Tom Gilson

In my earlier post this morning I covered definitions of creationism quite thoroughly but I didn’t include a definition of Intelligent Design. There was one in the post I wrote last Sunday, but not all readers would know that. I wrote:

ID 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.

That’s fairly close to the definition used by the Discovery Institute. I’ve been amused to see scorn heaped on me at Panda’s Thumb for following the DI line. To them I’m some kind of brainless zombie unable to think for myself about what ID is or what it is worth. I can only parrot what I’ve been instructed to say; I’ve been duped into thinking DI has the goods on what Intelligent Design is all about; I should have realized that others, far more scientific than they, had figured out the real story, and that everything from the DI was a dishonest hoax.

But this is a continuation of a previous post on the communication question, and whether “creationism” appended to “ID” helps us understand what ID really is. I argued that it confuses communication rather than clarifying it, because of ambiguities and contradictions between different versions of creationism (defined in that post) and ID (belatedly defined here). There is no denying those discrepancies, and I closed that last post by saying it’s an open-and-shut case against those who would carelessly tag ID as creationism.

But there is one last piece of business to finish: am I the mindless idiot I am represented to be at Panda’s Thumb, in accepting what the DI says about ID? I would certainly prefer that not be true, but is it?

The problem with the DI and their view of ID seems to be (according to PT and others who think similarly) that ID is all fluff and nonsense, there’s no reality to it, there’s no science to it, and it’s all just posing and PR instead. Let’s suppose that’s true, for argument’s sake. Does that mean ID antagonists, who understand what’s really going on in Intelligent Design, own the definition for ID, and can correct the rest of our opinions as to what it really denotes?

Consider a parallel case, one in which almost everyone would agree that the word means nothing real: voodoo. I don’t think there is any reality to claims of supernatural power through voodoo, and I doubt most people involved in the ID/creationism debate do either. Suppose I go to some voodoo practitioner and ask him to define voodoo for me; and suppose then I go to my blog and say, “This is how voodoo is defined.” Am I being a mindless zombie to say so? (Careful how you answer: if mindless zombies really exist, then maybe voodoo really exists! 😉 Let’s take it in the metaphorical sense instead.). No, that would not be foolish for me to do; the practitioner’s definition of voodoo has real authority.

As an outsider I can evaluate voodoo’s reality, but in order to do so, I have to evaluate it according to some definition; I can’t change the definition and then evaluate it, because then I am evaluating something other than the voodoo that the practitioner told me about. The practitioner can define the term.

That’s an extreme case of an obvious fake. Some readers here consider ID an obvious fake, but even for them, the definition of ID rightly comes from its practitioners.

The other charge that flies around this debate is that the DI keeps changing the definition of ID, so that it’s a moving target. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see evidence of this over the past ten to twelve years. This is still a young field, so that’s a relatively long period of stability. My own very direct involvement goes back only about five years, and in that period I am quite sure it has not been a moving target.

That doesn’t mean it has to remain static forever. Bradley Monton in his book Seeking God In Science has proposed a refinement of ID’s definition. He has taken a sensible route to it: Does the DI’s definition really convey what the DI intends it to convey, or can the definition be improved to better communicate what it is intended to communicate? People can learn along the way. But there’s nothing wrong with looking to the chief practitioners of ID to define what they mean by ID.

Here’s another way of looking at it. If some ID antagonist says, “I don’t believe in ID creationism,” the DI could easily say, “I don’t either. Whatever ID creationism is, it’s something we’re not promoting or practicing here. If you try to re-define our terms, you’re going to end up criticizing something we’re not doing. Why would you want to waste your time on that?”

Series Navigation (Is ID Creationism?):<<< “ID Creationism:” The Communication QuestionConcluding Unscientific Postscript >>>

76 thoughts on “Who Defines ID?

  1. P.S. The friendly folks at Panda’s Thumb have also gotten a big hoot out of me accepting the Discovery Institute’s line that ID is science. I’m going to add a parenthetical note about that here.

    1. I do not hold that ID is purely scientific. It is also a philosophical program, using information provided from the natural world as input into philosophical thinking.
    2. ID employs science and conducts investigations by scientific means. When Behe, Minnich, Marks, Seelke, Gonzalez, etc. go into their labs, they are doing scientific investigation. In that sense ID is scientific.
    3. ID is not a mature body of established theory and practice, such that it should be designated “a science.” There is real science in ID but I do not consider that there is (yet) “a science of ID.” I think that may be a matter of time, but it is not there now.
    4. I am not in a position to evaluate ID’s scientific claims with any authority, since I am not a scientist. I have my opinions (I tend to think ID is on the right track), but then so does everyone. Time will show which claims will prove valid.
    5. Generally speaking (with some exceptions), my advocacy is not for ID’s empirical conclusions, but rather for ID to have freedom to pursue its investigations without being distorted, misrepresented, or otherwise shut down by the scientific establishment.

    This has been a parenthetical comment, included here only because I am quite sure someone would challenge me on it if I did not address it. The actual topic of the post is a continuation of the prior post on the definitions of ID and creationism in view of communication theory. I will not respond to requests to follow up on my view of ID as science, and I may delete such requests without warning.

  2. I have been following the evolution debate for a long time, since before there was an ID movement. ID makes sense — my interpretation of its basic premise is that life and consciousness originated and evolved because the universe is alive and conscious. You can call this living conscious universe \God\ if you like, or whatever terminology you prefer. The fact is we do not, and cannot, comprehend the infinite immensity of this living conscious universe. But we can study its creations, including ourselves.

    The anti-ID movement, the Darwinists (or neo-Darwinists, whatever they prefer to be called at this moment) states, with certainty, that a universe made of non-living matter gave rise to life and consciousness. They have absolutely no scientific explanation about how this could happen! Darwin said that natural selection acting on random variations can account for all evolution.

    So they basically trust and accept Darwin’s theory, although it has not a trace of evidence. They will show you tons of evidence for evolution (yeah, ok, I believe in evoltuion) and they will show you tons of evidence for natural selection (yes, natural selection must be true). But they will NEVER show you evidence of a new more complex species being created by chance and selection!

    To me, the whole debate is really over whether a dead mindless universe can create life and mind. We have no reasons or evidence to suggest it could. We have only the Darwinists’ assurance that, given enough time, anything is possible. If they need to bring in a bizarre theory of parallel universes, they will. Any crazy idea is acceptable, as long as it conforms to their materialist/atheist philosophy.

    And they know they are right, ’cause they’re smart and ID believers are dumb. They win their debates by calling their opponents idiots. Not with logic or evidence, but with insults.

  3. However, I can’t understand why you would condemn voodoo as unquestionably entirely false.I don’t know anything about voodoo, but I assume that, like any religion, it’s a mixture of truth an error. Why would Christianity — out of all the many feeble human attempts at comprehending the incomprehensible — be the only true religion?

    People who insist there is no god are narrow-minded and ignorant, but so are those who insist that one particular set of human guesses about god are true, and all others are false.

    When atheists attack religion, they usually attack the narrow intolerant versions of religion, which are easy to criticize.

  4. My mindless zombie brain says this looks about right. – that ID and creationism, commonly understood, are not the same.

    I, your humble servant, await further instructions from the mother ship (Discovery Institute).

  5. And they know they are right, ’cause they’re smart and ID believers are dumb. They win their debates by calling their opponents idiots. Not with logic or evidence, but with insults.

    Could this be true?

  6. Tom,

    After having read and participated in the last 3 posts and comments on this topic I thought I’d share what I have concluded in 5 notes as well:

    1. ID is a philosophical program that selectively chooses or distorts scientific data to supports its philosophy.
    2. ID borrows some data from some of the modern empirical sciences but conducts no research of its own. Whatever Behe, Minnich, Marks, Seelke, Gonzalez, etc. (are there others?) are doing in labs they are not conducting science on ID, as there is no testable hypothesis for ID.
    3. ID has failed to produce any new data. This should be contrasted with the Theory of Evolution, which has produced an uncountable quantity of new data that has, in turn, increased our understanding in ways that directly benefits our lives.
    4. Personal opinions are not what determine whether or not something is science. Offering a testable hypothesis and producing new data against that hypothesis is, for all intents and purposes, the best way to determine if something is or is not scientific.
    5. My opposition to ID is based on a history of its proponents’ misinformation and subterfuge, and their tendency to distort, misrepresent, and delay the understanding of scientific facts through means outside the field of science, where such disagreements are properly decided.

    What is both predictable and at the same time odd is that we should come to such different conclusions despite our having participated in the same discussions – if anything, the last few posts have only solidified that which I was inclined to have concluded.

    I do have a question for you, which you may deem improper. I believe you are maybe the most persistent ID advocate I have come across, and to be honest, at times you come across more as a corporate spokesman for the ID movement than someone who has only an intellectual investment in the fight.

    My question is, can you assure us that you have never received any support or funding from the Discovery Institute or its affiliates – no salary, no 1099, no expenses paid, no in-kind, no gifts or perks, etc.? I mostly don’t expect you to answer the question, but if you could answer in the negative then I could at least assume that your interest is not complicated with anything more than the usual entanglements we all carry.

  7. Tony, thank you for that strong and affirming expression of trust.

    About four days, no, a week ago I got a copy of Signature In the Cell from the Discovery Institute to review, along with a copy of the DVD Darwin’s Dilemma. Many other publishers and authors have sent me books and videos to review, with no strings attached, and I can assure you I do not consider myself beholden to those who do so. Otherwise the closest contact I have had with the Discovery Institute has been (a) discussions here in public on this blog, and (b) participation as a listener on a conference call about the movie Expelled, the famous call that P.Z. Myers broke in on uninvited. I have received no other gifts, perks, emoluments, remuneration, honors, awards, offers, inducements, or even letters or phone calls.

    The rest of your post is noted as written. I have at least argued for my conclusions. But no, I’m not inviting you to argue for yours, since they’re off topic, and it’s not always so productive anyway.

  8. I find it interesting you consider me such a strong and tenacious supporter of ID, considering my points 3 and 4 in the first comment here. I’m a tenacious supporter of giving ID opportunity to pursue its work without distortion and without getting shut down by the establishment. I really haven’t landed on a final opinion about its empirical program, except that it ought to be encouraged to proceed.

  9. Hello Tony

    My question is, can you assure us that you have never received any support or funding from the Discovery Institute or its affiliates – no salary, no 1099, no expenses paid, no in-kind, no gifts or perks, etc.? I mostly don’t expect you to answer the question, but if you could answer in the negative then I could at least assume that your interest is not complicated with anything more than the usual entanglements we all carry.

    When name calling and ridicule fail to shut up your opponent tar them with the “corporate shill” label. Never ever address the actual argument because it will demonstrate the fact that your own position is based upon unfounded assumptions.

    I would say that such skillful use of ad hominem is breathtakingly audacious were it not the common currency of this vulgar age. If you can’t refute the message attack the messenger.

  10. The voodoo analogy, as you use it, is not apt for the ID/creationism discussion. If someone sat down and invented “voodoo” from scratch, then sure, they get to define it.

    Here’s a much more apt version:

    What if voodoo had been around for years and became well known for, say, advocating the doctrine that humans can be possessed by evil spirits. Let’s also say the advocates of this particular religious view didn’t just keep it in their own communities, but tried to force it into the public schools, and/or suppress or interfere with mainstream science and science education that seemed to conflict with that religious view. Several court cases were fought and lost by the voodooists.

    And what if several people, formerly self-identified as voodooists, wrote a textbook originally intended for the public schools in the event that the voodooists won a court case. The textbook was originally about “voodoo”. After losing the court case, the authors deleted all references to “voodoo”, and replaced them with “intelligent possession” references, except one place where the phrase “voointelligent possessionistsists” was left instead of “voodooist.” Everything else remained the same, except that references to evil spirits were sometimes, not always, made more vague by suggestions that it was technically possible that aliens played the possession role instead of evil spirits.

    Then, for about the next 10 years, the term “voodoo” and “intelligent possessionist” were used pretty interchangably by their advocates, although gradually many (though not all) of the advocates dropped the use of “voodoo” terminology, as the term “intelligent possession” became better known, and as “intelligent possession” advocates began to make a serious bid for the schools.

    For the next 5 years, “intelligent possessionism” was involved in all kinds of noisy political and legal battles, got tons of attention in the press, despite the scientific community’s condemnation of its incompetent science, and its obvious past connections to voodooism. Finally, a major court case reviewed all the above evidence and concluded, yep, intelligent possessionism really was voodooism relabeled, and therefore unconstitutional.

    Around the time of this court case, a new, even vaguer definition of “intelligent possessionism” gets put forth, namely, “Intelligent possessionism says that some [unspecified] aspects of human behavior are remotely influenced [by unspecifed agents].” Certain bloggers naively take this definition as the obviously correct one, and criticize the close-mindedness and bigotry of anyone who dares to associate intelligent possessionism with its history and with the current actual beliefs, arguments, and activities of its voodooist supporters by using the term “intelligent possession voodooism.”

    My analogy is way, way closer to the truth of the creationism/ID situation than yours was, I’m afraid.

  11. Nick, my main man… 8^>

    What if voodoo [Christianity] had been around for years and became well known for, say, advocating the doctrine that humans can be possessed by evil spirits.

  12. Nick,

    That’s twice now you have tried to rewrite one of my analogies. The first time you committed an obvious petitio principii. This time you took the unimaginative route of telling your version of the whole story of ID from your perspective, substituting a word in it, and calling it an analogy. That’s not what it was. It was a simple substitution cipher.

    I’m afraid it’s not very impressive. My analogy had a purpose and a point, which was to demonstrate that if one does not agree with another person’s perspective, or even agree that their perspective represents something real or genuine, that still does not mean that the perspective has no name, or that the person who disagrees with it can pretend it has a different name that means something different than what the the holder of the perspective means. Now, that was a convoluted sentence, I’ll grant you. It was a lot easier to make the point by analogy. Which is what analogies are for.

  13. Jesus Christ believed people could be possessed by evil spirits. Obviously, since he performed exorcisms. And a well-known psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck, believes it. So I don’t see what is ridiculous about that belief. It may well turn out to have some validity. It’s just a prejudice of our mainstream scientific establishment that spirits can’t possibly exist.

  14. Tom,

    I find it interesting you consider me such a strong and tenacious supporter of ID, considering my points 3 and 4 in the first comment here.

    I consider you an oddly persistent supporter of ID only because if I were a proponent I would view the Discovery Institute as a liability to my cause. The organization is shadowy and legalistic (begun with the Wedge Strategy through the present day), fails to support ID in a way consistent with its development into a science, does not allow dialogue or criticism on its site, etc.

    There is an inherent contradiction in voicing the hope that ID will become a science (open and inclusive) and that at the same time the Discovery Institute (secretive and deceptively selective) is a proper ally to this cause.

    Regarding your points 3 and 4 above, I am not sure what to think of your 5 points altogether; I think you have not clearly stated a position.

    “I do not hold that ID is purely scientific.”

    This would imply that ID is least partly scientific. I think that something being partly scientific is an empty statement; I could say the same thing about my making coffee every morning.

    ID employs science and conducts investigations by scientific means.

    Again, this language is simply fuzzy. I don’t know what it really means, but I am given the impression that ID is scientific.

    When Behe, Minnich, Marks, Seelke, Gonzalez, etc. go into their labs, they are doing scientific investigation. In that sense ID is scientific.

    Okay, this seems clearer at least; now it seems that I can say for sure that ID = science.

    ID is not a mature body of established theory and practice, such that it should be designated “a science.”

    What? What above the statement just above that one? Maybe the next sentence will clear this up…

    There is real science in ID but I do not consider that there is (yet) “a science of ID.”

    Like I said, it’s just hard to know what to think about what you wrote.

    Regarding these (in response to my question to Tom about any possible ties with the Discovery Institute):

    Tom: Tony, thank you for that strong and affirming expression of trust.

    Dave: When name calling and ridicule fail to shut up your opponent tar them with the “corporate shill” label. Never ever address the actual argument because it will demonstrate the fact that your own position is based upon unfounded assumptions.

    I would say that such skillful use of ad hominem is breathtakingly audacious were it not the common currency of this vulgar age. If you can’t refute the message attack the messenger.

    I asked the question because I wondered it, and my rule of thumb is that if a question occurs to me it probably occurs to others as well, so if it doesn’t cross a boundary of civil discourse I’ll ask it. I know that Tom has, in the past, said that such questions about other commenters motives, etc. are appropriate if they relate to the discussion. However, if it makes you feel any better, I did feel awkward asking it.

  15. Tony,

    Tom is saying that ID is partly scientific and partly not. He may see that both claims (ID=science and ID=not science) are not right. In ID is some scientific parts, some philosophical parts, and maybe some other parts. If Tom (or any other) says that in some sense ID (or any other thing) is scientific., from that doesn’t automatically follow, that the thing is just pure science (e.g. ID=science, as Tony concluded). But from that doesn’t also follow that in ID were not any scientific sides.

    It may help you to understand Tom, if you use Venn diagram.

  16. “I think all of us agree that voodoo is a false religion, at any rate.”

    No we can’t all agree, because I don’t agree. Yes there are many Christians who insists theirs is the only true religion, but those are not “thinking” Christians. William James said that all religions share the same mystical essence, and I agree with that. I don’t know if he would have included voodoo in that statement, but I would. Why not? Voodoo is probably similar to most other “primitive” religious and magical systems.

    But now everyone is so sophisticated and smart — whether they are atheists or Christians — that all pre-modern beliefs must belong to the dark ages. Oh no, we are too smart for that now.

    As I said, Jesus believed in demons. If you call yourself a Christian, then I assume you believe whatever Jesus, supposedly, said.

  17. Human beings at almost all times and places — with the exception of modern day materialist atheists — have believed in gods and spirits. Demons in other words. In my opinion, the universe is made out of information. It is infinite, and it is conscious and alive. You can call it Yahweh or Jesus or whatever you like. It is infinitely beyond our comprehension.

    Who are we to define God? Why can’t we just admit it is beyond our intelligence. Who are we to decide how many gods there are — infinite is infinite, it is beyond number and beyond time.

    All religions are partly true and mostly false.

    ID merely says we DO NOT KNOW how and why life and consciousness evolved. ID is absolutely correct about that. And ID is correct in saying we are part of something infinitely bigger and smarter than ourselves. Atheists hate ID because they like to think they are smarter than anything, and are not part of anything.

  18. realpc,

    No we can’t all agree, because I don’t agree. Yes there are many Christians who insists theirs is the only true religion, but those are not “thinking” Christians.

    I’ll concede then that not all of us agree with respect to Voodoo. I do believe demons exist, but that certainly doesn’t mean I believe voodoo is generally true.

    This is off topic, but either Christianity’s central beliefs are really true and Christ is the only way to God, or Christianity is completely false, as I have discussed here among other places. James is wrong. Voodoo is wrong too.

    But I don’t need to insist on my earlier point that all of us think voodoo is wrong; the point works for most of us, anyway, since most of us think voodoo is wrong.

  19. Tom — re: analogies, they only are persuasive if they resemble the actual situation being discussed. My voodoo analogy does resemble the intelligent design situation, and yours doesn’t. Your position is basically the raw assertion that creationism and ID are different Because ID People Say So At The Moment, And Let’s Ignore All the History And Counterevidence.

    My position is that we have to always think critically, and take into account all the evidence, and sometimes this means we have to be skeptical in situations where there is evidence that dissembling and euphemism are playing a role.

    Re:

    “ID merely says we DO NOT KNOW how and why life and consciousness evolved. ID is absolutely correct about that. And ID is correct in saying we are part of something infinitely bigger and smarter than ourselves. Atheists hate ID because they like to think they are smarter than anything, and are not part of anything.”

    Whoops, looks like ID really is about the supernatural and apologetics after all. RealPC forgot to read the DI’s talking points. All the whitewashing of “ID” into something secular goes down the tubes in one post. Game over.

  20. realpc,

    Who are we to define God? Why can’t we just admit it is beyond our intelligence. Who are we to decide how many gods there are — infinite is infinite, it is beyond number and beyond time.

    Very good question. We can’t define God, and God is beyond our intelligence to seek out from our own initiative. But God is not so limited. He is not unable to reveal himself to us truly or to communicate truth about himself to us. I can communicate to you that I exist; should God be less competent in communication than I am? He has revealed himself to us, so it’s not up to us to define Him.

    This too is off topic, but you can pick it up where I discussed the same issue on this post if you want.

  21. \either Christianity’s central beliefs are really true and Christ is the only way to God, or Christianity is completely false,\

    Ah that is really too bad. Too bad that you think that. You cannot think well of any of the rest of us who devoutly believe and have given our lives to god, as we understand god. You are above and better, we are all wrong. Really too bad you have painted your mind into that little corner.

  22. Nick, I don’t want to get into an argument on the use of analogy in logic, because I think your position here is so obviously wrong, but you are so obviously locked into it, it would be a waste of time. But I’ll take time at least to explain what I mean.

    First, your “analogy” was not an analogy, it was a substitution cipher. You did not use it in an analogical fashion.

    This is what I mean by using it analogically, and also an explanation of why my analogy does not fail on the grounds you suggest. An analogy works when the following is the case:

    A is like B not in every respect, but they are alike at least in some respect relevant to x. If A and B are alike in some respect relevant to x, where x has some logical connection to y, then if x is true of both A and B, and y is true of A, then y is (likely) also true of B. Or, if y is not true of A, then y is (likely) also not true of B. (That’s a quick seat-of-the-pants formal outline of analogical argument, and with some thought I could probably re-arrange it into a clearer explanation, but hopefully it’s close enough for now, when I’m just about to head out to the Y for a swim. I’ll work on it more later if necessary.)

    In my analogy, A was voodoo, B was Intelligent design, and x was that (for the sake of argument) both are taken to be not-real entities. The context was the claim y, that since ID is a not-real entity, its definition could be decided by anyone who could show what it really was. We can see that y is not true of voodoo, so it is also likely not true of Intelligent Design.

    Note that in analogy it is only necessary for the similarity to reach as far as what is relevant to x and y.

    So your point, “they only are persuasive if they resemble the actual situation being discussed,” is poorly understood and poorly stated here. Your use of logic continues to be poor. Analogies are valid to the extent that they are similar with respect to the points in question.

    You are not showing up well here in your use of logic, Nick, and that’s not helping your case.

    Edit: see my re-write of what an analogy is.

  23. Nick, is your position:

    ” creationism and ID are identical Because ID I Say So At The Moment and because also the history I have chosen absolutely shows it, And Let’s Ignore What people means when they use the word creationism, and All the Counterevidence, and all that history also, which doesn’t support my thesis.”?

    There has been many definitions of creationism, but you want to quote from all of them only some…

    Ronald Number wrote an article about creationism in Science (1982,
    Vol. 218, No. 4572). He told, what creationism means:

    “This article focuses on the intellectual
    leaders of creationism, particularly the
    small number who claimed scientific ex-
    pertise. Drawing on their writings, it
    traces the ideological development of
    creationism from the crusade to outlaw
    the teaching of evolution in the 1920’s to
    the current battle for equal time. During
    this period the leading apologists for
    special creation shifted from an openly
    biblical defense of their views to one
    based largely on science. At the same
    time they grew less tolerant of notions of
    an old Earth and symbolic days of cre-
    ation, common among creationists in the
    1920’s, and more doctrinaire in their
    insistence on a recent creation in six
    literal days and on a universal flood.”

    It looks like you were the one who don’t much care about history and words historical meaning, when it doesn’t support your thesis. Then you choose the definition you like. According to Number (1982), the belief in universal flood was essential element of creationism. It is not part of ID. But it is counter evidence for the claim that creationism=ID, so let’s ignore it. Because creationism and ID are identical, because Nick says so.


  24. Who are we to define God?

    We’re people attempting to communicate with other people. If we can’t define the words we use then what say is, in the most literal sense, gibberish.


    Why can’t we just admit it is beyond our intelligence.

    We can. That’s, apparently, part of your definition of the word “God”.


    Atheists hate ID because they like to think they are smarter than anything, and are not part of anything.

    Speaking for the entirety of atheists are you? I assure you we aren’t that monolithic a bunch.

    And if atheists deny the validity of ID arguments do you really think its because we like to think we’re smarter than anything?

    Then why is it that I think it more likely than not that species more intelligent than humans exist somewhere in the universe?

    Not part of anything? You’re criticizing a caricature. If you get tired of that feel free to actually learn something about the lives of real atheists.

  25. Ok Dave Ellis, there are all kinds of atheists, I should not generalize about you all. I am trying to read the minds of all atheists, and of course that is not possible. There are probably many atheists who are genuine skeptical seekers of understanding, at least on the conscious level. Then there are the subconscious levels, and well let’s not get into that. We really do not know what goes on beneath the surface.

    And that leads to the problem of defining words.

    “If we can’t define the words we use then what say is, in the most literal sense, gibberish.”

    Words are approximate at best. They are symbols pointing at universes of thought. Very inadequate but else do we have?

    Some words are easier to delimit than others. If I can show you an example of a thing, such as a pencil, or a turtle, then if we belong to similar cultures we might understand each other. But I cannot point to god. If you don’t already know what I mean, then I probably cannot tell you.

    And there are many things that are too abstract and vague to define easily, by showing a typical example.

    So it’s hard, we do our very best, such as it is.

  26. Again, the fact that something may be in many respects beyond our comprehension doesn’t mean its not definable.

    To give an example outside the realm of religion, lets take the Archailects described in the Orion’s Arm science fiction setting:

    http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-topic/492d76d2f173e

    I couldn’t begin to understand what goes on in the mind of a super-intelligent AI so far beyond me in IQ that my mind is to his as a termite’s is to mine.

    But there are still many things I CAN say about him that define what I mean when I refer to an archailect:

    an entity that is, or is descended from, artificial intelligences created by humans and who are of vastly greater than human intelligence.


    Words are approximate at best. They are symbols pointing at universes of thought. Very inadequate but else do we have?

    Some words are easier to delimit than others. If I can show you an example of a thing, such as a pencil, or a turtle, then if we belong to similar cultures we might understand each other. But I cannot point to god. If you don’t already know what I mean, then I probably cannot tell you.

    You’ve already provided enough information that I can derive a perfectly adequate definition of the word “God” as you’ve so far used it:

    “In my opinion, the universe is made out of information. It is infinite, and it is conscious and alive. You can call it Yahweh or Jesus or whatever you like. It is infinitely beyond our comprehension.”

    God is:

    the universe

    made of information

    infinite

    conscious

    alive

    infinitely beyond human comprehension

    In a word, you’re a pantheist and one with a pretty clear, distinct definition of “God”.

    What you should have said, to be accurate, is not that we can’t define “God”, you DID define that word, but that we can’t comprehend the mind of God.

    But the more interesting question to me is why you believe a God of the definition you gave exists—especially since I’ve discussed religion too exclusively with Christians (at least lately) and would welcome views and arguments other than those of the conservative Christians we mostly encounter on this blog.

  27. “But the more interesting question to me is why you believe a God of the definition you gave exists.”

    A lifetime of reading and thinking and experiencing. Analyzing the discoveries of science. Questioning the assumptions of neo-Darwinism. Thinking about digital physics. It goes on an on. I can’t give you a nice neat paragraph to summarize everything I think and believe about god, or whatever anyone wants to call it.

    And you can say it’s pantheism if you want, but you might just as well call it polytheism or monotheism or animism. It all points to the same infinite consciousness.

  28. ]
    I can’t give you a nice neat paragraph to summarize everything I think and believe about god, or whatever anyone wants to call it.

    I’m not asking for a complete philosophical system. I’m just interesting in what you consider some of the strongest reasons for believing in the pantheistic God.

    Why, for example, regard the universe as God rather than God as the transcendent creator of the universe at Tom and most of the other Christians here do?


    And you can say it’s pantheism if you want, but you might just as well call it polytheism or monotheism or animism. It all points to the same infinite consciousness.

    I call it pantheism because the definition of the word “God” you presented was quite plainly that held by pantheists. If you wish us to not call you a pantheist you will need to go with a vaguer definition of the word “God” next time.

  29. “It looks like you were the one who don’t much care about history and words historical meaning, when it doesn’t support your thesis. Then you choose the definition you like. According to Number (1982), the belief in universal flood was essential element of creationism. It is not part of ID. But it is counter evidence for the claim that creationism=ID, so let’s ignore it. Because creationism and ID are identical, because Nick says so.”

    Wow. Re-read your Numbers quote again. I have that article, and his book, and have read them several times. He agrees (1) creationism = special creation, (2) the word “creationism” applies back to the 1920s at least, and doesn’t refer exclusively to young-earthers or global-Flooders (because the 1920s creationists often didn’t take those positions), and (3) the prominence of young-earthism in fundamentalist circles came late relative to creationism in general. Oh, and (4) he notes a trend in creationism towards increasing attempts to appear scientific, and claims that creationism comes from scientific evidence, and not from the Bible. A trend which ID fits into to a tee, BTW.

    Numbers isn’t right on everything, in particular he never did the kind of detailed work on the history of ID which he did on creation science, but he is right about the above.

  30. Here is a better statement of what an analogy is and does when used properly in argument. I’m using the same letter identification scheme I used a few comments earlier on this page.

    • Situation or circumstance A shares characteristic x with situation or circumstance B.
    • Point y is in question with respect to B.
    • x has some clear logical relationship with y in A, such that y‘s existence or characteristic is clearly entailed by, results from, or is essentially associated with x in A.
    • There is no z such that y is logically dependent on z, and z exists in A or B but not both.

    This defines the degree of similarity required between A and B in order for an analogy to be valid. No more similarity is required than that. Re-wording the above, A and B must share some similarity x that is logically relevant to y, and they must not differ in some z that is logically essential to y.

    Also required for the actual usage of analogy for argumentation is that x be identified in both A and B, that the relationship between x and y be identified in A, and the corresponding relationship between x and y be spelled out in B.

    An argument from analogy can be defeated if it can be shown that A and B do not share x, if the logical relationship between x and y can be rebutted or refuted, or if some relevant difference z can be found between A and B.

    All of the above is common sense expressed in somewhat formal language. It’s also common sense that a substitution cipher is not an analogy.

  31. Nick Matzke wrote:

    “He agrees (1) creationism = special creation”

    I agree

    “(2) the word “creationism” applies back to the 1920s at least, and doesn’t refer exclusively to young-earthers or global-Flooders (because the 1920s creationists often didn’t take those positions),”

    I don’t agree. Ronald nowhere claims that 1920s creationists “often” didn’t believe in global flood. In fact, Numbers gives 0 example of creationist, who opposes the idea of global flood. Yes, Ronald argues that 1920s creationists didn’t often claim that there were scientific evidence for global flood. But it is very different thing, than claiming that they hadn’t global flood position. Numbers says also that 1920s creationist leaders often thought that “biblical defense” was enough. So there was not need to claim for global flood in scientific areas (the bible said that there was a flood, and that was enough).

    “and (3) the prominence of young-earthism in fundamentalist circles came late relative to creationism in general.”

    Where Numbers claims so? (In this article was mostly just speaking about “intellectual leaders” of creationists. And yep, in 1920s a bit different kind of “intellectual leaders” were famous, than for example in 1970s. Society and political environment was changed.)

    “Oh, and (4) he notes a trend in creationism towards increasing attempts to appear scientific, and claims that creationism comes from scientific evidence, and not from the Bible. A trend which ID fits into to a tee, BTW.”

    I agree.
    I thought the same thing also. According to NSCE this change happened just after Edwards (1987), but Numbers said in 1982 that it was the trend – even without any judges. It may be one reason, why Numbers doesn’t see the history of ID like you: he knows what there was before 1987.

    The defense “based largely on science” was something the society and environment valued in 1980s, because persons, who presented scientific evidence for creation were seen as “intellectual leaders”: they were famous in 1982, but not 50 years earlier (there were also some scientist presenting scientific arguments in 1920s for creation, but they were not so popular). In 1920s biblical arguments were valued more. But the society changes. People began to ask more scientific arguments for creation (if the idea wanted to be taken seriously). Then Thaxton et al. wrote their book in 1984, and the ID group was born. And then after many steps it became as a movement during 1990s.

  32. Tom — re: analogy, this is exactly what I was doing:

    An argument from analogy can be defeated if it can be shown that A and B do not share x, if the logical relationship between x and y can be rebutted or refuted, or if some relevant difference z can be found between A and B.

    A was voodoo, B was ID. You said the voodoo proponent gets to define voodoo because “The practitioner can define the term”, and you aren’t talking about his stuff if you use some other definition.

    I pointed out that reality is more complex, and your situation only really applies if “voodoo” was just invented by scratch by the practitioner in question. If someone else invented the term before him, and gave it a different definition, and particularly if there have been decades of cultural debate about the topic, and particularly if there is some reason to think that redefinition is being done for PR and legal reasons, then at the absolute least there is a discussion to be had about what the term means.

    If you didn’t like my previous analogy (which was an analogy, just a very close one!), here’s a pithier one, allegedly from Abe Lincoln:

    Question: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog?

    Answer: Four. Calling a tail a leg don’t make it a leg.

    If your voodoo practioner says that voodoo involves running around naked wearing nothing but Mickey Mouse ears, that doesn’t make this the new, best, obvious definition of voodoo. Practioners do not have absolute, unanswerable rights to define terms.

  33. Well, we’re making a little progress, Nick. Instead of presenting us with a substitution cipher, now you’re actually dealing in terms of argument from analogy. Thank you for making that potentially helpful step forward.

    To be effective your rebuttal must show that there is no logical relation between x and y (see above), or that A and B do not share x, or that there is some relevant z that makes A and B to be disanalogous with respect to y.

    I’m trying to figure out which of those you’re saying. I think it is that there is some z: that ID was “invented by scratch by the practitioner in question,” whereas voodoo has a long and well-established history supporting its name.

    But I don’t see why your z in this case obviates the right of the community of practitioners to define what it is that they are practicing. I don’t think that y, the right of a community of practitioners to agree on the name of what they are practicing, is logically dependent on your z, the existence of a long history to what they are practicing and to the name given to it.

    You say,

    then at the absolute least there is a discussion to be had about what the term means.

    Fine. Certainly. But calling it “Intelligent Design Creationism” is not a discussion; and if you would pay attention to the discussion we’re having right now (because we are having one, aren’t we?), you would note that attaching “Creationism” to “Intelligent Design” is an obfuscating move, and not helpful for an actual honest, good-faith discussion of what the term really means. If that discussion is what you want, I’m all for it. But attaching a misleading label is not what I would consider a good basis for that discussion.

    As to your Abe Lincoln analogy: Calling Intelligent Design Creationism don’t make it Creationism. Thank you.

  34. hmm writes,

    “He agrees (1) creationism = special creation”

    I agree

    Woo hoo, yet more support for my position on the defintion of creationism.

    “(2) the word “creationism” applies back to the 1920s at least, and doesn’t refer exclusively to young-earthers or global-Flooders (because the 1920s creationists often didn’t take those positions),”

    I don’t agree. Ronald nowhere claims that 1920s creationists “often” didn’t believe in global flood.

    Is “Ronald” your buddy? Am I speaking with Paul Nelson here or what?

    Anyway, it’s well known to Numbers and everyone else that YEC and “flood geology” were the positions of Price and almost no one else in the 1920s — the other fundamentalist leaders all believed in “day age” or “ruin and reconstruction” interpretations of Genesis, which allowed for an old earth and local flood.

    E.g., Numbers, Darwinism Comes to America, 1998, pp. 52-53:

    Evangelicals had still reached no consensus about the correct reading of Genesis 1, although even the most conservative commentators had come to terms with the antiquity of life on Earth and a deluge of local or geologically superficial significance. Leaders of the Fundamentalist movement tended to promote either the day-age theory, endorsed by William Jennings Bryan and William Bell Rily, or the gap (or ruin-and-reconstruction) interpretation, taught in the popular Scofield Reference Bible and preached by the evangelist Harry Rimmer. About the the only Christians to insist on the recent appearance of life and on a fossil-burying flood were the Seventh-day Adventist disciples of Ellen G. White, who claimed to have witnessed the creation of the world in vision…[further discussion is of George Macready Price etc.]”

    Moving on…

    “and (3) the prominence of young-earthism in fundamentalist circles came late relative to creationism in general.”

    Where Numbers claims so? (In this article was mostly just speaking about “intellectual leaders” of creationists. And yep, in 1920s a bit different kind of “intellectual leaders” were famous, than for example in 1970s. Society and political environment was changed.)

    He definitely says this about the leaders. I don’t remember if he has said anything anywhere about the view of the people in the pews. In general, this is hard to judge, the people in the pews don’t leave much of a written record, and often have pretty vague opinions of technical issues anyway.

    “Oh, and (4) he notes a trend in creationism towards increasing attempts to appear scientific, and claims that creationism comes from scientific evidence, and not from the Bible. A trend which ID fits into to a tee, BTW.”

    I agree.

    Really??

    I thought the same thing also. According to NSCE this change happened just after Edwards (1987),

    The word change from creation to ID changed after the Edwards case, but other changes happened before Edwards, *while* the Edwards case was being litigated from 1981-1987. This is central point of my book chapter.

    but Numbers said in 1982 that it was the trend – even without any judges. It may be one reason, why Numbers doesn’t see the history of ID like you: he knows what there was before 1987.

    You don’t know the history if you think there were no judges involved before 1982. Numbers himself was involved in the Arkansas & Louisiana court cases as a potential witness, which were going on in 1982 (well, the Arkansas case was 1981-early 1982).

    But throughout the 1970s there were court cases, before “scientific creationism” went down in the 1980s, “Bible science” went down in the 1970s. Look up the talkorigins.org and NCSE pages listing the court decisions.

    And — this is crucial — one of Numbers’s most important discoveries in his research on “scientific creationism” was the timing and reason for its origin. Check this out:

    [p. 242]

    […] By the mid-1970s the advocates of flood geology, such as Morris and Moore, had securely attached the synonymous tags “creation science” and “scientific creationism” to the Bible-based views of George McCready Price. This relabeling reflected more than euphemistic preference; it signified a major tactical shift among strict six-day creationists. Instead of denying evolution its scientific credentials, as biblical creationists had done for a century, the scientific creationists granted creation and evolution equal scientific standing. Instead of trying to bar evolution from the classroom, as their predecessors had done in the 1920s, they fought to bring creation into the schoolhouse and repudiated the epithet “antievolutionist.” Instead of appealing to the authority of the Bible, as John C. Whitcomb, Jr., and Morris had done in launching the creationist revival, they downplayed the Genesis story in favor of emphasizing the scientific aspects of creationism. […]

    [p. 243]

    But, as we shall see, the appeal to science arose primarily in response to specific educational and legal developments.

    SELLING SCIENCE

    In 1963, in a decision prompted in part by the protests of the atheist Madalyn Murray (b. 1919), the United States Supreme Court ruled that mandatory Bible reading and prayers in public schools breached the constitutional wall separating the government from religion. […]

    Among the first to seize this opportunity was a Baptist mother from southern California, Nell J. Segraves (b. 1922), troubled by some of the things her children were learning in school. Murray’s success in shielding her son from unwelcome religious exposure suggested to Segraves that creationist parents such as herself could also use the law to shield their offspring. …Segraves petitioned the California State Board of Education to require that evolution be designated a theory in all state-approved biology texts. Their efforts elicited a positive response from the U. S. attorney general’s office and from the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Max L. Rafferty, (1917-1982), who in 1966 encouraged the two women to demand equal time for creation. His reading of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which included a provision allowing teachers to mention religion as long as they did not promote specific doctrines, prompted his suggestion. Besides, the creationists suspected that the Supreme Court would momentarily declare restrictions on the teaching of evolution to be unconstitutional. Late in 1965 Susan Epperson (b. 1941), a young biology teacher in Little Rock, had challenged the 1928 Arkansas law banning instruction in evolution. Given the judicial climate, creationists expected that the Supreme Court would strike down the old statute, which it did in 1968.

    [p. 244]

    Segraves and Sumrall failed in their first effort to persuade the Board of Education to incorporate creation into the curriculum, but a second opportunity arose in 1969. […] Though not a young-earth creationist, [a Pentacostal named Vernon L. Grose] offered substitute wording for the Framework that satisfied, though hardly pleased, Segraves and Sumrall as well as the board. “While the Bible and other philosophical treatises also mention creation, science has independently postulated the various theories of creation,” read the revised Framework, released in 1970. “Therefore, creation in scientific terms is not a religious or philosophical belief.” Such language inflamed evolutionists and kept the California textbook controversy raging throughout the early 1970s. The dispute eventually ended in a draw: Evolutionists kept creation out of public-school biology texts, but creationists succeeded in demoting evolution to the level of a mere speculative theory.

    The transmogrification of creationism from religion to science took place in direct response to the events in California, which encouraged creationists to believe that they could squeeze into science classrooms simply by shedding superfluous biblical weight. “Creationism is on the way back,” announced Morris, “this time not primarily as a religious belief, but as an alternative scientific explanation of the world in which we live.” The new labels for this alternative science first appeared about 1969. In anticipation of a favorable ruling by the California State Board of Education, Segraves, Sumrall, and other associates of the Bible-Science Association in southern California set up Creation Science, Inc., to prepare creationist textbooks. In 1970 this organization merged with the planned creation studies center at Christian Heritage College in San Diego to form the Creation-Science Research Center. Morris, who had agreed to move to San Diego to become academic vice president of the college if he could also organize a creation center there, served as director. In the fall Morris offered a course at Christian Heritage titled “Scientific Creationism,” apparently his first public use of the term. In the September 1971 issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly, he introduced the two-model approach to his colleagues in the CRS, arguing that evolution and creation were equally [p. 245] “scientific” and equally “religious.” Shortly thereafter he described evolution and creation as “competing scientific hypotheses.” At the spring 1972 meeting of the CRS board, members were instructed to begin using “scientific creationism,” a phrase creationists came to use interchangeably with “creation science.”

    (Ronald Numbers, 1992, The Creationists Alfred A. Knopf, New York, pp. 242-245. Chapter 12, “Creation Science and Scientific Creationism.” Bolds added throughout.)

    You may have noticed a pattern:

    1968: Epperson v. Arkansas
    1969: Creationism –> creation science

    1981-1982: McLean v. Arkansas
    1982-1984: Creation science –> watered-down creation science (that of Thaxton, Kenyon, etc.)

    1987: Edwards v. Aguillard
    1987-1989: Watered down creation-science –> “intelligent design”

    2004-2005: Kitzmiller v. Dover
    2004-2005: Intelligent design –> watered down intelligent design

    (and, 2007, in the DI’s “Explore Evolution”: intelligent design –> “Critics of evolution”)

    The defense “based largely on science” was something the society and environment valued in 1980s, because persons, who presented scientific evidence for creation were seen as “intellectual leaders”: they were famous in 1982, but not 50 years earlier (there were also some scientist presenting scientific arguments in 1920s for creation, but they were not so popular).

    See the Numbers quote above, the pretending-to-be-science thing was important in the 1960s also, thus “scientific creationism.”

  35. With all that ‘watering down’ over the years, Nick, how can you still claim that they are the same thing?

  36. I honestly can’t see a difference between Asia and Europe. I was taught in school that there are seven continents, but eventually I saw how the plate tectonics worked, and got a teacher to admit that Europe and Asia were the same continent, just treated as two for political reasons.

    When my church switched from Creationism to ID, the only change was the terms used. The only difference at the local level, after years of ID, is that we are encouraged to avoid certain words for political reasons. And when politics is discussed, it’s still Creationism that our older congregants want in the Godless schools, and ID is what it is called because everyone in my church takes for granted that the term ID is “all just posing and PR”, as you say.

    Even if the movement’s leaders have a fine-tuned definition, that fine-tuned definition isn’t what I see being used on the ground. And they are used in exactly the same ways. Not just the words, but the Creationist and ID movements are used the same way, by the same people, for the same purpose.

    And it makes me uncomfortable when people say that they’re not the same thing. Because, like Europe and Asia, I’ve never been able to see a dividing line. And the teachers I know who want to be in schools teaching ID, they won’t notice if the materials they use say Creationism or ID, because a definition on paper has nothing to do with how they use it.

  37. Mike, Europe is not the same as Asia. Eurasia is the same as Eurasia. The distinction between Europe and Asia is not geological, but there still exists a meaningful distinction in the geopolitical sense.

    Still, I see the point you’re making about the history of the issue in your church, in your local “on the ground situation.” There has been a change of terminology without a change of what it references. It could be that your local church leaders have discovered that Intelligent Design is a more politically expedient label, or it could be they have discovered it is a better, more accurate label. Without further information there is no wisdom in rushing either to one conclusion or the other.

    I doubt they changed for local political expediency (science education issues in the local schools, for example) because I think you would have told us if that were the case. I don’t know what larger political issues they might think they ought to be involved in. (I have found that local Protestant churches are very wary of political involvement, by the way; it’s hard to get them the majority of them motivated even on abortion or defense of marriage.) You could tell us more if there is more, but without that, I think the second possibility, that they have discovered it is a more accurate label, is as believable as the first if not more so.

    Anyway, the creationist label, properly understood probably still applies, just as properly understood I gladly admit it applies to me. It sounds like they are creationists 3.1 or 5 (probably 5; 3.1 is not widely known). I have owned that these are quite consistent with ID. They might even be creationists 6, borrowing from ID even though creationism 6 denies substantial portions of ID’s assumptions. If so, then they are exhibiting some confusion on the issue—that undoubtedly happens—and they ought to think about it more carefully.

    I think you’ve identified a real problem: “Even if the movement’s leaders have a fine-tuned definition, that fine-tuned definition isn’t what I see being used on the ground.” What then is the answer? For ID’s opponents to muddy it up still further?

  38. >>He agrees (1) creationism = special creation”

    >I agree

    “Woo hoo, yet more support for my position on the defintion of creationism.”

    Maybe or maybe not. According to your definition Behe is creationist, but he doesn’t believe in special creation.

    >> “Oh, and (4) he notes a trend in creationism towards increasing attempts to appear scientific, and claims that creationism comes from scientific evidence, and not from the Bible. A trend which ID fits into to a tee, BTW.”

    > I agree.

    “Really??”

    Yes. Before 1960s scientific evidence was not usually seen as very interesting thing among people, who believed in creation. And there was trend, that scientific evidence was asked for creation by both christians and sceptics (what was not usually asked in 1920s or 1930s). I know, that there were also books about scientific evidence for design in 1920s and 1930s, but they were not very popular. Ratzsch has written something about some of them. The books that presented evidence for design and Designer were not automatically classified as creationist books during that time.

    >> but Numbers said in 1982 that it was the trend – even without any judges. It may be
    >> one reason, why Numbers doesn’t see the history of ID like you: he knows what there
    >> was before 1987.

    > You don’t know the history if you think there were no judges involved before 1982.
    > Numbers himself was involved in the Arkansas & Louisiana court cases as a potential
    > witness, which were going on in 1982 (well, the Arkansas case was 1981-early 1982).

    I didn’t claim that there were no judges involved before 1982. I know, that there has been many cases. But my claim is that the trend towards the need of scientific evidence of creation didn’t happen just because of the judges. It would have happen even without judges. Of course there were court cases. But the same thing happened in many other areas also: people asked more often scientific evidence in 1980s and 1990s than in the beginning of 1900s. You can see the same trend in ethical things also: in 1920s it was more important what the bible said. Now also scientific arguments are seen as important even in ethical questions.

    In many countries has happened the same trend. In many other countries there has not ever been any laws against teaching creationism. And not any court cases against creationism. I have asked: why there are changes in argumentation (about creation question) in other lands also during the same time period? Because the laws and court cases of USA? Or because of some other reason (e.g. society changes). If some other reason can explain the trend in other countries, could the same reason maybe explain (partly) the trend in USA also?

  39. Most other countries have gotten their creationism, especially the science-y bits, from the U.S. creationists. The muslim creationists in Turkey pretty much just copied the ICR’s stuff, translated to Turkish, and took out the Christian bits…

  40. “Why, for example, regard the universe as God rather than God as the transcendent creator of the universe at Tom and most of the other Christians here do?”

    It doesn’t make any difference. The word “universe” just means everything, so nothing can be outside it. I don’t care how most Christians might define it, and I am not a Christian anyway. I think there are higher dimensional levels, probably without limit, since how can the universe have limits?

    So if the highest dimensional level of the universe is infinite, then you can call that transcendent if you want. But all these words don’t mean much anyway, since we can’t conceive of an infinite universe of higher dimensions, that includes everything. I don’t see a point in playing with that kind of concept. The end result is always that we still don’t know, but have wasted a lot of time.

    Different people experience god in different ways. Some interpret the experience of god as Jesus Christ, or as Buddha, or a guardian angel, or you name it. I do not think any of us are qualified to judge and decide whose concept is true or false. If god is infinite, then it has no limits, and it can appear to everyone in different ways.

    “I call it pantheism because the definition of the word “God” you presented was quite plainly that held by pantheists.”

    If pantheists believe that god is everything and everything is part of god, then I agree with them. But it’s a statement without much meaning. It is possible for god to be everything and everything to be god, and for god to still take on an infinite number of different forms, and appear differently to different individuals.

    If pantheists insist that god is not a person, then I disagree with them. If god is everything, without limits, then certainly god has the ability to take the form of a being that has a personality.

    All these attempts to define and limit god are meaningless, since we cannot define and limit something that is infinite and all-encompassing and inherently without limits.

    So you can call me a pantheist if for some reason you want to, even though I really am not.

    I would probably call myself an agnostic, since I don’t pretend to be able to comprehend god. However even if I am an agnostic I can still experience god, whatever that means, in my daily life. To me it means the sense of being part of something greater, something that is beyond the ordinary senses.

    Anyone who has the desire to experience god in this way probably can, but first you need an open mind. You can discover that we have more than the ordinary senses, and that we can experience our connection with the source of our being, to varying degrees.

    You could call that mysticism, which is the desire to connect with our source which is beyond our ordinary senses. I believe it is the essence of all religions.

    I am not a Christian and I do not believe any group has a monopoly on the truth. It just makes them feel special, while alienating and antagonizing everyone else. It makes them an easy target for atheists, because it’s obviously ridiculous to think that god recognizes only one religious path, and despises all other human attempts to connect.

  41. And I should also say that I think there are people who prefer not to have a conscious experience of god in their daily lives, and there is nothing wrong with that. They are still, it seems to be, experiencing connection with god (whatever we mean by that word) on a subconscious level. Since we are part of the everything I am calling the infinite universal consciousness, it is not possible to be disconnected from it. But you can experience the feeling of separateness.

    That experience of separateness, possibly, is what atheists, in general, prefer. And who is to say they should be otherwise? I do no think atheism causes immorality or unhappiness, and maybe it is a healthier attitude for some people. Religion can certainly create plenty of misery and violence. As can anything at all once it becomes political.

    If we are believers that is our choice and we should not mind if others choose not to have a relationship with whatever it is that we are all a part of.

  42. Nick Matzke:

    “Most other countries have gotten their creationism, especially the science-y bits, from the U.S. creationists. The muslim creationists in Turkey pretty much just copied the ICR’s stuff, translated to Turkish, and took out the Christian bits…”

    In this claim you use the word “creationism” in very special meaning.

    So far as I know, the history of creation beliefs (in special creation) is very long in many countries (in USA it is shorter than in Europe). But according this definition creationism began in USA, and “MOST OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE GOTTEN THEIR CREATIONISM – FROM U.S. CREATIONISTS”.

    As you know, muslims believe in creation. ICR-style YEC argumentation and books about creation are maybe new thing among them, but the belief in creation has been part of islam from the beginning of the religion. And in many countries is more than 1000 years old history of creation beliefs. You are playing definition game. But you cannot have it both ways. Either Usa is the source of creationism, and “most other countries have got their creation beliefs from USA or then there is long history of belief in special creation in many countries, and the history of the Usa cannot be the (main or important) reason for their creation beliefs. If there is a long history of creation beliefs in many countries (e.g. in Turkey and many European counties), you can claim, that they got their belief in creationism from USA, only if you mean by “creationism” something else than just the belief in special creation. If “Most other countries have gotten their creationism” from USA, then the word “creationism” means something else than belief in special creation in your sentence.

    It looks like you were not always using your own definition of “creationism”.

  43. Very good point, “hmm”.
    The definition obviously expands and contracts at will to do whatever work the critic wants of it.


  44. Different people experience god in different ways. Some interpret the experience of god as Jesus Christ, or as Buddha, or a guardian angel, or you name it. I do not think any of us are qualified to judge and decide whose concept is true or false. If god is infinite, then it has no limits, and it can appear to everyone in different ways.


    So you can call me a pantheist if for some reason you want to, even though I really am not.

    I call you a pantheist because you defined the word “God” in the way pantheists define it:


    Pantheism ….is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing immanent God and that the Universe (Nature) and God are equivalent.

    Classical pantheism believes in a personal, conscious, and omniscient God, and sees this God as uniting all true religions.

    The above from the wikipedia article on pantheism.

    Sounds just like the things you’ve been saying.

    Again, though, I wonder why you think the universe is conscious or alive (much less infinitely beyond our comprehension).

  45. Quick note: I have a policy that when “God” is used as a proper noun it is to be capitalized (see the Discussion Policy). I don’t think realpc is using “god” as a proper noun, so I’m not applying that policy to realpc’s recent comments.

  46. “I call you a pantheist because you defined the word “God” in the way pantheists define it:”

    And I also defined it in other ways, and I explained why.

    “Again, though, I wonder why you think the universe is conscious or alive ”

    I think there are many scientific and logical reasons for believing that. Atheists think that science has somehow shown there is no god, and I think they are wrong. I think Dawkins is wrong. Dawkins, and atheists in general, think that human beings in all times and places have been hallucinating and their experiences of gods and spirits have been delusions.

    If atheism were actually supported by science, then I would have to admit that people all over the world since humanity began have been delusional regarding the spirit worlds. But atheism is not grounded in modern science. And people in all times and places have not been crazy and/or stupid.

    For Dawkins, the only people who are sensible and rational are himself and his fellow atheists. All the rest are delusional.

    Dawkins is sort of like the Christians who insist they have the only true religion, and everyone else is delusional. Dawkins’ absolute certainty resembles the certainty of religious fundamentalists.

    His certainty is based on the idea that life and consciousness can assemble itself by chance in a non-living mindless universe. He believes that Darwin’s theory has adequately explained the origin of life and new species.

    I believe in evolution, and it seems obviously true. I also believe in natural selection, which is also obviously true. But there is no evidence whatsoever showing that life and new species can be created by natural selection acting on random variations. That is pure speculation.

    When I have argued with Darwinist atheist, they always refer me to evidence for evolution on talkorigins, or where ever, even though I have already told them I believe in evolution. Then they show me evidence for natural selection, even though I already told them I believe in natural selection.

    They never show any evidence that life and species were created in that way, because there is none. It is a matter of atheist faith that given enormous periods of time any unlikely thing can happen.

    So that is your faith, which you are entitled to. But your faith is not based on science and reaons. Science and reason tell us that we do not know why our world has created us, and all other living things. Nature seems to have a drive to create and evolve.

    I think that is the real message of ID — we cannot explain the origin and evolution of life. Darwin thought he had explained it. He lived at a time when physicists still had a mechanical view of matter, when the extreme complexity of even the simplest living organism was not appreciated.

    Genetics was discovered in the 20th century and seemed to confirm Darwin’s theory. But no one knew at that time how baffling and mystifying DNA would turn out to be.

    As science learns more — about the brain, DNA, matter, etc., — it seems to understand less. Science is fascinating and wonderful, but it does not give us the ultimate answers. The learning process is never-ending, and we never reach an ultimate explanation.

    You can insist that science has found many answers and nothing can prevent it from eventually explaining everything. But your insistence is not rational, it is entirely a matter of faith.

    You can accuse me of relying on faith rather than evidence, and maybe that is partly true since I can’t prove my theory either. But at least I have my own direct experiences, and the experiences of countless others. You have only your faith, your need to believe in the power of science to answer all questions and solve the ultimate mysteries.

  47. I don’t know if I made this point clear enough: species do change as a result of selection (natural or artificial) acting on variations, or mutations. This is obviously true and no one can deny that many types of dogs, for example, have been created by artificial selection (breeding). But creating variations of existing species is not at all like creating a new species, with new features that did not exist in the parent species.

    When a species of bacteria adapts and becomes resistant to an antibiotic, it does not become a new species. The potential to acquire resistance to substances already existed in the bacteria, and it was brought out by natural selection acting on spontaneous variations.

    If a species of moth adapts by changing color as a result of a change in its environment, that is not evolution. No new species was created, no new features were added to the existing species. It just used its potential for adapting to changes in the color of its environment. Natural selection causes species to adapt, but it does not create new species.

    At least, we have no scientific reason to think so, and we have no evidence that it can happen. It is a matter of faith.

    People confuse evolution in general with Darwin’s particular theory of how he thought evolution must have happened. Evolution in general is true, Darwin’s theory is mere speculation.

    ID questions the adequacy of Darwin’s theory to explain the origin and evolution of life. It has a right to ask that question and to be skeptical, since Darwin’s theory has not been supported by evidence.

    It defies common sense — how could such complicated machinery be assembled by such a simple process? But Darwinists feel they are above and beyond common sense. Who needs common sense when we have our atheist faith?

    Evolution happens, we don’t know why or how. The complexity of life increased and we don’t know how or why. The universe tends toward greater complexity and we don’t know how or why.


  48. Atheists think that science has somehow shown there is no god, and I think they are wrong.

    You have a habit of attributing views to atheists as a group–and too often they’re views that many, in this case most, atheists don’t hold.

    I know very few atheists who think science has shown there’s no God. I certainly don’t. I simply think theism is a superfluous hypothesis.


    If atheism were actually supported by science, then I would have to admit that people all over the world since humanity began have been delusional regarding the spirit worlds. But atheism is not grounded in modern science. And people in all times and places have not been crazy and/or stupid.

    Human beings, throughout the history of our species, including now, have been capable of error.

    Hallucination is a hypothesis that accounts very well for religious visions. We can go further into that topic if you like. For now I’ll simply note that you’ve given no reason for your opinion that religious visions aren’t hallucinatory other than the fact that many people have had them. A poor argument since, of course, if human beings are prone to religious hallucinations its something that would be found throughout history. The argument doesn’t reduce, by one iota, the likelihood of the hypothesis you’re using it to reject.

    In the entire rest of your comment you’ve actually not given any reason for your beliefs about God. You’ve simply stated a lot of things we don’t know yet—and that does nothing to support your position.


    You can accuse me of relying on faith rather than evidence, and maybe that is partly true since I can’t prove my theory either.

    I would not accuse you of relying on faith until actually hearing your reasons for your opinions. At this point, though, given your response to my question, I’d say that, yes, your beliefs are articles of faith unsupported by evidence.


    You have only your faith, your need to believe in the power of science to answer all questions and solve the ultimate mysteries.

    Please refrain from trying to read my mind. You aren’t good at it. I hold no such opinion.

    My position is simply that I refrain from believing things I have no reasonable basis for thinking true (and that includes the belief that science can or will answer all questions).

  49. Nick,

    Does a “transmogrification from religion to science” entail that the resulting science is necessarily religion in disguise?

    You prove that ID is just transmogrified creationism by showing a correlation with court cases. Do you know that this is an unscientific and disreputable way of proving a conclusion? For correlation cannot prove causation.

    There is at least one “third variable” in the mix. Do you know what it is? If not, then your attempts to prove your case through correlation are irresponsible and really quite unscientific.

  50. “My position is simply that I refrain from believing things I have no reasonable basis for thinking true”

    Ok, me too. Agree to disagree. If I experience god in your opinion its a hallucination or delusion, and in my opinion it is in accordance with the nature of reality.

    We are both skeptics who trust in reason and science and our own experience. You experience no god, I experience god.

    There is no reason to argue. You think I have no reasons for my beliefs but that is only because I have not written a thesis for you.

    Agree to disagree. All is well.


  51. If I experience god in your opinion its a hallucination or delusion, and in my opinion it is in accordance with the nature of reality.

    And you do not think hallucination the more parsimonious explanation?

    We know people have hallucinations. It is far less certain that the universe is conscious and makes some sort of mystical contact with us.


    We are both skeptics who trust in reason and science and our own experience.

    I’ve seen no evidence thus far that you are a skeptic or have rational grounds for your religious beliefs.


    There is no reason to argue.

    Discussing and debating religious beliefs is one of the purposes of this blog. You stated a belief I find unwarranted. That’s more than sufficient reason to examine the arguments you’d give for holding that opinion.

    But you are, of course, not obligated to defend your claims further if you choose not to.

  52. And, by the way, I do not just “trust in my own experience”—things are not so simple. I’m subject, like all humans, to wishful thinking, misperception, misinterpretation and all manner of cognitive errors.

    The person who values truth must be constantly alert to this possibility.

    If I had a vision I would not simply trust it to be true–and I would certainly not assume it to be a communication from a conscious, infinitely intelligent universe.

  53. “Discussing and debating religious beliefs is one of the purposes of this blog. ”

    Yes, but I did give you some of my reasons and you ignored them. If you are a typical JRI graduate, then debating theists is just a game. You are not looking to broaden your horizons. If I saw that you paid the slightest bit of attention to my arguments, then I would probably continue. But I don’t have time for pointless sparring.

  54. Hello David Ellis

    And you do not think hallucination the more parsimonious explanation?

    […]

    No group is as guilty of misusing Occam’s Razor as atheists when applying it to the existence of God. In fact, in the face of the last century of scientific discovery, once would expect atheists to be downplaying the importance of O.R., rather than harping on it. Given all we’ve learned about the history of the universe, the arrangement of the cosmos, and the sophistication of matter, it would seem that whatever grasp atheism has on O.R. certainly isn’t on the handle. Taking God completely out of the picture requires the postulation of everything from fantastic coincidences to multiple universes to unobservable, one-time alterations in the laws of physics, and so forth. That’s all well and good, but that kind of unproven, un-testable conjecture smacks of the “faith” that atheists are so dismissive of. Old habits die hard, though, and O.R. is still a popular line of attack from critics of religion. It’s also worth mentioning that Occam wouldn’t have supported an atheistic interpretation of his own philosophy. He was a theist – actually, a Franciscan friar.

    The general application of O.R. by atheism is to say, “we can craft an explanation for such-and-such without mentioning God, therefore disbelief is more appropriate, as per Occam’s Razor.” However, this is not in keeping with the purpose of the principle. Remember, the guideline does not say, “fewer beings is better,” or, “any explanation without a God is better.” It says, “Plurality ought never be posited without necessity”. It’s the “necessity” part where interpretation comes into play. Just because I can explain how something happened without postulating a certain being’s involvement doesn’t make my explanation more likely by default. This is especially true when removing said entity from every explanation requires a mind-boggling number of assumed replacements. It’s inescapably true when the removal of said entity makes the end result impossible.

    […]
    http://swordofthemind.blogspot.com/2008/09/firmly-by-blade.html

  55. “removing said entity from every explanation requires a mind-boggling number of assumed replacements.”

    Well said Dave. Atheists start with the premise that atheism is correct, and then bend and twist everything to fit. Or tell us that eventually some day science will verify their preconceptions.


  56. Yes, but I did give you some of my reasons and you ignored them.

    You gave a lengthy reply. Most of which was irrelevant to the question. Feel free to quote yourself giving a reason for your beliefs other than the one I already mentioned. You gave, other than the bad reason I already critiqued, a rant against the idea that science can answer all questions—something I agree with and which has no bearing on the issue. From the idea that science can’t answer all questions (that, in essence, there are unfalsifiable propositions) it doesn’t follow, or even suggest, that the universe is alive or conscious. Nor that its infinitely beyond our comprehension.


    If you are a typical JRI graduate, then debating theists is just a game.

    I have no idea what JRI you’re referring to.

  57. I note, Dave, that you haven’t, anywhere in that lengthy and very generalized diatribe against the atheist use of OR, attempted to make a case that Occam’s Razor favors Realpc’s hypothesis (or any religious hypothesis) over the hallucination hypothesis.

    I, on the other hand, have given a clear and specific reason for thinking the hallucination hypothesis more parsimonious.

    Would you care to discuss the actual case in question?


  58. Atheists start with the premise that atheism is correct, and then bend and twist everything to fit. Or tell us that eventually some day science will verify their preconceptions.

    You assert that the universe is conscious. All I’m doing is saying that this assertion needs to be supported by adequate reasons before being accepted as true (and you’ve not even come within shouting distance of that).

  59. Tom: Suppose I go to some voodoo practitioner and ask him to define voodoo for me; and suppose then I go to my blog and say, “This is how voodoo is defined.” Am I being a mindless zombie to say so?.

    Common indications of bias in setting the definition for a term like “voodoo” would include (i) source shopping, (ii) ignoring historical usage, and (iii) claiming the body of voodoo practitioners who think its related to Santeria don’t know their own theology well enough to know what they’re talking about.

    Your position on the definition of “voodoo” would also be undermined if the biggest named voodounistas agreeing with you were known to be two-faced, supporting your definition in press releases and public forums while telling their followers in nonpublic meetings something like ‘don’t worry, I agree with your old definition.’ Dembski and Behe being two prominent examples.

    But as they say – in the end it doesn’t really matter. Voodoo-A was found unconstitutional (to teach as science). Voodoo-B was found unconstitutional. Voodoo-C was found unconstitutional. Given this data we are justified in thinking that each generation of voodoo-redefiner is likely holding on to some common concept which is itself unconstitutional. We are also justified in expecting that voodoos D, E, and F have a high likelihood of being unconstitutional, and we will certainly be warranted in being suspicious of the constitutionality of voodoo-D when it comes along.

    It doesn’t matter how many other tenents of creationism ID removes, as long as it relies on a false evidentiary dichotomy and an undetectable creator, it’ll be unconstitutional. All three of the examples you cite in your definition (high information content, irreducible complexity, and fine-tuning) rely on the false dichotomy. And until some testable trait of the designer is actually posited, ID will fail-by-omission the second part too.

  60. \You assert that the universe is conscious. All I’m doing is saying that this assertion needs to be supported by adequate reasons\

    I can’t assert anything about the universe in general, because it is, as far as we can imagine, infinite and therefore beyond comprehension. I can say that I do not buy the atheist materialist theory that consciousness is always produced by physical brains, and cannot exist otherwise. There is an enormous quantity of scientific evidence from parapsychology, the vast majority of which has not been debunked or shown to be incorrect. If you have no familiarity with parapsychology, then it would not make sense for you to automatically discount its evidence.

    There is no scientific evidence showing that the brain generates consciousness, or that the brain is a kind of computer. The alternative science theory of the brain says it is some kind of device for receiving and translating mental information.

    Artificial intelligence research has not come up with anything like an intelligent machine, and they wonder why it’s so hard. It isn’t hard, it’s impossible, since the brain is not, in the opinion of many non-mainstream researchers, a kind of computer. It receives and transforms intelligence, it does not create it.

    I have many good scientific reasons, in addition to my own \hallucinations\ and the \hallucinations\ of humans in all times and places. I have not spelled out in detail each and every one of my scientific reasons. But it would not make any sense for you to blow them all off just because Amazing Randi says no one can win his prize. a

  61. eric,

    It doesn’t matter how many other tenents of creationism ID removes, as long as it relies on a false evidentiary dichotomy and an undetectable creator, it’ll be unconstitutional.

    ID is unconstitutional? I don’t think so, Eric! It’s unconstitutional (under current case law) to teach it in U.S. public schools. That means its legal status is restricted only in a very limited sphere. I think you probably knew that, but I thought it worth pointing out anyway.

    What you seem not to have noticed is that it was not the topic I brought up anyway. What I brought up was whether it is accurate, conducive to clear discussion, and honest to declare ID creationism without specifying what one means by creationism in that context.


  62. I can’t assert anything about the universe in general, because it is, as far as we can imagine, infinite and therefore beyond comprehension.

    You HAVE asserted several things about the universe in general (if you recall I listed them earlier).

    And, by the way, infinity does not entail being beyond comprehension. I have little trouble, to use a lighthearted example, in comprehending the idea of a spaghetti noodle of infinite length.


    I can say that I do not buy the atheist materialist theory that consciousness is always produced by physical brains, and cannot exist otherwise.

    I’m perfectly willing to entertain the idea that minds can exist independently of brains. But until credible evidence is provided the idea is mere speculation.


    There is an enormous quantity of scientific evidence from parapsychology, the vast majority of which has not been debunked or shown to be incorrect.

    OK. Excellent topic and a good choice of places to look for evidence supporting the claims you’ve endorsed.

    Can you provide a couple of examples of what you consider the strongest, most credible evidence of psychic phenomena?


    Artificial intelligence research has not come up with anything like an intelligent machine, and they wonder why it’s so hard. It isn’t hard, it’s impossible, since the brain is not, in the opinion of many non-mainstream researchers, a kind of computer. It receives and transforms intelligence, it does not create it.

    I think this topic is rather peripheral—but let’s assume your ideas about mind are right. Why couldn’t a computer as complex as the human brain do the same thing a human brain does (in your view): receive and transform intelligence?

    I see no obvious reason it couldn’t. By the way, one of my favorite science fiction novels DEUS X by Norman Spinrad deals with a similar topic: the Catholic Church attempting to come to a conclusion about whether “uploads” of human brains are just simulations or actual consciousnesses. Wonderful book. I highly recommend it.


    I have not spelled out in detail each and every one of my scientific reasons. But it would not make any sense for you to blow them all off just because Amazing Randi says no one can win his prize.

    I will not dismiss your arguments without careful consideration…..but you’ll have to actually present them before that consideration can take place.

  63. “Why couldn’t a computer as complex as the human brain do the same thing a human brain does (in your view): receive and transform intelligence?”

    The idea is that consciousness comes from higher dimensional levels, and it uses the physical brain to interact with this level — the world we experience with our five senses. Artificial intelligence researchers would have to understand something about what consciousness is and about higher dimensional levels. Of course they know nothing about this, since they deny it exists. There are alternative science researchers who are considering these ideas.

    Science fiction usually assumes materialism is correct. The Matrix is the closest science fiction story I know of to a non-materialist perspective. Except, of course, the higher level in The Matrix is physical, and is run by the bad guys. Our reality, according to digital physics, is like the Matrix, except there are no bad guys or monsters running things.

    According to one non-materialist theory in physics, each dimensional level emanates from the one above it, and there are an infinite number of levels. So our 4 dimensional reality unfolds from a 5 dimensional reality, and so on. In 5 dimensions, you would be able to travel in time, I suppose. We can’t imagine what a 5-D world would be like, let alone an infinite-D world.

  64. “Can you provide a couple of examples of what you consider the strongest, most credible evidence of psychic phenomena?”

    There is just an enormous amount, starting over 100 years ago. In recent decades the experiments became ever more carefully designed and controlled. Skeptics could not debunk most of them. However, atheists generally insist that all will be, or could be, debunked eventually. They cannot acknowledge anything that contradicts materialist philosophy. They will deny hard scientific evidence, calling it implausible, because they it disagrees with their world view.


  65. Artificial intelligence researchers would have to understand something about what consciousness is and about higher dimensional levels.

    That assumes that the processes isn’t something that happens automatically when some “brainlike” is operative. Why assume this? If they can simulate in a computer the activities of a brain, why would it not be a conscious being?


    Science fiction usually assumes materialism is correct.

    Actually, science fiction is more often than not naturalistic. There’s a difference between naturalism and materialism (I’m, by the way, not a materialist). But there is still plenty of science fiction that doesn’t assume naturalism. Lots of SF writers have been religious. Orson Scott Card. CS Lewis. Madeleine L’Engle.

    Regardless, though, Deus X is still well worth reading even if Spinrad is a naturalist (and I’m not even sure of that–I suspect he is but he leaves the question open as to whether God and souls exist in the book).


    There is just an enormous amount, starting over 100 years ago.

    I’m aware of the history of parapsychology. Psychic phenomena is something I used to be an enthusiastic believer in (until I started reading the skeptic’s side of the issue too and compared the strength of the arguments on each side).


    In recent decades the experiments became ever more carefully designed and controlled.

    Fine. Let’s examine one of the, in your opinion, best and see how it holds up to scrutiny.

  66. ” If they can simulate in a computer the activities of a brain, why would it not be a conscious being?”

    They cannot do that. I do not think they ever will, and saying that they will is mere speculation.

    “until I started reading the skeptic’s side of the issue too and compared the strength of the arguments on each side”

    Skeptic’s Dictionary and JREF are extremely biased and dogmatic promoters of atheism. They will not provide anything like an unbiased scientific perspective.

    “see how it holds up to scrutiny.”

    Many experiments have been examined by skeptics who could find nothing wrong with them. This is well known. I once argued about this with the atheist Harriet Hall — even though she knew that Ray Hyman and Richard Wiseman, for example, had reviewed experiments they could not find any faults with, she still insisted that all the results are all because of fraud or error. Because, in her world view, they cannot be valid,. So she rejects high quality scientific evidence because it threatens her philosophy.

    Atheists will not accept parapsychology, no matter what. But at least acknowledge that evidence against materialism exists. Don’t just insist that some day someone will debunk all of it. That’s like insisting that someday someone will program an intelligent computer. Stick to now, not fantasies of the future.

  67. Tom (original post): “But there is one last piece of business to finish: am I the mindless idiot I am represented to be at Panda’s Thumb, in accepting what the DI says about ID?”

    After almost 70 comments, I’m glad we’re still at the beginning of discussing this question.

    The Discovery Institute made up the name “Intelligent Design.” This has bee conclusively shown. The Discovery Institute (and its minions, such as IDEA clubs) is the only organization that speaks and writes about Intelligent Design. Their Web sites purport to define it—as Tom noted, with some changes over the years, although not so many as to make it a “moving target.”

    Intelligent Design followers outside the ambit of the Discovery Institute have rarely attempted any kind of definition of Intelligent Desgn, and none of these are alike, as far as I can tell. None of them seem to have any background or qualifications in science, philosophy, or intelligence. The Discovery Institute does not seem to heed any of their suggestions.

    A recent check of the Federal Trademark Register reveals that the Discovery Institute has not yet filed an application. In all other respects, however, they seem to own the brand, lock, stock, and ramrod. Therefore, why should we not accept their definition of their product?

  68. Olorin,

    What difference does it make who coined the term “Intelligent Design”? The point of these posts is whether “creationism” added to the term is good communication practice. What is the purpose of tacking “creationism” on to “Intelligent Design”? What specific unambiguous meaning does it add to the meaning already present in “Intelligent Design”, or (conversely) what rhetorical purpose does it serve?

  69. The question I addressed was the specific one I quoted: whether you are a doofus for using the Discovery Institute’s definition of Intelligent Design. I thought not, and gave some reasons.

    As to other definitions, Antony Flew has never attempted to define Intelligent Design. And, as far as I know neither has Bradley Monton. Flew is not a DI minion, but Monton is; they just haven’t given him a telephone extension yet.

  70. Hi Olorin

    As to other definitions, Antony Flew has never attempted to define Intelligent Design. And, as far as I know neither has Bradley Monton. Flew is not a DI minion, but Monton is; they just haven’t given him a telephone extension yet.

    My, my, my, such emotive language.

    Here’s one for you Olorin, define “evolution”.

  71. Bradley Monton devoted an entire chapter of his recent book to defining Intelligent Design in careful analytical detail.

    Intelligent Design followers outside the ambit of the Discovery Institute have rarely attempted any kind of definition of Intelligent Desgn, and none of these are alike, as far as I can tell. None of them seem to have any background or qualifications in science, philosophy, or intelligence. The Discovery Institute does not seem to heed any of their suggestions.

    Monton’s qualifications in science, philosophy, and intelligence are that he is a tenured philosopher of science at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is an atheist, not in the ambit of the DI, except if one takes it that someone who fails to disagree with ID is automatically in the ambit of the DI. But even that’s not a good enough description, because Monton disagrees with ID; he considers it interesting and somewhat persuasive but not completely.

    So here’s what it appears you are doing: you are defining the ambit of the DI as including anyone who agrees with them in any way. Whatever their relational connection to the DI, whatever the extent of their partial agreement, as long as it’s not total disagreement, you consider them to be “minions.” What a loaded term.

    And then you say that all these minions must have the same definition of ID because they are, of course, minions, under not just the ambit but apparently also the mind-control of the DI.

    So here’s how it goes:

    Nobody outside the DI’s minionship has defined ID the same way the DI does.
    The definition of the DI’s minionship is “all those persons who define ID the way the DI does.”

    Cute. Circular, but cute.

    Olorin, your attacks on Monton here are violations of the discussion policies, item 2. Not everyone would consider it an insult to be associated with the DI, but you clearly intended it as a personal insult.

    But with that I’m going to make my exit from this discussion. I’m not ready to start over again, as Olorin said. Just for fun (??) I copied all of these past 6 threads into a word processor, set it to 12-point font, and deleted all the boilerplate and extra line breaks so what remained was just our discussion. In ten days we have produced approximately 469 comments, enough to fill 398 single-spaced pages (with double spaces between paragraphs), totaling about 105,500 words. I think that’s a good plenty!

    I have a report due at work today and a deadline soon for a newspaper column, and more than that, I’m just ready to move on to something else now after all this. If the goal is to finish the discussion by settling the question and coming to agreement, that’s obviously impossible anyway, so I’m going to take this opportunity to bow out.

    This applies to all the discussion threads in this series.

    If anyone sees something in the discussion following this that seems to call for me to play the moderator/referee role, please use the contact page to let me know, because I probably won’t be paying attention, though I am going to keep an eye on your personal attacks, Olorin, by sending your comments to moderation before approval.

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