This Week in Intelligent Design – 13/04/11

Intelligent design news from the 6th of April to the 13th of April, 2011.

This week was fairly interesting with regards to the online ID movement. However, it wasn’t a great week for author diversity. Yes, all the posts I’ll be talking about were written by Casey Luskin, everyone’s favourite non-scientist attorney. What I want to know is: how does he find the time to write so much? Surely his work as Program Officer in Public Policy & Legal Affairs at the Discovery Institute occupies much of his time, so where does all of this time come from to discuss so many different topics relating to ID? As a full-time student I barely have enough time to scrape this together every week… (And I’ve been sick and quite busy, which is why this post is a day late, I apologise.)

Anyway, this week’s posts are about Lynn Margulis and academic “status”, the Tennesse academic freedom bill and language in biology. Let’s get into it.

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As I mentioned above, all of this week’s posts are by Casey Luskin. At least we know who he is. The first point of order is a piece about a recent interview Discover Magazine ran with controversial evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis, well-known as both the scientist behind the endosymbiotic theory of mitochondria and chloroplasts, and as the ex-wife of the late science communicator Carl Sagan. Of course, Casey loves Margulis’s anti-Darwinian approach to evolution, but he gets a little confused about the supposed discrimination against “dissenters from neo-Darwinism”:

Are Darwin-Critics Tolerated in the Academy?
The short answer is sometimes maybe–but only if they are materialists like Margulis who openly oppose intelligent design. Even then, many anti-ID biologists feel pressured to withhold critiques of neo-Darwinism.

Nonetheless, some Darwin lobbyists have cited Margulis as evidence that one can critique the neo-Darwinian paradigm and not face opposition. Let’s consider that argument in light of her express attacks on ID.

In the interview, Margulis shares some personal experiences about whether she receives pushback due to her non-Darwinian views. She explains that “[a]nyone who is overtly critical of the foundations of his science is persona non grata. I am critical of evolutionary biology that is based on population genetics.”

[…]

In the end, however, there’s no doubt that as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Margulis is generally tolerated. Why is that?

Well, for one Margulis has made significant contributions to evolutionary thinking with her endosymbiosis hypothesis–an idea which is highly flawed–but nonetheless courts her favor with modern evolutionary biologists.

But when critics of the Darwinian paradigm like Margulis are tolerated, it’s because they wholly reject intelligent design and believe that unguided material causes built all of life’s complexity. They don’t threaten the core materialism of neo-Darwinism, making it unsurprising that they have experienced no persecution. Rejecting ID and embracing materialism seems to be a necessary condition of being tolerated as a dissenter from neo-Darwinism.

I’ll let the “endosymbiosis is highly flawed” comment slide for now (as annoyed as that made me – it’s one of the best supported theories in evolutionary biology), because a bigger issue needs to taken care of. Casey is pretty much destroying a lot of the ID rhetoric that the Discovery Institute has been putting out for years, that rejecting Darwinism is the important bit for a scientist to have, not acceptance of ID – the Dissent from Darwin petition exemplifies this position. The debate is no longer about natural selection as a sufficient mechanism for explaining evolution, but about materialism vs. non-materialism.  Of course, ID critics have known this for years – ID literature is saturated with references to, and even arguments for, a supernatural worldview – this is merely another nail in the coffin, to use an overly-dramatic metaphor.

But Casey is, in a way, right. A scientist is more likely to be “tolerated”1 by the academic community if their ideas are at least scientific. Lynn Margulis’s ideas about evolution by symbiosis, as fringe as they are in places, can be and have been tested scientifically, to varying degrees of success. But their accuracy does not impact on their nature as fundamentally scientific ideas. Intelligent design, as you are probably aware, is not a scientific idea. As such, the status of someone who holds it up as a scientific alternative to evolutionary theory is rightly lower than someone like Margulis who has unconventional evolutionary hypotheses.

As such, materialism vs. non-materialism is quite beside the point2. It’s about science vs. non-science. Those who stick to science are (relatively) fine, and those who do not are quite rightly shunned.

———

Again, I may have to partially agree with Casey Luskin about something. I apologise. It won’t happen again, you have my word. You see, an “academic freedom” bill has just passed out of the Tennesse House – terrible news – and Casey had something to say about it:

As seen, the bill only protects instruction concerning “existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.” Evolution is part of the curriculum in every school district in every state, including Tennessee, and is covered in every high school biology course. Thus evolution comes under the bill, and when teachers teach evolution they can teach it objectively.

On the other hand, intelligent design is not presently part of the curriculum in any school district, including Tennessee, and is not covered in any biology classes in Tennessee. Thus ID does not come under the bill. (If ID were part of the curriculum in any Tennessee school district, I assure you we’d be hearing about lawsuits against that school district quite quickly.)

The bill only protects topics that are already covered in the curriculum, and it does not protect teachers that introduce entirely new theories that aren’t already part of the course curriculum. But if a theory is already covered in the curriculum, as is the case with evolution, then teachers are protected if they choose to teach the both scientific strengths and weaknesses.

In sum, if a topic is already part of the curriculum (e.g. evolution), the bill allows a teacher to cover it objectively. If it isn’t (e.g. ID), then the bill provides no protections.

This is pretty much all true. I only have issues with the semantics, of course. You see, “academic freedom” bills are fundamentally designed to disrupt the proper teaching of evolutionary biology. While they hide behind words and phrases such as “strengths and weaknesses” and “objectively”, they legitimise the activities of teachers who would teach unsupported contrary evidence against evolution in classrooms. In essence, they bypass the defined curriculum and allow teachers to do whatever they want with regards to specific subjects like evolution, about which much misinformation exists. Under one of these bills, a teacher could show an anti-evolution documentary by the Discovery Institute (one which didn’t mention ID), filled with scientific errors, and pass it off as academic freedom. The problem is obvious. Curriculums should vett the information being given to students, not individual teachers – the curriculum’s job is to let only correct information through into the teachers’ lessons.

Of course, Casey is correct that this particular bill does not allow ID to be taught in schools, and that’s good, but such bills are still a terrible idea even without the added complication of ID. Science needs to be taught objectively, but what is and isn’t objective should not be defined by the individual teacher.

———

Lastly this week, Casey talked about the removal of design-like phrases and expressions from biology, as hypothesised by Andrew Moore. Casey’s post was pretty much just grandstanding, but it raised some interesting points in my mind:

A recent article in the journal Bioessays by its editor Andrew Moore, titled “We need a new language for evolution. . . everywhere,” suggests that biologists should stop using the term “design.” According to Moore, under “Evolution old-speak” we would say, “Structure X is designed to perform…” but under “Evolution new-speak” we must simply say, “Structure X performs Y.” If there’s any doubt that Moore is worried about the intelligent design implications of the language used by biologists, consider the following passage from his article:

A banal example shows how an apparently trivial change in words can radically change perceived meaning: to accomplish metabolic process X, enzyme Y evolved a specificity for Z. In an objective scientific sense, we should phrase this as ‘in accomplishing X, Y concomitantly evolved a specificity for Z’. It is that innocent little word ‘to’ that transforms the meaning, giving enzyme Y the essence of ‘will’ – ‘to’ being short for ‘in order to’, or ‘with the purpose of’. Purpose can only be exercised by a supernatural entity in this situation.

Apparently Moore is so worried about any implications of language that might be friendly towards intelligent design that he’s unwilling to even state that any particular structure exists “to” perform some function. Clearly this shows that evolutionary thinking is taking biology into the realm of the absurd.

The language that humans use to describe reality does not change reality: describing an organism as intelligent designed does not make it so. What language is about, however, is effective communication of information and ideas. What someone says to someone else will affect how they view the world around them. As such, it could be useful for biologists to stop using expressions, when describing life, that imply some sort of design behind it all, if they don’t want to give the wrong impression. It’s surprising how many people take design-inspired language used by both scientists and laypeople as an obvious justification for intelligent design. “That tree has leaves to absorb sunlight – it has purpose, it was designed.” It sounds silly, but it’s an argument many ID critics and biologists have heard many times before.

However, perhaps this problem is not with the language biologists use, but with the understanding of evolutionary biology that most people have. Of course, due to selection being a major force in evolution, many biological structures and systems exist because they provide reproductive advantages to the organisms that have them. This advantage provides a “purpose” for those structures – it’s just not a teleological one, like I would say a car has cup holders for the purpose of making endrinkened3 passengers or drivers happy and dry. Because of this, using words such as “to” are accurate on some level. It’s only people who don’t understand that evolution by selection is an active, discriminatory process that would equate such language with design.

Evolution education should be the main priority here, not changing the biologist’s language. Once more people understand what evolution is all about and how it works, this language miscommunication should disappear. So long as biologists don’t say “X was designed for Y”…

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Rapid fire ID news!

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  1. The word is laced with authoritarian connotations, can’t you tell?
  2. Especially since I believe that ID is not synonymous with nor requires non-materialism.
  3. A word I just made up, meaning “to be in the possession of one or more drinks.

28 thoughts on “This Week in Intelligent Design – 13/04/11

  1. As I've said about all these types of bills…

    1) Good teachers teach critical thinking, analysis, and strengths and weaknesses anyway. So in that respect it's a waste of paper.
    2) ID and creationism are still religious and still can't be taught in public schools no matter what laws might be on the books. So in that respect it's a waste of paper.
    3) Creationist teachers will illegally teach creationism whether it's OK or illegal to teach anyway. They have no respect for the law. So in that respect, it's a waste of paper.

    All-in-all… a complete waste of paper and time for everyone involved. These states are just setting up a Dover Trap for some poor, stupid school district to implode on.

    BTW: I've got some very interesing abiogenesis articles I'll be blogging about as soon as I get caught up on work.

  2. A theory is as strong as the evidence which supports it. All theories regarding the development of life on the planet should be taught *in proportion to the evidence*. This disqualifies ID and all other forms of creationism. If by "weaknesses" Luskin means things which cannot (yet…) be explained by evolution, then every theory has weaknesses – why is evolution being singled out? If by weaknesses he means evidence which contradicts evolution, then he's full of crap.

  3. Reginald Selkirk

    "Are Darwin-Critics Tolerated in the Academy?…
    Nonetheless, some Darwin lobbyists have cited Margulis as evidence that one can critique the neo-Darwinian paradigm and not face opposition."

    Who (other than Luskin) has made the argument that "being tolerated" means the same as "not facing opposition"? Margulis has a tenured job at a respected university and has been tolerated to the extent of being elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, awarded teh Darwin-Wallace Medal, etc. etc. etc. Only in the mind of Casey Luskin does the receipt of such honours mean that people are not allowed to say bad things about you or oppose your positions, no matter how worthy of opposition they are. Or, to give him perhaps too much credit: he probably doesn't even believe that, but it is necessary for the construction of his strawman.

  4. We should call them what they really are: academic anarchy bills. Despite the “fairness, freedom, and critical thinking” rhetoric surrounding them, it’s quite obvious that their real underlying purpose is to remove all structure, standardization, and overview from the teaching process, so that instructors will be able to teach anything they want. And of course what the promoters really want them to teach is creationism and other pseudo-science.

    As for the last point, the real issue isn’t the teleological language itself, its the fact that there are certain parties who constantly, consistently, and deliberately twist it to their own purposes that makes use of it problematical.

  5. For the sake of a thought experiment,

    suppose the bacterial flagellum did in fact arise from a symbiogenetic coevoluion/fusion of two formerly independent organisms, say a spirochaet and some bacterium.

    The problem ist that Behe goes straight back to one quote he digged out from Darwins that says that Darwin's theory would absolutely break down if an organ existed for which it was impossible to arise by slight, gradual modifications of precursors.

    In the above thought experiment one does not get from a bacterium without flagellum towards one with flagellum unless one includes spirochaetes and symbiogenesis into the consideration (mind, this thought experiment without any claim to reality).

    It serves to show that ID advocates approach Darwin like scripture and think that if something he wrote can be shown to be wrong or not up to date anymore, then evolution is disproven. Of course some Darwinists also approach his writings like scripture, but at least they do not ingnore further advances since.

    As far as Margulis's foolhardy hypothesis on AIDS is concerned, Hamilton also had one and nobody was sneering at him for that. His idea about autumn leaf colours as signalling against aphids is also not well supported to say the least.

    Dotage seems to provide the freedom to speculate wildly and former success assures that everybody is listening.

  6. "Evolution education should be the main priority here, not changing the biologist's language."

    Exactly. The reason Moore wrote that article (and I've heard others voice the same opinion) is not because writers are terrified of readers assuming they are 'friendly' towards ID, it's because whenever they do describe something like it's designed or has purpose they put themselves at risk of being quote-mined, distorted or misrepresented by the clowns at the Discovery Institute. This sort of argument has only arisen as a direct response to the tactics of ID advocates. In a sane world it would be unnecessary to make this sort of point at all, but science literacy is so low and, as the main body of the blog points out, attempts at undermining evolution content within biology classes are being carried out all over the place in the states at the moment.

  7. Interesting to note that Denyse O'Leary, not content with dominating Uncommon Descent with her peculiar ramblings in her own name, has now taken it upon herself to be the official and eponymous dispenser of "News" with even more posts! Perhaps they are embarrassed that they can't get any real scientists to write for the blog so have to pretend there are more contributors than there really are (why don't Behe or Wells contribute I wonder?)

  8. I wholeheartedly agree with Moore that teleiological statements like "X evolved Y to Z" must be avoided (nay: eliminated! I almost wrote 'Banned', but I stop short of recommending censorship.) Such statements may be convenient shorthand, but they have caused serious misunderstandings. For example, "skunks evolved bad smell to repel predators" sounds like the skunks (or their genomes!) assembled in a moot and planned their evolutionary course. Of course this is ludicrous, but I've encountered numerous educated (evolution-believing and otherwise) people who take the statement at face value.
    (Uneducated ones, too! Just check out any (shudder) Jack Chick criticism of evolution [Tyrannosaur thinks: "I think I'll evolve another eye", grunts and a left eye emerges…])
    We as scientist have a responsibility to communicate clearly, and especially in "controversial" subjects like this, to state the concept without resorting to teliology. Unfortunately, such precision requires many more words than the shorthand. e.g., "Skunk (ancestor)s who were smellier than others of their species were less likely to be killed by predators (who were repelled by the odor) and as a consequence, the next generation of skunks was relatively enriched in smelly ones. After thousands of iterations of this contest, the population consisted only of the descendants of the smelliest." Wordy but precise. Let's not be lazy.

    D.J. Lactin

  9. "where does all of this time come from to discuss so many different topics relating to ID? As a full-time student I barely have enough time to scrape this together every week…"

    Evaluating others from the context of your own limitations is a self-defeating strategy.

  10. The way evolution can win the day is if a detailed mechanism can be definitively elucidated, say for example, for a bacterium to evolve into an amoeba. Then apply that mechanism to actually evolve an amoeba from a bacterium as an empirical verification.

    Without empirical evidence that matter can produce even the simplest living organism, and without empiricial evidence that even the simplest living organism can evolve into a higher one-celled living organism, the case for evolution as a scientific theory remains unproven. A consenses of scientists does not make it any more scientific than a simple group prejudice.

    As long as the above is not forthcoming, to state that "evolution did it" is no more valid than saying "God did it." In fact, it is less valid since we know empirically that life comes only from life, and that species produce according to their own kind. Thus the onus is on the evolutionist to prove his case against the evidence of actually observed Nature.

    Without acknowledging this basic problem evolution can expect to be challenged without reprieve and probably loose to the conception that God did do it, as the best explanation of what we observe. Life comes from life means that there must be some originating Life from which all life is generated. Species producing according to their own kind invalidates the concept of evolution of species and establishes a system of real ideas/concepts/categories at the foundation of reality.

    Physics and chemistry remain valid in the realm of inorganic matter but life will also trake the position as having an irreducible validity in Nature. Biology will become a separate and unique field for the study of life as such, with sub-brances of biochemistry, genetics, etc. This will open up science to the study of mind, consciousness and spirit, addressing the fields of most direct importance for human life, and revive a healthy interest in the philosophy of Nature.

    Can evolutionary scientists live up to the challenge? If not, they deserve to be challenged by those who have enough intelligence to see through the facade of evoloution possing as authentic science.

  11. Will said,

    "As long as the above is not forthcoming, to state that "evolution did it" is no more valid than saying "God did it." In fact, it is less valid since we know empirically that life comes only from life, and that species produce according to their own kind. Thus the onus is on the evolutionist to prove his case against the evidence of actually observed Nature."

    Fair game Will.

  12. I have a few hours to kill, so I'll spend it on addressing Will's post, if only to end the silence, which might be construed as capitulation.

    {{
    Preface: Originally, I put this at the end, but I think it should go here, in case Will does not get to the end of this [now excessively long] post:

    I present you with MY challenge:

    Explain the origin of your creator [choose whichever one you prefer]. Give details.
    }}

    Now on to my reply. Time is finite, so I'll address only some of his points. Even so, I must split it into two posts.

    1.

    The way evolution can win the day is if a detailed mechanism can be definitively elucidated, say for example, for a bacterium to evolve into an amoeba. Then apply that mechanism to actually evolve an amoeba from a bacterium as an empirical verification.

    I am amused: Are you Michael "only an annotated geneaology would convince me" Behe?

    I read this as "you can't give me all the steps, therefore it's all faith". Of course, this ignores the fact that the "bacterium" to "amoeba" transition happened a billion years ago or so, so the evidence has been obscured by the passage of time. However, much compelling evidence exists for the serial endosymbiosis hypothesis; try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endosymbiotic_theory.

    (Two fascinating examples of this type of symbiosis are Mixotricha paradoxa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixotricha_paradoxa) and Trichonympha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichonympha). They are not, of course, on the "bacterium to amoeba" line (the 'hosts' are already eukaryotes) , but present a model of how the process could have occurred.

    But while I'm on the subject: turnabout is fair play:

    If you can supply me with the names of everyone in your ancestry (both male and female) all the way back to Adam then reconstruct the garden of Eden, start again with Adam and Eve and derive yourself as an empirical verification, I will accept creationism.

    2.

    Thus the onus is on the evolutionist to prove his case against the evidence of actually observed Nature.

    Evidence of evolution is abundant. It is particularly strong in genetics, and is supported by biogeography, and (in last place) the fossil record. Spend four years earning a biology degree at a credible university.

    3.

    Life comes from life means that there must be some originating Life from which all life is generated.

    Strictly speaking, abiogenesis is not a component of evolution, which presupposes the existence of life.
    Abiogenesis is a fascinating subject, replete with ideas, but unresolved. However, not knowing does not stop us from trying to find out.

    to be continued

  13. Part 2.
    4.

    Species producing according to their own kind invalidates the concept of evolution of species

    . Before you start trotting out this old canard, you should learn at least a little bit about evolution. No evolutionist believes that evolution occurs due to an organism giving birth directly to a member of another species. In fact, if this were observed, evolution would be out the window. Simplistically put, the process of speciation involves variation and selection, such that each descendant generation has a gene pool that differs slightly from that of its parents. Iterating this contest over (many) generations MAY result in the end-point being so much different from the start-point that individuals who live at the two points are unable to interbreed, and are thus separate species. But members of any sequential pair of generations could reproduce with no difficulty. Of course, we cannot generally observe such a process directly (time scales are enormous), but we do have evidence of speciation on human timescales (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html#part5).
    Here's one example: Dobzhansky and Pavlovsky (1971) reported a speciation event that occurred in a laboratory culture of Drosophila paulistorum sometime between 1958 and 1963. The culture was descended from a single inseminated female that was captured in the Llanos of Colombia. In 1958 this strain produced fertile hybrids when crossed with conspecifics of different strains from Orinocan. From 1963 [COMMENT: in these flies, 5 years is about 250 generations] onward crosses with Orinocan strains produced only sterile males. [COMMENT: reproductive isolation = speciation] [Dobzhansky, T. 1972. Species of Drosophila: new excitement in an old field. Science. 177:664-669.]

    Dobzhansky, T. 1972. Species of Drosophila: new excitement in an old field. Science. 177:664-669.

    "Ring species" are also valuable geographic analogs of this process http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species.

    5.

    Physics and chemistry remain valid in the realm of inorganic matter…

    WTF? Here's where you truly emphasize your scientific …er … naivite. Biology IS chemistry and physics. The old artificial separation of inoganic chemistry from organic chemistry was demolished in 1828. Chemistry within cells is identical to chemistry outside them. And the laws of physics apply universally.

    6.

    Biology will become a separate and unique field for the study of life as such, with sub-brances of biochemistry, genetics, etc. This will open up science to the study of mind, consciousness and spirit, addressing the fields of most direct importance for human life, and revive a healthy interest in the philosophy of Nature.

    I have NO idea what you're trying to say here. Nor, I think, do you.

    Now I return to my regular existence.

    djl

  14. Wow. Hostility. Ad hominem attacks.

    Yet I see no substantive reply to my statements.

    @ 1. I gave you citations. Where are yours?
    @ 2. I stand by my statement.
    @ 3. "I don't know (yet)" does not equal "God did it"
    @ 4. The old "But it's still an [insert 'Kind' here]" argument Speciation IS evolution. 'nuff said.
    @ 5. The path of a living bird can be calculated using the laws of physics, just as can be the trajectory of an airplane. It's more complicated than calculating a simple ballistic trajectory (it involves lift, thrust, drag, and wing-loading ratios, and a heap of Calculus, but it's still Physics).
    @ 6. The puzzle of consciousness IS a difficult one for sure. (but see point 3).

    @ P.S. Actually, my descent from the first life form fills me with the deepest awe. I am the result of 3.5 BILLION years of unbroken reproduction. If ANY of my descendants had failed to reproduce, I would not be here. Perhaps if 1 billion years ago some wormy thing had been three centimeters to the left, it would have mated with a different wormy thing than it did, and I would not be here now. Even more proximally, consider that the sperm that made me was one of about 5 billion that my father shot into my mother one night. If any other had done the job, I would not be here (1 in 5 billion). Consider also that they got busy numerous times (at 5 billion sperm per) before ringing the bell. Maybe the odds of my being here, given that my parents EVEN MET is 1/100,000,000,000. Consider that the odds of them BOTH existing (and later meeting, etc.) is less than the square of that miniscule quantity. When I compound those infinitesimals 3.5 billion years backwards to the origin of life I can only be awestruck by the phenomenal (near-zero!) improbability of my existence.

    To me, this was a life-changing thought: My life can only be called a gift, and I have a responsibility to use my abilities to the fullest. My existence is something to be treasured more than any gem, more than anything that I can conceive. To quote a great man, in a different context: "There is grandeur in this view of life."

    Now for my P.S.: I see no answer to my question about the origin of god.

    • Good Lord! You concede you haven't got a clue concerning abiogenesis and the "puzzle of consciousness" and in the next breath you challenge Will to "Explain the origin of your creator… the origin of god"… (and) Give details"???? I find that quite oxymoronic. Will simply challenged anyone to produce some purely materialistic actual, real, workable, observable mechanism that supposedly produced all of this awe-inspiring and magnificent diverse complexity in life. I think that's fair. I may not quarrel with evolution per se but to claim that all of this awe-inspiring life is explainable by the all-mighty powers of natural selection without any intelligent input is quite a stretch for me.

      Now on the issue of God, Intellligence, Supernature. This is a very important issue and is a strong contender in the debate on ultimate origins (of the universe and life). Problem is that there are people out there who rant and scream at anyone who even suggests that perhaps the source of material reality is something, Someone, that is not matter (in another post in this site someone tried to argue the point but was just suddenly dropped). They will not even entertain the hypothesis that perhaps the source of life itself is Life and not non-life. All hell breaks erupts when these ideas are suggested–Creationist idiotic morons are trying to hijack science!!!

      I find it not a little amusing that some think along these lines, "The only intelligent view is that there is absolutely no intelligence behind all of life and reality (even though it appears quite intelligent). The most reasonable and rational position is that there is no reason and there is no rationality behind this world (even though the universe and its laws and the amazing orderly complexity of life appears pretty rational). If you are an intelligent person then you will not see intelligence." Hmmm. Interesting.

      Even the author of this site is open to the idea that perhaps "alien" intelligence seeded earth with life and may be the source of the intelligence in the structure of life on earth. Aliens? Ok. God? O god-forbid no!!! Why is that? Because creationists are stupid? Some, yes. There are also atheists who are stupid. Einstein thought so.

      “The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who–in their grudge against traditional religion as the ‘opium of the masses’–cannot hear the music of the spheres.”

      Not all for sure.

      And just because it's difficult to explain the "origin of God" it is a non sequitor to argue that this totally proves God does not exist or is not a serious contender in the search for origins. I will address this later. I posted something relevant in Jack's tentative counter-proposal on a "purely scientific" basis for a possible intelligent source for life on earth.

      Let's play fair and talk to each other. We're living in the same world. We don't kill each other for religion's sake (like the bin Ladins of the day), and we don't kill each other for anti-religious sentiments (like the Pol Pots and the Stalins). Let's search the truth. If the truth is that there is no Design then let it stand. But if the truth is that there is Design and perhaps it is not such a bad thing to open our minds to that and see where it leads.

      The Truth is out there, and the Truth is always a good thing (Intelligence or non).

  15. I believe Will used the word "logorrhea"…

    As in his response, you misinterpret mine.

    You concede you haven't got a clue concerning abiogenesis and the "puzzle of consciousness" …

    As for the first accusation, I made no such admission. Refer to my original post to Will.
    As for the second, I only said that it was a difficult problem and elided over the question because it was a red herring tossed into the blender, perhaps to deflect discussion from the theme of Will's post (roughly, "Evolution is impossible").

    But since you insist… I believe that "consciousness" (which I will define as 'self-awareness': understanding that "I" am different from "not I") is an emergent quality of a complex computational system (i.e., brain). I do not explain more fully because as I said, this topic is a red herring.

    and in the next breath you challenge Will to "Explain the origin of your creator… the origin of god"… (and) Give details"????

    I find that quite oxymoronic

    . Um, check a dictionary.

    to claim that all of this awe-inspiring life is explainable by the all-mighty powers of natural selection without any intelligent input is quite a stretch for me.

    This is the argument from incredulity.

    And just because it's difficult to explain the "origin of God" it is a non sequitor to argue that this totally proves God does not exist or is not a serious contender in the search for origins.

    "Non sequitur"? Absolutely not: it's a finger on the hollowness of the postulate that god exists:

    To clarify my reason for asking about the origin of god, let me give an example.

    Question 1:
    How did X arise?
    (Atheist) scientist: We don't know. (Possible followed by something like "but we have some ideas which may or may not be correct. Ask again in a few years".)<sup>1</sup>
    Creationist: We don't know, so God did it.

    Question 2:
    How did god arise?
    Creationist: We don't know. (or some unscrutable statement like: "He's a necessary condition for the existence of the universe.)

    My point: Postulating a deity only delays the "I don't know" response by one step; it is not an answer at all.

    Thus my challenge: Explain the origin of the deity.
    If you cannot provide an answer, then your position is untenable.

    I will address this later.

    I'm not holding my breath.

    <sup>1</sup> Some examples of such questions which have since been answered scientifically:

    What causes lightning?
    What causes earthquakes?
    What causes epidemics of cereal rust?
    What makes the sun come and go once a day?

  16. @ 1. I gave you citations. Where are yours?

    In other words, I gave my dogmatic statements, and gave references to those sources from which I get my doctrinaire teachings. This kind of circular reasoning is no more valid than the fundamentalists. A real interest in ultimate knowledgde would be familar with the writings of Plato, Kant, Hegel, Thomas, Augustine, Madhava, Ramanuja and Chaitanya.

    @ 2. I stand by my statement.

    This is called dogmatism. "I made the statement, therefore it is true. Period."

    @ 3. "I don't know (yet)" does not equal "God did it"

    How does this apply to the statement that to prove "The Sun rises in the West, etc." is a useless endeavor against what we actually observe in Nature?? This is a common sense argument. You are not ready to talk of God until you get some common sense first.

    @ 4. The old "But it's still an [insert 'Kind' here]" argument Speciation IS evolution. 'nuff said.

    If that's the way YOU define evolution, then fine. It is sometimes referred to as microevolution, or the pliable adaption of species within thier own kind that establishes their stability as a species. However, it does not support or confirm macroevolution as Darwin proposed in his "Origin of Species."

    @ 5. The path of a living bird can be calculated using the laws of physics, just as can be the trajectory of an airplane. It's more complicated than calculating a simple ballistic trajectory (it involves lift, thrust, drag, and wing-loading ratios, and a heap of Calculus, but it's still Physics).

    Where is the equation that determines where a bird will fly when it takes off from one position to land in another. The bird or any living entity has free will — just like you. Even an ant, if you put a pencil in its path, will veer in any direction unpredictable by your laws of physics. Are you so brainwashed by science that you can't understand that???

    @ 6. The puzzle of consciousness IS a difficult one for sure. (but see point 3).

    Again, God is another point. The fact that consciousness exists is to be admitted first. Then explantion of that fact can be made in earnest. What comes after consciousness is self consciousness, reason, thought and then spirit. From your molecular minded blinded perspective, these things seem not only difficult but inconceivable. You wouldn't even be able to get past the first page of Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit." But then you wouldn't even be able to get beyond the first page of a good book in quantum mechanics if you didn't have the background training in mathematics, differential equations and atomic physics.

    continued —

  17. continued —

    Now, for your PS. God is eternal and absolute truth. There is nothing more fundamental and irreducible that Person. Person is required for there to be Life. That fundamental eternal personal existence is called God from which everything else originates. If God were to originate, then we would have to call that origin God. God means that from which all else originates. And that must be thinking Person. Without thinking, and that implies Person, there would be no question of science, or referring to a world or Nature, or atoms or anything else. Where do you think all these ideas come from? They come from persons, scientists, philosophers, etc. That there is a world is an observation made by persons like youself and all of us who talk about it.

    Which came first – the person or the world. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Obviously you can't have one without the other. So to say that the world came first, is only an idea of a person. It does not solve the problem. At least we might admit that they both coexist together, and cease to exist together. But it is less difficult to understand that a rock can exist as an idea in the mind of a person, than to think that a rock can produce a person just to establish the idea of itself.

    As for the proof of God. That arises from total misunderstanding of what is meant by God. The philosophical proof can be made, and many have, but that is different from the actual realization of God.

    First, the misunderstanding is this. Do you have to ask nayone to prove that the Sun exists? Do you expect anyone to prove that your nose exists? What you already know is not necesary to prove. Likewise, an individual who knows God exists, can see God everywhere and in everything. It is not necessary to prove for such a person that God exists.

    So the point we should be asking is how to see God. Once we properly understand the simple question then the answer is also very simple. God can be known by love alone. God's true identity is never revealed to the evious or enimical. It is in fact the very nature of God's love for us to hide from such persons so they may live their lives according to their own choosing. Without such freedom, which is freely granted by God to all, there would be not question of love. Love can never be forced.

    Of course, such existence independent of God is unnatural — a special grant to those who wish to not love God or accept the supremecy of God. Those who choose that type of rebelious existence have to suffer the actions and reactions (karma) of the mundane laws of existence. When the futility and misery of such rebelious existence is understodd, then the natural constitution position of the living entity can be regained by establishing the proper loving relationship with God. Gradually in that way one can again become properly adjusted or re-linked with God. Re-liggio or religion when properly understood means just that. Yoga also means to yoke or link with God. That link is love, and by that love God may graciously be manifest to us. That's all there is to it.

    It's very scientific. Try it. Experiment with it. The only ingredient necessary is sincerity.

  18. I split this post into two. Let me respond to your second one first. I only wrote the second to demonstrate that I do not accede to any of your attempts to refute evolution.

    God is eternal and absolute truth.

    Here's clear sign of a terminally closed mind.
    This despite all of your accusations that I am dogmatic and closed-minded,
    I repeat my challenge:

    Then you follow with this:
    "There is nothing more fundamental and irreducible that Person." huh?
    "Person is required for there to be Life." huh?
    "That fundamental eternal personal existence is called God from which everything else originates." How does this follow from the previous assertions?
    "If God were to originate, then we would have to call that origin God." Yet you accuse me of using circular logic.
    "God means that from which all else originates." I could accept this; but I'd call it "The Void"
    "And that must be thinking Person." Why?
    … and the rest goes even further off the rails.

    And just a snip from the last full paragraph:

    When the futility and misery of such rebelious existence is understodd

    If you regard the PS in my second post, you will see that I see my life as neither futile nor miserable. Quite the contrary, in fact.

    Yet you still do not answer my question:
    "What is the origin of god?"

    If you cannot provide a clear answer, your position is untenable.

  19. Because I cannot leave your attempts at rebuttal unanswered:

    @ 1. I gave you citations. Where are yours?

    In other words, I gave my dogmatic statements, and gave references to those sources from which I get my doctrinaire teachings.

    No: I gave you references, which you could read and assess on their merits or lack thereof.

    This kind of circular reasoning

    The term is feedback: repeated reinforcement of initial opinion as a result of continued experimental affirmation.

    @ 2. I stand by my statement.

    This is called dogmatism. "I made the statement, therefore it is true. Period."

    Not at all: I simply said that I stand by my statement (evidence for evolution is abundant), not that I would never abandon it if presented with irrefutable evidence..

    Your accusation is amusing considering the quote that I presented at the head of the previous message.

    @ 3. "I don't know (yet)" does not equal "God did it"

    How does this apply to the statement that to prove "The Sun rises in the West, etc." is a useless endeavor against what we actually observe in Nature??

    After "life comes from matter" Your examples were so ludicrous that I just disregarded them. But the first one is not: (note, however, that life not only comes from matter, life IS matter). And yes, we do not know how life arose, but that does not mean that the question is unanswerable, and the answer certainly does not default to 'god did it'.

    @ 4. The old "But it's still an [insert 'Kind' here]" argument Speciation IS evolution. 'nuff said.

    If that's the way YOU define evolution, then fine.

    Not just me: it is actually a far more restrictive definition than is usually used (change in population gene frequencies over time).

    It is sometimes referred to as microevolution, or the pliable adaption of species within thier own kind that establishes their stability as a species. However, it does not support or confirm macroevolution as Darwin proposed in his "Origin of Species."

    (sigh… that old canard again). 'Macroevolution' (not a generally-accepted term, by the way) is just 'microevolution' iterated many times.

    @ 5. The path of a living bird can be calculated using the laws of physics, just as can be the trajectory of an airplane. It's more complicated than calculating a simple ballistic trajectory (it involves lift, thrust, drag, and wing-loading ratios, and a heap of Calculus, but it's still Physics).

    Where is the equation that determines where a bird will fly when it takes off from one position to land in another. The bird or any living entity has free will — just like you. Even an ant, if you put a pencil in its path, will veer in any direction unpredictable by your laws of physics. Are you so brainwashed by science that you can't understand that???

    Your original statement was that physics does not apply to biology. I showed that it does. Later you moved the goalposts to invoke the difference between a bird corpse and a living bird. Even when the bird is demonstrating free will, it is still exploiting the laws of physics. Can I predict its path? Probably not, but when it's flying, it's using the same physical laws that apply to inanimate objects.

    The original point was about applicability of physics to living organisms. Free will was not mentioned. You should be clearer about what you mean.

    @ 6. The puzzle of consciousness IS a difficult one for sure. (but see point 3).

    Again, God is another point. The fact that consciousness exists is to be admitted first. Then explantion of that fact can be made in earnest. What comes after consciousness is self consciousness, reason, thought and then spirit. From your molecular minded blinded perspective, these things seem not only difficult but inconceivable. You wouldn't even be able to get past the first page of Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit." But then you wouldn't even be able to get beyond the first page of a good book in quantum mechanics if you didn't have the background training in mathematics, differential equations and atomic physics.</blockquote.

    I'm not even going to bother trying to decrypt that incoherent illogic. Three reads was enough to give me a headache. (I suggest that you look at it carefully.)

  20. For anybody else reading, I apologize for failing to close the blockquote. The two sentences after the failed close are mine.

  21. Hey dj, on the question of God or Intelligence i would advice you to follow the debate on the post –The 2002 Miller, Pennock, Dembski and Behe ID debate– bogz argued at length on this but was just suddenly dropped. Go there and we will continue the dialogue. No need to re-work the arguments in this page.

  22. ER: I'd enjoy that. Can you give me more detail on where to find that thread? (Date, e.g.). I went through the old posts for a few pages, but could not find it.

    • Dj, sorry for the delayed response, been quite occupied. The post is September 2nd, 2010 | Category: intelligent design — There was an ongoing exchange between Jack and bogz but then Jack just simply dropped the dialogue. Flawedprefect jumped in and they continued the dialogue but then again simply left the discussion without explanation. I will post something there, a little follow up.

      Hope we can continue the dialogue there. There are so many issues in this debate that it's like a tornado sucking everything in its path. I think it's important that we take things one by one and build from there.

      See you there.

  23. djlactin wrote: After "life comes from matter" Your examples were so ludicrous that I just disregarded them. But the first one is not: (note, however, that life not only comes from matter, life IS matter).

    Let's just focus on this one point, since it is the central pivot around which your whole world view revolves. If you are ever able to think anything outside the evolutionary envelope then a Copernican revolution from a matter-centric to a life-centric perspective is required.

    So first consider why you find it so "ludicrous" (in your words) to think that the Sun rises in the West? No doubt we all find that ludicrous, but the REASON we find it ludicrous is what? The reason is that we all SEE everyday that the Sun appears first in the East and then sets in the West. We all SEE it. Thus we conclude anything contrary to that is ludicrous. Otherwise, it is perfectly possible that we might live on a planet that rotated in the opposite direction of ours, and the Sun would rise in the West on such a planet.

    In the same way, the claim that life comes from matter is totally at odds with what we SEE or observe, for all time that life ever existed. Pasteur proved it scientifically. People used to believe that rats came from dirty rags, and scorpions from rice. That was all shown to be ludicrous. Yet in this day and age you still want to revive that old abiogenetic fallacy. Of course, any reasonable person will find you to be ludicrous.

    Scientists make up a very small percentage of the population. The majority of people in this world know very well that life comes from life only. Yet you want to side with the minority and claim something that totally contradicts what everyone else well knows. Do you think this is giving a bad name to science? You better believe it! By claiming such a ludicrous proposal in the name of science, you are not discrediting science. You are discrediting yourself and those who make such ludicrous claims. Science has already established biogenesis as the law of biology. The problem is, you don't want to accept either science or the common observation of Nature, and the conclusion of the rest of humanity.

    There are extremists in every culture. Even science now has its extremists who try to hijack science for their own purposes. Well, I for one reject such extremists. I am a scientist and I challenge and reject such extremists who are trying to usurp science with their own ideological agenda.

    So far as your claim that life IS matter, that already is rejected by sense observation. You are so naive that when a live bird was mentioned you felt free will had to be an additional consideration. Well, duh! The laws of nature for matter do not apply for living organisms. As Kant presciently said, "There will never be a Newton for a blade of grass." Material nature may act under the determination of the laws of Newton in limited circumstances, but life is self determined (capable spontaneous action or free will) in complete contrast to matter. It is really unfortunate how much you extremists have been brainwashed.

    • Will, i have invited Dj to this post Dj, September 2nd, 2010 | Category: intelligent design — and continue the dialogue. Let's take the issues one at a time and bogz has done a good job in focusing the discussion one particular issue on the origin of physical reality. Let's interact with bogz' arguments and continue the dialogue.

  24. All of your response is an attempt to direct the debate away from a question that you cannot answer:

    "Where did god come from?"

    When posed with a question to which the answer is "I don't know", postulating a deity as the explanation is not an answer. It merely defers the question by one step to "Where did god come from?" (To which nobody has ever given me a straight answer, an avoidance which means, to me "I don't know".)

    If you can state clearly the origin of god (or at least propose a falsifiable hypothesis, in the scientific manner), I will at least entertain the possibility. By this I mean an explanation that does not begin with the axiom

    God is an eternal and absolute truth.

    If you cannot provide a clear answer, this discussion is over. Until then, I wait. And retain my atheism.

    • Dj, interesting dialogue with Will. Again, inviting you (and perhaps Will too) to visit the post September 2nd, 2010 | Category: intelligent design and continue the dialogue — LET'S TALK TO EACH OTHER and not just bark at each other.

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