“You Win or You Die” – Unintentionally nourishing the ID rhetoricotrophs

When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.

~ Cersei Lannister, HBO’s “Game of Thrones”1

Bit of a dramatic quote, isn’t it? But for some reason it entered my mind when I read what David Klinghoffer wrote about me and my views on the dismissive rhetoric of the scientific community towards the intelligent design movement (which I maintain is understandable, given the history of ID and creationism), in his Evolution News & Views post “A Darwinist Worries about Darwinian Rhetoric”.

You see, I didn’t write the post for a pro-ID audience – it came about because I felt I had some helpful advice to give scientists and science communicators for when they are asked to comment on ID by the media (or in other public outlets). That’s why I didn’t justify or explain, for example, my opinion that the movement is largely motivated by religious sentiment: I was talking to a group of people who already have that point of view.

Obviously I wasn’t thinking very clearly though, because I was writing about why ID proponents love to twist, distort and spin sentiment about themselves into energy for their day-to-day operations, yet forgot to consider how the post being written would appear to those very people. How legitimately foolish of me.

Everything is a rhetorical game to the Discovery Institute! And like the medieval-fantasy political game of thrones referenced in the above quote, when you play the game of rhetoric, you win or you die a (rhetorical) death. Much like gambling, the best way to win is not to play at all, especially when facing down masters like David Klinghoffer. I mean, look at what he wrote – he twisted a post about not giving the ID movement rhetorical nourishment into rhetorical nourishment.

But while I’m undeniably now locked into a PR pact with David – wherein everything I write is now open to dramatisation and being milked for points – I’d still like to focus on the issues that are at least vaguely objectively defensible.

David’s post had three main points to make:

  1. My example of a suggested media statement about ID for scientists and science communicators is “spin”.
  2. I should be concerned about how my fellow ID critics ignore the main arguments of ID proponents.
  3. I’m not qualified to comment on ID, since I haven’t read Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell.

Let’s look at each one, shall we?

1. Spin-on-spin in the spin cycle

As a refresher, here’s my suggested statement, with the part David has a problem with in bold:

ID is a pseudoscientific hypothesis that does not make testable claims or predictions, which are necessary components of scientific ideas. The arguments put forward by its proponents have been taken seriously and analysed by scientists and philosophers of science for nearly two decades, but all have found to be lacking in merit. It is widely known that the ID movement is a recent offshoot of creationism and its internal language is sometimes explicitly theistic – while this does not necessarily invalidate its claims, it does help explain its patterns of behaviour and the way its proponents think. The mainstream scientific community no longer pays much attention to the movement and will continue not to do so until ID proponents formulate more rigorous and persuasive ideas.

 This is what David says about it:

Nicely spun, Jack, and many a credulous journalist would no doubt be taken in. However the truth is other than you say. Darwinian scientists who blog — in other words, those whose comments are most readily accessible to us — may indeed not pay attention to ID arguments, but that’s certainly not because of any lack of “rigorous and persuasive ideas” on ID’s part. The proof is that Darwin defenders are typically very busy indeed picking on other arguments that no thoughtful and critical person would remotely regard as “rigorous and persuasive.” What those other arguments have in common is that, unlike ID, they’re too weak to effectively fight back.

I’m left feeling like David didn’t read the entirety of the statement. What do I say in the second sentence?

The arguments put forward by its proponents have been taken seriously and analysed by scientists and philosophers of science for nearly two decades, but all have found to be lacking in merit.

Scientists and philosophers of science took positive arguments for ID pretty seriously in the 1990s and early 2000s, and quite a number of papers were published on the favourite arguments of the time (which have not significantly changed since then – but more on that later). For examples, look at Shanks and Joplin (1999)2, Wilkins and Elsberry (2001)3 and Sober (2002)4: to my knowledge, these papers have not been satisfactorily critiqued by proponents of ID in books, journals or even online. Many scientists and science bloggers know of these published critiques – so why should they feel the need to constantly step on trodden ground?

Of course, bloggers such as those at The Panda’s Thumb, Pharyngula, Sandwalk etc. do pay attention to claims that the ID movement makes about evolutionary biology. Larry Moran, in a splendid example of this, recently finished a long series of blog posts critiquing the anti-junk DNA arguments in Jonathan Wells’ book The Myth of Junk DNA - you can find links to posts on all of the chapters at the bottom of this page. Does the ID movement not hold Wells’ book up with rather great regard?

PZ Myers also had this to say about David’s insistence that he doesn’t take ID seriously:

But it’s silly to claim we haven’t addressed their arguments. Personally, I’ve reviewed Meyer’s Signature in the Cell and Jonathan Wells’ Icons of Evolution and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. I’ve tackled Casey Luskin and Michael Egnor and Paul Nelson and Michael Behe and William Dembski. I’ve written general critiques of ID creationism. I’ve trashed ID creationism repeatedly, and with bemused enthusiasm.

PZ blogs a lot too, so to argue that you only feature in a very small percentage of his posts is hilarious to say the least.

So, in essence, David spun my “spin”. Very clever. But he is a master at it, after all.

2. David may have a slight point

He writes:

What would trouble me if I were Jack Scanlan — a well-intentioned Darwinian observer of the evolution debate, someone who cares about the quality of the rhetoric coming from my side, disdaining the usual cheap shots — is the way my allies in the debate make a habit of spending their time going after the weak, the widows and the orphans, as they meanwhile ignore the most serious scientific challenges to Darwinism. Even if Scalan [sic] doesn’t think intelligent design poses a genuinely serious scientific challenge, he admits that it poses a real public-relations challenge: “It uses the right type of language, it shows off its shiny PhD-brandishing experts, and it sneaks religious ideas in under the guise of appealing to human design analogies, which are extremely seductive at first glance.”

The point of my earlier post was to let scientists know that name-calling, snide comments and over-the-top snark doesn’t help convince people who are on the fence about ID and evolutionary biology. But what David is saying above is that the fact that science bloggers and scientists don’t even mention the main ID arguments makes it look like they don’t know how to respond to them.

He has a bit of point here. As I said before, published criticisms of William Dembski, Michael Behe and other well-known ID proponents have done a good job of cutting their arguments down to size, and as such scientists rarely feel the need to beat those dead horses. But it wouldn’t really hurt to mention, at least in passing, these papers: it would add weight to their statements about ID’s lack of persuasive ideas.

However, science bloggers such as PZ should take no shame in critising the arguments of fringe players in the debate, such as Hamza Andreas Tzortzis (mentioned by David), Ray Comfort, Ken Ham and others! People exist who do take them seriously, and showing where their ideas fly in the face of what we know about the universe does have benefit. Often you will find that these critiques are only written when the creationist in question is making a novel argument, because, like with ID, who has the time to go over already-destroyed ideas all the time?

Anyone want to take bets on how David will spin my admission that he got something right?

3. ID is not as complex as the Discovery Institute would have you think

David’s last major point in his post is:

Even Scanlan himself, however, complains in another post that due to poor “time management skills” he hasn’t had time to read Signature in the Cell and similar titles: “Remember my pile of pro-intelligent design books? I never got around to reviewing them, for various reasons.”

Here’s a crazy idea. If you don’t have time to read up properly on ID or are otherwise disinclined to do so, perhaps refrain from deciding whether its arguments are “rigorous and persuasive.”

I’m not going to lie, this made me a little angry. It also provides a stunning example of the way ID proponents can rhetorically poison the well against people they want to marginalise. I’ve read most of Signature in the Cell, I just haven’t written a comprehensive review of it on this blog. But even if I hadn’t read it, David’s assertion would still be nonsense.

Intellectual movements and ideas often have overlapping publications and manifestos. Each new contributor to the pool of argument and evidence around an idea will inevitably comment, critique and build upon the writings of those who came before them – this is especially prominent in science, where citing those who came before you is absolutely necessary. In the ID movement it’s slightly different, as it’s not exclusively based around science (or the philosophy of science), but realistically, you should be able to get a fairly good grasp of all the major ID arguments by reading the output of the online discussions on the topic.

Evolution News & Views is arguably the best source for the views of the top-tier ID proponents. Whenever a favorable, new book on the topic is released – such as Signature in the Cell or The Myth of Junk DNA – Casey Luskin and the other writers vociferously regale their readership with the essence of the arguments contained within. A similar thing happens when such a book is critiqued or reviewed unfavourably by a prominent member of the anti-ID or scientific communities, with EN&V contributors defending the books themselves.

With this in mind, I’ve been reading EN&V rather closely for over two years, and I’ve seen many, many arguments repeated, over and over again. This includes Behe’s argument from irreducible complexity, William Dembski’s arguments from complex specified information and his “explanatory filter”, and – most recently – Stephen C. Meyer’s argument from abductive reasoning to the best explanation. These four arguments are the ones that ID proponents most often cite as being the cornerstones of intelligent design, and they have all been adequately explained on EN&V, in a good amount of detail – as well as in published critiques of these arguments: see Shanks and Joplin (1999)2 and Wilkins and Elsberry (2001)3 for Behe and Dembski respectively. Do I need to read Behe, Dembski and Meyer’s books in order to comment on these arguments? Has the Discovery Institute’s official online mouthpiece been severely misrepresenting their views?

Arguing against evolutionary biology, which is what the ID movement attempts to do, is a very different matter. Biology is a complex and difficult discipline to master, and the arguments and evidence in favour of evolutionary theory are orders of magnitude more overwhelming than those for ID. Evolution is arguably reducible to the field of population genetics5, which is a topic you can only really dig your teeth into once you understand some reasonably complex mathematics. Evolutionary genetics is full of weird and wonderful ideas, molecular evolution is at the intersection of high-level physics and chemistry and requires lots of memory work to master, and phylogenetics and systematics are rooted in intense statistical theory and computational analysis. You cannot grasp enough of evolutionary biology to have any meaningful chance of accurately or persuasively critiquing it from just reading blogs, even the blogs of working scientists. You need to pour over technical books and journals, attend conferences… In essence, you need to become a scientist yourself: otherwise you won’t know enough to fully understand the arguments that the experts are making.

ID is a thimble of ideas compared to the Olympic-sized pool of real biology, and I think I’m more than qualified to have a look down the microscope to see what’s swimming around inside, David.

Then again, I’m glad he didn’t go the ageist route, like Uncommon Descent did when they mentioned me:

Here, Jack Scanlan (“Naon tiami[sic]”), an Australian biology student, holds forth, from decades of experience:

[…]

The rest of the outburst is just Darwin’s bilge pipe’s runoff, maybe written to impress his Darwinist profs, so we’ll leave that aside.

Don’t even get me started. David’s probably already going to turn up the spin to 11 when/if he responds to this, I don’t need to give him more nourishment.

- - - - - - - - -
  1. Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 7.
  2. Shanks and Joplin. Redundant complexity: a critical analysis of intelligent design in biochemistry. Philosophy of Science (1999) vol. 66 (2) pp. 268-282
  3. Wilkins and Elsberry. The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance. Biology and Philosophy (2001) vol. 16 (5) pp. 709-722
  4. Sober. Intelligent design and probability reasoning. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (2002) vol. 52 pp. 65-80
  5. Please don’t argue about this, biologists – I’m merely a young, impressionable undergraduate.

33 thoughts on ““You Win or You Die” – Unintentionally nourishing the ID rhetoricotrophs

  1. You can’t criticize ID if you haven’t read pro-ID books? Science is done in the lab, in the field, and in the peer-reviewed literature, not textbooks (or books of any kind, for that matter). Books can popularize ideas, but the ideas come from the literature, and there is no ID support there. Enough red herrings here to open a fish market.

  2. Jack, you wrote:

    … look at Shanks and Joplin (1999)2, Wilkins and Elsberry (2001)3 and Sober (2002)4: to my knowledge, these papers have not been satisfactorily critiqued by proponents of ID in books, journals or even online. Many scientists and science bloggers know of these published critiques – so why should they feel the need to constantly step on trodden ground?

    The important phrase is, to my knowledge.You are not critiquing ID, you are critiquing your knowledge of ID, and that is not only limited but outside the arguments they are making. Thus your whole premise is wrong here. Behe and Dembski have certainly replied to their critics. Why wouldn't they? You are obviously just not that interested, but their replies are online, in journals and in books.

    Behe, Michael J. (2000). Self-organization and irreducibly complex systems: A reply to Shanks and Joplin. Philosophy of Science 67, 155-162.

    Dembski's reply is in his book No Free Lunch 2002, p14, and section 6.7

    The only way to critique an argument is not from outside of it, but from within it. This is called immanent critique. You have to know the arguments and deal with them if you want to get beyond anything more than rhetoric.

    Intelligent Design or the Unintelligent Purposelessness of evolution are two opposing philosophies of Nature. It is not an opposition between science and religion. The fact that sentience is the fundamental characteristic of life is completely ignored by evolutionists. And sentience means intelligence and consciousness are essential to all life, without which we no longer have life but dead matter – the mere stuff of physics and chemistry.

    How does sentience affect the whole ID – Evolution controversy? It is really a whole game-changer when sentience gains the throne. J Shapiro nicely sums up the situation that heralds the death of evolution and the winner as ID when he explains how natural genetic engineering or intelligent direction is the controlling factor in organisms in his recent book on 21st Century BIology. So ID wins, and Darwinism dies.All the rhetoric in the world will not change the facts. Read/learn and die! Then you will have to be born again. Jack — in the light of spirit/consciousness! We are awaiting the day.

    • The responses offered by Dembki and Behe (and their sundry acolytes) to their critics are famously irrelevant, consisting primarily of reiterations of the very things their critics dissected; name calling and insults (Dembski's remark about Jerry Coyne looking like Frankenstein's monster was especially grade-schoolish); ad hominem and appeal to authority nonsense (Dembski again – his dismissal of Richard Wein's criticisms because Wein had merely a bachelors degree in statistics, while the great Dembski is doctor doctor!); and the usual cries of martyrdom and the like. Even their 'published' responses come across more as whining and excuse-making than anything else.

      "The only way to critique an argument is not from outside of it, but from within it. This is called immanent critique. You have to know the arguments and deal with them if you want to get beyond anything more than rhetoric. "

      Good point. Get started.

  3. Jack, if this guy told you the sky was blue, I'd go out and look. How does a ball of dandelion fluff exhibit a subjective experience? How is that testable? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    "J Shapiro nicely sums up the situation that heralds the death of evolution and the winner as ID when he explains how natural genetic engineering or intelligent direction is the controlling factor in organisms in his recent book on 21st Century BIology. So ID wins, and Darwinism dies…"

    He would have made the international news if he had proven so much, won Nobel's and every other prestigious award, been offered a chair at top universities. Anyone with the clarity to topple Evolutionary theory with one book would be the standout genius of our time. Ticker Tape parades… an Einstein… What have we here! A lame book plug? And what's with the shameless Born Again haberdashery? "Read/learn and die" sounds like "misbehave and perish". No one has to die, buddy, but they should admit that they're pitching religion.

    • Are you afraid to post your name because of your poor fund of knowledge of modern biology and the numerous biologists who have abandoned neo-Darwinian dogma? For your information, there is much more going on here than you are aware of. It is not just Shapiro. And it is international. You are certainly unaware of the metaphysical concept of death, as when Plato says that "philosophy is learning to die." I would only hope there are more educated and enlightened readers here who would understand that. Spirit is a philosophical concept that is not monopolized only by religion. No doubt a scientist who received only a culturally restricted technical education, as well as the generally uneducated would know none of this.

      Well, buddy, since you recognize me as a friend, i suggest that you would benefit greatly by getting a proper education.Really..

      • I started yawning after the first five words in your rebuttal, buddy-boy. Because they were empty, like your rhetoric. Equations? Can your nonsense make penicillin? Anybody from your troupe ever heard of testing their hypotheses? Much going on. Oh, yeah. There's a whole lotta much going on that just isn't of any interest to pharmaceutical companies or oil companies or anyone with a true money-making stake in, oh… in Plato's ideas about death and how they apply to finding solutions for problems on a real live practical planet E, that's right, yes. Plato, the geneticist. What astonishing cracker jack surprises about technical educations will you produce for me in serial? A mean bereavement is in store, and I can;t wait to see where this exchange goes next. Go ahead. Drool.

        My name is Guest. And I bet it keeps you up at night that I can snipe away at your thoughts in perfect safety, and with perfect license, behind my lil' duck blind.

        • Sorry my friend, but all you are proving is that you are an insipid bore. I write this not to insult you, but to encourage you to think more deeply about where you are at. If all you can understand are empty rhetorical words then reason is apparently feeble or atrophied in you, If all you can offer is vitriol and invective, this only confirms the poverty of your intellectual resources. Any educated man has no difficulty understanding whether he is corresponding with a pundit or a dilettant. Whatever your age or level of maturity, there is always a chance to improve yourself. Only fools would deny themselves that opportunity.

          Sentience is essential to science. I would like to see anyone make penicillin, test a hypothesis, run a pharmaceutical or oil company, or make any money without it. Go ahead and make my day and tell me it is all the result of the "scientific" theory of evolution! And BTW, is the scientific theory of evolution the product of evolution or sentient intelligence?

          My advice if you affirm the former is – don't wait around any longer for your intelligence to evolve. Carpe diem – cease the moment: use your intelligence or loose whatever chance you have to improve it. I have confidence you can do better. You're just angry now because I disagree with you and you know I am right. And your vulnerability is that you always think you have to be right. That is not the way to truth. The truth is what is, and that is not measured by what you think to be right, but by what is true.

  4. Jack: Mr Klinghoffer had gotten what he was looking for the minute people answered to his post.
    @will: can you please name 1 biologist that has abandoned the neo-darwinian dogma? I’m interested in learning from their point of view. Thank you.

    • Have you read James Shapiro's book or looked at his website? You will find the non-mechanistic concepts of biology represented very well in both those sources. Lynn Margulis, Carl Woese, Nobel Laureate Barbara McClintock,, Jerry Fodor (cognitive scientist), Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, and Suzan Mazur mentions a number of them in her expose of the Evolution Industry, and many, many others from various scientific disciplnes. The whole field of biosemiotics takes functionality as the standard unit for understanding biology, rather than the self-defeating atomic reductionist molecular viewpoint.

      There is a genuine revolution going on in biology, as much as the one in astrophysics with the discoveries of dark matter and energy, mathematics with Godel's theory, quantum mechanics and consciousness, relativity theory with the latest CERN discovery of the faster than light neutrinos. Even culturally, with the Arab spring, the economic meltdown and the revolt of the 99% – revolution seems to be ubiquitous at the present time.

  5. 'Will', there's really only one question about ID which is of any importance: What is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design, and how can this theory be tested by means of the scientific method?
    If there ain't no scientific theory of ID, *ID* *isn't* *science*. Period, end of discussion, full stop. Likewise, if the putative 'theory' of ID cannot be tested by means of the scientific method, *ID* *isn't* *science*. Period, end of discussion, full stop.
    So here's your chance to shine, 'Will': Show all us ignorant 'Darwinians' what the fuck ID *is*, by laying out, in plain language, *the scientific theory of ID*, including how the fuck we can use the scientific method to *test* this 'theory'. Think you can do that, 'will'?

    • I am not here to educate you on the latest understanding biologists have about life. If you are actually interested, look up "natural genetic engineering" on Google. Basically, a cell can intelligently analyze its environment, devise a response to it, and then store the results in its genes. It can be empirically verified that DNA regorganization is a cellular biological process that is subject to intelligent regulation and is not dependent on stochastic accidents (ala neo-Darwinian evolution). Read it and die. "Period, end of discussion, full stop."

      • That's nice, 'will'. It's not an answer to the question "What is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design, and how can this theory be tested by means of the scientific method?", but it's nice. Any time you'd like to answer that question, I'm all ears (figuratively speaking).

        • Ezikiel 12.2 – "They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people."

          • Scripture. Isn't that special? Still no answer to the question, "What is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design, and how can this theory be tested by means of the scientific method?" If you don't actually know the answer to the question, 'will', you'd be better off just admitting your ignorance up front than disgorging ink-clouds of obfuscatory verbiage. But if you'd rather go the 'obfuscatory verbiage' route and hope that nobody who reads this will notice that you're not actually answering the question, well, who am I to dissuade you from making ID-pushers look evasive and/or dishonest and/or stupid?

            • The answer was very clear. What don't you understand?

              Natural genetic engineering = Intelligent Design. Living organisms are sentient (intelligent) creatures. They maintain and stabilize themselves AGAINST evolution/mutation forces. They pro-actively adapt to their environment, They don't passively suffer from random mutations.

              If you didn't look up the references I pointed you toward then you will not understand the theory and the experimental evidence that confirms it. What more can I do? You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Unless you're a blockhead, 'Cubist' (maybe you are giving new meaning to the name), the basic concept should be clear (at least it is for me). The other possibility is that evolutionists are so conditioned by its dogma that any attempt to penetrate into new territory outside its boundaries (think outside the envelop) is impossible (thus the quote from Ezikiel).

              Anyhow, for a very technical explanation, here is a link to an audio/visual presentation on the subject:
              http://online.itp.ucsb.edu/online/infobio01/shapi

              • sez 'will': "Natural genetic engineering = Intelligent Design. Living organisms are sentient (intelligent) creatures."
                And earlier, you said "Basically, a cell can intelligently analyze its environment, devise a response to it, and then store the results in its genes." So… you think a *cell* is intelligent? As in, a *single* cell? [nods] That pretty well says it all. Just as a mathematician need not go any further than the first divide-by-zero error in a 'proof' before he's justified in dismissing the entire 'proof' as a pile of shit, so, too, is there no need to go any further than 'a single cell is intelligent' before one is justified in dismissing your verbiage as a pile of shit. Have fun, 'will'!

                • Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Or a bacterium?

                  "Bacteria are small but not stupid: cognition, natural genetic engineering and sociobacteriology," http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro2007.SHPSC
                  Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 38 (2007) 807–819

                  It may be difficult for you to accept the innovations that have occurred in modern biology within the last 50 years. The conceptions of biologists now offer quite a change from the outdated 19th and 20th Century mechanistic ideas of biology. But the fact is that widespread research, conferences, and published accounts in mainstream journals and books proliferate within the scientific community on the subject of natural genetic engineering.

                  Jack doesn't mention these things in his blog, so he and his readers remain in the dark about it, but he is blindsided by the received knowledge of the old school tradition that is taught in academia, as well as are most of his friends who still harbor the Darwinian thinking that drives the "skeptical" movement. The extensive list of references on Shapiro's site http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu gives a glimpse into the very active community of scientists who are conducting studies in this revolutionary new field.

                  • It is very cute how you unquestioningly accept at face value the every utterance of those that you agree with; a publication by someone thought of as ID-friendly is thus unquestioned truth.
                    This just shows your confirmation bias.
                    And other unsavory traits.

            • Not that it will matter, because most immediately conflate anything IDists say, but here are a few links to some background of ID in to more general, yet still scientific sense.
              http://www.uncommondescent.com/id-defined/
              and common misunderstandings… http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/

              • sez kuho: "Not that it will matter, because most immediately conflate anything IDists say, but here are a few links to some background of ID in to more general, yet still scientific sense. http://www.uncommondescent.com/id-defined/"
                That webpage defines ID in its very first sentence: "The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection." Guess what? THAT ISN'T A SCIENTIFIC THEORY. At best, being as charitable as I can manage, it's an awfully vague conjecture which might, at some future date, be developed into a scientific theory. But for that to occur, ID-pushers are gonna have to pony up some details, get specific enough that it's even *possible* to test their 'theory'. Until ID-pushers do that, however, the so-called 'theory' of ID can be accurately summarized in seven words: "Somehow, somewhere, somewhen, somebody intelligent did something." Any ID supporter who takes issue with the accuracy of this seven-word summary is hereby invited to demonstrate where it falls short of the true reality of ID. Like, what (if anything) does ID have to say about the 'somehow'? Or the 'somewhere'? Or the 'something' which was done by the Intelligent Designer?
                That webpage goes on to say, "Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI)." Well, that's true as far as it goes… but it doesn't go far enough. The 'design detection' used by real scientists in real fields of science involves formulating testable hypotheses about the designer; ID, contrariwise, goes out of its way to *avoid* formulating *any* hypotheses, testable or otherwise, about its Intelligent Designer (see also the answer to question 21, "Who Designed the Designer?" in http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/ ; "Intelligent design theory seeks only to determine whether or not an object was designed … it cannot … detect the identity of the designer").

                • Well done cubist, well done. Now, we can play by the same rules and sum up all of the grand evolutionary "science" claim (ya know, the one absolutely needed to make any sense in biology?) as:
                  "Somehow, somewhere, somewhen, nothing mindlessly made everything"
                  Ah…now I got it. Everything in biology now makes sense to me. Now I can be a "real" scientist. Now I can take authentic challenges proposed to my dogma and spin them away into oblivion without ever taking the time, or having the skill to think about them. And finally now, I can officially use rhetoric to package up the entire ID debate and push it off as not being "religiously motivated" or "real science" because I am now a real scientist! (just don't ask any hard, fundamental unanswered questions about biology that I will have to look so foolishly spinning away on blogs like this) So, for Christmas, maybe you can get your hands on a few books like Signature in a Cell, obviously written by an unqualified, uneducated non-real scientist who is merely using rhetoric to push religion on all peoples of the world, and deliver the message of truth to all people who may read it an actually think evolution is fundamentally incorrect…the truth that in fact, everything we see now came about by purposeless, mindless chance by way of random changes and natural selection acting on "material" that somehow came to be. That'll fix em, cause that's a REAl scientific theory :)

                  • Your alleged 'summary' of evolutionary theory is quite wrong, kuho. Unlike your 'summary', evolutionary theory doesn't finger "nothing" as a causative agent. Also unlike your 'summary', evolutionary theory is only an explanation for the diversity of life on Earth, *not* an explanation for "everything". As to the "somehow", evolutionary theory posits a number of processes (i.e., natural selection, genetic drift, etc etc etc) whose effects are known well enough to make said processes testable.
                    So your 'summary' of evolutionary theory is, again, quite wrong. Do you think my seven-word summary of ID is in any way inaccurate, kuho? If so, please clue me in on where my summary misrepresents ID, as I've clued you in on some of the points where your 'summary' misrepresents evolutionary theory. My summary of ID is, to repeat: Somehow, somewhere, somewhen, somebody intelligent did something. Where does this summary go wrong, kuho? If it's the "somehow", please provide some details about the method(s)/technique(s)/tool(s) which ID holds the Intelligent Designer to have employed. If it's the "somewhere", please provide some details about the location(s) at which ID holds the Intelligent Designer to have done… whatever It did when It was doing the Design thing. If the "somebody intelligent" is where my summary goes wrong, please provide some details about ID's concept of the Intelligent Designer, other than the bare fact that It happens to be both Intelligent and a Designer. If it's the "did something", please provide some details about whatever action(s) ID holds the Designer to have performed when It was doing Its things).

                    I'm not sure why you made reference to the charge that ID is religiously motivated, kuho, because *I* sure didn't say anything about that. But since you thought it was worth mentioning: The reason ID's critics say that ID is religiously motivated is that *ID's* *proponents* say ID is religiously motivated. For example, the Discovery Institute, in their so-called Wedge Document, explicitly asserted that the *whole point* of ID is "to defeat scientific materialism" and "replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God". For another example, Philip Johnson, author of the seminal ID book DARWIN ON TRIAL, is on record as saying that "intelligent design… really means the reality of God". I could go on, but if these two examples don't suffice to establish the point that *ID* *proponents* say ID is religiously motivated, further such examples would be wasted effort.

                    • Reading comprehension…I did not posit that “nothing” was the causative agent, merely that nothing (going back to the “beginning,” which I knew you would retreat from-more later) came about, and mindlessly turned into everything we have today. The implied “causative agent”, as if it needs to be stated, is mindless chance. Well cubist, now’s your “chance” to shine. What is the causative agent that drives evolution if not chance? (I hope your better than to answer the company line of natural selection or “environmental pressures” which are obviously not a driving force that “makes” anything new) And as sure as the sun rises in the east, the blanket statement of “evolution is only an explanation for the diversity of life on earth” spews out as the next line. Sure it is. Honestly, is there special training undertaken to regurgitate these shallow, standardized, non- scientific predictable responses, or is it a genuine fear to think outside the dogma? Irregardless, I don’t believe evolution is “just about” change of life over time; as unavoidable and obvious naturalistic theory grounds every evolutionary idea. (Even if it is so, the only truly scientific, testable, observable evolutionary concept is variation/microevolution, so it fails even on that level). Large scale changes over millions of years are not testable nor observable, but instead are dogmatically (and incorrectly, in my view) inferred. But why retreat back and only discuss the 100th story of the evolutionary building, when the discussion of the first 99 floors (origin of physical material, laws, chemistry, life, feedback mechanisms, data storage and retrieval, and the enigma of information) is so much more foundational, interesting, and important? Rhetorical, I understand. The actual science sheds light on how silly your beloved theory is in OOL discussion; a true fairy tale for grown-ups.

                      I admit I took the bait and tried to work with *your* definition of ID (which it’s obvious you understand little about the ID stance beyond party-line mischaracterizations) and mirrored it back to fit evolution “theory” (which you conveniently answered nothing). So let’s see… according to your previous logic, ID needs to make *testable* predictions for not only design, but the identity of the intelligent designer as well? Response is similar, but easier to link to it/save room: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/03/a_closer_loo
                      If by those standards, then what is the strict, testable hypothesis that can change mud into Mozart over billions of years? What is the testable hypothesis that can turn a fish into a land-dewlling, air-breathing vegetarian and back into the amazing whales?What is the formulated, testable hypothesis for matter creating itself, organizing itself, creating it’s own information, data storage, quality control, and reproductive capabilities? Cue retreat back to “evolution is only about life changing”…well, it fails there too. Cubist, you can’t have your cake and eat it too if you want to play the "scientific, testable, predictable card".

          • You did not spell Ezekiel correctly. You must hate Jesus.

  6. I only come here because Will amuses me.

  7. And I forgot to mention. If you still think I don't know who you are after reading my above comments, then you do not realize I am not stupid – who else is afraid to debate the issues with me without using his real name. There may certainly be many, but I think I am familiar enough with you and smart enough to detect your telltale manner in your words. Not that it's a problem. I certainly don't loose sleep over it. Not when you give such vacuous remarks as represented in these comments.

  8. We must understand clearly the difference between Darwinism, ID and natural genetic engineering (NGE).

    Darwin came up with his idea of evolution long before the knowledge we now have of DNA or genes. It was not well received by the scientific community because it offered no mechanism and was not supported by the fossil record very well. It was for that reason that the neo-Darwinian synthesis had to be formulated to save the day, based on Crick's Central Dogma concerning DNA and protein synthesis. It was called a dogma because it was not based on much empirical evidence, which was not very detailed at that time in the late 1950's.

    ID came along to challenge neo-Darwinism because the 'code' that the DNA molecule represented, showed evidence of information that they felt had to come from a non physical chemical source. But the central mistake that both ID and the Darwinistas made is that they put their faith in the unverified Central dogma of Crick and conceived of it as the basic foundation or their ideologies.

    But the accumulated empirical evidence of recent decades has shown that DNA does not hold the central controlling and directing position that has been claimed by both parties. The whole concept of "gene" has also shown itself to be incoherent. The explanatory value of these basic concepts of 20th Century biology have been shown to be insufficient to properly explain what biomolecular biologists have been observing in the lab.

    It is out of this evidence based body of knowledge that the concept of natural genetic engineering has been developed. The central focus of the living organism is life itself, a systemic, cognitive sentience that can only be understood through informatics, not mechanics, biosemiotics, and communication theory. In the sentient cell, DNA only serves as a peripheral device for storing information – like a read/write hard drive or RAM – and not as the central processing unity, CPU, for the cell.

    So NGE is a 21st Century conception of biology that goes beyond ID and Darwinian evolution, into a new vision and new direction for biology based on empirical evidence and not on the central dogma that has been driving the ID and evolution controversy over a false doctrine.

    Life is a sentient phenomenon governed by non material, non mechanistic, natural causes. Matter is an insentient, phenomenon governed by chemistry and physics. The assumption that Nature is material in essence is wrong. Nature is actually sentient in essence – alive. It is Life that is the chief characteristic of Nature, not matter. The chemistry that works outside of a living cell does not work in the same way inside a living organism, and v.v.

    Life is not a supernatural phenomenon. Life is basic and fundamental to what Nature is. The presumption that Nature is material is the only reason materialists think of Life as supernatural. Remover that arbitrary and erroneous presupposition and Nature can be understood for what it is – Nature is a living, organic actuality.

  9. You're hilarious Will!

  10. I get a good laugh too, reading the ‘blah blah blahing therefore god’ theories of ‘Will’. Continue in a good health, ‘Will’, and continue to give us our lunch-time comedy readings. Thanks.

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