Sunday, June 04, 2006

Are Intelligent Design advocates saying this on purpose?

` Why the frell didn't I stop and think this over before I wrote about it the first time?
` The day I saw Anyonymous Dawn's criticisms to my, Intelligent Design is Creationism, ID advocates say!, I have been thinking to myself; 'That's right! There is another way to view these quotes - from the perspective of someone who doesn't understand the meaning of the words they're using!' It all makes sense to me now!
` Let me illustrate what I mean - here's the first quote:

This isn't really, and never has been a debate about science. It's about religion and philosophy.
- Phillip E. Johnson, "Witnesses for the Prosecution", World Magazine 1996

` Okay. To me, that is straightforward. The definition of science (a method to uncover facts and challenge viewpoints) has nothing to do with the definition of religion (a ritualized, habitualized belief system). Science is not even really a philosophy so much as it is a process for gaining knowledge, the only one we know to even halfway decently function.
` And so, it looks like Phillip Johnson is saying that ID isn't science after all and has nothing to do with science - only religion and philosophy.
` To some people, it may look like; 'Oh, science is just a religion, so why can't we teach Creationism in science class, too? They're the same thing!'
` Or something like that, anyway.
` In other words, my interpretation assumes that the words 'religion' and 'science' mean what they actually mean. Johnson, then, seems to be using the same words, though incorrectly! What's more, he may well not realize he's doing so!
` This would explain the behavior of his followers. And, if he is doing this on purpose, then he's discovered a great way to manipulate people by spreading ignorance, making the word 'science' utterly meaningless.
` From what I know, though, it seems that he's greatly confused about what is going on and feels frustrated that scientists roll their eyes at his comments.

` Similarly, if you take out the assumption that William Dembski knows how to use these words, then the following quotes would not appear to be as contradictory as they are:

Intelligent design is a strictly scientific theory devoid of religious commitments. Whereas the creator underlying scientific creationism conforms to a strict, literalist interpretation of the Bible, the designer underlying intelligent design need not even be a deity.
—William Dembski, The Design Revolution , 2003

Thus, in its relation to Christianity, intelligent design should be viewed as a ground-clearing operation that gets rid of the intellectual rubbish that for generations has kept Christianity from receiving serious consideration.
—William Dembski, “Intelligent Design’s Contribution to the Debate over Evolution: A Reply to Henry Morris,” 2005

` To someone who understands the definitions of the words, this means; "Oh, religion has nothing to do with it," and then; "We're trying to replace the hard-won fruits of science with what the bible says!"
` To someone who doesn't understand what this literally means, it might sound like; "Oh, Christianity has nothing to do with it. But, if we can make people see that a designer makes sense, we can use the Christian bible for science!"
` I should hope, for Dembski's sake, that he doesn't accept or understand the literal interpretation of what he's been saying. If he does, this would make him look very bad!

` So, what can I make of this?

Intelligent Design opens the whole possibility of us being created in the image of a benevolent God … The job of apologetics is to clear the ground, to clear obstacles that prevent people from coming to the knowledge of Christ … And if there’s anything that I think has blocked the growth of Christ as the free reign of the Spirit and people accepting the Scripture and Jesus Christ, it is the Darwinian naturalistic view.
—William Dembski, National Religious Broadcasters convention, February 6, 2000

` I would view this as; "Down with people's understanding of natural selection! Darwin's screwed up our religion! Let's set it right!"
` Someone else could interpret it more along the lines of: "Oh, those silly evolutionists! They're so close-minded they won't look at it the fundamentalist Christian way!"
` And what about this very anti-science-looking one?

The objective is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to ‘the truth’ of the Bible and then ‘the question of sin’ and finally ‘introduced to Jesus.’
—Phillip Johnson, “Missionary Man,” Church & State magazine, 1999

` Granted, this is not really a direct quote (though I did read the whole article), it sounds to me like; "Our mission is to go off the subject of science altogether by saying Darwinism definitely means there is no God (according to our personal definition) in order to say 'evolutionary thought is evil' and then say; 'you're evil, too but you can be saved'."
` Perhaps he actually meant something like this; "Kids need to learn about Jesus before they are taught that other religion called scientific materialism! Then maybe they'll listen!"
` That seems likely, considering that - from what I know about Johnson - he apparently considers the process and thought involved in science to be a religion. He seems to think that scientists don't think science is a religion because that idea is simply distasteful to them:

So the question is: "How to win?" That’s when I began to develop what you now see full-fledged in the "wedge" strategy: "Stick with the most important thing" —the mechanism and the building up of information. Get the Bible and the Book of Genesis out of the debate because you do not want to raise the so-called Bible-science dichotomy. Phrase the argument in such a way that you can get it heard in the secular academy and in a way that tends to unify the religious dissenters. That means concentrating on, "Do you need a Creator to do the creating, or can nature do it on its own?" and refusing to get sidetracked onto other issues, which people are always trying to do.
-- Philip Johnson, "
Berkeley's Radical", Touchstone Magazine, 2002

` This is what it seems to mean in skeptical terms: 'Go undercover and don't talk about the bible so people don't think you're a religious fanatic."
` Another interpretation: "Look at it in a non-religious way - can nature do it or not? Honestly!"

Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.
--Phillip Johnson, "Let's be Intelligent About Darwin", Christianity.Ca, February 6, 2004

` So, what is he saying? "We're doing our best to sneak God into science class, even though God has nothing to do with science at all!" or; "God could be scientifically proven to exist!"?
` Probably the latter!
` Now, I'm not saying that I think any God couldn't be scientifically proven to exist. In order to meet this definition, it just needs to show at least a trace amount of evidence of itself. If it doesn't, then practicalitywise, it's completely unneeded for experiments and scientific theories; in fact, there is no way to use it in any scientific practice at all!
` Indeed, this is the case - IDers do practically nothing to make a scientific case for themselves except when they take scientific facts and thoughts, distort them and omit them in such a way that solid evidence of evolution appears nonsensical, and then say 'just listen to those crazy scientists!'
` Of the actual scientific experiments they have done, these are generally flawed, and/or show a fact that is already integrated into Darwinian theory. In the latter case, they then insert this result into a nonsensically distorted caracature of evolution that was fabricated for this purpose and say 'oh, it doesn't fit!'.
` Most ID 'experiments', however, are merely thought experiments that have little or nothing to do with actual evolutionary theory or with the way biological systems work.

Because of ID’s outstanding success at gaining a cultural hearing, the scientific research part of ID is now lagging behind.
—William Dembski, “Research and Progress in Intelligent Design,” 2002 conference on Intelligent Design

We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’—but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.
—Dr. Paul Nelson, “The Measure of Design,” Touchstone magazine, 2004

` So... there's more hype than research, and Intelligent Design is not a theory. I'm not sure how else one can interpret it, though if you don't understand the word 'theory', then it's easy to not grasp the implications.
` So, yes, there are different ways to see these quotes. On top of this, even though nobody can doubt the fact that the IDist book Of Pandas and People (formerly Creation Biology) originally talked about and defined the same matters - except that it used words such as 'creation', where they have been replaced with words such as 'Intelligent Design' - there is yet another interpretation to this: If science is a religion, and ID is science, then a biblical version of ID should be acceptable.
` Holy cats!!! This indicates to me that we people who know what science is really do need to get this across to everyone so that there's no misunderstanding! (Which I've been trying to do myself!)

` Going forwards in the post, let us look at this very straightforward-looking chunk:

‘Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its damning cultural legacies.’ The plan? Replace ‘materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God’, and ‘defeat scientific materialism’ with a new scientific paradigm ‘consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.’

` It looks as if they just want to destroy what science has found and replace it with fundamentalist faith. Perhaps what they mean is that they are convinced of 'the truth' of the bible, and so it should be self-evident to scientists what is 'really' true through experimental evidence.
` That sounds sensible. However, there are a million reasons why scientists are generally not amused with IDist antics - not the least of which are their skewing of the scientific process and why it exists, and the utter cherry-picking and distortion of the facts and theories that come from science.
` That interpretation of the paragraph would make sense, because so few IDists seem to understand science - even the few who are scientists! (Scientists who do not practice science do pop up from time to time, ticking off more honest ones.)

` “With such a roster, very little of the center’s research into the weakness of Darwinism has been of the experimental, lab-oriented, peer-reviewed kind.’ They say it ‘is only part of the larger mission to open the scientific discourse to evidence and viewpoints that have been suppressed, even persecuted, by the Darwinian establishment.”

` This doesn't appear to deter them because they seem to think that Darwinism is this major faith based on some evidence, rather than what it is; a theory that makes sense of practically everything we know about the natural world! And furthermore, science makes up just one piece of ID, because ID is faith-based, not science based. But if science in itself is considered a religion... well, then! They must be equal, right?
` At least, I think that's what they're thinking. I need an IDist to straighten this out. Luckily, I also have Dawn's comment to work with, which conversely shows a similar lack of understanding of what I have said:

“Clearly, it's a religiously motivated plan to gain converts.”

Unfortunately, your logic is flawed. It appears that you are claiming that if a scientist attempts to prove his/her own religious views through the use of science, that this automatically means that the goal of his/her scientific activity is solely to win religious converts.

` No, I do not automatically think that. I only think that if what the person is saying really sounds that way from the words they are using. Incorrectly it seems. The whole thing is just a big misunderstanding!

Therefore, nothing that this scientist does could possibly be “real” science, because his/her views will always be intrinsically skewed by his/her unquenchable desire to win more converts. Therefore, whatever this person says is pure balderdash.

` Enn-oh! NO! That is not true at all! I would never think that! It's not the IDists' desire to find evidence for their religion that bothers anyone (just as long as they're being scientific about the whole thing) because what evidence that exists is there to be seen.
` What causes scientists to groan is the fact that IDists are not actually using the scientific method (nor usually researching for their arguments very well), and then saying 'look, we're being scientific, too!'. This fact is quite evident to those who truly understand science and skepticism, and probably not at all evident to anyone who thinks they have a point.

` My point is, the fact that they can't stick to solid evidence and facts, nor the scientific method - and otherwise go out of their way to dodge objectivity - yet say that they are sticking to the facts and being objective and whatnot, is deceptive.
` Why? Being True Believers in creationism, I cannot expect the originators of 'The Wedge' movement to necessarily understand what science is about. Even if they do, I doubt they would want to because fundamentalists by nature are actually incapable of interpreting the bible in any way but literally.
` The very idea that the book of Genesis may be symbolic is a serious threat to their faith: If there is any evidence at all that animals didn't appear fully-formed is exactly like saying 'Christianity isn't true' to them! Therefore, they do their best to make it appear to themselves that this is not the case.
` Whether or not they understand that they are being deceptive does not change the fact that they are not practicing science at all.

I think that you need to refine your knowledge of Christianity. There are various theological differences among Christians regarding the predestination of humans. A significant number of Christians with a theological slant called "Calvinism" would in fact claim that God and God alone chooses those people that will experience a conversion, and that absolutely nothing that human beings could do could interfere with God's desire to see someone converted/not converted if he ordained for that to happen. In fact, it is impossible to "win" converts according to a Calvinist. If a person becomes a believer, it is solely an act of mercy on God's part. Therefore, the whole idea of "winning" converts is out of the question, because it gives humans too much credit for the work that is God's work alone. So, your idea that the whole goal of those that believe in creation is to convert others to Christianity would definitely be flawed in the case of Calvinists (and there are a huge number of Calvinist Christians worldwide). Many Calvinists would in fact claim that their goal in advancing the theory of creationism is not to win converts, but rather to glorify and honor God through a better understanding of the creative process.

` Fine. Whatever. As I said before, the fundamentalists who thought up the whole Wedge movement did so because they felt threatened. They couldn't ignore this whole evolution thing, so they make up stuff, ignore other things and totally misrepresent what is going on with scientists and science so that evolution would vanish from their viewpoint.
` This would explain why Behe has such a completely wacky interpretation of flagellular construction, as well as the reason why Spetner has totally unrealistic ideas about the physical functioning of cellular receptors. (Which I wrote all about here!)
` This is why I say that to them, faith is more important than truth.

There is a possibility that you didn’t bring up – the possibility that people can have a duality of purposes and hold simultaneously both an interest in seeking after truth in science, and an interest in seeking after truth in religion. Notice the underlying commonality – pursuit of TRUTH. I will break it down for you a bit. Example – a person can eat because they LIKE to eat. However, this same person probably also eats because it sustains their body, and they would die if they didn’t eat. Parallel – A scientist can participate in science because they are on a quest to seek after truth. At the same time, this person could also participate in science because they believe it confirms the truth of their own religious beliefs. That doesn’t make their discoveries any more or less valid. Truth is truth, regardless of the motives for its discovery. Gold is still gold, whether it is found in the crown of a king, or whether it is melted down and made into a ring in a pig’s snout by some idiot that didn’t even know it was gold in the first place!

` Read this closely: I don't see why any scientist would have a problem with someone using science to see if something makes sense of their own religious convictions in some way. It's fine by me! In fact, I wish that the IDists would be scientific about what they're trying to do, instead of making a mockery out of the whole institution, complaining that it's bullying them!
` The truth is, what can be found can be found because the world is objective. Scientists aren't suppressing IDists; the IDists are suppressing scientific facts and ideas in order to bring one of the most useful and consistent theories in history into question, because it scares them!

I think that first and foremost, you have to admit your own bias against religion.

` Let me break it down: I do not have a bias against religion. I frankly do not care what IDists believe. Science is science, and it's for finding things out about the world. IDists distort the truth of what is known by and what is thought by scientists.
` In other words, they are distorting facts and ideas, saying that scientists think things that they don't think! And these distortions, when presented as fact, are often silly. They say 'Look at the silly things that scientists are thinking! They are so wrong!'
` Yet, that is not what the scientists think, that is not what they have found. It is a distortion that IDists are presenting.
` Let me give you an example that is simple to explain within a minimal amount of space; IDists often make the claim that scientists thought that a certain tooth found in the U.S. was a primitive hominid nicknamed 'Nebraska Man' and that a journal published a 'scientific reconstruction' of it.
` In fact, the reconstruction was published for flavor in a British popular magazine. Paleontologists, on the other hand, really weren't sure of what to make of it. It was simply a tooth that looks just like a human molar. However, there is a type of tooth in a peccary's jaw that also looks just like the same molar, except that the wear pattern is side-to-side instead of back-to-front.
` This tooth had the same wear pattern as a human - yet they weren't expecting to find one in the U.S.! Therefore, the scientists had reason to suspend judgement as to what it actually was. Eventually, however, it was decided that it must be a peccary's tooth that was rotated 90 degrees in the jaw - still an unexpected thing to find!
` What irks scientists is that some IDists will make the whole episode sound ludicrous; "How can you be that stupid to confuse a pig's tooth with a human's tooth?" It's such a lame argument!
` Anyway, I chose that instance off the top of my head to illustrate my point; I don't consider it to be one of the worst things they've lied about.
` I should also note that the distortion also goes the other way: IDists will also say something that is well-established in evolutionary theory, and then say that it goes against evolutionary theory!
` For example, they often say for a critical argument that there is no evidence that evolution is progressive towards, say, complexity. That's right, there isn't! In fact, this is expected in evolutionary theory, one of the things that explains what we see. Yet, IDists will take this as proof of evidence against evolution!
` What the heck?
` Of course biologists and such do not think that evolution goes in any particular direction. For example, by studying embryos and fossils, we have found that pretty much all animals have evolved body parts and then lost them. (Surely you are familiar with atrophied body parts!)
` If you accept that animals can evolve just a little bit at least, then please ponder this: The ancestors of horses evolved a kind of scent glands on either side of their snouts, the depressions in their skulls becoming larger and larger. (I'm not sure if anyone has observed this in embryos, however.) After a while, the glands of fossil horses got smaller and smaller, and modern horses don't have them at all.
` Apparently, those ancient horses needed these glands, while modern horses do not. That makes sense, right? And yet the IDists will take examples like these and say; "It's getting less complex! That's not what evolutionary theory predicts!"
` Of course, it does! But they don't seem to know or care; they just want to have as many arguments as they can get.

And, like you, those that do believe in god/gods/goddesses etc. do have their own worldviews from which they construe their own reality. All people DO have their own way of viewing reality, whether or not they profess to be a follower of a major world religion. I know people who hold to neo-pagan beliefs that believe that the world was created by numerous deities of some sort. Muslims would claim that the world was created by Allah. Orthodox Jews would say that the world was created by the Old Testament Jehovah. Fundamentalist Christians would claim based upon the first book of John in the New Testament that Jesus was involved in creation in some capacity. All of these various religions have their own ideas on morality, the meaning of life, the nature of God/gods, and how a person receives eternal reward. But, I’m not sure that holding to any of these beliefs, nor a multitude of others, nor even attempting to use science to strengthen their own religious viewpoints, would disqualify any of these believers from being able to discover truth via science.

` Of course it wouldn't. They would just have to figure out how to do use science to this end! It's very tricky, and so it is no wonder the IDists have yet to figure it out. They're very good politicians, though.

I suggest you study the lives of scientists such as Arthur Stanley Eddington, Johannes Kepler, Blaise Pascal, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Gregor Mendel, James Clerk Maxwell, William Thomson, James Prescott Joule, John Frederick William Herschel, Michael Farady, Leonhard Euler, Carolus Linnaeus, Roger Bacon, and Johannes Baptista van Helmont in more detail. Even the most skeptical atheist would have to agree that these people made significant contributions to science. And yet, all of these people were devout believers in a creator. Should we dismiss their contributions as gobbledygook simply because of their firm belief in a creator?

` That is a silly argument. In fact, it is a straw man argument, for who would think their contributions were not useful? That is plain silly. It does not demonstrate anything. Indeed; those people used the scientific method. They were objective. That is how they were able to do what they did! IDists are simply not being scientists at all!

Gold is gold. Truth is truth. If someone from Discovery Institute made a significant scientific breakthrough, would you discount what they have to say just because of where they worked?

` Not at all. I'd be pretty pleased, in fact. I'm simply waiting for them to make an attempt to practice science.


Galtron said...

Hmmm. Most interesting, Doctor!
One thing, though..... I think you're being a little inconsistent in your definitions of their supposed definition of religion. It seems like you're saying they think; 'Science is a religion!' and then 'Science is different!'
I think what is going on here is that Darwinism is considered a religion and that science is not.

S E E Quine said...

` You may be right.... materialism is what really ruffles their feathers. I suppose that science could separate itself from materialism if only someone could find a way to use it to discover non-physical forces.
` What confuses me is that I've heard some of them say that science is a religion, or similar to it. I assumed that this is where Dawn had gotten the idea. Perhaps they just say this to make scientists seem biased.

` Really, it looks to me like they're being inconsistent - they attack and distort the very definition of what science is and then try to gain approval by trying to make it look like they're doing the very thing they're attacking!
` Cripes!...This is so confusing. I suppose this is why it pays to understand the skewed views of an issue just as well as one understands the issue itself.

Galtron said...

That is advisable.

crevo said...

"You may be right.... materialism is what really ruffles their feathers. I suppose that science could separate itself from materialism if only someone could find a way to use it to discover non-physical forces."

That's the whole point of the Design Inference -- to detect non-physical forces. I think what's confusing to most people is that they view ID as a theory of origins. But really it is a theory of causation.

S E E Quine said...

` Ah... apparently detecting design doesn't matter as much as I'd thought!
` Interesting.