Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Detroit News on ID

The Detroit News featured a fairly in-depth article on the ID movement in Michigan and around the country yesterday. I spent at least an hour on the phone with the reporter who did the story and was quoted in the article. I was also pleased to see that they took my advice and did not use a chart comparing the definitions of creationism, ID and evolution, which was terribly inaccurate. The reporter sent it to me and asked if it was accurate and I gave a long and detailed, almost word for word, critique and they apparently just scrapped it. Good move.

Comments

  1. #1 island
    July 25, 2005

    I’m hurt that you didn’t use this grand opportunity to promote my theory, Ed.. ;)

    Re: Michigan Citizens for Science. Reed Cartwright, too?

    Ashley Morgan, a 20-year-old student at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, wishes she would have learned more about alternatives to evolution, such as creationism, while she was in public schools.

    “The kids deserve to know the truth,” said Morgan…

    ….who is working over the summer at Lake Ann Baptist Camp near Traverse City.

    LOL

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    July 25, 2005

    island wrote:

    Re: Michigan Citizens for Science. Reed Cartwright, too?

    Reed is with a similar group, the Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education.

  3. #3 island
    July 25, 2005

    I would just say that I don’t disagree for a minute with you. ID is not even close to deserving of equal time to Darwin’s genius, so it’s as big of an insult as it is a joke. But there is room for improvement to evolutionary theory that its proponents would not willfully ignore if it weren’t for the creationist movement, not to mention the “commonly polarized” politics.

    I am compelled to make a plea for sanity, to tell you it is indeed a sad day in science when the term, “design in nature” automatically indicates god to both sides of the debate.

    Engineers and some very reputable physicists *commonly* say that design in nature recognizably exists, but due to the politics only, evolutionary biologists *typically* necessarily attatch creationism to the term, so they automatically shoot it down with whatever means are available, and regardless of the extent of their own absurdity that may be required to do it. That’s where the phyisics typically comes into play, and like you, few can really understand the implications of the differnt laws and principles in the many different cosmological models, so the trick that usually gets pulled is to bury evidence for design in unproven theoretical conjecture that falls out of unproven mathematical idealizations.

    In other words, the absurdities exist on both sides. One side uses its majority political leverage, while the other uses the trendiness of cutting-edge theory, so that both can justify willful ignorance of any valid points that get made by their counterparts. This is rediculous and it isn’t necessary, either, because an intelligent agent is where the far-fetched aspect of the debate is easily defeated by the unrealistic implausibility of the hard physics.

    It’s very hard not to take a side in this, but I truly hope that honest scientists will do just that once they are made aware of these things that I speak of, or they’re going to get sucked into the great abyss of knee-jerk reactionism that is so easy to fall into, because it seems so obvious to both sides that they are right and the other is 100% wrong about “higher-purpose” IN NATURE.

    This is my blog, which is less technical than my website. Just some honest food for thought in a sea of outragous beliefs:

    http://evolutionarydesign.blogspot.com/

  4. #4 Raging Bee
    July 26, 2005

    island: there is no scientific evidence for “design.” The assertion that there is “design in nature” is unprovable, and undisprovable, in and of itself. It is a statement of faith; and while it may be truth (and while I believe it myself), it is not a truth derived from scientific methods of inquiry, experimentation, or reasoning. Therefore, it is not “science” and has no place in science education.

  5. #5 Raging Bee
    July 26, 2005

    island: your assertion that “the absurdities exist on both sides” is quite simply false, and is perfectly in line with the far-right’s ongoing campaign to undermine the credibility of every voice or source that fails to support their agenda. There is nothing “absurd” about keeping scientific discovery, and the methods of inquiry that make it possible, separate from any religious doctrine.

    Extremists of all persuasions use similar arguments to avoid thinking responsibly, avoid making sensible choices, and avoid taking responsibility for the “absurdities” on their own respective sides.

    Also, would you care to tell us specifically which “Engineers and some very reputable physicists *commonly* say that design in nature recognizably exists” and in what context they were speaking? It is possible for a scientist to believe in a god without letting his faith hinder his rational inquiry.

  6. #6 raj
    July 26, 2005

    island: there is no scientific evidence for “design.”

    Actually, I would put it a bit differently. Tthe proponents for design have presented no evidence for their “design” thesis whatsoever.

  7. #7 island
    July 26, 2005

    LOL… um you clowns wilfully denied every point that I made without directly addressing it:

    island: there is no scientific evidence for “design.”

    Translation… island… we refuse to recogize that a tree is a functional pump.

  8. #9 island
    July 26, 2005

    Stuff like this can be found all over the place via google, but anybody that isn’t in willful denial should already know that:

    “Engineers and Design in Nature”

    http://groups-beta.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/dbfe48e5fa64df2c/0e1a52c8d469d58b?lnk=st&q=engineers+intelligent+design&rnum=2&hl=en#0e1a52c8d469d58b

    In following, this and a few other Newsgroups, I noticed that Biologist, almost without exception, are adamant in their denial of the presence of design in nature.

    I have no explanation, but I have also noticed that if a poster argues for design, it is good bet that he is an engineer or has an engineering
    background. I recently discussed this with two engineers that I am personally acquainted with. Both are convinced that design in nature is real and one man, Wm. Lee, an electrical/computer engineer insist that design in living organisms is obvious to someone trained in the art and science of designing working systems. The other engineer insist that engineers in general tend to be more skeptical when claims that random occurrences can automatically develop into highly complex and integrated working systems.
    Ben

    So, admit that my statement is correct… or crawl in a hole with the rest of them.

  9. #10 island
    July 26, 2005

    Before somebody REALLY stick their foot in their mouth by saying that the human construct of design isn’t a part of nature:

    island: there is no scientific evidence for “design.” The assertion that there is “design in nature” is unprovable, and undisprovable, in and of itself.

    I see… so what is it that design engineers do if there is no evidence that these creatures of nature do anything.

    The capability for “design” doesn’t just pop-out of humans if the potential for its emergence doesn’t pre-exist within physics that constrains the force constants of nature, so only sheer unadulterated human arrogance gives one the unmitigated audacity to “believe” that design can ever reflect anything greater or less than the sum of expressed bias toward satisfying a pre-existing physical need.

  10. #11 Dave
    July 26, 2005

    “Translation… island… we refuse to recogize that a tree is a functional pump.”

    I think it’d help if you defined ‘design’, island. Whether or not a tree is a functional pump (aren’t all living things on some level ‘pumps’?), I think when you look at something and its properties and say it was ‘designed’, you’re using a pretty loose definition of design. What in nature wouldn’t be designed? If you’re saying that things are designed because of the effect and constraints of physical forces, then everything living and non-living in nature is designed. Clouds are designed to float and create precipitation and create thunder and lightning. Can you give an example of something that you would say is not designed, and why?

  11. #12 island
    July 26, 2005

    No, my point is that there is no difference between what humans and the rest of nature does when it comes to “design”… call it whatever you want, it applies across the board, unless you want to differentiate human design from natural design.

  12. #13 island
    July 26, 2005

    Dave… to give you due credit… what often gets missed is that there is a higher purpose behind nature “pumps” and whatnot that is critical to the relevant ecobalance, which is a bigger picture than a biologist typically looks at, so he can see no purpose for it, other than whatever direct benefit to the tree.

    … and everything is a semipermeable membrane, yes… ;)

    Nature is a layers theory.

  13. #14 Raging Bee
    July 26, 2005

    “..engineers in general tend to be more skeptical when claims that random occurrences can automatically develop into highly complex and integrated working systems.”

    Let’s leave aside the poor grammar, and look at the example of water freezing: when the temperature drops to a certain level, liquid water — a very disorderly situation — organizes itself into a much more orderly crystal structure, with no visible evidence of a supreme intelligence forcing this to happen. Thus we see combinations of natural events resulting in the formation of order out of chaos. Is this “design” in your book?

    I suspect that you are using a very slippery and changeable definition of the word “design,” in order to inject a “designer” into scientific discourse, without EITHER admitting what you are doing, OR having to prove the existence of said “designer.”

  14. #15 Dave
    July 26, 2005

    “there is no difference between what humans and the rest of nature does when it comes to “design”…”

    Hmmm. Doesn’t a human’s ability to use his intelligence and design and construct things for a specific purpose make it a different sort of design than say for example evolution? An engineer can evaluate alternatives and design something with a certain intent, and more importantly throw out things that obviously will not achieve the desired intent prior to actually building anything. Evolution, although not random, seems to only work on the somewhat random distribution of genes/alleles from generation to generation, and does not seem to have the power, prior to trying a certain arrangement of genes, to determine what will be successful in a given environment. It seems this ability to evaluate a design approach prior to building it and the intent involved with human designs would differentiate human design from ‘natural’ design, which doesn’t seem to have a ‘goal’.

  15. #16 Raging Bee
    July 26, 2005

    “…an electrical/computer engineer insist that design in living organisms is obvious to someone trained in the art and science of designing working systems.”

    Of course a living organism is an orderly working system. Calling this “design,” however, is either a poetic choice of words — not a bad thing, but not science — or an attempt to imply that there is a “designer” creating the “design” — which I believe to be true, but which is not provable by observation of the natural world. Furthermore, the idea that orderly life-forms can evolve out of relative chaos has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

  16. #17 island
    July 26, 2005

    Of course a living organism is an orderly working system. Calling this “design,” however, is either a poetic choice of words — not a bad thing, but not science —

    False. You do not recognize teleology when you see it.

  17. #18 island
    July 26, 2005

    Pre-empting the next reply:

    False, teleology is a valid scientific concept, dependent only on what cosmological principle rules, in what universal model.

  18. #19 island
    July 26, 2005

    Ed,

    My last point applies to my earlier statement that somebody took out of its cosmological context:

    In other words, the absurdities exist on both sides. One side uses its majority political leverage, while the other uses the trendiness of cutting-edge theory, so that both can justify willful ignorance of any valid points that get made by their counterparts. This is rediculous and it isn’t necessary, either, because an intelligent agent is where the far-fetched aspect of the debate is easily defeated by the unrealistic implausibility of the hard physics.

    If held ONLY to empiricism, the anthropic cosmological principle rules, FOR GOOD REASON.

  19. #20 Raging Bee
    July 26, 2005

    island: funny how you only quote only the first half of my sentence before pretending to refute it; thus ignoring my actual point.

  20. #21 Ed Brayton
    July 26, 2005

    Frankly, I think this is all a bunch of ill-defined gobbledygook. Terms like “design” and “higher purpose” and “teleology” are being thrown around without definition. Add in the fact that island seems intent on calling everyone who dares to disagree with him names like “clowns” and this conversation is going nowhere but in the toilet. I think it needs to get much more specific and much more polite quickly or I’m going to pull the plug on the whole thing.

  21. #22 Raging Bee
    July 26, 2005

    Okay, island, I looked up that blog you cited, and found, for starters, this howler:

    Maybe now you’ll finally be ready to dump the fantasy-land rationale and get back to the reality of empiricism.

    These are not the words of someone who has — or even wants — any understanding of rational inquiry; these are the words of a know-nothing who flatly refuses to comprehend anything he can’t see with his own eyes or understand with his current knowledge. I’m sure you’ll find similar language in a flat-earther’s blog; I know I’ve heard it from Holocaust-deniers.

  22. #23 Raging Bee
    July 26, 2005

    Don’t pull the plug now, Ed, we’re just beginning to have fun with this guy!

  23. #24 island
    July 26, 2005

    Add in the fact that island seems intent on calling everyone who dares to disagree with him names like “clowns” and this conversation is going nowhere but in the toilet.

    Nope, what you see is me refusing to give up the position of authority that others are trying to assume without merrit, since, like you, yourself admit, none of you really understands the physics.

    My attitude changes drastically when people try to take a position of authority when they have demonstrated zero right to it.

  24. #25 island
    July 26, 2005

    These are not the words of someone who has — or even wants — any understanding of rational inquiry

    No, those are the words of someone that was speaking to fanatics that refuse to interpret evidence in any manner that doesn’t suit their ideological agenda.

  25. #26 island
    July 26, 2005

    or an attempt to imply that there is a “designer” creating the “design” — which I believe to be true, but which is not provable by observation of the natural world.

    The common misconception is that the forces of the universe could be set-up any differently than they are, and so there had to be some beginning, but that is wrong. You don’t need a designer if these traits are perpetually inherent to the universe, and this is my point about empiricism, which indicates that they can’t be any different than they are.

    We can only produce hypotheticals that “assume” what would happen if we tinker with the existing physics, but that does not by any means, mean that anything could be different than it now is.

    Furthermore, the idea that orderly life-forms can evolve out of relative chaos has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

    What is “relative chaos”… ?… that’s like, only a little determisistic?… or is that to mean that chaotic systems are governed by a higher determistic function… which is true, like hawking said our universe is “largely determistic”.

  26. #27 island
    July 26, 2005

    Okay, island, I looked up that blog you cited, and found, for starters, this howler:

    It doesn’t surprise me that you failed to address any of the points that were made before the last sentence that you quoted.

  27. #28 island
    July 26, 2005

    IOW… he had to read and ignore the whole post to find…

    for starters

  28. #29 Ed Brayton
    July 26, 2005

    island wrote:

    Nope, what you see is me refusing to give up the position of authority that others are trying to assume without merrit, since, like you, yourself admit, none of you really understands the physics.

    You continue to paint with far too broad a brush. I said that I don’t understand the physics. That speaks only for me. Raj, I would guess, probably understands the physics quite well since he has an advanced degree in that subject. And it’s true, I can’t evaluate the physics. But what I do see is someone acting very much like a crank – declaring that he alone has the truth, that no one else is capable of understanding it much less critique it, and lashing out at people who disagree even when they do so politely. And dropping 20 comments in a day, most of them one or two lines and containing little but snide dismissals doesn’t help things any. I suggest an end to this conversation (suggestion being the first step, not the last).

  29. #30 island
    July 26, 2005

    Speak up Raj… before I get the boot because Ed doesn’t see Raging Bee’s comments as the insult that they are.

  30. #31 Dave
    July 26, 2005

    Island, I for one have no agenda other than a slight curiosity as to what you’re trying to say. Again, specifically what do you define as ‘design’? You say that physicists and engineers *commonly* say that design exists in nature and that biologists *typically* attach creationism to the term. Do you deny that it’s not a common assumption that the term design implies a designer, and specifically in terms of evolution and ID, which is what this thread is about, that that designer usually refers to God, and is thus creationism? You use terms like ‘ridiculous’ and ‘outrageous’, but don’t really point to any specific examples in your posts. You refer to evidence being buried that I assume would point to design; like what for example?

    It is good to hear that you disagree with ID. I do disagree that most biologists shoot down evidence for design. Science by it’s nature eventually rewards those who come up with something new, unlike some ideologies which are stagnant and need to have their doctrines/dogma protected.

    I do have to admit that my even slight curiosity fades whenever you use the terms ‘clowns’ and ‘fanatics’ and ‘ideological agenda’; it definitely detracts from whatever you’re saying.

  31. #32 island
    July 26, 2005

    Dave,

    If the anthropic cosmological principle constrains the forces of the *finite* *observed* universe, then humans where brought into existence… “by design”, rather than by chance, and that doesn’t mean that this “reason for us to be here” isn’t inherent to the energy of the universe at the moment of the big bang.

    That means that human evolution is also governed by this, but please let me know if I’m not being clear enough.

    Ed, there is a lot of evidence, per Occam’s input to the scientific method for what I just said that doesn’t require anybody’s “opinion”.

    In other words, multiverses, an infinite number of possible universes, etc etc etc… take a backseat to empiricim.

    I’m not projecting anything new up to this point, but I will let you know when if I get forced into new physics to make a point… although… my new physics isn’t new at all, and no physicist has ever even attempted to shoot it down.

    If you’d like I can post links to a physicist moderated research group that requires a PhD physicist to PRESCREEN every post for valid plausibility.

    … and I’ll try to limit my replies in the future, and refrain from insulting anyone.

  32. #33 Raging Bee
    July 27, 2005

    Test

  33. #34 Raging Bee
    July 27, 2005

    my new physics isn’t new at all, and no physicist has ever even attempted to shoot it down.

    Can you offer any evidence that “your new hysics” has been submitted for peer review? (And while you’re at it, can you please decide whether or not it’s “new?”) If not, that would probably explain why “no physicist has ever even attempted to shoot it down.” Reputable scientists aren’t spending a lot of time shooting down the flat-earthers either.

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