Over at Dembski’s Home for Wayward Sycophants, crandaddy has made a rather curious claim that provides an excellent pretext for analyzing further the links between ID and creationism while simultaneously providing a case study in the ability of ID advocates to ignore evidence that they wish didn’t exist. He is responding to the praise of Barbara Forrest from Pat Hayes and myself, and this is his argument:
Now, here’s what I don’t understand. Forrest has a PhD in philosophy from Tulane, yet the best ID=Creationism arguments she seems to be able to put forth are either red herrings (The designer has to be supernatural.) or ad hominems (The IDists are big, bad Creationists trying to sneak religion into science classrooms.) Why can’t ID opponents focus on the arguments, themselves, and show how they are equivalent to Creationism? If ID really is just repackaged Creationism, why not just expose the arguments for what they are and be done with it? There’s no need to expend such effort in propagating logical fallacies if their position is really as sound as they would have us believe. In fact, ID opponents’ insistence on invoking obviously fallacious arguments is one of the things that led me to conclude that their position is in more trouble than they would like the public to know. Therefore, I would like to encourage opponents of ID to continue to focus on its supernatural implications and the supposedly impure motives of its advocates. Your efforts in this regard can only help us.
Now, I want you to settle in for a very long post because this could take a while. But I think it’s going to be very instructive both in regard to how dishonestly crandaddy is portraying Barbara’s work and in predicting how they will respond to the facts I will assemble in this post. But before I get to answering his challenge, I want to point out several things about his premise that are wrong.
First, he is wrong when he claims that the argument that the designer of ID must be supernatural is a “red herring”. In fact, this argument is well supported with the words of the ID advocates themselves. Despite their repeated claim that the designer could be an advanced alien race, their own arguments make clear that they don’t really believe that; their own arguments demand a supernatural designer. The DI’s own definition of ID includes both cosmological ID and biological ID and says that the physical laws of the universe themselves are evidence of design. An alien, of course, would be within the universe and could not have created the universe. William Dembski makes this explicit when he wrote:
“The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design. So too, Michael Behe’s irreducibly complex biochemical systems readily yield design. The complexity-specification criterion demonstrates that design pervades cosmology and biology. Moreover, it is a transcendent design, not reducible to the physical world. Indeed, no intelligent agent who is strictly physical could have presided over the origin of the universe or the origin of life.”
Likewise, their constant arguments against naturalism are evidence that the designer must be supernatural. If they are going to make the argument that naturalism is wrong because it rules out the intervention of an intelligent designer, then that designer cannot itself be within the boundaries of naturalism. If it is, then it makes their argument against naturalism completely pointless. So, far from being a red herring, this argument is supported by both reason and their own words; the nature of their arguments demands that the designer be supernatural.
He’s also wrong when he says that the argument that ID advocates are really creationists trying to assert religion into classrooms is an ad hominem. There is, again, ample evidence to support the argument. A large number of the prominent ID advocates really are old-fashioned, young earth creationists. An even larger number of them were defending creationism using the same arguments with which they now defend ID. If you don’t believe me, simply look at Dean Kenyon’s affidavit in the 1987 Edwards v Aguillard case where he defends creation science and defines it exactly the same way he later defined intelligent design in Of Pandas and People, acknowledged by ID advocates as the first ID textbook.
Now, on to crandaddy’s challenge. He asks, “Why can’t ID opponents focus on the arguments, themselves, and show how they are equivalent to Creationism?” In order to make this statement, crandaddy has to ignore a huge chunk of Barbara Forrest’s work in this area. Dr. Forrest certainly has addressed the major ID arguments and shown why they are all essentially the same as earlier creationist arguments. She discusses it in her book and she testified to much of it at the Dover trial. In fact, one of the exhibits she used in the Dover trial was a comparison of several arguments made by advocates with virtually word-for-word predecessors in creationist literature. I’m going to add to her argument with many more examples.
If he demands that we show that the arguments used by ID advocates today were identical to arguments used by the advocates of creationism, this is in fact trivially easy to do. It’s safe to say that there is not a single ID argument that can’t be traced directly to the creationist literature. For example, Nick Matzke at the NCSE has been collecting examples of the “irreducible complexity” arguments made by ID advocates today and tracing them to the creationist literature. I’ll post a few obvious examples here.
The flagellum has become the centerpiece of ID, the one shining, golden example of the inability of evolution to explain biochemical complexity. It’s probably invoked more often than any other ID argument. Guess what? The entire argument was made, virtually verbatim with exactly the same descriptions of the “molecular machinery”, in the creationist literature before Behe’s book was published and made it famous. In fact, this was introduced during the Dover trial during the cross examination of Scott Minnich.
Minnich, like Behe, repeatedly invokes the flagellum as the central proof that evolution could not create biochemical complexity and therefore it must have been intelligently designed. But during cross examination, Steve Harvey, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys, put up an exhibit of an article in the Creation Science Research Quarterly from June 1994, two years before Behe’s book was published. It included the same drawing of the flagellum, with the same identification terms used for all of the components that was later used by Behe and Minnich. The CRSQ article used the same term for the flagellum, “bacterial nanomachine”, that Behe and Minnich later used.
The CRSQ article directly invoked irreducible complexity, saying, “However, it is clear from the details of their operation that nothing about them works unless every one of their complexly fashioned and integrated components are in place.” And it made the exact same argument that Behe and Minnich make today about the flagellum: “In terms of biophysical complexity, the bacterial rotor flagellum is without precedent in the living world. To the micromechanician of industrial research and development operations it has become an inspirational, albeit formidable challenge to best efforts of current technology, but one ripe with potential for profitable applications. To evolutionists the system presents an enigma. To creationists it offers clear and compelling evidence of purposeful intelligent design.”
It’s an identical argument, right down to the use of the phrase “intelligent design” and it is found in an explicitly young earth creationist journal two years before Behe published and popularized it. Nor is that the only source; in fact, there are 5 separate creationist sources that make the exact same flagellum argument that ID advocates make today. Just to name a few, it was made in the Bible Science Newsletter earlier in 1994, and as far back as 1986 in Origins Research in an article by Art Battson.
Another example of a common ID argument that can be traced directly to the creationist literature is the argument concerning the Cambrian explosion. Hardly a word of Stephen Meyer’s article on the Cambrian explosion in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington was changed from earlier creationist sources. Henry Morris was making the exact same argument in Scientific Creationism in 1974. In fact, the argument has continued to be made even while actual fossil finds have shown that the Cambrian “explosion”, rather than being a mere 10 million years was actually closer to 100 million years.
Likewise, all of the arguments found in Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells can be traced directly back to the creationist literature. In fact, many of those articles are now available online so they’re easy to find. Want to see creationists making the same arguments Wells makes about Haeckel’s embryos long before he used them? Go here. And here. Peppered moths? Try this one. The Miller-Urey experiments? Got that one too. Or here. Arguments from homology? Yep. Archaeopteryx? The same arguments can be found in a thousand different creationist pamphlets, including here. And those are just the ones on the ICR webpage. One could easily go on listing these all days.
If that’s not enough for you, consider that Dean Kenyon, the principal author of Pandas, the first ID textbook, and a current DI fellow, used the same definition for “creation science” in his affidavit and in earlier texts of Pandas that he used for “intelligent design” in later editions of the book. Here’s what he says in his affidavit:
Creation-science means origin through abrupt appearance in complex form, and includes biological creation, biochemical creation (or chemical creation), and cosmic creation.
And here’s the definition that he used in an early manuscript of Pandas, before the Edwards decision made teaching creationism illegal:
“Creation is the theory that various forms of life began abruptly, with their distinctive features already intact: Fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers and wings, mammals with fur and mammary glands.”
And here is the definition that he used in the final version of the book, published after the Edwards ruling came down:
“Intelligent Design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features already intact: fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks and wings, etc.”
It’s the same definition. The only counter-argument to this is that ID does not include many of the beliefs that were included in creationism, such as belief in a young earth or a global flood, nor does it require a literal interpretation of Genesis or any other sacred text. Indeed, John West of the Discovery Institute makes exactly that argument:
According to West, creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the Biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text.
But here again, Kenyon shows that this argument is false. In his affidavit in Edwards, he said that “creation science” didn’t require any of those things either:
Creation-science does not include as essential parts the concepts of catastrophism, a world-wide flood, a recent inception of the earth or life, from nothingness (ex nihilo), the concept of kinds, or any concepts from Genesis or other religious texts.
Game, set, match. But I’ll make a prediction: now that his challenge has been answered, crandaddy will change his argument completely. Now that it has been shown that all of the major ID arguments can be traced back to the creationist literature, it will now suddenly become irrelevant. Now the argument will be, “So what if they can be traced to creationist literature? All that means is that two different groups with different perspectives both notice the same problems with evolution. That doesn’t mean their positions are the same, it only means that evolution’s weaknesses are obvious to everyone.” Mark my words.