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John Rennie can’t leave ID well enough alone

John Rennie, the chief editor at SCIAM, continues to do his cause more harm than good. All his naysaying against ID has to give the dispassionate observer pause whether there might not be something to it after all. Here is his latest: http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=i_d_is_bad_science_on_its_own_terms&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1.

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16 Responses to John Rennie can’t leave ID well enough alone

  1. “In that comment thread, various readers picked on this use of the word “best” as reflecting an inappropriate value judgment, but I would let the writer off the hook by suggesting that the term he wanted was probably “most parsimonious” or “most elegant”–meaning that it is the simplest or most straightforward answer.”

    I prefer economical. Though best is good too since it can denote ‘most suitable’. Parsimonious? A little too highbrow for my taste and it connotes stinginess, a value in and of itself. Elegant could also be good though how one could then say evolution with all of it’s dead ends, false starts, and general chaos could be elegant is beyond me. Prehaps he meant ID is more elegant than evolution.

    “Yet the naturalistic factors already demonstrably exist independently of the phenomenon to be explained; the unspecified intelligence does not.”

    How so? According to Steve Jurvetson at MIT: “In fact, biological evolution provides the only “existence proof” that an algorithm can produce complexity transcending that of its antecedents.” But to be fair I think what Mr. Rennie really meant to say is that the mythic constructs of Darwinism exist independently of the phemomenon to be explained. That I can buy considering the abundance of words indicating speculation in evolutionary literature.

    “When kids ask, “Why is the sky blue?”, they would have good reason to be annoyed at being told, “Because the sky has a property of blueness.” If a chemist wonders, “What causes proteins to fold as they do?”, he would be crazy to be satisfied with, “There is a protein-folding force that folds proteins, and its parameters fold proteins into the forms that we see.” Those aren’t explanations, they’re just ways of parroting the question. Scientific explanations have to be… explanatory.”

    Agreed. But what if the answer is false? Is it still scientific? Part of the problem here is that Mr. Rennie and a lot of others who think as he does don’t seem to realize is that they have exceeded the limits of science. In part this is because he recites the “natural answers only” mantra without considering the underlying rationale behind it namely that only natural answers are testable. Testablility, not nature, is the limit of science and by going beyond that he goes beyond science into myth making yet both appear to be scientific because they both have a gloss of nature. At it’s heart ID is about the limits of science because it says that science can go so far and no further while evolution sees no limits.

  2. Jon, that is a great post. I think that Steve Jurvetson’s article deserves a separate blog title at UD.

    ref. http://www.technologyreview.co.....h=infotech

    He asserts that evolution produces complexity in a typically circular way. In fact he asserts that evolution has produced the only evidence for complexity from simplicity without intelligence.

  3. 3
    John A. Davison

    Remember Rennie’s old forum SciAm Perspectives? At the time he abruptly closed it I had left 12 unanswered terminal challenges at as many threads. Don’t take my word for it as I believe it is still available online. Naturally I assumed I was the reason he closed his blog and I still think so. His new forum is by invitation only.

    EvC had “Boot Camp” where I was supposed to learn how to debate. Proving to be a poor student, I was banned. I do not regard the truth as subject to debate, only to discovery. More recently I was invited back to post only in its highly restricted “showcase” forum. There I was never able to get anyone to address the substance of my thread which, naturally ebough, was “A Prescribed Evolutonary Hypothesis.” I have since been banned from any communication in that venue as well. I am worried sick of course.

    The Panda’s Pollex equivalent of “Boot Camp” was its “Bathroom Wall,” to which all my posts were relegated. That was followed by a special thread just for little old me, “Davison’s Soapbox” which by design and intent disappeared off the bottom of the screen shortly after it was presented. With it my appearance at Panda’s Pathetic Pollex terminated for good much to both their relief and mine. I understand my name is never to be mentioned there again.

    So you see there is more than one solution to the “Davison Problem.”
    Hitler had his Belsen, Elsberry had his “Bathroom Wall” and whoever runs EvC (I have no idea) had “Boot Camp” and “Showcase.” I give Rennie special credit. Instead if banning me he just quit!

    Isn’t science fun?

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  4. Yet the naturalistic factors already demonstrably exist independently of the phenomenon to be explained; the unspecified intelligence does not.

    The question is not if the factores already exist. The question is if those factors can be ascribed the creative abilities that the Darwinian synthesis demands.
    For example, we know that there are random mutations, and we know that natural selection is an operating force in nature. The question is: are random mutations and natural selection ALONE responsible for the bio-diversity? Pointing out the existence of those factors doesn’t confirm the Darwinian claims.

    Secondly, as said plenty of times by ID scientists, ID is the study of patterns in nature, not the study of the Intelligence behind the information present in nature.

    Rennie’s arguement is very similar to Dawkins’ one, where in order for us to believe in Intelligent Causation, we must FIRST show the Intelligent Causer. This is illogical, IMO.

  5. John Davison, how’s this: Divergence yes, emergence no….

  6. I am grateful to John Rennie.

    It was his ranting in SciAm a few years back that initially prompted me to look more critically at the claims of Darwinist evolutionary theory.

  7. Rennie: It’s true that not all IDists reject evolution completely (in the same way that not all Biblical creationists reject the idea of microevolutionary changes within “kinds” of creatures). But the pattern of argument for IDists is to find questions that are not yet completely answered by evolutionary biology and then argue that I.D. is a better if not the only explanation.

    “Not yet completely answered by evolutionary biology” means the search for an answer consistent with Darwinian concepts goes on forever because there can be no legitimate alternative. Rennie would not put it this way but how else can this approach be interpreted?

  8. No, bad science is saying your house contains no information content because a random pile of building materials can impose order on themselves–thus producing houses.

  9. Good point Mats,

    The flow of analysis, unlike Descarte and Aquinus who proceeded from the idea of God, Creator, should move from the material world where information content is empirically discerned? and infer intelligent causation in the supersensible realm. Can we infer an author recorded his/her thought with symbols (matter)to construct a linguistic structure like “All roads lead to ID?” Isn’t it the case that my tabby cat “Captain” is an idea manifested in the material realm like the date palm outside?

  10. 10

    Of course it is illogical. We don’t even know how many Creators there were, when they acted, where they acted or even how they acted, although I have presented a proposal for the latter in the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis, a proposal which remains compatible with everything we REALLY know about the mystery of organic evolution. One thing is now certain. Chance had absolutely nothing to do with it.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution is undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  11. 11

    mmadigan

    It is only the mechanism that has yet to be established. Neither I nor any of my sources ever questioned reproductive continuity (evolution). The term “divergence “is meaningless unless it is further characterized. Emergence is an excellent term with which to characterize both ontogeny and phylogeny. Does not the individual “emerge” eventually from the ferilized egg and does not this porocess proceed with no reference to the environment? I have postulated the same for phylogeny.

    I am not alone. So did Leo Berg:

    “Evolution is in a great measure an unfolding of pre-existing rudiments.”
    Nomogenesis, page 406

    So did Pierre Grasse and William Bateson as I have presented elsewhere on these threads so I will not repeat myself here. I am having difficulties with my fingers cramping from having to repeat myself so much! No one seems to listen. Perhaps they are deaf to what Einstein called the “music of the spheres,” lovely melodies which I hear loud and clear. Pardon my cynicism.

    A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

    “You can lead a man to the literature but you can’t make him comprehend it.”
    ibid

  12. John,
    I agree. Mike Reed (UMinn) or ethics teacher said on deities “We don’t know, it could be paternalistic, maternalistic, or there could be many.”

  13. 13

    Speaking of being banned, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bill Dembski and Denyse O’Leary for allowing me to present my heresies here. The only other major forum where I can still hold forth is ISCID’s “brainstorms”. I have even had to abandon my own blog – newprescribedevolution.blogspot.com/

    Some unknown blogger posting as Davescot has thoroughly sabotaged my blog with mindless repetitions and attacks on my integrity, honesty and character. Accordingly I have relinquished the blog to him to do what he wants with it.

    As a published scientist I don’t need to deal with such matters and refuse to do so any longer. I don’t have that much time left to be willing to waste it in the ephemeral domain of cyberspace. I prefer that my science be preserved for all time on the shelves of the world’s libraries next to that of my distinguished sources.

    A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  14. If specified complexity (SC) and irreducible complexity (IC)point to intelligentsia, then we can verify it without recourse to biology. But how would we know about natural selection without resorting on Darwinism?

    That’s what makes boring most of the criticism of ID to my taste: they tend to be superfluous.

  15. Rennie: A further problem with that definition of I.D. is that it doesn’t work well as a scientific explanation–and not just for reasons of methodological naturalism. When kids ask, “Why is the sky blue?”, they would have good reason to be annoyed at being told, “Because the sky has a property of blueness.” If a chemist wonders, “What causes proteins to fold as they do?”, he would be crazy to be satisfied with, “There is a protein-folding force that folds proteins, and its parameters fold proteins into the forms that we see.” Those aren’t explanations, they’re just ways of parroting the question. Scientific explanations have to be… explanatory.

    Notice first,that he uses as his example, something from physics (why is sky blue?) and chemistry. *not* evolution. Wonder why? [wonder if it's b/c there's not too much to say, at least not that the ID folks wouldn't agree with, like clear examples of micro]

    Behe quotes the “explanatory” professor Doolitle in his book: His “scientific” paper replete with terms such as “A springs forth”, “B arises”, “X is unleashed” etc.
    Yes. Professor Doolitle explains it all for you. How much more satisfying.

  16. Well John Rennie got his wish. In light of the Darwinist victories in Kansas, as they bask in the glow of their victory, here is what one of the frequent supporters of KCFS (the so-called Kansas Citizens For Science) had to say:

    Top 10 actions by new school board:

    Now that the power has been won, it is time to execute Plan 666.

    10. No religious paraphenalia allowed in public schools. Searches are to be performed at the school entrance.

    9. Any appeal to God or any prayer offerred will result in immediate expulsion.

    8. In order for students to pass biology, they must denounce YECism.

    7. School on Sundays.

    6. Free abortions by High School nurse.

    5. Gay sensitive curriculum and Gay Bathrooms.

    4. Don’t ask don’t tell drug policy.

    3. End football programs and replace them with soccer.

    2. New curriculum to include the study of the “FSM”.

    1.Replace the symbol for a failing grade from “F” to “Dembski”.

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