Debating “intelligent design”

A site called Opposingviews.com has asked the question: Does intelligent design have merit?

Defending the proposition that it does, the Disco. Inst. responds officially and through two sockpuppets: Michael Behe, and Jay Richards (both Disco. fellows). Taking the position that it doesn’t, we’ve got the National Center for Science Education, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and (of all places) the Ayn Rand Center or Individual Rights.

When we were approached about posting to the site, the administrators suggested having 3-4 responses of 300-400 words each. Of course, the Disco. Inst. responded with 6 posts, each several thousand words long. To think that I felt bad when NCSE’s responses clocked in closer to 500 words than to 300.

In any event, there’s a poll and a bunch of creationist claptrap in the comments. Not surprisingly, the Disco. Inst. has been unable to formulate any response to NCSE’s points yet. To my eye, our statements anticipated most of the claims made by Disco., leaving little point in even posting official rebuttals.

If you’d like to see how this plays out, click through and see what’s what.

Comments

  1. #1 FtK
    September 12, 2008

    Josh, what in the heck are you smoking?

    The DI actually posted articles about *science*, they refered to dozens of additional articles in their notes, and they point out the ridiculous fallacies of the “religion” card that the NCSE uses on a consistent basis. The DI points out the blatant hypocrisy of that angle.

    There are *NO* rebuttals to the DI’s articles. You might have noticed that Casey thoroughly crushed the NCSE’s hypocritical claim that ID is merely a religious argument in one of his articles.

  2. #2 BobC
    September 12, 2008

    FtK is a creationist retard and a liar for Jebus.

    ID means supernatural magic. No idea could be more religious and idiotic.

  3. #3 FtK
    September 12, 2008

    LOL! Typical.

    I swear to God that activists for Darwin talk more about religion and Jesus than IDists do on any given day.

    The NSCE, AU, and ARC certainly prove that over at Opposing Views. While the DI talks science, they are all blathering on about religion.

  4. #4 Shane Kretky
    September 12, 2008

    Actually, in this case FtK is correct. The DI actually posted articles about “science”, not science.

  5. #5 James F
    September 13, 2008

    Josh,

    Speaking as an NCSE member and donor, I urge you to hit them much, much harder. While it’s useful to cite the official statements of groups like the AAAS, the crux of ID’s lack of scientific merit is the lack of data supporting ID in peer-reviewed scientific research papers. A concept that has failed to produce a body of research simply fails to qualify to be part of a science curriculum. Furthermore, ID relies on supernatural (or otherwise untestable) causation, placing it outside the realm of science. Since there is no secular reason that ID should be taught as science, it also fails the Lemon Test. The arguments right now correctly frame the ID proponents as a tiny minority with creationist tactics, but you have to negate the claim that they have any sort of valid scientific argument. They can be given no quarter on this.

  6. #6 tm61
    September 13, 2008

    FtK says:
    I swear to God that activists for Darwin talk more about religion and Jesus than IDists do on any given day.
    Which is what you would expect: ID/Creationism activists are trying to hide the fact that they’re trying to force religion into science classes.

  7. #7 Joe
    September 13, 2008

    Why do you say “of all places” the Ayn Rand Center? Ayn Rand and Objectivists are the greatest and most consistent advocates of reason and science in the history of man.

  8. #8 tfagan
    September 13, 2008

    Response to Joshua Rosenau;
    I have read all the responses on Opposingview.com
    And have noticed that the group sighting scientific
    evidence is the ID group and the group that is sighting
    slogans and unscientific evidence is the Darwinists.
    Based on what I have read it seems that the
    Darwinists have a serious problem. They seem
    the think that Darwin’s theory of evolution has
    seniority and thus is above question. The part
    that shocks me most is the constant use of
    variation within a species (breeding/micro-evolution)
    being used to somehow explain Macro-evolution.
    All they would have to do is provide verifiable
    proof that one species can by small or large
    mutations change into a different species. (Such
    as a fruit fly into a bee or a plant.) Certainly after
    150 years evolutionists can provide a verifiable
    example that can be duplicated by other scientists.
    Of course we all know no such proof exists.
    There is more scientific evidence in ID theory than
    there is for Darwinian evolution when considering
    macro-evolution. An example of the type of
    proof offered by evolutionist is that old Miller
    experiment where dust, water and lightning was
    used to create life in a test tube. Sounds good
    but of course it didn’t work. I would suggest
    That you (Joshua) spend some time studying ID
    because as I read it your field is about to be burned.
    tfagan

  9. #9 Albatrossity
    September 14, 2008

    tfagan – it’s “cited”, not “sighted” And that’s just the beginning of your errors.

    FtK, per usual, puts on her +11 goggles of incredulity when viewing anything Luskin wrote. A thinking person needs to get no further than the first sentence of his bloviating, which is

    “In all irreducibly complex systems in which the cause of the system is known by experience or observation, intelligent design or engineering played a role [in] the origin of the system.”

    There are two things that jump out immediately. The first is that the statement is a bald-faced lie. There are abundant examples where the cause is known (evolution) and no intelligent design needs to be invoked.

    The second is that it is an argument from analogy. Bogus.

    I urge the NCSE, of which I am also a member, to blast these bozos with everything available.

  10. #10 Casey Luskin
    September 14, 2008

    Josh wrote: “Not surprisingly, the Disco. Inst. has been unable to formulate any response to NCSE’s points yet. To my eye, our statements anticipated most of the claims made by Disco., leaving little point in even posting official rebuttals.”

    Hi Josh,

    Can’t we have a civil debate here without you resorting to these kinds of taunts? For the record, I pulled an all-nighter completing my responses to the NCSE’s opening statements (as well as AUSCS’s, and The Ayn Rand Institute’s opening statements) all last Monday night–the same night the opening statements were first posted. Moreover, I know that you are bluffing about not responding because one of the staffers at OpposingViews.com told me a few days ago me via e-mail that the NCSE said it is working on rebuttals.

    If you’ll notice, I’ve been posting my rebuttals to the critics sequentially. All my rebuttals to AUSCS were posted on Wednesday, and then all my rebuttals to The Ayn Rand Institute went up on Friday. Since I have a life and a very busy day job, I haven’t yet had time to convert all of my long rebuttals to the NCSE into HTML format and post them yet. But it will happen soon.

    I won’t taunt you by saying “you might want to get to work on rebuttals” because I’m pretty sure you are already doing that. Besides, if you didn’t post rebuttals, that wouldn’t be much fun.

    In any case, I’m off for a fun day trip for the rest of the day here, but I look forward to our continuing debate next week, which I hope you can participate in without the taunting, etc. It has been fun and I look forward to meeting you and having further exchanges in October as well. Can I buy you a beer when we’re at WWU?

    Sincerely,

    Casey Luskin
    cluskin@discovery.org

  11. #11 FtK
    September 14, 2008

    Hey…Casey’s here! Hi, Casey!

    [waves enthusiastically]

    Great job over at Opposing views. Hopefully, Josh -n- crew will post some responses to your articles soon.

    Oh, and I hope the two of you have that beer together. I’ve met Josh…nice guy in person. Now, his writing style, OTOH, leaves a bit to be desired in the *nice* department.

    But then, who am I to talk….*wink*

  12. #12 Albatrossity
    September 14, 2008

    I’m sure that Casey does have a “very busy day job”. It takes a lot of effort to constantly lie for Jesus. I hope that at least the pay is good…

  13. #13 Joe Mc//Faul
    September 14, 2008

    “Can’t we have a civil debate here without you resorting to these kinds of taunts?”

    Casey–Are you the same Casey Luskin that that constantly uses “Darwinst” as a slur at Evolution News & Views?

    Are you the same Casey Luskin, attorney at law, that stood by silently while EN&V attacked the integrity of a sitting United States District Court Judge?

    If you are, then the answer to your question is, “We can have a civil debate with you when you start acting civilly yourself.”

    Her’s a direct question: Do you agree with Michael Behe that humans and other living primates all descended from a common ancestor?

  14. #14 ERV
    September 14, 2008

    Can’t we have a civil debate here without you resorting to these kinds of taunts?

    Wut?

  15. #15 Josh Rosenau
    September 15, 2008

    Casey, while the folks at OV.com and I did talk about posting a rebuttal, I didn’t promise that we would do so, and honestly am not sure you managed to say anything which we didn’t anticipate in our posts.

    As for “responding sequentially,” the order on the screen is: NCSE, AU, ARC. You responded to AU, then the ARC, skipping NCSE.

    I look forward to WWU also, and will gladly join you for a beer.

  16. #16 ERV
    September 15, 2008

    heh. I just read through LiLos comments. I dont understand… he didnt mention HIV at all? I just dont understand why he wouldnt bring that topic up? Hmm, Im so confused! I mean he was so excited about HIV when he wrote ‘Edge’, why doesnt he talk about it anymore? Thats so odd…

  17. #17 megan
    September 15, 2008

    you know what one of my favorite pieces of journalism ever was (is that a sentence?)?
    National Geographic’s feature article “Was Darwin Wrong?”

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0411/feature1/fulltext.html

    It is much better in print, where the big graphic “NO!” and pictures add to the text. But I thought it did a great job of explaining the gist of things for Joe and Jill Public.

  18. #18 Casey Luskin
    September 15, 2008

    Hi Josh,

    Thanks for your kind reply. Of course you have right to choose to post rebuttals, or not to post rebuttals, as you see fit. But I just want to get one thing clear:

    If DI fails to post rebuttals (which won’t happen) you’re suggesting that means DI is “unable to formulate any response to NCSE’s points.” But if NCSE fails to post rebuttals, we’re supposed to believe that simply means that your opening statements “anticipated most of the claims made by Disco” and therefore there’s “little point in even posting official rebuttals.”

    I don’t say any of this to taunt, but did I get that right? If so, that sure sounds like a self-serving double-standard to me.

    Sadly–and I do not blame you for this, Josh–this brief exchange has reminded me why I typically do not participate in discussions on venues like Scienceblogs: I make one comment, and immediately become subjected to accusations that I “lie for Jesus” (based upon wildly false accounts of events where my accusers admit they were drunk and lying, no less!), assertions that I have used a “slur” (because of the non-newsworthy fact I have used a term that is frequently used in scientific journals), and people post links to weird pictures of me.

    As an undergrad at UCSD, I co-founded the IDEA Club hoping to create a venue where people of all viewpoints could have friendly discussion about intelligent design and evolution. I still hope for a time when such debate is commonplace. Unfortunately, I have found that it is not easy to find ID-critics who desire that same thing: either they don’t want the discussion to be friendly, or they don’t want to engage in debate at all. I can personally forgive your commenters for how they have treated me, but that doesn’t mean that I am not saddened by their behavior and what it does to this debate.

    In any case, I sense that you are at least a little bit different from many of the others. It will be nice to meet you in person at WWU and grab a drink. Perhaps we can talk about why these behaviors listed above are so prevalent among ID’s critics–I’d be interested in your take on these things.

    Thanks again and take care.

    Casey

    p.s. When I said “sequentially,” I had in mind degree of participation in the debate. (AUSCS had 2 posts, so I rebutted them first; Ayn Rand Institute had 4 posts so I rebutted them next, and NCSE had 5 posts…). I have just been rebutting the quickest and easiest stuff first and moving up the scale.

  19. #19 Reginald
    September 16, 2008

    Ah it looks like the creationist sockpuppets are out in full force with the “I AM A CASUAL OBSERVER LET ME LOOK… OH WOW THOSE DARWINISTS SURE ARE IN TROUBL!” attacks.

  20. #20 Scotty B
    September 16, 2008

    This is where we need one of those web pages:

    Doesintelligentdesignhavemerit.com

    …and the screen just shows a big No.

  21. #21 Albatrossity
    September 16, 2008

    Casey wonders: Perhaps we can talk about why these behaviors listed above are so prevalent among ID’s critics–I’d be interested in your take on these things.

    Here’s a clue, Casey. As you should have learned in law school, and should have learned in your MS program, lying is bad. Scientists in particular react to lying with some vehemence, since progress in science absolutely depends on being confident that your colleagues are telling the truth about what they observe.

    The DI in general, and you in particular, seem to think that lying is OK if it gets you what you want. Your first sentence in your first post at the Opposing Views site is a lie. Quoting Meyer (another liar), you write
    “In all irreducibly complex systems in which the cause of the system is known by experience or observation, intelligent design or engineering played a role [in] the origin of the system.”

    You know, from painful experience, that there are plenty of examples of systems which the DI’s liars have labeled “irreducibly complex” for which there is a perfectly good evolutionary explanation. You should know, from law school if nowhere else, that this statement is a bogus argument from analogy.

    So here’s a hint about how to stop the invective that you see being hurled your way. Stop lying about science.

    You’re welcome.

  22. #22 Albatrossity
    September 16, 2008

    Casey wonders: Perhaps we can talk about why these behaviors listed above are so prevalent among ID’s critics–I’d be interested in your take on these things.

    Here’s a clue, Casey. As you should have learned in law school, and should have learned in your MS program, lying is bad. Scientists in particular react to lying with some vehemence, since progress in science absolutely depends on being confident that your colleagues are telling the truth about what they observe.

    The DI in general, and you in particular, seem to think that lying is OK if it gets you what you want. Your first sentence in your first post at the Opposing Views site is a lie. Quoting Meyer (another liar), you write
    “In all irreducibly complex systems in which the cause of the system is known by experience or observation, intelligent design or engineering played a role [in] the origin of the system.”

    You know, from painful experience, that there are plenty of examples of systems which the DI’s liars have labeled “irreducibly complex” for which there is a perfectly good evolutionary explanation. You should know, from law school if nowhere else, that this statement is a bogus argument from analogy.

    So here’s a hint about how to stop the invective that you see being hurled your way. Stop lying about science.

    You’re welcome.

  23. #23 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 16, 2008

    I am sure that there would be a more open debate if Evolution News and Views were open to commenters.

  24. #24 Josh Rosenau
    September 16, 2008

    Casey, I believe ERV posted that photo of you because you’d gone after her with a copyright complaint for using it in the past. I suspect, though I can’t know for sure without asking, that this is an implied criticism of your call for “civil debate.” The only way to know for sure would be for someone, perhaps you, to politely ask, then address the points raised. That is how civil debate works. Not, I emphasize, through offhanded dismissal. I note only in passing that you have not actually refuted (or even denied) the account of those “drunk and lying” young women. Surely the important thing is the claim, not the source of the claim.

    On this blog, I speak only for myself, not for NCSE. So I can only say why I’m not champing at the bit to post rebuttals. I see nothing in what the ID side posted that we didn’t anticipate, and I’ve got better things to do with my time than to repeat myself endlessly in an effort to rebut claims which have been rebutted long ago.

    Jay Richards seems to have come to the same conclusion, as he has posted no rebuttals. Behe’s position seems ambigious, his rebuttal of only one point leaving some question about whether that was his only complaint, or whether he just got bored with the enterprise. I therefore have no particular hypothesis about whether they could formulate rebuttals and decided not to, or if they are unable to respond to our points.

    Disco. has clearly decided to rebut things, and the failure thus far to address what NCSE wrote strikes me as interesting. Maybe my proposed explanations are off-target. My suspicions have the advantage, however, of being testable. You will or will not post responses, and they will or will not adequately address the straightforward issues we raised.

    Contrasts between these testable claim and those of ID creationism are, I hope, obvious.

  25. #25 olegt
    September 16, 2008

    Frankly, I don’t see the point of these debates. Science isn’t settled by formal arguments. The usefulness of a theoretical idea is tested in a lab. I haven’t heard of any breakthroughs at the Biological Institute yet. Debates are a cheap way to score PR points.

  26. #26 Casey Luskin
    September 18, 2008

    Hi Josh,

    Greetings again. After much fruitless toiling with OV.com’s obstinate footnoting interface, I posted my rebuttals to the NCSE’s opening statements on OpposingViews.com late last night. But that’s not why I’m writing–I wanted to respond to some of your prior comments here.

    Regarding the “drunk and lying” young women (those were their words to describe themselves–see here, “we were both drunk and lying”), I’m genuinely surprised and saddened that you continue to give this situation credence and feel that a refutation is needed. I would hope that you and I have better things to do with our time than to discuss these kinds of things.

    But if you seek a “refutation,” I will give you one not because I feel it is owed or necessary, but because I seek an amicable, respectful, and friendly acquaintance with you and I want to honor your request: On September 8th I sent one of the two girls a private e-mail refuting her account (which you can read, because she apparently posted that e-mail here). So your claim that I have not “denied” their account is very mistaken. So it’s a he-said / she-said situation. You can believe who you wish: the party who admitted they were “drunk and lying” throughout the entire episode and then proceeded to call me and my co-workers names like “dumb,” “angry tank,” “deranged,” “backwards, nearly illiterate, dangerous fundamentalist,” “scary,” “full of shit,” etc., or the party who took time out of his busy day to speak with two visitors, gave them free materials, showed them kindness, and then said “I forgive you” (see my e-mail) after they publicly stated many of the above quoted personal attacks against him. I am at complete peace about the situation
    - the only valid criticism of my rebuttal they made was that I apparently got the name of a restaurant wrong;
    - I have done no wrongs against these women;
    - their agenda is clear;
    - and fair-minded readers will easily see which party is being truthful.
    I’ve answered your request. There’s no reason to discussing their ruse further other than for you to answer valid question I pose to you at the end of this comment.

    Also, for the record, regarding ERV, to my knowledge I have never initiated any correspondence with ERV nor did I ever “go after her” for any copyright claim. Again, you are mistaken about that situation. I did once ask someone else to remove a picture of me that I owned from his website. I did it privately and nicely. He proceeded to forward my e-mail to ERV, who had no business in the situation, who then proceeded to blog about it, seeking scandal where there was none, and then posted further pictures of me with the apparent intent to mock me. Apparently the Darwinist paparazzi do exist! :)

    But I’d like to end this comment on a positive note: There have been many false and malicious things said against me in attempts to attack my character on the internet. You may not fully understand what that is like because you are on the side to which these attackers belong (even though you don’t necessarily behave like them). If you hold preconceived negative judgments about me, then you are the victim of their strategy, because you don’t really know me. As for me, I’m withholding judgment about you until I meet you in person–but I have high hopes. I suspect that you have far more in common with me than you have with people who invent scandals because they delight in character assassination–and I hope that our beer confirms that fact!

    But perhaps you can help confirm my suspicions before our beer by answering a couple questions: What do you think of the fact that these girls lied and then called me, “dumb,” “deranged,” “backwards, nearly illiterate, dangerous fundamentalist,” “scary,” “full of shit”? Also, what do you think of the fact that ERV posted weird pictures of me for the purpose of mocking me? What about the commenter who said that I “lied for Jesus”–given that you continued his line of inquiry about the DI visitors, do you defend his behavior? I look forward to your response.

    Sincerely,

    Casey

  27. #27 Josh Rosenau
    September 18, 2008

    Casey, I can’t speak for those girls, nor for anyone else. We are each responsible for our own actions. As you say, the situation is a he-said/she-said/she-said. They are clearly entitled to their opinions, but I assure you I will base my opinion of you only on first-hand experience.

    I don’t think ERV posted that picture to mock you, I think she posted it to challenge your claim to desire a “civil debate.” But then, I can’t know what her intentions were. If you’re curious, I encourage you to ask her before leveling wild accusations and imputing motives to her.

    I don’t see how I “continued his line of inquiry,” except to note that your defense against the girls was an ad hominem, not an actual refutation. I haven’t accused you of lying, nor do I encourage others to do so. An accusation of lying requires an intent to deceive, when the issue may simply be divergent recollections. Even if your recollection is wrong, that may not be a lie. And a slip of the tongue from “country club conservative” to “country club christian” wouldn’t be that hard. It needn’t even have been Freudian on your part. I can’t judge the truth of the situation, let alone your intentions.

    I look forward to reading your OV.com responses.

  28. #28 megalonyx
    September 19, 2008

    It’s a tad remarkable to find herein posted comments by the redoubtable Mr. Casey Luskin — whose own blog at the Discovery Institute has no facilities for comments. Well, propagandists are not interested in dialogue.

    It would be both interesting (but alas, rather unlikely) to have Mr. Luskin explain how he can with a straight face argue that ‘Intelligent Design’ is not at all the same as Creationism when the Discovery Institute, prior to the re-branding exercise that gave us ID, used to include links to some extremely whacky Young Earth Creationist websites.

  29. #29 James F
    September 20, 2008

    I would greatly appreciate it if Mr. Luskin would answer the following question. Why is there a complete lack of data in support of ID in peer-reviewed scientific research papers? Is it:

    1) ID isn’t science.

    2) There is a vast global conspiracy suppressing ID.

    3) ID is valid, but its proponents are utterly incompetent at doing research.

    There may be other options I’m overlooking, but when pressed, the ID supporters who have answered my query thus far have all chosen answer 2.