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And Hector Avalos deserves tenure at ISU?

The tenure denial of Guillermo Gonzalez by Iowa State University has been much discussed on this blog of late. The tenure of Hector Avalos, religious studies professor and militant atheist at Iowa State University, however, has yet to be broached here. So let’s do it.

Avalos conducted a witch hunt of Guillermo Gonzalez back in 2005 (go here). He just posted on PZ Myers’ blog a response to the Discovery Institute (go here). Here is an interesting quote from it:

I may not be an astronomer, but my article, “Heavenly Conflicts: The Bible and Astronomy,” passed the editorial review of Mercury: The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 27 no. 2 (March/April, 1998), pages 20-24. There, I critiqued fine-tuning arguments before I even heard of Gonzalez.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is the same organization that has published, via a sister publication (Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific), some of the work of Guillermo Gonzalez.

So the irony is that it is the scholar of religion whose work passed the editorial review of a legitimate astronomical organization, and it is the astronomer who has not published a refereed article on ID in an astronomical journal.

A couple of points about Avalos’s article. First, he misstates the name of the journal. It is actually called “Mercury Magazine,” and is not the ASP’s academic journal. It is its membership magazine. In fact, ASP does not list as an academic journal but under the category of magazine: www.astrosociety.org/pubs.html. That’s why Avalos says it passed editorial muster but not peer-review muster. This way he can fudge on the article’s status but have plausible deniability. This is also evident by his placing in the magazine’s subtitle “The Journal of…” even though it is not there in the actual publication. See the contributors guidelines here: www.astrosociety.org/…/guidelines.html. There is quote from it worth extracting:

We encourage writers to read past issues to get a sense of Mercury’s style. Mercury strives for a conversational tone. As you write your article, envision yourself sitting next to a stranger during a long airplane flight. The stranger asks about your interests, and after you tell him or her that you are an astronomer or are interested in astronomy, the stranger asks you for more detail. The stranger is intelligent and inquisitive, and may have a basic knowledge of science and astronomy, but he or she does not have a formal education in astronomy. Write the article as if you are speaking to this person. And remember that most readers will be reading your article in their leisure time.

Rigorous academic journal? Has Avalos puts this on his CV as a peer-reviewed article? Did this help him get tenure or promotion at ISU?

Second, the article touches the fine-tuning arguments in a cursory and superficial way, something one would expect from an academic not well-versed in the details of the philosophical arguments that one is required to know in order to engage the topic competently. Most of the article is a superficial rant against Bible-science arguments, rehashing the Galileo case in its secular urban-legend fashion. This is perhaps not surprising given Avalos’s biosketch at the end of the article (note that he was an assistant professor at the time he wrote it and thus without tenure):

HECTOR AVALOS is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University in Ames, where he was named the 1996 Professor of the Year. He also serves as Executive Director for the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion. He was a former fundamentalist child evangelist who now crusades for a non-religious understanding of the universe.

Note the statement in bold. Could it be that Avalos has gone too far in going after Gonzalez? Is he so desperate to undo Gonzalez’s “religious understanding of the universe” that he discredits himself rather than Gonzalez?

Third, if Avalos has fudged on the status of this article—and has done so in a very public way—his CV may loaded with this type of fluff. Perhaps it’s time to start hunting for the real witch.

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57 Responses to And Hector Avalos deserves tenure at ISU?

  1. Bill,

    There appears to be a blockquoting format error. The following should be blockquoted as it is Avalos speaking, not you.

    The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is the same organization that has published, via a sister publication (Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific), some of the work of Guillermo Gonzalez.

    So the irony is that it is the scholar of religion whose work passed the editorial review of a legitimate astronomical organization, and it is the astronomer who has not published a refereed article on ID in an astronomical journal.

    [[Thanks. The error has been corrected. --WmAD]]

  2. I have found over and over and over again that the religion professors / students who are the most anti-theistic are the ones who were raised fundamentalist and then went to a secular school without support. These people wind up mad at the world, and especially their parents, whom they think lied to them to indoctrinate them. Then they look at everyone with similar suspicions.

    I have seen that happen over and over and over again.

  3. William Dembski has just posted yet another distortion of my academic record.

    He states the following concerning my claim about my article (Heavenly Conflicts: The Bible and Astronomy”) passing the “editorial review” of Mercury: The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific:

    “That’s why Avalos says it passed editorial muster but not peer-review muster. This way he can fudge on the article’s status but have plausible deniability. This is also evident by his placing in the magazine’s subtitle “The Journal of…” even though it is not there in the actual publication.”

    Amateur researcher that Dembski is, he probably only looked for the journal on-line. The actual hard-copy I have has “The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific” right underneath
    the title “Mercury” on the cover of the issue (volume 27, no. 2) March/April 1998 in which I wrote my article.

    So, contrary to Dembski’s claims, “The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific” is in the “actual publication.” Look up the hard copy of this publication in a library, and you will see who is right.

    I hate to spoil Dembski’s witch hunt, but my
    CV also lists that honestly.

    Moreover, my claim that my article passed “editorial review” (not “peer review”) is accurate, and Dembski is positively miffed that I did not claim more than what honesty demands. The DI could take a few lessons from atheists about honesty in their own claims.

  4. According to Avalos’s web page, he has not published a journal article since 2003. And he only has 14 listed in his entire career.

    http://www.las.iastate.edu/lat.....pubs.shtml

  5. Rigorous academic journal? Has Avalos puts this on his CV as a peer-reviewed article?

    Here is how Avalos cites his publication on his web site.

    “Heavenly Conflicts: The Bible and Astronomy,”
    Mercury 27 (2, March/April, 1998) 20-24. The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

    Of course Mercury and the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific are two different magazines, the former is a bimonthly magazine for a general audiance and the later is a refereed journal. Clearly, the way the article is cited on Avalos’s web page it appears he wrote for the journal, however, it is not listed under “Journal Articles” but under “Other Publications.”

  6. According to Avalos’s web page, he has not published a journal article since 2003. And he only has 14 listed in his entire career.

    The page heading says (selected) publications.

  7. 7
    Granville Sewell

    Johnnyb hit the nail on the head…I assumed Hector Avalos was raised fundamentalist, only a former fundamentalist could be this angry. In an earlier post I discussed this, in Why are they so angry? .

  8. Avalos is just following the steps of Huxley here. As a former atheist myself, I can understand a bit this Avalosian behavior against a former truth held without brains.

  9. I have posted a response to Dembski
    on Pharyngula.

  10. Maybe Avalos was just engaging in a little street theater.

  11. 11

    Avalos is in full rebelion against the, what we might call “Dead Religion” that he grew up with. This is very understandable for someone who has had “Religion” forced down their throats all their lives. Unfortunately he has not sought God at his points of need in his life so he is unenlightened and does not know that a living God truly does exist who is very much alive and is their for us in our times of need. He was raised with a very strict dead religion when he grew up and now he has come to full maturity in worshiping a dead entity (blind chance) who could care less about him or anything in his life. It truly is tragic.

  12. bornagain77:

    Avalos is in full rebelion against the, what we might call “Dead Religion” that he grew up with. … He was raised with a very strict dead religion when he grew up.

    Do you have any real information about Avalos’ childhood or are you assuming that if he had been raised in an environment of a living faith as a child, he would not have rejected that faith?

  13. Hey, this isn’t the School of Social Work!

    Why are we sitting around psychoanalyzing Hector Avalos?

    His recollections of the faith of his cradle are irrelevant to the issue of susbstance here:

    If Avalos misrepresented a magazne article as an article for a journal whose topic area (astronomy) is DIRECTLY relevant to his attack on Guillermo Gonzalez, his whole record had better be reexamined closely, in the light of the Gonzalez tenure controversy.

    It is at least possible that he planted this citation in order to inflate his supposed credentials to launch an attack that might endanger Gonzalez’ tenure.

    My goodness, this gets deeper and nastier – reminds me of the Beckwith tenure case … any thoughts there, Bill?

  14. 14
    interested bystander

    For what it is worth, from the ISU site “news” on 2-06-97.
    “Avalos was a child preacher and faith healer while growing up in Northern Mexico. A Biblical scholar, he earned his master’s degree from the Harvard Divinity School and doctoral degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.”
    I wonder at what age he preached.

  15. Denyse: If Avalos’s anti-ID writings are gaining him tenure and promotion at ISU, then this needs to be brought out. It seems to me unlikely that bringing it out will make any difference immediately in President Geoffrey’s decision about Gonzalez’s tenure case. But as our issues continue to get taken up in the wider culture, this will be further evidence of hypocrisy on the other side. A hundred years from now Gonzalez’s ideas about our place in the cosmos being designed to facilitate scientific discovery will be remembered. Avalos, on the other hand, will be seen as a crank flailing to find justifications for why the evidence of design in the universe is nothing of the sort. A key point to bear in mind: If Avalos is getting promoted for undercutting ID (in popular venues at that), and if ISU denies Gonzalez tenure because of his support of ID, then ISU has not only made up its mind about ID but also undercut academic freedom on this topic.

  16. 16

    I have been reading these back and forth about Gonzalez’s being denied tenure these past several days but cannot for the life of me find an official explanation from the University as to WHY he was denied tenure. What were their stated reasons ?

    No one in this board on any Gonzalez/ISU related thread has provided an explanation of reasons the university provided either.

    The University has a STATED criteria for accepting tenure. Based on my understanding they relate to — Published Work in peer reviewed journals, Acceptance by peer of published work, volume and quality of publications, teaching ability and ability to draw funding.

    I don’t think there is an openly stated requirement that says you cannot be considered for tenure if you are not a methodological materialist or if you are sympathetic to ID, much less a Christian.

    So, can someone please enlighted me and other readers — which one of the stated criteria for tenure of ISU did Guillermo Gonzalez FAIL to live up to ?

  17. SeekAndFind – Gonzalez is appealing the decision, so the university may have decided not to make a full statement about the reasons until that has been decided. So be patient.

    Bob

  18. 18

    Bfast:
    I just read a couple of blurbs of his childhood religion. So I extrapolated from some staunch atheists that I know who grew up in strict religious childhoods. I very well may be wrong in my reasoning but none-the-less he is a staunch atheist and by default a materialist. I believe the point of this blog is his article on fine tuning of universal constants so:

    The numerical values of the universal constants in physics that are found for gravity which holds planets, stars and galaxies together; for the weak nuclear force which holds neutrons together; for electromagnetism which allows chemical bonds to form; for the strong nuclear force which holds protons together; for the cosmological constant of space/energy density which accounts for the universe’s expansion; and for a few dozen other constants (and counting) which are universal in their scope, “happen” to be the exact numerical values they need to be in order for life, as we know it, to be possible at all. A slight variance in the value of any individual universal constant will undermine the ability of the entire universe to have life as we know it. On and on through each universal constant scientists analyze, they find such precision. There are many web sites that give the complete list, as well as explanations, of each universal constant. Search under anthropic principle. One of the best web sites for this is found on Dr. Hugh Ross’s web site (reasonstobelieve.org). There are no apparent reasons why the value of each individual universal constant could not be very different than what they actually are. In fact, the presumption of any materialistic theory based on blind chance would expect a fair amount of flexibility in any underlying natural laws for the universe. They “happen” to be at the precise values necessary to enable carbon-based life to exist in this universe. According to the esteemed British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose (1931-present), the odds of a finely-tuned biocentric universe happening by chance are an astounding one in 10^10^123; If this number were written out in its entirety, 1 with 10^123 zeros to the right, it could not be written on a piece of paper the size of the entire visible universe, EVEN IF a number were written down on each atomic particle in the entire universe, since the universe only has 10^80 atomic particles in it. This is exactly why many theorists have suggested the existence of a “super-calculating intellect” to account for this fine-tuning. This is precisely why the anthropic hypothesis has gained such a strong foothold in many scientific circles. American geneticist Robert Griffiths jokingly remarked about these recent developments “If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use anymore.” The only other theory possible for the universe’s creation, other than a God-centered hypothesis, is a materialistic theory based on blind chance. Materialistic blind chance only escapes being completely crushed by the overwhelming evidence for design by appealing to an infinite number of other “un-testable” universes(and dimensions) in which all other possibilities have been played out. Naturalism also tries to find a place for blind chance by proposing a universe that expands and contracts (recycles) infinitely. Yet there is no hard physical evidence to support either of these blind chance conjectures. In fact, the latter suffers many serious questions from the second law of thermo-dynamics. The only hard evidence there is, the precision found in universal constants, points overwhelmingly to intelligent design by an infinitely powerful and transcendent Creator. The hard evidence left no room for blind chance in this universe. Thus, materialism was forced into appealing to an infinity of other untestable universes for it was left with no footing in this universe. These developments in science make it seem like naturalism was cast into the abyss of nothingness so far as explaining the fine-tuning of the universe.

    Avalos chooses to believe blind chance instead of theism at this level. Yet on the level of biology the days are soon approaching where the design will be undeniable. There will be no infinite number of universes to appeal too. Already there is growing evidence that the DNA code is fantastically more complex than anything man can imagine. Indeed, there is a growing body of evidence that indicates most DNA sequences are poly-functional. That means that a DNA sequence will exhibit meaning on several different levels. For instance, if a sentence were written like the DNA code, you could read it normally and it would have one meaning. If you were to read it backwards it would also have another completely understandable meaning. Yet then again, a third equally coherent meaning would be found by reading every other letter of the sentence. A fourth level of meaning could be found in the sentence by using a simple encryption program to get yet another meaning. A fifth and sixth level of meaning could be found in the way you folded the sentence into specific two and three dimensional shapes. In fact there are estimates that the data compression of DNA is up to 12 codes thick!!!!! No sentence man has ever written comes close to that astonishing level of poly-functional complexity we find in the DNA. To say that happened by chance is just plain insane.

  19. “If Avalos is getting promoted for undercutting ID (in popular venues at that), and if ISU denies Gonzalez tenure because of his support of ID, then ISU has not only made up its mind about ID but also undercut academic freedom on this topic.”

    And needs to be vociferiously exposed. Someone (with some cash) needs to create a group contra NCSE that has a loud bark and mean bite, with people who know how to get media exposure. I would gladly donate. Too many nice people at the DI. Time to wake up and smell the napalm.

  20. Russ

    The page heading says (selected) publications.

    I am aware it says selected, that does not mean other journal articles actually exist. If you read his web page CV, notice that he even takes time to list the book reviews he has written on other web sites and articles for non referreed publications like Free Inquiry. How many journal articles do you think Avalos did not “select”?

  21. Jehu: Noted.

  22. Avalos,

    Amateur researcher that Dembski is, he probably only looked for the journal on-line. The actual hard-copy I have has “The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific” right underneath
    the title “Mercury” on the cover of the issue (volume 27, no. 2) March/April 1998 in which I wrote my article.

    So, contrary to Dembski’s claims, “The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific” is in the “actual publication.” Look up the hard copy of this publication in a library, and you will see who is right.

    The name of the magazing you wrote for is Mercury. That is why the title says Mercury . Mercury is a general interest magazine not a peer reviewed journal.

    Mercury , for a general audience, and the technical journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific are two different publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) and are not the same thing.

    You did get past editorial review at Mercury. What does that take? ASP’s web site has suggestions on how to write articles to appeal to the audience of Mercury.

    1. The first three paragraphs (the “lead”) must grab the attention of readers and entice them to read the entire article.

    2. Use active voice as much as possible, and avoid passive voice as you would avoid the Ebola virus.

    3. Use active verbs as much as possible, and avoid using the most boring verbs in the English language — the various incarnations of “to be” — such as am, is, are, was, and were.

    4. Vary the length of sentences, but keep most sentences short and simple.

    5. Keep paragraphs short.

    So short simple sentences with short paragraphs and lots of active verbs are what you need to get past editorial review at Mercury. Very impressive.

  23. Someone (with some cash) needs to create a group contra NCSE that has a loud bark and mean bite, with people who know how to get media exposure

    Mike1962, I was thinking at a very minimum, there should be an annual (student-sponsored) ID event(s) at ISU, and the more and the bigger the better.

  24. The scholarly excellence and societal impact of now Professor Hector Avalos is revealed by Google Scholar: 7 citations to Avalos’ first 5 publications. See: http://scholar.google.com/scho.....r:h-avalos

    By contrast, Associate Professor Guillermo Gonzalez has a mere 685 citations for his first 5 publications! See:
    http://scholar.google.com/scho.....tnG=Search

    Such are the high standards and commitment to “excellence” (sic) of the Iowa State University tenure process.

  25. Zero (0) citations in Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), and zero (0) citations in Google Scholar reflect the scholarly importance of Hector Avalos’ article: “Heavenly Conflicts: The Bible and Astronomy.” Mercury v27 n2 p20-24 Mar-Apr 1998.
    See:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1998Mercu..27b..20A
    http://scholar.google.com/scho.....r:h-avalos

  26. Amateur researcher that Dembski is, he probably only looked for the journal on-line. The actual hard-copy I have has “The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific” right underneath
    the title “Mercury” on the cover of the issue (volume 27, no. 2) March/April 1998 in which I wrote my article.

    So, contrary to Dembski’s claims, “The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific” is in the “actual publication.” Look up the hard copy of this publication in a library, and you will see who is right.

    Since we’re talking amateur researchers.

    Apparently Avalos only researched the cover of the magazine to determine the “actual publication.”

    Would anyone with an actual hardcopy of the magazine care to share what is inside the magazine wrt to the “actual publication.”

    Thanks in advance.

  27. No sentence man has ever written comes close to that astonishing level of poly-functional complexity we find in the DNA.

    Shakespeare?

  28. 28

    Seems too me that Mercury is, indeed, just the member magazine. According to their website (http://www.astrosociety.org/)
    their peer reviewed journal is called ‘Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’

    According to the wikipedia article on Mercury Magazine, it’s a bi-monthly magazine for a general audience.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(magazine)

    The wikipedia article for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific states that the publications are the magazine, Mercury…and then the actual journal “Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific”, and that it’s a journal aimed at professionals in the field.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....he_Pacific

    Then again, I’m not sure if any of this matters, as Avalos himself (in his comment above) claims it was in the journal, but then says he specifically stated it passed “editorial review” (not “peer review”). He seems confused as to where his article actually appeared. According to the ASP website, it appeared in Mercury (the magazine.)
    http://www.astrosociety.org/pu.....tents.html

  29. 29

    Furthermore- none of this changes the fact that Avalos has some very odd ideas. He is open about his desire to destroy religion. Does that alone warrant caution? I’d say it does. He teaches religion, yet wants to destroy it. The university praised his role in trying to paint religion as bogus. All of this is a little weird in my mind.

    He also openly lead the campaign against Gonzales. There’s little defense with that in my book. If Avalos can compare the Bible to Hitler’s work, he can’t reasonably start a campaign to destroy a fellow professor simply for having different views. As part of the tiny minority of atheists, you’d think Avalos would fight to protect differing opinions.

    In the end, I have a hard time taking anything he says seriously.

  30. No sentence man has ever written comes close to that astonishing level of poly-functional complexity we find in the DNA.

    Shakespeare?

    hmmm….Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas?

  31. Avalos, “I hate to spoil Dembski’s witch hunt”

    This is the carbonized pot calling the shiny silver kettle black.

    I listened to the Avalos vs Craig debate on the evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

    Craig won hands down – no contest. I strongly recommend a good listen to that debate by all interested parties. It’s available online HERE.

    Avalos had nothing at all of substance to say other than irrelevant remarks on Craig’s possible personal beliefs and superficial arguments based on either ignorance or his attempt to use the ignorance of the audience to fool them with more irrelevant comments about document dates etc.

    It appeared obvious to me that Avalos had been taught the usual outdated and long refuted lies – otherwise known as Higher Criticism, Documentary Analysis etc. These old BS theories on biblical historicity are still being taught in seminaries all over the globe as though they were true.

    I honestly don’t know how the man ever got a Phd. in anything.

    He does not even qualify as a smart atheist, imo. Unless atheists get them free – which would not be surprising given the present day tactics of Darwinist nits.

    Child preachers are almost universally used and abused kids. Victims of greedy, hypocritical parents and/or churches.

    They almost universally turn against God once they realize what has been done to them and how wicked people have profited off them.

    Of course nor God nor religion have nothing to do with it. Just good old fashion love of money.

    Found this comment on Avalos on a theology forum, “Hey, I’ve met this Avalos fellow back when I went to Iowa State. Thought he was a poster boy for the arrogant Atheist stereotype.”
    ;-)

  32. 32

    johnnyb said (comment #2) –

    I have found over and over and over again that the religion professors / students who are the most anti-theistic are the ones who were raised fundamentalist and then went to a secular school without support. These people wind up mad at the world, and especially their parents, whom they think lied to them to indoctrinate them. Then they look at everyone with similar suspicions.

    Maybe Paul Mirecki, a Kansas University religious studies professor who wrote that his new course with a title that labeled intelligent design and creationism as “mythologies” would be a “nice slap in the big fat face of the fundies,” is another example. A Lawrence Journal-World article said,

    Raised Roman Catholic in a Polish community in Chicago, Mirecki said his parents wanted him to be a priest. He took to music instead.

    Another explanation is that these religious folks are bending over backwards to show that they are not anti-science — another example is the “Clergy Letter Project”.

    On PZ Myers’ Pharyngula blog, Avalos said,

    While I have never called for Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez to be fired, or even to be denied tenure, there are plenty of creationists who blatantly direct our university to fire me.

    Well, maybe those “creationists” are merely trying to defend Gonzalez — as the saying goes, often an offense is the best defense. Also, Avalos did indicate that Gonzalez was one of the main targets of an anti-ID statement that Avalos co-authored, and Avalos certainly should have anticipated that the statement could result in at least a decision to deny Gonzalez tenure:

    In the summer of 2005, three faculty members at ISU drafted a statement against the use of intelligent design in science. One of those authors, Hector Avalos, told The Tribune at the time he was concerned the growing prominence of Gonzalez’s work was beginning to market ISU as an “intelligent design school.”

    The statement collected signatures of support from more than 120 ISU faculty members before similar statements surfaced at the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa.

    – from http://www.midiowanews.com/sit.....#038;rfi=6

    My blog has a related post titled, “It’s the Darwinists who drive away people, businesses”.

  33. 33

    It is interesting to note that Avalos did his paper on the fine-tuning of the universe which is not as constrained by probability since he could always allude to some imagined infinity of other “untestable” universes. Whereas, Gonzalez did his “Privleged Planet” work in an area that is much more constained from any allusion to infinity..i.e. it is testable to the extent we can make valid extropulations to the other “possible” planets in the universe. I believe if Avalos really wanted to prove his atheistic/materialistic beliefs to the rest of the world he would come down to the levels where the fight is much more intense (biology, anthroplogy, and the rare earth sciences) since the assertions made at these levels by scientists can be checked against existing and forthcoming empirical evidence for validity.

  34. 34

    I also found this article on my blog: “Evolution education in Iowa”, which is about evolution education in the Iowa K-12 public schools. I think that this article gives some background about the ID controversy in Iowa.

  35. Since Dr. Dembski has botched thoroughly
    this attempt at witch-hunting Avalos, let’s see now how honest he is in admitting his mistakes.

    Concerning the citation of the article I wrote in Mercury, Dr. Dembski said that the subtitle (Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific) “is not there in the actual publication.”

    I can prove it is on the issue in which I wrote my article in 1998. It is on the cover. It also is on the masthead inside the cover.

    So, Dr. Debmski, of the “Newton-of-information-theory” fame, let‘s see you issue a plain and honest correction to the MIS-information you have put forth.

    Will you or will you not issue a public correction for putting forth this misinformation?

  36. In the past Dembski has admitted when he was mistaken. I can’t verify anyone’s claims but I’m sure Dembski will follow up on them when he has time (which might not be today).

    If the information is not available on the web I’d suggest using a digital camera and taking pictures of the cover and the masthead and then emailing them to Bill.

    EDIT:

    Since Dr. Dembski has botched thoroughly this attempt at witch-hunting Avalos

    Concerning the citation of the article I wrote in Mercury

    I do think it odd that someone claiming to be Avalos refers to himself in the third person in the first sentence…oops! If you’re not truly Avalos it’s not nice to impersonate people on the net. If you are Avalos I’d suggest signing up again at UD using your university email account instead of an aol account.

  37. Since Avalos is so proud of his article it may help to know that
    officially, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific:
    “serves the professional community by publishing the technical journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, as well as conference proceedings. In contrast, Mercury serves the Society’s broader goal of communicating astronomy to the general public. Because of Mercury’s broad audience, articles written for the magazine must be accessible to non-scientists while containing in-depth, accurate information.”
    http://www.astrosociety.org/pu.....lines.html

    The designation “Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific” appears to be advertising hype compared to the Society’s official description, the Smithsonian’s listing as “Mercury” and Avalos’ article as “non-refereed”.

    Compare: PUBLICATIONS OF THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF THE PACIFIC
    See: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/PASP/journal/
    e.g. March 1998 http://www.journals.uchicago.e.....0n745.html

    To compare the scholarly impact of Avalos and Gonzalez, readers should see:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-abs_connect
    For Avalos, Hector, ADSAB
    “Selected and retrieved 1 abstract.” with 0 citations.

    For Gonzalez, Guillermo, ADSAB
    “Selected and retrieved 100 abstracts. Total normalized citations: 948″

    The Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) lists Hector Avalos article in Mercury as a non-refereed article with zero citations. See:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1998Mercu..27b..20A
    1998Mercu..27b..20A Citations 0 03/1998
    Title: Heavenly Conflicts: The Bible and Astronomy; Authors: Avalos, Hector; Publication: Mercury, Vol. 27, no. 2, p.20; Publication Date: 03/1998
    http://www.astrosociety.org/pu.....tents.html

    Readers may wish to compare Guillermo Gonzalez’ full refereed article in this journal with eight citations:
    Elemental Abundances in the Inner Galaxy Open Cluster M11
    GUILLERMO GONZALEZ1 AND GEORGE WALLERSTEIN
    PUBLICATIONS OF THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF THE PACIFIC, 112:1081-1088, 2000 August, © 2000. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.
    http://www.journals.uchicago.e.....086/316601
    http://www.journals.uchicago.e.....26.web.pdf

  38. “a non-religious understanding of the universe.”

    There is no such thing.

    “If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”– G.K. Chesterton

    Any understanding of the universe necessarily has religious implications. Any view of existence inherently carries underlying metaphysical assumptions – materialist or other.

    The misnomer “non-religious understanding” is just another way of saying an understanding based on the metaphysical assumption that there is nothing other than matter & energy – a metaphysical notion and therefore, by extrapolation, religious.

    Science does not and cannot answer the really important questions about the universe.

    Isn’t it perfectly obvious that even if science were eventually come to the point of knowing everything about every molecule there would still be the greater questions of how and why?

    Atheists claim the universe has no real meaning, “no ultimate foundations for ethics” and yet atheists are the first to resort to real meanings and real ethics whenever they feel slighted or insulted!

    Go figure. What a contradiction the atheist is.

    “Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” — C.S. Lewis

    If creationists were advocating Avalos be fired it is at least more reasonable than advocating that Gonzalez be denied tenure. It is reasonable simply because atheists should have no place in religious studies since they are by self admission against them, as Avalos has implied himself!

    “Atheism is a theoretical formulation of the discouraged life…..”–Harry Emerson Fosdick

    I would not advocate firing Avalos per se (not just for being an atheist dupe anyway) but rather that he transfer to teach philosophy or something – not religious studies.

    The presence of an atheist in religious studies is either proof that atheism truly is a religion, which they always deny, or that a blatant contradiction and conflict of interest is going on.

    “God is dead” – F. Neitzche
    “Neitzche is dead” – God

  39. I so wish that I was a student at ISU. I would be very publicly using the treatment of these two gentlemen as my reason for transferring to another school. ISU is a bastian of antireligious dogma in a community that is rather religious. (At least that was the impression I got the last time I was in Iowa.) The community needs to stand up and not stand for it.

  40. Avalos
    Please clarify your title:

    “The Ancient Near in Modern Science Fiction: Zechariah Sitchin’s Twelfth Planet as Case Study”

    There appears to be a noun missing. Should this be:
    “The Ancient Near East”?

  41. Of Avalos’ 14 Journal articles the following two were found by Google Scholar. Neither have any citations to them:

    “Daniel 9:24-25 and Mesopotamian Temple Rededications,” Journal of Biblical Literature 117 (3, 1998) 507-11.

    “Exodus 22:9 and Akkadian Legal Formulae,” Journal of Biblical Literature 109 (1, 1990) 116-17.

  42. 42

    Prof. Avalos

    Re: Probability of Prophecy via atheistic nature

    Seeing that you have addressed the scientific aspects prayer, may I recommend that you address the prospects of scientifically addressing the probability of prophecy being fulfilled by the four forces of nature and their known capability to predict the future.

    For data, you may wish to start with:
    Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy. The Complete Guide to Scriptural Predictions and Their Fulfillment. J. Barton Payne, Baker Books, 1973 ISBN 0-8010-7051-1
    Payne provided:
    “* 1817 entries covering all predictions in the Bible”
    “* a complete discussion of the 8,352 predictive verses in the Bible” etc.
    “One of the encyclopedia’s concluding summaries lists the 737 major subjects that appear in biblical prediction with the books and paragraphs in which each is found.”

    If atheism is to have any scientific credibility, it should be able to scientifically address and negate all empirical data presented for intelligent causation, without begging the question by appealing to philosophical materialism.

    Let us know if you can show that subsequent history was random with respect to these 8352 verses with a significant probability. You may wish to obtain the assistance of mathematicians specializing in probability theory. Please compare against Dembski’s Universal Probability Bound of one in 10^120. (I.e. ~all combinations of all particles in the universe over all time at the fastest possible rearrangement rate of inverse Plank time.)

    If not, you may find that there is significant scientific evidence for intelligent causation with predictive capability based on these 8352 predictive verses with consequent history.

    I wish you well in your efforts.
    I pray that you have the fortitude to face the results and their implications.

    Best Regards

  43. Chuck Colson comments on the tenure-denial debacle at ISU here: http://www.christianpost.com/a.....Theory.htm

  44. To Hector Avalos: I’m happy to concede whatever other designations the periodical MERCURY may have. The larger issue is that it is a popular periodical and you cite your piece in it as though it had some leverage against Guillermo Gonzalez and his scholarship. This is patently absurd. Gonzalez is a professional in astrophysics as well as in its larger metaphysical implications. You are an amateur in both. Moreover, the question of just what it took for you to gain tenure at ISU remains. Was your MERCURY piece one of the things you cited as evidence that you should receive tenure? Please answer the question (the timing is right since you were an assistant professor when the piece came out). Was it in fact counted in your favor? If so, why shouldn’t Gonzalez’s PRIVILEGED PLANET count likewise in favor of his tenure? Or do you know in advance (on what grounds? scientific? ideological? philosophical? …) that he’s full of it and you’re not.

  45. Items of interest relative to Hector Avalos’ publications prior to being awarded tenure at ISU

    Philosophy and Religious Studies Faculty/Staff Award Recipients
    Professor of the Year, ISU Hector Avalos, 1996
    LAS Early Achievement in Research Hector Avalos, 1996
    LAS Outstanding Professor Award Hector Avalos, 1996
    LAS Master Teachers Hector Avalos, 2003-04
    http://www.philrs.iastate.edu/.....ards.shtml

    Journal co-editor: Hector Avalos, assistant professor of religious studies, has been appointed co-editor of the recently founded Journal for the Critical Study of Religion, Ethics and Society. The journal is published by the Centre for Inquiry at Oxford University, England, and will examine various religious topics from a cross-cultural and secular perspective.
    http://www.iastate.edu/Inside/.....onors.html

    Inside Iowa State June 6, 1997
    Honors Executive director: Hector Avalos, assistant professor of religious studies and chair of the Latino studies program, has been appointed executive director of the Committtee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER). CSER was formed in 1988 and is affiliated with the Council for Secular Humanism at the Center for Inquiry, Amherst, N.Y.
    http://www.iastate.edu/Inside/.....onors.html

    Promotion to associate professor with tenure
    Hector Avalos, philosophy May 1, 1998
    http://www.iastate.edu/inside/.....tions.html

    Hector Avalos Publications (as listed May 26, 2007)
    http://www.las.iastate.edu/lat.....pubs.shtml
    (Similar list at: http://www.geocities.com/rpfa/aveng.html)

    PUBLICATIONS (selected)

    BOOKS
    Illness and Health Care in the Ancient Near East: The Role of The Temple in Greece, Mesopotamia, and Israel.
    Harvard Semitic Monographs 54; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995.

    JOURNAL ARTICLES
    “Daniel 9:24-25 and Mesopotamian Temple Rededications,”
    Journal of Biblical Literature 117 (3, 1998) 507-11.

    “The Gospel of Lucas Gavilán as Postcolonial Biblical Exegesis,”
    Semeia 75 (1996) 87-105. Actually appeared in 1998.

    “A Ladino Version of the Targum of Ruth,”
    Estudios Bíblicos 54 (2, 1996) 165-182.

    “Ancient Medicine: In Case of Emergency, Contact Your Local Prophet,”
    Bible Review 11 (June, 1995) 26-35, 48.
    *Semi-popular journal with review by an editorial board.

    “The Biblical Sources of Columbus’s Libro de las profecías,”
    Traditio 49 (1994) 331-335.

    “The Comedic Function of the Enumerations of Officials and Instruments in Daniel 3,”
    Catholic Biblical Quarterly 53 (4, 1991) 580-88.

    “Exodus 22:9 and Akkadian Legal Formulae,”
    Journal of Biblical Literature 109 (1, 1990) 116-17.

    CHAPTERS/ARTICLES IN EDITED BOOKS AND REFERENCE WORKS
    “Disability and Liturgy in Ancient and Modern Religious Traditions,”
    in Nancy Eiesland and Don Saliers, eds., Human Disability and the Service of God : Reassessing Religious Practice (Nashville: Abingdon, 1998) 35-54.

    “Medicine,”
    The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, E. Meyers, ed., (5 volumes; New York: Oxford University Press, 1997) 3:450-459.

    “Columbus as Biblical Exegete: A Study of the Libro de las profecías,” in Religion in the Age of Exploration: The Case of Spain and New Spain, B. Le Beau and M. Mor, eds., (Omaha: Creighton University Press, 1996) 59-80.

    “Evangelicalism,” and “Protestantism,”
    in The Latino Encyclopedia, Richard Chabrán and Rafael Chabrán, eds.,(6 volumes; New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1996) 560-563; 1307-1310 = respectively.

    “The Ashipu and Asu Reconsidered,”
    in Hugh R. Page, ed., Exploring New Paradigms in Biblical and Cognate Studies (Lewiston, NY: Mellen, 1996) 59-83.

    “Legal and Social Institutions of Canaan and Ancient Israel,”
    Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, J. Sasson, ed. (4 volumes; New York: Scribner’s, 1995) Vol 1: 615-631.

    “Animals,” “Esau,” “Goliath,” “Medicine,” and “Satan,”
    for The Oxford Companion to the Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

    “Arpad, ” “Berothah,” “Berothai,” “Cun,” “Ivvah,” “Kadesh-on-the- Orontes,” “Kue,” “Sepharvaim,” “Sibraim,” and “Mt. Zaphon,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1992).

    OTHER/INVITED PUBLICATIONS
    “Heavenly Conflicts: The Bible and Astronomy,”
    Mercury 27 (2, March/April, 1998) 20-24. The Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

    “¿Se necesita de un dios para ser moral? El mito de la moralidad absoluta,”
    Revista Peruana de Filosofía Aplicada 3 (8, 1997) 15-26.

    “Can Science Prove that Prayer Works?”
    Free Inquiry (Summer, 1997) 27-31.

    “Kolumbuksen uskunnolliset vaikutimet,”
    Vartija (3, 1993) 100-107 (“Columbus’ Religious Motives,” translated into Finnish by Heikki Räisänen).

    “Mary at Medjugorje: A Critical Inquiry,”
    Free Inquiry 14:2 (Spring, 1994) 48-54.

    “The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society,”
    Free Inquiry 12:2 (Spring, 1992) 28-31.

    BOOK REVIEWS
    José Vilchez Lindez, Rut y Ester (Nueva Biblia Española) Estella (Navarra, Editorial Nuevo Verbo, 1998) in Biblica 81 (2, 2000) 275-277.

    John Wilkinson The Bible and Healing: A Medical and Theological Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 1998) in Review of Biblical Literature (2000) 109-112.
    http://www.bookreviews.org

    Leo G. Perdue, Joseph Blenkinsopp, John J. Collins, and Carol Meyers, Families in Ancient Israel (Westminster/The John Knox Press,1997) in Journal of the American Oriental Society 119 (4, 1999)691-692.

    William Ryan and Walter Pitman, Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific
    Discoveries about the Event that Changed History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998) in Free Inquiry 20:1 (Winter, 1999/00) 63-64.

    Michael Drosnin, The Bible Code (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), in The Journal for the Critical Study of Religion. 3 (1, 1998). 67-70.

    Eldin Villafañe,The Liberating Spirit: Toward an Hispanic Pentecostal Social Ethic (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993) in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 63 (4, 1995) 870-72.
    ———————————–
    In his current “Selected Publications”, Avalos lists 6 journal articles and one professional monograph prior to being granted tenure.

    If Prof. Avalos reported more publications, perhaps he would be kind enough to post his full curriculum vitae on his web site.

    By contrast, Guillermo Gonzalez lists 68 peer reviewed journal articles.
    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....38;id=1362

  46. AFTER being granted tenure, Hector Avalos established the:

    “ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society
    Serving Atheists and Agnostics Since 1999″
    http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/isuaas/about.shtml

    “The ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society was founded in the fall of 1999 by Dr. Hector Avalos, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, and Douglas Ficek, then a senior in Philosophy.”
    http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/isuaas/about.shtml

    “Why Intelligent Design Is Not Science!
    “It was standing room only Thursday night, when Dr. Avalos and Dr. Patterson critiqued Intelligent Design Creationism and a recent book by Dr. Gonzalez.”
    http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/isuaas/

    “October 15, 2004 Iowa State Daily: Professors question intelligent design theory”
    “Arguments that the universe was intelligently designed fail to identify anything substantive about that designer, two ISU professors said in a presentation Thursday — a failure they said destroys the scientific validity of those arguments.
    “Hector Avalos, associate professor of religious studies, and John Patterson, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering, both said advocates of intelligent design — which purports that design of the universe by an external agent can be detected in nature — don’t represent anything new in science.”
    “The lecture, sponsored by the Atheist and Agnostic Society, attracted about 150 people who heard Avalos, who teaches in the humanities, and Patterson, a scientist, offer their critiques of “The Privileged Planet,” a book published this spring and co-written by Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant professor of physics and astronomy.”

    “ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society -Selected Writings
    http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/.....rces.shtml
    The Bible and Astronomy, by Hector Avalos
    The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 18, Number 4.
    http://www.secularhumanism.org....._18_4.html

    Can Science Prove that Prayer Works? by Hector Avalos
    The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 17, Number 3.
    http://www.secularhumanism.org....._17_3.html
    ———————–

    Avalos claims his petition drive against ID was not against Gonzalez. Yet he explicitly criticized Gonzalez at this presentation, yet without giving Gonzalez the courtesy of responding at that forum.

  47. Hello, Dr. Dembski,
    Thanks for your post in which you “concede” that Mercury might have had the designation that I cited. Indeed, in 1998, that is how Mercury sub-titled itself, and I was only trying to be as complete and accurate as possible in citing it.

    What else was I supposed to do when that is how Mercury described itself in 1998?

    To answer your other question, let me say that I was not just honest in how I listed that publication on my CV, but I was MORE than honest.

    On my official CV, I classified “Heavenly Conflicts” under “other” or as an article in a “semi-popular publication” despite the fact that Mercury has “journal” in its own subtitle. But I had to cite the name of the publication accurately and completely, nonetheless.

    I know that my article was not “peer-reviewed,” and so I was honest enough to say that it passed editorial review. So why chide me for being honest?

    But passing editorial review by an editor who is an astronomer should be a credit to an author who is not an astronomer. After all, The Privileged Planet is published by Regnery Press, which is not even a science press at all.

    Insofar as whether my article in Mercury was considered for my tenure case. The answer is definitely NO. My tenure file with actual publications was submitted in the fall of 1997, BEFORE that article in Mercury was published in 1998. That article, if at all, would have been cited as work in progress, in the fall of 1997.

    When going for promotion to full professor, that article was not listed as part of my refereed publications, but again as either “other” or as an article in semi-popular publications. Again, I claimed nothing more for it than honesty demanded.

    And your co-bloggers, who seem bent on comparing my citation and article counts to those of Dr. Gonzalez really seem misinformed about how different the fields of religious/biblical studies are from Astronomy.

    Citation counts are not how we are judged in biblical studies. Refereed articles may count more in Astronomy than books. Books count for a lot in biblical/religious studies.

    I had 5 books (4 solely authored, and one edited) since I received tenure. I believe that is the most books ever published by any associate professor in my department at the time such an associate professor was promoted to full professor.

    Nor are big grants expected of biblical scholars, or of many scholars in the humanities.

    The impact of our work, especially books, is judged by other scholars and reviewers in order to measure someone’s status in our fields, one of which is, for me, health care in the ancient Near East.

    In assessing my status in this area of inquiry, it is perhaps best to begin not with my own words, but with the words of Mark W. Hamilton, a reviewer of my book, Health Care and the Rise of Christianity (1999), in the journal Restoration Quarterly (2001) p. 124:

    “One of the foremost experts on ancient Near Eastern medicine and the author of a major monograph on the subject (Illness and Health Care in the Ancient Near East, [Harvard Semitic Monographs 54; Atlanta Scholars Press, 1995]) extends his research here into early Christianity.”

    To be called, by independent reviewers, “one of the foremost experts” in my field is what is important in going from associate to full professor. An article in Mercury certainly was not the crucial factor, but one of those supplementary items that showed my range
    of interests.

    In addition, service is also weighed more in going from associate to full, and I had started an entire academic program (U.S. Latino/a Studies) at ISU at the same time I produced 5 books, refereed articles, book chapters, etc.

    I also had won a Master Teacher award in 2003-04 in addition to the university-wide Professor of the Year award in 1996.

    So I had teaching, research, and service requirements well covered.

    In any case, your overall tactics in this tenure-denial case are certainly misguided. You should be concentrating on the field of Astronomy, not on persecuting a biblical scholar with such highly personalized attacks on my integrity.

    You are not creating any more sympathy for the overall cause of ID when colleagues at ISU and in the broader community of biblical scholars see how
    you are behaving.

    In fact, you seem to be persuading even some of my past detractors to come to my defense. See, for example, the posts at Higgaion (“In Defense of Hector Avalos”) by a scholar with whom I have disagreed in the past: http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/?p=621#comments

  48. To Hector Avalos: Thank you for your forthright response and for answering my questions. You certainly seem worthy of tenure, and I expect I would have voted for your tenure had I been on any of the appropriate committees. (Would you do the same for Guillermo Gonzalez?)

    Your preceding comment, however, raises another question, which is, How do you understand persecution? If you think the questions I raised on this blog constitute persecution, then you live a very cossetted life.

    I suspect that you did not lose any sleep over my blog post. On the other hand, by poisoning the well for Guillermo with your petition and attacks against him on campus, I suspect that you did cause him considerable upset.

    You really did institute a witch hunt against Guillermo. In referring to a witch hunt here, I was merely being ironic. In any case, please be sure to let us know what negative repercussions this post has on your career at ISU. If anything, you seem to be getting considerable mileage now by playing the martyr. So even your past detractors are now coming to your defense because of the “attack” here? You are welcome to these new supporters — I certainly have no use for them.

    By the way, my wife is from Iowa, and I get up there now and again. I’d be happy to debate you at ISU if you’re up for it. My one condition is that I have as much uninterrupted time to present my case as you do yours. The title of my talk would be “How to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

  49. 49

    Hector is either ignoring the point or doesn’t get the point. He started what most would call a witch hunt attacking Gonzalez. He never taught ID-related stuff in the classroom, but he did write a book on the subject.

    Avalos then posts comments to PZ’s site talking about how HE got an article published critiquing the work of Gonzalez. Notice how he says that Gonzalez hasn’t published an ID paper in a “refereed journal.” Why would THAT matter, especially considering he switches the subject from magazine article for him to refereed journal for Gonzalez.

    His point was- Gonzalez’s ideas are bunk and he did a nice job of debunking them in a magazine article. Somehow that makes Gonzalez unfit for tenure if he can’t even publish ID papers in refereed journals (what irnoy!)

    The obvious conclusion is that Gonzalez isn’t worth his salt, but (irony!) a religion professor is good enough to debunk his ideas in a magazine…clearly that says all we need to know.

    This innocent/victim ploy is nonsense…especially when Avalos is directly dodging the issue at hand.

  50. 50

    A reminder of how Avalos went after Gonzalez

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-gonzalez/

  51. Nor are big grants expected of biblical scholars, or of many scholars in the humanities.

    But they are expected of scholars in the physical sciences.

  52. 52

    I was thinking- no matter what the magazine says on it, Avalos point wasn’t totally honest to begin with. His goal was to portray Gonzalez has never publishing an ID paper in a journal. Notice how he says it’s ironic that he, as a religions professor, had work that “passed the editorial review of a legitimate astronomical organization.”

    Notice how he speaks of the lay audience magazine as passing the “review of a legitimate astronomical organization”- comparing that to Gonzalez’s record of not publishing an ID paper to a refereed journal. See how a magazine article is good enough for him (good enough to overcome Gonzalez in some manner), but what is demanded of Gonzalez is on a level much higher?

    How, exactly, is it ironic that Hector wrote a magazine article, yet Gonzalez hasn’t published an ID article in a refereed journal with standards tenfold higher? Has Gonzalez TRIED to publish ID stuff to a refereed journal? Does he even have that goal/aspiration?

    No one can deny what’s going on here. The patterns speak for themselves. The varying standards Gonzalez is held to that Avalos need not meet, the “irony” of the situation as Hector explains it. This just isn’t right at all.

  53. Prof. Hector Avalos

    Having read some of your comments on Intelligent Design, may I encourage you to read original ID source material sufficient to grasp the basic principles ID. E.g.,

    “October 15, 2004 Iowa State Daily: Professors question intelligent design theory
    Arguments that the universe was intelligently designed fail to identify anything substantive about that designer, two ISU professors said in a presentation Thursday — a failure they said destroys the scientific validity of those arguments. Hector Avalos, associate professor of religious studies, and John Patterson, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering, both said advocates of intelligent design — which purports that design of the universe by an external agent can be detected in nature — don’t represent anything new in science.”

    If this news item is accurate, it appears that you have been viewing ID through rose colored glasses of religious movements., I.e., you expect ID to “identify [something] substantive about that designer.” In so doing, you appear to be imposing your expectations of a religion on ID and then criticizing ID for not meeting your expectations of a religion.
    Foundationally, ID looks for objective empirical evidence in nature for a designer.
    By contrast, information about any “designer” must of necessity come from communication from or with that designer.
    Note the difference between empirical evaluation of physical phenomena and evaluating communication. This essentially is the difference between studying “the book of nature” vs “studying the book of revelation”.

    If you wish to at least be credible in your comments on ID, let alone professional, may I encourage to you undertake an objective evaluation of ID – and NOT presume it is a religion or expect it conforms to journalism or Darwinist’s common misspreceptions of ID.

    For example. Please begin by reviewing “ID Assumptions” at ResearchID.org
    http://www.researchintelligent.....ssumptions
    ———————————–
    Primary Assumptions for Open Science & Intelligent Design

    1) Intelligence: Direct and indirect intelligent causes exist, including human beings and intelligent systems made by them.

    2) Design: Intelligent causes design, build, and/or operate systems.

    3) Detectability: Intelligent causes may exhibit phenomena that can be objectively detected.

    4) Principles: Intelligent causes apply or embody design principles, rules, and/or laws, which may be discoverable from observable evidence, or similar principles may be inferable.

    5) Openness: Observable phenomena may be within open systems accessible to the input or intervention of intelligent causes, some of which may be detectable, and might be reproducible.

    Secondary ID Assumptions – Uncertainties

    6) Means: An intelligent design is nominally a “gray box” wherein observers may not fully understand all the phenomena involved, or how the design was originally prepared or implemented.

    7) Identity: The identity of the intelligent cause(s) are uncertain.

    8) Capabilities: The capabilities of the intelligent cause(s) are inferred to be sufficient to achieve the inferred design, but are otherwise uncertain.

    9) Beliefs: The beliefs of Open Science & ID theorists and practitioners are uncertain beyond the above assumptions.

    Please read the related discussion.

    If you objectively examine these ID assumptions, you will see that ID can evaluate whether a designer exists, BUT NOT who the designer is or what the designer is like.

    These last two questions are properly in the realm of religion. You should address them to persons who claim to have communications from such a designer or to communicate with the designer. Criticizing ID for not addressing religious questions just reflects on you as an amateur having little understanding of ID and having assimilated others’ missunderstandings of ID.

    Thus my previous reference to the Encyclopedia of Prophecy, lies in this realm of statistical evaluation on the probability that there are objectively verifiable communications from an intelligent being. Similarly, objective evaluations can be made on the validity of claims to current communication with an intelligent being such as intercession. These again fall in the realm of current religion, not at the existence of a designer or inferable laws of a designer.

    Similarly see your:
    LETTER: Intelligent design theory jeopardizes scientific education’s future
    http://media.www.iowastatedail.....9702.shtml
    See in particular the comment by Dr. Hector Avalos posted 10/27/06
    “In any case, any analogies between human-made structures and purely biological
    structures fail simply because they overlook the different physico-chemical properties of these entities.”
    By this comment, you appear to be unaware of the foundational distinction made by Intelligent Design between Chance, Law (“order”) and Information (or “intelligence.”) The critical hypothesis or theory of ID is that neither Chance nor Law can form Design Information or “Complex Specified Information”. See Dembski’s Filter. Your comments on self assembly fall within “Law” and give no basis for information in DNA and proteins. With your comment: “Many crucial biological substances do have properties that allow them to assume very orderly structures” you appear to be oblivious of these distinctions between chance, law and design information. (NOT “Shannon entropy”.)

    The critical issue is not that biological systems can form orderly components, but that there is no basis for abiogenesis to a functioning self reproducing cell with its Information processing (DNA, RNA etc), material processing, and energy processing systems within a closed system of natural causes within the Universal Probability Bound (the whole universe, over all time, over the maximum number of recombinations).

    See recent evidence on the amazing capability of DNA repair mechanisms.
    http://www.hhmi.org/news/pdf/elledge20050525.pdf
    What basis has Darwinism for predicting any of this, starting from abiogenesis?
    By contrast this is an excellent example of systems that ID would expect from a designer and which shows extremely complex specifred information that probably exhibits numerous examples of irreproducible complexity.

    From your list of refereed monographs and journal articles, I expect you should be able to objectively evaluate Intelligent Design sufficient to grasp its foundational concepts. (Assuming you can lay aside personal prejudices or other issues you may have with religion or with Christians, Jews, Hindus, Moslems and other ID practitioners.)

    May I encourage you to undertake such serious study sufficient to where we can we can begin to have substantive discussions about the merits and consequences of Intelligent Design. Hopefully this would progress to where we could begin to address such issues on a professional level.

    Until then,
    Best regards

    David L. Hagen, PhD
    Research Engineer

  54. DLH:

    Very well said.

    I also add that Dr Avalos may find it useful to read the online chapters [and then the paper version] of the book that launched the biological form of ID, Thaxton et al’s The Mystery of Life’s Origin. Follow up readings on developments since then should of course also be helpful, but we are dealing with primary foundational sources here].

    A browse of say Barrow and Tipler’s work on the Anthropic Principle may then be a good start to seeing where those who are talking on the Cosmological side of inference to design are coming from. Follow up readings in the likes of say Sir Fred Hoyle, and of course lastly but not leastly Mr Gonzalez’s own work may help see what those who are looking at cosmological design issues are saying.

    But then, of course, as a duly appointed full professor at ISU, Dr Avalos knows that going to the original sources is a basic principle of professional scholarship.

    GEM of TKI

  55. 55

    Here Here,,,very well said indeed David L. Hagen PhD.

  56. 56

    From DLH to: Prof. Hector Avalos

    “From your list of refereed monographs and journal articles, I expect you should be able to objectively evaluate Intelligent Design sufficient to grasp its foundational concepts. (Assuming you can lay aside personal prejudices or other issues you may have with religion or with Christians, Jews, Hindus, Moslems and other ID practitioners.)”

    I would also add: Assuming you can lay aside your bias and personal religious attachments to atheism as an a priori truth. I wonder do you have the integrity and courage to look beyond your own predisposition, or will you forever look with the self-serving arrogance of a true believer. You’re a religion professor. Define true believer. Can you not see how it applies to you? No, I suppose not. That is afterall the characteristic of a true believer, blindness and discrimination.

    A genuine search for truth demands a willingness to sacrafice our own sacred cows whenever the light of evidence shows them to be transparent. However, it seems that Darwinists fight for survival by creating strawmen to slay. If you knew how transparent this practice of equating Intelligent Design to your imagined concept of Christian God is, you would see why Darwinism is so rapidly failing in the eyes of honest observers around the world.

  57. 57

    I should clarify my comment:
    “Thus my previous reference to the Encyclopedia of Prophecy, lies in this realm of statistical evaluation on the probability that there are objectively verifiable communications from an intelligent being. Similarly, objective evaluations can be made on the validity of claims to current communication with an intelligent being such as intercession. These again fall in the realm of current religion, not at the existence of a designer or inferable laws of a designer.”
    While identification of the intelligent cause and their characteristics fall within religion, an objective statistical evaluation can be made of the empirical evidence available. e.g., the list of prophecies and historical evidence on record, or the present day evaluation of the statistical probability of intercession.

    To distinguish these from Intelligent Design, they could be called Intelligent Intervention. Alternatively, the empirical evaluation could be considered ass a subset of Intelligent Design in the broader sense of empirically identifying intelligent causation.

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