Pharyngula

Billy Dembski, pious and deluded

There goes Bill Dembski again, revealing both his religious delusions and his ignorance of the state of modern biology in an interview.

4. Does your research conclude that God is the Intelligent Designer?

I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.

The focus of my writings is not to try to understand the Christian doctrine of creation; it’s to try to develop intelligent design as a scientific program.

There’s a big question within the intelligent design community: “How did the design get in there?” We’re very early in this game in terms of understanding the history of how the design got implemented. I think a lot of this is because evolutionary theory has so misled us that we have to rethink things from the ground up. That’s where we are. There are lots and lots of questions that are now open to re-examination in light of this new paradigm.

Keep that quote in mind for the future, next time they try to claim ID isn’t a sectarian religious belief. Also note that the the “design” he is wondering how it “got in there” hasn’t been demonstrated at all.

It isn’t a Dembski interview without an inflated ego on display:

5. How will your research affect the world of science?

It’s going to change the national conversation. I don’t see how you can read this book, if you’ve not been indoctrinated with Darwin’s theory, and go back to the evolutionary fold. The case against this materialistic, undirected evolution is overwhelming. This really goes to the worldview issues that are underlying this whole discussion: Are we the result of a blind, purposeless, material process, and is our intelligence then just this evolutionary byproduct of our need to survive and reproduce? Or are intelligence and purpose fundamental to our existence? Were we planned? Or are we an accidental happening? That’s really what is underlying this whole debate, and what this book, I think, addresses very effectively.

Intelligent design goes a long way in this culture, which is so infused with materialistic and atheistic ideology.

I’ve got the book he’s talking about, and I’m partway through it. It ain’t convincing. It’s the same old bluster that Wells and Dembski have been pounding their fists over for the last decade; there’s absolutely nothing new in it, just more rehashed chest-thumping from failed religious revolutionaries; I predict it will die a rapid death, simply because the IDers haven’t been able to come up with anything we haven’t already heard multiple times, and that has failed every time to convince anyone in the biology community with a scrap of sense.

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    December 14, 2007

    Still no hint of research I see. But it’s going to change the world.

    Oh, it still might, but it will require a police state to do so.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  2. #2 Chris Anderson
    December 14, 2007

    Well, a police state or a democracy…

    I worked retail for a number of years, and it did not do my faith in “the people” any good at all.

  3. #3 Chris Anderson
    December 14, 2007

    Oops, left out the last bit:

    It is a good thing that science is not a democratic system. Now we just need to get the politicians out of it.

  4. #4 danley
    December 14, 2007

    Christ he’s a tard.

  5. #5 Timcol
    December 14, 2007

    Ooops…Billie broke the Forbidden Rule of ID – he mentioned who The Big Daddy Designer is! Every time I comment on UD (which is not often because I’m usually censored) and politely ask why we can’t inquire as to the nature of the designer, I’m given verbal abuse.

    But I guess ole’ Billie-boy can say what he likes. Heck he even mentions creation and intelligent design in the sentence!

    But here’s my favorite part:
    “The focus of my writings is not to try to understand the Christian doctrine of creation; it’s to try to develop intelligent design as a scientific program.”

    And how well is that going? Looks like he’s making great progress, after all he is being interviewed by an institution that’s considered a bastion of scientific accuracy and truth, Focus on the Family. LOL!

  6. #6 Shalini
    December 14, 2007

    BillDumb is so over.

    Yawn.

  7. #7 mark
    December 14, 2007

    Oooooooh! A new paradigm!
    I can’t wait to find out what this new paradigm is. Please let us know if the book reveals how the teeny-weeny Evinrudes were actually manufactured.

  8. #8 thalarctos
    December 14, 2007

    I worked retail for a number of years, and it did not do my faith in “the people” any good at all.

    Well, Chris, you know what they say: “the problem with public-contact jobs is the public”.

  9. #9 MAJeff
    December 14, 2007

    I worked retail for a number of years, and it did not do my faith in “the people” any good at all.

    Having worked in retail, phone customer service, and hospitality, I concur wholeheartedly.

  10. #10 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 14, 2007

    5. How will your research affect the world of science?

    It’s going to change the national conversation.

    So “the world of science” is limited to “the national conversation”…?

  11. #11 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 14, 2007

    5. How will your research affect the world of science?

    It’s going to change the national conversation.

    So “the world of science” is limited to “the national conversation”…?

  12. #12 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 14, 2007

    (Yesss! I can has l33t HTML sgillz!!1 Thanks again, woozy.)

  13. #13 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 14, 2007

    (Yesss! I can has l33t HTML sgillz!!1 Thanks again, woozy.)

  14. #14 Tony Popple
    December 14, 2007

    I am glad that someone else is reading his book and evaluating it. I have already read enough of his material to know I don’t care to waste another moment of my life with his nonsense.

    His writing consists of little more than a mix of arrogance and bemusement. The loader he boasts or protests, the more empty his claim. Dembski is so delusional, I wonder if I can even consider him dishonest.

    I think he is only a step or two away from joining the “aluminum-foil hat” crowd.

  15. #15 tacitus
    December 14, 2007

    We’re very early in this game in terms of understanding the history of how the design got implemented.

    Huh? How do you even begin to research the implementation of a design when you believe it was the result on an omnipotent deity? If God is all powerful then why should anything about our supposed design make any sense whatsoever? Our existence could merely be a whim or a fancy built with angels and fairy dust.

    Goddidit really is the only answer that makes any sense in their paradigm. By Dembski’s own words, ID is utterly bankrupt as a scientific endeavor. He’s just too proud and stubborn to admit it.

  16. #16 Helioprogenus
    December 14, 2007

    I honestly wonder how long this horseshit of intelligent design will float till it’s put well behind us. The saddest part is that what seems to be rational intelligent folks sometimes end up buying into it. I know a well respected physicist who’s able to compartmentalize these issues and truly believes that our existence has some sense of purpose.
    Honestly, between these ID fuckers, and the fundies (evangelists like Huckabee, extremists like Al-Sadr, and even that turd of a senator, Lieberman and his pseudo-neo-con agenda), we’re heading down the long road of shooting progress in the foot.

    It’s unfortunate that in an ill-informed democracy the majority will side with asshole spewing disingenuous illogical beliefs on their gullibility. Democracy functions optimally when the populace is well informed, and with our state of education and lack of resources because they’re diverted to religious, military, and idiotic agendas, who knows where the future lies. Time to revolt against these charlatans.

  17. #17 tacitus
    December 14, 2007

    This really goes to the worldview issues that are underlying this whole discussion: Are we the result of a blind, purposeless, material process, and is our intelligence then just this evolutionary byproduct of our need to survive and reproduce? Or are intelligence and purpose fundamental to our existence? Were we planned? Or are we an accidental happening? That’s really what is underlying this whole debate, and what this book, I think, addresses very effectively.

    So they’ve given up on the pretense that ID is unable to divine anything about the nature of the designer? Even if ID turns out to be true, it doesn’t necessarily add a single iota of extra meaning to our lives. The “designer” could be an alien garbage spaceship operator who illegally dumped a load of waste biomass on to Earth 4 billion years ago or maybe it was a careless alien lab technician who accidentally contaminated an experimental universe its boss had been working on.

    But no, according to IDists, they cannot countenance such an outcome to their investigation. Our “design” must have meaning, a purpose, that somehow is supposed to inform our moral sensibilities, despite the absence of any evidence that this must be the case.

  18. #18 DamnYankees
    December 14, 2007

    I still don’t understand what they mean by design. I can see it meaning one of two things:

    1) A planned blueprint, which was then set in motion and everything would unfold according to the designed plans. This is basically evolution with a deistic god, and required no intervention, and no irreducable complexity.

    2) No blueprint, but active intervention by a being which would change the steps of evolution along the way. This isn’t really design, but meddling, and there’s also no explanation for how or when this happens. Is it a ghost?

    Even if you believe everything about ID, these two positions don’t reconcile.

  19. #19 Pyre
    December 14, 2007

    Please, in all your joyous optimism, please don’t expect these people to quietly fold their tents and slink away under cover of darkness some night.

    They’ll stick around and keep trying, changing names and tactics as needed, adding new tricks to old.

    So there never will come a time to relax vigilance, or to proudly ignore their attempts — which would only let them take more ground.

  20. #20 Timcol
    December 14, 2007

    Contrast

    “The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.”

    with

    “We’re very early in this game in terms of understanding the history of how the design got implemented.”

    Well, it seems it should be very simple then to understand the history of ID – you just have to ask The Christian God! What? He’s not talking? OK, didn’t he mention Intelligent Design in the Bible then? No…what’s that? He wrote a lot about creation though…

    Does God have Alzheimers then since He seems to have forgotten how he created the Universe?

  21. #21 Dan
    December 14, 2007

    Awesome! Another Dembski thread. Soon, ERV will show up, and I’ll be reduced to a blushing and babbling school boy.

    Aside from that, however, didn’t Dembski just scuttle the entire ID movement by admitting this is more about religion than science?

    I think the tact one should take in dealing with IDiots from here on out is to begin every debate by asking them for a definition as to what science truly is and hopes to achieve.

  22. #22 inkadu
    December 14, 2007

    Lieberman’s pseudo neo-con agenda? What? He’s straight up neo-con, got in on the ground floor of PNAC and everything.

    I also like that Dembski’s knocking evolution on moral grounds — it’s “blind” and “meaningless.” I find that entertaining. Like saying bones must not be brittle in the elderly, because that would make me sad. Or gravity must not exist, because we couldn’t explore other planets very easily if it did!

  23. #23 Mrs. Dembski
    December 14, 2007

    “Were we planned? Or are we an accidental happening?”

    Sorry to break this to you, Billy, but you were an accident. That’s why your father and I had to get married so quickly. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t love you.

  24. #24 BlueIndependent
    December 14, 2007

    He can’t see how anyone can read his shit book, and still go back to evolution, huh? There are plenty of proofs already as to why this tool is and will be irrelevant to history, but his arrogance evinces a complete lack of understanding, capability, and character in the practice of science. Imagine if Einstein or Darwin were as openly and unabashedly arrogant about their theories and work as this guy. I doubt we’d be talking about them because their ego would’ve tainted their work.

    Just more of the self-assured nothing’s-my-fault I’m-sure-I’m-right oppression complex these people thrive off of. If they don’t get something, it’s society’s fault, not theirs.

    Must be nice to be so useless to society.

  25. #25 Dave M
    December 14, 2007

    Didn’t Dembski just scuttle the entire ID movement by admitting this is more about religion than science?

    I’m not as sure as y’all that this quotation in particular does this. He could be clearer here, but on one reading he might mean (and just as well have said): “No, my research doesn’t show anything about the nature of the designer. I believe for other reasons that the designer is the Christian deity. But my reseach only detects design, period. So we have lots of work to do. Which we will publish in our journals. When we do it. Any time now.” [*snicker*]

    That’s why I tend to agree with, um, whoever said it, that ID is (in this sense) more about bad science than religion. Of course, it’s *motivated* by religion, but that’s only relevant (given the badness of the science) in legal cases (purpose prong and all that).

  26. #26 jeh
    December 14, 2007

    It must be hard to get Dembski and Behe in the same room given the size of their ego-swollen heads. They really do believe they are the Newton and Einstein of modern biology–and that it’s just a matter of time before the Nobel committee recognizes their brilliance. If you doubt it, just review Behe’s appearance on the Colbert Report, or read the end of Behe’s first book.

    And I always thought humility was considered to be a virtue for Christians–especially given that the good book says something about pride going before a fall.

  27. #27 CalGeorge
    December 14, 2007

    I believe God created the world for a purpose.

    What purpose might that be?

    I believe Dumbski created the craptastic world of ID for a purpose: to feed his massive ego and satisfy his pea brain.

  28. #28 tacitus
    December 14, 2007

    That’s why I tend to agree with, um, whoever said it, that ID is (in this sense) more about bad science than religion.

    No, I disagree. The Wedge Document has it right. The fight to have ID accepted as science is merely the means to an end. It is all about religion. They want to invalidate the “materialistic worldview” and thus magically give meaning to our lives beyond what we ourselves and our loved ones make of them. They are invoking God, albeit in a sneaky and underhand way (which is why creationists don’t like them much either).

  29. #29 True Bob
    December 14, 2007

    Every time I read some quote of Dumbski’s, I throw up in my mouth a little.

  30. #30 Pyre
    December 14, 2007

    Helioprogenus @ 14:

    I honestly wonder how long this horseshit of intelligent design will float till it’s put well behind us.

    Do you really see any signs of it fading away at all?   Ever?

  31. #31 Jeb, FCD
    December 14, 2007

    When will these fools realize you must do RESEARCH and have hypotheses to be scientists and practice science?

  32. #32 BlueIndependent
    December 14, 2007

    @ 24: “…And I always thought humility was considered to be a virtue for Christians–especially given that the good book says something about pride going before a fall.”

    You have to understand their psychology here. They think they are acting as humble servants in defense of their god. And as such, they needn’t be humble about opposing those things that oppose god because to do so would be a sign of weakness and lack of everybody’s favorite word, faith.

  33. #33 Inoculated Mind
    December 14, 2007

    I think I now understand why people are cynical (in addition to being skeptical) of ID – at every turn the story is different. Now ID is clearly a Christian creation story, according to Dembski. The cat’s out of the bag and they’re embracing it openly.

    Does anyone remember when Demsbki declared that his best contribution to ID will be Theodicy – as in, the problem of Evil and similar arguments against theism. Now, apparently, he’s not going to focus on the creation doctrines anymore.

    Instead, ID is trying to connect the dots – figure out how the design occurred. Whereas before, ID was not a mechanistic theory, according to Dembski.

    I smell a Daily Show-style joke – a debate between 2001 Demsbki and 2007 Dembski!

  34. #34 CalGeorge
    December 14, 2007

    …it’s to try to develop intelligent design as a scientific program.

    He’s been at it for 10 years! Dembski in 1998: “As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence and not intelligence as such.”

    Here’s the result of my research program:

    1) Effects of Intelligence

    Scientists working within evolutionary theory, exploiting a valid theory to produce demonstrable, verifiable science that enhances our knowledge of the world and our place in it.

    2) Effects of Not Intelligence

    The nothing that is ID. The DI and Bill Dembski needlessly wasting everyone’s time and maliciously misleading gullible individuals with their endless capacity for bullshit.

    Enough!

  35. #35 Janine
    December 14, 2007

    I don’t see how you can read this book, if you’ve not been indoctrinated with Darwin’s theory, and go back to the evolutionary fold.

    This is the problem of all you atheists in this pit of evil. You all have been tainted with Darwin’s theory. That is why the definition of science must be changed. So that future generations of children are given to the altar of evolution.

    Once there has been a generation of americans who have not been made evil, they will see the brilliance of Dembski’s book. And the works of pure faith american biologists will leave behind those of Japan and South Korea.

    But all of you are too deluded to see this.

  36. #36 mangerboy386sx
    December 14, 2007

    Ooops…Billie broke the Forbidden Rule of ID – he mentioned who The Big Daddy Designer is!

    Since when was that the forbidden rule? They’ve been doing that since day one. Depends on who they’re talkin to.

  37. #37 Molly, NYC
    December 14, 2007

    He said this in an interview? Where? Nature or Science maybe? ProcNAS? Some other peer-reviewed journal? Scientific American or the New York Times science section even?

    No. Dr. “I’m-trying-to-develop-intelligent-design-as-a-scientific-program” is talking to CitizenLink–a registered trademark of Focus on the Family Action, Inc. (according to the little squib at the bottom of the Web page). Because when you’re trying to make your case that your position has just a buttload of science behind it, James Dobson is pretty much the first guy you’d want to vet it.

  38. #38 Dave M
    December 14, 2007

    The fight to have ID accepted as science is merely the means to an end.

    I know that – my point is that in the scientific context (that of evaluating ID as science) we’re not allowed to consider the motivation for the theory, just its predictive and explanatory value. In that sense, it’s (merely) bad science, and its religious motivation is irrelevant.

  39. #39 Zbu
    December 14, 2007

    I have to ask: why do we really need a meaning for why we exist? The big push behind creationism by its blind supporters is that we need reason inflicted on every step of human creation because why? Because they can’t imagine that a species has evolved so far? Huh? I know this is all nonsense and they simply want to push their religion down my throat because they think conformity equals a better world, but I’m still baffled why they would pretend that it’s to rationalize a chaotic universe. Exactly why do we require meaning in our creation again?

    We are here. We exist. You don’t really need reason for this to celebrate it. Why do I get the feeling these people are emotionally agoraphobic and are the sort who look at the vast expanse of the universe at night and are scared? Maybe it’s something tied to their egos and the fact that–oh, horrors of horrors–they aren’t the most important things in the universe?

    Their wild and uneducated guesses are just soaked with their pious attitudes. It’s amazing that these people can’t simply accept that life is short and maybe their mommy and daddy lied to them just as their parents did as well. That doesn’t make life meaningless, it takes it outside of the realm of meaning itself making such ideas of meaning completely irrelevant.

  40. #40 noncarborundum
    December 14, 2007
  41. #41 PCS
    December 14, 2007

    “The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.”

    Am I missing something here? How exactly does he know the designer, if there is such a thing, is the “Christian God”? Couldn’t it just as easily be Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or even the Supreme Squid?

  42. #42 Les Lane
    December 14, 2007

    It’s the magic wand hypothesis again.

    Short on specifics as usual, but still wishing for the definitive experiment

  43. #43 Steve_C
    December 14, 2007

    Can they please stop pretending they don’t have a specific designer in mind now?

    Holy fuck it’s the 800 pound gorilla only they are pretending not to see (while they sit in its lap and feed it a banana.)

  44. #44 AlanWCan
    December 14, 2007

    #14: I honestly wonder how long this horseshit of intelligent design will float till it’s put well behind us

    Unfortunately, I suspect this is really just treading water til they can get a few more Marcus R. Ross type trained parrots through the system wih PhDs to begin the next wave of the attack. See, now they bleat on about how they have scientists that are abandoning Darwin and if you look closely they’re mostly gynaecologists and engineers. But give them a few years, I’m sure there must be more of these sleepers in the system that can then brandish forth their credentials without mentioning the ideology driving them from day 1. Makes me sick, as I just couldn’t afford to stay on track through a PhD program and had to quit with a masters degree.

  45. #45 Badger3k
    December 15, 2007

    Since when does “research” mean “read the bible”?

  46. #46 Damian
    December 15, 2007

    “I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.”

    This makes no sense, whatsoever. The Christian space daddy cannot be both perfect and the creator of the universe and everything in it. They should be forced to give one of them up.

    1. God is perfect.
    2. God deliberately created the universe.
    3. Perfection entails the lack of needs or wants.
    4. Being perfect, God does not now nor ever has nor ever will have any needs or wants.
    5. Deliberate creation entails an effort to satisfy some need or want.
    6. Being a creator, God at one time had some need or want.
    7. It is impossible to have some need or want and also to never have any need or want.
    8. Conclusion: God, if it exists, is either not perfect or has not created anything.

    It is impossible to argue your way out of this, in my opinion. What ever you posit as the reason for God creating the universe, it still constitutes either a prior lack of something, or a need to do something. The creator of the universe can not be perfect.

    The only half decent response to this is that God didn’t lack anything essential and simply wanted to create the universe. Of course, the universe is rendered as a trivial act, in that case.

  47. #47 Steve Fisher
    December 15, 2007

    If the DI is admittedly attempting to get their own religious views taught as science, which has been ruled against in court several times and declared unconstitutional, why are they not guilty of conspiracy in a legal sense. Are they not breaking the law every time they attempt to subvert a school board? Why are their activities not illegal?

  48. #48 Stanton
    December 15, 2007

    It doesn’t matter if it’s illegal or not, so long as it’s done in God’s name, apparently.

  49. #49 RBH
    December 15, 2007

    Inoculated Mind wrote

    Does anyone remember when Demsbki declared that his best contribution to ID will be Theodicy – as in, the problem of Evil and similar arguments against theism.

    Too late. Behe already took care of that in The Edge of Evolution, where he established that malaria was purposefully designed by teh great designer in the sky.

  50. #50 Sigmund
    December 15, 2007

    “Leading scientist and mathematician William Dembski”
    I guess the parallel universe theory is true after all.

  51. #51 DiscoveredJoys
    December 15, 2007

    Bill Dembski, noble Crusader for the Unenlightenment.

    If you think living in a theocracy will be pleasant, look around at existing theocracies elsewhere in the world.

  52. #52 Arcturus
    December 15, 2007

    Inteligent design … not convincing at all.

    I saw recently a talk by Stuart Kauffman-“Breaking the Galilean spell”. Fascinating! He also having a book about this. He’s talking a lot about emergence.

    What struck me was the beauty of the evolutionary process. With a self-replication entity, mutations and natural selection you can get the whole biosphere. The big problem is that when you start, there is no way to predict where you might end. For “somebody” to inteligently design the whole biosphere, he has to know in advance every mutation, every little detail, every chance encounter. Otherwise there is no way to design and predict the end product.
    This is the ultimate non-Occam’s razor.

    This is where the breaking of the “galilean spell” comes in. The Newtonian worldview, in which you can predict/calculate the future, is fading away.

  53. #53 TomS
    December 15, 2007

    To echo some of the earlier comments, I’d be interested (actually, I’d be surprised and amazed) to hear whether the “concept” of Intelligent Design can tell us:

    What is the result of a design process. What sort of thing, a single animal (maybe a sightless vertebrate giving birth to a sighted version); a pair of adults (male and female); a whole new, functioning ecological community with lots of new and different animals and plants and physical environment.

    What sort of thing is not the result of a design process. What could not be, what would not be, what will not be.

    When designs took place. Not only whether that was thousands or millions or billions of years ago; but also whether they are still happening (as distinguished from a kind of deism): Am I just an accident?

    Why the human body is so very much just another mammalian body: Same eyes, same immune system, same blood-clotting system. Are we purposefully designed to be embedded in the complex, specified, taxonomic system, or is that a matter of chance and natural law?

    If there is something lacking in standard science for not having an explanation for phenomenon X, then what is the ID explanation for that phenomenon. For example, how do we deduce the value of the fine-structure constant from the concept of ID; or who would ever think, once they accept ID, that bacteria would have flagella, if they didn’t already know that?

  54. #54 charley
    December 15, 2007

    OT, but seeing Dembski writing for FOF just reminds me how many people rely on lies to make a living.

    If you are willing and able to be dishonest to yourself and/or others, or are skilled at passing your delusion on to others, there are a lot of ways to support yourself telling people what they want to hear, as long as you give them some sort of justification for believing what you say. The beauty of this type of profession is that the justification can be crap if your message is appealing enough.

    Think of all the people who would be out of work without the liars and the deluded. If you eliminated from my town (Grand Rapids, Mich) the churches, Christian schools and colleges, Christian publishers and bookstores, faith-based organizations and Amway headquarters (another lie-based organization), we’d probably have 50% unemployment.

  55. #55 David Marjanovi?
    December 15, 2007

    That’s why I tend to agree with, um, whoever said it, that ID is (in this sense) more about bad science than religion. Of course, it’s *motivated* by religion, but that’s only relevant (given the badness of the science) in legal cases (purpose prong and all that).

    Yes, but ID often makes the step out of science. On the “Wells lies. Again.” thread a few months ago, I pointed out to the cdesign proponentsist that the existence of Stupid Design falsified ID. Not so, said he: we can’t simply say it’s stupid — after all, we don’t know what the Designer may have been thinking. So I pointed out that the Designer was ineffable, and asked the cdesign proponentsist if he felt comfortable outside of science. No answer.

    Which is, as mentioned, not surprising, given the Wedge Document.

    Why the human body is so very much just another mammalian body: Same eyes, same immune system, same blood-clotting system.

    Behe or Dembski or both accept common descent. They simply make an argument from personal incredulity that mutation and selection alone cannot have produced today’s biodiversity.

  56. #56 David Marjanovi?
    December 15, 2007

    That’s why I tend to agree with, um, whoever said it, that ID is (in this sense) more about bad science than religion. Of course, it’s *motivated* by religion, but that’s only relevant (given the badness of the science) in legal cases (purpose prong and all that).

    Yes, but ID often makes the step out of science. On the “Wells lies. Again.” thread a few months ago, I pointed out to the cdesign proponentsist that the existence of Stupid Design falsified ID. Not so, said he: we can’t simply say it’s stupid — after all, we don’t know what the Designer may have been thinking. So I pointed out that the Designer was ineffable, and asked the cdesign proponentsist if he felt comfortable outside of science. No answer.

    Which is, as mentioned, not surprising, given the Wedge Document.

    Why the human body is so very much just another mammalian body: Same eyes, same immune system, same blood-clotting system.

    Behe or Dembski or both accept common descent. They simply make an argument from personal incredulity that mutation and selection alone cannot have produced today’s biodiversity.

  57. #57 BC
    December 15, 2007

    Motivation is not scientific inquiry, but an effort to get “official” approval of their beliefs from the world at large. This is also behind the efforts to have Christian symbols all over our courthouses, nativities on every public square, Christian prayer in every classroom and at every public function, etc. They are so unsure in their beliefs and faith that if it isn’t confirmed by everyone else, they will collapse. These people do not like open inquiry, freedom of speech, academic freedom, etc. I always wonder how they would have fared in the Roman Empire – probably would have been emperor worshippers, because that was the “official” faith.

  58. #58 ERV
    December 15, 2007

    David Marjanovi?– Dembski believes humans were specially created. Behe is the one DI fellow that accepts common descent.

  59. #59 MikeM
    December 15, 2007

    Well, at least we know it wasn’t aliens.

  60. #60 Bryson Brown
    December 15, 2007

    Almost unbelievable– the depth of self-deception, the sheer emptiness of it all. There’s nothing there but a clumsy, over-eager sales campaign preying on the credulous. I think Mr. Dembski must have had the shame center of his brain excised (probably along with some other bits as well)

  61. #61 thwaite
    December 15, 2007

    A naive intuitive appeal of “Intelligent Design” for the religiously motivated is its analogy with human engineering, implying a non-human Designer for anything else which looks engineered. But we evilutionists are expanding our claim: human engineers are now (1990+) deploying evolutionary processes to create new designs autonomously. There’s the familiar example of NASA’s novel antenna created by evolutionary algorithms, and many less familiar examples. A survey book I recently encountered (academic): Technological Innovation as an Evolutionary Process, John Ziman (Ed.), 2000.

    So the Intelligent Design claim is partially apt: the appearance of design in nature suggests a non-human designer. But this doesn’t imply a divine designer – just as human-engineered objects no longer imply a human designer. Design can be autonomous.

    (And FWIW many psychologists studying personal creativity have argued for some time for an evolutionary-like recombination of ideas: Donald Campbell, Gary Cziko and Henry Plotkin are a few such evolutionary epistemologists.)

  62. #62 CapitalistImperialistPig
    December 15, 2007

    ID, as many here have recognized, merely a smoke screen. It’s pointless to waste much time on its flaws as a scientific program, because it isn’t one. Refutations of specific faulty claims, like the one about the bacterial motor rotor, have some point, because the underlying science is illuminating, but fighting with smoke just gets you smoky.

  63. #63 Sven DiMilo
    December 15, 2007

    I worked retail for a number of years, and it did not do my faith in “the people” any good at all.

    I have taught physiology to pre-med undergrads for a number of years, and it did not do my faith in physicians any good at all.

    What were we talking about again? Right, Dembski. Carry on.

  64. #64 MPW
    December 15, 2007

    Steve Fisher at #45: “Are they not breaking the law every time they attempt to subvert a school board? Why are their activities not illegal?”

    Whoa there, tiger. Oy. They, like all of us, are entitled to advocate whatever policies they want to government officials. Even if those policies would be unconstitutional. The only thing that would be illegal would be government officials using their powers to promote those unconstitutional policies. It’s certainly not illegal to say “I think the public schools should do X,” whatever X is, nor illegal to organize and advocate for X, even using dishonest tactics. Except under certain very specific circumstances, it is not, nor do I think it should be, illegal to lie in public.

    The distinction seems obvious to me, and I’m a little disappointed no one had addressed your assertion yet. Prosecuting people for political and religious speech is hardly the solution we should be advocating to creationist slimeballery.

  65. #65 Davis
    December 15, 2007

    I’m quite comfortable with the idea that we are the result of a blind, purposeless, material process. In fact, it’s far more interesting, wondrous even, than the child-like belief in some gigantic intelligence somehow making it happen. Dawkins’s Unweaving the Rainbow explains it well.

  66. #66 Steve Fisher
    December 15, 2007

    MPW… I didn’t mean to imply any free speech issues here. It just seems to me that if the ID crowd has finally dropped the notion that ID is science and that it is really a guise to bring their religion into class rooms to replace science, and that teaching their religion as science is unconstitutional, then it would seem to follow that conspiring to pack school boards and influence science standards in an effort to subvert the law would be illegal.
    How many Dover trials do we need? What if they were flat earthers or Nazis or..or.. Jihadists trying to get their view of history, science and reality taught as truth by making illegal end runs around the law?

  67. #67 thwaite
    December 15, 2007

    How many Dover trials do we need? …Judge Jones’ comment about his Dover ruling was that it established law for the Federal judicial District including Pennsylvania, and that he wrote it broadly enough so that it would be a pertinent precedent for other Districts facing most such related issues. So… should the Texas school board generate a court case it’ll be heard in that Federal District court, and if the decision there isn’t consistent with Jones’ probably-pertinent precedent, there will then be grounds for an appeal to the Supreme Court to reconcile the inconsistency. If people are interested to pursue the issue, that is.

  68. #68 Sastra, OM
    December 15, 2007

    There’s a big question within the intelligent design community: “How did the design get in there?” We’re very early in this game in terms of understanding the history of how the design got implemented. I think a lot of this is because evolutionary theory has so misled us that we have to rethink things from the ground up.

    No, they are not “rethinking things from the ground up.” Building from the ground up requires cranes. They are bringing in skyhooks from above.

    ” Let us understand that a skyhook is a ‘mind-first’ force or power or process, an exception to the principle that all design, and apparent design, is ultimately the result of mindless, motiveless mechanicity. A crane, in contrast, is a subprocess or feature of a design process that can be demonstrated to permit the local speeding up of the basic, slow process of natural selection, and that can be demonstrated to be itself the predictable (or retrospectively explicable) product of the basic process.” (Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea pg. 76)

    So, if Dembski wants to answer “how did the design get in there?” using ID he’s going to have to use a skyhook — “a mind first force or power or process.” He can select from

    Psychokensis; ESP; chi energy; Vitalism; magic; the Power of the Spoken Word to Create What is Spoken; spontaneous generation; creation ex nihilio; mind force; The Secret; the Universe as a Creative Consciousness; and fairy dust.

    Ooh, I can’t wait to see what mechanism they choose to test first, to see how the design got in things!

  69. #69 Jud
    December 15, 2007

    If God is all powerful then why should anything about our supposed design make any sense whatsoever?

    Indeed, if God is all-powerful, then why couldn’t he choose to have species and their individual features arise through evolution? Or to ask the converse, if the Designer doesn’t have ability to choose to have the “teeny weeny Evinrudes” (bless you Mark, comment #7) on bacterial back-ends come into being via evolutionary means, then how can that Designer be the all-powerful Biblical God?

    I think a lot of this is because evolutionary theory has so misled us….

    So ID blames the dominance of evolutionary theory for its own lack of progress.

    The case against this materialistic, undirected evolution is overwhelming.

    Wait a minute, I thought evolutionary theory was dominant?

  70. #70 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 15, 2007

    Dembski believes humans were specially created. Behe is the one DI fellow that accepts common descent.

    Ah, thanks.

    the all-powerful Biblical God?

    Be careful which part of the Bible you pick. For example, don’t pick Judges 1:19:

    “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”

    Omnipotence is a pretty new concept.

  71. #71 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 15, 2007

    Dembski believes humans were specially created. Behe is the one DI fellow that accepts common descent.

    Ah, thanks.

    the all-powerful Biblical God?

    Be careful which part of the Bible you pick. For example, don’t pick Judges 1:19:

    “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”

    Omnipotence is a pretty new concept.

  72. #72 Jonathan Vos Post
    December 16, 2007

    Explain to me again — what research determined whom, or what, was the Designer of the Designer of Intelligent Design?

  73. #73 Fatboy
    December 17, 2007

    Well, Dembski openly admitting ID’s about God is nothing new. Remember this (warning – takes you to Uncommon Descent) from earlier this year, where Dembski stated, “Doesn’t the ‘M’ in SMU refer to ‘Methodist’ and aren’t Methodists believers in God? Is SMU’s anthropology department committed to hiring anti-God faculty?” There’s nothing new about the double speak; it just seems that most people don’t want to hear it, or just don’t care.

  74. #74 Jim
    February 13, 2008

    Dembski: “The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.”

    PCS: “Am I missing something here? How exactly does he know the designer, if there is such a thing, is the ‘Christian God’? Couldn’t it just as easily be Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or even the Supreme Squid?”

    Seting aside the silliness about “Zeus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or even the Supreme Squid,” the thing you’re missing is that there is no empirical or inferential trail leading from the detection of design in the biosphere to the identity of the designer. Dembski believes that the designer implicated by ID theory is “the Christian God” (which is hardly surprising, given that he’s a Christian), but he doesn’t suppose that a design-theoretic approach to life’s evolution can prove such a thing. Like all theistic design theorists, Dembski sees the connection between biological design and God as a connection grounded in theology, not science. Design theorists routinely say (in so many words) that those who are looking for scientific proof of God won’t find it in ID theory. Even the book “Pandas” (which figured prominently in the Dover trial) openly admits that science is incompetent to investigate the supernatural. Like most ID critics, you’re confusing the theistic implications of design theory with the theory itself (which is utterly silent on the God question). If one applied a parallel manner of thinking to Darwinism, he’d have to say that “the mechanism of evolution is, ultimately, atheistic materialism.” While it’s arguably true (as Richard Dawkins famously said) that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist,” that fulfillment comes from the anti-theistic (or atheistic) implications of Darwinian theory, not from the theory itself. Like ID theory, Darwinism is utterly silent on the God question.

    Now, is there anyone here who has an argument against ID that amounts to something more substantive than a sneer?

  75. #75 386sx
    February 14, 2008

    Seting aside the silliness about “Zeus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or even the Supreme Squid,”

    Nothing silly about it. It could just as easily be all or any of those gods as it could be the Christian god. That was the point he was making in case you missed that one. Maybe it was both Zeus and the Christian god. Who knows.

    Dembski believes that the designer implicated by ID theory is “the Christian God” (which is hardly surprising, given that he’s a Christian)

    Yes it is surprising, because he doesn’t even know if there is a Christian god or not. Even if there were a Christian god, Dembski would have no idea about what it does or doesn’t do.

    Now, is there anyone here who has an argument against ID that amounts to something more substantive than a sneer?

    I dunno. Go read The Panda’s Thumb or something. Maybe you missed some of the articles there. Happy holidays.

    Even the book “Pandas” (which figured prominently in the Dover trial) openly admits that science is incompetent to investigate the supernatural.

    To the contrary. It’s not that science is incompetent, it’s that the supernatural is incompetent. I would be quite skeptical about anything that the book “Pandas” “openly admits.” Have a nice day.

  76. #76 Rey Fox
    February 14, 2008

    “the thing you’re missing is that there is no empirical or inferential trail leading from the detection of design in the biosphere to the identity of the designer.”

    So it’s basically a worthless dead-end of a hypothesis. Nice.

    “Even the book “Pandas” (which figured prominently in the Dover trial) openly admits that science is incompetent to investigate the supernatural.”

    Yep, we gotta start reading the tea leaves if we want to learn any more!

    “Now, is there anyone here who has an argument against ID that amounts to something more substantive than a sneer?”

    Maybe once ID brings anything substantive to the table then I’ll muster up something more substantive in response, but right now I think a sneer is adequate.

  77. #77 Kseniya
    February 14, 2008

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Is Jim trying to restart that umpty-hundred-post thread from last fall, in which he calls the wedge document “unfortunate” and proves himself to be intellectually impermeable?

    Apparently… Yes.

  78. #78 Owlmirror
    February 14, 2008

    Now, is there anyone here who has an argument against ID that amounts to something more substantive than a sneer?

    Hey, all you have against Zeus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a sneer. Got anything more substantive?

    Actually, the most substantive argument against ID, besides the whole issue of the design of the designer, is this:

    There’s no metric to distinguished “designed” from “non-designed” life. None. You’ve got nothing but a vague hunch that maybe some organisms or components of organisms are “too complicated” to have evolved — but you can’t provide an actual theoretical method to distinguish and define them.

    And “specified complexity” won’t wash, because no-one can even define what that phrase means (other than as a 40 dollar synonym for “really too complicated”).

    There’s nothing there, and never was, and, I’m willing to bet, never can be — because the ultimate effort is to prove the unprovable; to show the supernatural as natural. That’s a blatant and fundamental contradiction in terms.

  79. #79 Owlmirror
    February 14, 2008

    Is Jim trying to restart that umpty-hundred-post thread from last fall,

    Assuming it’s the same Jim — well, remember the Zamboni of time.

  80. #80 Jim
    February 14, 2008

    386sx: “Nothing silly about it. It could just as easily be all or any of those gods as it could be the Christian god.”

    Lots of mature adults take the Christian God seriously, but I dare say that no mature adult takes the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Supreme Squid seriously. If you want to argue (as you apparently do) that design in the biosphere could just as easily be the handiwork of the Supreme Squid as it is the handiwork of the Christian God, you shouldn’t be surprised if most people think you’re being silly.

    Me: “Dembski believes that the designer implicated by ID theory is ‘the Christian God’ (which is hardly surprising, given that he’s a Christian)…”

    386sx: “Yes it is surprising, because he doesn’t even know if there is a Christian god or not.”

    It shouldn’t be necessary (but apparently it is) for me to point out that believing and knowing are not the same thing.

    386sx: “Even if there were a Christian god, Dembski would have no idea about what it does or doesn’t do….It’s not that science is incompetent, it’s that the supernatural is incompetent.”

    Interesting. You claim that Dembski has no idea what God can or can’t do, but you do.

    386sx: “I would be quite skeptical about anything that the book ‘Pandas’ ‘openly admits.'”

    Have you read it? Or have you allowed others to read it and do your thinking for you? In any event, why would you be skeptical of the claim that science is incompetent to investigate the supernatural?

  81. #81 Jim
    February 14, 2008

    Me: “…the thing you’re missing is that there is no empirical or inferential trail leading from the detection of design in the biosphere to the identity of the designer.”

    Rey: “So it’s basically a worthless dead-end of a hypothesis. Nice.”

    By the standard of scientific worth you set here, Big Bang theory is worthless. Why? Because astronomers can’t identify the cause of the Big Bang. Indeed, by your standard of scientific worth, all of science is worthless. Why? Because scientists can’t identify the cause(s) of physical laws.

    Rey: “Maybe once ID brings anything substantive to the table then I’ll muster up something more substantive in response, but right now I think a sneer is adequate.”

    I’m going to speculate on the books by design theorists that you’ve read. Let me know if I’ve got it wrong. Here’s the list:

    1. None.

    If you’ve not bothered to inform yourself on ID by reading the works of its theorists, how can you know that ID brings nothing substantive to the table? (Note: You won’t acquire a familiarity with ID by reading the persistent misrepresentations of it that are so characteristic of blogs like Pharyngula.)

  82. #82 Jim
    February 14, 2008

    Owlmirror: “There’s no metric to distinguished ‘designed’ from ‘non-designed’ life. None. You’ve got nothing but a vague hunch that maybe some organisms or components of organisms are ‘too complicated’ to have evolved — but you can’t provide an actual theoretical method to distinguish and define them.”

    To characterize ID theory as “nothing but a vague hunch that maybe some organisms or components of organisms are ‘too complicated’ to have evolved” is the kind of persistent misrepresentation of design theory I mentioned above. This is the kind of thing written by poorly informed ID critics who echo and re-echo the misrepresentations of ID made by other poorly informed (or dishonest) critics. The whole purpose of ID is to develop the theoretical, logical, evidentiary, and mathematical tools needed to detect actual design in the biosphere. How successful ID will be remains to be seen, but it’s been my experience that few critics of ID deal with design theory as it is, rather they deal with the straw men they make of it. Having no interest in arguing against straw men, I’m going to bow out, with complete confidence that Pharyngula will continue to serve the browsing public by putting the sadly dogmatic condition of mainstream evolutionary biology on display.

  83. #83 Owlmirror
    February 14, 2008

    To characterize ID theory as “nothing but a vague hunch that maybe some organisms or components of organisms are ‘too complicated’ to have evolved” is the kind of persistent misrepresentation of design theory I mentioned above.

    Absolutely false. If there was anything other than a hunch, then Kitzmiller vs. Dover would not have been decided the way it was. The ID team had every opportunity to present anything resembling their so-called “theoretical, logical, evidentiary, and mathematical tools needed to detect actual design in the biosphere” to a religious Republican judge — and failed resoundingly.

    Having no interest in arguing against straw men, I’m going to bow out,

    Buh-bye. Just as a suggestion, you might try picking up a genuine book on modern biology.

    with complete confidence that Pharyngula will continue to serve the browsing public by putting the sadly dogmatic condition of mainstream evolutionary biology on display.

    Mainstream evolutionary biology has the evidence, therefore it wins.

  84. #84 MartinM
    February 14, 2008

    To characterize ID theory as “nothing but a vague hunch that maybe some organisms or components of organisms are ‘too complicated’ to have evolved” is the kind of persistent misrepresentation of design theory I mentioned above. This is the kind of thing written by poorly informed ID critics who echo and re-echo the misrepresentations of ID made by other poorly informed (or dishonest) critics. The whole purpose of ID is to develop the theoretical, logical, evidentiary, and mathematical tools needed to detect actual design in the biosphere. How successful ID will be remains to be seen, but it’s been my experience that few critics of ID deal with design theory as it is, rather they deal with the straw men they make of it.

    Right. So there’s a coherent body of ID work worth engaging with…but you’re not going to tell us what it is. And you have the gall to accuse us of promulgating dogma.

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