhere in my immune system. Later, my immune system uses that information to recognize and respond to the threat of that particular virus.

    This second example is more like the DNA example, where some non-random natural processes in nature encode information on it that ends up getting used much later in subseqquent naturl processes when the DNA is used to express traits in an offspring.

  196. @Tom (@214)

    Tom,
    I made no claims about nature in my response. I was simply saying that your claim about our lack of understanding of abiogenesis is in itself no kind of proof that it did not occur through natural processes. What we know about the universe is thousands of times greater than what we knew 100 years ago. And what we will know 100 years from now is vastly more than we know now.

    That we don’t understand everything about nature is no proof that one particular understanding is false. Use of gaps in our understanding to refute a theory is called an Appeal To Ignorance, which, for reasons I just stated, is not a useful appeal.

    For example, 100 years ago we did not know how to cure diseases with antibiotics, but that was not proof that the germ theory of disease was wrong.

    To save some time in our discussion, I am not offering this complaint as support of natural abiogenesis either. All I am saying is that appeals to ignorance have no standing here.

    But I am maintaining that in that we see plenty of self replicating molecules in living organisms as well as self replicating molecules outside of organic life, it is reasonable to pursue that line of investigation in regard to abiogenesis.

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja00099a003
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/d7620w6622022751/
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8700225
    http://www.azom.com/news.asp?newsID=17531

  197. Chiefley,

    You are right: our lack of empirical understanding of abiogenesis is in itself no kind of proof that it did not occur through natural processes. I agree with that, and I firmly support empirical origin-of-life research. If we find out a way it could have happened through natural processes, that’s knowledge, and knowledge is always of value. If that happens, I’ll have to re-examine a lot of conclusions I have come to about how life came to be.

    It is certainly reasonable to study and see whether self-replicating molecules can do what it takes to acquire and express biological information, or even anything analogous to it, with an information content approaching that of the simplest life.

    There are, however, some serious difficulties in principle with the possibility of nature producing that at the very beginnings of life. By a difficulty in principle, I mean something that presents a logical hurdle that nature is not likely to be able to have overcome by any stretch of scientific imagination. It’s why you read OOL researchers saying they really don’t have answers now (though they’re not giving up, nor would I encourage them to).

    I’m reading Meyer’s Signature in the Cell, which lays out those in-principle difficulties at greater length than I have previously studied, so I’ll withhold further comments on this topic until I’m further along into the book.

  198. By the way, there is also a conceptual trap lurking in part of your argument that I would caution you against. I’m not speaking exactly of what you said, but of very closely related arguments I have heard in the past. I think you might have this in mind:

    Science has been very successful in opening new doors of knowledge. We did not know of germs a few hundred years ago, we did not have a germ theory of disease until much later, and it wasn’t until around WW II that we had the first antibiotics to provide confirmation of the germ theory. This illustrates a general principle that we have seen time and time again: the progress of science pushes back ignorance and reveals knowledge; and that knowledge has always been in accordance with natural law and/or chance processes operating naturally.

    Science has been supremely successful in the past, and therefore we can count on its success continuing, and more seemingly intractable questions of today turning into explainable phenomena tomorrow.

    That is actually an accurate depiction both of the history of science and of its expected future and I think we can count on it, but for some significant exceptions. Science has been extraordinarily successful in many areas but has provided no real answers whatever with respect to that which is our most intimate experience: consciousness, qualia (perception), the persistent sense of self-identity, morality, truth, reason/rationality. Science has been able to describe some physical correlates of these phenomena, but that’s nothing like explaining the phenomena. Science has some theories regarding an evolutionary history leading to reasoning in humans, but it hasn’t been able to explain nearly enough of it, or where it has come closest it has done so by explaining it away. There is no past history of explanatory success in these most crucial aspects of human experience.

    These topics have been discussed many times here in the past, and I am somewhat wary of mentioning them, because each one of them could be a blog post of its own with a couple hundred comments following.

    So those who point to science’s past trajectory of increasing explanatory power need to take note that there is a vast hole in its explanations. Everything in that hole has something in common: each of them is very personal, very human, and arguably spiritual.

    What science has not been able to explain successfully is the experience of being a person.

  199. Tom,
    Thanks for those last two postings. The first part of them state my case about science and arguments from ignorance beautifully, and much better than I could.

    As for science’s weaknesses, I am very aware of the limitations of science in terms of the epistemology of ultimate truth (whatever that is). So no need to spend time disabusing me of scientism. In short, I am aware that the veracity of scientific findings and theories can only be judged by their documented and demonstrated utility.

    I also recognize that some areas of the human experience many never be addressed by science, and being myself a devout Christian, I can think of many of those aspects that I don’t expect science to ever address. I don’t agree, however, that the relative speed at which certain fields of science progresses in respect to other fields is a very good indication of ultimate success in a given field. It is often a nonlinear process in which breakthroughs in some fields require breakthroughs in other fields.

    For example, the research on brain functions has taken off exponentially due to the presence of realtime MRI devices which had to wait for dozens of technologies to be available. So averaging the achievements in that field over the last 200 years compared to others is somewhat misleading.

    I can’t speak for morality, ethics, love, and other such aspects of the human experience that may or may not be spiritual, but I can say that there is a huge differernce between those things and the investigation of self replicating chemistry.

    So I believe when it comes to self replicating chemistry, all you have is personal incredulity to offer in support of your appeal to ignorance having merit. One can cite people who share that personal incredulity as well as one can cite people who are vigorously working in the field publishing papers and expecting further results.

  200. Thanks for that, Chiefley. I only want to check back in with you on this:

    So I believe when it comes to self replicating chemistry, all you have is personal incredulity to offer in support of your appeal to ignorance having merit.

    I also said there were difficulties in principle; and that I would come back to discuss that more at a later time. Please don’t jump to the conclusion that all I have is personal incredulity.

  201. Tom,
    Also, I share your concern that we are getting off the track through this diversion into the philosophy of science. You write beautifully about the nature of scientific progress and I think we would probably agree on much that we both believe about the nature of science. But I would like to get back to the suggestion by Dave that there is something unique about DNA that suggests that it cannot be used by natural processes to encode information.

    I am not sure if the objection was within already living organisms or with the original mechanisms that encoded information in self-replicating molecules. Either way, the paper and ink example fails to point out anything special about DNA or any medium through which natural processes inform other natural processes and possibly affecting their behavior.

  202. @Tom (#223)

    Yes, you did say that and I apologize for ignoring it. I am very interested the rest of your ideas on this and I am interestetd in what you find as you go further into the book you are reading.

  203. Hi Chiefley

    Of course the bird brings information with it. Natural processes are quite non-random, therefore they contain lots of information. And that information can be transmitted by some medium to other natural processes which may or may not be affected by it.

    Good, we have some agreement here. But I htink you have an ambiguous concept of “random” and “information”

    Natural processes are governed by “law” – the laws of chemistry and physics – and in principle, given enough information, we can calculate all past and future events. That was the goal of Stephen Hawking’s search for the Theory of Everything, although he has since decided that it cannot be discovered.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_everything

    Random is the word we use for unguided or unplanned action, but that doesn’t mean (in light of the TOE) that it isn’t guided by necessity (law).

    Information is not guided by necessity, it is arbitrary. There is no necessity for English to use the collection of letter “apple” to describe an apple, we could use the French word “pomme”, but both describe the same entity. In the case of living organisms there is no physical or chemical “law” determining the placement of the four DNA “letters” TGAC, the combinations are chemically and physically arbitrary, the placement of the “letters” is determined within the constraints of a “language”.

    Chiefley, I think I’ll let Dave re-state what he meant in his analogy, because I know that what you heard is not what he meant.

    This might help the discussion proceed

    Where and how did the complex genetic instruction set programmed into DNA come into existence? The genetic set may have arisen elsewhere and was transported to the Earth. If not, it arose on the Earth, and became the genetic code in a previous lifeless, physical-chemical world. Even if RNA or DNA were inserted into a lifeless world, they would not contain any genetic instructions unless each nucleotide selection in the sequence was programmed for function. Even then, a predetermined communication system would have had to be in place for any message to be understood at the destination.

    […]

    All known metabolism is cybernetic–that is, it is programmatically and algorithmically organized and controlled.

    Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life.

    Trevors JT, Abel DL.
    Laboratory of Microbial Technology, Department of Environmental Biology, Room 3220, Bovey Building, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1. [email protected]

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15563395

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  205.