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Thread: Intelligent Design as a Pseudoscience

  1. #1 Intelligent Design as a Pseudoscience 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    Opening Note: This thread is a discussion about 'intelligent design' that assumes it to be a pseudoscience. Its not my intent to argue whether it is or isn't. If you want to challenge that assumption, start a new thread. Edit: with the inclusion of my latest post, it would be unseemingly to imply that others cannot argue the preceding point, so I retract this. Should someone feel they have supporting evidence that 'intelligent' design is not pseudoscience, they should feel welcome to post.

    In this thread, I'm interested in the pseudoscientific characteristics of Intelligent Design and the presentation of it as such to the public at large. A Pseudoscience subforum in a science board very often becomes the dumping ground for the supernatural/mystical/paranormal/non-scientific notions that pop up in the other sub-forums. But I also very much see it as a venue to expose pseudoscientific ideas and methods and discuss them.

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    http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/new...e/13270173.htm

    An anthropology class at the University of Kansas will include discussion of intelligent design, which the instructor calls a "pseudoscience."

    "Archaeological Myths and Realities" will cover such topics as UFOs, crop circles, extrasensory perception and the ancient pyramids. John Hoopes, associate professor of anthropology, said the course, which will be taught in the fall, will help students learn to differentiate science and "pseudoscience."


    A lot of those within the scientific community have avoided discussing in public the issue of 'intelligent design' for much the same reasons they avoid the silliness of alien abductions and remote viewing: 1) they don't have the time and, 2) they don't wish to legitimize a pseudoscience.

    Another reason is that the proponents of creationism (intelligent design) are very often individuals with dynamic personalities who are skilled at working crowds, public speaking, and comfortable with the overall drama of being on the stage. I recall an interview Charlie Rose did in 2001 with a Republican Senator who was opposed to stem cell research and a scientist who easily had the knowledge to verbally slay the Senator through his video feed... had he possessed just a bit more charisma, charm or confidence in public speaking.

    The class the professor above is planning on teaching will likely include Kenneth Fedder's Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology, currently in its 3rd edition and a recommended read.

    Personally, I'm kind of happy to see the decision to introduce 'intelligent design' into the science classrooms of Kansas. I would love to do a little participant observation of some classes and see how this gets presented and received. In fact, I would love to be a science teacher told he had to present it. Of course, I'd have to insert "extraterrestrial" in the curriculum. After all, the very nature of the argument by IDers includes the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligent design.

    Still, its going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Senior silkworm's Avatar
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    Normally I would tell you exactly how this specific class would play out, but this appears to be a sort of a pud course, not something like Advanced Organic Synthesis or Endochrinology, so it's pretty open and getting more charged. My bet is that this minority, and I am talking about a minority here, will infiltrate this class and hassle the professor the entire time. I mean, this always happens. There were a couple in biological anthropology and a few biology courses I was in in different places, but I bet this class will have a higher density (although lower than if it were a presession which would really cause a showdown). Nothing good will come of it unless this instructor is an amazing person that can somehow find a way to make people who have already closed their minds open them again. I very much believe that many of these IDers can and will understand and accept evolution when properly explained it, as I have explained this properly to many here in Kansas (and a few in Oklahoma, and one in California but she really feels threatened by it so she refuses to accept it). But it's all in my approach, and I fear that Dr. Hoopes approach may have already hurt his chances considerably.

    I'm not saying this has to be a waste of time, I'm just saying that it probably will be, but if you want to send me some cash SkinWalker I'll be happy to go to school a little further north next fall and tell you how it goes.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    As most of us are aware, the above class was cancelled, the Professor assualted for his position, and ultimately resigned. The Dark Ages are truly upon us it would seem.

    But the pseudoscience of "Intelligent" Design still deserves discussion. Something I've been interested for sometime now is the so-called "Wedge Strategy" of the Discovery Institute, which seeks to drive a 'wedge' between scientists and the populace in order to legitimize their pseudoscience.

    Forgive the length of this post, but I invite comments on the following essay.

    The Wedge Strategy of Creationist Pseudoscience

    The author of the Wedge Strategy (Johnson [alleged] ca. 1998) claims the creation of humans in the image of the Christian God to be the "bedrock principle" of Western civilization. This may be bedrock principle of Christianity, but Western civilization was built on the traditions of democracy, rule of law, and parliamentary procedure. Indeed, the very institutions in our own nation that are representative of these guiding principles reflect an architectural style of pre-Christian Greece, where much of our democratic tradition was born.

    The author attributes most, "if not all," Western achievements in democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in arts and sciences to the Christian concept of God and religion, which is simply not the case. While a significant amount of art is influenced by the world's religions, the Christian God's impact on achievements of democracy, human rights, and free enterprise is minimal, especially with regard to the most significant advances in these areas. Indeed some of these achievements occurred in spite of Christian principles, most notably achievements in science! That's not to imply that religions –Christian or otherwise- haven't been positive influences in society or have not done their share of good. However, it would be incorrect to assert that Western society would be amiss without Christianity's input. Certainly the point is arguable, but the assertion that Western society is the result of the Christian God's influence on humanity is a bold claim, and, at best, it can only be demonstrated that it is the belief in this God that may have some minimal influence.

    Undoubtedly, this is the sort of dismissive tone that the Wedge author would cite as an example of a "wholesale attack" that is being carried out by intellectuals in the name of science, and it is this "wholesale attack" that the author presents as a major, if not the primary, concern for him. In the Wedge, careful word-play neatly sandwiches Karl Marx between Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud -three obvious nemeses of Christian fundamentalism: Marx accused religion of being the "opium of the people;" Darwin demonstrated that environment influences speciation; and Freud slapped Christianity in the face with the hypothesis that Moses was an Egyptian in the grain of the monotheistic Akhenaton and that religion is an infantile obsession with the Father figure (God). The Wedge author's use of these figures is to villainize them, and those like them, for portraying humans "not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines," subject to the physical laws of the universe and nature.

    The main fallacy of this is, of course, a non-sequitur. It does not follow that being an animal –we're certainly not plants- or being allegorically compared to machinery means that morality and spirituality are absent. It is, in fact, very obviously a part of humanity to be moral, since moral codes or laws exist in all cultures, regardless of whether or not they have a god or gods. So, too, is spirituality very obvious to anyone who has studied non-Christian cultures. The traditional Navajo, for instance, are deeply spiritual and hold that the land is sacred and live their lives accordingly.

    The Wedge author goes on to deride all that do not conform to his narrow worldview with labels such as "materialist." The use of this label suggests that the physical world is somehow secondary to the metaphysical –and it may be. But the problem is that the metaphysical, by its nature, is unverifiable, un-testable, and eludes any consistency –even among individual believers who describe it.

    The physical or the material, however, is measurable and observable. From it, we can draw conclusions and inferences and, occasionally, make predictions. Hope and belief are comforting, and one cannot disparage those for whom religion works. But these are not tenable methods of science. That the author of the Wedge is Phillip E. Johnson may or may not be true, but other works of Johnson are consistent with this document. The overall tone and accusatory nature that exists in the Wedge is present in his other works as well. Throughout several articles published in National Review, Commonweal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, Johnson uses terms such as "materialistic science," "scientific materialism," "philosophical materialism," "Darwinism," "neo-Darwinist," and "scientific atheism." The idea is clearly to paint the picture that there is an establishment of science, or at least a faction of science, that has some vested interest in abolishing religion and religious beliefs, most specifically, Protestant Christianity.

    In The Religious Implications of Teaching Evolution (Johnson 1999), he writes the following.

    "Real education requires that students be exposed to dissenting views about evolution in their strongest form, rather than merely to some caricature written by a scientific materialist."

    There is no more valid a dissenting view of evolution than there is of gravity. And this is where the proponents of creationist rhetoric like "intelligent" design have failed with regard to the goals and objectives established in the Wedge Strategy. The strategy's author includes three phases of action, the first being "scientific research, writing & publication;" the second, "publicity & opinion making;" and the third, "cultural confrontation & renewal."

    Among their goals for Phase-One, the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC) initially sought to establish research and scholarship that would stand on its own and provide evidence for the creationist point of view. The Wedge author stated, "Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade," and this is supported later by the CRSC (West 2004) with an opinion that the "materialistic world-view" has dominated Western society and needs to be defeated. The CRSC says, "[m]aterialism is a dehumanizing philosophy that has been used to justify genocide, infanticide and eugenics, among other evils. We want to see it discredited." Not only has the CRSC failed to produce any testable hypotheses in support of the creationist view point; not only have they ignored the preponderance of evidence that biology, geology, and anthropology have produced that not only verify past predictions regarding evolution but make new ones; but the creationists at CRSC continue with derisive labels like "materialism" as if this were a legitimate argument.

    Rather than admit that human nature could possibly be responsible for atrocities like genocide or infanticide, or even acknowledge that religions, especially Christianity, have been driving forces behind such nonsense, CRSC issues a clearly biased rhetoric. It is also clear that the CRSC really means "the United States of America" when it refers to Western civilization and not the largely secular Western Europe, as Scandinavians, Germans, and Brits routinely laugh at the ignorance present in the so-called Superpower. So it would not be out of place to point out that all cases of genocide and infanticide in the U.S. appear to have more Christian influence than that of the so-called "materialist" science. That is, unless the U.S. Cavalry had naturalists in place of chaplains as it systematically wiped out thousands of Native American men, women, and children at places like Wounded Knee. Or perhaps it was physicists and geologists who organized lynch mobs to adorn Georgia peach trees with the "strange fruit" of black men, women, and children by their necks.

    To conclude, the CRSC appears to have completely by-passed Phase-One of the Wedge Strategy, opting to pursue Phases-Two and –Three instead. The publications that have been produced consist only of apologetic books. Nothing substantial has been published by the so-called "intelligent" design proponents in peer reviewed journals such as Nature that provides any testable hypotheses or verifies any predictions of "intelligent" design. Indeed, the proponents of creationism clearly avoid peer-review and, instead, choose to appeal to the public directly with seminars, popular media, and books. Robert Park, author of Voodoo Science, reminds us in an article that ran in the Chronicle of Higher Education (2003) that pitching "the claim directly to the media" is the first warning sign of bogus science.





    References

    Johnson, P. E. (1999, 12/11/99). The Religious Implications of Teaching Evolution. Chronicle of Higher Education, 46(12), B9.

    Johnson, P. E. [alleged]. (ca. 1998). The Wedge Strategy: Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture. Discovery Institute (alleged), ca. 1998 (Features). Retrieved 151205, from Antievolution.org: http://www.antievolution.org/features/Wedge.html.

    Park, R. L. (2003, 31/1). The seven warning signs of bogus science. Chronical of Higher Education, 49(21), B20.

    West, J. (2004, 8/1). The "Wedge Document": "So What?" Retrieved 181205, from The Discovery Institute: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/vie...oad.php?id=349.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Freshman Yevaud's Avatar
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    Personally, I think the bottom line with the argument is that no matter how you contort it, at the core of ID is, "someone or something intelligent did this." Two choices then: God, or Aliens. Which is it?

    If God, then this is no longer a science discussion - it's religious in nature, and does not belong in a scientific venue.

    If Aliens as the Designers (Big "D"), then it's not only pure pseudoscience, it fails to explain...where did the Designers come from? And on and on through an infinite number of iterations.

    All nonsense. Specious rhetoric-chopping and false dichotomies.

    (Edit: I hate making typos when you're posting on the fly...)
    *Welcome, my friends, to the show that never ends*
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    Skinwalker,

    Have you ever heard that expression it's easier to do something than to make it look like you're doing something? I wish this culture would understand this and would actually earn the right to this opinion that they have. Unfortunately, the problems with this culture are much deeper than this and I've been researching them a little to see just how long this culture has been around, and ironicly, I think it may be the very same culture responsible for executing Jesus.

    I like your post skinwalker, however it is more complicated and slippery than that, and unfortunately I fear it won't make any one of them open their eyes. They're just not too interested in anything or progress for that matter, except an IDer in my IDers Resorting to Violence post said people like me have done for science what holocaust deniers have done for history. That sounds like a bit of a canned phrase, but it's hopeful this person had at least heard of World War 2.

    With that said, I think your post makes a very important point. There is ever more tweaked political strategy at work here, and big money
    involved from some very ignorant and very guilty feeling people. The strategy has no concern for public process or decency and is only interested in its own agenda, but they're getting smarter:

    "Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade."

    The perspective from which that quote is coming is frightening.

    What I am curious about, and it may be because I'm very sleepy, who was this book being marketed to? I mean, I know it's the ID crowd, but who in the ID crowd?
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  7. #6  
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    Well, the debate moves on once again, for once in the direction of light rather than dark. Judge bans Intelligent Design from science lessons.

    I have not had a look at the Judge's 139-page report, which sounds as if it is a comprehensive shattering of the "scientific" credentials of ID, with apparently also a thorough exposée of the religious origins of the ID paradigm, based on evidence that was presented during the trial itself.

    (Sidebar for us forummers - I'm only a database programmer, and I'm an atheist - but I do write extensively on forums on scientific and philosophical matters, and talk on theological problems arising from the Bible, etc. Does anyone else think that the Judge similarly jumped at the opportunity to expound verbosely on the philosphy of science and its incompatibility with religion, despite nominally being a legal and juridical expert? Maybe he does the forums, too!)

    The following is why I'm bringing this to this topic (still a bit involved, but bear with me). Being the arch-skeptic, I decided to stop leaping on the chance to accuse ID as specifically relgion-inspired until I had a chance to examine the direct evidence. Perhaps if this judge's report is made public on the Internet, I'll be able to do just that. But thinking about this (without having read the report) reminded me that one proof that ID is religious would be its having originated from people who are connected to the Institute for Creation Research.

    And it is that which is one of the hallmarks of pseudoscience. It's not to do with religion, or the bible, it could apply equally to a totally scientific subject, like for example an "Institute for Steady State Universe Research".

    Science has this reputation for having its own set of doctrines and nostrums, so that someone who attempts to discredit the current scientific paradigm is chastised as a heretic - and not infrequently, they are! But you'll never find a scientific department called "The Institute of Relativity Studies" or "The Institute of Darwinian Evolution". Because real Science recognises implicitly that it is in a quest for the truth - whereever that quest will lead. The Institute for Creation Research is looking for proof of its specific theory - which is not an infrequent technique for pseudoscience, but never in science.

    Right on the front page of the web site www.icr.org:
    We believe God has raised up ICR to spearhead Biblical Christianity's defense against the godless and compromising dogma of evolutionary humanism. Only by showing the scientific bankruptcy of evolution, while exalting Christ and the Bible, will Christians be successful in “the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4,5).
    Well, obviously they are certainly letting the mask slip a little! But if we ignore the somewhat excessive religious zeal, the very raison d'être of the ICR is actually antithetical to the real scientific method. But by calling themselves the "Institute for Creation Research", they are spuriously modelling themselves on a scientific research body. These are the hallmarks of pseudoscience.

    I forget his name (could it be Otto Berg?), but there is a highly regarded scientist working for Nasa who is also a Creationist. He has contributed a great deal of useful science, he has been highly regarded by Nasa and he has won several prizes. But somehow he manages to completely forget his real scientific training when he goes looking for evidence of a Global Flood which - he says - confirms the Bible. First he's only looking for evidence that confirms a theory, he isn't openmindedly looking for all evidence. He has found strata all over the world quite deep down which indicates (he says) a global flood - but does not apparently consider it worthwhile to mention that what he's looking at undoubtedly long, long predates Man's emergence on the Earth - which completely torpedoes his "This is the Bible flood" idea. When dealing with Creation theories, this eminent scientist becomes a pseudoscientist - and I doubt if he can even see the difference.
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    Silas
    I have not had a look at the Judge's 139-page report, which sounds as if it is a comprehensive shattering of the "scientific" credentials of ID, with apparently also a thorough exposée of the religious origins of the ID paradigm, based on evidence that was presented during the trial itself.
    There is a link where you can download the decision in my Hallelujah! thread
    http://www.thescienceforum.com/viewt...?p=17393#17393

    He has contributed a great deal of useful science, he has been highly regarded by Nasa and he has won several prizes. But somehow he manages to completely forget his real scientific training when he goes looking for evidence of a Global Flood which - he says - confirms the Bible.
    Don't pick on the specific guy, but pick on the trend. There is a trend in ID publications to rewrite what has happened to misrepresent the situation and make it sound better AND to ask engineers about natural science. You can't blame the man, he's not a natural scientist, blame the publication for either not realizing that or hoping no one knows the difference. I say that with much love for engineers.
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  9. #8  
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    However, if God did do all of this, He would have to be the greatest scientist of all.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    That's relatively incoherent, even for you daytonturner. Trying a new catchphrase on for size?

    In the words of Christina Aguilera, "I'm a genie in a bottle, you have to rub me the right way."
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    However, if God did do all of this, He would have to be the greatest scientist of all.
    A scientist is someone who discovers. Even an inventor creates something based on properties of matter that he or other people have discovered before him. Clearly God's act of Creation does not consist of such "discovery" since God created all the properties of matter. Consequently there is no circumstance under which you could state God to have been "the greatest scientist of all."

    daytonturner has demonstrated a small example of how the basically illogical Creationist viewpoint can lead you into contradictory viewpoints that any competent theologian would conclude verges on heresy.

    This is my attitude to the whole Creationist farrago. Maintaining that God's word is inerrantly contained within the contradictory and inconsistent pages of the Bible, and has God having to make all the creatures regardlesss of the physical laws of the Universe - which laws He Himself created - less than ten thousand years ago (not the view of all, I know, but of some at least) - is an incessantly reductionist view of God which would not find favour in any Christian church outside the Fundamentalist American ones. And that sect, based as it is on solo scriptura has no valid theology, which is why they are not taken seriously by the rest of Christendom. But those atheologic, atheistic, heretical and blasphemous views of God, Christianity and the Universe now have powerful friends in the richest and most powerful nation on Earth. Fortunately they will all die of a disease brought about by evolution but which they are doctrinally forbidden to do anything about. Cartoon.
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    I’m not sure you can exclude God from the realm of scientist on that basis.

    Scientists are more than discoverers. One could say that Einstein “discovered” the theory of relativity and was thus a scientist. However, Oppenheimer put it into a practical application in the development of the atomic bomb. He was, in that role, an inventor. But he was also a scientist.

    Scientists wear many hats. If God did discover how to make a universe and put that discovery into practical use and in so doing established all the rules of science, how would that disqualify Him from being a scientist? That is what at least a part of science does – if figures out how to do something and then goes and does it.

    Silas sez:

    Maintaining that God's word is inerrantly contained within the contradictory and inconsistent pages of the Bible, and has God having to make all the creatures regardlesss of the physical laws of the Universe - which laws He Himself created - less than ten thousand years ago (not the view of all, I know, but of some at least) - is an incessantly reductionist view of God . . .
    There is so much questionable material in just this part of your final paragraph, it could set me off for pages and pages of commentary.

    Your statement on inerrancy seems to be referring to the accuracy of the factual data which may be found within the pages of the book commonly referred to as the Bible. If so, your ignorance of inerrancy is blatantly glowing. To Bible scholars, the concept of inerrancy refers to how error free the content of the Bible has been brought down through the ages. (Unfortunately, there are many Christians who make this same "errant" mistake.)

    I shant go deeply into the subject other than to point out that if you compared a modern printing of a Shakespeare play to the earliest known manuscripts (some 400 years old), you would find more differences per quantum of words than you would find in comparing modern Hebrew versions of the old testament with the earliest known manuscripts which some estimate to be about 2,000 years old.

    When you talk about contradictory and inconsistent pages, I have to say I do not know quite what you are referring to. Are you, perhaps referring to something like the different accounts of who was at the empty tomb – one account has the gardener there, another has an angel there while a third account has two angels there? Well, is it important as to who was there when the story is about who was not there and in that important aspect of the story, they are all in agreement. If you have three people who claim to have seen a horse in the barn, but describe it differently, was there a horse in the barn?

    I realize you don’t want to open the door to further discussion, but I have often found that people who talk about contradictions and inconsistencies cannot, on the spot, point any out. They are merely repeating the words of someone else who didn’t know what they were talking about either.

    I do not happen, myself, to be a young earth advocate, so whatever you might object to in their thinking does not apply to me. Nor am I one who suggests that God created every possible variation of every living thing that ever inhabited the earth, I sort of believe that God created various basic animal groups and the mechanisms by which they could change and adapt.

    I have found it interesting in my tenure here that believers such as myself and Michael and a couple of others have little trouble expressing and separating that which we believe from that which we know. Meanwhile non believers seem to have difficulty in that area, operating under the mistaken belief (pun intended) that all of their thinking is based solely on knowledge.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    "daytonturner"

    I shant go deeply into the subject other than to point out that if you compared a modern printing of a Shakespeare play to the earliest known manuscripts (some 400 years old), you would find more differences per quantum of words than you would find in comparing modern Hebrew versions of the old testament with the earliest known manuscripts which some estimate to be about 2,000 years old.
    I didn't realize that Shakespeare's work was considered the word of God as well, or are you saying the the original texts were written in iambic pentameter?

    I realize you don’t want to open the door to further discussion, but I have often found that people who talk about contradictions and inconsistencies cannot, on the spot, point any out. They are merely repeating the words of someone else who didn’t know what they were talking about either.
    This is funny considering you apologized for inconsistences in the Bible because of some sort of whispering game incident and then go on to say this. You are a Bible of a man, daytonturner.

    And just like the Bible, your arguments are a waste of time. In the word's of Whitney Houston, "I'm every woman, it's all in me."
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    Guys, this thread is about the pseudoscience of intelligent design. Not the bible or Shakespeare.
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    And then, only so long as the post attempts to denegrate intelligent design as pseudoscience and display it as a religious plot to sneak God into the education system.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    It is. If you have evidence to the contrary, I'm sure we'd all like to see it.
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    In looking back through all the posts on this topic, I find no evidence of anything being presented.

    This discussion always boils down to a yes-it-is; no-it-isn't exchange.

    You want proof of intelligent design but are unable to present evidence of accidental random development.

    There is no hard evidence on this issue, only opinion based on interpretations of fragments of information.

    My question remains unanswered -- if God exists and really did all of this, would that be science or religion?
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    Again, the thread topic is 'the pseudoscience of intelligent design."

    Not the "fact of evolution" or "is [insert random god] a scientist."

    Feel free to argue whether or not intelligent design is a pseudoscience. All other posts will be considered spam and either deleted or split into new threads.
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    I was going to take issue with this reference to "intellegent design" as a pseudo-science, since it sounded more like a doctrine or philosophy and that the correct identification as pseudo-science should be attributed to something I have heard about called "Creation science", where Christians are making a serious attempt at immitating scientific research in order to provide the belief in Creationism with a "scientific" justification.

    But then I did a google search on the term "intellegent design". I was quite disapointed to find that this term is in fact being used for the theory put forward by Creation science as a rival to evolution. This is so disappointing to me because although I can support the idea of creation, I am very much opposed to the idea of intellegent design. Of course I am not too thrilled by the whole pseudo-scientific effort called "Creation science" either. It confuses rhetoric for science.

    As both a Christian and a scientist I cherish hopes for bridging the gap between the two points of view. My line of attack has been against the ideas of mechanistic determinism and accidental variation in evolution and against the idea of design in creationism. I think both of these extremes display a blindness to the realities of what it means to be a living organism. I am saying that the what divides the two viewpoints is the same failure to understand the nature of living things. Living things are not "designed", they grow. They are not determined, they make creative choices. Variation is not accidental, it is intentional. Evolution reflects the creative learning process of living things. Creation reflects the fact that living things are sensitive to their environment and can be cultivated.

    But the problem is that the two sides of the opposition approach the topic as if they were engaging in holy war against the forces of evil and ignorance. They do not want to understand the opposing point of view. They only want to prove that the other side's point of view is completely invalid, stupid, and utterly without merit. I think that both science and Christianity will be the casualties in this and all that will be left is rhetoric.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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  20. #19  
    Forum Freshman cs-comm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    But then I did a google search on the term "intellegent design". I was quite disapointed to find that this term is in fact being used for the theory put forward by Creation science as a rival to evolution. This is so disappointing to me because although I can support the idea of creation, I am very much opposed to the idea of intellegent design. Of course I am not too thrilled by the whole pseudo-scientific effort called "Creation science" either. It confuses rhetoric for science.
    Intelligent design is creation. I don't see how you can be opposed to one and yet support the other when they are nearly identical.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    My line of attack has been against the ideas of mechanistic determinism and accidental variation in evolution and against the idea of design in creationism.
    I still don't see how you can be opposed to the idea of design in creationism when its core tenant is that god created everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I think both of these extremes display a blindness to the realities of what it means to be a living organism. I am saying that the what divides the two viewpoints is the same failure to understand the nature of living things. Living things are not "designed", they grow. They are not determined, they make creative choices.
    The question of whether or not living organism have free will is irrelevant to the discussion of intelligent design and evolution.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Variation is not accidental, it is intentional. Evolution reflects the creative learning process of living things. Creation reflects the fact that living things are sensitive to their environment and can be cultivated.
    Can you expand on that idea? I'm interested to know what you mean by "creative learning process of living things". I was under the impression that creationism reflected the "fact" that living things were created by god in their modern form.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    But the problem is that the two sides of the opposition approach the topic as if they were engaging in holy war against the forces of evil and ignorance.
    While I don't think that Christians, creationists or proponents of intelligent design are evil I do know that many fundamentalists believe that evolution is evil. In fact many argue that evolution can't be true because it is an "evil" theory.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    They do not want to understand the opposing point of view. They only want to prove that the other side's point of view is completely invalid, stupid, and utterly without merit.
    Personally I think it is impossible to argue against an opposing idea without understanding it. Without "knowing you enemy" so to speak, you can't hope to prove the their theories are "completely invalid, stupid and utterly without merit".

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I think that both science and Christianity will be the casualties in this and all that will be left is rhetoric.
    The usefulness of science doesn't rise or fall on the truthfulness of evolution. If the theory of evolution was shown to be untrue then science would certainly change but it wouldn't suffer. As for Christianity, its numbers have been growing during this whole affair. Hardly suffering that seems to be an improvment.

    In order to establish if intelligent design is pseudo-science or not it is important to establish what one means when one says "intelligent design".

    From en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design
    "Intelligent Design (or ID) is a highly controversial claim holding that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent designer, rather than an undirected process such as natural selection."

    This definition is rather simplistic so I will expand on it:
    "Intelligent Design (or ID) is a highly controversial claim holding that, in light of new evidence in the fields of molecular biology, biochemistry, astrophysics and geology, certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent designer, rather than an undirected process such as natural selection or."

    Now let's take a close look at that definition and its implications.

    Most ID theorists claim that their theory is distiguishable from creationism (more specificlly Biblical creationism) because instead of god it claims an "intelligent designer" is responsible for our creation and for the creation of all life in the Universe.

    Of course anyones next question should be "what is the difference between an intelligent designer and god?"

    If we assume that they intelligent designer isn't god and is therefore apart of our Universe and subject to it laws, we havn't solved the problem of the origin of life or the Universe. Does that creature have an intelligent designer that created it? reapeat ad infinitum.

    The answer to the above question must be that the intelligent designer is indeed god. In my mind this automatically places ID theory in the realm of pseudo-science however I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and prceed to examine the rest of the theory.

    If ID is indeed science then it rises or falls on the evidence in support of itself. Since ID says that evolution isn't the best explanation Id theorists must provide examples where evolution is impossible. Irreducible complexity was introducded by Michael Behe in his book Darwin's Black Box.
    The website Talk Origins has an excellent page about irreducible complexity at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe.html .

    What Behe is really saying is that because he can't come up with an explanation for the evolution of certain things it must be intelligently designed despite the fact that other scientists may have theories regarding the evolution of those same things. He also ignores many aspects of the theory of evolution (see the above link).

    ID theorists also point to the supposed improbability of evolution which also ignores many aspects of evolution. For instance these calculations assume that a single trial happens one after the other when a more realitic calculation would have to account for many trials accuring simultaneously. Talk Origins also has a excellent page about probability:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html

    Without any supporting evidence that can't be explained by evolution, I'm can only conclude that ID is indeed pseudo-science.
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    Intelligent design is creation. I don't see how you can be opposed to one and yet support the other when they are nearly identical.
    Nonsense. Creation merely requires that a creator set things in motion according to a set of defined laws. Intelligent design requires the continous intervention of the creator to guide the path of evolution.
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    Forum Freshman cs-comm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    Intelligent design is creation. I don't see how you can be opposed to one and yet support the other when they are nearly identical.
    Nonsense. Creation merely requires that a creator set things in motion according to a set of defined laws. Intelligent design requires the continous intervention of the creator to guide the path of evolution.
    I wasn't implying that creation theory and intelligent design theory are the same I was saying that intelligent design involves creation ie the act of creation.
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  23. #22  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    Intelligent design is creation. I don't see how you can be opposed to one and yet support the other when they are nearly identical.
    Nonsense. Creation merely requires that a creator set things in motion according to a set of defined laws. Intelligent design requires the continous intervention of the creator to guide the path of evolution.
    No the issue is not continuous intervention!!!!! The issue is DESIGN. It is the difference between how a watchmaker makes a watch and how a gardener makes a flower. The watchmaker makes a dead thing by a process of design and execution. A gardener makes his flower by interactive relationship with a living thing which we call cultivation. He cares for it, provides for its needs, and encourages it to produce what he wants. There is no design. The same goes for all creators of livings including teachers and parents. When creating a living thing the created is a participant in the process of creation. If isn't a participant in its own creation then it isn't alive.
    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    My line of attack has been against the ideas of mechanistic determinism and accidental variation in evolution and against the idea of design in creationism.
    I still don't see how you can be opposed to the idea of design in creationism when its core tenant is that god created everything.
    Well I hope it is more clear now. In creating life God is only a participant in an interactive process and we are what we are as a result of choices made both by God and ourselves.
    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I think both of these extremes display a blindness to the realities of what it means to be a living organism. I am saying that the what divides the two viewpoints is the same failure to understand the nature of living things. Living things are not "designed", they grow. They are not determined, they make creative choices.
    The question of whether or not living organism have free will is irrelevant to the discussion of intelligent design and evolution.
    Correct! Free will cannot decide between these two points of view because there is no free will in either one. But free will is absolutely relevant because both points of view are wrong!

    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Variation is not accidental, it is intentional. Evolution reflects the creative learning process of living things. Creation reflects the fact that living things are sensitive to their environment and can be cultivated.
    Can you expand on that idea? I'm interested to know what you mean by "creative learning process of living things". I was under the impression that creationism reflected the "fact" that living things were created by god in their modern form.
    First of all, the only "creationism" that I support and believe in is simply that God played an active role in the orgin of the universe and everything in it, and not as a scientific theory or even primarily as an explanation for things. God is the ultimate black box in which to hide a multitude of mysteries and unanswered questions.

    The essence of the learning process is trial and error. Try many things and find the variations which produce good results. It is a two part process: creativity and evaluation. Evolution in essence is the same process. The question is whether you think of it as something dead (automatic, accidental, unintentional), something which happens to living things, or as an activity in which living things participate by choice, purposely and intentionally.

    Also, living things are not isolated components. They interact in living collectives which are also alive. The organelles are alive. The cells are alive. The multicelluar organisms are alive. The communities are alive. The species are alive. The ecosystems are alive. Evolution simply describes the process whereby the species is creative in genetic variation, making choices in response to evironmental change and learning new and different ways to live.
    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    But the problem is that the two sides of the opposition approach the topic as if they were engaging in holy war against the forces of evil and ignorance.
    While I don't think that Christians, creationists or proponents of intelligent design are evil I do know that many fundamentalists believe that evolution is evil. In fact many argue that evolution can't be true because it is an "evil" theory.
    Of course, "evil" is the Christian word. The other side uses the word "ignorance".
    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    They do not want to understand the opposing point of view. They only want to prove that the other side's point of view is completely invalid, stupid, and utterly without merit.
    Personally I think it is impossible to argue against an opposing idea without understanding it. Without "knowing you enemy" so to speak, you can't hope to prove the their theories are "completely invalid, stupid and utterly without merit".
    Yes, I agree. On the other hand, you cannot prove their theories are "completely invalid, stupid and utterly without merit" unless you refuse to understand them. I am sure you can see quite clearly that this is exactly what the anti-evolution Christians do. They refuse to understand evolution in order to disprove it, etc...

    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I think that both science and Christianity will be the casualties in this and all that will be left is rhetoric.
    The usefulness of science doesn't rise or fall on the truthfulness of evolution. If the theory of evolution was shown to be untrue then science would certainly change but it wouldn't suffer. As for Christianity, its numbers have been growing during this whole affair. Hardly suffering that seems to be an improvment.
    Of course. You misunderstand me. The activities themselves are not directly in jeapardy. It is the is in minds of people where they are casualties. It is the true meaning and understanding of science and Christianity which are lost when they are replaced by rhetoric. And yet the activities themselves are not immune. For when people do not understand or respect an activity, then why would they participate with time and money.

    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    The answer to the above question must be that the intelligent designer is indeed god. In my mind this automatically places ID theory in the realm of pseudo-science however I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and prceed to examine the rest of the theory.
    ...
    If ID is indeed science then it rises or falls on the evidence in support of itself.
    Of course any thing else is prevarication. My issue isn't the identification with God. My disagreement is with seeing God's role as that of a designer. What makes this pseudo-science isn't the identification with God, it is more an issue of proceedure and motivation. Science tries to formulate a test by which you can decide whether a theory is correct or incorrect. Simply hunting for evidence to support your theory is what lawyers and salesmen do, not scientists, and it is called rhetoric. The difference is a particular type of honesty which is rather peculiar to science.

    However this methodology of science is more suitable to some topics than others. It has proven most suitably applied to a thesis which can be given a mathematical formulation relating measurable quantities. Otherwise it is difficult to formulate an objective test by which the truth of the thesis can be determined. The ID thesis does not fit this criterion very well at all. Therefore whether it is true or not, it is most definitely not a good scientific theory. Evolution as a process can be documented, making it a good (but not great) scientific theory. However as a historical claim about the origin of the species, evolution like any other historical claim is a far more difficult thesis to test.

    Quote Originally Posted by cs-comm
    From en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design
    "Intelligent Design (or ID) is a highly controversial claim holding that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent designer, rather than an undirected process such as natural selection."
    The whole question of creation or evolution doesn't belong to the topic of science at all but to philosophy and religion. And when I claim that both evolution as an undirected process and intellegent design fail to comprehend the nature of living things. I am making a philosophical claim not a scientific one.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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  24. #23  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    To further demonstrate the pseudoscientific nature of 'intelligent' design, I offer the following refutation of the so-called 'irreducible complexity' argument presented by the ignorant fools of ID. The lead quote is from an argument I had with a proponent of the pseudoscience of ID elsewhere on the net.


    [T]he concept of irreducible complexity is not useless… It makes you think about the nature of systems and their origins. It doesn't necessarily makes you ignorant like Robison claims. It is also a tool of falsification for those who believe all biological systems have arisen through evolution without intelligent agents. It's a pitty that it comes from a man like Behe. Otherwise it may have gotten the proper attention it deserves.
    It actually originates from Darwin, believe it or not. In his Origin of Species (1859: 191), Darwin writes that if there existed an organ or organism that could not have been formed by "numerous, successive, slight modifications," the "theory [of evolution] would absolutely break down." Behe and others have obviously read this and used it as their weapon against science. The anti-science community called it 'irreducible complexity' and declared that there were systems that could not have evolved because the removal of just one part would cause the entire system to fail (Behe 1996; 2002). Behe, and other anti-science types, have cited the bacterial flagellum as one of the several systems that fit this mold.

    Other systems cited by Behe include the vertebrate blood clotting cascade and eukaryotic cilium, but the bacterial flagellum is the most significant it would seem. Homologous to the basal region of the bacterial flagellum is a mechanism known as a type-III secretory system (TTSS), which transmits toxins to the cells of bacterial hosts. It's been demonstrated that the TTSS remains completely functional even without most of the parts of the flagellum itself. The research (Aizawa 2001; Briggs et al 2004; McNab 2004; Yonekura 2000) wasn't conducted with the desire to disprove so-called 'irreducible complexity,' but rather the need to better understand the nature of bacteria.

    With regard to the cascade system of clotting blood, Behe says the following (1996, 84-86):
    When an animal is cut, a protein called Hagemann factor (XII) sticks to the surface of cells near the wound. Bound Hagemann factor is then cleaved by a protein called HMK to yield activated Hagemann factor. Immediately the activated Hagemann factor converts another protein, called prekallikrein, to its active form, kallikrein. [...]none of the cascade proteins are used for anything except controlling the formation of a clot. Yet in the absence of any of the components, blood does not clot, and the system fails.
    Factor XII, mentioned in the quote above, initiates the cascade. If Behe is correct, the absence of this protein would result in blood that doesn't clot. Yet, dolphins don't have it (Robinson, Kasting & Aggeler 1969). Their blood clots just fine. Neither factor XII nor prekallikrein are present in the puffer fish (Jiang & Doolittle 2003).

    The concept of 'irreducible complexity' is, indeed, useless for offering any sort of logical explanation. Analogies of mousetraps and other machines are irrelevant. These are demonstrably designed systems and are not being suggested to be created by nature. Nature does, however, have its own "mouse traps" with systems of predator-prey organisms, but none have been demonstrated to be 'irreducibly' complex in any way. I challenge anyone here to show a natural system or organism that cannot operate without all of its parts.


    References:

    Aizawa, S.-I. (2001). Bacterial flagella and type III secretion systems, FEMS Microbiology Letters, 202 (2), 157-164.

    Behe, M. (1996). Darwin's Black Box. New York: The Free Press.

    Behe, M. (2002). The challenge of irreducible complexity. Natural History 111 (April), 74.

    Briggs, L.J.; Davidge, J.A.; Wickstead, B.; Ginger, M.L.; Gull, K. (2004) More than one way to build a flagellum: comparative genomics of parasitic protozoa. Current Biology, 14 (15), R611-R612.

    Darwin, C. (1872). The Origin of Species (6th edition). London: Oxford University Press.

    McNab, R. M. (2004). Type III flagellar protein export and flagellar assembly. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Cell Research 1694 (1-3) 207-217.

    Jiang, Y. and Doolittle, R.F. (2003). http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/100/13/7527]The evolution of vertebrate blood coagulation as viewed from a comparison of puffer fish and sea squirt genomes[/url]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100 (13), 7527-7532.

    Robinson, A. J., M. Kropatkin, and P. M. Aggeler (1969). Hagemann Factor (Factor XII) Deficiency in Marine Mammals. Science, 166, 1420-1422.

    Yonekura, K., S. Maki, D. G. Morgan, D. J. DeRosier, F.Vonderviszt, K.Imada, and K. Namba (2000). The Bacterial Flagellar Cap as the Rotary Promoter of Flagellin Self-Assembly, Science, 290 (5499), 2148-2152.
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    If you'll forgive some constructive criticism, I believe you've wandered into error here, SW. This is simply a scientific refutation of an example of what Behe demonstrated constitute irreducible complexity in accordance with the best evidence available to him. There are other areas of scientific knowledge which have come to light since Behe's assertion that (for example) cell structure required 40 proteins which all had to act together, but later one was discovered with 33 proteins. Behe could now claim that his IC theory still applies to the 33 protein cell until one with fewer is discovered. IC will only totally be resolved when a cell can be generated from scratch using only a handful of components, or a mechanism can be shown getting from proto-cell to cell in incremental steps.

    Simply because a theory which indicates a possible problem with the current paradigm has been held not to apply in the previously cited cases, does not make that theory pseudoscience. Particularly as it is in an area where we don't necessarily have all the answers. The Steady State theory of the Universe was knocked down by all the evidence for a Big Bang, but that didn't make the SS theory "pseudoscience". Regardless of the BB we still do not understand more than a fraction of what happened at the origin, what may have happened "before" the BB to cause it, nor yet, with the discovery of accelerating galaxies and "dark matter" whether the BB model truly explains all the phenomena we see. Perhaps some form of the SS will return.

    Intelligent Design is a bastardised pseudoscience which makes use of the concept of "irreducible complexity" to replace the whole of Evolutionary theory (which even Behe wouldn't claim for IC) with Creationism, by American school boards. Irreducible Complexity, however, is a theory that, as we delve into the origins scientific problem which may well arise and require a solution.

    IC is not touted as "a solution" or "an explanation". It's a problem, for which ID is incorrectly touted as the "solution".
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    I think I have to disagree here. The Behe's of the world will always revise their position when science does their work for them (in this case science had already done the work, but Behe failed to notice). Indeed, the only revision that creationists like Behe will adhere to is just this sort.

    I read a criticism of the flagellum refutation that included the comment that now there were two irreducibly complex systems! This is much the same argument that creationists use when criticizing the lack of transitional fossils. When a fossil that is very obviously transitional between one established species and another, the flawed argument is thrown in that "now there are two missing links!"

    The pseudoscience is this: the creationists (a.k.a. 'intelligent design' proponents) have a conclusion for which they seek data to support. Science, on the other hand, has data for which it arrives at conclusions.

    The refutation of the flagellum argument was heavily borrowed, by the way, from Dr. Kenneth Miller's The Flagellum Unspun - The Collapse of Irreducible Complexity. I paraphrased his argument, to make it forum-friendly and whatever sources I couldn't access I substituted for others that provided the same data. In some cases, more recent and up-to-date sources.
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