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They said it: NCSE endorses the “design is re-labelled creationism” slander

In the short term, a smear campaign can be very successful, and will poison the atmosphere, perhaps even poisoning the general public’s perception of your opponents. Usually, it works by using what may be called for convenience the trifecta fallacy, unfortunately — and as we shall shortly see — a now habitual pattern of all too many evolutionary materialism advocates when they deal with Intelligent Design. Specifically:

i: use a smelly red herring distractor to pull attention away from the real issues and arguments

ii: lead it away to a strawman caricature of the issues and arguments of the opponent

iii: soak it in inflammatory innuendos, guilt by invidious association or outright demonising attacks to the man (ad hominems) and ignite through snide or incendiary rhetoric.

The typical result of such an uncivil, disrespectful rhetorical tactic when used on a naive or trusting public is that it distracts attention, clouds, confuses, polarises and poisons the atmosphere for discussion. Especially when false accusations are used, it can seriously damage reputations and careers. So, the trifecta is at minimum a violation of duties of care and respect. At worst, it is a cynically calculated propagandistic deception that through clouding the atmosphere with a poisonous, polarising cloud, divides the public and points their attention to an imaginary threat elsewhere, so that an agenda that plainly cannot stand on its own merits can gain power in the community.

But what happens when the smear begins to unravel as more and more people begin to understand that you have failed to be fair or truthful, in the face of abundant evidence and opportunity to the contrary?

Let us see, by examining the NCSE-hosted (thus, again, endorsed) page for the ironically named New Mexico Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education. Excerpting:

Science deals with natural explanations for natural phenomena. Creationism or intelligent design, if allowed, would change this to promote supernatural explanations for natural phenomena — a contradiction in terms with regard to science. Intelligent design is also sterile as far as science is concerned. To be considered as real science, it must be able to explain and predict natural phenomena. Intelligent design proponents simply say that life is too complex to have arisen naturally. Therefore, an intelligent being (God) must have directly intervened whenever it chose to cause the diversity of the species. This explains everything and it explains nothing; it is not science.

The creationist groups attempt to masquerade their ideas as science simply by calling the concept “intelligent design theory”. No testable hypotheses or any form of scientific research has been presented to support their attempts to insert religion into science. Furthermore, it is suspected that the aim of these religiously motivated people is to redefine the meaning of science; if they were successful, science would become useless as a method for learning about the natural world. CESE decries the very usage of science terminology where there is no sound use of science. CESE also decries any political attempt to discredit the Theory of Evolution. Creationists present false statements concerning the validity of observed evidence for evolution such as: “there is no fossil evidence for evolution,” “it is impossible to obtain higher complexity systems from lower complexity systems,” etc. They call into question the motives and beliefs of scientists with claims such as, “if you believe in evolution, you are an atheist,” etc. They have even invented an imaginary scientific “controversy” to argue their agenda . . .

This needs to be exposed and corrected in steps, and it is worth the while to immediately pause and look at the Dissent from Darwin list to see that: yes, Virginia, there is a real controversy on scientific matters tied to Darwinism.  Also, let us list links to the series so far: background, and “They said it . . . ” 1, 2, 3.

So now, correcting in steps:
_________________

1 –> From the outset, there is the now familiar fallacious and censoring imposition of a priori evolutionary materialism as a key component of science: ” Science deals with natural explanations for natural phenomena.” The effect of this is to twist science away from being a pursuit of the truth about our world based on empirical evidence, turning it instead into a propaganda arm for evolutionary materialism under the false colours of “knowledge” (what “science” literally means) and “fact.” It also conveniently begs a few questions and changes the subject through injecting a distractor: science seeks natural explanations, instead of the truth. Oops.

2 –> But, if it is to be credible for the long haul, science should instead seek to be what it has traditionally been, without imposition of question-begging materialistic agendas:

an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observation, experiment, measurement, logical-mathematical analysis, modelling and discussion among the informed.

3 –> Very quickly we see an invidious association that builds on a strawman misrepresentation of design theory and previously successful smears against Creationists: Creationism or intelligent design . . .

4 –> In fact, as can be easily ascertained through UD’s weak argument corrective no. 5, Creationism and Intelligent Design work on very different principles and have very different roots in the history of ideas.

5 –> In our civilisation, creationist thought is largely rooted in the Biblical tradition, where for instance, we may see the Hebrew Prophet speaking through the voice from the cloud answering to Job: since we were not there at creation in the deep past, we are in no position to contradict the One who was there when he laid the foundation of the world. So, Creation Scientists seek to understand the past in light of what they see as authentic, accurate record, responsibly interpreted. (And, in truth, Creationists have had a long, distinguished history in the annals of modern science ever since the scientific revolution. Names like Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Linneaeus, Faraday, Maxwell, Pasteur and so on down to today do carry a certain weight. [Cf. also CreationWiki's response to Wikipedia here.])

6 –> By longstanding and repeatedly publicly stated and published contrast, Design Theory follows the “common ground” thought of those rabid Bible-thumping “Creationists”  Plato [c. 360 BC] and Cicero [c. 50 BC], and as a scientific movement seeks to infer from reliable observed patterns of cause and effect and characteristic signs, to cases where we have no direct observation or record, but see the same sort of signs of chance, mechanical necessity and intelligently and purposefully directed configuration, AKA design. This application of the now famous explanatory filter is seen as corrective of the recent trend to impose censoring evolutionary materialism, as we saw in step 1 above.

7 –> The “sterility” accusation against ID pivots on the already exposed imposition of a priori evolutionary materialism. But, if science has been led into a materialistic dead end, a corrective that liberates and restores it to its pursuit of truth rather than ideological agenda is immediately enormously productive. And, through the explanatory filter and the linked Abel universal plausibility bound, we see a way to systematise and render consistent scientific investigations on an important class of well-known empirical phenomena: intelligent agents and their traces.

8 –> The following claim that “Intelligent design proponents simply say that life is too complex to have arisen naturally” is a grossly false strawman caricature. Instead, let us see how the New World Encyclopedia’s introductory article on ID summarises the case:

Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection[1] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan. According to adherents, intelligent design can be detected in the natural laws and structure of the cosmos; it also can be detected in at least some features of living things. . . . .

[I]n order to infer design, the Explanatory Filter requires answering “Yes” to all three of the following questions: Is the feature contingent (i.e.. not due to natural law or regularity)? Is the feature complex (i.e., highly improbable)? And is the feature specified (i.e., does it conform to an independently given pattern)? The hallmark of design is thus specified complexity. According to Dembski, it is our universal human experience that whenever we encounter specified complexity it is a product of an intelligent agent (though the agent need not be supernatural). If specified complexity can be found in nature, then it, too, must be due to intelligent agency. As Dembski put it in The Design Revolution (2004): “The fundamental claim of intelligent design is straightforward and easily intelligible: namely, there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence.”

9 –> This concept of inferring from specified complexity and related functional organisation has actually been in the public record since the 1970′s as a known mark of design, and as a puzzle for those who would account for living forms on natural selection. For instance, in 1979, J S Wicken observed:

‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems.  Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and note added. Also, the idea-roots of a term commonly encountered at UD, functionally specific, complex information [FSCI], should be obvious. The onward restriction to digitally coded FSCI [dFSCI] as is seen in DNA — and as will feature below, should also be obvious.)]

10 –> What design thinkers, therefore have done since the 1980′s, is to point out that such specified complexity has one routinely known and observed source: intelligence. Also, that beyond a reasonable threshold of complexity, chance and mechanical necessity are not plausible explanations of such complex specified information, as the search resources of the whole cosmos [or a relevant part thereof] would be grossly inadequate to sample enough of the space of possible configurations to make hitting on an island of function by good luck anything better than utterly implausible. So, the NCSE-endorsed caricature is grossly unfair and false in the face of easily accessible correction. It is a willful and intended to be damaging false accusation. [Continued here . . . ]

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15 Responses to They said it: NCSE endorses the “design is re-labelled creationism” slander

  1. The NCSE is being dishonest.

  2. We have this going for us, however, which the evolutionary naturalists don’t, namely, the evidence and arguments are on our side. It’s therefore to our advantage to discuss intelligent design and naturalistic evolution on their merits. Conversely, the other side needs to delegitimate the debate between intelligent design and naturalistic evolution, casting intelligent design as a pseudoscience and characterizing its significance purely in political and religious terms. As a consequence, critics of intelligent design engage in all forms of character assassination, ad hominem attacks, guilt by association, and demonization.~ William Dembski

    When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff. ~ Cicero

  3. Bevets strikes again!

  4. Collin: Sadly, you seem to be quite correct. GEM of TKI

  5. So to play devils advocate. Is it time for intelligent design proponents to stop trying to distance ourselves from creationists, and work under a principle of ‘strength in unity’, and embrace the type of philosophy of Alvin Plantinga who has argued that theistic presuppositions in science are at least as valid as naturalistic ones? Henry Morris and Gary Parker were discussing many of the ID ideas such as the universal probability bound in the 1980s, long before ID got going, and some great work on ID can still be found in creation journals Creation In other words, creationists have always embraced ID as part of their work. ID was in Augustine’s ideas of the Vestigium Trinitatis and the Sensus divinitatis. So can we acknowledge that ID is part of creationism, even if based on general revelation as opposed to special revelation?

  6. Steno @ 5

    Is it time for intelligent design proponents to stop trying to distance ourselves from creationists, and work under a principle of ‘strength in unity’… So can we acknowledge that ID is part of creationism, even if based on general revelation as opposed to special revelation?

    The genius of Johnson’s approach was to find a unifying point between OECs and YECs (something both sides continue to resist) and clearly defining the tension with materialism.

  7. Steno (and Bevets):

    First, as I have suggested in the OP, I think there is a point where Creationists, Darwinists and Design thinkers can all come together: the sound practice of science on issues connected to origins, acknowledging the strengths and limitations of scientific methods and warrant for knowledge claims. Namely, viewing science at its best as:

    an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observation, experiment, measurement, logical-mathematical analysis, modelling and discussion among the informed.

    When we look at origins-related issues on that, the critical issue is not going to be interpretations of the text of Gen 1 – 3 or the genealogies, etc, but an examination of patterns of cause-effect in the present that lead to identification of key characterising signs that point to what caused various aspects of objects, phenomena and processes.

    This is where the design inference helps push the ball forward:

    a –> On the one hand, it is identifying that — as Plato pointed out so long ago — cause-effect patterns point to chance/accident, mechanical necessity [Plato's words: "The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them . . ."], and art or design.

    b–> Indeed, 40 years ago, in 1971, Monod published his Chance and Necessity to argue that there was indeed no need for art to account for life, its diverse body plans, and us. That is, the trichotomy is still valid; as statistical hypothesis testing also substantiates.

    c –> As a second main step, we draw on Cicero’s point about digitally coded, functionally specific complex information [dFSCI]:

    Is it possible for any man to behold these things, and yet imagine that certain solid and individual bodies move by their natural force and gravitation, and that a world so beautifully adorned was made by their fortuitous concourse? He who believes this may as well believe that if a great quantity of the one-and-twenty letters, composed either of gold or any other matter, were thrown upon the ground, they would fall into such order as legibly to form the Annals of Ennius. I doubt whether fortune could make a single verse of them. How, therefore, can these people assert that the world was made by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, which have no color, no quality—which the Greeks call [poiotes], no sense? [Cicero, THE NATURE OF THE GODS BK II Ch XXXVII, C1 BC, as trans Yonge (Harper & Bros., 1877), pp. 289 - 90.]

    d –> Now, Cicero did not have a mathematical theory of probability to work with, but spotted something important. Subsequent to the rise of modern probability, statistics, thermodynamics and information theory, we are in a position to sythesise these points.

    e –> So, we arrive at the design theory explanatory filter. Excerpting the simple but helpful summary by NWE:

    [I]n order to infer design, the Explanatory Filter requires answering “Yes” to all three of the following questions: Is the feature contingent (i.e.. not due to natural law or regularity)? Is the feature complex (i.e., highly improbable)? And is the feature specified (i.e., does it conform to an independently given pattern)? The hallmark of design is thus specified complexity.

    f –> That order is important, as low contingency implies mechanical necessity manifesting itself as a natural regularity that we can identify and sum up as a law of nature. A dropped heavy object reliably falls at g – 9.8 m/s^2.

    g –> High contingency under similar starting circumstances raises the issue: is this undirected or credibly directed?

    h –> For that, the answer is that chance shows itself in statistical patterns that simply run under probabilistic distributions, so that if we have a sufficiently complex system [very large numbers of contingencies] with relatively small identifiable hot zones, the overwhelming odds on chance will be that we will not be in those hot zone macro-states.

    (Indeed, this is the basis for the statistical form of the second law of thermodynamics; e.g. it is why the O2 in the room in which you sit will not be observed to unmix itself and go to one end of the room, leaving you gasping.)

    i –> If you do come across a room with the O2 molecules separated out to one side, you will conclude this was by intelligently directed configuration, not by chance. Even, if you have no idea by what technique it was done, or by whom. (Perhaps, by Maxwell’s smart little Demon taking a moonlighting job . . . )

    j –> Similarly, text strings in posts in this thread do not get that way by chance but by knowledgeable and skilled intention. And, we can infer that from their digitally coded, functionally specific complex organisation and associated information. (The same would hold for object code for a PC, once we see it is dFSCI by noticing that it is functional.)

    k –> So, we notice that DNA in the cell is also dFSCI. Design thinkers infer that — on the same uniformity principle used by Lyell, Darwin etc, and anticipated by Newton when he spoke of the same laws in our local solar system applying to distant stars — the dFSCI in the living cell (on inference to best, albeit provisional, empirically warranted explanation) has the same class of cause as dFSCI in posts in this thread or PC object code.

    l –> And all chaos breaks loose. Darwinists demand that undirected chance + necessity is the only permissible, and only credible explanation for DNA codes. or else “science” itself will break down. [Notice the NCSE-endorsed remarks in the OP]. On the other side, at least some creationists complain that the uniformity principle is the way that Lyell et al argued for long geological ages, and this violates the clear teaching of scripture. Some theistic Darwinists argue that it is unsound science and god of the gaps theology to infer that design is detectable like that. Others demand that you cannot infer to invisible,un-identified designers that may sound suspiciously like that nasty YHWH we worked so hard to discredit. And more.

    m –> And yet, the steps are actually simple, clear and well-warranted on empirical evidence and a recognition that like tends to cause like, so we can often find characteristic signs that signify causal patterns.

    n –> The astute onlooker will also observe something: at no point have we made reference to a theological tradition regarded as an accurate record of the actual state of the past, nor have we claimed a conclusion that is any more than an inference on best and provisional explanation to a causal pattern. Nor, have we identified any particular causal specific agent. Only, that the relevant agent needs to have the capacity to construct systems exhibiting intentionally directed contingency.

    o –> So, why are the cannon to the right, cannon to the left, and cannon dead ahead volleying and thundering away?

    p –> A: because the design inference approach unexpectedly cuts the Gordian knot. As Philip Johnson put it, in reply to Lewontin:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    GEM of TKI

  8. The astute onlooker will also observe something: at no point have we made reference to a theological tradition regarded as an accurate record

    aka ‘General Revelation‘: Man perceiving God (I know IDers will protest that I have jumped to the last page, but the list of potential designers is quite short) through creation. This is a very low bar. More specific details require Special Revelation.

  9. Bevets:

    I indeed agree that this is a “general revelation” issue.

    However, that term must be properly understood in context.

    For, the “revelation” in question works through our experience of ourselves as conscious, intentional, designing, minded, enconscienced, morally bound, knowing [though error-prone] and reasoning creatures on a rather privileged planet that is habitable for life and simultaneously [on the same parameters] invites exploration and analysis of the wider cosmos.

    Then, when we do that exploration, surprise: the cosmos is evidently set to a finely balanced complex operating point that facilitates the existence of such carbon chemistry, cell based life. A cosmos that very credibly had a beginning. So — note the logical inference — it is radically contingent and has a cause, where in that cause must be causal factors that act as necessary factors: if absent or removed, they would block the emergence and thriving of the sort of cosmos we inhabit.

    Whence can such contingency finds an adequate causal explanation?

    In a little causal logic exercise: again, in accord with reason, observation and inference to best explanation in light of factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    Let’s ask: If a contingent being has an external cause, can there be another class of being that does not have external, necessary causal factors, i.e. is a necessary and self-sufficient being? [In the old days the belief was the observed universe was that necessary being, but now that turns out to be contingent. So, the concept is not at all absurd.]

    The clear answer is yes.

    And, once we exist in a contingent world, such a necessary being is also a causal necessity, as the root of the observed cosmos. Unless there is something out there that is self-sufficient and self-explanatory, NOTHING contingent can exist, as the required necessary causal factors have to come from somewhere.

    Could it be a wider quasi-infinite multiverse that bubbles up sub-cosmi on a random distribution, and we just got lucky?

    Even if such exists — and that is not a matter of observation to date!!! — that would not be enough, as a system that emits effects has to have a sufficient cluster of causal factors to set up the distribution of effects.

    Sufficiency here meaning that where we see a causal result, a contingent entity that has a beginning, on pain of an utter chaos [which we do not observe] there has to be something in place that is a causal force adequate to account for it.

    That is, once we see how sensitive the local set of parameters are for our sub-cosmos to function, we know that the overall system has to be so set up to capture the range of parameters in which we sit, and explore the range in which our cosmos sits very finely indeed [like trying to catch the turning point of a curve in an experiment].

    In short, a cosmos bakery has to be set up right to spit out life-friendly sub cosmi, i.e. it is at least as much fine tuned as our own cosmos. So — logic again, the multiverse cosmos bakery would be an organised complex and fine tuned system.

    The best explanation — note the abductive argument — for such a fine tuned entity is: intelligent, purposefully directed configuration, or design. So — logic again, the best candidate to be the necessary being is an intelligent, highly powerful creator who intended to create a cosmos in which life could exist.

    And unless a necessary being is IMPOSSIBLE (entails a radically incoherent set of properties so cannot be actual), if such a being is possible in a contingent world, such a being is necessary and actual.

    In addition, we notice that functionally specific, complex organised life does exist, and in our case, we also find ourselves morally bound. The best explanation — note the logic, again, is that the creator we have identified is also a moral lawgiver, one whose character is good so that IS grounds OUGHT in the necessary being at the root of the observed world.

    So — note the logical chain, we have good reason to be theists (i.e to call such a necessary being God); on inference to best explanation on factors evident to us from the world around us and our mind and conscience within.

    Now, “surprise,” that is what Paul argues in Rom 1:

    Rom 1:19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

    20For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks) . . .

    These were of course quite risky, testable claims when made 2,000 years ago.

    Had the results of scientific inquiry over the past 350 years pointed away from the pattern discussed above, evolutionary materialists would trumpet the findings of science as proof positive that such claims are unwarranted. But of course, the actual course of science has been very different from what they so confidently hoped. And, that explains much of the vitriol poured on the design inference from life forms and the dismissive contempt that often greets the design inference from the finetuning of the cosmos.

    So, indeed, we may profitably speak of a general revelation from nature, but that is within the context of the intelligent, critically aware investigation and exploration of our cosmos. It is not an injection of unwarranted a priori assumptions or assertions on the nature of the cosmos or of scientific investigation, and it is on inference to best explanation, not a claimed proof beyond rational dispute.

    (Those who suggested or assumed that there were such proofs were wrong. It is always possible to take the most valid of arguments P => Q and accept the implication, but if one is sufficiently hostile to the conclusion Q, one may then insist: NOT-Q, so NOT-P. Where the real test then emerges is if one is then reduced to absurdity or selective hyperskepticism or patent question-begging. Arguably, this is exactly what has happened with evolutionary materialism.)

    But, the point that results is that credible facts of observation are speaking loudly and point to an intelligent root cause beyond our cosmos. That is as far as science qua science can go under present circumstances.

    Is this the injection of the supernatural into science?

    Just the opposite, it is a step by step inference on science to credible cause, on inference to best of competing explanations. It points to an intelligent and powerful cause of our observed cosmos, but it is not dependent on any scriptural tradition or unwarranted a priori assumptions to do so. if one can come up with a superior explanation and/or countervailing facts, the picture will change. But, as is well-known, the trend of discovery and he results of logical reasoning on the discovered facts is strongly along the lines outlined. In short, the charge of religious dogmatism and corruption of science does not stick, if examined on any fair basis.

    The accusation of injecting the supernatural and destroying science is, in fact, ironically, an expression of a question-begging assumption: evolutionary materialism.

    GEM of TKI

  10. PS: Even that error-proneness has a function. For, it reminds us that error exists. And, on looking at the attempt to deny that, we see something special: error exists is undeniably true as the attempt to deny it inescapably exemplifies it. So, at least one well warranted undeniable truth exists. Thence, truth and knowledge exist; though — since we are finite, fallible, morally fallen and too often ill-willed — we have to be careful and humble about claiming to have attained that exalted state of grace.

  11. F/N: Overnight, I have added some links and made a few clarifying adjustments (“mostly” parentheses).

  12. kf @ #9. Well done. What a great summary of a significant body of material. I hope there are (other) onlookers. :-)

  13. TGP:

    In truth, much of the effort this week is for reference and “for the record.”

    We have a baseline that demonstrates what is going on, sobering and sad though it is:

    1 –> Through the backdoor imposition of ideological materialism, science is being inappropriately redefined by groups like the US NAS and NSTA [which both have a duty to do better than this], in a way that corrupts its ability to fearlessly seek truth about our world on empirical evidence and its best explanation.

    2 –> Not only Wikipedia, but also groups like NAS are being caught, hands in the cookie jar, inappropriately redefining origins science theories as “facts.”

    3 –> NCSE is being caught out slandering and willfully misrepresenting design thought, in ways that are intended to be damaging.

    4 –> When confronted with evidence, the ever so present objectors to design theory have suddenly largely gone silent.

    Telling. Sadly telling.

    But, a base for the next phase, DV, presenting some of the actual core claims of design theory and the warrant for them. Starting with the explanatory filter and the basic inference to design, and how it interacts with the general scientific method.

    Then, we can put it in an origins science context.

    GEM of TKI

  14. kairosfocus@13 wrote:

    Through the backdoor imposition of ideological materialism, science is being inappropriately redefined by groups like the US NAS and NSTA [which both have a duty to do better than this], in a way that corrupts its ability to fearlessly seek truth about our world on empirical evidence and its best explanation.

    It is interesting to me that redefinitions, similar the kind you point out being promulgated by the Darwinists, are being advanced by the “geniuses in charge” of other issues in our society. For example, a couple of the issues that Prof. Dembski referred to in his post on Robert Ringer’s blog (emphasis added):

    Is Darwin’s theory true? All the geniuses of science tell us it is true. In fact, they tell us that only the ignorant and stupid masses reject Darwinism. But genius has lost a lot of credibility in our day. The geniuses on Wall Street and in D.C. have made a mess of the economy. And the geniuses who tried to sell us on man-made global warming have, through the Climategate controversy, demonstrated that scientists cannot be trusted to police themselves.

    Darwinism itself now faces a crisis of confidence.

    A crisis which its geniuses are responding to — as you point out — by changing the rules of the game to fit the theory.

    It’s fourth and one, and you don’t make it. So now it’s fifth and one, and you don’t make it. So now it’s sixth and one and you don’t make it. So now it’s seventh and one and you don’t make it… And finally the play-by-play announcer asks aloud, “How many chances do they get?”

    It would be nice to be on good enough terms with the officials, to be able to change the rules of football like that I suppose. If you’re on the team with ball, that is. But it ain’t much of a football game.

    But isn’t that what ClimateGate scandal was all about? A “backdoor” imposition of a theory — that just had to be true — accomplished by fudging the data against all rules of honest scientific discourse? And isn’t “redefinition” exactly the shell game that’s being attempted in the change of terminology from “global warming” to “climate change”?

    Jaw-droppingly, I’d say, when you begin to see the bigger pattern emerging, the “geniuses on Wall Street and D.C.” have been playing the same game. With the economy. Going back to the bursting of the subprime bubble three years ago. As outlined by Automatic Earth yesterday (emphasis added):

    First, the US government and the Federal Reserve have injected more trillions of dollars into the system than anyone can keep track of. Moreover, they have done so only in those sectors that remain beyond the grasp of the average American. Which means that we see relative highs in the markets, as well as record or near record amounts paid out in bonuses on Wall Street, and at the same time there are record numbers of foreclosures and record or near record unemployment numbers.

    While it’s true that stock markets have been rising lately, how anyone can see that as proof of a recovery is beyond me. The idea that if you just make the rich richer, the rest will follow, is not even something I want to discuss anymore.

    Second, any attempt to maintain what could be considered accounting standards, such as those that would apply to you and me, was given up long ago. The reason for this is that the trillions upon trillions of dollars that were taken away from you and your offspring, and handed to the main banks, would still not have been enough by any stretch of the imagination to keep up even the slightest appearance of solvency for these banks. It’s important to let that sink in…

    Methinks what I’m getting from the geniuses of our society — who all have a duty to do better than they are doing — is a whiff of their actual designs. And a hint that they all need policing, because they are turning into lawless thugs.

    BTW, anyone who wants a primer on how deep the “redefinitions” in the financial world have gone — to the point of criminality — IMCO it’s hard to beat Dr. William K. Black’s 2010 Steinhardt Lecture presented at the Lewis and Clark College of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, titled Why Elite Frauds Cause Recurrent, Intensifying Economic, Political and Moral Crises.

  15. JS01:

    Plato’s warning in The Laws, Bk X [cf p.2 of OP for onward links] is that if evolutionary materialism becomes dominant in a society, radical relativism, amorality and ruthless factions take over control of the direction of society.

    Such operate by the anti-principle that he outlines:

    . . . [the avant garde evolutionary materialists c 400 BC, hold that] the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.

    So, if rules and principles are simply a matter of “who gots the guns, mikes, maces [does the US Congress have a mace or equivalent that must be in place for acts to be valid?] and gavels makes the rules,” grab the instruments of power, manipulation and intimidation and change the rules to your heart’s content.

    The chaos and ruin that predictably result, are strong evidence that the underlying amoral and relativising philosophy is fundamentally absurd and unworkable.

    But, as Francis Schaeffer was fond of emphasising: ideas have consequences.

    And since origins science narratives are now a key part of a dominant ideology promulgated in the name of science, we need to examine origins science critically on its own grounds, and as it intersects society, policy and culture.

    If we want freedom AND truly progressive and just order, we need to build on a worldview that founds that. One, that has in it a solid foundation for truth and right and justice and liberty — as opposed to licence.

    GEM of TKI

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