ID and Orwell

The more I observe the ID public relations effort, the more I come to think of it as the Ministry of Truth from 1984, busily editing old newspapers and magazines to remove inconvenient statements and facts that might undermine their current accepted history. Time and again we come across a statement by one ID advocate that says one thing, then later on another ID advocate claims that iD advocates have never said what the first one said. But of course, this is not Oceania, it is America and we can still consult the unaltered archives of history to prove them wrong. Let me give you a textbook example.

Casey Luskin, in writing about Pennock's testimony in the Dover trial on the MiniTrue's blog, says the following:

Proponents of ID clearly state that the scientific theory of ID cannot determine if the designer was natural or supernatural.

In order to make this stick, he's gonna have to erase a few statements from ID advocates that show it to be false. For instance, William Dembski - perhaps the most prominent proponent of ID - has written:

The complexity-specification criterion demonstrates that design pervades cosmology and biology. Moreover, it is a transcendent design, not reducible to the physical world. Indeed, no intelligent agent who is strictly physical could have presided over the origin of the universe or the origin of life.

The complexity-specification criterion he refers to here is the means by which he proposes to determine whether a given object, whether the universe itself or an organism within it, is "intelligently designed." But Dembski admits here that no physical agent could be responsible for such design. The designer must, in fact, be supernatural. Indeed, the mere fact that ID advocates spend so much time attacking "naturalism" is proof that the "intelligent designer" must be supernatural; if the intelligent designer were natural, then there is no need to attack naturalism at all because inquiry into the actions of a natural designer are well within the boundaries of science.

Luskin is also going to have to erase the DI's own definition of intelligent design from their "Top Questions FAQ", which defines ID as:

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

As I've written many times, without answer from any ID advocate, their own definition combines biological ID with cosmological ID, which means the designer is responsible not only for living things, but for creating the universe itself. The DI's writings on cosmological ID make clear that when they say "certain features of the universe", they mean the nature of the universe itself - the nature of nature. This pretty much closes the door on their mantra-like citation of aliens or other living things as possible "intelligent designers". If the argument is that the universe was designed with the ability to sustain life, invoking alien life as an explanation is clearly absurd - alien life would be an effect of that universal design, just as human life is, not a cause of it.

The same thing is true of what is going on at this trial regarding the book Of Pandas and People. If you're trying to show that intelligent design is not the same as creation, it's mighty inconvenient that the draft version of the very textbook that the school board recommended to students gave the very same definition of creation that was used in the final version for intelligent design. If this were Oceania, they could simply go back and erase that earlier version and pretend it never existed. They're still playing pretend, of course, but because this is America 2005 and not Oceania 1984, we've got the goods to catch them at it.

More like this

John West, associate director of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, has replied to my "fulminating" essay, posted to Dispatches, In the Agora and the Panda's Thumb, on ID and "divine design". You'll recall that Mr. West had claimed that he and his fellow…
Casey Luskin is back with a brand new dance, a tap dance around all those pesky little previous statements by ID advocates that come back to haunt them every time they try and claim that the "intelligent designer" doesn't have to be supernatural. He's complaining that a news article referred to the…
On his blog, William Dembski is trying once again to argue that the intelligent designer need not be God: Everyone knows he doesn't mean it, of course, but this is the pretense that they must maintain for purposes of their legal strategy. Unfortunately, their own words keep tripping them up in the…
Here's another excellent resource for timely updates on the Dover trial. The ACLU of Pennsylvania has set up a blog with frequent updates on what is going on in the courtroom. Jonathan Witt of the Discovery Institute is also blogging live from the trial on the DI blog. His post on Ken Miller's…

Um, I have to tell you.

I read Orwell's 1984 when I as a teenager in the 1960s.

I also saw Richard Burton's 1984 movie in the early 1980s.

I have to tell you, reading the book and watching the Burton movie are two of the most frightening things that I have ever read or seen.

Orwell said that he writing about socialism, but it is fairly clear that he was actually writing about forced conformity, and the power of government to conform history to their message. Such as that induced by more than a few conservative establishments of religion.

raj wrote:

Orwell said that he writing about socialism, but it is fairly clear that he was actually writing about forced conformity, and the power of government to conform history to their message. Such as that induced by more than a few conservative establishments of religion.

I have no doubt that Orwell would agree and would say that both systems crush the human spirit. One of the many books on my "to read" list is Hitchens' biography of Orwell, which came out a couple of years ago and got brilliant reviews.

For an interesting piece on Orwell and Churchill, read:

A History of Britain III: The Fate of Empire 1776-2001 Simon Schama

Won't take long - you can do it in the bookstore!

By MidnightVoice (not verified) on 11 Oct 2005 #permalink