Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Paul Nelson’s Continued Lie

Paul Nelson has left a comment on the previous post that detailed his misrepresentation of the views of Keith Miller during an email exchange. He asked Miller for the full exchange and has now pasted in part of that exchange that, apparently, he believes vindicates his representation of Miller’s views as accurate. Unfortunately for him, it does no such thing. Below the fold, I’ll post the full comment from Nelson and then explain why he has done nothing to free himself from the charge of dishonesty.

Keith Miller kindly provided me with the remainder of our ASA correspondence about inferring intelligent causes. As I suspected, the exchange I recounted at the Palos Verdes debate occurred later in our email discussion than the passage Keith quoted above.

I was trying to establish (i.e., get Keith to accept) that science could infer that an intelligence had acted to cause some particular pattern or event. Keith had already agreed that my car theft thought experiment showed that inferring intelligent causation — some agent deliberately breaking a window and removing valuable objects, in this instance — was reasonable. I wanted to take that agreement as a point of commonality for the remainder of our discussion.

But Keith disagreed, strongly. He argued that the thief was a “natural physical regularity.”

And I would say that this is still a misrepresentation of MIller’s views. The distinction that he was making was between human intelligence, which exists within the natural world and is bound by the natural laws and about which we absolutely can make valid inferences in science, and a disembodied, superntural intelligence, about which science cannot make any valid inferences because there is no way to test them or falsify them. Miller says so quite clearly in the response that I quoted. I’ll repeat it here:

Such analogies are completely inappropriate. The thief is a natural causal agent. Humans are part of nature – in fact a part of nature that we know a considerable amount about. As a paleontologist I can similarly infer the action of long extinct animals. We can study the patterns of breakage on shells or bones to infer the likely predator. We can infer much about the interactions of organisms from the fossil record – that is in fact one of my research interests. But you are proposing that science can infer the action of a cause external to the physical universe. Can science verify a divine miracle (in the sense of breaking causal chains)? Only in the sense of concluding that there is no presently known cause-and effect explanation.

So the fact is that Miller agreed with Nelson’s first premise, that science can legitimately infer human intelligence, but he explicitly denied the analogy between human intelligence and supernatural, disembodied intelligence. And Miller further argued that human intelligence was well within the category of “natural regularity” because humans exist within nature and are bound by its laws (which is exactly why the analogy to disembodied intelligence is invalid). Now here is the passage from their exchange that Nelson thinks rescues him from the charge of misrepresentation:

PN: I just want to make sure we agree on this point. Let’s not move too quickly to other issues. Let me state the point again so it’s clear:

Science can legitimately infer that an intelligence has acted to cause a pattern or event in nature.

Do you agree, Keith?

KM: No, I cannot! I thought I made that clear. The thief is an available natural physical regularity within the known universe.

But remember the context. In the earlier passage, Keith explicitly agreed that science can legitimately infer that human and/or animal intelligence has acted in nature. In fact, he lists examples of such inferences in paleontology and is well aware of inferences of human intelligent action in archaeology. No one in their right mind disputes that science can infer the action of willful human action, or that scientists do so every day. But again, let’s go back to Nelson’s characterization of what Miller said:

Now what would you infer from that pattern, I put the question to Keith. And rather than do what everyone in this room would do, namely get out your cell phone and dial 911 and infer that someone had broken into his car, rather than say that event, that intelligently cause event had happened, Keith said a natural regularity occurred.

It is Nelson, not Miller, who makes a distinction between human intelligence and “natural regularity”. Nelson is clearly claiming that Miller denied that a human thief had stolen the items and instead had argued for a “natural regularity”. But this is obviously a misrepresentation of Miller’s position. Miller not only did not deny that a thief had stolen the items, as Nelson claims he did, he explicitly agrees that it could only be a human thief. But he then argued, additionally, that a human thief is within the natural world and subject to natural laws and therefore, A) is a natural regularity and B) is not analogous to the attempt to infer a disembodied, supernatural intelligence allegedly acting in the natural world.

There is no way to get out of this, Dr. Nelson. When you said that Miller had denied that a human thief was responsible for the missing items in your hypothetical, you lied. He absolutely did not deny that, he in fact agreed with it. His disagreement with you is on the analogy you make between human intelligence and disembodied intelligence, not over whether science can infer the action of human intelligence.

In light however of Keith’s unhappiness with how I recounted our exchange, I will post an expanded apology and clarification later today at the blog ID the Future (www.idthefuture.com).

So let me get this straight – despite the evidence, you continue to deny that you misrepresented Miller’s position; you’ve already passed up the chance to apologize for it; you’ve now attempted twice to explain away the misrepresentation; but still, since no one seems to be accepting those rationalizations, including Miller, you’ll post an insincere apology and claim to be sorry for what you’ve spent the last two days insisting was nothing to feel sorry about? And you think this is going to help your case here?

Update: Nelson has now posted that apology, and here is what he now has to say, the portion directly relevant:

Brayton charges that I lied about Keith’s response to my thought experiment. In brief, in my Palos Verdes summary of the Miller/Nelson exchange, I said that Keith inferred a natural regularity when given my car theft thought example. This is a lie, Brayton says, because Keith clearly acknowledges that a thief — an intelligent cause, not a physical regularity — had acted in the hypothetical case.

However, Keith denied this later. See the third back-and-forth for 17 June 1998: Keith wrote that he disagreed with me about science inferring intelligence as a distinct type of cause. The thief, he said, was a “natural physical regularity.”

This later denial is what I was recalling at Palos Verdes. My spoken summary, however, made it seem as if Keith could not recognize if or when someone broke into his car, and that was unfair. Wrong, in short, and for that, I apologize.

I think Nelson is still missing the point. The reason his characterization of Miller’s position is a lie is not because of any disagreement over what is or is not included in the category of “natural regularity”. Nelson here even misrepresents his own position when he says, “I said that Keith inferred a natural regularity when given my car theft thought example.” But that isn’t what Nelson said that indicates the dishonesty. He didn’t just say that Miller inferred a natural regularity, he also said that Miller denied that a human thief was required to explain the missing items. Here it is, for the 50th time:

Now what would you infer from that pattern, I put the question to Keith. And rather than do what everyone in this room would do, namely get out your cell phone and dial 911 and infer that someone had broken into his car, rather than say that event, that intelligently cause event had happened, Keith said a natural regularity occurred.

Nelson claimed that Miller claimed that a natural regularity had occured rather than inferring that a human thief had stolen the items from his car. That is the lie, folks, and the text from the later discussion does absolutely nothing to rescue Nelson from that lie.

It’s nice that Nelson is owning up to the fact that this was “unfair” or “wrong” at this point, but given that he spent the last two days trying to explain it away and deny it, this would seem to indicate that he is doing so only because he was caught red-handed and has been unable to wiggle out of it with his previous rationalizations. The facts are no different now than they were two days ago. The lie was obvious two days ago. In fact, it was obvious 4 days ago when Nelson issued the first faux apology while still denying that he had done what he now admits he did. That makes this apology just a little hard to accept as motivated by sincerity rather than by the desire to cover one’s posterior. The fact is that Nelson blatantly misrepresented Miller’s position, claiming that he said the exact opposite of what he actually said. The further fact is that he would have gotten away with it if not for a single person in the audience with a recorder, and would likely have repeated this lie to untold thousands of people.

Comments

  1. #1 steve s
    May 30, 2006

    Wouldn’t it be something if ID proponents like Paul Nelson and Davescot got afflicted, like Jim Carrey in that movie, with the inability to lie?

    “Hi everybody, I’m an Intelligent Design Theorist. That’s a creationist under an assumed name. I’m here to promote Jesus–too bad I don’t have a theory, or hypotheses, or any experiments. Because evolution is pretty obviously true, the best I can hope for is to confuse people. Ontogenetic Depth. Specified Complexity. Set-theoretic complement to naturalistic explanations…”

  2. #2 Matt
    May 30, 2006

    This is very disappointing. I had thought that Nelson was above this.

  3. #3 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2006

    This is why I have so much more respect for outright creationists than IDists. At least they are willing to make explicit assumptions about the motives and sometimes methods of their designer. They may distort “evidence against evolution” just as badly and work toward a goal rather than working openmindedly , but at least they use their assumptions about the nature of the designer to direct study and hypotheses. It’s halfway to science.

    The whole point about the car and the thief is that we know from past, often personal, experience that thieves often break into cars, we know why they do it and we know how they usually do it. Yet the very thing that IDists insist we cannot do is make assumptions about how or why the designer does its designing.

  4. #4 Paul Nelson
    May 30, 2006

    Readers should judge the full context for themselves, here:

    http://www.idthefuture.com/2006/05/apology_to_keith_miller.html

    Physical regularities are properly described by equations and simple relations (e.g., as captured by algorithms). If a thief is a “natural physical regularity,” as Keith put it, one should be able to provide the corresponding equation or description.

    Keith never did this in our exchange, because it’s impossible. Agents are not correctly classified as physical regularities. Nor is human deliberative action captured (i.e., fully explained) by physical law; the thief did not have to break into car, which is precisely why we hold him responsible.

    In saying that the thief was a “natural physical regularity” — see the third back-and-forth for 17 June 1998 — Keith appealed to a notion of physical necessity that does not fit with our basic intuitions about the reality or irreducibility of agency. In that respect, he both affirms and denies that the correct inference to draw from my thought experiment is intelligent causation.

    The business about “natural” vs. “supernatural” is thus neither here nor there — i.e., relevant — in the context of this exchange.

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    May 30, 2006

    Paul-

    You’re still missing the point. Miller explicitly agrees that a human thief is responsible for the missing items in your hypothetical; you explicitly claim that he does not do so. Hence, the lie. It really is that simple and all this handwaving isn’t going to make it go away.

  6. #6 Dave S.
    May 30, 2006

    Sometimes I think intelligent design advocates are so used to conflating normal human design (which no-one contests is amenable to scientific study, obviously not Keith Miller) with their rarefied dissembodied non-material concept of “design”, that they really don’t see the difference any more. They honestly believe that if anything in nature is ever compared to something that a human designed, that this is evidence for Intelligent Design. Period.

    They can’t honestly think like that, can they?

  7. #7 daenku32
    May 30, 2006

    Nelson seems to have forgotten what he was trying to argue in the original debate.

  8. #8 sdanielmorgan
    May 30, 2006

    Goal-oriented “science” is a beautiful way to describe ID/Creationism, Ginger. It is that, indeed [funny cartoon].

  9. #9 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2006

    In that respect, he both affirms and denies that the correct inference to draw from my thought experiment is intelligent causation.

    Nobody but a committed IDist would infer “intelligent causation” from your thought experiment. They’d infer “thief”. That’s the whole point. As Dave S puts it, there is no abstract design there to infer. There are only specific kinds of design-and-manufacture processes. It’s perfectly reasonable to infer a specific one of them when the evidence fits the pattern set by previous instances of such a design-and-manufacture process. Unfortunately, we have no confirmed instances of Goddidit to which to compare biological features.

  10. #10 Paul Nelson
    May 30, 2006

    Ed,

    But Keith takes back with one hand what he offers with the other. The thief is an agent, irreducible to the strictly physical…but the thief is also a natural regularity. And it was the last position given, on 17 June, which Keith affirmed. You keep using the word “lie,” but the words “natural physical regularity” are right there in Keith’s reply to me.

    Consider this in the context of weighing the guilt or innocence of the thief. If we ascribe the thief’s actions to a “natural physical regularity” — Keith’s description — then he is no more responsible (morally culpable) for taking the camera and CD player than gravity would be.

    This violates our intutions about agency, however, so we shift back to the other foot. The thief really did break into the car, but he didn’t have to. No physical necessity involved.

    When I pressed Keith about inferring intelligence in this latter sense, however, in the third 17 June exchange, he punted: No, he replied. Indeed the exclamations points are his.

    Ask Keith if he thinks the thief’s actions are reducible to physics. I think he’ll say both yes and no, as he replied to my earlier question about the causal origin of the character strings [patterns] in his emails to the working group.

  11. #11 daenku32
    May 30, 2006

    I just thought of a great experiment for IDrs. Have them use their “design inference” to identify a lab created crystal from an natural crystal.

  12. #12 jackdan
    May 30, 2006

    “Physical regularities are properly described by equations and simple relations (e.g., as captured by algorithms). If a thief is a “natural physical regularity,” as Keith put it, one should be able to provide the corresponding equation or description.”

    Well, duh. The “simple description” is: “Human, thief.”

    That a “physical regularity” must be described by “equations and simple relations” is news to me. And probably to most practicing biologists, as well. We haven’t even solved the three-body problem in gravitation, for crissake!

    If “agents” are not “physical regularities”, then where do you draw the line? I can’t write the algorithm for a dog’s behavior either. How about a flatworm? A paramecium?

    If what Nelson means is that free will is what distinguishes “physical regularities” from “non physical regularities”, then why not just define it thus and be done? Then at least we can move on to more reasonable arguments.

  13. #13 steve s
    May 30, 2006

    We already knew he’s a YEC. So maybe he wasn’t lying. Maybe he just can’t tell truth from what he wishes were true.

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    May 30, 2006

    Paul-

    For crying out loud, it doesn’t matter whether the actions of a human intelligence are “reducible to physics”, nor does it matter whether one ascribes guilt or innocence to the thief. The debate was not about free will, determinism, materialism or the ethics of guilt. The debate was about the cause of the missing items. You said, quite clearly, that Miller denied that a human thief was the cause; Miller explicitly says otherwise. The only thing he disputes is whether that falls within the bounds of “natural regularity” or not. Paul, seriously, the more you continue to wave your hands and distract attention from the actual lie that you told about what he said, the worse you make yourself look. It only makes your apology look more fake and less sincere with every attempt to distract attention away from it and change the subject to something entirely irrelevant. You can’t admit that it was unfair and wrong and deny having done so and try to change the subject. Just own up to it and be done with it, for crying out loud.

  15. #15 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2006

    What Ed said. Why the hell do we care about the moral responsibility of the thief? We just want to know what happened to the car.

    And besides, there’s a wealth of literature on moral agency in a phsycially deterministic universe. But as Ed says it’s utterly, utterly irrelevant to the question at hand.

  16. #16 justawriter
    May 30, 2006

    Actually, wouldn’t ID be more like the thief claiming God – I mean, an unnamed designer – gave him Paul’s CD player and put the thief’s DNA and fingerprints in Paul’s car and then requiring Paul to disprove this “theory” before he could call the cops?

  17. #17 Douglas Theobald
    May 30, 2006

    PN:
    In saying that the thief was a “natural physical regularity” — see the third back-and-forth for 17 June 1998 — Keith appealed to a notion of physical necessity that does not fit with our basic intuitions about the reality or irreducibility of agency. In that respect, he both affirms and denies that the correct inference to draw from my thought experiment is intelligent causation.

    Paul, this is frankly poppycock. Miller in no way has denied that an intelligent thief is the proper inference. From the entire correspondence you have posted, Miller clearly affirms that (1) the correct inference is intelligent causation (i.e. a human thief), while simultaneously maintaining that (2) a thief is a natural, physical object that is part of the natural, physical world, and that (3) the analogy from ‘inferring human causation’ to ‘inferring Divine causation’ is invalid. We well understand that you personally disagree that human intelligence is natural and that you personally find (1), (2), and (3) above inconsistent. That in no way entitles you to mischaracterize Keith’s actual position, especially in a public forum where Keith cannot defend himself.

    Douglas

  18. #18 steve s
    May 30, 2006

    Paul, here’s an off-topic question for you. Having studied philosophy of science, you know that theories are supplanted by theories with more explanatory power. You also know that currently, ID has no explanatory power. It simply says the prevailing theory is wrong. It offers no alternative hypotheses, predictions, no motivation for experiments. So my question is this: do you have any expectation that an actual theory will one day be proposed by your ID colleagues?

  19. #19 Paul S
    May 30, 2006

    Let me offer a slightly different take on this argument – and pardon me if I’m recapping something that has been suggested before, as I’m just coming in here.

    Mr. Nelson is offering another variant on the classic “Watchmaker Argument.” That is, if we find a watch lying in the sand on the beach, we can reasonably infer that it was created by an intelligent agency.

    The creationist/ID proponent claims that this is because the watch is clearly too complex to have developed by purely random natural processes. However this is not the actual reason why we assign a watchmaker to a watch. We do this because we have seen watches before, and we know that they are made by watchmakers. We can even extrapolate from this (our human brains are good at extrapolation) and infer that any complex and clearly mechanical device had a builder/designer. We can do this because our experience has taught us that complex mechanical devices always do.

    To extend this to Mr. Nelson’s car theft analogy, it is reasonable to infer the existence of a thief because experience has shown us that when a theft occurs it is at the agency of a thief. We have no counter-example: no case in which something was stolen without a thief.

    It should go without saying that we have no such base of experience with universes, or even with lifeforms. Hence inferring intelligent design for universes and lifeforms is not a reasonable use of inductive reasoning.

    This is another way of putting Mr Miller’s argument, that inferring the existence of an intelligent designer is non-scientific because it is non-falsifiable. But it might make the point a little easier for a non-scientific thinker to get a handle on.

    This also ties in with a question that I have always wanted to ask William Dembski. Dembski and other ID proponents claim that they are not inferring a divine agency as their Designer. Of course Dembski has also stated that theology informs “every aspect” of his theory, but leave that aside for now. ID states that life is too complex to have arisen save by the action of an intelligent designer. So I’ve always wondered: how did the designer acquire the complexity needed to do this? It seems that the only answers are either an eternal designer indistinguishable from God or an infinite regress (implying a universe of infinite age).

    Of course ID seems to be moving away from its claims to be non-theological (perhaps because no one was buying those claims). Articles posted at http://www.origins.org/menus/design.html include such titles as “Using God’s Design to Communicate Faith.”

  20. #20 Greg Mead
    May 30, 2006

    I think we have to realize that the lie here is only a part of what Nelson is doing. He used the lie to misrepresent Miller’s position and to, most importantly, hold up to ridicule the supposed inflexibility of Miller, and by extension, all scientists, to new ideas. The INTENT of Nelson is what is so reprehensible, in my book. Nelson knows full well what Miller’s position is. He knows full well that the reason we can infer human “design” is that we have _evidence_ of previous such actions by humans. He knows that this is different from determining supernatural design.

    Nelson is a propogandist. He is willing to use any misrepresentation, any lie, necessary, to convince others of his beliefs, despite his knowledge that they aren’t true.

  21. #21 Sastra
    May 30, 2006

    Hmm. I think Paul Nelson simply misspoke, a slip of the tongue, more or less. This is clearly what he *meant* to say during that debate:

    “Now, what would you infer from that pattern, I put the question to Keith. Of course, he said he’d do what everyone in this room would do, namely he would get out his cell phone and dial 911 and infer that someone had broken into his car. BUT rather than think what everyone in this room thinks – that like all intelligent causation a thief can be inferred through basic intuitions about reality to be an irreducible agent outside the physical universe – Keith said that human agents are ‘natural regularities.’”

    (Pause for delighted, derisive laughter from audience.)

    Maybe that’s what the audience got out of it anyway. Maybe Mr. Nelson thinks so.

  22. #22 daenku32
    May 30, 2006

    God stole my punchline.

  23. #23 Tim Makinson
    May 30, 2006

    Physical regularities are properly described by equations and simple relations (e.g., as captured by algorithms). If a thief is a “natural physical regularity,” as Keith put it, one should be able to provide the corresponding equation or description.

    This assertion appears to be either irrelevant or untrue.

    Consider the example of an “animal thief” (e.g. a raccoon, a magpie, or whatever). There are two possibilities:
    1) The thieving of this animal can be described by “equations and simple relations”. In this case I would argue that said equations and simple relations can equally be applied to an “intelligent thief”. (A degree of simularity between the actions of the thieves would be there regardless of the circumstances, but the simularity is extremely close where the theft from the car was impulsive.) In this case, Nelson’s assertion cannot rule out an intelligent thief as a “physical regularity” (and so is irrelevant).
    2) The thieving of this animal cannot be so described. In this case, Nelson would also be arguing that the actions of animals are also not a “physical regularity”. This is of course absurd, and would completely undermine any credibility Nelson’s assertion might have.

    Can anybody see a hole in this logic? Unless I’ve missed something, it would seem that Nelson made a logical blunder so basic that he really ought to hand back his degree in philosophy.

  24. #24 WJD
    May 30, 2006

    Paul Nelson said:

    But Keith takes back with one hand what he offers with the other. The thief is an agent, irreducible to the strictly physical…but the thief is also a natural regularity.

    I don’t see that he took back anything. The part in bold is YOUR thought, Mr. Nelson, YOUR intuition, not Miller’s (apparently). You are filtering his comments through your own beliefs, which if accidental is sloppy thinking, and if purposeful is highly dishonest.

    Thieves steal stereos from cars every day, it’s completely predictable. Evolutionary psychology tells us a great deal about human nature. It is entirely predictable that people will do whatever they can do for personal gain as long as they think they can get away with it. See the many discussions in the literature about cheating as an evolutionary strategy. This in no way implies that the thief doesn’t have a choice. He does, but we can still predict that many people will make the wrong choice and commit a crime; that’s because we know something about that part of nature called “human nature”. Saying there was no “physical necessity” for the crime doesn’t change the fact that the thief’s underlying motivations are a part of human (and animal in general) nature and understandable in natural terms. That doesn’t mean we don’t hold him accountable.

    It is obvious that you view agency and intelligence in a different way, as a supernatural gift from a creator. Your mistake (intentional or not, I don’t know) was in assuming that is the ONLY possible view, and interpreting Miller’s comments in that light.

  25. #25 Beaming Visionary
    May 30, 2006

    The saddest thing about this is not watching an intelligent man in a crowded amphitheater caught with his dick waving in the wind pretend he can’t see it and continue to feign dignity and composure. It’s the fact that this is one more giant red herring. In the end, solecisms like the dishonest ways in which IDists portray actual scientists are irrelevant even if anyone with his or her brain engaged can see that the IDist is behaving like a pecker-waving man at a Menudo concert. The real issue, which things like this “debate” neatly distact folks from, is that ID is, always has been, and continues to be shameless bullshit. The one advantage of holding firm to such a movement and capitalizing on a nation rocked by deep-rooted bumpkinism is that pretty much every press release, “controversy” and court proceeding is to the nominal advantage of the whack jobs, since the best they can hope for is continuing to get their names out there regardless of context — the old adage about “all publicity” certainly applies here.

  26. #26 Sylas
    May 30, 2006

    I doubt it is explicit malice. I think he’s just as thick as a post. There seems to be a weird kind of cognitive dissonance going on.

    Apologies are nice, but the fundamental problem is that Paul’s position is stupid. What would really impress me is for Paul to actually acknowledge the outright errors in his position. For a start, the claim that “physical regularities” are invariably described by equations and simple relations.

  27. #27 Douglas Theobald
    May 30, 2006

    PN:
    The thief really did break into the car, but he didn’t have to. No physical necessity involved.

    [After passing through the double slit], the electron really did land in the third diffraction band on the right, but it didn’t have to. No physical necessity involved.

  28. #28 snaxalotl
    May 30, 2006

    Science can legitimately infer that an intelligence has acted to cause a pattern or event in nature.

    Do you agree, Keith?

    KM: No, I cannot! I thought I made that clear. The thief is an available natural physical regularity within the known universe.

    Keith thinks he is answering the question “can intelligence be inferred from a pattern or event in a way which excludes natural regularity”.
    Paul thinks Keith is answering the question “can intelligence be inferred at all, ever”

  29. #29 DarwinCatholic
    May 30, 2006

    The thing that seems to make this whole thing aggravatingly par-for-the-course ID foolishness is the dogged insistence that because certain kinds of “design” can be detected (an arrow head, a buglary, etc.) that therefore it must be possible to detect the work of an unknown designer based simply on certain levels of complexity. What (and this is truly appauling for people who are allegedly philosophers of science) ID proponents seem to forget is that science deals with the repeatable.

    One can infer a thief broke into the car because one knows, from observation or report, that thieves are known to break into cars and take just the kind of articles that are missing, and that they do so by breaking windows. This requires no knowledge of the thief’s intent, moral state, or indeed intelligence (which with a car thief is probably pretty minimal anyway). Rather, one simply needs to know that such situations have been found before and that in the past it has invariably been car thieves who were responsible.

    This can also be the object of study in that the car thief’s methods are repeatable. You could practice window breakage as a way of entering the car and use of screw drivers as a way of levering the radio out of the dash. If you produced similar results, this would confirm your theory a the thief’s methods.

    The question of biological origins is entirely different, however. We can’t say (unless they know a great deal they’re not letting on): “This planet’s life bears all the signs of divine creation, because we’ve also seen God’s methods at work on planets A, B, C, D and E. Plus, I can see that He used method X over here on the squirrel and method Y over here on the aardvark.”

    We can neither identify from experience the work of a divine agent, nor reproduce his methods, which pretty effectively puts it out of the reach of science. ID advocates always counter by saying they don’t insist that the creator is God, it could have been aliens or some such. And yet aliens are (until we have experience with their methods and multiple examples of their handiwork) equally beyond the ability of science to touch as potential culprits.

    We posit evolution because it is the only suggested solution which is clearly going on now. And if it’s going on now, why not assume that it worked in the past too.

  30. #30 386sx
    May 31, 2006

    Mr. Nelson said: Physical regularities are properly described by equations and simple relations (e.g., as captured by algorithms). If a thief is a “natural physical regularity,” as Keith put it, one should be able to provide the corresponding equation or description.

    From the Nelson-Miller theological exchange:

    KM: All science could discover is that no known cause-and effect process could have brought about a given structure or event. The arguments for intelligent design are to me fatally flawed. First they imply that our state of knowledge is sufficient to recognize all possible cause-and-effect pathways to a given end. No area of science is remotely close to that level of understanding.

    PN: Nor will any science ever reach that level. That is precisely the problem of induction.

    If our state of knowledge is insufficient, then why should one be able to provide the corresponding equation or description? Jeez dude, can’t you see your own arguments aren’t adding up? (Not that this has any bearing on your blatant misrepresentation of whether or not Mr. Miller would have called 911 .)

  31. #31 Don S
    May 31, 2006

    Hey, isn’t it obvious to everyone that Paul Nelson is just engaging in a little street theater?

  32. #32 J O'Donnell
    May 31, 2006

    Paul Nelson must either be a pathological liar, have no integrity at all or simply be completely illiterate to mangle Keith Miller’s such a clearly argued position. I cannot see how Nelson can possibly get out of the quoted exchange (even what he presented) that Keith put forward he didn’t think a human had stolen the items was plausible.

    Once again the ID movement demonstrates it’s got the credibility of the much in the bottom of a barrel. Really, I think it’s best to simply not bother with ID advocates like Nelson.

  33. #33 Raging Bee
    May 31, 2006

    …even if anyone with his or her brain engaged can see that the IDist is behaving like a pecker-waving man at a Menudo concert…

    I don’t know what’s more disturbing about that snippet — the “pecker-waving man” reference, or the fact that the respondent actually remembers Menudo. (Or the fact that I remember Menudo…)

    Anyway, Paul Nelson’s recent silence leads me to believe he understands he’s been caught and has quietly buggered off, which is about as close to a sincere and honest apology as we’re likely to get from the likes of him.

  34. #34 minimalist
    May 31, 2006

    Poor Nelson. Keeps coming here to dish up lame explanations, obfuscations, and non-apologies. Doesn’t want to give up his cherished lie, yet doesn’t want to be seen as a liar. Doesn’t want to think of himself as a liar. Classic hypocrisy from a pseudo-Christian.

    Late at night, I hope it gives him a sick, sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. At least then it would mean he retains some vestige of conscience, and could perhaps be redeemed.

  35. #35 delphi_ote
    June 6, 2006

    The fact that Nelson implied Miller wouldn’t bother to call 911 is a COMPLETE misrepresentation of his stance. I find that comment particularly dishonest and mean spirited.

  36. #36 Louie
    January 14, 2007

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