They're at it again...

Intelligent design has to be one of the most boring concepts I've ever had the displeasure to be acquainted with. When I first heard about it I thought it was nuts, but at least it was interesting. Two years later I've tired of hearing shrill arguments about how "Big Science" and the "Darwinian orthodoxy" are persecuting the poor creationists, killing puppies, making Jesus cry, etc. Indeed, William Paley argued for design much more eloquently and coherently in Natural Theology, a book that if often referenced but has seldom been read (especially by the intelligent design camp. Paley's book is their On the Origin of Species even if they do not recognize it as such.)

The latest snooze-fest is brought to you courtesy of a new magazine called Salvo (you've got to love that militant, religious language), a periodical that is presently featuring an arm-waving, revisionist history of the significance of micro-creationism*. If that weren't enough, there's supplemental material in which Michael Egnor is upset that bloggers don't think highly of him, Larry Caldwell demonstrates that he doesn't know the difference between fact and theory, and Casey Luskin says that ID cannot be squashed by kicking it out public schools (even though that seems to be the only thing creationists of his ilk are concerned with).

There's nothing new in any of the articles; there's the same misinformation, distortion, and self-congratulatory comments, and it's difficult to pay attention to the same yammerings that we have been hearing for years. I won't worry too much about it, though. Within a year or so it'll be defunct, much like Overwhelming Evidence, although I'm sure that some new irritating publication will take its place.

*I know this term isn't in popular usage, but I feel compelled to use it every now and again for shady creationists who engage in a lot of goal-post shifting and make plenty of inane proclamations about what is or is not designed (as opposed to the YEC camp, or macro-creationists, who are at least up front that in their view science must bow before their faith).

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So you just stifle any challenges to your blog posts? I'm so disappointed, "thinking blogger." At least engage the ideas of the articles in Salvo. To what do you object, specificially?

What parts are arm-waving, "intellectual blogger"? What is revisionist? Where have you gone, "thinking blogger"?

It has gotten less interesting. The ID community doesn't do experiments, they don't publish research, their own 'journal' (PCID) went defunct years ago. They're not even trying anymore. All they do is whine on the internet. And the people at the top sell books to the rubes at the bottom. And that's about it.

"Within a year or so it'll be defunct, much like Overwhelming Evidence"

Overwhelming Evidence was amazing. Creating a website for teenagers to gather in order to talk smack about Federal Judge John Jones is one of the stupidest ideas in the history of mankind. No wonder William Dembski had it.

"The ID community doesn't do experiments, they don't publish research."

I don't know anything about the journal, but research is being done. ID advocates examine designed systems (using information theory) to determine what constitutes design. They then apply their findings to the natural world. Without speculating as to who---or what---does the desigining, they locate biological structures that exhibit the same qualities as designed structures, things that resemble the proverbial "watch in the desert." Since such apparently designed structures exist---even Richard Dawkins admits this---they naturally assume that there's an intelligence behind such design rather than assume that there's not (which makes no sense whatsoever).

As for publishing, the ID folk are kind of in a bind here. ID is not considered science by the scientific naturalist community---a priori, mind you---so no one (read: the journals that take scientific naturalism as a given) will publish them. And then they are accused of not being published. What's a truth seeker to do?

I would really encourage you to purchase this issue of Salvo. Perhaps you could do so out of intellectual curiosity alone.

Big Science makes the baby Jesus cry. Get it straight. ;) This term is tossed around by recovering (and devout) Catholics. Why it needs to be the baby Jesus, I do not know.

I confess I haven't been following the ID closely enough to know when they have a new publication. Frankly, I don't find it worthwhile to attempt to argue with the staunch supporters of ID or YEC or any of the rest of it. Nothing I say will change their minds. I can explain the concepts of scientific reasoning and untestable hypotheses until I'm blue in the face and it won't make a bit of difference.

And vice-versa, Elisabeth. Us ID supporters try to get honest dialogue whenever we can, but the scientific naturalists won't submit to either scientifc reasoning or testable hypotheses. All they want to do is dismiss us as Creationists. Go figure.

I don't know anything about the journal, but research is being done. ID advocates examine paintings (using information theory) to determine what constitutes the face of the Virgin Mary. They then apply their findings to the natural world. Without speculating as to who---or what---does the image production, they locate tortillas or grilled cheese sandwiches that exhibit the same qualities as the painted portraits, things that resemble the proverbial "woman in the veil." Since such faces of the Virgin Mary do appear in grilled cheese sandwiches---even Richard Dawkins admits this---they naturally assume that there's an intelligence behind such apparitions rather than assume that there's not (which makes no sense whatsoever).

By H. Humbert (not verified) on 13 Feb 2008 #permalink

Chewie; I don't delete reasonable arguments, questions, or critiques. I don't have much tolerance for trolls, though, and your first comment was just a sarcastic one-off. There was no reason to keep it. I still think you've got it wrong about ID, but since the discourse has evolved (even though it's only a little), I'll leave the rest of your comments up.

I wrote this post as a one-off to tell other science bloggers about Salvo. I don't have to re-invent the wheel every time a new ID publication comes out, especially since there is nothing at all new about the Salvo article. I'll write up a more specific critique when I have time, but being that this blog is generally read by those familiar with creationism I figured they would recognize the same names and the old arguments. Perhaps I went too far in such an assumption so when I have a moment I'll explain why the Salvo article is just more of the same junk that we've been hearing for years.

As for ID research, the DI and others have been saying that there's research going on for years but nothing has yet surfaced. If I remember correctly, the first part of the famous Wedge strategy of the 90's was to carry out research, but the DI went and engaged in the publicity aspects first and seems to be engaged in "ID awareness" full-time. A few ID figureheads have published papers, but they've either been irrelevant to ID, have been panned by scientists, or involved "special favors" like in the Sternberg case. At this point "There's research being done," holds little meaning. When this supposedly amazing research comes out, then we'll have something to discuss, but it seems to me that the figureheads of the movement are far more concerned with PR, public-school controversies, and published popular books than research.

There has been some ID research attempted (sort of), as reported by Daniel R. Brooks in his article, "ID: Intelligent Design as Imitatio Dei (report on the 2007 'Wistar Retrospective Symposium')" at the Panda's Thumb. Ann Gauger, a microbiologist and employee of the Biologic Institute, gave a presentation at the Discovery Institute's faux "symposium":

... during which she discussed "leaky growth," in microbial colonies at high densities, leading to horizontal transfer of genetic information, and announced that under such conditions she had actually found a novel variant that seemed to lead to enhanced colony growth. Gunther Wagner said, "So, a beneficial mutation happened right in your lab?" at which point the moderator halted questioning. We shuffled off for a coffee break with the admission hanging in the air that natural processes could not only produce new information, they could produce beneficial new information.


Mr Pieret, I'll have you know that incident never happened, it's all a lie spread by the proto-neo-crypto-darwinian-fifth-columnists! ;)

I guess in this string of comments we learned why all Chewie's lines in the Starwars films were replaced with, wookie noises.


Thanks for reviewing my article in Salvo. Salvo's current ID edition is a must read for any Darwinist open minded enough to want to read the ID side of the evolution debate.

Larry Caldwell

By Larry Caldwell (not verified) on 23 Feb 2008 #permalink