Home » Religion, Science » Uncommon Descent Contest Question 8: Do the “new atheists” help or hurt the cause of Darwinism?

Uncommon Descent Contest Question 8: Do the “new atheists” help or hurt the cause of Darwinism?

The prize?:  A free copy of Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell (Harper One, 2009).

Judged: Go here for winner.

You may wish to note this discussion on the new atheists and the problem of evil.

Admin Note: Re contest 7: Endoplasmic Messenger needs to send me a real world address at [email protected], in order to collect his prize. It will NOT be added to a database for any further purpose.

My own view – and not meant to prejudice yours:

That is a fascinating subject, and one on which I have written. But let philosopher Michael Ruse have the floor now, complaining about the new atheists:

“Why I think the new atheists are a bloody disaster” In the past few years, we have seen the rise and growth of a group that the public sphere has labeled the “new atheists” – people who are aggressively pro-science, especially pro-Darwinism, and violently anti-religion of all kinds, especially Christianity but happy to include Islam and the rest. Actually the arguments are not that “new,” but no matter – the publicity has been huge. Distinctive of this group, although well known to anyone who studies religion and the way in which sects divide and proliferate, is the fact that (with the possible exception of the Catholic Church) nothing incurs their wrath than those who are pro-science but who refuse to agree that all and every kind of religious belief is wrong, pernicious, and socially and personally dangerous. Recently, it has been the newly appointed director of the NIH, Francis Collins, who has been incurring their hatred. Given the man’s scientific and managerial credentials – completing the HGP under budget and under time for a start – this is deplorable, if understandable since Collins is a devout Christian.

I am not a devout Christian, yet if anything, the things said against me are worse.

Oh? Indeed? Why, exactly, is what is said about Francis Collins “understandable?” Why are atheists given a worldwide passport and “get out of jail free” card for bad behaviour? Anyway, Jerry Coyne replied, removing all doubt about the atheist agenda.

I have never figured Ruse out. He was raised a Quaker and lost his faith in his early twenties. I know for a fact that he hangs around the ID guys. Not that there is anything the matter with that, except that he has said,

… I think intelligent-design theory and its companions are nasty, cramping, soul-destroying reversions to the more unfortunate aspects of 19th century America. Although I am not a Christian, I look upon these ideas as putrid scabs on the body of a great religion …

 But he was at the head table at a dinner given in honour of Phillip Johnson in 2004. I was there.

I suspect that Ruse never figured himself out either. He is not like Larry Krauss, a determined atheist, who dines on well-fed “Catholic” profs who never get their rotting ships in tackle, and maybe don’t even care, as long as the taxpayer or the devout believer fronts their bills anyway.

No, Ruse wants us to know that he somehow cares about the people he really, obviously, despises, while he explains, in hearty “English” terms, why these new atheists are a bloody disaster.

But are they really? If so, to whom? Not to the new totalitarians in government, of whom many of us have had a way bigger dose than we are prepared to stomach. And this new totalitarianism advances in the name of theories of government birthed explicitly in atheism.

Still, despite Ruse, I can think of three reasons the new atheists could indeed be a bloody disaster – but mainly for themselves:

1. People realize that the new atheists’ theories are not true. Consider the endless kvetching from tax-funded science orgs that we don’t believe the crap they feed us about Darwinism. That’s because we know something is wrong. So we are all wrong and they are all right? We’ve heard that enough times from tax-funded orgs before, when the evidence just didn’t add up, to raise suspicion.

2. Many Darwinists, like Richard Dawkins, invested heavily in Darwinism’s unfortunate offspring, “evolutionary psychology”, a predictable disaster, given what we know today about the plasticity of the human brain. Still, every yap, whine, or therapy scream in the popular press’s weekend “Relationships” section somehow “proves” [hush! hush! respectful silence here!] Evolution! That brings the whole discipline of evolutionary biology – if it is indeed a discipline – into disrepute. Significantly, evolutionary biologists rarely denounce this nonsense. Would medical doctors refuse to denounce a supposed treatment based on “space rays”? So why the continued silence?

3. Ruse seems to think that some form of Christianity would be compatible with Darwinism. This is false and known to be so by almost every serious Christian. No form of Darwinism is compatible with Christianity or any other type of theism, because Darwin developed his theory precisely to rule that out. His serious followers understand that. Telling people things that they know are false is hardly a good way to convince them. (Note: Of course, there are numerous confused, nice, well-meaning reverends and bible school profs who do not understand this, and just want everyone to be “nice.” I have dealt with enough of them myself.)

But is Ruse vs. Coyne just a pretend squabble, a good cop/bad cop routine? I think so myself. Just a way of distracting attention and getting nice, well-meaning reverends and bible school profs to agree with Ruse and not Coyne, and – above all – not to see the big picture. Like taking candy from a baby, actually.

Anyway, that’s my view, but I am not in the contest. I only mail the prizes . The floor is yours. Here’s the question again:

Uncommon Descent Contest Question 8: Do the “new atheists” help or hurt the cause of Darwinism?

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94 Responses to Uncommon Descent Contest Question 8: Do the “new atheists” help or hurt the cause of Darwinism?

  1. 1
    David v. Squatney

    Denyse,

    But is Ruse vs. Coyne just a pretend squabble, a good cop/bad cop routine? I think so myself. Just a way of distracting attention and getting nice, well-meaning reverends and bible school profs to agree with Ruse and not Coyne, and – above all – not to see the big picture. Like taking candy from a baby, actually.

    Are you suggesting that this dust-up between Ruse and Coyne (and PZ) is an act? Sort of a red herring dragged across the track of truth, etc? My feeling is that Coyne and PZ genuinely don’t like Michael Ruse.

  2. Fallacy of the complex question.

    The term Darwinism denotes either a body of scientific explanation or a philosophy, neither of which is associated with a cause. The National Center for Science Education has promotion of Darwinian theory as a cause.

    Is ID associated with a cause? Even Judge Jones distinguished ID theory from the ID movement. There are plenty of IDers here at UD who regard the Wedge Document as an embarrassment. The Discovery Institute has promotion of ID theory as a cause.

    You are neither scientist nor ID theorist. You are a journalist preoccupied with a cause. It is understandable that you should slip into posing the complex question that you did.

  3. Not a false dichotomy:

    You are neither scientist nor ID theorist.

    Some ID theorists are scientists, but most are natural philosophers calling for a change in what we regard as science.

  4. A simple question deserves a simple answer: The New Atheists help by clarifying matters.

    Though Michael Ruse’s desire to get along is commendable, Ruse nevertheless brands ID as nonscience, i.e., he would exclude ID from any serious public consideration—which is no different than Dawkins.

    Both are satisfied to let us all get along just as long as we accept the status quo.

    Science proclaims our public knowledge whereas Religion is a private matter. Darwin is the foundation of public knowledge and ID is harmless as long as it remains a private superstition. Thus Ruse is right to worry inasmuch as the New Atheists are loud and raucous and not afraid to rile religious from their complacency and naïvete.

    I see Michael Ruse and Francis Collins in the same light as my colleague George Lakoff, thus I think we should welcome the clarity that Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne bring to the debate.

    Which do we prefer? Those who would marginalize us and make us feel good about it or those who would marginalize us with no concern for our feelings? Maybe how you answer that depends on whether or not you accept the marginalization.

    The one side seems to believe the American public is a lost cause. The other side, I suspect, may feel otherwise what with their best-sellers and the huge turnouts at their book signings. I don’t know whether it’s too late, whether the nihilism of the Sixties is reversible, whether enough folks can be awakened. But why be a pessimist? Why not let the New Atheists rile us up?

  5. A simple question deserves a simple answer…

    Silly me. I assumed that folks here were familiar with the logical fallacies. From Wikipedia:

    It is committed when someone asks a question that presupposes something that has not been proven or accepted by all the people involved. This fallacy is often used rhetorically, so that the question limits direct replies to those that serve the questioner’s agenda.

    Reread comment 2, and you’ll see that I do not accept that Darwinism or ID theory has a cause. It suits Denyse’s agenda to tag Darwinism with a cause, however.

  6. The “it” in the Wikipedia quote is the fallacy of the complex question, aka the fallacy of many questions.

  7. I think the New Atheists do hurt the case for Darwinism a lot. They insult all people of faith. they say they are rational but they act in irrational way. Any one of faith will turn to creationism to defend it. The new atheist will ignore any and all evidence that does not fit into there world view and call the people discover it lairs even other scientist confirm it. The new atheist are not pro science but pro naturalism. Naturalism is a sicenctic theory that natural causes have no limits when it comes to human origins. Creationism say that there are limitations of what nature can do in terms of human origins. Science does not have to answer our origins. Also I think The new Atheist are afraid of I.D. and want to stop advancing before it can prove Darwinism wrong with out a doubt. The New Atheist know with out Darinism that they will look very very foolish and there numbers will drop like a stone.

  8. I think the New Atheists do hurt the case for Darwinism a lot. [emphasis added]

    Now we’ve gone from cause to case. The case for Darwinism as a scientific explanation of the diverse species of living things depends in no way on atheism. It is the “intellectual fulfillment” of some atheists that depends on Darwinism.

  9. Sal Gal

    Reread comment 2, and you’ll see that I do not accept that Darwinism or ID theory has a cause. It suits Denyse’s agenda to tag Darwinism with a cause, however.

    The “ism” it what makes it a cause. Ruse uses the same term himself in the quote. DarwinISM is distinquishable from Darwinian Evolutionary Theory. The former is a cause seeking to influence education policy, political policy, science policy and whole host of other public policy initiatives. The latter is simply the science of evolutionary biology along the lines of Darwin’s hypotheses.

    If Darwinism were not a cause, then it would be pointless for Coyne, Dawkins, Ruse and others to publish popular books promoting it. The challenge that Denyse issued has to do with the cause.

    But even if you reject that there is any cause involved, you could read the question to apply to the science just as well. Is the science of Darwinian evolution well served by the NA’s? See where that leads you.

  10. I feel like I can speak to this one because I once had much more sympathy for the “new” atheist position.

    In any case, the “new” atheists hurt the cause of Darwinism by reducing an important and very interesting set of issues into a matter of allegiance. They do not talk about science so mach as use their books and blogs to point a bullying finger at regular people like me and say: “What do you choose, your religion or our freedom?”

    Now, I do not know many people who operate under the illusion that their religion is perfect. Most of the folks I know approach belief with a high level of reason and searching – as they approach most serious matters.

    When the “new” atheists demand a choice, many will choose – that is, many will look at all of the facts and evidence – against Darwinism because Darwinism’s claims and explanatory power are often exaggerated.

    As far as I can tell, the only thing the “new” atheism does really well is proliferate online outlets for lonely and frustrated people to make canned arguments and invectives against something they see as the establishment.

    People who at first choose to side with the “new” atheists (like me) will at some point want to see the proofs. These people will say, “Yes, we have had a very good time denouncing the religious and demonizing ID, but where’s the stuff that actually backs up the Darwinian position?” When the stuff doesn’t come, when the stuff is actually just the anti-this and anti-that which has been hurled out there all the time, then I think only a few, bitter “new” atheist shamans will remain.

  11. Is the New Atheist attack on the likes of Ruse and Collins a conspiracy?

    It makes little difference because either way it works in favor of the Darwinists. Coyne of course is right when he says, “And it’s sad that a philosopher with any pretension to intellectual rigor must consort with the mushbrained BioLogos Foundation.” My guess is that the mushbrained will be turned off and gravitate to BioLogos.

    Perhaps Pareto’s Principle applies—maybe 20% are fighting this war and the rest are passive on-lookers. It’s an open question whether the response to the New Atheists will be calmed by compromisers or kindled by ID?

    Anyway in some instances Ruse clarifies matters. He says, “Perhaps indeed teaching Darwinism is implicitly teaching atheism. This is the claim of the new atheists.” Coyne responds,

    I don’t know of a single evolutionist who teaches atheism in their classrooms, or who even says in the classroom that Darwinism is tantamount to atheism. Show me, Dr. Ruse, one atheist who violates freedom of religion by saying, “God does not exist” in the public school (or even the university) classroom. Yes, teaching evolution may have the side result of eroding some peoples’ faith, but, as I’ve pointed out before, the erosion of faith can occur in the geology classroom, the astronomy classroom, the ethics classroom, and even in the theology classroom! (How many believers have lost their faith when learning about how the Bible was actually put together?) As the respect for rational discourse increases, as it should with a good education, the respect for religion will erode. But that doesn’t mean that a good education violates the First Amendment.

    Here Coyne clouds the issue more than Ruse but he also clarifies, because he admits that Darwinism really is a universal acid that has seeped into every nook and cranny of the educational process. It’s not just in biology class but everywhere, not just when the professor expresses his atheism—in fact the professor may even profess religion—but the sharp student knows on which side the bread is buttered. He senses what you can and cannot say. He learns that you cannot take any traditional religion seriously no matter what the discipline.

  12. I have to object to the question. “Darwinism” is not a cause; it is to date our best description of a natural process accounting for the diversity of life we see on this planet. As such, the new atheists have little to do with it.

  13. Militant atheists hurt the cause of Darwinism because they clarify the debate, laying bare the illogical and muddled posture of the modern theistic evolutionists and exposing their own religious sensibilities.

    As anyone who cares knows, Theistic Evolutionists, seek to make Darwinism plausible to the general public by repeating their mantra that “there is no conflict between religion and science.” Naturally, that rhetorical formulation is dishonestly conceived since it implies [A] Darwinism is synonymous with science and [B] Intelligent design is anti-evolution. Calculated to deceive, their mantra falsely frames the debate and misrepresents the positions of both sides without really saying anything.

    In effect, modern Theistic Evolutionists want their God and their Darwin too; but they want a quiet God and a loud Darwin. To believers they say, “Hey, I am a Christian.” leaving the convenient impression they believe in a purposeful, mindful creator. To the academy they say, “Don’t worry, I am first and foremost a Darwinist, so I really believe in a purposeless, mindless process that has no need of a creator. I you don’t believe me, just watch how I slander and smear the ID people.”

    From a strategic point of view, these soul selling, split-the-difference-have it both ways Christians harm the ID movement 100 times more than Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens could ever hope to. There is just enough sugar in their confection to make young Christians swallow the poison whole and join the ranks of the anti-ID militants.

    On the other hand, Dawkins, Hitchens and company unwittingly alert the public about the poison in the TE cocktail, making it more difficult for Theistic Darwinists to recruit reasonable Christians who have not yet been, but could be, made impervious to reason by the Darwinist ideology. It is, after all, largely through the dishonestly won goodwill achieved by the Christian Darwinists, and the alleged reasonableness of their position, that atheistic Darwinism continues to survive.

    Even apart from exposing TE muddle-headedness, atheist Darwinists also harm their cause by militating against the intellectual instincts of most educated individuals. Ten years ago, it was relatively easy to peddle the lie that Christianity is the enemy of science and culture. Today, it is getting much harder. As Rodney Stark, Thomas Woods, and other serious researchers have made clear, Christianity launched modern science and built Western Civilization. Believing that they were “thinking God’s thoughts after him,” and that “God left clues” about his creation, theistic scientists set out to find those clues and approached their research with that mind set. In a parallel fashion, political philosophers, drawing from Biblical principles, derived such ideas as “consent of the governed,” “due process,” and the “inherent dignity of the human person,” all of which led to the idea that freedom is a gift from God.

    The truth about all these matters is clear enough to anyone who bothers to look for it. By publically denying incontrovertible facts and getting killed in debate each time they try to do it, they give away their hand: ideology drives them and evidence means nothing. Thus, they destroy the Darwinist’s carefully crafted brand image as disinterested scientists who value facts more than anything else. Again, it is their clarity that hurts them. Until they learn to equivocate like the TEs, they will continue to harm Darwinism, which, for them, constitutes materialistic religion posing as science. Clarity is propoganda’s biggest enemy.

  14. The second sentence in the last paragraph should read, “By publically denying these incontrovertible facts in print and getting killed each time they try to do it in a debate, militant atheists give away their hand:”

  15. DonaldM @ 9:

    By extension of your flawed reasoning about the suffix of Darwinism, Mendelism also has a cause. Read at least the introduction to the article on Darwinism in Wikipedia.

    The propagandists at this site — not to say that everyone here is a propagandist — love to reduce Darwinism to the ideology of participants in a cultural war against traditional Judeo-Christian values of the Western World.

    There are plenty of folks around, including Mike Gene and myself, who are interested in the prospect that today’s natural philosophy could be tomorrow’s science. We are engaged in legitimate intellectual pursuits, not construction of pseudo-intellectual arguments in support of preconceptions.

    Although I first pointed out the obvious fallacy of the complex question, what is more important is the less obvious ad hominem argument:

    Ruse seems to think that some form of Christianity would be compatible with Darwinism. This is false and known to be so by almost every serious Christian. No form of Darwinism is compatible with Christianity or any other type of theism, because Darwin developed his theory precisely to rule that out.

    Yeah, if you’re Christian and accept that Darwinism, in its present form, is the best scientific explanation of the diversity of biological forms, then you are not “serious.” Here’s a complex question for O’Leary: Are you still celebrating the death of Pope John Paul II?

    Plenty of Christians understand that scientific explanations, as a practical matter, cannot include “and then a miracle happens,” even though they believe in miracles. Personally, I see arrogance and pride in the conviction of some Christians that they will “prove scientifically” that living things are intelligently designed — i.e., that they evidence the creation of information.

  16. Sal Gal,

    ——”The propagandists at this site — not to say that everyone here is a propagandist — love to reduce Darwinism to the ideology of participants in a cultural war against traditional Judeo-Christian values of the Western World.”

    Who would those “propagandists” be? You made the claim, now clarify yourself.

  17. I’ll pose a legitimate question: Do the New Atheists help or hurt the cause of fostering public understanding of science? The question itself is ironic, of course, because the most prominent of the lot, Richard Dawkins, was Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

    The New Atheists talk a lot about reason, but their rhetoric could hardly be more emotional and inflammatory. They play straight into the hands of people like Denyse O’Leary who want manipulate public opinion by making mainstream evolutionary theory guilty by association with the rabidly anti-religious.

    I believe that the New Atheists reduce the likelihood that people of faith will hear genuinely dispassionate arguments as to why science should restrict its explanations as it does, and why mainstream evolutionary theory constitutes a body of good scientific explanations. (Such arguments actually swayed me.) Furthermore, I believe that people of faith are more likely to mouth acceptance of ID without actually investigating it, simply because it comes from people who are religious like them.

  18. O’Leary,

    Would you please consider the following as a future ‘Uncommon Descent Contest Question’:

    Are talking donkeys part of a rational universe?

    Thank you in advance.

    *If I could add that I would be prepared to sponsor two tickets to ‘The Creation Museum’ as a prize.

  19. Sal Gal,

    Are you going to answer my question?

  20. MeganC,

    Until you answer my comment about a talking donkey on the other thread, I am gavelling all further discussion. If you want a serious discussion, then answer my comment, otherwise, I will delete all further references to it.

  21. If the “cause of Darwinism” is to be universally accepted, regardless of religious affiliation (or the absence of), then the “new atheists” hurt that cause as their “ideology” is laid bare once one realizes it boils down to nothing more than sheer dumb luck.

  22. But anyway I already have a copy of “Signature in the Cell”.

    ;)

  23. Clive,

    No one here is exclusively a propagandist. Certain white-box personae assume that function in particular articles — some do it markedly more often than others.

    I have openly criticized Dembski for failing to tease out his mathematics from his cultural warfare. Whether or not he listened to me, he (and Marks) did just what I suggested, and got a strictly mathematical article through peer review.

    I respect Dembski’s intelligence too much to believe for a moment that he sincerely regarded Professor Eric Pianka of UT – Austin as a threat to homeland security. To call the UD article agitprop is actually the least of possible criticisms.

    By the way, I have worked unsuccessfully to oppose dissemination of anti-ID propaganda through Wikipedia. If you want to reduce yourself to the same level as the thugs over there by “moderating” me into silence for pointing out that there is some propaganda at UD, that is your prerogative.

  24. Clive,

    Are you going to answer my question?

    I do not read new comments while I am writing one of my own.

  25. Sal Gal,

    You still haven’t answered me. Who at UD is a propagandist?

  26. Sal Gal,

    This is why the Darwinian evolutionary hypothesis is on its way out. It is chock-full of miracles, albeit couched as ‘best explanation’. The logical reductionist conclusion of any ‘darwinian’ inquiry is ‘spontaneity did it’.

    If any paradigm has a chance to ‘prove’ anything in biology, it will be Intelligent Design. Why? Because it recognized information as separate from matter. Hence, the math (the proofs) will work out in ID’s favor.

    Darwin may have been clever but hardly perceptive.

    Plenty of Christians understand that scientific explanations, as a practical matter, cannot include “and then a miracle happens,” even though they believe in miracles. Personally, I see arrogance and pride in the conviction of some Christians that they will “prove scientifically” that living things are intelligently designed — i.e., that they evidence the creation of information.

  27. Oops! That last paragraph is a quote from SG and shoulda been in quotations. :(

  28. 28
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    Denyse,

    I tried sending you another email. Hopefully it got through this time.

  29. 29
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    Sal Gal,

    You seem to be quick to spot a logical fallacy. Good for you.

    Have you spotted any in the case for Darwinism?

  30. The New Atheists will inevitable hurt the Darwinian evolutionary hypothesis. Their incessant vitriole will galvanize fence sitting scientists to make the move to ID research as well as encourage religious college students to take us science careers.

    The pendulum is slowly moving ID’s way and the more scientists feel they can risk the fallout from their mutiny, the more we will see new Dembskis, Meyers, Behe, Davisons, Remines, on the seen.

    “ID waxing, ND waning”.

    BWT StephenB, ‘Christian Darwinists’ may appear to hurt the cause of ID by seemingly exploiting Christian sensibilities, but in fact they will just end up acting as the hat rack, where folks can peel off their inhibitions.

    Then they will instinctively proceed to the ID living room, where the action is.

  31. —-Oramus: “Then they [TE's, after ID wins over the scientific community] will instinctively proceed to the ID living room, where the action is.

    Yes, the beautiful part of having it both ways is that no matter what happens, you can always say, “Basically, that’s been my position all along.”

  32. 32

    Interesting comments all around.

    Stephen, Sal, Rude, Oramus, DonM, LT…

    …then there is Megan, who came to UD arguing that the “truth” of reality (based upon rational observation) isn’t important if it doesn’t rise to (an unspecified level of) practical utility.

    Apparently, in a false dichotomy of one’s own making, it must be better to choose practicality over truth.

    Although she hasn’t actually posted anything of particular interest, her underlying position may be pertinent to the thread after all.

  33. Yeah, if you’re Christian and accept that Darwinism, in its present form, is the best scientific explanation of the diversity of biological forms, then you are not “serious.”

    How could you be? There is an absolute dichotomy between the Christian and Darwinian explanations of our presence. What part of:

    Darwin developed his theory precisely to rule [theism/Christianity] out

    did you miss? You may argue whether that observation is valid, but whether deliberate or not, Darwin’s explanation does directly oppose the Christian view.

    Please explain how one could be a “serious” advocate of two contradictory explanations for our existence.

  34. Upright Biped,

    MeganC’s sure she has an argument there somewhere.

    ……..wait a minute! Was that what I think it was? Wa-a-ass that a talking donkey that just passed by? What the…I ca-an’t believe it. :)

    Megan???????

  35. C Bass,

    Correction: Anyone that puts ‘credence’ in ‘darwinian evolutionary mechanisms’ will tell you that they are not explaining how life came into existence.

    That’s abiogenesis, a totally different animal! There is aaaaabsolutely no linkage whatsoever. It’s hard to keep it straight I know. But it IS very important to remember.

    Read my lips: NDE and Abio did NOT, I repeat, did not have relations :)

    Please explain how one could be a “serious” advocate of two contradictory explanations for our existence.

  36. The new atheists hurt their cause for the same reasons all other fundamentalists hurt their respective causes: they make no attempt to hide their disdain for opposing views and are therefore very obviously unpleasant.

    For good or ill, that’s all that matters in the battle for public opinion.

    Ruse’s view of them may have a personal slant to it as well. The NA’s get a lot of camera/newsprint time which may irk someone like Ruse who seems to be both a decent enough guy and somewhat better versed on the issues the NA’s harp about.

  37. Oramus:

    Dembski has finally said outright that intelligence creates information. If you regard information as physical, creation of information is just as miraculous as creation of matter and energy.

    That is why I say that ID includes “and then a miracle happens” in its explanations. I can see no practical way for empirical science to acknowledge miracles. The philosophers of science who push ID deflect this issue, preferring to speak instead of the heuristic value of assuming design in study of biological systems. I want to see a coherent physics of intelligent creation of information out of nothing before allowing IDers to invoke information creation in explanations of living things.

    The longstanding problem of IDers is that they repeatedly lunge straight at the jugular of Darwinism. They rarely take the time to lay the groundwork they need.

  38. Sal Gal,

    If ID accepts “miracles” then “Miracles” would be part of the “how” the design arose.

    ID is about the design itself.

    We don’t really care exactly how- all we need to know is that nature, operating freely couldn’t have done it.

    Then we set out to study the design in question.

    Also to refute Dembski all you have to do is demonstrate that nature, operating freely can give rise to information.

    BTW there is ID groundwork. And there is plenty of literature that explains it- including “Signature in the Cell”.

  39. Megan’s “talking donkey” meme showing up in a thread about Dawkinsharrismyers! How ironic is that?

    The correct answer, of course, is that they help the cause. After all, what could be more impressive than a three-headed talking donkey?

    Let’s face it: the disinterested super-rational scientist just doesn’t cut it anymore. The hearts of The People are no longer likely to be moved by pronouncements from alien-like beings who speak in a dull monotone, write incomprehensible stilted prose, and do not appear to have any human feeling; i.e., your father’s scientist.

    But talking jackasses! Who could help being moved by something like that? “Science” never looked like this before. This is something new, something completely unexpected. It turns out that scientists are capable of passion after all—for atheism! Who knew?

    Look around. Dawkinsharrismyers are in sync with a national trend. There was a time when we read articles by economists to help us fall asleep on Sunday afternoons. It was better than golf. Now Paul Krugman has proven that frenetic braying not only stirs people up but can even get you a column in the New York Times!

    And what about Keith Olberman? Remember the days when newsmen were soothing and wanted nothing more than to convince us how sincere they were while they were reporting the latest three-alarm fire? Those days are gone, my friend. Now newsmen ARE the three-alarm fire.

    Now I know what you’re thinking. How can acting like a jackass help the cause of atheism with the masses? It can’t; but maybe it’s time to let you in on a dirty little secret of the publishing industry. Dawkinsharrismyers only has to fool .5% of the population into buying their books in order to have a “New York Times blockbuster.”

    Throw in fawning approbation from the mainstream press, and talking donkeys can be a media phenomenon! You’ll see their faces plastered everywhere for months at a time. After all, how do you measure success?

    As for “new atheism” itself: non-starter. Killed by design.

  40. If Peter Townsend were here, he would say, “Meet the new atheists; same as the old atheists.”

  41. Oh, one more thing. The new atheists apparently believe that their view is true. But “true” is not a material property. It is a property of an idea. But an idea in relation to what? The universe? But ideas are not in the same relation to things as are things to each other. I can say that my pen is next to my computer. But I have no idea what a materialist means when he says that this idea (an immaterial entity) is a a true (an immaterial property) description of everything (the entire material universe). So, according to the materialist he has an idea (an immaterial entity) that claims that the only things that exist are material things. That means that the idea itself is false based on itself.

  42. —Sal Gal: “I want to see a coherent physics of intelligent creation of information out of nothing before allowing IDers to invoke information creation in explanations of living things.”

    Perhaps you would also like to see a coherent physics of burglary before allowing the analyst to conclude that a ransacked house did not occur as a result of a tornadao.

    —-”The longstanding problem of IDers is that they repeatedly lunge straight at the jugular of Darwinism. They rarely take the time to lay the groundwork they need.”

    The longstanding problem of Darwinists is that they cannot differentiate between a presupposition and an inference, a motive and a method, or a mechanical law and a creative act of intelligence.

  43. fbeckwith,

    Surely you know better, being something of a philosopher.

    “Materialists,” at least those of the empiricist (scientific) stripe, are not looking for “Truth.”

    They are testing hypotheses. If their tests support their hypotheses, they move on.

    If their test do not support their hypotheses, they move on.

    Moving on is key, whereas the anti-empiricist camp wants closure (are you not certain of you viewpoint?), and is content to stop at whatever resting point provides comfort and satisfaction.

  44. —-Adel Dibagno: “Materialists,” at least those of the empiricist (scientific) stripe, are not looking for “Truth.”

    On the one hand, they declare there is no such thing as truth; on the other hand, they insist that they have already found it with Darwin. Consistency is not one of their stronger points.

    —-”They are testing hypotheses. If their tests support their hypotheses, they move on.”

    They are, or should be, trying to get closer and closer to the truth, which is why they move on. If there was no truth to pursue, there would be no reason to “move on.” Without a destination [truth], there is no reason to undertake the journey [science and reason]. Under those circumstances, one stopping place is a good as any other.

    —-”Moving on is key, whereas the anti-empiricist camp wants closure (are you not certain of you viewpoint?), and is content to stop at whatever resting point provides comfort and satisfaction.”

    It is the Darwinists who chose to stop moving by declaring that the matter has been settled once and for all. It is ID that seeks to move on. As a Darwinist, you are part of the “let’s NOT move on” contingent.

    —”(are you not certain of you viewpoint?).”

    No one can logically be certain of a scientific viewpoint, which is why Dembski himself has stated explicitly that “he could be wrong.” Do you know of any prominent Darwinst who has publically [or privately] acknowledged the possibility of error? ID science has never claimed absolute certitude; it is, by definition an “inference to the best explanation.” Darwinists, on the other hand, cling to certainly like a security blanket, persecuting dissenters, misrepresenting opponents’ viewpoints, and militating against reason itself.

  45. Oramus

    No “correction” is necessary, for I neither claimed nor implied that the Darwinian paradigm explained “how life came into existence” — that is merely your reading into my statements more than what is actually there. I merely stated that the Darwinian model and Christianity had diametrically opposed explanations for the existence of Homo Sapiens specifically, not necessarily all life in general.

    I am fully aware that the Darwinian model doesn’t attempt to explain the origin of life, but Darwin’s first book was titled The Origin of Species, of which Homo Sapiens is one.

    Since I apparently need to spell things out in excruciating detail, the Darwinian model says that we (Homo Sapiens) are “just another animal”, the result of random copying errors in the genome culled by natural selection, a product of a blind, undirected process that definitely did not have us as a goal of any kind, whereas the Christian explanation states that we are set apart from the rest of the animals (and plants), that we have dominion over them, that we are created in God’s image, which rather strongly suggests that our form was deliberately specified and not left to a blind, indifferent process.

    I apologize if my use of the word “existence” tripped you up, but the word was in reference to us as a species, not to all life in general. After all, the word “existence” was preceeded by the word “our”, which would seem to limit the scope to Homo Sapiens, one would think.

  46. C Bass,

    No apologies necessary. I was just throwing salt down on that slippery sidewalk you apparently slid on anyway.

    Contrary to ND assertions, you cannot break down the development of life into separate, unconnected events. It is the same logical problems pro-choicers have when discussing abortion.

    Pro-choicers would have you believe that the embryo, zygote, and fetus are separate events in the gestation of a developing child and they can pinpoint the event and time that life starts. This is logically impossible as embryo, zygote and fetus are phases of a single event. We can only logically conclude that life starts at the first cell division.

    Likewise, the origin of the human species cannot be pinpointed to a specific location and time. Hence, the logical conclusion is that the human species, as with all other animals, cannot be said to have ‘originated’ at some point along a line of development(ND continues to miscomprehend phase development as ‘point of origin).

    Rathe, it can only be understood to have originated at the moment of abiogenesis. Therefore, one cannot ‘properly’ understand the origin of any species without understanding the origin of life.

    Now, if you good folks, seeing as you have had 150 years, and multi-millions of dollars in financial support to make headway here without success, would be good enough to sign over your grant monies to Dembski, Meyer, Behe, et al, I think we’ll see some daylight in our lifetime.

  47. Denyse,

    I’m just curious. Have you or do you know of anyone that has calculated how much grant money ID could be expected to receive, once they have been diverted from existing evolutionary biology and other labs?

    I figure we might as well start the planning phase since the foundation has solidified and cured for the proper time. We can start the scaffolding anytime.

    Let me see now, Chicago, London, and hmm, what’s the name of that town Paul Zachary tinkers in?

  48. Folks:

    Isn’t this a contest?

    Shouldn’t we focus on putting up mini essays that sum up the matter, from whatever view?

    GEM of TKI

    PS: my crude little suggestion for such a summary:

    ____________

    The New Atheists [NA's] are a decidedly mixed “blessing” for Darwinism:

    1] On the one hand, they have been able to galvanise a degree of popular enthusiasm in support of the Darwinism-inspired worldview of Evolutionary Materialism, that has probably not been seen since the days of Huxley. Days when Queen Victoria was still the reigning majesty and the sun never set on the British Empire.

    2] On the other hand, their sophomoric bombast, village atheist level rhetoric and just plain crudity and nastiness — spell that: “Blasphemy challenge” — have opened many eyes to just how poor the rationale for atheism, evolutionary materialism and indeed darwinian macro-evolution is. (In short, extrapolations from oscillating moth colouration, millimetric changes in finch beaks and bacterial resistance to antibiotics doesn’t cut it as a well-grounded explanation of the origin of the cosmos, of life in it, and of its information-rich, complex diversity of organisation and functionality.)

    However, the emergence of the NA movement and the rise of its chief exponents to public prominence and the New York Times bestseller list clearly shows that Darwinism is not only a dominant institutional scientific paradigm, but that — angry rebuttals to the contrary notwithstanding — it is and has always been a deeply controversial scientific theory.

    One that (ever since the publication of The Mystery of Life’s Origin by Thaxton et al 1984, Evolution, a Theory in Crisis by Denton in 1985, and Darwin on Trial by Johnson in 1991, then the rise of Behe and Dembski et al in the late 1990s) has seen an ever-rising renewed challenge by a new generation of sophisticated scientific, mathematical and philosophical design thinkers.

    The New Atheists, in the end, are thus a reactionary movement; one that angrily seeks to discredit challengers to an old, now slowly waning order, using ruthless, “take no prisoners,” agit-prop level rhetoric.

    And that is why their cause will increasingly falter and fail.

    For, in addition to their own obvious deficiencies — and the backlash that eventually comes to those who resort to slander, strawmen, demonisation, conspiracy theories [spell that: "theocratic tyranny"] and dismissals — Darwinism and the broader project of Evolutionary Materialism are plainly dying as a new era of sophisticated design thought dawns for science and our wider civlisation.
    ___________

  49. Oramus

    Like I said, Darwin’s book is called The Origin of SPECIES, not The Origin of LIFE. If you wanna keep making the same mistake and then spend several paragraphs of text in a lame attempt at justification, that’s your business, I reckon, but as I made clear in my previous post, I am well aware that the origin of life is a separate issue. You are merely trying to force the issue at this point by demanding a specific interpretation of meaning.

    Well, again, that’s your business.

    I was just throwing salt down on that slippery sidewalk you apparently slid on anyway.

    Gotta love the irony.

  50. Mr Bass:

    Mr Darwin’s only diagram in Origin was the tree of life.

    That tree, plainly, had a root; which on the theory is the material root-cause of the later diversity which is so celebrated in Origin and since.

    That root, however, is missing now and has been consistently missing since 1858 – 9, when the theory of evolution was first promulgated. (Apart from question-begging speculations and spectacularly strained extrapolations.)

    Thus, this crucial gap is the single weakest point of the theory, as spontaneous generation of life — after a long run in natural history — has been in discredit over these 150 and more years; ever since it became increasingly evident on much close observation, that cell-based life comes from previous life. (While Pasteur put the final nails in the coffin, in fact similar experiments had been carried out by Redi in C17.)

    The eagerness with which almost irrelevant results such as the Miller-Urey experiments — the assumed reducing atmosphere is not credibly realistic, and the formation of a few monomers does not explain the complex organisation of life based on information-rich macromolecular machines — has been latched on to and used as a misleading icon, shows just how telling the gap at the root is.

    So, while it is rhetorically convenient for advocates of Darwinism to be able to say that technically the theory of evolution proper does not address origin of life, that is irrelevant to the importance of the issue the gap points to.

    And, that gap — the problem of origin of functionally specific, organised, information-rich systems of life — extends directly from origin of first life to origin of major body plans across dozens of top-tier body plans.

    The only observationally warranted mechanism for the origin of the required algorithmically functional, code-based information is intelligent design.

    And, we have excellent reason to see that once we pass about 500 – 1,000 bits of information storing capacity, mechanisms based on chance and/or blind mechanical necessity (the alternatives to intelligence) will be swamped by the combinatorial explosion, on the gamut of our observed universe. For the atoms of the universe,viewed as a search engine, across the thermodynamically plausible lifespan of that observed cosmos, would only go through about 10^150 states. That is less than 1 in 10^150 of the configuration space specified by 1,000 bits.

    In short, the only known mechanism capable of and observed to create such levels of FSCI as we see in life — 600 – 1,000 kbits for first life, 10′s – 100′s of megabits for major body plans — is intelligence.

    So, intelligent design is the best explanation for origin of life and its body-plan level biodiversity.

    GEM of TKI

  51. KF: Questions for you – please try and answer them succinctly:

    For evolution to occur is it necessary that life has a non-teleological origin?

    Secondly a proposition; if there are on the order of 10^80 atoms in the universe and we divide them up into groups of 1,000 we get 10^77 groups of atoms, each assumed to be capable of being arranged in more ways than can be described by a 1 kbit string. If each group changes configuration at a snail-like 1 change per second then the universe can ‘search’ 10^77 configurations per second.

    Can a variable self replicator be constructed from 1000 atoms?

    How many types of self replicator is it possible to construct from 1000 atoms?

    Where are these located in configuration space relative to the likely starting state of the universe?

    Without answers to these questions how can you know if, even at fantastically small odds, self replicators couldn’t form due to the workings of the laws of physics.

  52. BillB:

    I will comment rather briefly as follows:

    1 –> Evolutionary materialism is what is usually meant by the “evolutionists” of the ilk of Lewontin and Dawkins, who dominate the relevant institutions, when they speak of evolution in the big sense. Matter cannot have purpose, so it is inherently a-teleological, just as it is inherently a-moral (which derives from purpose). And that has been known since Plato.

    2 –> The calculation of 10^80 atoms accessing new states — in whatever chain of configurations forming a trajectory in the phase space of the cosmos as a whole — per 10^-43 s, is a matter of quantifying the number of states that would be accessed by the cosmos across the working life of the cosmos [~ 10^25 s, ~ 10^17 y, millions of billions of years]. That is how many states can be searched by the cosmos, which renders irrelevant the question of how many possible alternative worlds we could have. [Already, something that stores 1,000 bits is capable of accessing more than the square of the number of states that will be accessed. (My software HP RPN calculator would smoke my PC on trying to work out the number of in principle possible configurations for 10^80 atoms!)]

    3 –> On the empirical evidence, the minimal genome for OBSERVED independent — non parasitic — life is 600 – 1,000 kbits. It is those who would propose viable life that would lead on to that which we see, who have a burden of proof to show the viability of a chain that starts much smaller than that. And, they need to empirically warrant it, without gross extrapolations from scant data points.

    4 –> So, one cannot simply hypothesise on no empirics that somehow, informationally simple self-replicating life forms can form without reference to empirical data; and use that to dismiss what the observed data are telling us. remember, such a “simple” self-replicating life needs to embed a von Neuman self-replicating entity: blueprint, interpreting system for it [including codes and algorithms . . . how do these arise spontaneously?], and machinery to give physical execution to such.

    5 –> I can assure you that in the experience of micro-controller designers, you will not cram that much down into 1,000 bits: not just the operating system and applications, but the code to make the “chips” etc as well, and the actuators and sensors etc. Indeed, 100′s of k bits is the sort of ballpark that has been arrived at for those who have tried to theoretically or empirically pare down life to simplest plausible or observed form. on knockout studies, 300 k or so base pairs is the level where auto-destruction begins to take over.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Let us not forget the purpose of this thread: a contest.

  53. KF: I’m talking about the scientific theory of evolution. Please answer the question:

    For evolution to occur is it necessary that life has a non-teleological origin?

  54. 2 –> The calculation of 10^80 atoms accessing new states …

    Umm, I’m not really sure you understood at all.

    You have a habit of making grand claims about self replicators and probabilities which look to me like gross extrapolation of scant data points.

    The correct answer to the scientific question of how life arose is “we are unsure, research is on-going” not “we are unsure, therefore design” The reason there is an OOL field of research is to try and answer these questions, not to decide that, because we don’t yet have a definitive answer, design should be inserted as the definitive answer.

  55. The “new atheism” which, despite its moniker, is nothing but the old atheism with its points made more forcefully, hurts Darwinism in a couple of different ways.

    First, the theme of the new atheists’ books. Roy Masters of the Foundation for Human Understanding writes, “Either you become what you hate or you fall victim to what you hate.” (http://www.fhu.com/articles/hate1.html)

    Hatred of all things religious is the trademark of the new atheism. Not content with merely acquiescing to the fact that others have faith, they seek to destroy all faiths. They provide no new evidence beyond the Crusades and the Inquisition (both of which have been explained by theologians for years) for their hatred of religious faith.

    Secondly, the new atheism hurts Darwinism by connecting the two together. Darwin himself seemed to vacillitate somewhere between atheism and agnosticism, but his loss of faith should not mean the loss of everyone’s faith. Both Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Gerald Schroeder have written books explaining how evolution and theology can be compatible.

    Fundamentalists should have learned by now that screaming “You’re going to burn in hell!” at other people does not draw them closer to God or Christ. Similarly, the new atheists should learn that screaming, “There is no God and you’re stupid if you believe in one!” does not draw anyone closer to their belief system, nor does it make anyone more strongly support Darwinism.

  56. BillB:

    On points:

    1 –> There is no one definition of “evolution” but, as already noted, the relevant dominant one is evolutionary materialistic. That is abundantly plain, to all but he willfully obtuse.

    2 –> I have made no probability calculations, but fraction of config space accessibility ones. And, the mathematics involved is not a matter of scant data points, your turnabout rhetoric attempt notwithstanding. (Onlookers, observe that BillB is unable to show my mathematics wrong, and has projected a strawmannised probability calculation on a challenge of accessing a significant fraction of a config space. I need make no probability calculations to show that our observed universe is incapable of accessing sufficient of the configs of just 1,0000 bits, to make a difference: a blind search of 1 in 10^150 or less of a space is simply not a credible search.)

    3 –> the issue on evolutionary materialistic models of origin of life is as has been recently described by Shapiro:

    ______________

    >> The analogy that comes to mind is that of a golfer, who having played a golf ball through an 18-hole course, then assumed that the ball could also play itself around the course in his absence. He had demonstrated the possibility of the event; it was only necessary to presume that some combination of natural forces (earthquakes, winds, tornadoes and floods, for example) could produce the same result, given enough time. No physical law need be broken for spontaneous RNA formation to happen [NB: the same holds for the requisites for RS's favoured metabolism first model] , but the chances against it are so immense, that the suggestion implies that the non-living world had an innate desire to generate RNA. The majority of origin-of-life scientists who still support the RNA-first theory either accept this concept (implicitly, if not explicitly) or feel that the immensely unfavorable odds were simply overcome by good luck. >>
    _________________

    3 –> And, last, it is not that “research” is continuing, but hat evolutionary materialism is imposed ont eh research a priori, through so-called methodological naturalism. So, the facts are not being allowed to speak for themselves. Lewontin aptly illustrates the problem:

    ________________

    >> We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. >>
    ___________________

    4 –> I beg to suggest that a better way would be to stop censoring science, and provide good reason why we should turn away from the obvious import of the only observed source of FSCI, the massive observed FSCI in life, and the search space challenge for chance + blind necessity to otherwise get to the required von Neumannn self-replicators.

    ++++++++++

    G’day.

    GEM of TKI

  57. KF: Please answer the question:

    For evolution to occur is it necessary that life has a non-teleological origin?

  58. BillB,

    That depends on how you define evolution. Are we talking about “unguided evolution”? If so then obviously the answer is yes. Are we talking about common ancestry? If so the answer is logically no- though one may hold a religious view that points in a different direction- but that is not related to ID but to religious commitment. And as far as evolution just being defined as “change over time” it is not necessary that life have a non-teleological origin for this kind of evolution to exist. SO ID can go with “universal common ancestry” and or “change over time”- but an evolutionary concept of and “unguided origin of life” necessarily requires a non-teleological history.

    So it depends on your definition of evolution.

  59. Allow me to explain what i mean by the above. ID wants a base of personally motivated and sincerely interested fallows and advocates. ID does not want a social “fad” situation. People like BIll and other are already making a good living selling books and etc- but what I think real ID advocated really want is for the theory of ID to get in the driver seat of science and make a real difference in how science is done and what is produced by it- at least to a similar level that Darwin’s theory did.

    SO I think the best think IDist’s can do is make sure the theory is very explicit and honestly represented- and conflated with creationism or pseudoscience. The media is as dangerous for ID as it is beneficial for it. So the best think ID advocates can do is find people who are sincerely interested in it and explain it to them-. Kind of in the way that Jesus ministered- go out and offer it those who are open minded and want to consider it. That will help keep the snakes- who would sell ID down the river and embarrass it for monetary gain- away from the theory and it’s progress. The media can be very caustic to the search for truth – and that needs to be kept in mind.

    I can tell you I am sincerely interested in how ID may be used to find treatments for complex diseases- and how it might be used to develop new technologies in general. Also as a Christian I sincerely think it helps to bring people back to the faith because it presents them with a logical scientific based path supporting belief- and to me- and i think most people- it is essential that one’s faith be reconcilable with their personal critical thinking.

    So my point is that ID is like a precious valuable- it needs to be handled with great care- and through that effort it will continue to appreciate.

  60. Please, please will someone show me where any darwinist, evolutionary biologist, methodological naturalist, or researcher into abiognesis has posulated that life on earth started with humungous great proteins or nucleic acid sequences.

    Until someone does show me that, I regard this whole improbability argument as a man of the most fragile and transparent straw. So far as I can work out, those dreadful atheist scientists seem to think that things kicked off small – and even small molecules can be active. None but IDers have suggested that life couldn’t begin unless large proteins were assembled ex nihilo

  61. I said,

    “Materialists,” at least those of the empiricist (scientific) stripe, are not looking for “Truth.”

    StephenB replied,

    On the one hand, they declare there is no such thing as truth; on the other hand, they insist that they have already found it with Darwin. Consistency is not one of their stronger points.

    Onlookers, note, StephenB is making unsupported assertions again.

    I say that “they,” (meaning empiricists) are consistent in considering ALL empirical propositions about the universe to be hypotheses.

    Darwinian evolution has been, is now, and will always be…[drumroll]… an hypothesis!

  62. StephenB said,

    As a Darwinist, you are part of the “let’s NOT move on” contingent.

    Me, a Darwinist? Hardly. There goes StephenB, onlookers, making unsupported assertions again.

    StephenB also asserted,

    Do you know of any prominent Darwinst who has publically [or privately] acknowledged the possibility of error?

    I say, any scientist who submits her work to peer review is painfully aware of the possibility of error. Having committed her manuscript to the mails, she can be confident of having her errors pointed out by her peers (and superiors).

  63. BillB:

    I am pretty sure that you are not ignorant of the main situaiton on the ground [observe your rhetorical strategy of next question, without any acknowledgement on issues already discussed], so I have no desitre to play along with a string of leading questions.

    Especially, since I have long since given you the relevant answer.

    For, since the institutionally dominant school of macroevolutionary thought is a priori materialist — even trying to redefine science in alignment with that worldview premise — the relevant issue is the paradigm that discusses evolution as a result of matter & energy in motion across time due to forces of chance and blind mechanical necessity only.

    That is the reason why for decades even in the teeth of very scant results, it has been ever so confidently maintained that abiognesis a la evolutionary materialistic scenarios “must have” happened.

    So, it is very relevant to speak truth to the dominant powers of that paradigm, that the evidence is simply not there: the Darwin-style tree of life has no root. Further, since the issue is that of complex functional information origination, it is also relevant to point out the only known source of such entities: intelligence, and the practically insuperable search space challenge that faces chance + necessity scenarios.

    Moreover, the same basic cluster of challenges extends tot he origination of major body plans.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: All of this is discussed in richer detail in my always linked through my name.

  64. DiBagno @ 61-

    A hypothesis, you say?

    Sir John Huxley writes, “The point to make about Darwin’s theory of evolution is that it is no longer a theory, but a fact. No serious scientist would deny the fact that evolution has occurred, just as he would not deny the fact that the earth goes around the sun.” (Tax, Sol, Ed. “Evolution After Darwin,” Issues in Evolution, Chicago University Press, 1960, Vol. 3, p. 41.)

    “Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun.” – Richard Dawkins

    The difference between a hypothesis and a theory lies in the proof (or lack of).

  65. …mechanisms based on chance and/or blind mechanical necessity (the alternatives to intelligence) will be swamped by the combinatorial explosion

    Followed by:

    I need make no probability calculations to show that our observed universe is incapable of accessing sufficient of the configs of just 1,0000 bits, to make a difference: a blind search of 1 in 10^150 or less of a space is simply not a credible search.

    Your argument is based on an idea that it is too improbable to happen yet you claim to not require the use of probability calculations to make this claim.

    I think that sums up your position nicely.

    Now, will you answer the question, rephrased for clarity:

    For evolution to occur, as defined by science, is it necessary that the first living organisms had a non-teleological origin?

    Please try and avoid any more ad hominem straw men or teleological a-priori assumptions in your reply and instead try and address the issue on its merits.

  66. Frost122585:
    Unguided evolution, as you put it, can occur even if the origonal common ancestor was designed. The origin makes no difference to whether the proceeding processes can occur.

  67. —-Adel Dibagno: “Me, a Darwinist? Hardly. There goes StephenB, onlookers, making unsupported assertions again.”

    My assumption is confirmed by your insubstantial response. If you were not a Darwinist, you would protest or describe your world view as a counter to my charge. Just to get you up to speed, a Darwinist is someone who posits an unguided, undirected, evolutionary process. It that isn’t you, speak now or forever hold your peace.

    —-Adel: “I say, any scientist who submits her work to peer review is painfully aware of the possibility of error. Having committed her manuscript to the mails, she can be confident of having her errors pointed out by her peers (and superiors).”

    The question is not, do you know any Darwinist who was asked to fine tune his Darwinism by another Darwinist. The question is, do you know of any Darwinist who publically and unmistakably admits that he/she could be wrong about Darwinism, period. Do you know of any Darwinists who admit that life could have been designed?

  68. —Adel Dibagno: “I say that “they,” (meaning empiricists) are consistent in considering ALL empirical propositions about the universe to be hypotheses.”

    Well, how conveniently you change your definitions after being called on your error. Originally, you alluded to materialist/empiricists, who, by definition, rule out design in principle. Now you use the word empiricist in isolation and drop the word materialist. When dealing with Darwinists, I pay attention to little things like that.

    Atheist materialists are, indeed, inconsistent. Virtually every Darwinist that visits this site insists that there is no such thing as absolute truth. All the luminaries say the same thing. On the other hand, Darwinists are so sure that they have the truth that the persecute non-Darwinists regularly, as documented in the movie, “Expelled.” That’s what I call irony.

    No unsupported claims from this end.

    —”Darwinian evolution has been, is now, and will always be…[drumroll]… an hypothesis!”

    You need louder and more reliable drums. Darwinian evolution is an ideology, unsupported by science. No one on this site has ever provided a shred of evidence that naturalistic, unplanned forces can create biodiversity. Would you like to break precedence and assume the burden of that task?

    While you are at it, support your claim that some Darwinists have admitted that they can be wrong. If you could find such an animal, it would be a marvel since it would violate the Darwinist “no concession policy.”

  69. BillB:

    Perhaps, it will help to highlight the difference between making a probability calculation per a probability model, and a simple, even intuitive demonstration of the patent inadequate degree of a search.

    When we have just 1,000 bits of information storage capacity, we specify 10^301 or so possible states. Per previous calculations, the observable universe acting as a search engine would sample less than 1 in 10^150 of such a number across its working life.

    This is so minuscule a fraction of the number of cells in a config space, that no search on that scope can be reasonably expected to detect islands of function in the space — the search is far too minute in scope.

    At least, if the search is not intelligently directed; i.e traces to forces of chance and/or blind mechanical necessity [without needing to specify such in any details].

    Indeed, to a first practical approximation, the searched fraction of the space is ZERO. That is, chance or blind mechanical necessity are not feasible mechanisms for carrying out such a search.

    And, I have already repeatedly given a more than adequate answer to your “repeat endlessly as though not answered” — seems this is the latest trick in the bag of Darwinist advocate rhetorical tricks, Clive — question on purpose and evolutionary mechanisms.

    Finally, are you pretending that the question has not been answered on its relevant context, as far as I can see that context — that Lewontinian materialism which demonstrably dominates institutionalised evolutionary thought? [So, if my answer is in your opinion inadequate, by now you need to show why; and why it is inadequate as relative to the line of thinking that dominates say the US National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers' Association. Otherwise, your behaviour in itself says a lot; about evident willful obtuseness and possibly the fallacy of the closed mind. Worse, in defense of thought-police censorship that has already led to the holding of children hostage to the impositions of today's magisterium.]

    It is plain that you know already what Darwinian mechanisms and the various supplements are. In the relevant context, they are evolutionary materialistic, which is necessarily a-telic. Thus, unintelligent, tracing to chance and/or blind mechanical necessity.

    Such mechanisms are simply wholly inadequate to scan the relevant config spaces. But, intelligent designers routinely produce such systems.

    So, on inference to best, empirically based explanation . . .

    GEM of TKI

  70. PS: Going the second mile. If we were to take a sample of the atoms in our observed cosmos, which has 10^80 or so by the usual accounts, a sample of scope 1 in 10^150 would be (by many orders of magnitude below 1 in 10^80) ZERO.

  71. the observable universe acting as a search engine would sample less than 1 in 10^150 of such a number across its working life.

    Do you honestly believe that the universe acts as a search engine? Your examples all rely on blanket assumptions about the nature of configuration spaces and the way that the laws of physics operate. A large basis for scientific OOL research is the hypothesis that natural processes produce environments (certain types of planet, comets etc.) that, through natural processes again, generate some of the complex chemistry that underlies life.

    How do your probability ‘intuitions’ change when some naturally occurring environments may have been bubbling around these shores of functionality for a few billion years? I suspect they don’t but we already know that your position on this is fixed regardless.

    I’m don’t have an a-priori commitment to natural explanations, like most scientists I do science in order to understand the mechanisms that underlie the workings of the world. I have no objection to you arguing that an entity that we are not allowed to hypothesise about intervenes in the world in ways that can not be reliably distinguished from natural forces or the actions of human beings, I just regard the study of such an entity and its actions to be beyond the scope of science.

    How can you tell if the laws of physics and the complex chemical processes that sit atop them, and which might be responsible for generating life, are not the direct actions of a deity operating throughout the universe, constantly, consistently, and predictably? Does the apple fall because of a physical force that we call gravity, because of the actions of a god, or are they one and the same?

    Moving on…

    Onlookers should note that KF’s response to my simple question was to produce clouds of obfuscation. I won’t ask the same question again as it will simply lead to more of the same mildly insulting retorts. Instead, consider a simulated environment which, in simple terms, contains a number of agents, each can produce morphologically varied copies of themselves, each can ‘die out’ if they fail to gather enough resources from their virtual environment, and their ability to gather resources and to generate offspring is a product of their behaviour and morphology in their environment. We have intelligently designed a scenario where these agents can evolve and this would be regarded from a scientific point of view as an example of evolution – not biological evolution but a simple instance of the same basic process.

    Now lets do the same thing but with physical matter rather than computer code. We create a planet suitable for life and seed it with single celled organisms. Will evolution occur?

    And if you are still having problems with the topic, let me put it in different terms:

    If we discover that all life descended from a common pool of single celled ancestors, which were placed on earth billions of years ago by an intelligent agent, does this mean that, between then and now, nothing has evolved?

  72. My assumption is confirmed by your insubstantial response. If you were not a Darwinist, you would protest or describe your world view as a counter to my charge. Just to get you up to speed, a Darwinist is someone who posits an unguided, undirected, evolutionary process. It that isn’t you, speak now or forever hold your peace.

    Arguing by definition, again, StephenB? Of course I fit your definition, as do most biologists, inasmuch as the alternative, a guided, directed historical process, has not yet proven amenable to empirical investigation. But, let me emphasize, we are open to the possibility.

    The question is not, do you know any Darwinist who was asked to fine tune his Darwinism by another Darwinist.

    The word I used was “scientist.” Are you now defining all scientists as “Darwinists”?

    The question is, do you know of any Darwinist who publically and unmistakably admits that he/she could be wrong about Darwinism, period. Do you know of any Darwinists who admit that life could have been designed?

    Assuming anyone in science fits your mold, how about Crick and Dawkins? Didn’t both of them publicly admit the possibility of extraterrestrial design of life?

    Well, how conveniently you change your definitions after being called on your error. Originally, you alluded to materialist/empiricists, who, by definition, rule out design in principle. Now you use the word empiricist in isolation and drop the word materialist. When dealing with Darwinists, I pay attention to little things like that.

    I don’t follow you. My original comment was, I believe:

    “Materialists,” at least those of the empiricist (scientific) stripe, are not looking for “Truth.”

    It seems to me that I was extracting empiricist scientists from materialists in general as the group that does not seek Truth with a capital T. (That was the distinction I was trying to make to fbeckwith) As I understand current usage, the set = materialists includes philosophical materialists, a subset that I was deliberately excluding. Am I correct in concluding from your comments that you, like fbeckwith, want to blur the distinction by characterizing empiricist scientists as ideologues? (For all I know, philosophical materialists do believe in Truth with a capital T, are therefore not empiricists, and are ideological.)

    Darwinian evolution is an ideology, unsupported by science.

    Bingo!

  73. No one on this site has ever provided a shred of evidence that naturalistic, unplanned forces can create biodiversity. Would you like to break precedence and assume the burden of that task?

    Although I think you have dismissed and maybe even scoffed at many presentations of evidence on behalf of unplanned forces creating biodiversity, let me give you an example of my own:

    Human beings. Whether you hold that the human population is entirely descended from Adam and Eve or not, the current biodiversity of the human genome appears to have resulted from unguided random mutation. But I am open to the possibility that a non-natural force has generated every mutation, including those that cause congenital diseases, mental illness and cancers.

    While you are at it, support your claim that some Darwinists have admitted that they can be wrong. If you could find such an animal, it would be a marvel since it would violate the Darwinist “no concession policy.”

    I don’t remember making that claim – could you provide the quote? But since it seems that whoever disagrees with you is a Darwinist ideologue, I have admitted freely above that I can be wrong. And if I remember correctly, I think that at least one other commenter here (Diffaxial?) has owned up to the possibility of error.

  74. “Human beings. Whether you hold that the human population is entirely descended from Adam and Eve or not, the current biodiversity of the human genome appears to have resulted from unguided random mutation.”

    I believe the average human differs from another human in about 1.4 million base pairs. If we assume that there are two possibilities at each base point that means there are about 2^1.400,000 varieties of humans possible. Supposedly humans differ by 10,000,000 base pairs from Chimps. Sounds like a lot of base point changes in 5 million years with a relatively low number of offspring each generation and error correction and natural selection winnowing out all the bad mutations.

    Now most of the differences in the current human genomes can probably be explained by micro evolution which few dispute but the differences between other mammals and other classes are not so easy to explain. In fact some of the changes defy any explanation. Lots of speculation.

    We will see this addressed a lot in the next 10 years as it only takes a couple weeks to map a genome these days and the expense has come way down.

  75. —Adel Dibagno: “Arguing by definition, again, StephenB? Of course I fit your definition, as do most biologists, inasmuch as the alternative, a guided, directed historical process, has not yet proven amenable to empirical investigation. But, let me emphasize, we are open to the possibility.”

    Yes, you do fit my definition, but you tried to deny it. After I characterized you as a Darwinst, you said, “hardly.” Now you say, “you betcha.” In any case, I wasn’t arguing by definition I was describing by definition. In your attempt to play gotcha, you made yet another logical error.

    —-“But, let me emphasize, we are open to the possibility.” [of design]

    No, Darwinists are not open to the possibility. Those who are open to other possibilities argue in good faith, and Darwinists typically do not argue in good faith. Indeed, I once explained to a Darwinist on this site the principle that that a whole is always greater than any one of its parts. That is why an automobile cannot be a part of a crankshaft. His response was, “sure it can.” Get the idea?

    —-“The word I used was “scientist.” Are you now defining all scientists as “Darwinists”?

    Here is yet another logical error. I used the word “Darwinist,” you changed my word to “scientist,” and then ask me if I am defining scientists as Darwinists.

    I asked if you knew of any Darwinist who publically and unmistakably admits that he/she could be wrong about Darwinism.

    —-“Assuming anyone in science fits your mold, how about Crick and Dawkins? Didn’t both of them publicly admit the possibility of extraterrestrial design of life?”

    For Dawkins, the appeal to the extraterrestrial element is to avoid the prospect of design. He describes biology as the study of those things that “appear” to be designed but aren’t. Crick, on the other hand, was not a full fledged Darwinist.

    —-“I don’t follow you. My original comment was, I believe: “Materialists,” at least those of the empiricist (scientific) stripe, are not looking for “Truth.”

    It would be interesting to ask them what exactly it is that they are looking for. That is the irony that I keep pointing to. Darwinists deny that truth exists and then promptly start investigating nature as if it did. That is one of their incredible contradictions. Indeed, Darwinists not only reject the destination, [truth], they also reject the vehicle [reason] by denying the self-evident truths that undergird the logical process. They do it daily on this site. The obvious question, then, is this: Since they reject the possibility of a destination and renounce the vehicle by which we arrive at it, why do they presume to undertake the journey?

    —-“It seems to me that I was extracting empiricist scientists from materialists in general as the group that does not seek Truth with a capital T. (That was the distinction I was trying to make to fbeckwith) As I understand current usage, the set = materialists includes philosophical materialists, a subset that I was deliberately excluding. Am I correct in concluding from your comments that you, like fbeckwith, want to blur the distinction by characterizing empiricist scientists as ideologues? (For all I know, philosophical materialists do believe in Truth with a capital T, are therefore not empiricists, and are ideological.)”

    Materialism [metaphysics] leaves no room for truth, nor does radical empiricism [epistemology]. On the other hand, a scientist who uses “empirical methods” need not deny truth at all. Radical empiricism, a philosophy, holds that only the sense faculty can bring knowledge and that the intelligence faculty plays no role. That is an error. In fact, we gain knowledge both through the senses and through the intellect [realism].

    Yet, when Darwinists use the word “empiricism,” [philosophical concept], they mistakenly think it means empirical methods[scientific concept], which do indeed bring knowledge because they do not rule out the role of the intellect in obtaining it. Materialism is metaphysical, but empiricism is epistemological. That means that a materialist will most likely be a radical empiricist, yet a scientist who uses empirical methods, that is, a scientist who observes data and draws conclusions, need not be either a materialist or a radical empiricist, both of which rule out design prior to the investigation. Summary: An empiricist is not one who merely believes in the use of scientific empirical methods, but rather one who insists, philosophically, that only sense experience can play a role in obtaining knowledge.

  76. —Adel: “Although I think you have dismissed and maybe even scoffed at many presentations of evidence on behalf of unplanned forces creating biodiversity, let me give you an example of my own:

    —”Human beings. Whether you hold that the human population is entirely descended from Adam and Eve or not, the current biodiversity of the human genome appears to have resulted from unguided random mutation.”

    That is not an argument. It is an assertion.

  77. I wrote: Darwinian evolution is an ideology, unsupported by science.

    —-Adel responds, “Bingo.”

    Bingo, indeed.

  78. kairosfocus (#51)

    Mr Darwin’s only diagram in Origin was the tree of life.

    Hardly relevant to my original point, which, quite simply, is that there is dichotomy between the xtian explanation and the darwinian explanation for our presence (the word “existence” got oramus in a tizzy, not sure what set you off. These rabbit trail tangents are as annoying as they are tedious.)

    Whether OOL is formally a part of NDE is not the issue I was addressing. If oramus and kf wanna duke it out, fine by me, but I am totally apathetic, as y’all aparently are to my original point, so I guess we’re even.

  79. StephenB,

    —-“Assuming anyone in science fits your mold, how about Crick and Dawkins? Didn’t both of them publicly admit the possibility of extraterrestrial design of life?”

    For Dawkins, the appeal to the extraterrestrial element is to avoid the prospect of design. He describes biology as the study of those things that “appear” to be designed but aren’t. Crick, on the other hand, was not a full fledged Darwinist.

    Regarding Dawkins, how does appeal to the extraterrestrial “avoid the prospect of design”? That would only be the case if you have a particular designer in mind who is not extraterrestrial. (Is that designer the Abrahamic God?)

    Regarding Crick, watch those goal posts zooming by as StephenB creates another argument by definition. Google “no true scotsman.”

    I wrote: Darwinian evolution is an ideology, unsupported by science.

    As someone said, “That is not an argument. It is an assertion.” Please identify what kind of evolution (if any) is supported by science.

    —Adel: “Although I think you have dismissed and maybe even scoffed at many presentations of evidence on behalf of unplanned forces creating biodiversity, let me give you an example of my own:

    —”Human beings. Whether you hold that the human population is entirely descended from Adam and Eve or not, the current biodiversity of the human genome appears to have resulted from unguided random mutation.”

    That is not an argument. It is an assertion.

    Are you claiming that a demonic force has purposefully introduced diversity into the human genome? Including all those bad mutations that I mentioned: the ones that cause congenital diseases, mental illnesses and cancer?

    I assume you have a position on the issue, since you posed the question. Kindly set an example of good argumentation by stating your position and supporting it. Which is it: unplanned, random mutation or demonic intervention?

  80. Darwinian evolution is an ideology, unsupported by science.

    Is this an ideological conflict? If it is, are there any ideologues on the anti-evolution side?

  81. Onlookers:

    I have had net access headaches overnight.

    I see from 72 that BillB is probably not serious about a real exchange of ideas and analyses. That is sad, but it has been unfortunately typical of darwinist critics who come to UD over the past several years.

    I will remark on a few pints for the record:

    1 –> I used the ‘search engine” imagery in the context of the trajectory of our cosmos through its phase space, associated with some 10^80 atoms. Across its thermodynamically credible lifespan — as already pointed out — this can only access 10^150 states, so it cannot credibly access sufficient of the number of states for an entity storing just 1,000 bits, to make chance and necessity alone credible explanations for specific functionality that uses that little information. Life systems of consequence start at 600 k bits.

    2 –> And while playing word games over imagery will not change that fact, it might just distract attention from it.

    3 –> Similarly, he insists on speaking of probability intuitions as though that responds properly to the fact that even for a config space of 1,000 bits only, the cosmos’ dynamic path through its space of configs will at best access 1 in 10^150 states. So, it will not be able to search the space of configs for even a modest protein, much less observed life systems.

    4 –> Similarly, BillB refuses to address the fact of censorship in science, by imposition of the materialist magisterium.

    5 –> His proposed simulation is of course in a designed environment, and reeks of design. he seems to join those who refuse to acknowledge the fact that design often leaves empirically characteristic traces, from which we may credibly infer per such evidence to its presence as an activity. Not to mention, that such is abundantly routine in many fields of scientifically based praxis.

    GEM of TKI

  82. I see from 72 that BillB is probably not serious about a real exchange of ideas and analyses.

    WOW. Now try reading my post and engaging in some honest and open minded debate rather than crude and empty rhetorical dismissals.

  83. StephenB,

    An empiricist is not one who merely believes in the use of scientific empirical methods, but rather one who insists, philosophically, that only sense experience can play a role in obtaining knowledge.

    Thank you for your helpful definition of the term empiricist. So, I reckon that there exist at least some persons who merely believe in the use of scientific empirical methods when doing science. Not Materialists, not Empiricists; what are they? Methodological materialists and methodological empiricists? Or might one simply say “scientists”?

  84. —-Adel Dibagno: “Regarding Dawkins, how does appeal to the extraterrestrial “avoid the prospect of design”? That would only be the case if you have a particular designer in mind who is not extraterrestrial. (Is that designer the Abrahamic God?)”

    When Dawkins appeals to the extraterrestrial, he is really trying to avoid the “designer” more so than the prospect of design per se. His position is consistent unless he is grilled by a logical interviewer who can easily expose his errors. To be sure, he posits that design is an illusion. You will recall that I even provided you with Dawkins’ definition of biology in that context. That should have been the end of the matter. When pressed by Ben Stein, however, and in an attempt to avoid the prospect of a personal God, Dawkins admitted believing that life on earth may have been “seeded” by extraterrestrials, whatever he means by seeded. Darwinists are notorious for not defining their terms. [Or, perhaps he was fearful that you would accuse him of “arguing by definition.”] In effect, Dawkins was trying to deny God as creator and was searching for any other explanation for the origin of life. If you are having problems with Dawkins’ logic take it up with him. It was you introduced the idea of the “extraterrestrial,” not me. The fact remains that Dawkins definitive position is the position of all Darwinists—-design is an illusion. That’s part of the definition that you keep confusing with an argument. In any case, the issue is not who I had in mind; the issue is who Dawkins had in mind and chose to rule out apriori, namely a personal God that may or may not be Abrahamic.

    —-“Regarding Crick, watch those goal posts zooming by as StephenB creates another argument by definition. Google “no true scotsman.”

    I did not “argue” by definition; I simply defined my terms and asserted that Crick does not fully fit the description. Hint: To argue by definition is to attempt to provide a reasoned argument that something must be the case. On the other hand, to define one’s terms is to simply let the other party know what he means by them.

    —–“Please identify what kind of evolution (if any) is supported by science.”

    Science supports the idea that random variation and natural selection causes “micro” changes [change within a species] over time. Science does not support the idea that these naturalistic forces can generate new body plans.

    —-“Are you claiming that a demonic force has purposefully introduced diversity into the human genome? Including all those bad mutations that I mentioned: the ones that cause congenital diseases, mental illnesses and cancer?”

    You are confusing philosophy/theology [arguments about good design bad design] with science [inferred design detected by observation without respect to its quality].

    —-“I assume you have a position on the issue, since you posed the question. Kindly set an example of good argumentation by stating your position and supporting it. Which is it: unplanned, random mutation or demonic intervention?

    Neither. Your world is too small and your options are too limited. [A] Science can easily detect the presence of intelligence by observing the presence of patterns in nature. [B] Philosophy holds that designs can be optimal without being perfect, meaning that what appears to be a bad design is, in reality, a means of coordinating multiple functions, some of which require a less-than-perfect design in one area to accommodate design in another area. [C] Theology [of the Christian variety] holds that the design was once perfect but, after mankind sinned by offending the creator, the design was compromised and the order in the universe was disturbed. Hence, the “bad” mutations.

  85. —-”Thank you for your helpful definition of the term empiricist. So, I reckon that there exist at least some persons who merely believe in the use of scientific empirical methods when doing science. Not Materialists, not Empiricists; what are they? Methodological materialists and methodological empiricists? Or might one simply say “scientists”?

    “Scientist” works for me. However, a scientist can be either a professional researcher, following where the evidence leads no matter what the result, or a non-professional ideologue, promoting an agenda and using evidence to get the results he wants.

  86. In any case, the issue is not who I had in mind; the issue is who Dawkins had in mind and chose to rule out apriori, namely a personal God that may or may not be Abrahamic.

    Why is it important to you that Dawkins chose to rule out a personal God? The original question you posed was:

    Do you know of any Darwinists who admit that life could have been designed?

    Do you deny that extraterrestrials qualify as possible designers? If you don’t, then Dawkins has admitted that “life could have been designed,” and your question has been answered, your suppositions about his motives and inner beliefs notwithstanding.

    —-“Are you claiming that a demonic force has purposefully introduced diversity into the human genome? Including all those bad mutations that I mentioned: the ones that cause congenital diseases, mental illnesses and cancer?”

    You are confusing philosophy/theology [arguments about good design bad design] with science [inferred design detected by observation without respect to its quality].

    Forget good/bad design. The money question was: Which is it: unplanned, random mutation or demonic intervention?

    Perhaps you have forgotten your original challenge @69:

    No one on this site has ever provided a shred of evidence that naturalistic, unplanned forces can create biodiversity. Would you like to break precedence and assume the burden of that task?

    I provided an example: human genetic/phenotypic diversity, based on unplanned mutation. You later claimed, in response to one of my questions:

    Science supports the idea that random variation and natural selection causes “micro” changes [change within a species] over time. Science does not support the idea that these naturalistic forces can generate new body plans.

    May I conclude from the above that you accept a naturalistic explanation for human genetic/phenotypic diversity? (That would be progress.)

    If so, I now ask: What empirical or other test did you use to distinguish scientific support for change within a species from scientific support for generation of new species or “body plans”?

  87. “Scientist” works for me. However, a scientist can be either a professional researcher, following where the evidence leads no matter what the result, or a non-professional ideologue, promoting an agenda and using evidence to get the results he wants.

    That’s a relief. We’re all off the hook except for an ideological few (who may or may not be nameless).

    Back to the labs with StephenB’s blessing!

    (Except I’m not clear how a nonprofessional ideologue qualifies as a scientist.)

  88. —Adel: “Perhaps you have forgotten your original challenge @69:” [No scientist have ever shown that naturalistic forces can produce macro evolution.]

    No, actually, my original challenge was of quite a different texture, so I think I will return to it.

    Challenging fbeckwith, you wrote,

    —”Surely you know better, being something of a philosopher.

    —“Materialists,” at least those of the empiricist (scientific) stripe, are not looking for “Truth.”

    —”They are testing hypotheses. If their tests support their hypotheses, they move on.

    —”If their test do not support their hypotheses, they move on.

    —”Moving on is key, whereas the anti-empiricist camp wants closure (are you not certain of you viewpoint?), and is content to stop at whatever resting point ”

    I responded:

    They are, or should be, trying to get closer and closer to the truth, which is why they move on. If there was no truth to pursue, there would be no reason to “move on.” Without a destination [truth], there is no reason to undertake the journey [science and reason]. Under those circumstances, one stopping place is a good as any other.

    It is the Darwinists who chose to stop moving by declaring that the matter has been settled once and for all.

    You addressed none of this, except to falsely claim that I was arguing by definition, which, of course, I was not, as I made clear. So, if you don’t mind, I think I will return to the my original points, none of which were ever addressed.

  89. StephenB,

    I don’t mind addressing your original points above. Indeed, I applaud your invitation to turn down the temperature and explore these issues calmly.

    At the time I first read those points, I passed them by, because I didn’t understand them. I should have asked for clarification.

    First, I am unclear about truth as a “destination.” I can grasp this as an abstract concept, but I can’t put flesh on it. Respecting the theory of evolution, it is to me a working paradigm (in the Kuhnian sense) that is now well-integrated among the other working paradigms in biology, for example, population genetics, ecology, molecular biology, paleontology, epidemiology.

    As long as the evolutionary paradigm is useful to biologists, they will continue to employ it to direct investigations and to interpret data. This is what I meant by “moving on.”

    When the existing paradigm is replaced by a more useful and fruitful paradigm, the new paradigm will attract practitioners and they will then “move on” to exploit it.

    So, truth as a “destination” is unimaginable to me. I view truth-seeking as an endlessly evolving process. That process is the joy of science: it keeps yielding delightful surprises.

    I hope that explains why your statement, “Darwinists …chose to stop moving by declaring that the matter has been settled once and for all,” didn’t resonate with me. If science is a process, how can there be any permanently settled matters?

    Now, on further reflection, I should have realized that “the matter” is, for you, the issue of special creation. If so, then I can see no basis for a scientist to decide that the issue of special creation has been permanently settled. However, he can determine that special creation is currently not a fruitful hypothesis. That is the state of affairs. The challenge for the ID community is to demonstrate the contrary.

  90. I will articulate the point in one sentence so there will be no misunderstanding. Science pursues truth because there is nothing else to pursue. Materialist/Darwinists {Radical Empiricists, if you like] don’t understand this, so they can’t articulate why they even bother to conduct the investigation. There is nothing incomprehensible about that.

    Incidentally, this thread was supposed to be about whether new atheists hurt or help Darwinism. Some of us have already weighed in on that. Why not have go at it. You may even win the prize.

  91. I believe the new atheists hurt the cause of Darwinism. Let us define Darwinism in two ways and in either case the new atheists hurt Darwinism.

    Darwinism has two common usages; first, a theory that says essentially evolution happened by descent with modification, through gradualistic processes and natural selection.

    The second is a philosophical/metaphysical one specifying as Darwin did that there is no need for non naturalistic input in any of evolution. This is not required by the theory but Darwin insisted on it and it is demanded just as strongly by his current day adherents.

    The key thing is, that the new atheist arguments never strengthen the grounds for accepting either one of these two concepts. Instead they use mainly negative arguments against religion with the hoped for implication that they will be the winner by default. This is a strategy that could work if they had a good product. But when they use such a negative approach they open themselves up for an examination of their own underlying rationale and the weakness of their own foundation will have the effect that their negative arguments will be lost. Their philosophical argument requires that both of these definitions be correct in terms of how the world works. And the more noise they make, the more this key part of the foundations for their beliefs will be exposed as baseless.

    Neither meaning of Darwinism has merit. There is no logical or scientific reason that all evolution must have happened by naturalistic means let alone gradualistic means. In fact it is patently illogical. Just one intelligent act in the history of the universe would obviate this assumption and make their position baseless and there is good reason to believe intelligent actions have occurred. Secondly, the theory itself has no support in the real world when the inquiry is focused on the complexity of life and its transitions through the last 3.5 billion years. For this latter reason, Darwinian macro evolution (origin of complex functional novelties), a key part of their philosophical foundation, should not even be considered a science and should be removed from the textbooks and curriculum .

    The new atheists are marketing their product very aggressively. Marketing of anything involves four processes. First, there is the product and both scientifically and philosophically, Darwinism is a bad product. So the new atheists have a bad product and bad product don’t succeed.

    Second, there is the price and the price required while not financial is steep. It is that one must abandon a belief system that supported the world for several thousand years for one that has no track record of producing good and many instances of producing extremely harmful results for its adherents. Because of the steep product price more and more people will examine the actual product and this means an intense scrutiny of this obviously bad product.

    Third, there is the communication of the product benefits. As the communication level rapidly increases there will be further emphasis on its negatives as well as its so called benefits. It will be harder to hide the negative side of their product. The aggressive communication has provoked competitive communication and the competition has the stronger message for the belief for its product. The competition’s message is based on science while it become clearer and clearer that the basis for the new atheism is based solely on philosophy, and one that has failed when implemented on a wide scale.

    The fourth aspect of marketing is the distribution of the product. As the new atheists extend the distribution of their ideas they also open up the distribution channels for their competition as well and the competition have the stronger product. They are extending their product into areas that heavily support the competition and as such the competition will push back with both a better product and more effective advertising because they have a product that works.

    There is an old maxim in marketing. Nothing kills a bad product faster than extensive advertising and good distribution. The faster people realize how bad a product is, the quicker it is rejected. The new atheist movement has accelerated the communication and distribution of their product but in the process open themselves up for intense scrutiny. Witness what has happened on this site. The baseless and irrelevant arguments of the anti ID people are making the acceptance of ID much easier. The more aggressive they are with their bad arguments the easier it gets to make the ID case.

  92. Folks, it appears that Oramus cannot figure out which side he’s on…

    From #36:

    Anyone that puts ‘credence’ in ‘darwinian evolutionary mechanisms’ will tell you that they are not explaining how life came into existence.

    That’s abiogenesis, a totally different animal! There is aaaaabsolutely no linkage whatsoever. It’s hard to keep it straight I know. But it IS very important to remember.

    Read my lips: NDE and Abio did NOT, I repeat, did not have relations

    Then, in #47:

    Contrary to ND assertions, you cannot break down the development of life into separate, unconnected events….the origin of the human species cannot be pinpointed to a specific location and time…it can only be understood to have originated at the moment of abiogenesis.

    It’s admittedly hard to argue against someone who himself argues both sides (and ends up contradiciting himself). I myself was arguing neither in favor of nor against neo-Darwinian evolution. I was merely pointing out that one cannot logically be both a “serious” Christian AND a “serious” proponent of NDE. But I guess some people would rather be antagonistic at any cost rather than discuss the issue(s) at hand.

  93. Jerry @ 92:

    Instead they use mainly negative arguments against religion with the hoped for implication that they will be the winner by default. This is a strategy that could work if they had a good product.

    There are countless posts on UD arguing (mistakenly) that all ID has to do is show that orthodox evolutionary theory fails, and ID “wins” by default. And countless more that attempt to deny that ID needs to become a “good product” on its own merit (ie., needs to generate unique testable predictions of its own, and then test them) before it can be taken seriously as a science.

    Sauce, goose, gander, etc.

  94. I will articulate the point in one sentence so there will be no misunderstanding. Science pursues truth because there is nothing else to pursue. Materialist/Darwinists {Radical Empiricists, if you like] don’t understand this, so they can’t articulate why they even bother to conduct the investigation. There is nothing incomprehensible about that.

    StephenB, I believe I am the best judge of what is comprehensible to me, and I think that we are talking at cross-purposes. You are venting considerable spleen against persons whom you deem reprehensible, which is your privilige, but you are not addressing an issue that I care much about (my current issue is defining science, see below), so I’ll let you off the hook of this thread.

    Incidentally, this thread was supposed to be about whether new atheists hurt or help Darwinism. Some of us have already weighed in on that. Why not have go at it. You may even win the prize.

    OK, I will say that this particular cultural-religious conflict is irrelevant to the conduct of biological research and the position of evolution among its paradigms. The new atheists can shout all they want and if they discredit themselves in the eyes of their opponents, it bothers the scientists not a whit. They will continue to practice their craft in blissful ignorance of the storms that rage outside of their ivy-encrusted, cloistered laboratories.

    (What’s the prize?)

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