10 Ways Darwinists Help Intelligent Design (Part I)

Intelligent Design — By on April 22, 2008 at 12:22 am

Why do so many people have such difficulty accepting the theory of Darwinian (or more precisely, neo-Darwinian) evolution? Is it due to a resurgence of religious-based creationism? Or is it that the Discovery Institute and other advocates of Intelligent Design are more persuasive? I believe the credit belongs not to the advocates of ID but to the theory’s critics.
Just look around at the reaction to Ben Stein’s new film Expelled. The film was trashed by numerous critics, dismissed by the blosphere’s intelligentsia, and yet still managed to pull in the second largest gross box office receipts on opening weekend of any political documentary (second only to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11).
Had the critics remained silent over the past decade, ID might possibly have moldered in obscurity. If they had given the theory the respect accorded to supernatural explanations like the “multiverse theory” it might even have faded from lack of support.
But instead the theory’s critics launched a irrational counter-offensive, forcing people into choosing sides. The problem with this approach is that the more the public learn about modern evolutionary theory, the more skeptical they become about it being an adequately robust explanation for the diversity of life on earth. For instance in Expelled, Michael Ruse and Richard Dawkins provide two explanations for how life probably began. Ruse says that we moved from the inorganic world to the world of the cell on the backs of crystals while Dawkins says that life on earth was most likely seeded by aliens from outer space.
When even Dawkins admits that intelligent agency is involved in creation of life on earth it isn’t difficult to see why other people think it is plausible.
I won’t argue that critics of ID are always wrong or that ID is always–or even mostly–right in its claims. But I do think a compelling case can be made that the anti-IDers are losing the rhetorical battle–their frothing at the mouth reaction to Expelled is a symptom–and that they have only themselves to blame.
Here is the first five in a list of ten reasons ways in which the critics of Expelled (as well as other neo-Darwinist apologists) are helping to promote the theory of intelligent design.


#1 By remaining completely ignorant about ID while knocking down strawman versions of the theory. — Whether due to intellectual snobbery or mental laziness, too many critics of ID never bother to understand what the term means, much less learn the general tenets of the theory. Instead, they knock down a strawman version of ID that they have gleaned from other, equally ill-informed, critics. The belligerent or paranoid advocates of ID will assume that the misrepresentation is due to dishonesty or a conspiracy by the neo-Darwinists. But even those who are more charitable will agree that when a critic misrepresents the theory, it undermines their own credibility.
#2 By claiming that ID is stealth creationism. — Resorting to this red herring is one of the most common arguments made against ID. While it’s true that ID could be used to promote a particular religious agenda, this is not a sufficient argument against it being a legitimate scientific research program. There is no a priori reason why a research program could not be completely in adherence to accepted scientific methods and yet be completely compatible with a particular religious viewpoint.
But it also refuses to acknowledge the vast majority of people throughout history have believed in at least a basic form of creationism. Most people believe that some form of intelligent being (i.e., God) created the universe and everything in it. For most of these people, creationism is not a derogatory term. The phrase “stealth creationism” might appeal to the pseudo-intellectuals (those who know almost nothing about science but do know that they despise “fundamentalist Christians”) yet for most ordinary people it sounds like bigoted nonsense.
#3 By resorting to “science of the gaps” arguments. — Critics of ID often claim that the theory relies on a “God of the Gaps” argument. (Don’t understand how something occurred? Claim God did it. Case closed.) As scientific reasoning, this method is obviously flawed. Yet the critics of ID often resort to the same tactic, only instead of saying “God did it” they claim “Science will find it.”
The problem is that this almost never happens. Closing a “science gap” almost always leads to the discovery of other, even more difficult to explain gaps in knowledge. For example, when evolution was first proposed by Darwin, there was no explanation for the mechanism of transmission of traits from one generation to the next. With the discovery of DNA, Watson and Crick closed that particular gap.
But as physicist David Snoke notes, no one today has an adequate explanation for how this highly complicated molecule arose out of nowhere. Also, we do not have an adequate explanation within chemical evolutionary theory for the appearance of the mechanism that gives us a readout of the information, or for the appearance of methods that replicate information with out error, or for the appearance of the delicate balance of repair and maintenance of the molecular systems that use the information stored in DNA.
Scientific discoveries tend to find that nature is even more complex than we imagined which makes it even more unlikely that process like undirected natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift are sufficient explanations.
#4 By claiming that ID isn’t science since it’s not published peer-reviewed literature…and then refusing to allow publications of ID papers in peer-reviewed journals. — The hypocrisy of snubbing ID because it lacks peer-review was exposed throughout Expelled. One example was the treatment of Richard Sternberg, a journal editor who made the career-killing mistake of actually publishing an article that was sympathetic to ID.
The resulting controversy exposed just how close-minded some scientists were to criticisms of neo-Darwinism. As Sternberg–who is not himself an advocate of ID–said after the incident, “It’s fascinating how the ‘creationist’ label is falsely applied to anyone who raises any questions about neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. The reaction to the paper by some [anti-creationist] extremists suggests that the thought police are alive and well in the scientific community.”
#5 By making claims that natural selection/sexual selection is responsible for all behaviors and biological features. — Instead of saying that “God created X”, Darwinists tend to claim that “Sex selection created X.” Take, for instance, this statement made by zoologist Richard Dawkins:

“Why did humans lose their body hair? Why did they start walking on their hind legs? Why did they develop big brains? I think that the answer to all three questions is sexual selection,” Dawkins said. Hairlessness advertises your health to potential mates, he explained. The less hair you have on your body, the less real estate you make available to lice and other ectoparasites. Of course, it was worth keeping the hair on our heads to protect against sunstroke, which can be very dangerous in Africa, where we evolved. As for the hair in our armpits and pubic regions, that was probably retained because it helps disseminate “pheromones,” airborne scent signals that still play a bigger role in our sex lives than most of us realize.

Why did we lose our body hair? Sex selection. Why do we retain some body hair? Yep, sex selection. Why do humans walk on two legs? Again, the same answer, sex selection. Why do dogs walk on all four? You guessed it, sex selection.
The same goes for human behavior. Hardly a week goes by that some newspaper or magazine article does not include a story claiming how “evolution” is the reason humans do X, avoid Y, or prefer Z.
Even scientists grow weary of hearing such faith claims presented as if was “science.” As Philip S. Skell, emeritus professor at Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, noted in The Scientist:

Darwinian explanations for [human behavior] are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self- centered and aggressive – except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed – except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.

Even those who flunked high school biology can see that when a theory can be used to prove any behavior that it ceases to be science and enters the realm of faith. Yet when evolutionists make such claims they are often flummoxed by the public’s skeptical reaction. They can’t understand how we could be so stupid as to not accept their claims. And we wonder how they could be so stupid as to think we are really that gullible.
Continued in Part II



  • Mike Toreno

    ID creationism is misrepresented by its adherents, not its critics. The various statements of what ID creationism is are simply obfuscations of the following argument:
    I don’t understand the reason for X phenomenon.
    Therefore X phenomenon originated by magic.
    For example, take the contention that the bacterial flagellum could not have originated through a step by step process. That’s an obfuscation of the true argument, which is “I don’t understand how the bacterial flagellum could have originated through a step by step process.”
    The response, of course, is:
    Well, maybe you not understanding something doesn’t mean it can’t be understood. There are other reasons why you might not understand something. Maybe you’re just stupid.
    Dembski gave some talk in Oklahoma, and he got totally pwned. He talked about the bacterial flagellum, and some guy in the audience, during the question and answer session, said, I can explain how the bacterial flagellum could have originated through a step by step process, and did it. Of course, then Dembski wanted more steps. No matter how many steps you present, the ID creationist wants more. This is a slight variation of the ID creationist argument, and reads as follows:
    I won’t admit that X phenomenon could have originated through natural means.
    Therefore, X phenomenon must have originated by magic.
    And the answer, of course, is:
    Well, maybe you’re just a liar.
    The idea that proponents of ID creationism have been discriminated against is based on a misconception – namely, that every idea is of equal merit. ID creationists aren’t able to gain acceptance for their ideas not because of philosophical resistance, discrimination, or conspiracy, but because they’re ideas are stupid. I mean, when a real scientist explains phenomena that an ID creationist says is unexplainable, is the ID creationist still entitled to a respectful hearing for his claim?
    ID creationism adherents believe in ID creationism because they haven’t considered, or don’t want to consider, the possibility that they’re just retarded. Well, it’s time for them to consider it.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com tickletext

    Mike, I am truly curious: to whom is your comment addressed? That is, whom do you seek to persuade?
    I find it hard to believe that you mean to persuade supporters of Intelligent Design, since you intimate that they are mentally deficient.
    From the evidence of your noxious rhetoric I can only conclude that you have no interest in persuasion. I hope I am wrong.

  • http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day1am2.html BobC

    “Why do so many people have such difficulty accepting the theory of Darwinian (or more precisely, neo-Darwinian) evolution?”
    It’s called biological evolution.
    The answer to your question is obvious. The people who reject the facts of evolution don’t understand it. They don’t understand it because they refuse to study it. If somebody explains evolution to them, they refuse to listen. Whenever I ask a creationist to read the website in my URL box to be able to understand some of the molecular evidence for evolution, they refuse to read it, or they refuse to take the time to understand it.
    This is called willful ignorance. I will never understand why people want to waste their entire lives not understanding how their species developed. Of course most people are not interested in science, but I would think they would at least make an effort to understand it at least a little bit. But no, they are satisfied with their magical creation idea and they have no interest in learning about scientific explanations.
    “Had the critics remained silent over the past decade, ID might possibly have moldered in obscurity.”
    It’s difficult to remain silent when the flat-earthers are constantly trying to stick their medieval ideas into science education. In Dover Pennsylvania the flat-earthers cost taxpayers one million dollars when they unsuccessfully tried to force science teachers to teach the religious idea called intelligent design. When one million bucks goes down the toilet for nothing people are going to get angry.
    Right now where I live in Florida, the flat-earthers are again attacking science education. If they kept their intelligent design supernatural magic in their churches where it belongs then scientists would be happy to ignore them, but they can’t stop attacking science education.
    “Yet the critics of ID often resort to the same tactic, only instead of saying ‘God did it’ they claim ‘Science will find it’.”
    Certainly it’s better to say “scientists are still working on it” than “scientists gave up and invoked magic”. I hope you can understand why giving up really isn’t a good idea. Invoking intelligent design, also known as magic, is giving up. That’s why even religious scientists NEVER invoke God to explain any natural process. The religious scientists understand it’s not scientific to use supernatural ideas to explain the natural world. They also understand it’s incredibly lazy to say “Here a miracle occurred.”

  • http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day1am2.html BobC

    tickletext,
    I suggest don’t use Mike Toreno’s disdain for creationists get in the way of understanding what he said. Perhaps he could have used more diplomatic language but everything he said was absolutely correct.
    The dishonesty of intelligent design proponents like Dembski and Behe is well documented. These people, who work for the anti-science Christian organization called the Discovery Institute, are professional liars. They most certainly know they are lying but they don’t care. They made a career choice to spread lies about science and they make a good living doing it.
    It’s fair to say the customers of these professional liars are gullible. Their customers never check facts. They just blindly accept everything Dembski and Behe say, because it makes them happy to pretend their religious ideas are scientific.
    I can understand Mike Toreno’s frustration. It’s obvious Mr. Toreno has an excellent understanding of biological evolution, and I’m not surprised he has so much contempt for people who refuse to accept it, despite massive and powerful evidence for it from many branches of science, evidence which has been accumulating for 150 years. It’s fair to say that just maybe there is something seriously wrong with people who continue to reject so much scientific evidence just so they can continue believing in ancient myths.

  • http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day1am2.html BobC

    “Dawkins says that life on earth was most likely seeded by aliens from outer space.”
    Most likely?
    Actually that’s not true at all. I hope this dishonesty was not intentional.
    Dawkins, in the anti-science movie Expelled, was making a wild speculation when he suggested it was possible an alien race brought living cells to earth about 4 billion years ago. He was just trying to make his interviewer happy, not knowing he was being interviewed for an anti-science propaganda movie. Certainly Dawkins does not think this alien idea is likely at all. I know enough about Dawkins to know he agrees with the rest of the scientific community – the first living cells on earth developed naturally from organic matter.
    I like to give people the benefit of a doubt and not accuse them of intentionally lying when just maybe it was an innocent mistake. Of course I could be wrong. The lying could be intentional. Creationists do not have a very good reputation for a good reason. They have a strong tendency to spread lies about science and scientists.

  • http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day1am2.html BobC

    The more I read Mike Toreno’s comments, the better it looks. I wouldn’t change a word he said. It was a perfect explanation of the compulsive lying of ID proponents and their complete lack of intelligence. This is, after all, the year 2008, and the ID proponents act like they are still living in the Dark Ages. I have no problem with people who are too lazy to educate themselves, but when they combine their ignorance with dishonesty, and then try to force their dishonesty and their medieval ideas into science education, they deserve nothing but contempt.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Mr. Toreno,
    There is no such thing as “ID creationism”.
    ID creationism adherents believe in ID creationism because they haven’t considered, or don’t want to consider, the possibility that they’re just retarded. Well, it’s time for them to consider it. (emphasis mine)
    Hmmm. Toreno seems to have given credence to Stein’s point.
    Is ID immature and subject to serious criticsm? Yes. Look back 100 years @ Darwinism. There was no molecular biology like there is today, so Darwin could only make broad statements and mathematical assessments. But deductive proof? None. It’s all inductive. (It’s based on model theory structures.)
    Here’s a hypothesis. It may be wrong, but I’d like to get an explanation in some greater detail. (After all, it’s all about learning.)
    I wonder if *chance* has anything to do with these changes. Well, not if you follow Dawkins — it’s all deterministic. Ok, so you allow chance with a compatibilist alternative. So what?
    Let’s make this really, really simple? Are there 10 million random genetic changes needed to take place from, say, an ancient little rodent to today’s human? And let’s accept the common hypothesis that there were no large mammals on the earth after the Yucatan impact of 65M years ago? So do you really think that you can find a major genetic trait shift (on average) every 6 generations? Hardly. There is not enough time!
    Let’s try another route: Lucy is 3.9 million years old and (for the sake of argument) pretty close to human structure. That means very few changes from Lucy to today and a greater number of generational changes from Yucatan to Lucy. Again, not enough time!
    Unless you want to revive Hopeful Monster. And nobody does.
    Ok, so we leave HM and inquire about the possibility of PE. Is that the answer? Is it addressing the question? Why or Why Not?
    ***
    I look forward to the responses.
    Collin

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/ Collin Brendemuehl

    BobC,
    Ernst Mayr (What Evolution Is) says that evolutionists would like to answer the question of origins but they don’t have any good theories. We’ve heard the bad ones, but that’s all they’ve got.
    As a result there are many who say that evolution does not try to answer the question of origins. That’s a half-truth.
    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Just when I thought the nightmare was over! I haven’t seen Expelled and probably won’t have the time to do so. I think enough was said about the movie and its producers when they had a screening, let people buy tickets ahead of time and when a noted anti-IDer did they refused to let him in. Anyway, I did read Joe’s stuff, here’s a rundown for the 10,234th time:
    Lie 1: Whether due to intellectual snobbery or mental laziness, too many critics of ID never bother to understand what the term means, much less learn the general tenets of the theory. Instead, they knock down a strawman version of ID that they have gleaned from other, equally ill-informed, critics.
    On this very blog and elsewhere ID we have almost had to beg ID advocates to define their terms, answer straightforward questions about their theories. Questions like what exactly do they mean by complexity or how they propose to objectively detect design have been ignored or spun around in circles.
    unLie2: Resorting to this red herring is one of the most common arguments made against ID. While it’s true that ID could be used to promote a particular religious agenda, this is not a sufficient argument against it being a legitimate scientific research program. There is no a priori reason why a research program could not be completely in adherence to accepted scientific methods and yet be completely compatible with a particular religious viewpoint
    No problem as long as ID advocates actually propose a legitimate scientific research program. Instead they want to jump to the head of the line by writing elementary school textbooks when they haven’t even proposed a real theory yet.
    semiLie3: Critics of ID often claim that the theory relies on a “God of the Gaps” argument. (Don’t understand how something occurred? Claim God did it. Case closed.) As scientific reasoning, this method is obviously flawed. Yet the critics of ID often resort to the same tactic, only instead of saying “God did it” they claim “Science will find it.”
    The problem is that this almost never happens.
    Actually it does quite often happen but there’s no guarantee ‘science will find it’. There are many things science may never find, such as what, if anything caused the Big Bang or if the universe is finite or infinite? Joe is correct that when science does ‘find a gap’ it often opens up new questions to explore. This is true of all scientific theories and in fact is the hallmark of a good theory.
    Lie 4:The hypocrisy of snubbing ID because it lacks peer-review was exposed throughout Expelled. One example was the treatment of Richard Sternberg, a journal editor who made the career-killing mistake of actually publishing an article that was sympathetic to ID.
    Sternberg used his position to publish a paper outside the journals’ normal subject matter and bypassed its normal peer reviewers. This is a class example of trying to use PR to trump reality. Publishing in a peer reviewed journal is not some type of magic stamp of approval but an indication that the paper has been scrutinized by others. Even then it is only a mark of quality, not a guarantee.
    semi Lie 5:Why did we lose our body hair? Sex selection. Why do we retain some body hair? Yep, sex selection. Why do humans walk on two legs? Again, the same answer, sex selection. Why do dogs walk on all four? You guessed it, sex selection.
    The same goes for human behavior. Hardly a week goes by that some newspaper or magazine article does not include a story claiming how “evolution” is the reason humans do X, avoid Y, or prefer Z.
    The best criticism of ‘evolution explains everything including why men like football more than women do’ has come not from Intelligent Designers but from scientists who use evolution every day. I agree ‘answers’ like the above are too general but so is saying ‘gravity’ when asked why a plane crashed. The fact is it is true. If there wasn’t gravity the plane wouldn’t have crashed and if you think gravity is a lie made up by liberals….well just about any other sane explanation for why the plane crashed will sound wrong to you.
    Nonetheless, the plane did indeed crash because of gravity. No doubt, though, you would loose your job if that’s all you put in the accident report. You might want to add there was too much ice on its wings and the plane wasn’t able to maintain lift which caused the force of gravity to overcome the plane’s engines and thereby crash while its sister plane who was properly deiced before takeoff did not crash.
    But if you want to pretend to be an idiot rather than a smart liar, you can make a nice show of throwing up your hands and screaming “Gravity, gravity! Why it supposedly explains everything. Why did one plane crash? Gravity. Why did the other not? Gravity!!!!”

  • Doc

    If the charge that ID is “stealth creationism” then it is equally arguable that Darwinian evolution is simply “stealth atheism.”

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Doc
    If the charge that ID is “stealth creationism” then it is equally arguable that Darwinian evolution is simply “stealth atheism.”
    Except for the fact that it is not.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Boonton,
    BS #1: Go to the blogs of Dr. Jason Rosenthal and other over on ScienceBlogs. You’ll see a bunch of slurs (like the accusation of anti-semitism) from people who have not seen the film. BTW, Rosenthal is @ George Mason. To appreciate that you’ll need to see the film. These are folks who teach at these very universities but who willingly misrepresent (whether through ignorance or intent I do not know) ID/IC. And they’re PhDs. Not yokels.
    BS #2: Let’s hold Darwinism to the same standards. Want to get rid of all those science texts that take classic Darwinain positions and replace them with neo-Darwinism (because it is more well-developed)? Any such demand for Orthodoxy means that the Orthodox had better get some clear definitions. And even Darwinism doesn’t have that.
    BS #3: More often it is the presumption of a “scientific explanation” that we hear. But it goes past presumption and still maintains that 19th c. positivism of a post-millennial Better World Through Genetics or some other scentific method.
    BS #4: It begs the question: Who reviews and who publishes. The naturalists (philosphers before being scientists) have control. That is the First Theme of the movie.
    BS #5: ID is no more a simplification than are current other models. It is simply younger but yet far more mature than Darwin’s own material. But that’s on the surface. Information-based genetic study is the name of the game, ID or not. Why? Becuase genes carry information. It is the origin and character of that information which ID is addressing. The fact of intelligible information (pattern and complexity) is without question, or we would have no genetic science.
    Go see the movie. What’s the matter? Scared?
    Collin

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Doc
    If the charge that ID is “stealth creationism” then it is equally arguable that Darwinian evolution is simply “stealth atheism.”
    Except for the fact that it is not.

    Almost correct. Neo-Darwinism with its naturalism is stealth atheism.

  • Mike Toreno

    tickletext, it’s obvious that you are dismissing my arguments because you have a vested interest in refusing to address the possibilities they open up. I am presenting my arguments in a spirit of free and open scientific inquiry and a willingness to follow the evidence where it leads. If I don’t get an important professorship that allows me to pursue my research, that failure will be evidence that my ideas are being discriminated against by those who want to enforce a rigid academic orthodoxy.

  • ex-preacher

    In searching for a past comment I made on this topic, I realized that Joe’s three part series is a re-run from August of 2006. He appears to have just updated it with the paragraph about Expelled. Do we really want to rehash this argument? Let’s face it, 99% of ID’ers are creationists who will never, ever admit to evolution because they think it contradicts the Bible. There’s really no point to discussing this with them.

  • Unapologetic Catholic

    “In searching for a past comment I made on this topic, I realized that Joe’s three part series is a re-run from August of 2006.”
    Well, The blurb on the side bad from John Mark Reynolds is:
    “Joe Carter is Dante for people with attention deficit disorder.”
    Apparently so true.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    BS #1: Go to the blogs of Dr. Jason Rosenthal and other over on ScienceBlogs. You’ll see a bunch of slurs (like the accusation of anti-semitism) from people who have not seen the film. BTW, Rosenthal is @ George Mason. To appreciate that you’ll need to see the film.
    This is similiar to the argument about hostility to religion in the public square we had earlier. I don’t doubt there are examples galore of ‘hostility’ to ID. That doesn’t alter what I said. ID advocates here have been begged to explain their theory, definitions and so on and they decline. Science defenders here have gone overboard to try to answer similiar questions from IDers and Creationists to the point of exhaustion.
    BS #2: Let’s hold Darwinism to the same standards. Want to get rid of all those science texts that take classic Darwinain positions and replace them with neo-Darwinism (because it is more well-developed)?
    Yes indeed, if there are texts that have outdated theories they should be updated. Keep in mind, though, that many texts take a semi-historical way of presenting complex theories. Newton’s laws of motion, for example, are often presented before Einstein’s relativity even though Einstein is technically more up to date. This is partly to teach some history, partly to illustrate how scientific theories change and develop and partly because for some things an earlier theory can still hold pretty good explanatory power while being easier to work with (Nasa still uses Newton’s theories because even with computers the math is simply easier for what they have to do).
    BS #3: More often it is the presumption of a “scientific explanation” that we hear. But it goes past presumption and still maintains that 19th c. positivism of a post-millennial Better World Through Genetics or some other scentific method.
    There’s a difference between a scentific theory and using science to extrapolate a philosophical or metaphysical position. You may disagree with such positions but that says nothing about the validity of the underlying theory.
    BS #4: It begs the question: Who reviews and who publishes. The naturalists (philosphers before being scientists) have control. That is the First Theme of the movie.
    This is essentially the crank argument. “I have the truth but no one will listen to me because it doesn’t fit their agendas”. There are those who assert the HIV virus does not cause AIDS and they tend to go for the same line. As a standard of proof, though, it says nothing. As I said, peer review does not guarantee correctness but is an indication that someone other than yourself gave the results a hard look. If you say everyone is biased, well you’re essentially saying you can’t get peer review. That’s a minus for your theory because you’re saying it can’t be checked except by ‘true believers’.
    To make this plausible you now have a new argument to establish. Namely that the scientific establishment is indeed biased against you and is keeping your ‘truth’ covered up. Sorry, Richard Dawkins and Chrsitopher Hitchens may be popular writers on Amazon.com but they aren’t editing the hundreds, maybe thousands, of obscure scientific journals devoted to lots of niche topics. What do you have to show that all those editors are surpressing your research because of their bias rather than because the ‘papers’ are technically wrong. And what is your evidence for this? That 95% of biologists are not theists?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Collin
    BS #5: ID is no more a simplification than are current other models. It is simply younger but yet far more mature than Darwin’s own material. But that’s on the surface. Information-based genetic study is the name of the game, ID or not. Why? Becuase genes carry information. It is the origin and character of that information which ID is addressing. The fact of intelligible information (pattern and complexity) is without question, or we would have no genetic science.
    I’m not sure where this is coming from or what you’re saying. Does #5 refer to my attack on Joe’s #5? I don’t deny that genes carry information. Everything carries information in one form or another (hence the forensic investigation of plane crashes). I have yet to hear anything new that ID has had to say about information other than a lot of handwaving again with silence when specifics were requested from people who were honestly trying to engage ID advocates.
    Go see the movie. What’s the matter? Scared?
    No, quite frankly I don’t have the time or the money. I’m no more scared of the movie than I was of Micheal Moore’s last two movies (which I also have yet to see) or any of the other 100,000 movies that have yet to grace my Netflix que. I assume if the movie has any really good arguments to present one of you guys will get around to doing it before we hit 300 comments.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Boonton,
    All you’ve proven is that you’ve not studied the subject. What you’ve not seen is what you’ve not studied.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I notice you’re following form and not answering very simple questions.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/ Collin Brendemuehl

    Boonton,
    Not at all. You’ve asked questions based on thepremisethat the information is something you do not undrestand and things which you have not seen. There’s no answering such ignorance of a subject.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I’ll ask it again, what is it about information that you think evolution does not address as well as ID does?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Fahrenheit 9/11 is the wrong metaphor. You want “Chariots of the Gods” instead.
    See, you should be comparing pseudo-science with pseudo-science, or fiction with fiction (I won’t even begin to dignify your post by pointing out the rank dishonesty therein).

  • Rob

    “When even Dawkins admits that intelligent agency is involved in creation of life on earth it isn’t difficult to see why other people think it is plausible.”
    I hope this is an honest mistake and not a deliberate misrepresentation of Dawkins’s position. You should know better.
    “But instead the theory’s critics launched a irrational counter-offensive, forcing people into choosing sides.”
    What a coincidence! That’s the same way the Bush administration is helping the terrorists.
    “Even those who flunked high school biology can see that when a theory can be used to prove any behavior that it ceases to be science and enters the realm of faith.”
    So the great explanatory power of the theory is a weakness. Hmmm…
    “The problem with this approach is that the more the public learn about modern evolutionary theory, the more skeptical they become about it being an adequately robust explanation for the diversity of life on earth.”
    As Alexander Pope said, “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”
    Those who learn about evolutionary theory from creationist propaganda need to drink a little more largely, and not from the pitcher of Kool-Aid that has apparently filled the Stein.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Boonton :
    Your efforts are laudatory, but frankly, when a religious extremist has to filter everything – everything – in order for it to be “religiously correct” in the same way that Stalinists vetted every theory to see that it conformed to Marxism-Leninism, then you must sacrifice the truth.
    This is because ideologies and opinions are not reality.
    And so no matter what you say, the extremists will simply lie. There is no other word for it.
    They are liars.
    If one vows fidelity to reality, then one must accept that from time to time one will be neither religiously nor politically correct according to one’s preconceived beliefs and ideology.
    It’s a mark of maturity to live that way, and unfortunately, creationists don’t.

  • Baggi

    Watch it Joe, you’ve made the haters come out of their closets.
    I saw the movie last night, thought it was pretty darn good. Don’t normally go in for those sorts of flicks but Ben Stein made it quite appealing and interesting throughout.

  • http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day1am2.html BobC

    A very special kind of stupidity is required to believe in magical creation in the 21st century.

  • ucfengr

    A very special kind of stupidity is required to believe in magical creation in the 21st century.
    Wow, I always thought it took a special kind of stupidity to believe that, in a strictly material world, you have any more control over your thoughts than a dung beetle has. Oh well, “to-may-to”, “to-mah-to”.

  • phasespace

    Wow, I always thought it took a special kind of stupidity to believe that, in a strictly material world, you have any more control over your thoughts than a dung beetle has.

    ucfenger,

    Both you and Bob just made differing statements on this subject, which clearly implies that many people are capable of conciously changing their minds. I will even stick my neck out and assume you both agree that people can change their minds. This strongly indicates that, even if your statement is true, the reality is far more complex than a lame to-may-to to-mah-to reference, and your understanding of what your statement really means is sorely lacking.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/ Collin Brendemuehl

    Mumon,
    You want to talk about “truth” with regard to claims of racism? Hmmm.
    Or you can go over and find some friends on scienceblogs (Brayton, Lynch, Rosenhouse) who like to call people anti-semites (racists, that is) without evidence. Just a bunch of nonsense. In line with the Left — you know, those who have a heritage in the teachings of Marx.
    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Baggi,
    Watch it Joe, you’ve made the haters come out of their closets.
    Notice that ‘haters’ here means anyone who isn’t going to worship at Joe’s alter and heap praise on this incoherent nonsense. Also notice how true to form many of the IDers remain. Collin refuses to answer a simple question on #22 nor does anyone else. Yet they flock to the victimization mentality and pretend they are being treated unfairly.
    Look again at Joe’s #1 complaint:

    Whether due to intellectual snobbery or mental laziness, too many critics of ID never bother to understand what the term means, much less learn the general tenets of the theory. Instead, they knock down a strawman version of ID that they have gleaned from other, equally ill-informed, critics. The belligerent or paranoid advocates of ID will assume that the misrepresentation is due to dishonesty or a conspiracy by the neo-Darwinists. But even those who are more charitable will agree that when a critic misrepresents the theory, it undermines their own credibility.

    Whose really being a snob here? Whose really being mentally lazy and belligerent and even paranoid? Again and again IDers are given a fair shot and yet refuse to play on the field. Is it so unreasonable that some, many of us get so fed up with this nonsense that we toss our hands up and dismiss the whole bunch of you as not worth the time?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Collin
    Or you can go over and find some friends on scienceblogs (Brayton, Lynch, Rosenhouse)
    Why don’t you actually address what people say here rather than elsewhere? Why does Mumon have to go over to these blogs, research their charges and then come back here and either defend them or agee with you? If you have a beef with what other people write on other blogs, well Joe is hardly the first person on the web to invent a comment button on his blog.
    Do you go over to those blogs and complain about what I say here?

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Boonton,
    I did address what he said (with past history) and put it in a current context.
    I do discuss these things on the other blogs. But Rosenhouse has quasi-censored me. Brayton has censored me. (I’ve been Expelled for not accepting their Orthodoxy.)
    Regaring #2: (#22?)
    Your supposition is in error. It’s not a matter of outdated texts. It is a matter of how science is done as opposed to how people *think* science is done. Two modern text, Ernst Mayr What Evolution Is and Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory both become metaphysical and inductive in their approaches to science and theory. Their science is, in software terms, wrappered (some would say “reframed”) in “evolution”. They talk about testing Genetics and then wrap Genetics in Evolution rather than remaining with the core of their postulates: Genetics.
    I dealt with this a bit more broadly in my own post today.
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com
    Collin

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    1. Mumon did not call you or anyone on this thread a racist or anti-semite. I don’t see why he needs to address charges made by other people on other blogs. As for being comment banned on them, that too is really beyond this discussion. The only comment banning I’m aware of here by Joe was against a supporter of science, not an ID advocate. From what I’ve heard here ID sites tend to be more trigger happy with comment bans than evolution sites…you are free to dispute that of course.
    2. Again, I asked a simple question in regards to what you wrote here, what does information have to do with evolutionary theory and why do you think ID does a better job addressing it? I don’t see that addressed in the post you linked too and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a coherent summary argument here.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Boonton,
    You need to recall or refresh the spat about the racism claim of Blumenthal and how that ended up on Kos. It’s a problem everywhere.
    You’re asking for coherence when you admitted several times that you don’t understand the subject? Sheesh. ID can provide a better understanding of genetic information becuase the postulate is based on the fact of information, not the proposition of incoherence. Information is what genetic science is generally about and ID can take that further by treating all of the detail and coherent information rather than as nonsense. One failing in the incoherence was to treat unknwon dna components as “junk” — later shown to be a shallow view of dna. The ID perspective would have handled even the initial research from a different frame of reference from the very beginning and any mention of a creator would have been unnecessary. (That’s why it’s a red herring argument that it’s creationism in disguise.)
    As goes naturalism so goes the nonsense of Darwin’s incoherence.
    Collin

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Collin
    You need to recall or refresh the spat about the racism claim of Blumenthal and how that ended up on Kos. It’s a problem everywhere.
    And why do I need to recall it? In other words, why is this not off topic to this thread.
    You’re asking for coherence when you admitted several times that you don’t understand the subject?
    I’ve admitted no such thing. On post 18 I said I didn’t understand your post and I said I probably will not have the time to see the movie in the foreseeable future. Where do you get off spinning that as “I don’t understand the subject”?
    Information is what genetic science is generally about and ID can take that further by treating all of the detail and coherent information rather than as nonsense. One failing in the incoherence was to treat unknwon dna components as “junk” — later shown to be a shallow view of dna.
    Here is a good case. What exactly does ID tell us about ‘junk DNA’? Does it tell us that there is absolutely no junk DNA? Or does it tell us that an organism can have some junk DNA?
    To be fair I don’t think evolution can provide an a priori answer to that question. On the one hand, junk DNA would be consistent with random changes through generations plus other sources of ‘noise’. On the other hand, it might be sub-optimal for an organism to spend time and effort copying DNA that has no purpose. Given no clear answer the only option available seems to be to ‘dive in the dirt’ (or this case cells) and see what we can learn about its DNA and what it does.
    Your claim, though, appears to be that ID is a better theory (or has potential to be a better theory). Then how would it do better than evolution (which hedges its bets in this case)? If you say ID would rule out junk DNA’s existence then would the discovery that organisms do indeed have some junk DNA (less than what was originally thought) be harmful to ID as a theory?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    One failing in the incoherence was to treat unknwon dna components as “junk” — later shown to be a shallow view of dna.
    1. The word incoherence does not mean wrong. Incoherence more or less means “something doesn’t make sense”. Saying “I think piece of DNA X has no use” may be wrong but it is hardly incoherent.
    2. Your post gives the impression that junk DNA was some type of major miss by evolution that ID would have avoided or would have quickly corrected if given the shot. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junk_dna provides an interesting perspective on the facts:
    a. “In molecular biology, “junk” DNA is a provisional label for the portions of the DNA sequence of a chromosome or a genome for which no function has yet been identified. Scientists fully expect to find functions for some, but definitely not all, of this provisionally classified collection.” – So right off the bat junk DNA was never really defined to mean junk.
    b. “Moreover, the conservation of some junk DNA over many millions of years of evolution may imply an essential function. ”
    So right there evolutionary theory seems to point scientists towards trying to find functions for supposedly junk DNA. What improvement would ID have really offered? Did scientists, influenced by evolution throw up their hands and say “junk dna is really junk, we aren’t looking at it anymore?.
    c. The article lists about 12 examples of various scientists and researchers who found uses for pieces of junk DNA. Since these fellows appear to be from a broad cross-section of the scientific mainstream one has to ask are these ID researchers? Certainly not since the ID folks here tell us they are shut out of mainstream science. But if these aren’t ID researchers then all of this discovery is taking place by researchers who are either using evolution as their framwork or are indifferent to evolution.vs.ID. If that’s the case then where’s the advantage of ID? You tell us ID would have done this faster but it didn’t. I can say I would have brought some shares of Apple back when they were in the gutter but that’s not going to make any profits appear in my brokerage account.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/ Collin Brendemuehl

    The “provisional” idea seems retrospective.
    It was called “junk” from the beginning because it was branded as nonfunctional and vestigal. The “provisional” argument is too convenient given other facts.
    We must both caveat that molecular biology is not a monolith of ideas. Certainly not all dismissed it as “junk” but at the same time many did, and “junk” was the term of choice.
    ID as a Real Information Theory would certainly not have dismissed material as necessarily “junk”. That’s the difference. Whether it would have been quickly fruitful or not is another question.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Except here’s the problem, evolutionary theory had something to say about junk. It said the existence of junk DNA was perplexing unless certain conditions were meet in which case ‘junk’ might slip in. As a result, scientists did not shrug and declare the junk to be junk. They kept prodding and are still prodding.
    Again I asked a simple question, what does ID say about junk DNA? I still don’t know your answer. Does it say junk DNA can’t exist? Why? Junk gets into other designed systems, sometimes junk is even purposefully designed into system. You keep tossing around “Real Information Theory” yet keep failing to explain exactly what you mean by that and what it has to do with evolution and why ID supposedly does a better job with it.
    Judging from the footnotes junk first appeared around 1990 and began to get nailed down around 2002. I don’t see any evidence that evolutionary theory had anything to do with ‘mislabeling’ DNA as junk. It appears more likely that the ‘mislabeling’ is simply due to the fact that our ability to study DNA has advanced rapidly and it has gotten progressively easier to ‘dig into the dirt’ of DNA and figure out what it does and doesn’t do.
    If you bothered to read the article you’d realize that the initial eagerness to label large portions of DNA junk came not from evolutionary theory but from experimental results showing little relationship between an organisms complexity and the amount of DNA it has:

    Overall genome size, and by extension the amount of junk DNA, appears to have little relationship to organism complexity: the genome of the unicellular Amoeba dubia has been reported to contain more than 200 times the amount of DNA in humans”[2] [3].

    The pufferfish Takifugu rubripes genome is only about one tenth the size of the human genome, yet seems to have a comparable number of genes. Most of the difference appears to lie in what is now known only as junk DNA. This puzzle is known as the C-value enigma or, more conventionally, the C-value paradox[4].

  • ucfengr

    Both you and Bob just made differing statements on this subject, which clearly implies that many people are capable of conciously changing their minds.
    No, it really doesn’t have to imply that at all. If the human mind is an organic computer (which it would have to be in a material world) then it operates in accordance with its programming, it doesn’t have a choice in how to respond. Religious
    I will even stick my neck out and assume you both agree that people can change their minds.
    Okay, but I believe in God. As such, my basis for believing that we have some control over all thoughts is based on a belief that there is more to the universe than the material. In a strictly material world, what is the basis for assuming that the human mind is able to act outside the laws of chemistry and physics that every other material thing is subject to?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Collin Brendemuehl :
    I am really amused by this:

    ID can provide a better understanding of genetic information becuase the postulate is based on the fact of information, not the proposition of incoherence. Information is what genetic science is generally about and ID can take that further by treating all of the detail and coherent information rather than as nonsense.

    Unfortunately, “intelligent” “design” has nothing at all to do with information theory, as done by real, live information theorists.
    Now maybe it has something to do with make-believe information theory, but that has about as much correspondence to reality as your attempts to try to trash people for being racist, for their pointing out that the head of the FRC was involved with the Klan. Which, as Boonton says, is way off topic.
    But what’s on topic is what happened when I politely inquired on “Uncommon Descent” as to when Dr. Dembski would be submitting a paper to the premier journal of information theory, the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory.
    Know what happened?
    I got banned.
    So consider my self playing the world’s tiniest violin for you.
    Oh, and maybe a bit of fidelity to the truth in the future might help you from diverting yourself off the thread topic.

  • Sojourner

    For some reason I thought when I entered the academic field the playground tactics of name calling, misrepresentation, and slander would be laid aside. Granted, there is no such thing as a tabula rasa in an intellectual discussion, but is not it possible to operate with some form of maturity?
    Instead of making a statement, allow me to pose a series of questions. What does it take for a theory to become a scientific law? When a scientific law is established, how does one go about applying the said law? If other proposed theories go against a founded scientific law (or a group of them) and are unable to be proved using the scientific method how are they supposed to be approached?
    I look forward to reading responses upon which I may post a statement.

  • phasespace

    No, it really doesn’t have to imply that at all. If the human mind is an organic computer (which it would have to be in a material world) then it operates in accordance with its programming, it doesn’t have a choice in how to respond.

    And how do you know that? What if the programming specifically allows for choice? You don’t know that it doesn’t allow for that. You’re thinking to deterministically, and yet we have good evidence that points to the fact that we can and do make decisions that are not deterministic. Heck, we even have simple computer programs that do things in a nondeterministic fashion. That’s not necessarily the same thing as “free will,” but can you tell the difference?

    What evidence do you have that the human mind does act beyond the bounds of physical laws? I would argue that we don’t know enough about the mind to answer that question one way or the other.

  • phasespace

    Granted, there is no such thing as a tabula rasa in an intellectual discussion, but is not it possible to operate with some form of maturity?

    Nobody’s perfect. It also can be very trying to speak with people who think that they know a lot more about a subject than they really do. See the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    As for your questions…. There really isn’t any standard for when a theory becomes a law, and in fact it is pretty arbitrary when you start to examine it. However, generally speaking, scientific laws tend to be very simple and fundamental, Newton’s laws of motion for example (F=ma), or Ohm’s law (V=IR), but contrast that with E=mc^2. Einstein’s famous equation isn’t really given the status of a law in and of itself, even though it is very simple and very fundamental (although most physicists would consider it an extension of the law of conservation of energy).

    As for applying a law, I don’t think that question makes much sense. You apply the law the same way you would apply the rules of any other well established theory. There’s no magic there. Essentially, you can think of scientific laws as just extremely well tested theories. So well tested, in fact, that the likelihood of them being wrong is very, very small, but not necessarily impossibly small.

    If a proposed theory goes against a scientific law, and there’s evidence to support it, then the law is overturned. See Newton’s equations above. Newton’s laws do have a limited range of validity, once you go outside that range you have to switch over to using special or general relativity. In other words, Newton’s laws have been overturned, but they are still very useful and accurate enough to be used in many domains.

    Finally, if a proposed theory goes against a scientific law, but is unable to be verified using the scientific method, then chances are, the proposed theory is almost certainly a flawed theory, and it wouldn’t even be considered scientific in the first place. The fact that it may go against an established law is irrelevant.

  • Rich

    “In a strictly material world, what is the basis for assuming that the human mind is able to act outside the laws of chemistry and physics that every other material thing is subject to?”
    It could be argued (it has been) that Quantum mechanics effectively relegates determinism to the dustbin.
    Someone already proved recently that the Quantum Zeno effect is at work in the brain of some birds (magnetic navigation). Pubmed bought up a few papers along the lines of this – also see Pribram/Bohm etc.
    Its an interesting idea – and I am betting eventually we will know a lot more about it…
    …Aint science grand?
    Its definitely too early to write off determinism just yet – but its also premature to assert that materialisim denies us free will (which is what you are working up to no?).
    PS Collin – you are a sophist. Before you get exicited I do not mean the good kind :(
    I’m guessing that this does not worry you given your goals (just snuck a look at your blog) – but it really really should.
    “For if the truth of God hath more abounded by my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also adjudged a sinner?” (St. Paul, Romans 3.7)

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Good smack down of the “intelligent” “design” creationism pseudo-science movie here:
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=six-things-ben-stein-doesnt-want-you-to-know
    Really, how anyone can claim a pretense to morality when it comes to this feces and a straight face is beyond me.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Rich
    It could be argued (it has been) that Quantum mechanics effectively relegates determinism to the dustbin.
    An interesting passage I read in the book The Black Swan was about a math paper analyzing a simple pool break. To compute the first ball on ball impact you simply need high school physics. Go a few balls beyond that, though, and things get interesting. I think it was around the 4th or 5th ball you needed to know the weight and position of the players because their gravity will actually be significant enough to alter the event and at the 9th ball even an electron on the edge of the visible universe will exert enough force to matter in the result.
    So even leaving out quantum mechanics, determinism is effectively moot even in a material only universe. If you need the entire universe to determine the movement of big clumsy billard balls imagine the information needed to determine the activity of a brain.
    Mumon
    But what’s on topic is what happened when I politely inquired on “Uncommon Descent” as to when Dr. Dembski would be submitting a paper to the premier journal of information theory, the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory….I got banned.
    It is ironic how many IDers will make a show of demanding freedom of inquiry and play the victimization card for everything they can milk it for but when they are in positions of power they fall into the Stalinist mindset much faster than most of the people they rail against.

  • ucfengr

    It could be argued (it has been) that Quantum mechanics effectively relegates determinism to the dustbin.
    It could be, but it could (and it has been) that quantum mechanics is under “super determinism”, so where do we go? I ask rhetorically, because I really don’t want to get into a discussion of QM; I barely squeaked through Physics 3, 10 years ago and have no desire to relive the experience. Suffice it to say that there is significant disagreement on what QM tells us about free will.

  • Rich

    Theres another one for the to-read list. Thanks Boonton :)

  • Rich

    ucfengr: Thats true. But don’t you find that makes it all the more interesting?
    It certainly puts the more naive arguments against determinism (ie with furrowed brow asking “Are you telling me conciousness is nothing but atoms??! How could that be!?!?”) and the whole predestination idea into context.. It’s nowhere near that straightforward.
    I don’t pretend to understand anything but the most basic concepts of QM either. Even thats a stretch.
    Its a strange universe we live in.

  • ucfengr

    It certainly puts the more naive arguments against determinism (ie with furrowed brow asking “Are you telling me conciousness is nothing but atoms??! How could that be!?!?”) and the whole predestination idea into context..
    I don’t accept the premise that this is a naive argument. Relying on something like QM, which almost no one understands at all, and very few, if any, understand well (even Einstein had a few WTF moments when dealing with QM) to explain anything is very, for lack of a better term, problematic. IMHO, if you can’t explain some concept in science so that the typical engineer, let alone typical person, can understand it, you should probably go back to the drawing board.

  • Neil

    I don’t accept the theory of evolution for the following reasons.
    1. Evidential. The ability of random processes to build the complex, interdependent structures found in living systems has never been demonstrated. The only systems we can point to that approach the complexity found in nature have been designed.
    2. Philosophical. A definition of science that rules out a logically possible answer to the question of origins cannot arrive at the truth about nature.
    3. Sociological. The continued attempts to stifle reasoned debate sends a message that scientists cannot win that debate. The inflammatory language so frequently used doesn’t help either. The ultimate irony is that all this only confirms the premise of the movie, “Expelled”.

  • Rich

    “I don’t accept the premise that this is a naive argument. Relying on something like QM, which almost no one understands at all, and very few, if any, understand well (even Einstein had a few WTF moments when dealing with QM) to explain anything is very, for lack of a better term, problematic. IMHO, if you can’t explain some concept in science so that the typical engineer, let alone typical person, can understand it, you should probably go back to the drawing board.”
    Well first of all Einstein understood QM perfectly well. It just went against all his notions of how the universe should behave – “God does not play dice” and “spooky action at a distance” (which was actually proven experimentally by Aspect and others).
    It was more an aesthetic objection – it offended his sensibilities more than it was confusing to him. His failure to accept quantum had a lot to do with his lack of success post relativity.
    Secondly – Just because the average person doesn’t understand it does not mean its invalid. As many people have pointed out in the past – science is not a democracy. Ask any physicist. Bell’s theorem is a *proof* for example – that’s an important distinction to make.
    It’s not actually that hard either. The basics is easy. Look up the double slit experiment (which actually confirmed predictions) – the wavefunction – the definition of quanta – nonlocality etc.
    Give it a try. Please.
    With respect – “Typical engineer” is telling – and is half the problem here. Ever heard of the Salem Conjecture?

  • Rich

    “I don’t accept the theory of evolution for the following reasons.
    1. Evidential. The ability of random processes to build the complex, interdependent structures found in living systems has never been demonstrated. The only systems we can point to that approach the complexity found in nature have been designed.”
    Abiogenesis is NOT evolution. Evolution explains diversity not origins. I’m sure you have heard this many times so perhaps it should have sunk in by now? I apologise if this seems rude – but like many others this line of argument is getting very tired indeed.
    Yes it’s a problem. People are working on it. Its exciting :). There has been progress. It’s an extremely hard problem as early replicators would not be preserved in any way (for obvious reasons).
    The questions you should really be asking youself are:
    “What does teology mean?”
    and
    “Is the uncertainty at the frontiers of science a strength or a weakness – and is it an opportunity or an problem? What can we infer about this from past scientific advances?”
    “2. Philosophical. A definition of science that rules out a logically possible answer to the question of origins cannot arrive at the truth about nature.”
    You haven’t read your Kant have you? Also it has to be falsifiable to be science. As a very famous man once said – if you want to disprove evolution then all you need to do is find a rabbit fossil in the precambrian.
    Why don’t you propose a test for God? Then we can talk.
    Kant recognised this – for that reason he proposed the whole idea of religion and science occupying different spheres. He also recognised this was for religions benefit. In fact he regarded it as sinful to do otherwise.
    There is a parallel here to the most religious of the founding fathers (Madison) being the most outspoken about church and state separation. So the most religious of the philosophers of his era was the most careful to define science (and other temporal authority) and religion as operating in different areas.
    Kant’s Critique of pure Reason (besides being an awful tautology) does not prove god exists. But it does leave room for him (if no proof). Its a position of agnosticism ultimately – Occam’s razor notwithstanding. Hume had more to say about this as well if you are interested. Treating their ideas as a conversation is an interesting exercise.
    I suspect from this statement that you do not understand formal logic very well. You certainly don’t understand the scientific method. Thats not a philosophical argument either.
    It’s dangerous to argue philosophy is on your side here. From a scientific perspective its irrelevant as well. You are putting God in a box – a box that is steadily shrinking which is exactly what Kant anticipated and was why he wrote what he did . Some would argue he really only acheieved the exact opposite – but his intentions were clear.
    From here you could easily argue that ID is in fact slowly destroying its own religion due to it insisting on occupying the same sphere as science.
    3. Sociological. The continued attempts to stifle reasoned debate sends a message that scientists cannot win that debate. The inflammatory language so frequently used doesn’t help either. The ultimate irony is that all this only confirms the premise of the movie, “Expelled”.
    Project much?
    Its not reasoned debate. Its lies and dissembling. *NONE* (yes none) of those people were persecuted for their beliefs. This is not difficult to check up on. For bypassing peer review and using their position as an editor to publish rubbish – yes one was fired. One of them did not even hold the position they claimed – they were a research associate (unpaid) and they STILL ARE. All the examples from the film are dishonest to say the least. If you are truly interested in a “debate” then go read expelled exposed website.
    Its not scientists who realised they couldn’t win the argument either. Have you read the wedge document? If logic is so important to you then APPLY some to the premise’s of the film. In particular the disgusting and dishonest Hitler/genocide eugenics “argument”.
    Spot the fallacies?
    You don’t even need to actually research what was actually said and written by Hitler to dispose of this argument – although doing this removes any doubt. Shall we start holding all protestants to account for the holocaust for what Martin Luther wrote in what was the first mainstream German book to espouse antisemitism?
    Or is this being a little unfair?
    People who consider Eugenics to be a consequence of evolutionary theory are just plain wrong. Ever heard of hybrid vigor? The entire concept of “breeding” humans or creating a master race can be dispelled by taking a close look at the European royal families. Diversity is important and we need every bit of it we can get from current populations if you take the long view (our very survival past another few hundred years) here. “Fitness” is a very misunderstood concept outside of biology circles – it is dependent on the environment. Sickle cell anemia and white skin being perfect examples.
    ID is causing a stir in the sciences because they are trying to get it called science – when it is in fact anything but. And you people want this taught in schools? No wonder scientists are angry – not only do you effectively call them nazis but you want to teach our children unprovable rubbish. Keep it to the social studies or philosophy classes where it belongs – or work up an actual theory that makes falsifiable predictions.
    Heres what the issue boils down to. Science (remember Kepler and Galileo?) has always posed a problem. Not to religion – but rather the literalist approach to religion. If you consider Genesis (for example) to be not a literal creation account – but rather a morality story of hunter gatherers (and then nomadic herders) settling down to form towns and begin agriculture (with the attendant social problems that emerged) then it all starts to make sense.. Jared Diamond wrote a wonderful essay along these lines the name of which escapes me at the moment. If you want to cling to a literalist interpretation – fine. You are going to have to raise your game somewhat if you want it taught in schools as science.
    My final question to you is – what position will you retreat to when the problem of Abiogenesis is solved and someone creates a simple replicator from early earth conditions? What essentially will you have done to your religion should this happen and you have continued down this path?
    Its worth thinking about.

  • Rich

    Erm thats “teleology” by the way. Duh.

  • Neil

    Response to Rich
    1. Evidential. I know abiogenesis is not evolution. You said evolution explains diversity not origins. I am asking specifically how DOES evolution explain diversity? This is Dr. Kenneth Miller’s testimony during cross examination in the 2005 Dover intelligent design trial (Sept. 26, 2005, p. 47, line 12).
    “Q. Is it true that scientists do not know enough about all structures in the cell to describe how they all work or how describe how evolution could have produced each of them by step-by-step Darwinian processes?
    “A. Well, you ask a very interesting question. And I, first of all, am going to enthusiastically agree with the first part, which is that scientists certainly do not understand enough about all of the structures in the living cell to understand how they work. That really is the business, my business and the business of Dr. Behe. Because the answers to that questions are going to come out of genetics — sorry. They’re going to come out of biochemistry. They’re going to come out of cell biology and maybe molecular biology and genetics as well. I’ll answer the second part of your question this way. Until we understand the first part, which is how everything works, we can’t even begin to understand how things evolved. So we will have to have an absolute and complete and total understanding of how everything in the cell works before we can even begin to put together an understanding of how it evolved.”
    Until science can put together an understanding of how the cell evolved, or how the giraffe evolved its long neck, or how a land animal evolved into a whale, or how the bacterial flagellum evolved, I will remain a skeptic of the theory.
    2. Philosophical. (Nope, I have not read Kant.)
    I have trouble with the discovery of the pre-Cambrian rabbit as a falsification for evolution. Serendipitous falsifications may never occur. What then? Is evolution therefore proven unequivocally? I don’t think so. Also, finding a pre-Cambrian rabbit, or for that matter finding any fossil tells us nothing about the mechanisms of evolution.
    You asked me to propose a test for God. Has anyone been asked to propose a test for the intelligent being that sends a signal from that planet far, far away? The detection of the signal comes first, and the obvious inference is that there is an intelligent being that sent the signal. Similarly, how do archaeologists determine that a people lived in a particular geographic area? By the artifacts they left behind. If you propose a test for the mechanism that changed one animal into another, then we can talk. Or more generally, how does science test any historical process?
    Darwin effectively refuted the design argument based on the science of his day. Dawkins argues in “The Blind Watchmaker” that the evidence for evolution reveals a universe without design. What kind of science allows arguments against a hypothesis, but permits no arguments for that hypothesis? This system sets up evolution as being unfalsifiable.
    3. Sociological. I did check on Richard Sternberg. He did follow “the standard peer review process, sending the paper to four qualified scientists, three of whom agreed to review it. The reviewers’ comments were provided to Dr. Meyer who made changes in the paper accordingly.”
    Richard Sternberg
    Dr. Robert Marks of Baylor University was also featured in “Expelled”.
    Baylor asked him to remove his web site from the Baylor server and grant funds that would have enabled Dr. Marks to hire an associate to assist his work in his evolutionary informatics lab were withdrawn.
    What if someone like Robert Marks is actually encouraged (with appropriate grants, lab space, and assistants) to conduct his research into evolutionary informatics? Would you be in favor of this? Is it possible that such research would show that random processes cannot account for the complexity and diversity of living things? What do scientists then do? Change the definition of science? Or what? I really would be interested in your response.
    Your final question touches on issues that I have been wrestling with for some time. If there is a religion that makes truth claims about reality and among those claims is a claim that there is a God who created heaven and earth and also created man in his image, then scientific evidence that refutes those claims would bring into question the nature of God, if indeed he does exist. He need not exist if there is nothing for him to do. If a belief in God is the result of an evolutionary adaptation as evolutionary theory would seem to suggest, then God truly is a figment of our imagination and not real. When I read that the majority of evolutionary biologists are atheists, and hear how people like Dawkins and Shermer became atheists as a result of learning about the theory, this only confirms the link between the the theory of evolution to atheism in my mind.
    Many Protestant denominations (and individual clergy) have reconciled their theology with the theory of evolution (as witnessed by the Clergy Letter Project). To claim that God works through the process of evolution when Darwin removed God as the agent of that process is a logical contradiction. If the evolutionary process is guided, it is no longer Darwinian. And if the evolutionary process is unguided, there is no room for God. Is God so clever that he can guide an unguided process?

  • Rich

    I’m at work today and its pretty busy – but that was a good response – I will get back to you in more detail when time permits.
    The last issue really comes down to whether you believe in the biblical god – or a Deist one. Or none at all. As mentioned a lot of christians have no issues with Theistic evolution – you seem to be taking the all or nothing approach. I’m not sure that’s going to be helpful to your cause.

  • Rich

    hmm just reading through – I think I’m going to make some time for this.
    “Until science can put together an understanding of how the cell evolved, or how the giraffe evolved its long neck, or how a land animal evolved into a whale, or how the bacterial flagellum evolved, I will remain a skeptic of the theory.”
    Cell evolution = Abiogenesis. We already discussed this. Not yet – promising but exciting.
    Land animal to whale:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/features/whales/
    Giraffe from short to long neck:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional/part2c.html
    I’m strapped for time – but it gets a brief mention. Have read a lot on this – trust me its out there – I’m sure you can find it should you really want to.
    Bacterial flagellum is the irreducible complexity argument. This has also been dealt with – similar to the “what good is half an eye” argument. Problem being they have already found examples of just that (half an eye) and since Behe proposed it they have found even more intermediate steps.
    flagellum:
    http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html
    http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design2/article.html
    http://www.health.adelaide.edu.au/Pharm/Musgrave/essays/flagella.htm
    Second example is by K.Miller. Can you explain why he did not appear in expelled by the way?
    half an eye:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB921_1.html
    “I have trouble with the discovery of the pre-Cambrian rabbit as a falsification for evolution. Serendipitous falsifications may never occur. What then? Is evolution therefore proven unequivocally? I don’t think so. Also, finding a pre-Cambrian rabbit, or for that matter finding any fossil tells us nothing about the mechanisms of evolution.”
    Well if you have problems with that then how about some other predictions of common descent – lets say the genetic ones – like retroviral inserts in Metazoan DNA ?
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_of_common_descent
    “Has anyone been asked to propose a test for the intelligent being that sends a signal from that planet far, far away?”
    Have you ever heard of SETI. Google the WOW signal its interesting
    (disclaimer – I’m not a panspermia proponent- before anyone trys what Mathias did to Dawkins. Which was very very dishonest).
    “Or more generally, how does science test any historical process?”
    Its called forensics. Which is an important term to understand the real meaning of.
    Steinberg:
    see http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/sternberg
    Please read it and respond. You still haven’t accounted for the others. He never held the position they claimed he had at the smithsonian.
    This can only charitably be described as a “Bald faced Lie”.
    Where did you research Steinburg? Not the DI or AIG I hope.
    “Darwin effectively refuted the design argument based on the science of his day.”
    Yes he kinda did didn’t he. Draw your own conclusions from that.
    “Many Protestant denominations (and individual clergy) have reconciled their theology with the theory of evolution (as witnessed by the Clergy Letter Project). To claim that God works through the process of evolution when Darwin removed God as the agent of that process is a logical contradiction. If the evolutionary process is guided, it is no longer Darwinian. And if the evolutionary process is unguided, there is no room for God. Is God so clever that he can guide an unguided process?”
    Heres the all or nothing argument. I think you really need to answer that for yourself. Darwin was careful to let the evidence speak for itself.
    Shades of Epicurus there.

  • Rich

    From the Miller piece – as it addresses a few other points above.
    The Failure of Design
    It is no secret that concepts like “irreducible complexity” and “intelligent design” have failed to take the scientific community by storm (Forrest 2002). Design has not prompted new research studies, new breakthroughs, or novel insights on so much as a single scientific question. Design advocates acknowledge this from time to time, but they often claim that this is because the scientific deck is stacked against them. The Darwinist establishment, they say, prevents them from getting a foot in the laboratory door.
    I would suggest that the real reason for the cold shoulder given “design” by the scientific community, particularly by life science researchers, is because time and time again its principal scientific claims have turned out to be wrong. Science is a pragmatic activity, and if your hypothesis doesn’t work, it is quickly discarded.
    The claim of irreducible complexity for the bacterial flagellum is an obvious example of this, but there are many others. Consider, for example, the intricate cascade of proteins involved in the clotting of vertebrate blood. This has been cited as one of the principal examples of the kind of complexity that evolution cannot generate, despite the elegant work of Russell Doolittle (Doolittle and Feng 1987; Doolittle 1993) to the contrary. A number of proteins are involved in this complex pathway, as described by Behe:
    When an animal is cut, a protein called Hagemann factor (XII) sticks to the surface of cells near the wound. Bound Hagemann factor is then cleaved by a protein called HMK to yield activated Hagemann factor. Immediately the activated Hagemann factor converts another protein, called prekallikrein, to its active form, kallikrein. (Behe 1996a, 84)
    How important are each of these proteins? In line with the dogma of irreducible complexity, Behe argues that each and every component must be in place before the system will work, and he is perfectly clear on this point:
    . . . none of the cascade proteins are used for anything except controlling the formation of a clot. Yet in the absence of any of the components, blood does not clot, and the system fails. (Behe 1996a, 86)
    As we have seen, the claim that every one of the components must be present for clotting to work is central to the “evidence” for design. One of those components, as these quotations indicate, is Factor XII, which initiates the cascade. Once again, however, a nasty little fact gets in the way of intelligent design theory. Dolphins lack Factor XII (Robinson, Kasting, and Aggeler 1969), and yet their blood clots perfectly well. How can this be if the clotting cascade is indeed irreducibly complex? It cannot, of course, and therefore the claim of irreducible complexity is wrong for this system as well. I would suggest, therefore, that the real reason for the rejection of “design” by the scientific community is remarkably simple – the claims of the intelligent design movement are contradicted time and time again by the scientific evidence.

  • Neil

    Response to Rich
    I appreciate the time you are taking to respond to my posts. You have given me a lot of homework to do, and this will take some time to digest. In the meantime I want to respond to some points that will not take as much time.
    “As mentioned a lot of Christians have no issues with Theistic evolution – you seem to be taking the all or nothing approach.”
    If by Theistic evolution you mean taking the modern neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, which specifically has removed God from the process, and then adding God back in, then what other approach can I take? Either God was needed to bring about life as we know it, or he wasn’t.
    “Cell evolution = Abiogenesis. We already discussed this. Not yet – promising but exciting. “
    I interpreted Dr. Miller’s statement as saying that until we understand how the cell evolved, we can’t understand how evolution in general occurred. I still think this is true. But you’re right. He was talking about abiogenesis.
    “Have you ever heard of SETI? Google the WOW signal its interesting.”
    Yes, I have. And you have confirmed the point I was making. The test for the intelligent agent is made from the pattern detected in nature. The detection of the pattern comes first, then the inference to the intelligence that/who created it.
    “It’s called forensics. Which is an important term to understand the real meaning of.”
    From the American Heritage Dictionary on line:
    1. The art or study of formal debate; argumentation.
    2. The use of science and technology to investigate and establish facts in criminal or civil courts of law.
    With the risk of appearing dense, what is the real meaning of forensics that I need to understand?
    “Where did you research Sternberg? Not the DI or AIG I hope.”
    I should know better. I missed a link in another thread some time ago that consisted of bold face colored type. The following link is to his personal site. His site also includes a link to the U.S. government’s Office of Special Counsel report on his ordeal.
    Richard Sternberg
    “Yes he kinda did didn’t he. Draw your own conclusions from that.”
    I hope you noticed that I said he refuted the design argument based on the science of his day. Scientists have learned much more about the complexity of the cell since then. Then you didn’t address the question I was raising with my Darwin and Dawkins comments. They both made arguments against design. I’ll repeat my question. What kind of science is it that allows arguments against a hypothesis but doesn’t allow arguments for that hypothesis? Apparently, scientists no longer agree with Darwin’s own openness to arguments for and against his theory.
    “Design has not prompted new research studies.”
    Design has prompted new research studies. I mentioned Dr. Robert Marks and his evolutionary informatics lab at Baylor University. Look at what happened to him. I then asked if you would support a program such as his that is trying to determine how information impacts evolutionary mechanisms. Again, no answer. I also asked what would happen if these investigations did show that random processes could not build complex systems. Again, no answer.

  • Rich

    Just one thing I missed. The whole by the science of his day thing.
    The science of today has a thousand times more evidence for evolution than existed in Darwins time. He didn’t have a mechanism for inherited characteristics (this came later) – he couldn’t possibly have understand the genetic aspect (which provides some of the strongest evidence to date) and the fossil evidence is stronger than ever (with many more transitional forms having been found).
    The creation of the cell is *again* abiogenesis so this is a more than a little disingenuous line of argument.
    For a slightly less orthodox take on this I recommend the book “Acquiring Genomes” by Margulis and Sagan if you are looking for something other than natural selection to mull over as a possibility…

  • Rich

    Theres a wordy response that came before that post.. its “pending approval” though.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Neil
    If by Theistic evolution you mean taking the modern neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, which specifically has removed God from the process, and then adding God back in, then what other approach can I take? Either God was needed to bring about life as we know it, or he wasn’t.
    The problem is that any sensible theology would require God for everything, including natural laws. The God of IDers actually comes off less as God and more as a clumsy alien nerd whose creation is pretty lame. ‘Theistic evolution’ would simply be sane theists who view all of creation as God’s work.
    More than a few theists have started to notice the problem with ID. It implicitly divides creation into mundane ‘natural laws’ that don’t seem to require God and exciting ‘intelligent design’ that does. In the long run this view is a lot more dangerous to religion than it can ever be to science.
    I interpreted Dr. Miller’s statement as saying that until we understand how the cell evolved, we can’t understand how evolution in general occurred. I still think this is true. But you’re right. He was talking about abiogenesis.
    Yet they remain two different topics. Evolution talks about the mechanics of how living things change over time. Abiogensis talks about where the first living things came from. Saying it is about ‘the cell’ implies the first living thing was a cell or was a cell as we know it today which I think presumes too much.
    Even if we could rewind a videotape and discover a UFO splicing together some DNA, RNA and other stuff and dumping it into a pond 4 billion years ago before taking off never to return we would still have evolution from that point onward and ID would still not apply to evolution, only abiogensis!

  • Neil

    Boonton
    The problem is that any sensible theology would require God for everything, including natural laws.
    What does it mean to say that God is required for natural laws? If it means that he set up the natural laws in the first place, I can accept that. Science took root because scientists assumed that there was a rational universe that could be understood. And the universe was rational because God had created it.
    But this is the challenge posed by ID. Can natural laws operate in a manner to create life in the first place, and then once created, can that life evolve into more complex forms? Can the interactions of matter and energy, and only the interactions of matter and energy create and evolve life?
    Beginning with Darwin and continuing with contempory scientists, (anti) theolological arguments have been used to support the case for the theory of evolution. In effect they say evolution has to be true because God would not have created life the way we find it.
    Douglas Futuyma in his textbook Evolutionary Biology said the following:
    “Darwin showed that material causes are a sufficient explanation not only for physical phenomena, as Descartes and Newton had shown, but also for biological phenomena with all their seeming evidence of design and purpose. By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.”
    I see theistic evolution as a forced marriage between theism and materialistic evolution; it is a marriage that can never be consummated.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    What does it mean to say that God is required for natural laws? If it means that he set up the natural laws in the first place, I can accept that. Science took root because scientists assumed that there was a rational universe that could be understood. And the universe was rational because God had created it.
    There we are in agreement.
    But this is the challenge posed by ID. Can natural laws operate in a manner to create life in the first place, and then once created, can that life evolve into more complex forms? Can the interactions of matter and energy, and only the interactions of matter and energy create and evolve life?
    Good question. How would you answer it? You have two problems:
    1. Are current theories of abiogensis and then evolution up to the job of explaining life in the context of natural laws. (The point is constantly confused but ID also challenges evolution itself….asserting even if you get beyond the origin of life it often asserts life could not develop as it has with just natural laws).
    2. Is natural law itself insufficient to explain life.
    #2 is the real kicker to ID. For ID to win on their own terms they not only have to show current theory is not up to the task but all possible theories that only involve natural law are not up to the task. This would be variations on evolution as well as theories that do not involve evolution but nonetheless confine themselves to natural laws only (Darwin was not the only guy to formulate a theory for life based on natural laws, he wasn’t even the only guy with an evolutionary theory of life). In other words everything you can think of plus all the stuff you can’t. That type of ‘proof by exclusion’ is impossible to pull off, not the ID even tries as far as I can see.
    Douglas Futuyma in his textbook Evolutionary Biology said the following:

    “Darwin showed that material causes are a sufficient explanation not only for physical phenomena, as Descartes and Newton had shown, but also for biological phenomena with all their seeming evidence of design and purpose. By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.”

    I see theistic evolution as a forced marriage between theism and materialistic evolution; it is a marriage that can never be consummated.
    What I think you’re missing is that:
    Descartes/Newton: “Physical Phenomena” -> Matter
    Darwin: “biological phenomena” – > Matter
    Matter – > ?????
    There is something forced about this discussion and it is forcing a debate about a scientific theory to be a discussion about a mature theism.
    Science can indeed be in conflict with immature theism. For example, “rain means God is crying” is an immature theism that a child may have that cannot hold up to science. “The people of Japan descended from the Sun God, other humans descended from mud” is likewise an immature theism that you may still find some adults holding that likewise cannot stand up to science.
    A mature theism, though, moved beyond such nonsense a long time ago and identified its diety (or dieties…even the ancient Greeks grasped this, I believe) as being responsible for existence itself and as something larger than an actor in existence (say by making a particular mountain or splitting a sea; that’s not to say mature theists cannot believe their diety(ies) also interacted in such a personal way with their creation).
    A few years ago Arther C Clark had an interesting book that I never read but only know from reviews. It’s premise was that humans invented a type of time machine that allowed one to view the past but not change it. So essentially any historical question you had (like who killed Kennedy? What happened to Jimmy Hoffa?) could be answered.
    Imagine such a thing did exist and we traced every generation of every living thing all the way back to a single cell-like entity and then traced every generation of that back to the different chemicals that were on the primordial earth and each step everything we see conforms perfectly with known laws of chemistry and physics. What does that say about the theism-atheism debate? Absolutely nothing at all.

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  • http://forthesakeofscience.wordpress.com Michael Hawkins

    Dawkins did not say life was seeded by aliens. He said that it is certainly possible but that those aliens would have evolved either by natural selection or something very similar. This would make it useless to posit aliens as being the creators of life since we are positing they themselves were not created. He was bending over backward to offer ID a possible outlet. He did this, but he did not offer a plausible one. That is because ID has not a shred of evidence to support it.