Home » Intelligent Design » The Empire Strikes Back, New Book by Woodward with foreword by Dembski

The Empire Strikes Back, New Book by Woodward with foreword by Dembski

Another pro-ID book rolled out: Tom Woodward’s Darwin Strikes Back with foreword by William Dembski.

Darwiin Strkes Back

And don’t forget, Illustra Media debuts its DvD, Case for a Creator this Friday, November 17, 2006.

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22 Responses to The Empire Strikes Back, New Book by Woodward with foreword by Dembski

  1. The reviewer on Amazon, Fritz Ward, makes a good point. A scientist or educator dissents on Darwinism, and they get treated much like a heretical priest did back in the Middle Ages, minus the actual physical burning at the stake, although some victims may have felt much the same.

    Which raises the question — how should the scientific community handle maintaining standards and the boundaries of science on one hand, and allowing and even encouraging legitimate alternative concepts and theories on the other? As mentioned, the way it is done now appears to be close to the Church from long ago — a big fat zero tolerance, forget three strikes. And you won’t get your books burned, just not allowed through the peer review and publishing process.

    So how do other professions handle it? Maybe first we need to view science as a profession, not in some special ivy-covered tower category in the sky. Yes, science is important. But yes, newsflash, science and scientists are also subject to all the foibles of humanity found in other professions. Grant $$, prominence, and position can all play the same corrupting roles that they play elsewhere. Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble!!

    So, how do other professions handle it? Well, take corporate finance. There is no “priesthood” of CFOs out there, and financial statements are not “banned” from the peer review process. Instead, independent CPAs are required to review financial statements and identify any material misrepresentations.

    Take another profession — legal and judicial. Minority opinions are allowed, documented, and presented. No, they do not trump the majority opinion, but at least they get a fair hearing, so to speak.

    Anyway, just a couple of thoughts.

  2. Which raises the question — how should the scientific community handle maintaining standards and the boundaries of science on one hand, and allowing and even encouraging legitimate alternative concepts and theories on the other?

    I have a personal philosophy of encouraging people to state what’s on their mind.

    A church relationship in the modern day is voluntary, that is individuals gather on the grounds of a common confession, not under compulsion.

    But regarding competing views, Discovery Institute fellow John Angus Campbell had wonderful advice which he advocates in the exploration of the issue of origins. He quotes John Stuart Mills:

    On Liberty

    But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. …

    We have now recognized the necessity to the mental well-being of mankind (on which all their other well-being depends) of freedom of opinion, and freedom of the expression of opinion, on four distinct grounds; which we will now briefly recapitulate.

    First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.

    Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.

    Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds.

    And not only this, but fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but encumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.

  3. “A scientist or educator dissents on Darwinism, and they get treated much like a heretical priest did back in the Middle Ages”

    I know of a few examples that are often mentioned but does anyone have a rough number of scientists who have faced abuse from their colleagues for dissenting from Darwinism.

    “And you won’t get your books burned, just not allowed through the peer review and publishing process.”

    Im also interested in seeing the intelligent design papers that were rejected by peer review because all I’ve seen so far is a list of papers that did pass peer review.

    “Which raises the question — how should the scientific community handle maintaining standards and the boundaries of science on one hand, and allowing and even encouraging legitimate alternative concepts and theories on the other?”

    To maintain the standards you just need to insist that ideas produce scientific research. I guess to allow new ideas you maintain a small portion of the scientific budget for more blue skies research.

  4. Chris:

    A Tale of Peer-Review

    (Walter ReMine’s anti-Darwinian work on Haldane’s Dilemma is one such example. Though not technically and ID paper, it is anti-Darwinian and appears to have had problems because of that.)

  5. [OFF TOPIC]
    http://creationsafaris.com/cre.....#20061114a

    “(…) Intelligent design is the biology and biophysics of the 21st century.(..)”

  6. Chris inquired:

    I know of a few examples that are often mentioned but does anyone have a rough number of scientists who have faced abuse from their colleagues for dissenting from Darwinism.

    That is an important enough question that I have repeatedly suggested that reporters (how about even polling agencies) ask the question, “should someone who denies or doubts Darwinian evolution (or even naturalistic evolution) have that fact used against him in hiring and promotion decisions”.

    That would be a better metric, imho, than citing numbers of cases of abuse since such things are hard to establish. If I had to hazard a guess, it would somewhat correlate with the number of professors in the sciences willing to sign an anti-ID statement such as what happened at UVa, Lehigh, and Iowa State. The numbers were way over 50% as far as I could tell in the biological sciences.

    At JMU, an anti-ID statement was signed by 20 of the 34 bio faculty last year (possibly connected with Darwin Day).

    For what it’s worth, in the interest of inquiry, Chris, if you’d be willing to poll your colleagues, I would be appreciative.

    Sal

  7. “That is an important enough question that I have repeatedly suggested that reporters (how about even polling agencies) ask the question, “should someone who denies or doubts Darwinian evolution (or even naturalistic evolution) have that fact used against him in hiring and promotion decisions”.”

    That’s an interesting question. I imagine as long as someone had a good publication record what they believed wouldn’t really matter. I imagine for example that many of the people on the dissent from Darwin list have gone on to find new jobs since they signed up. Personally I would enjoy having a colleague to debate these matters with. On the other hand if it was thought that their belief in ID would affect their scientific output then there is every reason not to hire them. For example if Michael Behe applied for a research position you would look at his publication record over the last few years and be pretty concerned. The other concern I guess would be whether or not the person was likely to create a hostile work environment, which also is obviously a case by case basis. A grey area of course would be if someone had genuine ID research proposals that they were carrying out, in which case I guess a hiring committee would have to weigh up the risks. Currently however I haven’t seen any genuine ID research proposals.

    If applying for a position that is more teaching based, it would depend on what exactly they would teach, and if I thought they were going to teach that ID in its current form is a full scientific theory that competes with evolution then I would probably not hire them.

    Basically if you polled with a yes or no question most people would say no, but in reality it would depend on whether or not I thought it would affect their ability to do their job, which is to do research or teach students.

    “Walter ReMine’s anti-Darwinian work on Haldane’s Dilemma is one such example. Though not technically and ID paper, it is anti-Darwinian and appears to have had problems because of that.”

    I think someone on this blog posted a list of about 8 supposed ID papers in peer reviewed journals so based on that ratio I cant conclude that ID is being kept out of the literature.

  8. Chris,

    Thank you for your response. I can tell you that from the pro-ID professors I meet, in general, they are reluctant to stick their necks out unless they are tenured and/or close to retirement.

    To some degree it is like disclosing what political party one is affiliated with, it would be better not to stir the pot. However, the difference with ID and/or creation science, is that it may affect one’s scientific inferences from time to time.

    In fields outside of evolutionary biology it is mostly safe to say the topic may not come up, but not completely. I speculate that there could be instances in bio-informatics in the case of conserved sequences and classification schemes of DNA or whatever that might be prejudiced by a prevailing view phylogeny, when in fact the interepretation of bio-informatic data would be better served by presuming design. It may not be a big deal now, but perhaps in the future.

    There are non-ID anti-neo-Darwinists, and I sense they are getting flak. If one is an IDer, that would just add fuel to the fire even though their research is first rate.

    I do know personally of young pro-ID post docs on the fast track to success. The fear level is quite evident.

    The “safe” departments seem to be Engineering, Computer Science, Math, Chemistry, Business, Economics, and to some degree physics. Biology is the worst place with the exception possibly of the emerging field of systems biology. However, it is too early to tell in that field. Many system biology departments import engineers (who could be earning good money elsewhere), so from an institutional standpoint, these departments would have to be more tolerant in order to retain talent.

  9. Chris Hyland

    An interesting scenario arises from discrimination in the hiring of ID advocates. If ID is religious then any discrimination is quite illegal in the United States and if proven could cost the employer dearly in a civil rights lawsuit. Someone ought to test the waters there citing the Dover decision as the basis for ID being a religious belief. Anyone who applies for a position, is turned down, and subsequently found out his views on ID were even mentioned by anyone involved in the hiring decision should have a case. I’d love to watch as the defense turns around and desperately tries to show that ID is not a religious belief but rather a scientific one and therefore not protected against discrimination. The hostile work environment defense would then play particularly badly. Imagine if it were a Jew instead of an ID advocate. If ID is religion in the eyes of the law then it’s essentially the same as saying in your defense “Your honor, hiring a Jew would create a hostile work environment because our staff frowns upon Jews.”

    Be careful what you wish for. If you get your wish you might make ID advocates a protected species. That would be poetic justice for sure. Gideon’s Sword is a double edged blade that cuts both ways.

  10. Excellent point Dave. And, this is not a trite thing. It is a very real possibility. Right after Dover, and the judge’s oversteps, I always thought that if a person were fired for being an ID supporter they should immediately admit that they supported ID as a religious conviction, and then cite Judge Jone’s decision stating that it is religious.

    Wow. What an absolute mess that could turn into.

  11. Well…for any serious ID supporter ID is all about the science so to claim that “they supported ID as a religious conviction” would be a lie. But I’m sure there’s plenty of religious people out there who claim to support “ID” even though they don’t comprehend it very well…

  12. As a side, note, this then becomes a constitutional issue in public schools. If a person’s definition of science conflicts with the naturalistic framing of of science it becomes a constitutional issue.

    There could be large numbers of lawsuits in the public schools that will argue that the way origins is taught is an infringement on religious liberty, that naturalistically defined science is a violation of the establishment clause.

    Jones may have, in effect gotten constitutional protection for certain origins theories. We’ll see. I don’t in general trust the judiciary to rule fairly on these issues, but this could end up being a district by district fight. A real mess in other words.

    The public school issue is not a fight I’m involved in.

    My more immediate concern is for the many pro-ID students and professors trying to survive academia.

    My current view for those wanting to make a living in biology is to get a solid engineering degree and then enter systems biology. If academia gives one flak, tell the guys to take a hike, knowing full well industry will probably double one’s salary versus being an academic in the schools. Then go teach at a community college in the evenings.

    The engineering, medical, and biotech fields are far more pragmatic versus ideological compared to what I see going on in academia.

    What I try to get acadmicians to realize is that all this anti-ID animosity is affecting enrollments and the bottom line. Is that something they really want. They may despise creationists and IDers, but if 1/3 of their students have such leanings, perhaps its unwise to make an issue of it.

  13. …for any serious ID supporter ID is all about the science so to claim that “they supported ID as a religious conviction” would be a lie.

    For a lawsuit to succeed ID could be science for the victim in question, but if the intent by the perpetrating party was an attempt to suppress a persons religious beliefs, then it may constitute an attempt to deprive someone of civil rights. Attempted murder is still a crime, even if it does not succeed. An attempt to violoate someone’s civil rights, even if not successful, is still a crime.

    If for example, Richard Sternberg who is not an IDer but was fired because of his perceived religion, that firing would probably constitute something unlawful.

  14. Oh sure, but far better to watch the Darwinists practice scientific, legal and educational intolerance, and point out the fact. Winning in court will truly be a pyrrhic victory, as is dominating science through coercion. The moral high ground is always the best.

    Patrick said “But I’m sure there’s plenty of religious people out there who claim to support “ID” even though they don’t comprehend it very well… ”

    Oh sure, there are some individuals that fit into this category, no doubt. Put them on one side of a scale.

    But ask yourself, does it take more knowledge and iniative to concur with the prevailing idealogy, or to go with an emerging view? Now, stop and close your eyes and imagine the millions of individuals on the other side of the scale being indoctinated in Darwinian evolution throughout the land, without ever hearing the tough questions being asked, without ever being encouraged to express doubts, without ever being exposed to alternate views.

    Breathtaking, is it not!!

  15. Dave: Sorry I wasn’t clearer, I didn’t mean that in general that scientists would be hostile towards an ID supporter who was hired. I meant that in certain cases an ID supporter might create a hostile environment, for example most scientists I know would take great exception to being told that they are part of a vast atheist conspiracy to destroy the truth. I’m not saying that most ID supporters would be like that.

    Sal,

    “I speculate that there could be instances in bio-informatics in the case of conserved sequences and classification schemes of DNA or whatever that might be prejudiced by a prevailing view phylogeny, when in fact the interepretation of bio-informatic data would be better served by presuming design. It may not be a big deal now, but perhaps in the future.”

    I agree that this is what ID advocates should be doing, plus it is pretty cheap research, all you need is a computer and access to journals, all the data is free.

    “However, the difference with ID and/or creation science, is that it may affect one’s scientific inferences from time to time.”

    I guess there are a lot of different definitions of ID supporter. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with someone like David Heddle for example. One thing I liked that he wrote is

    “nothing is owed a “play” in scientific research, which self-organizes along a pecking order based on “put up or shut up.”

    When I think of an ID supporter I see someone who thinks that not only have Dembski, Behe et al disproved the main principles of the theory of evolution they have also offered a scientifically valid alternative. Whether ID is right or not they have barely begun to try and prove it, and certainly haven’t proposed an alternative framework (you dont have to propose an alternative framework if you just want to challenge evolution but you do if your claiming ID is a scientific theory). The suggestion that the ideas of ID have proved themselves scientifically is seen as particularly insulting to working research scientists, so I suspect that someone who openly holds this opinion would not get very far, unless they had a proven research track record. If this is an unjust situation it is as much the fault of the ID movement as it is the scientific community, and it will be rectified by the ID side putting the work in. On the other hand I dont think someone who holds opinions of David Heddle or Mike Gene would have too many problems.

  16. Chris

    If ID was religion in the eyes of the law you still can’t get away with discrimination you describe because of it unless the person in question had a documented history of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Imagine defending in court with this Empoyer: “Your honor, most of our scientists are atheists and we thought this religious person might say something offensive to them.” Judge replies “Do you have any substantive evidence that this would happen?” “No, your honor.” Judge: “I find for the defendant. Next case.”

    Do people in academia who are involved in hiring decisions not get any training in what they can and cannot do these days? Are you not involved in hiring decisions? Do you live in a country other than the United States? The things you think you can get away with would make any HR manager nowadays cringe in terror. It’s making me cringe just thinking about it. In the United States when you have a job opening and refuse to hire the most qualified applicant without a documented reason that is non-discriminatory you’re opening yourself up for big trouble. I’ve had such training. Everyone who interviewed job applicants had to get the training. The general rule of thumb is that if the question isn’t directly related to the job and non-personal then you can’t ask it. If you asked anyone if they believed in intelligent design here in the states in a job interview you’re screwed if they complain about it to the EEOC or take other legal action. If you found out they did some other way and based your hiring decision on it in any manner you’re screwed if they complain unless you’re willing to commit perjury and lie under oath that it had nothing to do with your decision.

    Update: Nevermind, Chris. I checked your email address and found that you’re in England. Evidently the fair employment and equal opportunity laws there are not what they are in the United States. In the U.S. we can’t do the kinds of things you suggest and get away with it.

  17. Hey, did anyone notice that the title of this post says “The Empire Strikes Back” (a la Star Wars) rather than “Darwin Strikes Back” the proper name of the book?

    LMAO

  18. Atom:

    You just now noticed this? :P

    Chris:

    Whether ID is right or not they have barely begun to try and prove it, and certainly haven’t proposed an alternative framework

    When you say “alternative framework” does that include a particular historical narrative? If that’s the case then that’s a valid complaint since ID in itself would offer a “weaker” framework in that ID is compatible with a bunch of historical narratives. Or you could just view it positively as “expanding possible research avenues”.

  19. Yes, was it intentional? (if so, it isn’t quite as funny. )

  20. “Nevermind, Chris. I checked your email address and found that you’re in England. Evidently the fair employment and equal opportunity laws there are not what they are in the United States. In the U.S. we can’t do the kinds of things you suggest and get away with it.”

    We have incredibly strict laws over here as far as I know. I’m not sure what you think I meant, I’m suggesting a rather extreme scenario where someone makes it clear he thinks everyone he will be working with is an evil atheist conspirator. I’m not on any hiring comities but I imagine that is going to count against him. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t not hire someone just for being an ID advocate unless you think it will interfere with their ability to do the job.

    “When you say “alternative framework” does that include a particular historical narrative?”

    I don’t mean identifying the designer or anything like that. I think front loading is a good start, and then something like John Davison’s idea adds more detail. If these ideas could be expanded they could have more predictive power.

  21. Chris writes:

    If these ideas could be expanded they could have more predictive power.

    Why should we need predictive power? Your pet theory doesn’t. When evolutionary theory can tell me when, where, and what the next species will be then you’ll be a step ahead of ID in predictive power.

    It really boggles my mind Chris that you mention predictive power when the process you hold dear can’t predict jack-diddly-squat.

  22. I guess when I think of predictions it’s more predicting the results of data analysis rather than actually predicting the course of evolution. This is the kind of thing that it would be easy for the ID people to do.

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