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If we can’t find common ground, at least let’s find charitable ground

Tania Lombrozo has a great piece up at NPR on why, more importantly than common ground, is charitable ground.

According to Lombrozo:

Issues about science and religion have become so politicized and polarizing that it’s hard to find public forums in which people with different commitments can meaningfully engage in discussion and debate. You know, respectful conversations, ones in which we interpret each other charitably and don’t simply assume that those who disagree with us are foolish, immoral or just plain stupid.

I’m not arguing for a middle ground in which we all compromise. The best position isn’t necessarily the one in the middle, or the one that wins by majority vote. But I do think we need a “charitable ground,” if you will — some shared territory in which we recognize that other people’s religious and scientific commitments can be as deeply felt and deeply reasoned as our own, and that there’s value in understanding why others believe what they do.

Question for the audience – which intellectuals deal most charitably with their opponents?

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109 Responses to If we can’t find common ground, at least let’s find charitable ground

  1. Bradley Monton

  2. which intellectuals deal most charitably with their opponents? Our own vtorley.

  3. Mike Gene, James Shapiro, Michael Behe, John Lennox…

  4. Barry,

    Yes, and Giuseppe Puccio

  5. I’ve always been a Paul Nelson fan. From the other side, Massimo Pigliucci is one of the better ones, though I am having trouble thinking of someone besides Monton who disagrees yet fully takes the opposition seriously.

  6. Ooooh, I almost forgot – Phil Senter.

  7. Allen MacNeill

  8. Don’t forget Joe.

  9. Perhaps, the better phrasing is civil ground?

  10. Will Provine, Michael Ruse, Michael Shermer.

    Will Provine refers to Phil Johnson as “My friend Phil Johnson”. Dembski speaks well of Michael Shermer, and Michael Ruse edited a book with Dembski and publicly said on Nightline, “I love you Bill.”

    Although I put an asterisk with Ruse, he was pretty nasty to his colleagues Dennett and Dawkins. Don’t we all remember this one:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....lutionism/

  11. johnnyb:

    If by “intellectuals” you mean in particular those scientists, scholars, and others who discuss evolution, design, Darwin, TE, etc., then:

    On the TE side, I would say that Ted Davis is the most charitable — the only ASA-TE or BioLogos-TE I can think of who hasn’t at one time or another distorted what ID is about. He lets ID people state their own case in their own words, rather than putting words (strawman words) in the mouths of ID proponents. (Unlike Miller, Falk, Giberson, Collins, etc.)

    Possibly some other TEs — more remote from the ASA and BioLogos contexts — John Polkinghorne for example — should be included.

    Alvin Plantinga would probably be another one. Not sure if he is ID, TE, or a kind of cross between the two.

    Perhaps James Barham — an atheist sympathetic to ID.

    I’d say Michael Denton.

    Also, the late Antony Flew.

    By reputation — though I haven’t yet read him — Thomas Nagel.

    And let’s not forget Jon Garvey.

    And “nullasalus.”

    Among the Altenberg group of evolutionary biologists, possibly several, including Stuart Newman.

    Among our critics here, probably the most philosophically fair is Kantian Naturalist.

    I agree with the other names listed above, though I don’t know Giuseppe Puccio, so I can’t comment on that one.

  12. Giuseppe Puccio = Gpuccio

  13. 13

    Thank you, Timaeus — I do try!

  14. Will Provine, Michael Ruse, Michael Shermer.

    Ruse was reduced to name-calling (calling Steve Meyer “disingenuous”) while discussing Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt on Interfaith Voices. There’s no way to twist that into “charitable”.

    Steve hadn’t expected that from Ruse. He told Ruse he was offended, but Ruse did not back down or offer an apology.

  15. Elizabeth Liddle deserves a mention, not just for being unfailingly gracious and polite but for maintaining a high standard of civility despite being the subject of some truly ugly conduct.

  16. Dr Liddle is polite; there’s no doubt about that. I have complimented her willingess to engage in detail on several occasions. I think I referred to it as “intellectual sovereignty” among her peers.

    Unfortunately, she also acts in bad faith when those details collapse her position.

  17. No, I don’t, UB. I realise you think so, but I beg to differ.

  18. 18
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Top three in no particular order: Bill Mahr, Jesse “The Mind” Ventura, Lewis Black.

  19. Let’s not forget absent friends: Dave Scott Springer, the late Professor John A. Davison and Gil Dodgen who in their own unique ways added more value to the UD product than some others.

    And of course, William Dembski, who’s unfailing charm and forbearance with his critics has been unparalleled.

  20. Barry:

    which intellectuals deal most charitably with their opponents?

    Not me!

    It could be because I’m not an intellectual, or because I see no sense in giving charity to those who are not in need of it.

  21. Don’t forget Joe.

    Who could forget Joe!

  22. Exactly, esteemed Mung! It may not be the height of rudeness, as such, but to me, it sure looks like lese-majeste.

  23. An interesting OP at Liddle’s Blog > http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=3142#comments :/

  24. equate65 -

    Interesting… apparently the TSZ poster needs to read the NPR article a few more times.

  25. JohnnyB- The TSZ ilk don’t know what science is. They sure as heck cannot produce a testable hypothesis for unguided evolution.

  26. Well, some of us at TSZ (me for instance) are actually scientists. So yeah, I’d say that some of us ilks do know what science is.

  27. Gil has been a sweetheart to me.

  28. Well your posts betray you, Lizzie.

  29. Charitable? To liars like this?

    Those of us who value reality, science, progressiveness, inclusiveness, social justice, and opportunity for all make a grave mistake by being charitable to proponents of ID. The American Christian right deserve no more charity than any other would be totalitarians.

    Nuts.

  30. Charitable debate is for those that have common ground. For those that do not have common ground, there is only war. The sooner ID proponents and theists understand this, the better. The other side already understands it, and have been waging war for decades, if not longer.

  31. Upright BiPed:

    I agree that gpuccio generally argues like a gentleman and sticks to the point, trying to respond fairly to critics.

    I think it is going too far to say that Elizabeth Liddle argues “in bad faith” — which suggests a conscious insincerity. I think that sometimes she shows bias, and sometimes writes unbalanced critiques of ID books and articles, and sometimes argues out of a narrow perspective, but I don’t think that such faults prove “bad faith.”

    Dr. (?) Noisewater:

    Bill Mahr is charitable to opponents? You’ve got to be kidding! I mean, I find the guy sometimes funny, and I think he often talks good sense. But he’s got a chip on shoulder about religion and is hardly fair to religious believers.

    And Lewis Black — you’ve got to be kidding again.

    I guess you are being sarcastic. As Alan Fox clearly is, in his answer above.

  32. Kantian, Elizabeth, and others who post at TSZ:

    I notice that Gregory is now posting over there, and that there seems to be some kind of epic quarrel over the evils of “evolutionism,” and that just about everyone there is having trouble, as we all have had trouble here on UD, figuring out exactly what the term “evolutionism” means and exactly who (among living as opposed to dead thinkers) would describe himself/herself as an “evolutionist” or could be characterized as one.

    For various reasons, I think it unwise to post myself at TSZ, and I don’t want to enter the lists against Gregory here, which wouldn’t be sporting on my part when so many people are ganging up on him at TSZ, but one of you might wish to challenge one factual assertion he keeps making. He keeps saying or implying that BioLogos has frequently spoken against “evolutionism.” In fact, columnists on BioLogos have very rarely (if ever) used that word. What they have repeatedly criticized is “scientism.” And while there may be some overlap between those who adhere to “scientism” and those who adhere to “evolutionism” (whatever it means), I doubt very much that the two words are synonyms.

    “Scientism,” as used by BioLogos, is the view that all truth is scientific truth. BioLogos rejects this view. (As do all ID supporters, and also all creationists, not to mention all philosophers who are not narrow, logic-chopping, Anglo-Saxon boot-polishers for natural science.)

    It is perhaps understandable how someone committed to “scientism” could be guilty of “evolutionism” — if “evolutionism” means the unwarranted application of a biological theory to political, social, and cultural affairs. But they certainly are not the same thing, and I don’t know of a leading TE at BioLogos or anywhere else in the world who addresses the evils of “evolutionism.”

    Gregory has from time to time referred to a remark of Bill Dembski in which Dembski uses the word “evolution” to describe changes outside the biological realm. Gregory has apparently objected to this, and it seems sometimes that he is accusing Dembski of “evolutionism” based on this single remark. I imagine that Dembski would vehemently deny that he holds to “evolutionism” of the sort that Gregory is objecting to. Gregory could easily establish the facts about Dembski’s belief by writing to Dembski. I don’t know that he has done so.

    As I said, none of us here have ever been clear what Gregory is upset about when he attacks “evolutionism.” If it means nothing more than “misapplying a biological theory to human matters” I am 100% on Gregory’s side that this is a bad thing, and have said so to him probably twenty times here and elsewhere. But if that is all he means, he shouldn’t need tens of thousands of words to make his argument. A few sentences would do it — and everyone at UD and TSZ would probably agree with him, ending an unnecessarily long discussion.

  33. William J Murray at #30
    “The other side already understands it, and have been waging war for decades, if not longer.”
    You are so correct. Time for people to wake up!

  34. Timaeus,

    Taking you at your word, you are apparently prepared to accept that a well educated neuroscientist in her fifties can be biased, write unbalanced critiques of ID books and articles, argue out of a narrow perspective, and be completely unaware of herself. You must also be prepared to believe that the almost constant debate both here and on her personal forum would not provide her with certain opportunities – even as she comes into contact with a wide range of conversation partners, perspectives, and approaches. I suppose this may simply be one of those academic sensibilities that I’m disinclined to share with you, although I’m sure she thanks you for your defense.

    best regards

  35. Indeed, let’s find charitable ground. But what does that even mean?

    At the top of the list is, arguably, Bradley Monton. But even he misrepresents ID!

    At the bottom of the list is, arguably, Elizabeth Liddle. But even she misrepresents ID!

    Bradley Monton has appeared here at UD how many times?

    Elizabeth Liddle, by contrast, has posted here how often?

    So of the two, which is in a better position to be informed about ID?

    At her own blog, Elizabeth, when confronted with the obvious falsity of her claims, fails to correct or even acknowledge those false claims. Not charitable.

  36. Sixties, Upright, sixties.

    What the heck my age has to do with anything I have no idea, but if you want to cite it, get it right.

  37. Self awareness typically increases with age, Dr Liddle, although obviously not always. Are you aware that in the defense of your views you often take positions that range from the strained to the downright contradictory?

  38. I am aware that you think so, Upright Biped.

  39. That’s right. I do.

    June 2011

    Dr Liddle: I’m going to start off with a “toy” chemistry – a virtual environment populated with units (chemicals, atoms, ions, whatever) that have certain properties (affinities, phobias, ambiphilic, etc) in a fluid medium where motion is essentially brownian (all directions equiprobable) unless influenced by another unit. I may have to introduce an analog of convection, but at this stage I’m not sure.

    And what I propose to do is that starting with a random distribution of these units, a self-replicating population of more complex units will evolve, in which each unit (or “organism” if you like, or “critter”) has, encoded with in it, the “recipe” for its own offspring.

    That way we will have a Darwinian process (if I achieve it) where I don’t even specify a fitness function that isn’t intrinsic to the “chemistry”, that depends entirely on random motion (“Chance” if you like) and “necessity” (the toy chemistry) to create an “organism” with a “genome” that encodes information for making the next generation. Information “about” the next generation that is “sent” to the processes involved in replication.

    If I succeeded, would you accept that I had met the challenge, or do you foresee a problem?

    June 2013

    Dr Liddle: I did recant my claim when you explained you were talking about something else, but agreed that it would be an interesting challenge, not to show that Darwinian processes can generate information, but that non-Darwinian processes could generate Darwinian processes, including processes that used an inert intermediary information channel.

    I also said quite clearly that I didn’t know that I could do this, but I’d have a shot.

    July 2013

    Dr Liddle: I have never, ever, suggested that you could produce a system of self-replicators from a system of non-self-replicators by Darwinian evolution … Clearly it would be an absurd claim

    “My position is that IDists have failed to demonstrate that what they consider the signature of intentional design is not also the signature of Darwinian evolutionary processes. – Dr Elizabeth Liddle

  40. Over at TSZ Elizabeth says that I don’t understand her position on ID.

    She says:

    I do not think that the proposition that “the world/life/whatever was designed by an Intelligent Designer” can be refuted.

    Yes, even after all her time spent here at UD, that’s still her conception of ID. I’d really like to know how her conception of ID has changed since I first encountered her at UD.

    And that’s why I think she “argues in bad faith.” Because her position never evolves. oh, the irony.

  41. On the one hand, Elizabeth claims ID makes no testable claims.

    On the other hand, Elizabeth claims to put ID claims to the test.

    I’m not sure where on the “charitable” list this places Elizabeth, but I favor somewhere on the low end.

  42. My statement is quite clear, Mung.

    It’s not a statement of what ID is. It is a statement of what I think cannot be refuted.

    I know that the ID is that certain patterns are best explained by an intelligent designer. I think those claims are based on bad science and bad math. But that is not what I was saying in the statement you quote.

    I also know that ID claims to be “the science of design detection”. I think that design detection is perfectly possible, and, indeed, a science. I don’t think IDists are very good at it though.

  43. I have certainly demonstated the vacuity of certain ID concepts (CSI, for instance). And I have certainly refuted claims by IDists to have provided evidence for ID.

    I have also, repeatedly, said that it is perfectly possible to develop a testable ID hypothesis, and I have frequently expressed interest in the front-loading hypothesis.

    But as you appear committed to quote-mining my posts for the appearance of inconsistency, I guess there’s not a lot of point in pointing this out.

  44. I see, Upright, that you have still failed to understand why these positions are not contradictory.

    I also note that you do not date the quotation from me that you put in italics.

  45. 42 states: “I don’t think IDists are very good at it though.”

    I am an ID supporter, but have to somewhat agree with this statement. ID proponents need to be more aggressive in regards to research and attempts to submit to peer review. Even if you fail,(most likely repeatably, due to the high barricades, censorship and ‘guards at the gate’), it will show seriousness.

  46. The reason I make that last point is that as you well know, that comment by me referred to Dembski’s concept of CSI as the “signature of intentional design”, not your own semiotic concept. I do not think your semiotic concept is a signature of Darwinian evolution, and have never claimed that it is.

  47. UB (34):

    Everyone has biases, and everyone can be unfair. I don’t think that everyone is equally conscious of bias. Some people are completely unaware of their biases; others are dimly aware of them, but don’t realize how strong they are; others grant in theory that they could have biases, but are so convinced by the imagined cogency of their own reasoning and their own estimation of their intellectual honesty that they don’t think *they* have any biases; etc.

    I would guess that I’m not fully aware of my own biases. I try to guard against bias, and to treat opposing positions fairly, as I would like others to treat my own positions; but it is likely that sometimes I overestimate my own fairness and underestimate the fairness of others.

    My objection was to the phrase “bad faith”; it is possible that Elizabeth has argued “in bad faith” — by which I take you to mean with knowing dishonesty — but I think that most of the time she argues straightforwardly, and that is why I would hesitate to use that phrase to describe her contributions here.

    This does not mean that I find everything about her argumentative rhetoric acceptable. I’ve criticized her mode of presentation many times here. But I don’t think that outright intellectual dishonesty — as opposed to unconscious bias, intellectual overconfidence, and other things — is something she is frequently guilty of.

    I’m aware of my own tendency to overreact against Elizabeth, because of some early conflicts we had where she struck me as intellectually imperious and unwilling to admit to errors in her account of evolutionary theory. Perhaps because I know that I’ve sometimes been a bit harsh on her, I’m now overreacting in the other direction in what you call my defense of her. But more important here, I think, is the call for charitableness implied in the column above.

    We ID folks are always complaining how anti-ID folks — Shallit, Ruse, Coyne, Dawkins, Myers, Matzke, John Kwok and many others — read us in the most uncharitable way, accuse of all kinds of bad personal motives (e.g., we plan a theocratic takeover of the USA, or at least of its schools), substitute personal comments for rational criticism, etc. But if we are going to make that complaint we should be models of fair argument ourselves, and not respond in kind to unfair treatment. In the past, people like Behe and Meyer have been such models. And Vincent Torley is surely such a model. All that I’m saying is that, while certain aspects of the writing style of Elizabeth or others here may “irk” one or more of us, if we want our opponents to be charitable to us, we are going to have to conduct ourselves less aggressively in some cases.

    I’m not saying you are particularly aggressive or unfair, UB; I was commenting only on one phrase you used. So don’t take it as a general personal criticism. I’m concerned that ID folks sometimes let their (understandable!) frustrations at unfair treatment or biased criticism get the better of them, and abandon the high ground. I meant nothing more than that.

  48. then

    My position is that IDists have failed to demonstrate that what they consider the signature of intentional design is not also the signature of Darwinian evolutionary processes.

    now

    I do not think your semiotic concept is a signature of Darwinian evolution, and have never claimed that it is.

    Yes, I realize that. You also have not been able to demonstrate that any of the observations in my argument are materially false, or that the reasoning is invalid. These are typically considered key indicators of a sound argument. At the same time, you now readily acknowledge that Darwinian evolution cannot be the source of “replication with heritable variation”, and yet my argument is specifically about what that process requires. So, in fact, you have had an ID proponent demonstrate what is considered a signature of design that is not also a signature of the Darwinian process. Yet, you persist in your previous position, well after being asked to acknowledge the argument that was presented to you. I don’t think the issue is so much that you can’t allow yourself to be compelled by an ID argument. Frankly, I think that option is completely off the table. I just don’t think you can publically acknowledge that you’ve been presented a valid argument for design in nature.

    If it is unfair or misleading for me to characterize that as “bad faith” then I retract the term, for the sake of charity.

  49. UB:

    So, in fact, you have had an ID proponent demonstrate what is considered a signature of design that is not also a signature of the Darwinian process…I just don’t think you can publically acknowledge that you’ve been presented a valid argument for design in nature.

    UB: I’m afraid that it you who contradicts himself:

    Does semiotic theory per se assert that a particular class or classes of mechanism is required to create (result in, cause) the entailments/the TRI/a semiotic state?

    UB: No.

    Conversely, does semiotic theory per se assert that a particular class or classes of mechanism cannot create (result in, cause) the entailments/the TRI/a semiotic state?

    UB: No.

    These concessions establish that semiotic systems (as you define them) neither require design nor exclude other classes of causation.

    If semiosis were an exclusive signature of design, it would follow that a particular class of causation (namely, design) is required to originate semiotic systems. But you have conceded that semiotic theory does not assert that a particular class or classes of mechanism is required to create (result in, cause) the entailments/the TRI/a semiotic state.

    Therefore, while you have presented an argument for design in nature, you haven’t present a valid argument, as nothing in your argument requires design nor excludes other forms of origination.

    From this thread:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-438851

  50. Bill, when I presented my argument to TSZ, I adopted the narrowest of conclusions that finding a semiotic system in protein synthesis “will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state”. You mocked the narrowness of that conclusion, after having to concede that your two primary counterarguments were invalid. On the other hand, I argued that the formulation of the argument made no assumptions about what could or could not establish that state. Then after another year of consideration, I have retained the narrowness of my original conclusion, but have added that Darwinian evolution cannot be the source of that system because it requires the system in order to exist – and Dr Liddle agrees with me (“You know, Upright BiPed, you are absolutely right! Darwinian evolution doesn’t explain how replication with heritable variation in reproductive success first came into being!”)

    And for you, the legal beagle trained to attack any evidence he cannot refute, think this constitutes a powerful contradiction. Very powerful.

    Does this consitute as a refutation of the evidence as well?

  51. Dr Liddle, you say :

    I have certainly demonstrated the vacuity of certain ID concepts (CSI, for instance).

    You have acknowledged that Darwinian evolution cannot explain the rise of “heritable variation” (i.e. recorded information) and haven’t provided an alternate mechanism. If it is true that you cannot demonstrate or account for the rise of information, then your claim seems to ring a little hollow. Are you not simply saying that once the system required for CSI is in existence, Darwinian evolution can alter the sequences within that system – and this demonstrates the vacuity of ID concepts?

    And I have certainly refuted claims by IDists to have provided evidence for ID.

    Have you refuted my claim? Please post the link.

  52. I see. I was correct in identifying the contradiction above, and you’ve explained that the contradiction arises because you have changed your position. Nothing wrong with that.

    Your problem now is that you think that Liz’s statement helps your position given that change, when it does not. “Darwinian evolution,” and “replication with heritable variation in reproductive success” (same thing) are not synonymous with “a semiotic state”/your entailments, as you claim. Simpler replicators, devoid of some or all of your entailments, may be possible, yet capable of Darwinian evolution. Therefore while Darwinian evolution can’t account for the emergence of the first Darwinian process (duh), it may account for the first instances of systems you choose to characterize as “semiotic,” and the entailments thereof. There is certainly ample (and growing) evidence that the current system of replication has a lengthy evolutionary history, evidence that points to simpler forms of replication in the past. Liz’s statements can only be construed as contradictory if you continue to collapse the distinction between “Darwinian processes” (and replication with heritable variation in reproductive success) and the elements you state are required for semiosis.

    Your challenge now to to explain how it follows from your description of semiotic processes that such simpler Darwinian systems are impossible – as the reasoning you’ve offered to date is specious.

    BTW, I am not a lawyer.

  53. Bill,

    Darwinian evolution functions by means of changes in the genotype (recorded information) being translated into changes in the phenotype (the translated effect of that information). That would require a genotype and a phenotype. And they require semiosis.

  54. UB:

    That would require a genotype and a phenotype.

    You are describing current biological replication. Simpler replicators capable of Darwinian evolution, yet devoid of the genotype phenotype distinction (and/or other apparatus you describe as “semiotic”) may have been possible, and may have given rise to the present day system of replication. Semiotic theory as you articulate it provides no basis for asserting that such replicators are not possible. Of course, whether there were such replicators and what their characteristics may have been remains an unanswered empirical question, one subject to intense research effort.

  55. Bill,

    Your challenge now is to explain how it follows from your description of semiotic processes that such simpler Darwinian systems are impossible

    I would say it’s the challenge of reigning paradigm to demonstrate the only possibility that may be considered is even possible.

    In any case, simpler how? Simpler in the sense that such a system wouldn’t need the arrangement of an information-bearing medium to be translated into an autonomous self-replicator, or simpler in the sense that it wouldn’t need a system to translate that arrangement into a autonomous self-replicator? Or just simpler in the sense that it wouldn’t need the information-bearing medium to be arranged in any particular way in order to be translated into an autonomous self-replicator?

    UB: That would require a genotype and a phenotype.

    RB: You are describing current biological replication.

    I’m describing the entire fossil record; everything alive today, everything that was alive yesterday, and every day going back to the point where autonomous self-replicating cells appeared on earth.

    Of course, whether there were such replicators and what their characteristics may have been remains an unanswered empirical question, one subject to intense research effort.

    Then Dr Liddle has been given an argument for ID that is not also an argument for Darwinian processes, and she was not able to demonstrate any of the observations to be false, or that the reasoning was invalid.

  56. RB:

    Semiotic theory as you articulate it provides no basis for asserting that such replicators are not possible.

    So at bottom, the counterargument to semiosis is that ID proponents must prove that simpler replicators that are “devoid of the genotype phenotype distinction” are impossible.

    May I ask? If your theory is never subjected to a test – because the only test is impossible – then how is it falsifiable?

  57. UB:

    I would say it’s the challenge of reigning paradigm to demonstrate the only possibility that may be considered is even possible.

    Absolutely. Evolutionary selection is the only plausible natural explanation we have of the complexity and refinement of the current system of replication. Fortunately, this has proven to be a richly generative hypothesis, the pursuit of which has made plain the fact that the current genetic code and associated apparatus itself has a deep evolutionary history.

    So at bottom, the counterargument to semiosis is that ID proponents must prove that simpler replicators that are “devoid of the genotype phenotype distinction” are impossible.

    May I ask? If your theory is never subjected to a test – because the only test is impossible – then how is it falsifiable?

    At bottom, the hypothesis that the current system of replication had simpler precursors continues to give rise to impressive empirical research (most of which is vastly over my head, I freely admit). A recent example:

    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0072225

    Specific hypotheses are far from unfalsifiable, as indicated in this review of the continued promise and perils of the RNA world hypothesis:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....po=82.5000

    Meanwhile, your challenge now remains to support your core claim that simpler archaic replicators devoid of some or all of the components of “semiosis” cannot have existed. It is your claim – one of only two you have made – the fact that it asserts a negative is your problem.

  58. Bill,

    Absolutely. Evolutionary selection is the only plausible natural explanation we have of the complexity and refinement of the current system of replication.

    This is the standard equivocation. The comment you were responding to was about the origin the system, but you responded with advertising copy for evolution. If I may quote you from yesterday: ”Darwinian evolution can’t account for the emergence of the first Darwinian process (duh)”.

    Also, as to your literature bluff, the only mention of falsifiability in the link you provided was in this sentence by Eugene Koonin:

    ”The RNA World scenario is bad as a scientific hypothesis: it is hardly falsifiable and is extremely difficult to verify due to a great number of holes in the most important parts.”

    If you think Dr Koonin is incorrect in this, then please answer the question: How is your theory falsifiable?

  59. UB:

    This is the standard equivocation. The comment you were responding to was about the origin the system, but you responded with advertising copy for evolution.

    Then your chain has jumped a sprocket vis the context of my remark. That context is the origin of the complexity observed in current cell replication, protein synthesis, etc., which you describe as “semiotic.”

    Your claim is that Darwinian evolution cannot account for that complexity, because Darwinian evolution depends upon the full semiotic apparatus (your “entailments,” etc.) to function at all.

    I say you’ve no basis for that claim, either in “semiotic theory” or in Darwinian theory more generally. Simpler Darwinian replicators devoid of some or all of the entailments may be possible, from which it follows that Darwinian processes may account for the emergence of the features you call “semiotic” from “non-semiotic” replicators. The origin of systems you characterize as “semiotic” =/= the origin of the minimal replicator capable of Darwinian evolution, and my remarks speak to the former, not the latter. My remark above is therefore exactly apposite, as it goes to the possibility that “semiotic” systems originated from non-semiotic Darwinian replicators. And that is the “possibility” I took you to be denoting in your remark.

    As there is (other than this bare claim) nothing in semiotic theory that supports your assertion, your challenge then remains to explain how it follows from your description of semiotic processes that such simpler Darwinian systems are impossible.

  60. That said, UB, I’m going to retire from this discussion. Perhaps another time.

  61. RB,

    I appreciate a good stiff upper lip Bill, but before you run away, will you tell us how is your theory falsifiable? You seem to keep skipping over that question, even though it’s been featured prominently in the discussion.

  62. #32 being charitable towards ‘timaeus’ is like taking medicine to someone sick who doesn’t actually want to be healed.

    timaeus will once again not admit to any shortcoming in his IDism, but this is such a clear case of ‘the guy just doesn’t know what he’s talking about’ that being ‘charitable’ is hard when the patient is kicking and screaming at you to go away.

    “he [Gregory] is accusing Dembski of “evolutionism” based on this single remark.” – timaeus

    Something needs to be repeated:

    “this single remark
    this single remark
    this single remark” – timaeus

    Was it a single remark *only,* timaeus?

    It seems like you made up your mind that only a “single remark” is what I said re: Dembski’s evolutionism and then willfully or unknowingly convinced yourself of it, to the degree that you now are spinning indulgent rhetoric again at UD about something that in fact is not true, but rather just a figment of your own Expelled Syndrome imagination.

    The record shows that Dembski has written a paper about ‘technological evolution,’ has included sections on it in several, yes, several of his books, both popular and technical, and has even blogged about it HERE at UD, a blog which he founded. Just do an internet search if you still won’t allow yourself to believe that more than a “single remark” by Dembski speaking of technological evolution has been made. Try adding ‘TRIZ’ for speedier results.

    So, if that’s a “single remark,” then timaeus is capable of making the sun stand still and roses smell foul in defense of his personal ideology of IDism.

    No apology, no charity; this is what I’ve come to expect from timaeus.

    “we all have had trouble here on UD, figuring out exactly what the term “evolutionism” means” – timaeus

    Yes, timaeus & others at UD are having troubles with ‘evolution,’ ‘evolutionary theory’ and ‘evolutionism’. It begins with equivocation and fuzzyness by IDM leaders. What are the limits and legitimate powers of evolutionary theories? Is it only Darwinian evolution that is the problem or *all* other evolutionary theories or just some? You will not find an IDist leader alive today who can express them-self clearly and coherently about this. I’ve met or corresponded with almost all of them; Dembski’s ‘technological evolution’ is just one of many confusions among IDist leaders (Nelson, Behe, Thaxton, West, Wells, Witt and Meyer included).

    http://www.discovery.org/a/828

    One more oversight by timaeus in #32. In his personal isolated science & religion scholar desire to ‘fight’ against BioLogos, timaeus unfortunately doesn’t carefully or charitably read what they say. They *are* against ‘evolutionism,’ not just in the questions but in the words of several of their columnists.

    “While we [at BioLogos] accept the science of evolution, we emphatically reject evolutionism. Evolutionism is the atheistic worldview that says life developed without God and without purpose.”

    Of course, timaeus can try to spin this all he wants, talking about contributors. I’ve seen through his ruse enough times to know that he will try again. He’s somehow convinced people here that he is charitable and plays fair, when already it is obvious that he is a kind of one-trick pony protesting for IDism, not aware of what Dembski or BioLogos actually writes.

    “none of us here have ever been clear what Gregory is upset about when he attacks “evolutionism.”” – timaeus

    Oh, yes, the ‘us/we’ card from timaeus-the-IDist regularly rousing his IDM troops against heresy.

    Did you ever once pause to think that challenging (not ‘attacking’) ‘evolutionism’ might mean something that you are simply unprepared to face, as IDists? No, timaeus, I don’t expect you to be clear about or even to understand anything that looks forward, only that looks backwards. There’s a big difference between us, timaeus, beyond just the generations: you are regurgitating IDism as you pick and choose your own personal definition from reading lots and lots of IDist texts. I’m not so interested *just* in IDist texts, but in solving problems and challenges that look both at the present and to the future.

    You tried to drag people down at UD once already. For the sake of possible improvement to your own Expelled Syndrome, please don’t do it again.

    The challenge to ‘evolutionism’ makes much more sense and is wider and deeper than IDism’s narrow anti-Darwinism. But there are IDist leaders who aren’t willing to take the risk of being labelled ‘anti-evolutionists.’ So they walk a rather shallow path, in the neo-Paleyean, neo-creationist name of Uppercase ‘Intelligent Design.’ In the end, that’s actually not very ‘revolutionary’ (TRIZ, TRIZ).

  63. Joe:

    JohnnyB- The TSZ ilk don’t know what science is. They sure as heck cannot produce a testable hypothesis for unguided evolution.

    Elizabeth:

    Well, some of us at TSZ (me for instance) are actually scientists. So yeah, I’d say that some of us ilks do know what science is.

    IS that where we can find the testable hypothesis for unguided evolution, somewhere at TSZ? Because it sure failed to appear in your response.

  64. UB:

    will you tell us how is your theory falsifiable?

    Off the top of my non-biologist’s/non-biochemist’s head:

    The hypothesis that simpler systems gave rise to the current arrangement predicts that elements of the simpler, archaic system should be evident in the current biochemistry of the process, perhaps co-opted into new functions while bearing vestiges of the old. It also predicts that components of the current system will be found to have arisen at different points in the history of unicellular life, some separated by millions or even billions of years, with co-opted functions exhibiting interdependencies in specific directions. It predicts that evidence should be found indicating that simpler coding systems (coding for fewer amino acids, for example) are possible and functional. I’d say it also predicts that families of coding arrangements, some archaic, will be found to be organized along independently established phylogenetic lines. Ditto for protein families, and the timing of their emergence.

    That is my five minute, non-professional surmise. Were these predictions be found to be untrue, I would say that my argument was in serious trouble.

    Since I have obliged you with an answer, why don’t you describe the likewise? What unique empirical predictions does semiotic theory make, such that disconfirmation, or perhaps cumulative disconfirmation, would put “semiotic theory” into serious jeopardy?

    Also, since I obliged:

    Explain how it follows from your description of semiotic processes that such simpler Darwinian systems are impossible.

  65. The question, Bill, is not how a theory can be supported, the question is how your theory can be falsified.

  66. Elizabeth:

    My statement is quite clear, Mung.

    It’s not a statement of what ID is. It is a statement of what I think cannot be refuted.

    And that’s why you post in bad faith, Elizabeth, and why you should not be included on any list of those who are ‘charitable’ towards ID.

    I do not think that the proposition that “the world/life/whatever was designed by an Intelligent Designer” can be refuted.

    You failed to mention that when you use the terms “design” and “Intelligent Designer” that you’re specifically not including “Intelligent Design.”

    But we all know you are.

    Bad faith. Not charitable. Some might even call it downright dishonest.

    My statement is quite clear, Mung.

    Well no, Elizabeth, it’s not all that clear at all. In fact, it hardly appears to say what you now claim it says.

  67. UB:

    The question, Bill, is not how a theory can be supported, the question is how your theory can be falsified.

    Read again: I stated that if the above predictions were found to be inaccurate, my theory would be in serious trouble – that is to say, in serious jeopardy of being disconfirmed, falsified etc.

    Of course the confirmation of those same predictions support the theory. I don’t see how those alternative outcomes can be decoupled.

    Again, since I obliged,

    Why don’t you describe the likewise? What unique empirical predictions does semiotic theory make, such that disconfirmation, or perhaps cumulative disconfirmation, would put “semiotic theory” into serious jeopardy (of falsification)

    Also, since I obliged, and now that you remind me of your disdain prominent, skipped questions:

    Please explain how it follows from your description of semiotic processes that such simpler Darwinian systems are impossible.

  68. RB:

    Evolutionary selection is the only plausible natural explanation we have of the complexity and refinement of the current system of replication.

    Who is “we” and what makes that explanation natural?

    The only way complex systems arise is ….

    Do tell.

  69. Reciprocating Bill:

    That context is the origin of the complexity observed in current cell replication, protein synthesis, etc., which you describe as “semiotic.”

    Your claim is that Darwinian evolution cannot account for that complexity, because Darwinian evolution depends upon the full semiotic apparatus (your “entailments,” etc.) to function at all.

    I’d run too if I were you Bill.

    First, you get the context wrong. Then you get the complexity wrong. Then you get the “full apparatus” wrong.

    You demonstrate that you don’t understand the argument, or if you do understand it you deliberately misrepresent it.

    What is “the full semiotic apparatus,” if you even know?

    What is “the minimal semiotic apparatus,” if you even know?

    What is the difference between “the complexity observed in current cell replication, protein synthesis, etc.” and whatever you think it “evolved” from, if you even know?

    And how do we test whatever imaginary scenario you happen to come up with?

    That said, UB, I’m going to retire from this discussion. Perhaps another time.

    I’d “retire” too, if I were you. I’d retire and never come back.

  70. Bill,

    Read again: I stated that if the above predictions were found to be inaccurate, my theory would be in serious trouble – that is to say, in serious jeopardy of being disconfirmed, falsified etc. Of course the confirmation of those same predictions support the theory. I don’t see how those alternative outcomes can be decoupled.

    Your theory may make a prediction that supports more than just your theory. It may also support, or not exclude, an alternate theory as well. If that were the case, then there would be a search to test the theories to disconfirm one or the other. The inference to design, brought about by the observation of semiosis, can be falsified by the demonstration of a semiotic state arising without agent guidance. How can your theory be falsified?

  71. Bill,

    What unique empirical predictions does semiotic theory make, such that disconfirmation, or perhaps cumulative disconfirmation, would put “semiotic theory” into serious jeopardy (of falsification)

    I’ve answered this question on many occasions, including my post at #70. What I gave you is not a manner in which to merely support the theory, but a method to falsify it among competing theories. As you know, the support for semiosis has already been given, and stands unrefuted.

    Please explain how it follows from your description of semiotic processes that such simpler Darwinian systems are impossible.

    I’ve answered this question as well. I gave the answer in #53:

    UB: Darwinian evolution functions by means of changes in the genotype (recorded information) being translated into changes in the phenotype (the translated effect of that information). That would require a genotype and a phenotype. And they require semiosis.

    It’s standard biology 101. You then suggested that this description only includes current living things, to which I reminded you that it includes the entire fossil record and everything that has ever lived on earth going back to the first self-replicating cell. You then suggested that a “simpler” self-replicator can be “devoid of the genotype phenotype distinction”. In response, I asked you “simpler” how:

    UB: Simpler in the sense that such a system wouldn’t need the arrangement of an information-bearing medium to be translated into an autonomous self-replicator, or simpler in the sense that it wouldn’t need a system to translate that arrangement into a autonomous self-replicator? Or just simpler in the sense that it wouldn’t need the information-bearing medium to be arranged in any particular way in order to be translated into an autonomous self-replicator?

    You neglected to answer this question in your follow-on response, or any response since.

  72. UB:

    Your theory may make a prediction that supports more than just your theory. It may also support, or not exclude, an alternate theory as well.

    Indeed, perhaps both would also be falsified were my suggested predictions found to be incorrect.

    So what? In that instance my theory will still have been disconfirmed. The fact that another theory has also been rejected has no bearing whatever on the strength of the disconfirmation. What I propose is therefore falsifiable. If you can’t see this, then you don’t understand “falsify.”

    It is only in the instance of a failure to falsify both theories that further research predictions would need to be devised that better discriminate between two erstwhile successful models.

    The inference to design, brought about by the observation of semiosis, can be falsified by the demonstration of a semiotic state arising without agent guidance.

    As always seems to be the case, yet another IDist proposes a “test” of an ID theory that entails evolutionary biology going forward exactly as it would have had ID theory never furrowed a brow, with no predictive research guidance whatsoever from the ID camp. As I’ve said, a bridge to nowhere.

    Now, for that skipped question you so disdain:

    Please explain how it follows from your description of semiotic processes that the simpler Darwinian systems I discuss above are impossible.

  73. Gregory:

    1. Regarding BioLogos, you have provided *one* reference to evolutionism — and no link to it. But assuming the quotation is right, that does not falsify my statement. I said that they never *or rarely* speak of “evolutionism” at BioLogos. Far more often they speak of “scientism” as their target. And I stand by that. *Once* counts as “rarely.”

    2. You have given no citations for Dembski’s remarks concerning technological evolution, so I can’t follow them up. However, I’m glad to concede that I may very well be wrong, and that Dembski may have made more than one remark on the subject, or even that he may have frequently referred to the “evolution” of technology (or of computers, or of some other specific technological product).

    So I’ll give you the factual point regarding Dembski, but what does it establish? That Dembski, like virtually every other English-speaker on the planet, sometimes uses the word “evolution” to apply to the development of things other than living beings? That hardly commits him to any philosophy of “evolutionism.”

    Indeed, I have never met a human being who subscribes to any philosophy called “evolutionism.” I have met plenty of people who subscribe to a doctrine of “progress” — the doctrine that human things get better, or at least, more technically sophisticated, over time. Thus, some believe that medicine inevitably progresses, engineering inevitably progresses, morality inevitably progresses, etc. Occasionally such people may say that medicine “evolves” or that engineering “evolves” — meaning that our knowledge grows more sophisticated over time, as, allegedly, a human being or an orchid is more sophisticated than an amoeba or a sponge or a flatworm. I tend not to use the word “evolves” in such cases myself, but I have no problem understanding the usage; I recognize that the person is not talking about something biological but more generally about an increase in complexity or sophistication or functionality. So I don’t see the problem. I wouldn’t say of an accountant who says that accounting systems have “evolved” over the past 100 years that he subscribes to a philosophy of life called “evolutionism”; I’d just say he is using metaphorical language. And even if I thought the metaphor wasn’t a very good one, that wouldn’t prove that the accountant had adopted a metaphysics of “evolutionism.”

    I’m sure that if you took the time (which you apparently haven’t) to write to Bill Dembski and ask him point-blank: “Dr. Dembski, do you subscribe to evolutionism?” he would say “No.” So what is your problem? That you don’t like his metaphor for technological change? Fine. But don’t say or imply that because he uses that metaphor, that he holds to “evolutionism” as some overarching philosophy of life.

    Of course, you’ve been told all this by the irritated people over at The Skeptical Zone — none of whom can be accused of being either creationists or ID proponents or right-wing Christians or lackeys of Discovery or any of the other sort of people you criticize here. So it’s not simply IDers who don’t have a clue what you mean by “evolutionism.” Atheists show the same reaction. This suggests that the problem is not with ID or UD or Discovery, but with the way you express yourself. People don’t know what you are agitated about, so they can’t respond constructively.

    Perhaps if you gave everyone a short, one-sentence definition, e.g.:

    “By ‘evolutionism’, I mean the doctrine that …”

    you would get more useful responses. People would then be able to tell you in unambiguous terms whether or not they subscribed to “evolutionism.”

    So how about it, Gregory? You define, in one sentence, this doctrine of “evolutionism” that you think is so bad, so destructive, so dangerous; I promise that, if it’s clearly defined, I’ll respond, letting you know whether or not I accept or reject it. And I think I know most of the ID proponents’ position well enough that I will be able to tell you whether they would accept or reject it as well.

    Ball’s in your court, Gregory. Define now, or forever hold your peace.

  74. Bill,

    It is only in the instance of a failure to falsify both theories that further research predictions would need to be devised that better discriminate between two erstwhile successful models.

    And so, again, I ask: How would you falsify the claim that something unseen and unknown can exist? Dr Liddle makes the case that theories that have no constraints cannot be falsified. Do you think she is correct in this? If so, then what constraints are determinant on a thing that exists only in the imagination, and which of those may be used to falsify your theory?

    Now, for that skipped question you so disdain: Please explain how it follows from your description of semiotic processes that the simpler Darwinian systems I discuss above are impossible.

    There is no disdain Bill; I’ve already answered it, and pointed back to the same answer each time you bring it up. Here it is again: “Darwinian evolution functions by means of changes in the genotype (recorded information) being translated into changes in the phenotype (the translated effect of that information)”. From this, you then proposed a self-replicator exhibiting Darwinian evolution which is “devoid of the genotype phenotype distinction”. But Darwinian evolution is an actual process observed in the functioning cell, and it is not devoid of the genotype and phenotype.

    I have also asked you to clarify what you mean by “simpler”. Here that question is again as well: “Simpler in the sense that such a system wouldn’t need the arrangement of an information-bearing medium to be translated into an autonomous self-replicator, or simpler in the sense that it wouldn’t need a system to translate that arrangement into a autonomous self-replicator? Or just simpler in the sense that it wouldn’t need the information-bearing medium to be arranged in any particular way in order to be translated into an autonomous self-replicator?”

    If you can tell me what you mean by “simpler”, then perhaps I can tell you why I believe your concept is not possible.

  75. Timaeus @73

    Both evolution as a word (it was one Darwin only adopted under public pressure – see Goldfarb) and evolution as a principle-of-everything go back to Herbert Spencer, and that’s why the two concepts came to be blurred throughout the subsequent discourse. Darwin himself was unsympathetic to Spencer.

    Gregory’s use of “evolutionism” means exactly the same as what Spencer meant by “evolution”. The dictionary understands the words to be, in essence synonymous. To distinguish the words in terms of “believing in the biological theory” [evolution] and “believing that all things tend to evolution” [evolutionism] would be useful if 150 years of different usage didn’t make it a case of tilting at windwills.

    Because of Spencer, universal evolution has crept into the popular psyche to a variable degree, such that most people don’t notice when they cross the boundary between biological science and general philosophy, just as when they use the word “progress” they tacitly assume that change is never regressive or indifferent.

    So to single out someone like Dembski as “guilty” of the “-ism”, without specifically tracing his debt to Spencer, is disingenuous at best… as indeed is floating the whole question of evolution-as-philosophy without reference to Spencer, whose brainchild it was, and without acknowledging his usual term for it, which was simply “evolution”.

  76. timaeus is trying to sucker me in to have a discussion about ‘evolutionism’ here in his IDist haven. No thanks.

    “I said that they never *or rarely* speak of “evolutionism” at BioLogos.” – timaeus

    What I quoted is on their Questions page. It is the ‘official’ position of BioLogos, carefully crafted and indeed updated from its original language. Perhaps my speaking with Darrel Falk had something to do with this, but it doesn’t really matter either way and I can take no credit for it. Their current position is anti-evolutionism as stated there. It is unambiguous, regardless of whether or not individual columnists don’t address that topic head-on.

    Ard Louis has also written about anti-evolutionism in BioLogos columns.

    timaeus is a jealous, jaded man, so we won’t expect a fair hand from him on the topic of BioLogos. The BioLogos Foundation has only been around for a few years and it has done much already working against YECism, a role the DI has chosen, for political purposes and funding channels, not to play. For courage points, BioLogos scores much higher than the DI or the IDM, the latter which largely exist based on rhetoric and sophistry with the PR and legal team at the DI doing much of their ‘work.’

    “You have given no citations for Dembski’s remarks concerning technological evolution, so I can’t follow them up.”

    I gave a link. Could have given 3 or 4 others from a 5 minute Internet search, but multiple links sit in moderation.

    http://www.discovery.org/a/828 – ‘technological evolution’ is in the title of Dembski’s paper. If his view has changed, please update us. In fact, why not start a thread about it at UD, timaeus, if you have posting privileges? Maybe I’d join in on that one.

    Just do the work, timaeus and take your head out of the sand. The evidence is there is you’re willing to follow it.

    “I have never met a human being who subscribes to any philosophy called “evolutionism.””

    And I’ve never met a Christian who subscribes to ‘Darwinism’ but that doesn’t stop you and Denyse O’Leary from labelling them that, does it? Darrel Falk explicity DENIED being a ‘Darwinist,’ but that was not enough for the polemicists at UD to accept him at his word. Iow, acting with no charity, as the current topic directs us to consider.

    “Define now, or forever hold your peace.”

    Who actually answers to the beck of a timaean call anyway?

    The good Dr. Garvey is half-right in his assessment. However, I don’t mean “exactly what Spencer” meant by ‘evolutionism.’ The landscape has changed considerably since then. And the ‘debt’ is not to H. Spencer, but goes back further than that, to August Comte and the Cambridge Platonists. Spencer is a player in the conversation, but far from a major one. Malthus is more important than Spencer and so is Kropotkin.

    I definitely agree with Jon when he notes: “universal evolution has crept into the popular psyche to a variable degree, such that most people don’t notice when they cross the boundary between biological science and general philosophy”. He and I actually hold quite a few views in common, but it is IDism and Reformational ‘closed’ philosophy that stands in the way.

    What I don’t understand is why Dr. Garvey, who has already agreed with the general distinctions I am making re: evolution & evolutionism, would rather side with IDism as a ‘Revolutionary’ ideology, simply because he thinks it fits closer with his evangelical Reformed theology. It actually doesn’t, if he would look closer and be more careful with his personal philosophy of science.

    p.s. I don’t think I’ll take any more time to address this topic here, faced with an archetypal Expelled Syndrome case (timaeus) and someone who uncharitably banned me from his site (Dr. Garvey) for writing against sock-puppetry like timaeus’. No doubt Jon thinks it was Intelligent Design on his part; and perhaps it was.

  77. In another thread I just proposed an experiment. I am inviting all ID skeptics to stop commenting here for the next month. I am a great believer in dialogue and the free exchange of ideas. I hope my experiment will demonstrate dialogue is preferable to isolation.

    @ Jon Garvey:

    Not quite sure where you stand on ID, Jon; whether you support the politics or you just like the idea of a supernatural element to common descent. So I don’t know if it is appropriate to ask you to join the experiment or not.

  78. I’d “retire” too, if I were you. I’d retire and never come back.

    Ah, my little ray of sunshine, mung, expresses an odd thought here. Especially as he was involved in the repeal of various bans, including mine, Bill’s and Lizzie’s.

    More endorsement for the experiment!

  79. Ignoring all of Gregory’s personal attacks (e.g., “Timaeus is a jealous, jaded man”), attacks of the sort for which he has been sharply rebuked by about a dozen different people at TSZ over the past month or two, I’ll stick to the points of substance.

    First, Gregory can still provide a specific reference for only *one* place where anyone on BioLogos has criticized a doctrine or teaching or ideology or philosophy or world view called “evolutionism.” I therefore maintain my position, i.e., that BioLogos writers rarely use the term (though they frequently criticize “scientism”). I’ll gladly retract my statement when Gregory convinces me that they frequently use the term, by specifying a significant number of places where they do so.

    Second, and far more important, whatever “evolutionism” might have meant to various writers and audiences in the past, what GREGORY means by “evolutionism” today is not clear. No one at TSZ knows what he means by it. Jon Garvey took a stab at it, and Gregory has just said that he was only half-right. *I* don’t know what he means by it, and I doubt anyone else here does. So if Gregory is interested in COMMUNICATING rather than in carping, he will define the term for us.

    So once again, I ask Gregory, politely, without any hidden agenda:

    “What is your definition of ‘evolutionism’?”

    And I add two related questions:

    What *living* writers, scholars, etc. *defend* ‘evolutionism’ as defined in this way?

    Why is ‘evolutionism’ bad?

    These are honest requests for information, clarification, etc. They have no political motivation. I am not asking them in hopes of embarrassing Gregory or scoring any kind of verbal victory over him. I simply want to know what he is asserting.

    I assume that Gregory is a genuine, serious academic. And as a genuine, serious academic, he will have no objection to clarifying exactly what he is asserting. You won’t see the Thomist philosopher Feser, for example (someone whom Gregory has praised fulsomely here) ducking requests to explain exactly what he means by a word.

    If Gregory refuses to define the term, there is no reason on earth why anyone here, at TSZ, or anywhere else, should bother to reply to any of his posts about it. I certainly won’t.

  80. I am inviting all ID skeptics to stop commenting here for the next month.

    The problem is not, and has never been, mere ID skeptics. I am skeptical of various aspects of ID, I’ve openly questioned them in many threads in the past, and I get along fine here.

    It’s with people who have a particular axe to grind, cultural warriors of a particular type – in this case, most of whom congregate on one particular website, associated with the hateful, bigoted, homophobic swamp forums.

    So let’s amend your test. Committed ID-hating TSZ regulars and likeminded people who can barely talk about ID with either contempt or mockery – or people who gleefully tolerate such, while pretending to be nice and open-minded, as Liddle does – take a hike, for a year.

    We’ll see if UD can have conversations, insight, and discussions with real skeptics, not fakes.

  81. Repeat, since he didn’t acknowledge the right not to answer him: timaeus is trying to sucker me in to have a discussion about ‘evolutionism’ here in his IDist haven. No thanks.

    If timaeus wants to join the TSZ, he is welcome there. Otherwise timaeus’ over-inflated sense of entitlement to be answered at UD blog isn’t very impressive.

    “*I* don’t know what he means by it” – timaeus

    timaeus demonstrates either his lack of memory or his intentional deception not to know or remember. I have already given my ‘definition’ of ‘evolutionism,’ both here and at TSZ. But obviously will need to do it again at TSZ with blinking lights attached to it so that nobody misses it. Again and again, timaeus is telling lies in public. And to be honest, I don’t think timaeus is willing to follow the evidence where it leads wrt ‘evolutionism’ anyway; it would take him too far outside of his comfort zones.

    As for Dr. Edward Feser, he operates openly in public, facing challenges with his personal identity and reputation attached to what he says, has his own blog, works at a public college/university, prints books and articles under his own name. What does the person known here as ‘timaeus’ do? He is an Expelled Syndrome victim. What would it take to be healed? Only the ‘Intelligent Designer’ knows.

  82. Not quite sure where you stand on ID, Jon; whether you support the politics or you just like the idea of a supernatural element to common descent. So I don’t know if it is appropriate to ask you to join the experiment or not.

    Well Alan, Gregory defines my position as “IDism and Reformational ‘closed’ philosophy”, which ought to make things perfectly clear to everybody, just like “evolutionism” does. When I’ve worked out what it means, I might be in a better position to decide whether I take a side on ID, and if so whether I take it strongly enough for it to dictate whether I post here…

    Meanwhile, my policy is that unless one respects the people one is posting for, one might as well keep silent anyway.

  83. Gregory, there’s very little difference between “a person who is anonymous” and “a person who may as well be anonymous”. In your case, the latter applies.

    And to be honest, I don’t think timaeus is willing to follow the evidence where it leads wrt ‘evolutionism’ anyway; it would take him too far outside of his comfort zones.

    And this is just flatly untrue. Timaeus has shown himself to be willing to investigate evidence he disagrees with and – crucially – have the sanity to do so. You? I wouldn’t call you a liar. Just some variety of bonkers.

  84. That’s kind of you, nullasalus. Glad to see you again!

    “I wouldn’t call you a liar.” – nullasalus

    I stand by what I said above: “timaeus demonstrates either his lack of memory or his intentional deception not to know or remember.”

    Are you defending timaeus on this point, nullasalus?

  85. Are you defending timaeus on this point, nullasalus?

    I am defending Timaeus generally, Gregory. You suggested he’s somehow ‘afraid’ of dealing with contrary evidence, because it’s ‘outside of his comfort zone’. That is inane. He actually reads and straightforwardly engages the views of those he disagrees with, or he refrains from comment and/or qualifies his responses appropriately.

    I won’t comment on any TSZ ramblings, because with rare exception, I don’t dwell in that particular cesspool.

  86. Alan @77

    I will just comment on one phrase of yours:

    “…[whether] you just like the idea of a supernatural element to common descent.”

    That, with respect, isn’t the issue for me, nor for many ID folk. Nor for “rank and file” TEs (of the kind who affect the percentages in national polls), though it seems to be for many of the current movers and shakers in that camp. I dispute (and have detailed on my own blogs) the whole validity of the natural/supernatural dichotomy arising from Enlightenment categories of thought.

    In classical Christian thought, “natural” means God’s providential direction of all things in accordance with the natures he has given them, and “supernatural” to his providential direction of all things by working outside, or contrary to, their natures.

    What there isn’t room for at all is a category of things that happens independent of God’s providential direction, or God would not be God.

    I’m comfortable with any process, whether or not it involves “ID” restrictively understood, or common descent, that conforms to that view of reality. Which particular explanations are true is, of course, extremely interesting to science and to me, but not fundamental to understanding the universe.

  87. “You suggested he’s somehow ‘afraid’ of dealing with contrary evidence” – nullasalus

    Is that uncharitable reading or just reading in things that aren’t there?

    I wrote and stand behind this:

    “I don’t think timaeus is willing to follow the evidence where it leads wrt ‘evolutionism’ anyway; it would take him too far outside of his comfort zones.”

    Where is this ‘fear’ mentioned in the text? Lack of will need not be just attributed to being ‘afraid.’

    Let us see what timaeus comes up with from his Expelled Syndrome infested cave: is he demonstrating lack of memory or intentional deceit? Either way, the sense of entitlement he displays simply reeks!

    But I’m sure he appreciates your ‘general defense’ of him at UD, nullasalus, even though you aren’t an IDist.

  88. FYI – This thread has degenerated. I’m closing it this afternoon.

  89. johnnyb, that’s fine – it’s your thread and can do with it what you like. I’d ask for a short prolongation so that this issue can be closed between timaeus and myself.

    timaeus started the diversion by talking about my thread on “The Limits of Evolution: Things that don’t evolve” at TSZ. But actually, that diversion can be understood as providing a lesson.

    Indeed, it speaks directly at finding charitable ground because I honestly don’t think timeaus is willing to provide it or openly recognise it here at UD. I think you will find that, if you prolong the thread for a short period, once timaeus answers to his charge against me, it may be that quite a bit productive regarding ‘charitable ground’ will come of it.

    Sadly, I just doubt that it will come from timaeus’ perspective.

  90. I found Gregory’s discussion of the “courage” of BioLogos amusing. Let’s review some of the acts of “courage” that BioLogos and many of its writers have shown:

    Francis Collins, even before he became head of the NIH, i.e., before he was restrained from speaking his mind on ID in public by his official position, put out misinformation on what ID was about, yet when “called” on it by IDers, steadily refused either to retract the false characterization or else debate ID proponents over the matter.

    Karl Giberson also said false things about ID, and also often made extremely bad arguments regarding both science and theology, but when challenged on BioLogos by commenters, virtually always refused to engage with critics of his columns, and even when he (rarely) answered a critic, he never answered the critic’s rejoinders.

    Kathryn Applegate has virtually always refused to engage with critics of her columns, and has never answered rejoinders.

    Ard Louis would engage only very briefly with critics, sometimes answering a first criticism, but never answering a rejoinder.

    Dennis Venema is polite and direct and courageous and generous in responding to scientific challenges to his views; to theological challenges, not so much. Vagueness, ambiguity, evasive action, and simple refusal to answer are his general strategies for handling theological criticism.

    Frequent guest columnist and leading British biologist-TE Denis Alexander refused to reply to commenters.

    One-shot guest columnist and leading British biologist-TE Oliver Barclay refused to reply to commenters.

    Christian plasma physicist Ian Hutchinson refused to respond to any critics of his BioLogos columns on “scientism”; indeed, I think that Gregory may have been one of those critics — though since BioLogos now erases all comments after six months, I cannot verify that.

    BioLogos editors and columnists have launched dozens of attack columns against Meyer and Behe from the safety of their fortress. In the case of Behe, they have never allowed him column space for a rebuttal. In the case of Meyer, they *once* allowed him space for a rebuttal, but Darrel Falk prefaced Meyer’s rebuttal with a long, chiding lecture about how he was not “respectful” enough to Ayala (who had certainly disrespected Meyer, but that’s beside the point), and indicated that it was only with great reluctance that Meyer was being allowed to respond. The BioLogos readers, apparently, could not be trusted to read Meyer’s defense against Ayala without first being inoculated against it by the management.

    BioLogos President Darrel Falk backed out of a technical biological debate with Stephen Meyer and Doug Axe. He cited procedural violations in the advertising for the debate as his excuse.

    At the Wheaton ID/TE debate last year, one or more (the exact persons are unknown) of the “BioLogos team” (which included Falk, Applegate, and current BioLogos Senior Scholar Jeffrey Schloss) vetoed the publication of the proceedings, preventing the public from assessing the quality of BioLogos’s scientific arguments as measured against the ID side’s scientific arguments.

    Of the numerous intra-biological challenges to neo-Darwinism, coming from Denton, Shapiro, Margulis, the Altenberg group, etc., the BioLogos biologists (neo-Darwinists to the core) have remained silent, for the entire duration of BioLogos’s existence, as if the criticism will go away if they pretend it isn’t there.

    On theological matters:

    The biologist-columnists at BioLogos have repeatedly refused to say what, *if anything*, they think God actually *does* in evolution. Thus, the question about evolution that is the most important to moderate and conservative evangelicals, they duck. (Three guesses why neo-Darwinists might feel uncomfortable speaking about what God does in evolution.)

    BioLogos sacked Peter Enns, its best columnist (and the one who interacted the most with readers, and frequently yielded points to constructive criticism), for reasons which were never stated, but which everyone behind the scenes knows, i.e., Enns’s views were regarded as too dangerously liberal by some of the moderate evangelical supporters of BioLogos (some of whom would be, one may presume, financial donors to BioLogos). That in itself, however, would not be an act of cowardice, but for the fact that many of the columnists and executive who remained at BioLogos, but were less outspoken than Enns, appeared to hold views on the reliability and historical validity of certain passages of Scripture which were very similar to Enns’s. In light of this, it is hard to read about the Enns case without hearing the echo of Scripture: “… it is expedient for us, that one man should be hung out to dry for the rest, that the whole institution should perish not.”

    If all of this counts as “courage,” I’d hate to see how BioLogos would act if it ever became cowardly.

  91. Gregory wrote (81):

    “I have already given my ‘definition’ of ‘evolutionism,’ both here and at TSZ.”

    Well, Gregory may think he gave a definition, but 200+ comments at TSZ show that his dialogue partners there missed it.

    If he would take a suggestion: generally speaking, one-sentence definitions are the clearest and most useful. It also very much sharpens one’s own intellectual clarity when one forces oneself to boil down one’s many diverse thoughts on a subject to a core idea. I would therefore challenge Gregory, as much for his own sake as for everyone else’s, to come up with a one-sentence definition of “evolutionism.”

  92. Yes I would like to second Timaues’ call and ask Gregory to define what he means by ‘evolutionism’, and in one sentence preferably.

    After all that Gregory has posted on here, and some of it not very nice either (Timaeus, you have patience that a saint would proud of), I think it’s the least he could do.

  93. Try being charitable, timaeus. That’s what this thread is about.

    I didn’t read #90 in its entirety. It’s a waste of time like timaeus’ fixation with BioLogos. Undoubtedly, since the DI-IDM doesn’t take a position on age of earth, BioLogos is much more courageous than IDists are ‘by definition’.

    “I would therefore challenge Gregory, as much for his own sake as for everyone else’s, to come up with a one-sentence definition of “evolutionism.”” – timaeus

    For my own sake? That’s cute. Are you saying, timaeus, that you think I have *not* already given my definition of ‘evolutionism’ here at UD? Yes or no? Let’s get this finished, o.k.?

    “I have already given my ‘definition’ of ‘evolutionism,’ both here and at TSZ.”

    Be charitable in your choice, timaeus. But don’t spin it.

  94. Hi Gregory,

    I understand Johnnyb’s dissapointment at how this thread has panned out, but before he obliterates it would you be as kind as to show me where you have clearly defined what you mean by ‘evolutionism’, and if you are going to point me to a long winded post I would much prefer a more specific answer, which I’m sure you could provide in a sentence.

    What is your definition of ‘evolutionism’?

    Thanks

  95. I will respond to just two more things that Gregory wrote:

    1. “timaeus is trying to sucker me in to have a discussion about ‘evolutionism’.”

    !!! Gregory, not I, has introduced “evolutionism” as a term and concept for discussion here (and just about everywhere else on the internet). I would never have introduced the concept; I’ve never even uttered the word, except when Gregory has mentioned it.

    And why should Gregory feel “suckered” if others ask for a clarification of a word *he* introduced here?

    Imagine this conversation:

    He: I think it is a bad thing for people to believe in God.

    She: What do you mean by God?

    He: You’re not going to sucker me into a discussion of God!

    The last response doesn’t make sense, does it, Gregory?

    2. “And to be honest, I don’t think timaeus is willing to follow the evidence where it leads wrt ‘evolutionism’ anyway.”

    False. I’m always willing to follow the evidence where it leads. And I will gladly do so, once Gregory provides a one-sentence definition of “evolutionism,” couched in terms that any intelligent layman could grasp, and then tells me what it is that he is asking me to believe about “evolutionism” (that it’s good? that it’s bad? that it’s true? that it’s false?).

    I apologize to johnnyb and all for derailing this thread. I was trying to get a message to Kantian Naturalist (who was present earlier) or anyone else from TSZ, but I ended up doing damage. I won’t attempt such an outside communication again.

    P.S. Nullasalus, thanks for your faith in me. Jon, thanks for attempting to translate Gregory’s language for me; if you have a look at the TSZ thread, you will understand why, despite your effort, I’m still confused.

  96. Final Addendum, to answer a question that crossed my last post:

    “Are you saying, timaeus, that you think I have *not* already given my definition of ‘evolutionism’ here at UD?”

    I am saying that I have never *seen* a definition of “evolutionism” posted here by you; or if I have, I have forgotten it — but I doubt the latter is the case.

    If you have posted a *definition* of “evolutionism” — *not* a beat-around-the-bush discussion, *not* a Socratic chase after a question like “What doesn’t evolve?”, *not* a list of historical figures who have contributed to the notion, but a *definition*, as every traditional school teacher and every traditional school child has understood “definition” — if you have posted such a definition, and I have missed it, I would be glad to know where you have posted it. And on the other hand, if you have *not* posted such a definition, I would be glad to have it now. But if you insist that you have posted such a definition, yet refuse to tell me where you posted it, there is no point at all in continuing this conversation.

    You say “Let’s get this finished.” I agree!!! But you are the only one who can finish it. You are the one with the secret definition that I don’t possess. Give it to me, and tell me what sort of comment on the definition that you are looking for, and I will respond, to the best of my ability, politely, rationally, and without any negative personal remarks. That is my promise.

  97. Charity. That’s the main theme of this thread. Let’s see if it can be demonstrated by one particular IDist.

    “I am saying that I have never *seen* a definition of “evolutionism” posted here by you; or if I have, I have forgotten it — but I doubt the latter is the case.” – timaeus

    You doubt? That should (but for the sake of avoiding charity, probably won’t) make two apologies by timaeus in a single thread. And it would be doubled or tripled, let me assure you folks, if it came to timaeus’ myopic (selective reading) views of ‘theistic evolution.’ He doubts, but the evidence is once again against him.

    Evidence Specifically: “Here I define ‘evolutionism’ as…”

    The whole thread is instructive for the present and future re: how willing IDists are to hear alternative ideas and what alternatives to IDism and Expelled Syndrome are available to curious persons interested in higher truths.

    So, now we know that timaeus wasn’t lying, but that he rather forgot, even if he “doubt(s) the latter is the case”. How do we know this? Because he was active in that thread (even though he diverted his attention to try to engage Steve Fuller who came to address the main theme of Human Extension and not timaeus’ timaean-IDism). Iow, timaeus’ intention is to avoid significant challenges to his incoherent pet ideology as he has done with me over the past 4 years.

    Let me speak frankly and without malice. timaeus, you have been the most uncharitable and spiteful person I have (yet) encountered in the IDM so far (that includes *everyone* at the DI and at the ID’s Summer Program, whom I got along with rather well). Why do I openly say this in public? Because you could have done so much more based on your PhD training and intellectual background in ‘philosophy’. You could have actually done some good in promoting alternative views – like Human Extension – instead of reverting to a backward-looking safe haven of IDism, which has sadly turned into Expelled Syndrome.

    I’m sorry if this observation stings, but that is clearly the truth of relationships and actions in this case. You have shown in this thread that you are both not genuine and have a faulty memory (but you’re not actually that old, since you already told us your age when you tried to speak down to Steve Fuller), that you don’t do your homework and that you’re more interested in sniping at me than in actually searching for truth. Why not (learn to) be more charitable, timaeus, as an IDist representative?

    Do people here ever wonder why I’m not worried about posting with my real name (click to follow links) while ‘timaeus’ hides behind a pseudonym acting as a revolutionary correctionist for IDism? It’s because I’ve disassociated myself completely with IDism (after giving it a sporting chance) and would never want to be affiliated with the DI or the IDM. Even the DI recommends behind closed doors to students to take a pseudonym and not to allow themselves to be seen as advocates of IDism if they value their academic careers (this is actually reverse psychology ‘Revolution’ talk, like propagandists in the USSR used to use re: imperialists). timaeus, however, is more than just flirting with both of those options, while I took the DI’s advice to heart and instead got rid of their unnecessary ideology that was too haunting. johnnyb, these stories add to the bigger picture of ‘charity’ between IDists and YECists, TEs/ECs and agnostics/atheists.

    Abrahamic believers need not accept the scientistic ideology of IDism as a supposedly ‘progressive’ approach to contemporary science. Casey Luskin of the DI himself propagates that IDT is a ‘strictly [natural] scientific’ theory. A better option, however, which most thoughtful theists have taken when confronted with IDist advocacy, PR spin and news media, is to stress that IDT is properly seen as a science, philosophy and theology/worldview topic and *not* as a ‘strictly [natural] science,’ something I have repeated here at UD many times. But the DI leaders cannot and will not bring themselves to admit this in public, iow, to be honest and charitable by speaking the truth, even if in their heart of hearts they know that is accurate, because it would/will sink the IDist ship.

    Could timaeus ever be ‘charitable’ to a theistic anti-IDist view, a view that opposes BOTH neo-Darwinism and evolutionism, including the variety called ‘theistic evolutionism’ (which timaeus gets considerably wrong)? It doesn’t seem that he would be willing to do this *unless* such criticism of IDism is seen as potentially relevant in ‘strictly [natural] sciences,’ which is already beside the key point. He has made himself clear about this countless times, while I’ve wondered why his stubborn allegiances actually lie as they do in his outdated philosophy of science.

    timaeus’ promises are not worth the pseudonymous ‘commentary’ he thinks so entitle him to answers. I’m not looking for any comment from him on my definition of ‘evolutionism’ that I provided months ago because I don’t trust timaeus. I think he is an almost professional ‘western’ propagandist who’s obviously been seduced by a scientistic ideology, which is why he suffers from Expelled Syndrome; it is his own choice.

    He had the opportunity to comment constructively and charitably on my definition of ‘evolutionism’ before and instead intentionally stood in the way of potentially fruitful dialogue about Human Extension. Was that an intentional uncharitable act by him?

    If IDists want to be seen in society as thoughtful and ‘charitable,’ if they want to find charitable and/or common ground with others (and I believe johnnyb is this type of genuine person, as well as some others here), then the sins of needless antagonism committed by such folks as timaeus must eventually be seen for what they are: a defense of scientistic ideology, not a quest for higher truth.

    I do hope better for IDism and do not hold wish hurt or harm on any IDist. I asked for charity on TSZ as well as here. The current ‘theory’ of IDT, however, is imo simply too PR-loud, too exaggerative and too scientistic for Abrahamic believers to accept. But I pledge to continue to act charitably towards IDists regardless of whether or not they have anything significant or meaningful to say in the realm of science, philosophy and theology/worldview discourse.If someday DI leaders finally admit this is actually their main realm of relevance, I’ll be already there ready to welcome them with their former ‘scientism’ lowered from its (unfriendly) aggressive position.

  98. p.s. if timaeus interprets #97 as some kind of invitation to discussion about ‘evolutionism’ here, then he is wrong again.

    This still stands: “timaeus is trying to sucker me in to have a discussion about ‘evolutionism’ here in his IDist haven. No thanks.”

    #97 serves simply as one small example of a lack of charity demonstrated by an IDist toward a potentially friendly, non-atheist, i.e. Abrahamic believer, who has been turned off by the propaganda shenanigans of IDists in their defense of scientistic IDism.

    The thread should return to the theme of charity or johnnyb is surely right in shutting it down.

  99. Hi Gregory,

    Just quickly, this is your definition.

    “Here I define ‘evolutionism’ as the ideological exaggeration of evolutionary theory into fields or topics where it does not properly belong.”

    And you site some examples.

    “One example of this is giving ‘evolution’ a monopoly over ‘change.’ Another is the faulty transference of evolution from biology into anthropology, psychology, sociology, politics, economics and cultural studies; socio-biology and evolutionary psychology being the simplest examples.”

    I don’t understand why you consider ‘the theory of evolution’ to be necessarily exempt from certain fields?

    Thanks.

  100. Hello PeterJ,

    In brief, because I don’t want to distract any further from johnnyb’s thread, I’d suggest you read the thread at TSZ, or even better, follow the link by clicking on my name (and following the links) and read a couple of the peer-reviewed papers I’ve published on this topic. ‘Evolutionary theories’ and ‘evolutionism’ are something I’ve been interested in for over a decade and writing about them and digging into the almost endless literature is continually challenging and also rewarding. Another paper on the topic is coming out next month that I’ve been waiting for over 2 years to reach the publishing stage.

    Btw, not long ago I discovered a fascinating project closely related to my work that is happening almost in your back yard, and am definitely planning to visit Scotland in the next year and a half. This work validates the idea of Human Extension and suggests people at UD were not charitable in thinking through the implications of what I proposed in the thread linked above (which timaeus forgot about most uncharitably).

    They are in Scotland, of course anti-IDism, but that shouldn’t disqualify them from doing quality research; in fact, it is more likely if one isn’t plagued by Expelled Syndrome to actually do good scholarly work that makes a difference socially.

    Cheers,
    Gr.

  101. #95 (which I didn’t see until now)

    “!!! Gregory, not I, has introduced “evolutionism” as a term and concept for discussion here (and just about everywhere else on the internet). I would never have introduced the concept; I’ve never even uttered the word, except when Gregory has mentioned it.”

    #32 – 1st time ‘evolutionism’ used in this thread, by timaeus.

    What is truth to ‘timaeus’?! Whatever he wants you to believe?

    As above: #32 being charitable towards ‘timaeus’ is like taking medicine to someone sick who doesn’t actually want to be healed.

  102. Gregory has now pointed me to his definition of “evolutionism” (97 above). It is apparent to me, having consulted the passage in its original context, that I read, but did not remember, the definition, which was in a column quite a while back. I apologize for my lack of memory, but I was not lying. I did not recall it.

    The definition is:

    “the ideological exaggeration of evolutionary theory into fields or topics where it does not properly belong.”

    Now, that is relatively clear! It is too bad that Gregory did not offer this concise definition very early on, over at TSZ. He could have saved himself and scores of others much time and effort, and avoided much wandering discussion.

    Now, I promised to comment on this definition, insofar as I was able. Here is my commentary:

    1. Gregory’s definition includes the phrase “evolutionary theory.” My first thought is that by this he means “evolutionary theory” as what biologists talk about. If this is wrong, he must correct me. Otherwise, I shall assume that he means discussion of things such as random mutations, natural selection, homology, convergence, drift, Cambrian explosion, Australopithecus, Darwin, Huxley, Mayr, etc.

    2. If this is what he means, he already knows my view of the matter, as I have expressed it scores of times, both in public and in private. The most recent statement is on this very web page (31):

    “If it means nothing more than “misapplying a biological theory to human matters” I am 100% on Gregory’s side that this is a bad thing”

    Now, my phrase “human matters” is a bit too narrow, in comparison with Gregory’s definition, but I put it that way because Gregory mainly studies human matters, so I thought that was his main concern. I would gladly broaden my statement out to match the definition he has now provided, and replace “human matters” with “fields and topics where it does not properly belong.” So my conjecture regarding his definition has now been adjusted to match his actual definition.

    In the article of Gregory’s which contains the definition, Gregory follows up the definition with some admirable clarifying examples:

    “One example of this is giving ‘evolution’ a monopoly over ‘change.’ Another is the faulty transference of evolution from biology into anthropology, psychology, sociology, politics, economics and cultural studies; socio-biology and evolutionary psychology being the simplest examples.”

    I understand and agree with what Gregory is driving at in both of these examples. First, I agree that “evolution” is not a synonym for “change,” and that not all “change” is evolutionary. (And I add that I have never held any other position.) Second, I agree that the transference of biological thinking into humanities and social science subjects has very often been “faulty,” and I think it has largely been either intellectually useless or intellectually destructive. I like both of his examples (sociobiology and evolutionary psychology) as well. (And again I add that I have never taken any other position.)

    What puzzles me is why Gregory would think (as he seems to think) that ID people would disagree with him on this. Denyse here has attacked, either on her own account or by presenting the opinions of others, things like sociobiology and evolutionary biology on scores of occasions. Surely Gregory knows this. John West has repeatedly criticized Larry Arnhart’s attempt to ground ethics in biological evolution. Gregory must know about this, even if he has not read West’s writings, because I have mentioned it to Gregory before. And I communicate with many ID supporters via email, and expressions like “evolutionary ethics” and “sociobiology” never cross their lips without sneers of disgust.

    Most ID people strongly support the notion that what is specifically human in man cannot be reduced to the elements in man that are shared with lower beings: animals, vegetables, minerals. Humans are, for all ID people I can think of, exceptional, unique. They have spiritual and mental traits that other beings do not have. It follows that the sciences which study human beings — political science, anthropology, sociology, psychology, religious studies, ethical philosophy, etc. — should not model themselves on biology, regarding either method or contents. Again, I can’t think of any ID supporter who would not agree with this.

    So ID people, of all people, are not guilty of “evolutionism” as Gregory has defined it above. If anyone is guilty of “evolutionism,” it would be some type of naturalistic thinker. Yet even among the naturalistic thinkers I know, not very many will declare that *everything* can be explained in evolutionary terms.

    Still, if there are such people, I disagree with them, and I agree with Gregory. I think that “evolutionism” as he understands it is a false and dangerous doctrine. And I think Behe, Dembski, etc. would all agree with him, too.

    So “evolutionism” is not what divides Gregory from ID, or from me. What, then, is it? I think that the difference is this: whereas ID people agree with Gregory that biological evolutionary theory should not be extended into other subjects, ID people also believe something which Gregory does not appear to believe, i.e., that much of evolutionary theory since Darwin is wrong or seriously misleading *even in the sphere in which Gregory says it properly applies*, i.e., in biology. And that is why ID people focus on biology rather than on social science, etc.; because in order to make their argument, they have to make it in the biological sphere.

    I do not ask Gregory to agree with ID’s criticism of much of evolutionary biology. What I do expect him to understand is that ID’s work in this area is *no threat* to his critique of “evolutionism.” Therefore, even if he is lukewarm or indifferent to ID as a scientific project, he has no reason to fear ID; it will have no negative impact on the “human-social sciences” as he calls them. Taking the worst possibility, ID will turn out to be simply bad natural science and that will be the end of it. The social-human sciences are not implicated. His constant criticism of ID, then, is completely puzzling. ID people may be doing something he considers a waste of time, but their work in no way undermines his own disciplines or threatens any conclusions he might come to in those disciplines.

    So, regarding this topic at least, all the accusations of political motivations, all the rage, and all the personal insults seem to have been entirely unnecessary. Neither I nor ID generally endorse “evolutionism,” or ever have.

  103. Save us the self-aggrandisement, timaeus. This is a thread about CHARITY. Please stop chasing me around the internet as if your opinion is so important.

    You’ve made several errors already in this thread. Just an apology #2 & #3 and stop posting would suffice.

    Sorry to johnnyb; I had thought timaeus perhaps could figure this out.

    ““!!! Gregory, not I, has introduced “evolutionism” as a term and concept for discussion here” – timaeus

    Do you actually not use the “Find” feature ever to check for terms, timaeus? I only entered this discussion because of your silly ‘evolutionism’ advice re: TSZ, which was too absurd to let go in your IDist haven.

    Is it being uncharitable to suggest that you should post your own thread at UD? You do have posting privileges, don’t you? I haven’t seen you make a single OP at UD. Why not write your first post at UD and start your IDist publishing career, timaeus?

  104. N.B.

    Regarding:

    ““!!! Gregory, not I, has introduced “evolutionism” as a term and concept for discussion here”

    By “here” I did not mean, “this thread,” but “this site,” i.e., UD. On both UD and TSZ, it is Gregory who has introduced the subject of “evolutionism” as one of the pressing issues of the day. I never thought about it, or (as far as I can remember) used the word, until I heard him use it. And when I brought it up on this thread, it was in reference to the discussion raised by Gregory recently on TSZ.

    I am sorry that Gregory sees fit to respond to my posts with hostility, no matter how calmly and politely I try to write them. I’m sorry, too, that he shows no interest in celebrating our agreements, such as I pointed out in 102, and that he seems to have no inclination to admit that he may have misunderstood my position and other IDers’ position on “evolutionism.” But in any case, I now remove myself from this thread, which will perhaps make him happier.

    I wish him the best in his study of human extension, a perfectly legitimate academic project in the human-social sciences.

  105. PeterJ,

    I don’t understand why you consider ‘the theory of evolution’ to be necessarily exempt from certain fields?

    It means he doesn’t want you to conflate “the theory of evolution” your way, he wants you to conflate it his way.

    The word “evolution” had been around for a long while prior to 1859, and it doesn’t need a theory. It can be used in virtually any context where makes sense. The “theory” of evolution, on the other hand, is a specific biological process where specific things happen. He doesn’t want you to conflate that biological process with other contexts, he wants to do it for you so that he may startle your senses with his immaculate vision – human-made things don’t evolve because they are human choices among the pitiless indifference.

    yawn

  106. Having read Timaeus post #102, I think we can safely put this thing to bed now.

    Timaeus is correct. Gregory’s definition of ‘evolutionism’, and how ‘evolutionary theory’ should not be used in certain disciplines, is something that very few, if any, ID contributers would argue against.

    It therefore does seem to have been a bit of a waste of time, however all is maybe not lost as perhaps Gregory can now be at peace.

  107. Yeah, right PeterJ. Other than Dembski’s ‘technological evolution’ fantasy which timaeus didn’t know was more than a “single remark” until this thread. He’s apologised for it, so that makes it o.k. You might want to follow up on that too. It is Dembski’s blog afterall. He did even pose a ‘technological evolution’ contest here. ;)

    At peace with IDist Expelled Syndrome; that doesn’t sound very enticing!

  108. Charity anyone? Y’know, the title of the thread?

    UB is not even wrong. Hopefully PeterJ will recognise this if he reads what I’ve written elsewhere. Reading, however, doesn’t seem to be a strength of IDists, e.g. what timaeus didn’t know about Dembski’s ‘technological evolution’ views.

    As for timaeus, well, 3 strikes on this thread and he’s out. At least this time perhaps he means it and won’t come back. But I’ve seen him break his word too many times to believe it.

    ‘evolutionism’ already in 2005 at UD: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ton-globe/

    If my focus on ‘evolutionism’ was what made timaeus aware of it, then that’s great. He’s still got a lot to learn that his religious studies/’philosophy’ perspective didn’t teach him. He is obviously just touching the surface in understanding ‘evolutionism’ and yet already wants to make IDism appear anti-evolutionistic when a significant number of IDist leaders, e.g. Behe, are not willing to accept such a label as ‘anti-evolutionism’.

    much of evolutionary theory since Darwin is wrong or seriously misleading *even in the sphere in which Gregory says it properly applies*, i.e., in biology. And that is why ID people focus on biology rather than on social science, etc.; because in order to make their argument, they have to make it in the biological sphere.” – timaeus

    So IDism is anti-evolution in biology now? That doesn’t make sense. Too many people have spoken against this view already at UD to be taken seriously.

    As for they have to make it in the biological sphere. They are not being forced; it is their ideological choice of strategy. They only do this by making a false analogy with human-made things.

    timaeus otoh wants to agree with me against “the ideological exaggeration of evolutionary theory into fields or topics where it does not properly belong.” But yet he cannot and will not bring himself to be against “the ideological exaggeration of DESIGN THEORY into fields or topics where it does not properly belong.” That’s because he supports a kind of ‘Designism’ – the ideological exaggeration of which is similar to ‘evolutionism.’

    timaeus promised to stop saying I speak with ‘hostility’ – a mere projection of timaeus’ Expelled Syndrome, but breaking promises seems to be so easy for ‘calm and polite’ timaeus, who keeps feeding people lies, exaggerations or faulty memory.

    Again, to the point of the thread, how to act charitably towards such a person who obviously doesn’t mean what he says?

  109. Okay boys, time to stop. The goal of this thread was to identify public intellectuals who were also charitable, not a discussion of which of our own commenters are more charitable than another. As promised, thread closed.