Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Very Interesting Article on Phil Johnson in Washington Post

Check it out HERE.

In case you aren't in the know about Johnson, he's the father of the new Intelligent Design movement (as opposed to the old one with Paley). You'll get what you need in terms of background from the article.

25 comments:

Tlaloc said...

A pretty decent article.

Is it possible some intelligent agency participated in the development of life? Sure. Is there any evidence? No. Should a totally unsupported theory be taught as science to high schoolers? No.

You teach the best theory you have. That'd be evolution. By far. You also teach that science is an unending process.

Maybe some day will actually disciover evidence of intelligent design but that day has not come and until it does ID proponents only embarrass themselves with their ambition.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

You don't really mean NO evidence, as in "absolutely nothing at all." There is no evidence that John Wilkes Booth was really a space alien sent to earth to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, who was also a space alien from a rival planet. That would be an example of a theory with NO evidence.

Some people have changed their minds as a result of studying the evidence and arguments for design in nature. For example, Antony Flew, shifted from atheism to theism as a result of a particular case for ID. Flew is no dummy. He may be wrong about his assessment of ID arguments, to be sure. But you cannot mean to say that Flew's change of mind is on par with believing the Booth-Lincoln fantasy above, for that's what you would mean if you are saying there is NO EVIDENCE for ID. To read about Flew, go here: http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/

Tlaloc said...

"You don't really mean NO evidence, as in "absolutely nothing at all." "

Actually I do. There is not one piece of evidence for which there is not another simpler explanation besides ID.

James Elliott said...

"http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/"

Are you joking? You're making a moral argument to contend with a scientific premise?

I could just as easily counter with Julian Jaynes' "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" to make a case that the origin of religion is a shared hallucinatory consciousness - schizophrenia a la genetic memories passed on by dirty dirty sex... I mean, sex purely for procreative purposes.

And given the vast number of schizophrenics and sufferers of dementia who experience religious and/or authoritative voices, Jaynes' case seems stronger.

Melchior Sternfels v. Fuchshaim said...

FB: "You don't really mean NO evidence, as in 'absolutely nothing at all.'"

Tl: Actually I do. There is not one piece of evidence for which there is not another simpler explanation besides ID.

You seem to be equating "absolutely no evidence at all" with "not one piece of evidence for which there is not another simpler explanation". If this is what you really mean, then any given fact or set of facts can only serve as evidence for the simplest available interpretation of those facts, other considerations being damned. It seems to me that you must either (a) defend this equation, or (b) restate your objection to FB in such a way as not to equate his "absolutely nothing at all" with your "not one piece of evidence for which ...". If you give it a moment's thought, I think you'll realize that scientific explanation is a good deal more complex than simply finding the simplest possible explanation that fits the evidence. And if that is the case, then your response to FB is inadequate.

In any case, it is difficult for me to imagine a simpler explanation for life, the universe and everything than an uncreated, omnipotent, omniscient personal being. How much simpler can you get? How do you explain the Big Bang, and what evidence supports your explanation of the Big Bang? Or do you think the Universe always existed?

Melchior Sternfels v. Fuchshaim said...

JFE: Are you joking? You're making a moral argument to contend with a scientific premise?

In what way is citing Anthony Flew's change of mind a moral argument? Are you saying that Flew didn't change his mind because he was persuaded that he had good reason to think it impossible that life could arise without intelligent guidance? As Flew himself says on p. 4 of the PDF version of the interview, he doesn't find the moral argument for God persuasive.

JFE: I could just as easily counter with Julian Jaynes' "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" to make a case that the origin of religion is a shared hallucinatory consciousness ...

Are you joking? A causal, explanatory account of how some people come to hold a set of beliefs is utterly irrelevant both to the truth of that set of beliefs and to its logical consistency. It seems to me tantamount to saying that Nietzsche, because he offered an account of the origin of morality incompatible with Christianity, had therefore provided evidence against the truth claims of Christianity. You refute a position by falsifying its truth claims or by showing them to be inconsistent with one another.

Anonymous said...

This is fairly easy to settle.

There is no evidence for intelligent design.

NONE.

Sorry. Play again?

Melchior Sternfels v. Fuchshaim said...

Anony: Okay, so what does Paul Davies mean when he writes:

"There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all ... It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the Universe ... The impression of design is overwhelming"

Davies thinks there's evidence, so you can either (a) critique the evidence he thinks is there, or (b) explain away his statement as some kind of psychological weakness or defect, though as I pointed out above, causal explanations for why a person holds a belief are irrelevant to the truth of that belief. We can multiply examples of agnostic or atheistic scientists who have made statements like this. Were they bribed by Billy Graham? Did Anthony Flew change his mind about intelligent design on a whim?

Show us why Davies is wrong about the evidence he sees that "there is something going on behind it all". Don't just make assertions.

Anonymous said...

You can't prove a negative, buddy.

If you want to present a specific something that you believe is evidence for intelligent design, I'd be happy to refute it. The thing about IDers is that once something they say is refuted, they generally keep on saying it.

Anonymous said...

Good point, and while we're on the subject of the impossibility of proving negatives, note that the proposition that there is no creator behind the material universe is itself a negative that cannot be proven. It is neither testable nor falsifiable by human means, as Antony Flew points out, and hence is an assumption, not a positively verifiable statement. Theists could thus validly ask nontheists to state exactly where the universe came from (since neither matter or energy can be created from nothing), and to give a testable, falsifiable proposition about it. Until then, atheism must remain a totally unsupported theory, just as atheists claim theism is. The same goes for Darwinism, which after all has as many holes as ID, which all honest Darwinians admit. One could well point out that "There is not one piece of evidence for Darwinism for which there is not a simpler explanation in ID." Those arguments go both ways, and equally well, however unwilling partisans on both sides are to admit it.

Anonymous said...

Good point, and while we're on the subject of the impossibility of proving negatives, note that the proposition that there is no creator behind the material universe is itself a negative that cannot be proven. It is neither testable nor falsifiable by human means, as Antony Flew points out, and hence is an assumption, not a positively verifiable statement.

Indeed. That's what faith is.

Theists could thus validly ask nontheists to state exactly where the universe came from (since neither matter or energy can be created from nothing), and to give a testable, falsifiable proposition about it.

They can ask whatever they want. I'm not sure that science has proposed anything other than speculation based on observation.

Until then, atheism must remain a totally unsupported theory, just as atheists claim theism is.

There's no evidence that a huge invisible dragon is hovering over my head. It would be rather dishonest of you to call disbelief in that dragon a "totally unsupported theory." Do you see what I'm getting at? Do you see the absurdity of your position?

The same goes for Darwinism, which after all has as many holes as ID

Once again, I challenge you to present one to me.

Anonymous said...

"There's no evidence that a huge invisible dragon is hovering over my head. It would be rather dishonest of you to call disbelief in that dragon a 'totally unsupported theory.' Do you see what I'm getting at? Do you see the absurdity of your position?"

Do you see the absurdity of yours? No, you don't. You have an assumption about which you offer no evidence whatsoever--the negative assumption that the universe came into existence without a creator--and then you boldly challenge others to disprove it! First, you have to prove your premise. You will have to tell us where the universe came from, while adhering to the scientific fact that neither matter nor energy can be created from nothing. Until then, your argument is pure bravado. Huge invisible dragons are in fact infinitely more plausible than the belief that something can be created from nothing.

Anonymous said...

Huge invisible dragons are in fact infinitely more plausible than the belief that something can be created from nothing.

I'm sorry, who exactly is making the claim of something being created from nothing?

Anonymous said...

Also, I repeat my challenge. Please provide evidence against evolution or evidence in favor of "ID".

Anonymous said...

"I'm sorry, who exactly is making the claim of something being created from nothing?"

You are, as I have stated three times now, without your taking even a single shot at answering the question.

"Also, I repeat my challenge. Please provide evidence against evolution or evidence in favor of 'ID'."

I repeat my challenge. Please provide evidence that the universe came into existence without a creator.

James Elliott said...

I repeat my challenge. Please provide evidence that the universe came into existence without a creator.

He asked first.

You contend that atheism and evolution require just as much faith (belief in an unprovable) as theism and intelligent design.

You know what, I'll give you the first. Atheism and theism are both equally founded on unprovables. That makes them equally valid as well as equally invalid. Therefore, any attempt to place one above the other is futile and foolish.

As for evolution vs. intelligent design, evolution still has the edge. We can see evolution. We know it is a mechanism for the variation in species and forms of life. We know this because we can observe it occurring and track its progress through the fossil record. That the fossil record has gaps does not disprove a thing, and only those ignorant of scientific methodology would say so.

Intelligent design has no empirical evidence. It has no research to back it up, nor can it, because it is again based on an object of faith (and therefore an unprovable/cannot be disproved statement). Logically, then, intelligent design is a philosophical argument, which is where it should remain - in philosophy class.

That's what I meant by asking about using that source. A philosophical/moral argument cannot contend with a scientific one because they are wholly different disciplines. But then, I guess people who might think otherwise probably missed the day they taught science in science class.

Anonymous said...

"He asked first."

He doesn't have any standing to criticize other people's ideas until he proves that his own are without flaw.

Seems strangely reluctant to do so, however.

"We can see evolution."

Only microevolution (evolution within species), which nobody denies. As to proof of a movement from species to species, there is no evidence whatever of that. If you have some, you have something no scientist has or even claims to have.

"Intelligent design has no empirical evidence. It has no research to back it up, nor can it, because it is again based on an object of faith (and therefore an unprovable/cannot be disproved statement). Logically, then, intelligent design is a philosophical argument, which is where it should remain - in philosophy class."

Atheism has no empirical evidence. It has no research to back it up, nor can it, because it is again based on an object of faith (and therefore an unprovable/cannot be disproved statement). Logically, then, atheism is a philosophical argument, which is where it should remain - in philosophy class.

Why is this important? Because once you realize that there MUST be a creator of the universe (because neither matter nor energy can be created from nothing by natural processes), then the answer to the question posed above—"Is it possible some intelligent agency participated in the development of life?"—MUST BE YES, because some intelligent agency created the entire cosmos that now supports life. Design within the universe is thus not an optional matter but a logical necessity. Could that design have been achieved by evolution by natural selection? Sure! But was it? We have no evidence for it.

The best answer we have to the question to the origin and diversity of species is, "I don't know." Teaching both theories would harm no one and would be the truly scientific approach.

"I guess people who might think otherwise probably missed the day they taught science in science class."

Oh, that's my problem! I jus miffed science class that day and am ingorant. So glad you set me straight wif yer proovs of evolution. Gosh, I wish i wun so dumb! You so smart!!!!

Anonymous said...

Teach both theories. Okay, first that will require you to answer a question for me.

What is the theory of intelligent design?

Anonymous said...

See numerous books by Bill Dembski, Phillip Johnson, Micheal Behe, etc. They are the authorities on the matter and can teach you all you need to know. The comments section of a blog is not the place for you to do that kind of research, so let's let it drop for now, and when you've read the literature thoroughly, feel free to critique it wherever you like, instead of saying there is nothing to a line of thinking you have chosen not to study.

Anonymous said...

So you don't know?

James Elliott said...

Oh, that's my problem! I jus miffed science class that day and am ingorant. So glad you set me straight wif yer proovs of evolution. Gosh, I wish i wun so dumb! You so smart!!!!

No, your problem is that you are being a jerk. Neither the first Anonymous nor I were rude or disrespectful (unless you believe calling your beliefs in to question is disrespectful). Stop being a mook. It only serves to undercut you.

The best answer we have to the question to the origin and diversity of species is, "I don't know." Teaching both theories would harm no one and would be the truly scientific approach.

No, because intelligent design isn't a scientific theory. You seem to labor under the misconsception that there is some sort of controversy here. There is no question about evolution. We should teach science in science class, and creation myths in comparative religion class. You
can teach intelligent design in science when it has research to back it up, like evolution does. Because that's what science class is.

Atheism has no empirical evidence. [snip] Could that design have been achieved by evolution by natural selection? Sure! But was it? We have no evidence for it.

First off, stop plagiarizing me, it makes you look stupid, not witty. Second, atheism and evolution are not entertwined. I already conceded that atheism has no evidence (just as there is no evidence for creationism), and gave a counterargument for evolution. Your statement does not disprove evolution. No evidence for evolution? Guess I wasted all that time in the anthropology lab looking at skeletons of chimps, apes, australopithecus, and homo sapiens for nothing. Your entire argument rests on the supposition that we don't know where matter/energy comes from and therefore cannot ever know. This is again a false premise. Science often does not know. It surmises based on evidence and, so long as the evidence holds, it is accepted. If it is refuted, then we search for other explanations. That's science. You see, the argument has never been about where life comes from, at least with most scientists. There's not enough data yet to form a theory. But, there are standards as to what constitutes a scientific theory, which intelligent design fails to meet. Ergo, intelligent design should not be taught in science class. Your argument is great for a comparative religion or philosophy class. Teach it there. It simply has no place in science class.

Intelligent design is no better than the creation myths of the Aboriginals, the Hopi, or the Cherokee. It is no better than the book of Genesis. It's all conjecture based on unprovables. So, teach them all. Create a "creation ideas" seminar. It doesn't mean one of them is wrong, it means WE CAN'T PROVE IT.

He doesn't have any standing to criticize other people's ideas until he proves that his own are without flaw.

Let's get one thing clear: you have still failed to A) refute the case for evolution (which, after all, is not a creation story) and B) give any evidence for intelligent design that meets a scientific criteria. The standard you hold him to is equally applicable to you, and you have failed to meet it.

Tlaloc said...

"You seem to be equating "absolutely no evidence at all" with "not one piece of evidence for which there is not another simpler explanation". "

Yeah it's called Occam's Razor. Look into it. Evidence which supports a simpler hypothesis can't really be said to be evidence FOR intelligent design.


"In any case, it is difficult for me to imagine a simpler explanation for life, the universe and everything than an uncreated, omnipotent, omniscient personal being. How much simpler can you get?"

You do the same thing without the "uncreated, omnipotent, omniscient personal being." See how that's simpler? We took something out.


"How do you explain the Big Bang, and what evidence supports your explanation of the Big Bang? Or do you think the Universe always existed?"

The cosmological evidence supports the big bang including the residual radiation left over. My background is indeed physics but explaining the models of the big bang to you in this format is not something I can really do. There are a great many people who know the material better who have written about it at length. Feel free to read any of them.

Tlaloc said...

"Good point, and while we're on the subject of the impossibility of proving negatives, note that the proposition that there is no creator behind the material universe is itself a negative that cannot be proven. It is neither testable nor falsifiable by human means,"

Science does not claim there is a creator. Nor does science claim there is not a creator. It is a question science cannot address.


"Until then, atheism must remain a totally unsupported theory, just as atheists claim theism is. The same goes for Darwinism, which after all has as many holes as ID, which all honest Darwinians admit."

Bull. Atheism is not a scientific theory so you are right up until you equate it with Darwinism. Darwinism is a scientific theory and has a huge mountain of evidence. The "darwinists" who claim otherwise are either ill educated or having fun with you at your expense.



" One could well point out that "There is not one piece of evidence for Darwinism for which there is not a simpler explanation in ID." Those arguments go both ways, and equally well, however unwilling partisans on both sides are to admit it."

Again you are wrong. Occam's Razor most certainly works one way and one way only. It says that the explanation with the least number of additional unproven assumption is the most likely. Positing an invisible omnipotent god is a HUGE unproven assumption. Darwinism is BY FAR the simpler explanation as it relies on almost nothing outside of mechanics that are proven to work.

Tlaloc said...

"Logically, then, atheism is a philosophical argument, which is where it should remain - in philosophy class."

Absolutely Atheism should be in the philosophy class, but you keep equating atheism with Darwinism when they are completely unrelated.



"Why is this important? Because once you realize that there MUST be a creator of the universe (because neither matter nor energy can be created from nothing by natural processes)"

Untrue. There are many possible sources for the energy which makes up our universe. A god is only one of them.



"then the answer to the question posed above—"Is it possible some intelligent agency participated in the development of life?"—MUST BE YES, because some intelligent agency created the entire cosmos that now supports life. Design within the universe is thus not an optional matter but a logical necessity. Could that design have been achieved by evolution by natural selection? Sure! But was it? We have no evidence for it."

Since your premise (above) was wrong the rest of your argument also falls apart.



"The best answer we have to the question to the origin and diversity of species is, "I don't know." Teaching both theories would harm no one and would be the truly scientific approach."

No the scientific approach is you use the best theory unless and until another theory is developed that better explains experimental data. What ou have proposed is on several levels anti-scientific.



"Oh, that's my problem! I jus miffed science class that day and am ingorant. So glad you set me straight wif yer proovs of evolution. Gosh, I wish i wun so dumb! You so smart!!!!"

Well you do have a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works as well as a limited grasp of the physics involved. That doesn't make you stupid, no, but it does mean this is a topic ou may be better served listening in rather than speaking.

Anonymous said...

Nope, the problem is that the evolutionists in this discussion insist on pretending that their assumptions are facts. They are the ones who are not listening.

You admit that there is no other possible source of the energy (and matter!) that makes up the universe except something outside it. Correct. Any notion that denies this is nonscientific. Materialism is one of those purely unscientific notions.

Claiming that the "energy" for the cosmos came from some other source explains nothing, because it does not explain where the energy in that "other source" came from. It simply sidesteps the problem of origins.

The reference to plagiarism is laughable. Ask the Supreme Court whether satire is protected. What a pathetic complaint!

You continue to refuse to support your own unscientific claims. It is because you cannot support them.

Your pretense at scientific objectivity while refusing to confront the fact that your own central positions are assumptions rather than facts is insistent and invariable. You are boring everybody with this. Go ahead and have the last word, as you seemingly must.