10 Ways Darwinists Help Intelligent Design (Part III)

Intelligent Design — By on April 22, 2008 at 12:36 am

[Note: This is the third part in the list of ways in which critics of Expelled and other neo-Darwinist apologists are helping to promote the theory of intelligent design. Click here to read Part I]


#8 By separating origins of life science from evolutionary explanations. — Nature is too complex to be encompassed in any one field. That is why it’s necessary for scientific disciplines (physics, biology, chemistry) to be broken down into sub-disciplines (cosmology, zoology, biochemistry, etc.,). But while most scientists may have no problems thinking in unconnected categories, the average person expects that the various parts can be stitched back into a seamless whole.
That is why when looking for an explanation for the origins of mankind, most people naturally start at the beginning. The neo-Darwinists, on the other hand, prefer to jump ahead to the middle and begin the argument with “specifies evolve.” As Ben Stein showed in Expelled, if you ask them how “life” (a necessary feature for any evolving species) began in the first place they will either claim that the issue is outside the theory or will provide an absurd explanation.
This is a severe weakness for critics of ID. Since naturalistic theories rise or fall based on the plausibility of this issue, it would probably be a good idea to have this point nailed down.
Unfortunately for these advocates, modern science doesn’t have a clue how DNA, much less a living organism, could have been produced from non-living matter. If you ask most anti-ID critics about abiogenesis they will either be under the (false) impression that this problem has already been solved or will claim that it is only a matter of time before the process is understood. (See #3) Most viewers of the film were probably surprised to hear Dawkins admit that scientists don’t have the faintest idea how life began.
Indeed, Dawkins admits that the most likely explanation is that life was planted here by aliens from outer space. His view is not novel. When Nobel-prize winner Francis Crick realized the impossibility of abiogenesis occurring on earth, he published a paper in which he suggested that life on earth was “seeded” by intelligent beings from another planet. (That’s something to keep in mind the next time someone mentions that real science (as opposed to something like ID theory) is submitted through “peer-reviewed science journals.”)
An adequate theory of speciation must begin at the beginning. Before there can be species there must first be living organisms. How did these organisms evolve from inanimate matter? No one knows. But until the theory can be rooted in a firm explanation for how this occurs, explanations for an intelligent designer will appear quite plausible.
#9 By resorting to ad hominems instead of arguments (e.g., claiming that advocates of ID are ignorant, liars, creationists, etc.). — A few years ago I had an email discussion about evolution and Intelligent Design theory with the Hugo-nominated sci-fi novelist John Scalzi. The debate quickly degenerated when he resorted to claiming, “the science is there for one and not for the other. By all means enjoy your ignorance, but don’t expect me to treat it or you very seriously.”
I suspect that if you gave Mr. Scalzi a test on the basic terms, concepts, and theories surrounding evolutionary biology, that he would fare no better than I would. (And I can almost guarantee that if you gave him a test on the basic terms, concepts, and theories of ID that he would flunk completely, for the reasons outlined in #1.) So why is it that Mr. Scalzi, thinks his position is superior?
I don’t know, and for the purposes of this post, a psychoanalytical analysis of his reasons isn’t necessary. What is important is not the motive but the dismissive attitude toward anyone who holds an opinion that differs from what is considered acceptable scientific dogma.
On occasion I’ve been known to gently mock those with whom I disagree (except for Dawkins and Peter Singer, both of whom I despise). But to dismiss them entirely, even when, like Mr. Scalzi, they hold anti-rational opinions, would stifle genuine debate.
Perhaps I am too much a child of the Enlightenment for, like Voltaire and his fellow deists, I believe that the light of reason illuminates the obvious, namely that our intellects are not formed by a “crude, blind, insensible being.” Perhaps I just have too much faith in science which causes me to reject the science-fiction that neo-Darwinists explanations are sufficient. Or maybe I just assume that people who resort to ad hominems have run out of arguments.
#10 By not being able to believe their own theory. — Say what you will about advocates of ID, they actually believe in the basic claims of their theory. The same can’t always be said for the neo-Darwinists.
For example, philosopher of science David Stove notes that ultra-Darwinists assert that while man was once trapped in the struggle to survive and pass on our genes, we no longer are trapped in the spiral of natural selection. Stove calls this the “Cave Man” attempt to solve “Darwinism’s Dilemma”:

If Darwin’s theory of evolution is true, no species can ever escape from the process of natural selection. His theory is that two universal and permanent tendencies of all species of organisms–the tendency to increase in numbers up to the limit that the food supply allows, and the tendency to vary in a heritable way–are together sufficient to bring about in any species universal and permanent competition for survival, and therefore universal and permanent natural selection among the competitors.

Natural selection, which is a “universal generalization about all terrestrial species at any time” can’t just be true sometimes: “If the theory says something which is not true now of our species (or another), then it is not true–finish.” Not only is this not true of our species now, it could never have been true:

Do you know of even one human being who ever had as many descendants as he or she could have had? And yet Darwinism says that every single one of us does. For there can clearly be no question of Darwinism making an exception of man, without openly contradicting itself. “Every single organic being”, or “each organic being”: this means you.

Those whose ideas about evolution are derived from Internet-debates or reading books by Richard Dawkins will quickly dismiss Stove’s claims as a strawman. The problem is that this is Darwinism. It is the heart of the theory, which is why so few recognize it–and why and even smaller number of critically thinking people believe it to be true.
In fact, if you took what most lay advocates of neo-Darwinians believe about the theory and compared it to what evolutionary biologists actually say, you would likely find a vast, unbridgeable chasm. “Most educated people nowadays, I believe, think of themselves as Darwinians,” wrote Stove. “If they do, however, it can only be from ignorance: from not knowing enough about what Darwinism says. For Darwinism says many things, especially about our species, which are too obviously false to be believed by any educated person; or at least by an educated person who retains any capacity at all for critical thought on the subject of Darwinism.”
But as Bill Provine points out in the film, neo-Darwinism is true, which means we don’t have free will. Therefore, it would be rather silly for me to critique the critics of Expelled: since they don’t have free will, they don’t have any choice about how they reacted to the film.
If all is matter–as Dawkins, Myers, Provine, et al., claim–then the critics of ID have no choice about what they believe; free will is an illusion, tenaciously held by people too ignorant to give it up. So if I have no choice and you have no choice and good Sir Dawkins has no choice, then this debate doesn’t really matter at all, does it?



  • Kaffinator

    A masterpiece, Mr Carter. Bravo!
    I hope you receive a lot of critical commentary, because a lot of is guaranteed to prove the very points you are making.

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

    #8 is a point worthy of exploration. A good number of evolutionists will claim that evolution does not attempt to answer the question of origins. But Ernst Mayr (What Evolution is) says that evolution woud like to answer the question but that there are no good theories available. Given the crystal and alien stuff, he’s right. And those who say that there is no attempt to answer the question are wrong. They’re just trying to hide the nonsense.
    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

  • http://www.adamsweb.us/blog Adam Graham

    Brilliant work, Joe. This was a great series. One of your best!

  • Darrell DeLaney

    But the point is that #8 is irrelevant. Let’s say the creationists are right and that each living species was created wholly formed with no common ancestry. Evolution would still apply to all subsequent generations of life. If life came about through chemical reactions among unliving matter, evolution still applies to all subsequent generations. If an alien species came to earth and tinkered with stuff to engineer one or more life forms, evolution still applies to all subsequent generations.
    So in that sense, the origin of life has no bearing on the truth or falsehood of evolution. It’s certainly interesting, and could shed some light on various mechanisms of evolution, but as long as living creatures are reproducing, evolution is happening, regardless of how the process got started.

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

    Irrelevant?
    IF you define evolution as only speciation or trait transmission then you’re correct. But without origins evolution is incomplete.
    That last paragraph is one of evolution’s fine examples of inductive reasoning. Documenting trait transmission is not speciation. It is trait transmission. Calling it evolution contains a great deal of presumption.

  • Alex

    Darrell,
    You are right, but that is just semantics. Many Darwinians use the term evolution to mean the origins of all species on earth. Obviously each species has evolved, or adapted, over time. Fossil records prove this. Fossil records do not show a chicken evolving into a penguin, or a mammal regressing(evolving?) back into the water, along with all the requisite changes in physical structure. If I am mistaken on this I would love to be enlightened.

  • Darrell DeLaney

    Yes, but semantics are important. If we’re using different definitions for the same words, it makes a mess of any attempt at conversation. People may use evolution to mean the origin of life, but that’s not what evolution is and since item #8 criticizes proponents of evolution theory for differentiating between the two, that’s important to note.
    I’m hesitant to get too far beyond that. I’m not a scientist or any kind of expert, just a Christian with a layman’s interest in science. My understanding is that there is definitely a great deal that remains unknown about the evolutionary paths of various species, but in regards to your example of a mammal returning to water, I believe I have read of a fair amount of evidence regarding the evolution of the whale from a non-aquatic ancestor, though I’d have to do some looking up to cite that directly.
    Evolution does show strong evidence that species have developed from common ancestors. With regards to the origins of the first life forms, evolution breaks down there because it requires life that is reproducing in order to have evolution in the first place. As for the origins of life, I’m pretty sure that’s something scientists haven’t figured out yet. My own personal belief is of course that God caused it to come about, and that He used the laws and processes of His creation to make it happen, and that scientific research will help us learn what those laws and processes are.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Lie 8That is why when looking for an explanation for the origins of mankind, most people naturally start at the beginning. The neo-Darwinists, on the other hand, prefer to jump ahead to the middle and begin the argument with “specifies evolve.” As Ben Stein showed in Expelled, if you ask them how “life” (a necessary feature for any evolving species) began in the first place they will either claim that the issue is outside the theory or will provide an absurd explanation.
    Wouldn’t the beginning then be the Big Bang? But that theory was developed in the mid-20th century, long after hundreds of other theories had been formed, tested, modified and revised. Historical theories are no different. Yes it is well known Europeans made it to America after the Native Americans but where did the Native Americans come from and how did they get here? That too is either outside the subject area or a zone of highly speculative ideas, some of which you may dismiss as absurd.
    If evolution is dinged by Joe for ‘starting the clock’ after life was already here well what the hell is the deal with ID theory? It starts the clock after a ‘designer’ has started life rolling. Actually, I’m not even sure ID does that. IDers won’t tell us when their clock starts. Did the designer make the first cell and let evolution go from there or has he been tweaking the code for thousands of years after that (such as the monolith in 2001)?

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

    Boonton Lie 8
    The question is not the ultimate beginning but the beginning life. Perhaps even intelligence.
    You’ve answered the wrong question.
    ID is a result of design model based on information. Don’t expect empirical results from it. It’s not built for that. Evolution is also a design model. That model has produced different results.
    If ID has a potential problem (as a science) it’s the presumed Designer — that’s a metaphysical issue. IF it were presented as a design model of Information Analysis then it might (no, it is) useful for analysis and theorpy-making. Doing this would not violate physicalism (though it does violate naturalism) and would not have any of the metaphysical problems of naturalism.
    Collin

  • phasespace

    Joe,

    This series of posts is truly a masterpiece of projection. One of the biggest tip offs of a creationism supporter is that they nearly always project their own logical flaws on their opponents. But nobody’s fooled.

    Remember when you wrote about being certain a few a weeks ago? And I pointed out that the flaw in your position was that your kind of certainty results in damage to your own faith? Well, here you go. You’ve just done exactly what I was talking about. Congratulations.

  • Alex

    Darrell:
    “Evolution does show strong evidence that species have developed from common ancestors.”
    What evidence are you refering to? I’ve read of evidence of a species adapting to a change in environment by evolving. I haven’t seen any evidence of the DNA of one species evolving into another, just speculation, and a hope that one day fossil records will lend some credibility to the speculation.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    ID is a result of design model based on information. Don’t expect empirical results from it. It’s not built for that. Evolution is also a design model. That model has produced different results.
    What, exactly, then is ID built for? I compared evolution to gravity in the comments of the first post of this series. Gravity can be used to either generate predictions about the future or explain the past. For example, we can predict…with gravity…what would happen if a plane’s engines shut off in mid-flight. Likewise, gravity can help us understand in the case of a historical event, what happened. For example, in a plane crash we can use gravity to help us figure out when and where the engines failed, how fast the plane was moving etc.
    Historical theories, though, depend upon information andif the information is not available then the theory may not help us. For example, if you stumble upon the remains of a US fighter in the jungles of Vietnam, 30+ years of time may have destroyed a lot of information. You may no longer be able to tell much about how the plane ended up there from the wreckage but that doesn’t alter the fact that 30 years ago it was gravity that brought the plane down.
    What you’re doing, then, is really using two theories. One is you’re using the theory of gravity (plus others from chemistry, physics, engineering etc.) and you’re also using historical theories. Your historical theory may be the plane was shot down in the Vietnam war. This theory may be right or wrong. Perhaps the plane suffered mechanical failure and wasn’t shot down.
    Theories reinforce each other. That the plane crashed 30 years ago supports the theory of gravity which holds that gravity was at work 30 years ago. Likewise it also supports many plausible historical theories you develop (fighter planes can crash if they are shot down or suffer failure). That is not circular reasoning. But there is no guarantee that either theory can be ‘completed’. Gravity might be almost perfect but you may never be able to find out what happened historically to that particular downed plane.
    ID, as far as I can tell, does nothing of the sort. It cannot tell us anything about the future since any future ‘design’ will be at the whim of a designer that it says nothing about (and makes a point of trying to avoid addressing at all). Nothing about the past is really explained either. Anything that happened is simply the result of the whim of a designer. If something looks stupid….well intelligent designers can make stupid designed (Hi there Windows Vista users!). If it looks very clever, well there’s that desginer again (Hi there iphone users!).

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    If ID has a potential problem (as a science) it’s the presumed Designer — that’s a metaphysical issue. IF it were presented as a design model of Information Analysis then it might (no, it is) useful for analysis and theorpy-making.
    Show me a real life example. Every year, for example, scientists struggle to guess which strains of flue to include in the vaccine for next year. Can ID be used to tell if a particular strain of flu that has become popular is a natural product or was designed (say a strain accidently escaped from a secret lab in China)? Can ID as presented by its supporters even begin to suggest a research program that might put us on such a path?

  • http://dadmanly.blogspot.com Dadmanly

    Joe, I very much appreciate this series. My son is 12, attends an excellent and responsive public school. Yet, teachers vary in skills and agendas, and he asks many questions about both evolution, the Bible, and what Mom and I believe.
    I find myself in close affinity to what you’ve expressed, leaning towards ID if only because I can’t abide illogic, irrationality, falsehood and intolerance from many who fiercely defend Darwinism or attack any ID or creationist belief.
    And thus, your series has been welcome providence indeed. Thanks for the service!

  • phasespace

    Here’s another example of projection:

    I find myself in close affinity to what you’ve expressed, leaning towards ID if only because I can’t abide illogic, irrationality, falsehood and intolerance from many who fiercely defend Darwinism or attack any ID or creationist belief.

  • Darwinist

    Some of your points reflect more on the lack of intelligence of creationists than that of Darwinists. Point #6 for example – why is it so difficult to understand that just because something appears to be designed, doesn’t mean it has to be designed by an intelligent entity? The whole point of evolutionary theory is that naturalistic processes gave rise to functional, complex organisms. Of course the best term to describe such a phenomena would be “design” – but must the “designer” be intelligent?
    Point #7 confuses cause and effect. You argue that “When 94.5 percent of the “scientific elite” has a plausibility structure that rejects the possibility of a Supreme Intelligent Being, it is not surprising that they would reject the very concept of an intelligent designer”, implying that elite scientists reject Creationism because they are innately biased against God. Have you never considered the far more plausible explanation that they reject creationism (and theism) because of their knowledge of science and the evidence prove it to be unlikely?
    Point #8 is even more appalling. Evolution was not meant to explain the origins of life. It could well be that God implanted the first amino acid on Earth; that’s irrelevant. Evolution explains how simpler organisms developed over time to become the creatures we see now on earth. Just because people are too dumb to realise that and too impatient to deal with the lack of ultimate answers (preferring to latch onto intuitively appealing but evidentially lacking explanations) doesn’t make it the fault of Darwinists.
    BTW, since you despise Dawkins so much, you probably haven’t read his article “Lying for Jesus”, where he reveals the deception and trickery Stein employed in order to coax out his remarks on directed panspermia (which fulfilled its purpose of fooling people like you). You should read it: http://richarddawkins.net/article,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins

  • Marvin the Martian

    Have you never considered the far more plausible explanation that they reject creationism (and theism) because of their knowledge of science and the evidence prove it to be unlikely?
    Have you never considered the even more plausible explanation that they chose to embrace naturalistic science becuase they had already rejected God (and Creationism) and are now seeking an intellectual justification for their rejection of God?
    Dawkins is, I believe, an example of this. It is not a secret that Dawkins was a victim of a Catholic priest pedophile. Could it be that Dawkins, instead of rejecting the idea that God exists because of scientific inquiry, rather has had a deep rooted hatred towards God ever since his childhood trauma, and has made it his primary objective in life to do whatever he can to convince as many people as possible to reject God as he has?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    And what does #17 have to do with evolution? Since the Catholic Church accepts evolution Dawkins is hardly rebelling against it by being an ID critic.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I notice we are again confusing a popularizer of science & popular philosopher (Dawkins) with science itself. Are the people who edit and write for journals of palentology, cell biology, genetics and others all victims of child molesting creationist priests?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    And do they really think the most efficient way to ‘stick it’ to God and his followers is to, ohhh, write articles exploring how horses evolved 500,000 years ago?

  • Marvin the Martian

    Boonton,
    Why must you take such a snide tone when you engage with people you disagree with?
    And what does #17 have to do with evolution?
    It has to do with the biases that scientists bring to the table. Evolutionary theory (by this I mean evolution from a common ancestor) isn’t like a natural law (i.e. the laws of physics or mathematics) which was discovered by through repeated lab tests and experimentation. It was a theory borne from a desire to explain things in purely naturalistic ways. Everyone has biases, including atheistic scientists. They interpret scientific data through their biases, just as much as IDer’s and Creationists do.
    Since the Catholic Church accepts evolution Dawkins is hardly rebelling against it by being an ID critic.
    But I didn’t say that Dawkins was rebelling against the Catholic Church, but against God, whom the Catholic Church claims to represent.
    Are the people who edit and write for journals of palentology, cell biology, genetics and others all victims of child molesting creationist priests?
    I didn’t say that.
    I said this:
    “that they chose to embrace naturalistic science becuase they had already rejected God (and Creationism) and are now seeking an intellectual justification for their rejection of God?”
    Poeple reject God for all sorts of reasons. Dawkins I believe rejected God becuase he blamed God for his childhood tragedy, and I was using him as illustration.
    And before you even bring it up, I am aware that there are many Christians in the scientific community who support evolution from a common ancestor. But they must either reject certain biblical teachings outright, or perform some major hermeneutical gymnastics in order to reconcile their scientific beliefs with their biblical beliefs.

  • Joel

    Marvin the Martian wrote:
    “Have you never considered the even more plausible explanation that they chose to embrace naturalistic science becuase they had already rejected God (and Creationism) and are now seeking an intellectual justification for their rejection of God?”
    Yes, I’ve considered that, and rejected it. Too many counterexamples. Stephen Barr (Catholic), Frances Collins (evangelical), John Polkinghorne (Anglican), and several biologists I’ve personally known (since I live and go to church in a college town), are all Christians and all believe in evolution. There’s no contradiction between the two, and the only people who claim otherwise are ignorant of one area or the other.

  • Joel

    Marvin the Martian wrote:
    “Have you never considered the even more plausible explanation that they chose to embrace naturalistic science becuase they had already rejected God (and Creationism) and are now seeking an intellectual justification for their rejection of God?”
    Yes, I’ve considered that, and rejected it. Too many counterexamples. Stephen Barr (Catholic), Frances Collins (evangelical), John Polkinghorne (Anglican), and several biologists I’ve personally known (since I live and go to church in a college town), are all Christians and all believe in evolution. There’s no contradiction between the two, and the only people who claim otherwise are ignorant of one area or the other.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    It has to do with the biases that scientists bring to the table.
    As I pointed out;
    1. Dawkins isn’t a scientist.
    2. The Catholic Church is on comfortable terms with evolution.
    3. You’ve presented no evidence that actual scientists are unfairly biased either against religion in general or ID in particular.
    If Dawkins is lashing because he was molested by a priest being a supporter of science would be a very odd way to do it.
    But I didn’t say that Dawkins was rebelling against the Catholic Church, but against God, whom the Catholic Church claims to represent.
    Perhaps that explains his philosophical writings in support of atheism….again we come back to what does that have to do with evolution?
    And before you even bring it up, I am aware that there are many Christians in the scientific community who support evolution from a common ancestor. But they must either reject certain biblical teachings outright, or perform some major hermeneutical gymnastics in order to reconcile their scientific beliefs with their biblical beliefs.
    This is a nice example of what I’m talking about. What does ID say about Marvin’s “evolution from a common ancestor”? Nobody knows. IDers sometimes seem to imply an ID created a common ancestor and evolution kicked in from there and sometimes they seem to say an IDer needed to work along the way constantly ‘tweaking the code’. From a public relations stance that’s a pretty smart strategy since if you say nothing it is that much harder to refute what you’re saying. Science, however, gives more credit to actually saying something…getting it wrong and then revising than it does to playing politics and saying nothing that can ever be refuted.
    It would seem ID also would entail rejecting theism, at least in the morning before you decide to switch to the afternoon ID theory. Quite frankly I think the extreme relativism that ID supporters seem to embrace is a lot less compatitable with serious Christian belief than evolutionary theory could ever be.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Evolutionary theory (by this I mean evolution from a common ancestor) isn’t like a natural law (i.e. the laws of physics or mathematics) which was discovered by through repeated lab tests and experimentation. It was a theory borne from a desire to explain things in purely naturalistic ways.
    This is likewise false. As you should know Darwin did not sit down at a desk and try to come up with an explanation for the last 4 billion years of biology that was totally naturalistic. He was working in the dirt observing birds and worms and how they changed in the nature’s lab.
    Contrast that to what you call the laws of physics. Quite often they entail a lot less actual observation. For example, you might remember from high school that the laws of motion talk about balls rolling along frictionless surfaces. As you should know no such thing exists in the real world except as an extrapolation from observation. Relativity, likewise, involves numerous “thought experiments” such as running alongside a beam of light or checking your watch on a spaceship moving at the speed of light.

  • Marvin the Martian

    What does ID say about Marvin’s “evolution from a common ancestor”? Nobody knows. IDers sometimes seem to imply an ID created a common ancestor and evolution kicked in from there and sometimes they seem to say an IDer needed to work along the way constantly ‘tweaking the code’.
    I agree with your assessment here. I personally don’t like the ID movement and think that it is a futile attempt of trying to bridge the divide between naturalistic evolution and special creation.
    As an evangelical Christian with leanings toward fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible, I am firmly in the special creation camp. But I haven’t always been there. I was brought up in public schools, and went to a very secular, liberal university. Evolution from a common ancestor was all that I was taught, therefore I considered my self a theistic evolutionist and was performing the hermeneutical gymnastics with scripture I spoke of previously. It wasn’t until I was exposed to the holes in evolutionary theory (there are quite a few) and introduced to scientific data that supports a biblical, scientific worldview that I switched camps.

  • Marvin the Martian

    As you should know Darwin did not sit down at a desk and try to come up with an explanation for the last 4 billion years of biology that was totally naturalistic. He was working in the dirt observing birds and worms and how they changed in the nature’s lab.
    And was Darwin free from bias?
    Full disclosure, this is from a Creationist website, but the quote itself does reveal the lens through which Darwin interpreted his findings.
    In his Autobiography, Darwin wrote, ‘I had gradually come by this time, i.e. 1836 to 1839, to see that the Old Testament was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos or the beliefs of any barbarian’.11

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Marvin
    I agree with your assessment here. I personally don’t like the ID movement and think that it is a futile attempt of trying to bridge the divide between naturalistic evolution and special creation.
    Welcome to the club of Evil Doers(Tm) then. Recall that Joe just told us we can’t call ID ‘stealth creationism’. Notice, though, that evolution does answer your question. Different living things today evolved from a common ancestor.
    Because evolution actuall does give an answer that can be tested against evidence we dig up about things that were alive in the past. What we dig up either will be consistent with a common ancestor or it won’t be. If it isn’t then the theory needs to be revised or totally overturned.
    ID, though, by nicely trying to have it both ways never says anything. Whatever gets dug up will end up being ‘retconned’ (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retcon) into the ‘theory’.
    Evolution from a common ancestor was all that I was taught, therefore I considered my self a theistic evolutionist and was performing the hermeneutical gymnastics with scripture I spoke of previously. It wasn’t until I was exposed to the holes in evolutionary theory (there are quite a few) and introduced to scientific data that supports a biblical, scientific worldview that I switched camps.
    If that’s made you feel better then go with it but it doesn’t alter reality and reality does not point a young earth, 7 day creation or literal reading. You talk about bias but haven’t you just admitted that reality is not your primary concern? That you’re more comfortable ignoring nature’s evidence if doing so makes it easier for you to read Scripture? If that’s the case then you’re the one with the most to gain through a biased reading of the evidence. A scientist can simply choose to ignore Scripture or engage in what you call gymnastics if he so wishes. He has not special need to ignore reality to keep evolutionary theory going. You’ve made an assumption that Scripture is true and it does not require hard work on your part to understand it. You are at odds with not only the scientific establishment but much of established Christianity. You have every right to take that stand but be aware that you’ve taken it.

  • Marvin the Martian

    If that’s made you feel better then go with it but it doesn’t alter reality and reality does not point a young earth, 7 day creation or literal reading. You talk about bias but haven’t you just admitted that reality is not your primary concern?
    It is this kind of talk that bothers me. You wish to characterize me as someone who is choosing to ignore “reality”. I don’t ignore reality, I interpret reality (meaning scientific data) through the lens of the bible. You are saying that the data “speaks for itself”. I disagree. No data speaks for itself. Fossils and rocks don’t come with date stamps saying they was formed 65 million years ago. Many unprovable assumptions are made when interpreting such data.
    You are at odds with not only the scientific establishment but much of established Christianity.
    I have no problems being at odds with the scientific establishment, given that science has been shown to be erroneous a great many times over the years. I am curious as to how am I at odds with established Christianity, especially given that it was considered orthodox Christian interpretation for nearly 2000 years that Genesis 1-11 was taken as literal history just as much as was Genesis 12-50 was. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1800’s when uniformitarian views of geology (which are firmly rooted in naturalistic philosophy) began to gain popularity that the church began to compromise.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    And was Darwin free from bias?
    Not what you said, you claimed that ‘laws of physics’ and natural laws were discovered through repeated lab tests and experimentation while, supposedly, evolution was created as an intellectual exercise to “explain things in a purely naturalistic ways”.
    In reality evolution was developed through repeated ‘lab tests’ in the dirt while many of the ‘natural laws’ you would hold above evolution actually involve a lot of speculative ‘thought experiments’ that either cannot be done in any lab test or couldn’t have been done at the time they were developed.
    I notice that you’re working up quite a double standard here. You have presented NO evidence that either Darwin or the modern day scientific community is biased against religious explanations. IN FACT, you haven’t even presented evidence that even vocal atheists like Dawkins are biased! Your only evidence to date is asserting that if someone is not a theist then they must be biased!
    But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander my friend. If simply not being a theist is evidence that an authority is biased against giving a fair hearing then the reverse also holds. You have a lot more to gain by gaming the evidence, ignoring the facts, distorting the arguments, being strategically willfully ignorant.
    But, of course, you’ll object if we say ID advocates are unable to fairly evaluate their theory because a large portion of them are theists who either don’t want to do the work to square evoluation with their ideology or feel their scripture demands a different theory than evolution.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Marvin
    It is this kind of talk that bothers me. You wish to characterize me as someone who is choosing to ignore “reality”. I don’t ignore reality, I interpret reality (meaning scientific data) through the lens of the bible. You are saying that the data “speaks for itself”. I disagree. No data speaks for itself. Fossils and rocks don’t come with date stamps saying they was formed 65 million years ago. Many unprovable assumptions are made when interpreting such data.
    Ahhh but who has more to gain by being biased? An atheistic scientist need not be forced to become a theist if looking at the fossil in an unbiased way leads to a conclusion it is only 6,000 years old. He can decide, for example, that the fossil is indeed very young but there’s a naturalist theory that would explain it. Yes such an odd event would indeed overturn evolutionary theory BUT there were atheists before evolution and there would be even after it. Such a scientist might even be tempted to go with the ‘unbiased’ reading of 6,000 years old. After all, he may indeed be the next Einstein and present a theory that overturns evolution. But he need not be so ambitious. He could simply report the findings and hope that someone more clever would come up with a new theory.
    The question, though, is what about you? IF an honest, unbiased look at the fossils says they are 65 million years old will you admit it? As you admitted, your top priority is not digging in the dirt but conforming to Scripture and you admit that going with the 65 million number doesn’t conform to scripture unless you do a lot of gymnastics you really would rather not perform. Face it, you have more to gain by ‘cheating’ here.
    Don’t get me wrong, though. I think you’re an honest person and wouldn’t take the bait to be dishonest even though it would be easier for you. But remember you and Joe are throwing mud at scientists….not just people like Dawkins…but everyday scientists simply because you assume their lack of orthodox belief makes them biased and essentially dishonest. If this is how you judge people then why don’t we have the right to judge you the same way? That too, I believe, is an idea that is also in Scripture and probably more important than the age of the fossil.

  • Marvin the Martian

    Don’t get me wrong, though. I think you’re an honest person and wouldn’t take the bait to be dishonest even though it would be easier for you.
    I appreciate you giving me the benefit of the doubt. :)
    I didn’t read all of Joe’s critique, but I don’t know if I would characterize what I am doing as “thowing mud at scientists”. I don’t think stating that every scientist has biases with which they bring to the table is slinging mud, nor is that an attempt to say that they are essentially dishonest.
    That too, I believe, is an idea that is also in Scripture and probably more important than the age of the fossil.
    I can only assume that the idea you are referring to is judging. But to be honest, that admonition is about judging ones salvation. However, the issue of the age of the earth has FAR reaching theological implications. If you are correct and the earth is old and there were millions of species around before man, then….
    To quote Tom Ambrose, an Anglican Priest, in an article in The Church of England Newspaper,
    ‘…Fossils are the remains of creatures that lived and died for over a billion years before Homo Sapiens evolved. Death is as old as life itself by all but a split second. Can it therefore be God’s punishment for Sin? The fossil record demonstrates that some form of evil has existed throughout time. On the large scale it is evident in natural disasters. The destruction of creatures by flood, ice age, desert and earthquakes has happened countless times. On the individual scale there is ample evidence of painful, crippling disease and the activity of parasites. We see that living things have suffered in dying, with arthritis, a tumor, or simply being eaten by other creatures. From the dawn of time, the possibility of life and death, good and evil, have always existed. At no point is there any discontinuity; there was never a time when death appeared, or a moment when the evil changed the nature of the universe. God made the world as it is … evolution as the instrument of change and diversity. People try to tell us that Adam had a perfect relationship with God until he sinned, and all we need to do is repent and accept Jesus in order to restore that original relationship. But perfection like this never existed. There never was such a world. Trying to return to it, either in reality or spiritually, is a delusion. Unfortunately it is still central to much evangelical preaching.’13
    Do you see? If you are correct, then all the terrible things that happen in this world that, according to orthodox Christian theology, are a result of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve and one day will be no more, are actually a part of and have always been instrumental in God’s “very good” creation. If there is no original sin, then the entirety of the atoning work of Christ on the Cross has been made moot. The theological implications are far more vast than you realize.

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

    Proof that Boonton doesn’t know what he’s talking about:
    In reality evolution was developed through repeated ‘lab tests’ in the dirt while many of the ‘natural laws’ you would hold above evolution actually involve a lot of speculative ‘thought experiments’ that either cannot be done in any lab test or couldn’t have been done at the time they were developed.

  • Marvin the Martian

    Joel wrote
    There’s no contradiction between the two, and the only people who claim otherwise are ignorant of one area or the other.
    Please read Comment #32 and then tell me who is ignorant of what.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Marvin
    I didn’t read all of Joe’s critique, but I don’t know if I would characterize what I am doing as “thowing mud at scientists”. I don’t think stating that every scientist has biases with which they bring to the table is slinging mud, nor is that an attempt to say that they are essentially dishonest.
    Sure, sure they bring a lot to the table but I think you need to do more before we just accept a blanket assertion that the scientific community cannot accept an honest critique of evolutionary theory.
    To illustrate, look at the Big Bang theory. Originally the dominate theory was the steady state theory which held the universe more or less always looked the way it does. The Big Bang theory actually conforms better to scripture (as in “let there be light”) and while there was resistance to it at first it is now the dominate theory. That didn’t cause a mass exodus of physicists from atheism while the biologists stayed behind.
    Do you see? If you are correct, then all the terrible things that happen in this world that, according to orthodox Christian theology, are a result of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve
    I always thought Adam and Eve were the second rebellion against God’s will. Didn’t the revolt of the angels lead by Lucifer come first? Also why would God punish the animals with suffering and death when it Original Sin is on Adam & Eve’s descendants?
    Collin:
    Proof that Boonton doesn’t know what he’s talking about:
    Your proof leaves much to be desired.

  • Joel

    Marvin, the Bible says that the very first humans died. Evolution says the very first humans died.
    Sheesh.

  • Marvin the Martian

    Marvin, the Bible says that the very first humans died. Evolution says the very first humans died.
    Sheesh.

    Joel,
    How in the world do you think this addresses the points Ambrose makes regarding the theological implications of billions of years of death, disease and evolution from a common ancestor?

  • Joel

    Marvin, Ambrose is correct that death has always been part of the physical world. He’s just too lazy, or too hostile to orthodoxy, to reconcile that fact with Christian theology. It has been suggested by many Christians that the reason the creation story is given twice in Genesis is that Satan corrupted the first creation immediately, and that the second creation story actually describes a repair job which included the addition of life. Mortal life, of necessity, since a world in which a lion’s teeth wear down over time is not conducive to physical immortality.
    As for Adam and Eve, one would have to argue that their (perfect and hence immortal) bodies were fundamentally different from ours, since our mortality is the result of dozens of physical systems that all seem programmed to fail at more or less the same time in old age. Bones get thinner, eyes go blind, digestion gets less efficient, heart and lungs fail, minds go senile, kidneys stop removing toxins, and immune systems let down their guard. The change from mortality to immortality had to have been a total redesign.
    Also, you might want to think a bit more carefully about what a perfect physical world in which people are immortal would look like. Is it a place where people aren’t hurt by falling off cliffs; or a world in which there aren’t any cliffs to fall off; or a world in which angels (or something) always warn us when we’re headed that direction? Forgive the silliness of the question, but it does seem that a physical world in which movement is possible must be inherently imperfect.

  • Marvin the Martian

    It has been suggested by many Christians that the reason the creation story is given twice in Genesis is that Satan corrupted the first creation immediately, and that the second creation story actually describes a repair job which included the addition of life.
    I say this with all seriousness…That is an interesting take. I personally have never heard this interpretation. Could you point me to some material that talks about this (commentaries, theologians who hold this view, etc)?

  • http://www.psonnets.org/ Michael

    How many evolutionary scientists who do not and will not study intelligent design try to turn non-life into life in a lab? If they succeed and turn a petri dish full of non-living chemicals into a living organism, what will they say when someone points out that they just intelligently designed life?

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    I just don’t get the problem. If ID is a theory of explaining origins, and if Darwinism isn’t about explainig origins, why do Darwinists care? And if ID is simply pointing out that it is a better explanation that things look ‘designed’ instead of ‘random’, then why does that irk people. From Boonton’s example above, it would appear that anyone who holds an ID view wouldn’t be able to figure out the next round of flu vaccines. Am I missing something here? Is evolutionary theory necessary to figuring out flu vaccines?

  • Joel

    Marvin, it’s the Gap Theory, also called the Ruin-Reconstruction Interpretation.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Brad
    From Boonton’s example above, it would appear that anyone who holds an ID view wouldn’t be able to figure out the next round of flu vaccines. Am I missing something here? Is evolutionary theory necessary to figuring out flu vaccines?
    From what I’ve read of ID, their central assertion is that some things are designed by an intelligent agent(s) and some things are designed by non-intelligent agents. For example, the faces on Mt. Rushmore were designed by humans but the ‘face’ on Mars was designed by a chance effect of light, sand and a poor resolution camera (unless you believe the UFO conspiracy pages). ID asserts they can tell the difference.
    So every year new flu strains pop up due to the random and non-intelligent interactions of people, animals and travel. What if one strain had been designed (say in a secret weapons lab) and got out? ID, then, should be able to perform its tests on this strain and discover it wasn’t naturally designed by intelligently designed!
    In reality, though, ID advocates never propose any real test. The best they ever seem to get around to is saying something like “unless evolution answers my questions RIGHT NOW for how this was designed naturally then it must have been intelligently designed”.
    Michael
    If they succeed and turn a petri dish full of non-living chemicals into a living organism, what will they say when someone points out that they just intelligently designed life?
    Fair enough but will you let scientists use simulations to see if things can be ‘designed’ through a non-intelligent process or will you play the game so many other IDers play and call that “intelligently designed” because humans created the simulation?

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Boonton,
    Thanks for the response. I admit that I am surprised to find that there are ID advocates who would say some things are non-intelligently (is that even a word?) designed. Do they posit that rocks and some matter are the result of randomness? If so, I again fail to see the point. Concerning origins, isn’t it equally difficult to explain how either a rock or a flea exists at all?
    I’m not trying to be picky, but if an ID advocate already believes that viruses are intelligently designed organisms, and if they believe that the ability to make random adaptations is part of the design, then I’m not sure how you can even argue with them. Couldn’t they just say, “Hey, the only reason that the crazies could even monkey with the virus is because they had a grasp of how the thing was designed to work!” I mean, would the never-do-wells keep zapping viruses with comic book radiation with crossed-fingers to bring about the change or what?
    So, is the beef with ID simply that it has no seeming scientific use beyond, “Hey, God did that.” Is that the issue here?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Brad
    Couldn’t they just say, “Hey, the only reason that the crazies could even monkey with the virus is because they had a grasp of how the thing was designed to work!” I mean, would the never-do-wells keep zapping viruses with comic book radiation with crossed-fingers to bring about the change or what?
    A while ago I proposed the following idea for an experiment. Make a computer program that spits out random letters. Now do the following:
    1. Set up a ‘breeding’ program where these random letter phrases are put together and produce a ‘child’ phrase. The child phrase will be like real life inheritance. On average it will look like its parents BUT there’s some random chance the child will look different, a great chance it will be a little different and a small chance it will be very different.
    2. Set up a ‘natural selection’ engine. Say phrases that produce fewer errors in MS-Word’s spell and grammer checker will be considered ‘more fit’.
    3. Let the child phrases breed but set up a rule where the ‘fitter’ phrases breed more often than the let fit one.
    4. Repeat….
    If you run this a lot I think you’ll end up with a phrase that actually makes some sense in English. You’ll definately see one faster than if you take a ‘scrabble bag’ approache of just generating random letters over and over again.
    When I first proposed this IDers objected because the experiment was ‘intelligently designed’. But I asked by whom? If this spits out a phrase like “Gordon wears pink underwear” can Gordon sue the programmer for slander? The program is essentially random and there’s no way to know what it will end up saying. But if it’s random how can it produce something that seems intelligently designed? Well there’s the rub for Iders isn’t it?
    IF ID is a usable theory, then it should be able to tell the difference between ‘intelligently designed’ phrases and randomly designed ones. It should be able to tell, for example, that “Gordon wears pink underwear” was an example devised by an entity like me but if my program spits out “Pink on sale today” that phase was designed by a non-intelligent process.
    And by test I mean test. It should produce a set of rules that someone can apply to a sample of phrases and correctly deduce their source better than random guessing would.

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Boonton,
    Thanks again for responding, and I understand your point I think. It seems to me that the belief in ID is so fundamental (and its rejection) to perception that I’m not certain that the dialogue can progress beyond belief or unbelief.
    The ID advocate has a great point, I believe, in the flaw in your test. The computer program is intelligently designed for seeming randomness. I don’t think we can even make a computer program that is totally random but only gives the appearance of randomness. At some place, through study of the program itself, I’d bet that the ‘design’ of the program would become evident. Because technically, if everything is designed, I don’t think that true randomness is actually possible. That’s why I was surprised that some ID advocates would say that some things are non-intelligently designed. To me, that is totally nuts.
    What you propose seems to be like the test that Andy Warhol once did with art. He made an “art” piece with a chair leg sticking out, and then he made a nearly identical version. Then he challenged the gallery to figure out which one was the ‘art’ and which one was the ‘copy.’ Where do you go with that sort of test?
    Perhaps, and I’m truly not trying to be snarky, I am misunderstanding the discussion totally. I thought the ID advocates were simply trying to say, “Where you see only randomness, I see a design.” And I thought ID was trying to answer the question of how things got to where we are without the ‘improbability’ of us being where we are, as someone said above. Granted, it could be that there are an infinite/near infinite number of random universes held together by strings and we simply inhabit the one the came to pass because everything conceivable is coming to pass somewhere.
    From what I am understanding, the skeptic of ID is saying, “Prove to me that this place is intelligently designed.” And the ID guy looks up from his microscope and says, “What are you talking about? The design is everywhere!” And then they are just sort of staring at each other incredulously.
    In the end, I do not think that either randomness or design is testable, is it? And as I think more about your analogy of the computer test, the more I am thinking the computer needs as much attention as the things it spits out. Isn’t that reasonable?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The ID advocate has a great point, I believe, in the flaw in your test. The computer program is intelligently designed for seeming randomness. I don’t think we can even make a computer program that is totally random but only gives the appearance of randomness.
    Computers can generate random numbers, how random those numbers are gets too complicated for me but they are random enough that you can design randomness into a program just as a casino designs randomness into their slot machines. There are also lists of random numbers if you need super pure randomness for your project.
    What you propose seems to be like the test that Andy Warhol once did with art. He made an “art” piece with a chair leg sticking out, and then he made a nearly identical version. Then he challenged the gallery to figure out which one was the ‘art’ and which one was the ‘copy.’ Where do you go with that sort of test?
    Since the two objects were essentially the same thing the gallery would fail the test. Imagine an ID person claiming that he invented an art-o-meter. His little Star Trek like scanner would beep when it gets close to the ‘art’ leg and stop beeping if it is moved towards the other leg. How would you test such a meter? Well if you know what the art leg is then you see if the meter beeps when it gets close to it. More formally you might make lots of tests and see if the meter gets it right more than 50% of the time…which is what you’d expect to get right by guessing.
    ID claims there is intelligent design and non-intelligent design. If they are conning us then design is more like the chair legs in Warhol’s game. If they are right then the test they must demonstrate some aspiration of passing is telling us, in a coherent way, the difference between the two. If they can’t tell the difference then it would seem their premise is wrong.
    I thought the ID advocates were simply trying to say, “Where you see only randomness, I see a design.” And I thought ID was trying to answer the question of how things got to where we are without the ‘improbability’ of us being where we are, as someone said above
    I think we are getting caught up in thinking that randomness means “anything goes”. Randomness can be tightly controlled. The slot machine in the casino can have its payout set to a tenth of a decimal place percision BUT the result of any play is at the same time random.
    Likewise you can combine randomness in design. Say you have a problem with 100 possible solutions. You can randomly try out solutions until you get the one that works.
    I think the dispute between ID and science is not over randomness but over whether or not an unintelligent process can yield a solution that seems designed. IMO a process is not intelligent simply because humans touch it. For example, look at the behavior of large crowds. Many things that large crowds of people do like the wave or rioting or whatnot are spontaneous. No one says “let’s do a wave” or “let’s have a riot”. The crowd takes on a life of its own by subtle signals from the environment.
    Every time you hear about a new fashion, a new slogan catches on, a fad catches fire or there’s an unexpected hit you’re essentially seeing an example of an unintelligent process creating something that appears like it was designed. IDers, though, deny this obvious observation by playing a King Midas routine when they talk about intelligence. “If a human touched it then it was intelligently planned.”
    That doesn’t make sense! Look at the computer hypothetical I gave you. In theory the computer program could be written by coders in India who don’t speak English. Are you going to tell me if the program spits out a full length English novel that it was ‘intelligently planned’? By who? People who can’t even read or understand the output?

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Boonton,
    It seems to me that if an ID guy concedes that there is such a thing as “non-intelligent” design, then I don’t see how his theory works at all. Isn’t that an oxymoron? I would never admit such a thing. It may be, and most likely is, that I am not informed enough to understand the nuance of the argument. It just seems that if we are in a universe made by design, we will simply be unable to escape or ‘transcend’ design. And if everything is really random, or unintelligently happening, then isn’t intelligence itself really an unplanned happening? If that’s the case, then even my seeming intelligence is really randomness that I think is organinzed, and even this typing is Shakespere and nothing at the same time.
    Now I’m weirding myself out. I’m starting to think it must be turtles all the way down after all.:)

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Ahhh but if everything in the universe is intelligently designed then ID theory self-destructs. IDers seem to hold that some things like mountains are designed by nature (meaning by natural laws of physics, chemistry, etc.) and others are designed by an ID of some sort (to use a famous example, a watch you find laying on the ground).
    If everything is ID, though, then evolutionary theory is simply part of that larger metaphysical ID the same way all other scientific theories are.

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Boonton,
    I’m going to go and study up on this, I suppose. For my part, I believe that everything is ID, and I believe in miracles to boot. From what you said, unless I misunderstand you, I don’t think that makes me a very good IDer. That is, I believe even rocks and mountains are intelligently designed. So I need to go and see what exactly about this I am misunderstanding and what the fuss is, exactly.
    Thanks for the dialogue; I appreciate it.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Brad,
    You may not be a good IDer but you’re an excellent commentor. This has been one of the few times this discussion actually felt positive rather than bitter.

  • http://dailyduck.blogspot.com/ Hey Skipper

    From comment #11:
    I haven’t seen any evidence of the DNA of one species evolving into another, just speculation, and a hope that one day fossil records will lend some credibility to the speculation.
    No need for fossil records. Vitamin C and chromosomes prove common ancestry (one species branches into two) right now.
    Almost all mammals synthesize their own Vitamin C. Chimpanzees and humans do not.
    Evolutionary biologists predicted that the mutation preventing synthesis would be identical, and derived from a shared ancestor.
    Once chimpanzee and human DNA was sequenced, that turned out to be the case.
    Further, chimpanzees have 37 chromosomes, humans 36. Evolutionary biologists predicted precisely which two human chromosomes fuzed, and where, to turn 37 chromosomes into 36.
    Once chimpanzee and human DNA was sequenced, that turned out to be the case.
    ID, for its part, had made these predictions:
    [crickets]
    #8 By separating origins of life science from evolutionary explanations.
    Note well: evolution requires recursion. Life is recursive. By definition, evolutionary theory is utterly distinct from abiogenisis. Whether life came about through natural processes, or some supreme being started the ball rolling is completely irrelevant to what occurred, and why, since.
    Which, BTW, is why it is not coherent to accuse naturalistic evolution of being atheistic. It does contradict the boxes within which various “revealed” texts wish to place any supreme being there might be, but that only amounts to casting suspicion upon the boxes.