Tuesday, September 20, 2005

ID Debate at BU

William Dembski is reporting on a forthcoming debate he will be participating in at Boston University. Representing the forces of evil and darkness will be Dembski and Edward Sisson. Defending sunshine and goodness will be Eugenie Scott and James Trefil.

Actually, the official topic of the debate, according to Dembski, is whether ID should be taught in conjunction with evolution. Seeing as how the official position of the Discovery Institute (the pro-ID think tank of which Dembski is a senior fellow) is that ID should not be taught in schools, it will be an interesting debate indeed.

Incidentally, if you want a good illustration of just how creepy and demented some of Dembski's admirers are, have a look at the comments. For example, here's “Ben Z:”

It seems to me that neither Eugenie Scott nor James Trefil are qualified for a real debate on ID. They’re just going to go for the same old boring objections.

Of course, this particular debate, apparently, is about the teaching of ID and not its scientific merits. Leaving that aside, Eugenie Scott has a PhD in anthropology and has been a major player in evolution/creation disputes for decades. James Trefil, meanwhile, is a professional physicist with particular experience in science education. Mr. Z. finds them unqualified to discuss the subject.

From the other side, Edward Sisson is a lawyer who describes himself (in his contribution to Dembski's anthology Uncommon Descent) as an interested layperson. Qualifications indeed.

Meanwhile, “mechanicalbirds” offers the following:

J. P. Moreland’s critique of naturalism is probably the best out there today. As good a job as all the ID guys are doing, I’m not sure that the battle can really be won until scientists on both sides examine the philosophical foundations that underlie all scientific enterprises. Even though ID isn’t a movement limited to Christianity (or theism, for that matter), I don’t think it is possible for scientific knowledge to even be justified outside of the Christian theistic framework. We’ll see.

Right. So scientists who are not Christians, which is to say most scientists, are simply being irrational. The arrogance of these people is breathtaking.


At 1:40 AM, Blogger Phil N. Darrer said...

Hej, great blog, I'm a regular reader (but first-time commenter). Working in biophysics so the constant blunder of ID folks in the States is really creepy for us Europeans.

The Astrobiology Magazine has an interview online with Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican's astronomer. Maybe it's of interest; it has a much more reasonable view of the relation between science and religon.

Being raised as a Catholic in Germany I wouldn't have believed 10 years ago that Catholicism now looks like a religion of reason, at least in comparison with the guys you have to deal with.

At 6:41 AM, Blogger LiberPaul said...


It is scary what is happening in the US right now. The religious right (conservative christians) have infiltrated the highest levels of government and are pushing their bird-brained bullshit on all of us. It just goes to show the rest of the world how abysmal our science education is. The college I graduated from only required that non-science majors take one, just ONE, science class to graduate, and that was a liberal arts college. So sad.

The Agnostic Prayer - God, please protect me from your followers.

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Pope Zach 64 said...

Hey Jason.

I've been following your blog for a few weeks now and have enjoyed it thoroughly. This is my first post - the comment on Demsbki's blog about the "same old boring objections" to ID finally got to me.

Yeah, I guess the old "Evolutionary theory explains things - ID is worthless" or the "ID is void of scientific content" arguments do get old.

I know I certainly get tired of repeating them!

At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Even though ID isn’t a movement limited to Christianity (or theism, for that matter), I don’t think it is possible for scientific knowledge to even be justified outside of the Christian theistic framework."

You what? Also, does this argument not imply either a) ID actually is limited to Christianity, or b) ID is not justified as science? Bizarre.

Ginger Yellow

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Doran said...

The information cocerning the upcoming "debate" can be found over on my blog. So if your in Beantown in early novemeber, care to stop by.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

Sisson is Caroline Crocker's attorney. Crocker was the cellular biology professor at Trefil's school (George Mason University) who was banned from teaching ID and later let go by GMU 4 weeks after she appeared as part of the Cover Story of the prestigous scientific Journal Nature, April 28, 2005.

I saw Ed Sisson yesterday afternoon at Discovery Day in DC as the IDEA GMU officers were invited to a luncheon with Senator Santorum Congressman Petri, frmr Ambassador Bruce Chapman, Philantrophist Howard Ahmanson, etc.

I told Ed that Trefil's school has 3 ID leaning PhD biologists associated with the school (Crocker former GMU professor of biology, Standish class of 1996, Wilson class of 2002), and thus it would be hard to make the case that having ID leanings will have anything to do with hindering ability to learn science.

In fact, Trefil had this to say about one of the most notorious IDists at his school in and autographed copy of his book: "To Salvador Cordova: It was great having you in class."


At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"thus it would be hard to make the case that having ID leanings will have anything to do with hindering ability to learn science."

Is this a preview of the sort of dishonesty that will be on display at the debate? Suddenly, it's about having ID "leanings" personally vs. actually teaching something in class (what, again? What well-established finding should we be teaching again)?

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that ID's entire position is all about taking pot shots at TOE without having to make it's own explainations. That's it.

ID cannot prove how anything came about or how anything occurred. It just is. Any amount of critical thinking would prove that an insufficient answer.

ID has no verifiable explainations. Their "a designer did it" is nothing more than an effort to halt the research that might someday prove, beyond a doubt, that no designer was involved. In other words they want us to stop before we look behind the curtain.

I'm certainly glad that we don't have to rely on these mindless, disengenious individuals to invent, cure or question.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

What's a debate in ID without a quote mine:

"...everything we have learned about life in the past twenty years shows that we are unique, and therefore, special in God’s sight."

-- James Trefil

I left out a little qualifier in the quote, so the quote is not for serious consumption. :-)

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Pope Zach 64 said...

Hey Sal -

So I see you're a gadfly here as well.

Maybe you'd be so good as tell us here what the scientific theory of ID is and how it can tested empircally. You don't seem to be able to answer this question at Panda's Thumb, and I doubt you'll answer it as well.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Pope Zach 64 said...

Oops! That should be be:

"I doubt you'll answer it here as well."

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Dale Callahan said...

How do you justify the usage of the uniformity of nature [that the future is going to be like the past] with an naturalistic worldview.

Its one thing to prove your point by reason and argument, and its another to just name call.
Calling someone arrogant doesn't prove your point.

I agree with the person who quoted that the Christian worldview is the only one that can philosophically justify the use of logic.

At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Pope Zach 64 said...

Well, Mr Callahan, if you wake up some morning and find that the boiling point of water or the gravitational constant has changed, you might be on to something with your "unifomity of nature" comment.

In the meantime, perhaps you'd like to propose an alernative to evolutionary theory that can be tested empirically?

And I'm sure there are lots of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. who would love to be enlightened on how their use of logic is unjustified.

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Dale Callahan said...

Pope Zach,

Thats the whole point of the debate, each side looks at the same facts but through different eye glasses [presuppositions].

You can act like the evolutionary theory is empirically tested but that is but a farce. It is a philosophical belief that is held to by faith. A religion!

So what you have is two philosophical systems Christianity and the atheistic. Yes there are other religons [the ones you stated] but I do not believe that they are philosophically defensible.

You said "Well, Mr Callahan, if you wake up some morning and find that the boiling point of water or the gravitational constant has changed, you might be on to something with your "unifomity of nature" comment".

That is just a cop out. You might as well say, as David Hume [Scotish philosopher], that there is no justification for you to believe that the future is going to be like the past, and all of a sudden you do not have justification [according to the atheists worldview] for the uniformity of nature and the use of science.

I do realize that atheists use science, logic, and morality. What I am saying is something different then who uses these things. I am saying what worldview gives the preconditions for logic, science, and ethics.

The Bible teaches that God has clearly revealed Himself in the created order and that sinful man holds down this truth because of his rebellious heart.

So for you to assume naturalism and say that you hold to the uniformity of nature "because it works" is not giving an answer.
Its really saying you don't have an answer.
You borrow from God's world to even be able to begin to try to deny God existence.

How does the Christian worldview justify the uniformity of nature?
The Triune God created all things and governs all things. He is the covenant faithful God and has promised that there was going to be uniformity in the world [seasons and times, day and night] until the end. The Christian at least has a philosophical foundation for using science.

At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Pope Zach 64 said...

Mr Callahan -

No, evolutionary theory is not a faith but rather a model with proposed mechanisms for producing the variety of life as we observe it on Planet Earth. It is falsifiable - if evidence contrary to this model is found then the model will be revised or discarded to accomodate the new evidence.

This is how any "theory" works - whether it be Gravity, Quantum Mechanics, or Evolution.

Faith on the other hand is not based on evidence and cannot be falsified.

This is basic stuff that any halfway educated person should know.

Regarding "uniformity": You are starting with a ready-made conclusion ("He is the covenant faithful God and has promised that there was going to be uniformity in the world [seasons and times, day and night] until the end.") and working backward. This is may be very poetic, but it is NOT science. Period.

Science makes no claims one way or the other regarding God - it neither seeks to prove nor disprove a God. You have created a false dichotomy in your own mind - a common mistake of Creationists and IDers. Evolution is no more "atheistic" than chemistry or meteorology. Are you praying for the molecular structure of an anti-Alzheimer's drug to be revealed to you? Or do you you turn to your preacher to forcast the latest hurricane's path?

And why is it that there are many people of faith of all stripes who have no problem integrating evolutionary theory with their beliefs? Or is yours the only "true" faith? How do you justify this claim?

I'll leave it to you to convince the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and whoever else that their faiths are not "philosphically defensible".

At 5:59 PM, Blogger Dale Callahan said...

The evolutionary model is falsifiable? How do you falsify the theory of the survival of the fittest?

Yes, I begin with presuppositions and then I interpret the world around me by those presuppositions.

You are truly blind if you think that somehow you are "neutral" and are really looking for the facts.

You hate God and are doing your best to try to hide from His revelation.
Thats what He says, not me.

You have a world view that teaches that life comes from non life, we have no examples of this today...but it happened. Sounds like faith to me!

Some evolutionists teach that only beneficial mutations are past on to future offspring.

Explain to me how a partial heart is beneficial, or a heart without lungs, kidney's, etc?

How did these mutations take place?
Were you there? How do you observe whatever evidence you observe?
Do you ever look at something and wonder how it could have happened super-naturally? No? Doesn't sound like you are as neutral and unbiased as your proclaim. Sounds like you have naturalistic presuppositions and you intepret or reject evidence according to these views.

I don't have to worry about the Buddhist, Hindu or Islam religion right now. The only religion that steal money from my pocket to finance itself is the humanistic religion. Take money from people [taxes]to support their churches [public schools] so they can preach their message of neutrality, that evolution is true, there is no Creator God, no absolutes, no universals [that does away with logic and morals]...

Take the time to try to answer how you live your life, using logic, science and morality and yet you have a professed world view that goes against all of them.

At 10:08 AM, Anonymous pope zach 64 said...

Mr Callahan-

Boy, you are one confused puppy. Your statements about partial organs and such reveal that you understand absolutely NOTHING about evolutionary theory. This is typical of Creationists/IDers: the ones who understand the least are usually the ones who complain the loudest.

Yes, evolutionary theory is falsifiable, just as any other scientific theory. Time doesn't permit me to go into detail: I can provide some links if you'd like to actually bother to learn a bit about evolution.

So just how would you conduct inquiry into the world around us, if we were to abandon natuaralism? As I hinted in my previous post, how would you go about looking for new drugs or forecasting the weather? What about engineering or architceture? I'm pretty sure that the equations describing the behavior of steel under load do not include God. By your reasoning any building constructed according to these principles is a "Temple of Atheism".

So you construct a building according to Divine Revelation and I'll build one according to the principles of physics, engineering, etc and we'll see which one is more sound.

And you still haven't answered my question about how so many people of faith can also accept evolution (Christians included). Why is yours the only "true" faith? Do you have a hotline to God himself? Sorry, I'm a just wee bit skeptical of such claims.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Dale Callahan said...


From a philosophical point of view you are not a rocket scientist.

You would do well to begin to try to understand a transcendental arguement. Pre-conditions for intelligibility.

You have an atheistic world view and I have a Christian world view. Your world view, if held to consistantly, can not account for the immaterial [thoughts, concepts], it can not account for the uniformity of nature. Ya, I know...you do it and it works there is your justification...wow, what an arguement.

Yes I believe that Jesus Christ is God, the only God, and that there is salvation in no one else. I do believe that you will one day understand this, either in this life or hereafter.

You bring up the term of something being falsifiable, like it were some "divine" command. Is this an absolute law? If so why?
Can an atheist have absolute, universal laws in his material world? What is a material law? What is a particular universal?

Does the falsifiable theory stand up to its own scrutiny? Can it be falsified? If it can't then it is to be discarded right?

I do understand that you see me as "confused", a fool.

But this is how God defines you.
"the fool says in his heart there is no God".

It is not name calling Zach, it is talking about someone who knows the truth and then lives their life trying to surpress this truth.

It would be interesting to see what Zach's private life was like, I am sure Christian morality might put a huge thorn in some of your personal plans. This is probably enough of an ax to grind against the God in whom you will one day answer to.
No matter how much you try to put the blinders on.

This is my last entry. I hope the best for you all.

At 8:29 AM, Anonymous Pope Zach 64 said...

Mr Callahan -

I too will make one last comment, on the off chance that you might read it.

You have completely failed to address any of the points I brought up. You have no understanding of science in general and evolution in particular. You have not asked for any of the links I mentioned so that you could, you know, actually LEARN a little something about that which you rail against. But I am not surprised: Creationists never let trivial things like FACTS get in the way of their myopic world view. Oh well, the loss is yours.

And as for my personal life, when I am not out raping, pillaging, plundering, you know, all those things any self-respecting athiest does, I am faithful to my wife, try to be a good father to my son, and try to treat everyone I meet with courtesy and respect, don't gamble, don't use drugs.

No shit. Go figure!

At 12:01 AM, Anonymous zenegra said...

Generic Viagra




mp3 players
buy mp3 players
cheap mp3 players
wholesale mp3 players
portable mp3 players


purchase viagra

At 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The late-great sci-fi writer Douglas Adams wrote that all religions probably started from a sense of wonder about the world, a bit like a newly-conscious puddle of water thinking, "Hey, this hole in the ground fits me so perfectly, it must have been created especially for me." Intelligent Design only a step away from this. Suppose that over time our puddle learns some more about his environment, but he still cannot explain the weather and different phases of matter. So he says, "Ah, but all that science stuff still can't explain why water falls from the sky. And those snowflake thingys look much too complicated to occur naturally. Logically, my hole and I must have been created by an intelligent entity." Theology? Sure. Religious conjecture? No problem. But this is hardly science!


Post a Comment

<< Home