December 20, 2007

New I.D. film: “Playground For The Expelled” aka “Playground For The Crybabies”

Posted in atheism, conspiracy theory, creationism, darwinism, evolution, intelligent design, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology at 10:44 pm by Bram Janssen

Intelligent Design… [insert huge sigh here]

Now you have got to credit these folks: they never give up. Their fanaticism seems to have no bound!

In theatres 2008: “The Playground For The Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”

Watch the trailer.

Now I’d like to start off my criticism with this message: all pretense gone! They seem to have come out of the closet when it comes to the role Creationism plays in their ideas. Not that there was any doubt about it since the Dover trial. With a film endorsed by the Intelligent Design movement and with interviews with prominent I.D. front-men, the case seems clear.

With that out of the way… well, honestly, I can feel nothing but contempt for the message and tone of this trailer. It’s all: “boo-hoo-hoo, the Neo-Darwinists are oppressing us for no other reason than us righteously questioning their theory.” This awesome lie is bound to fail of course.expain

First of all, it is common knowledge now that Intelligent Design is a farce. No playing martyr is going to change that. The only thing that could only ever change the pitiful status of Intelligent Design as a scientific theory is evidence. Rock-hard, ice-cold evidence. And don’t think of bringing on the vertebrate eye or the bacterial flagellum once more, like you did in Dover. In fact, don’t bring any examples at all- bring testable, structurally sound theories. And stop this conniving and scheming.

This trailer is a new low in outrageous Creationist propaganda, second only, maybe, to The Way Of The Master. Check that out for some gruesome twists in the fabric of reality.

26 Comments »

  1. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    You obviously haven’t read the Dover trial judgement. There’s a key line in it which states “while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science”. There, in a nutshell, is the whole argument. There is a particular cabal who have, somehow, over the past century, managed to separate the whole concepts of science and truth. To the skeptical eye, it’s not hard to see how this was achieved: it was done by applying the word “science”, contrary to its original definition, to concepts that were not able to be verified experimentally and so had to be accepted as dogma or not at all. Evolution was the first example of this, and the onus really is on the evolutionists to come up with the “rock-hard ice-cold evidence” that in 150 years of trying they have so far failed to deliver. The problem is that this has undermined the whole scientific enterprise, so that the same sort of orthodoxy is being imposed on cosmology, climate science, and who knows what next? Our society and economy, which to such a large extent has been built on the benefits that science has delivered to us, will be the poorer if this trend continues unchallenged.

  2. Bram Janssen said,

    You are wrong about evolution– yet even if you were right about it; in all your reasoning you’re forgetting one single yet vital thing: I.D. is bogus. Why would you want to teach a bad theory in science class? I think schools are about intellectual excellence, you? Evolution has been extensively proven time after time, read up on it– yet even if this were not so, it would be the best theory out there yet developed. It was when Darwin published his “On The Origins Of Species,” when it was as yet not proven solidly (as a matter of fact he was mistaken or flat out wrong in some places). I submit that it would be better to teach this theory of natural selection than it would be to teach creationism, intelligent design… or palingenesis. Or Erich von Däniken. What’s more: all this “cabal” stuff reeks of conspiracy theory.
    It’s true that the science community is somewhat cliquish – lo, and behold!, I actually agree with that – for example, it’s pretty hard for an autodidact to join in the game, and there are numerous examples of scientists being shunned by their peers for being too outlandish. However, good theories have always caught on eventually, no matter the resistance any mainstream scientific clique might have put up. However, by far most of the time in history, when “the clique” expelled scientists, it was for the simple reason that the poor scientists in question were WRONG. Their theories were bad, their tests were bad and their evidence was bad. This was the case with creationism, as it was the case with Intelligent Design.

  3. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    Your simple assertion that “ID is bogus” is a tad simplistic, and doesn’t reflect the outcome of the Dover trial nor of the state of debate among those who are brave enough to discuss the issues. It is also a mistake to equate ID with Creationism, which I’m told the film (which of course I haven’t seen yet myself) tends to do and which, if so, will be a weakness. What I find strange is that most evolutionists seem to subscribe readily to the view that there is bound to be life elsewhere in the Universe and therefore support expenditure on SETI, the principles of which are very similar to those undergirding ID – namely, it is possible to analyze a signal, establish that it contains information, and attribute that to an [unspecified] intelligence. It betrays a lack of objectivity to support this approach when applying it to radio signals, but to condemn it as “not science” when applied to DNA.

    Regarding the state of proof of evolution, and your suggestion that talk of a ‘cabal’ reeks of conspiracy theory, my point is simply that evolution has escaped the scrutiny that other scientific theories have been subjected to, mainly because of its fundamental unfalsifiability. In historical terms, it was widely accepted in the biological community long before any of the so-called “evidences” were produced, and the evidence that has been put forward over the years has generally proved to be either highly misleading (e.g. peppered moths, Darwin’s finches) or downright fraudulent (e.g. Haeckel’s embryos). The advent of “punctuated equilibrium” theory to account for the fossil record’s stubborn refusal to provide evidence is impressive for its creativity, but not for its rigour.

    I agree that natural selection should be taught in schools, as this is entirely uncontroversial, economically useful, and in any case long pre-dates Darwin. What I find most depressing, and frustrating, is the way that things which *are* proven and uncontroversial – whether it be natural selection, the correspondence between species’ DNA and their physical similarities, or the clear changes in habitats over time that we see in the fossil record – are brought out as “proofs of evolution” when they are, on barely a moment’s reflection, nothing of the sort. It is this sloppiness of thinking which worries me most, especially when it threatens to infect other branches of science.

  4. Bram Janssen said,

    SETI is not without its opponents, of course, but it’s based on the assumption that it is very likely there’s intelligent life out there. But the SETI folk don’t kid themselves: they know the chance of actually receiving a signal is next to nil. They are not basing their claims on shortcomings in other scientific fields; they are basing their claim on science. Mathematical probability coupled with astrobiology. Also, they are not looking for a “higher intelligence,” they are looking for whatever intelligence might be out there. The SETI folk are extremely open to whatever might come to them. They are also open about the claims that there might not come anything to them at all.
    The ID folk, however, claim to have known from the onset that there is a Higher Intelligence, and the proof of this is in the DNA. The problem here is that, so far, every one of their purported proofs has been undone. These are the differences between SETI and ID:
    – SETI is based on probabilistic mathematics and the proponents are open to any possibilities, even their falsehood. Despite this, the SETI program is deemed to be worth a shot, but funding-wise it has always been on the backburner.
    – ID, on the other hand, is based on nothing more than the shortcomings of other sciences and has no scientific backing whatsoever. Despite this, the ID movement has been extremely active politically to push their ideas, and while doing so accused the scientific movement of the same thing (hence my irritation at this new film, which I think is a very, very low move.)
    Now, instead of focusing on the downsides of neo-Darwinism (which are real) perhaps you should ALSO rest your critical gaze on the support for it. Darwinism has never claimed to know everything or to be perfect, which would be impossible. A good theory can adapt to new evidence, provided that the evidence has a good scientific backing.

  5. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    I actually agree with your assessment of SETI, and I don’t think they’re going to find anything either. I cite it merely because the “probabilistic mathematics” part of it is common with ID. Essentially, given a certain signal with some indentifiable pattern, SETI aims to say “we think it is likely that this signal originates from an intelligent source rather than from random chance”.

    As far as I can see (having come to ID via the statistical work of William Dembski), ID aims to do exactly the same thing as applied to the information content of DNA. As in most scientific endeavors (and in so many other things in life), you can rarely say with 100% certainty how a particular thing got to be the way it is. What you do is consider alternatives, evaluate their relative likelihood, and apply Occam’s Razor to favor the most likely alternative over the less likely alternatives. ID is about seeking to quantify the relative likelihoods that DNA-encoded information originated from intelligent or random sources. As such, it seems to me a wholly respectable scientific approach.

    I would agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of ID if it were, in fact, merely a type of ‘God of the gaps’ argument – i.e. “we can’t explain this, so it must have been God what done it” – and the most common assault on ID is in fact to portray it as such. You seem to do this, and so (to an extent) did the judge at the Dover trial. However, that’s not what it is. It is an argument from what we know and can measure, and as such it is scientifically founded in a way that neo-Darwinism (which makes no actual testable predictions) is not.

    If ID were just mumbo-jumbo, then the thing to do would be to evaluate it properly against the evidence and let it stand or fall. What’s most striking is that this is not being allowed to happen. Instead of reasoned analysis in scientific journals, the debate is pushed out into the courts in a way that does no credit to anyone. This simply doesn’t happen in other branches of science, and that’s an interesting enough situation to want to make a movie about.

  6. erik said,

    “However, that’s not what it is. It is an argument from what we know and can measure, and as such it is scientifically founded in a way that neo-Darwinism (which makes no actual testable predictions) is not.”

    This, of course is completely false. Even if we would not judge ID in a scientific way, there is absolutely no reason to infer from the observable reality that it has been intelligently designed. One cannot only not infer intelligence, one can not even define it. How you, sir, are able to proclaim that ID is in fact ‘scientifically founded’ is therefore not only not true, its a blatant lie.

    “If ID were just mumbo-jumbo, then the thing to do would be to evaluate it properly against the evidence and let it stand or fall.”

    First of all: By what means should we evaluate it? Scientific means? How can one scientifically evaluate a statement that is nowhere near scientific?
    Second: This is exactly what happened in the Dover trial:
    – Irreducible Complexity of the eye? Bogus.
    – Irreducible Complexity of the blood clotting system? Bogus.
    – Bacterial Flagellum? Bogus.

    The point is that it is not science to say: “I cannot for the life of me find a way to explain this by natural selection, therefore it must have been designed,” and then put it to science to prove you are wrong. That is an exercise with no ending.

    The task for ID is to *prove* that design is the case in only one single organism. That is enough. To be able to do that, one should first define what the absolute characteristics of design are.

    And they haven’t even completed this minor task.

  7. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    “…there is absolutely no reason to infer from the observable reality that it has been intelligently designed”

    Well, we daily infer that many things have been intelligently designed. Would you pick up a newspaper or buy a computer if you didn’t infer that it had? Obviously there are reasons for so inferring, even though you could just as well argue that these things spontaneously came into being by random processes. It’s all a matter of probability. All I’m asserting here is that quantifying such probabilities is a worthwhile scientific endeavor. Why are you so afraid of that?

    Come back after you’ve read some Dembski.

  8. erixx said,

    “Well, we daily infer that many things have been intelligently designed.”

    No, we do not. But i fail to see why this is a convincing argument for the ID case or how it proves anything. I understand the reasoning, of course: Because something is complex, we can infer a design and hence postulate a designer.

    But this is nonsense. The reality is that we do not infer a designer of an IBM computer because it seems complex. We know it has been designed and the designer will gladly admit this fact. Yes, we can actually know the designer!

    Your reasoning is flawed in multiple ways:
    – It’s an equivocation to say that computers are complex in the same way as living organisms.
    – This equivocation is begging the question of design.
    – It is a non-sequitur to state that because something is complex, it has been designed.

    Again, the point is that it is up to the ID people to *prove* design. They haven’t done this and have demonstrably failed on numerous occasions.

    “All I’m asserting here is that quantifying such probabilities is a worthwhile scientific endeavor. Why are you so afraid of that?”

    Ah, the fear card. You suppose to much. I am not afraid. It simply is not a matter of probability. It’s a matter of flawed logic, as demonstrated above. As i said earlier: All the ID community has to do is prove design. Prove it and you are home free. But in stead of proving, you rather postulate erroneous statements.

    “Come back after you’ve read some Dembski.”

    Don’t be arrogant. It doesn’t prove your point and makes you look like a bad debater. Next time, just ask me if i have read that nonsense, ok?

  9. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    You’re right, I’m sorry for the arrogance of my last line, and I agree it doesn’t help.

    Even so, my points stand. What you say about ID, I say about evolution – prove it, and you are indeed home free. There are plenty of good, solid scientific theories out there that have been challenged, debated, but eventually proven beyond doubt by weight of evidence – thermodynamics, relativity, quantum theory, and so on. Now, however, we’ve gone full circle, and I’m in danger of re-stating things that I wrote earlier. Evolution remains unproven, and the irony is that even if it’s true, then it’s likely to remain unproven unless it is allowed to be challenged. My question, at the end of the day, is why are evolutionists so defensive that they want to push any debate about their subject out of the arena. No other branch of science is like that (although, worryingly, cosmology and climate science are beginning to show similar tendencies), and I still think that’s an interesting enough question to make a movie about.

  10. Bram Janssen said,

    Dr.Morris:
    “My question, at the end of the day, is why are evolutionists so defensive that they want to push any debate about their subject out of the arena.”

    You are right about this. Now, every scientific theory out there is scrutinized. However, some theories have the ill luck of being impopular with powerful political entities, such as climate change theory (energy corporations) and cosmology (religions and astrologers). Also health (philip morris vs lung disease – fast food chains vs obesity)
    In all these cases, the opposing movement went through an enormous effort to produce favourable “scientific” results. The same is the case with religion vs darwinian evolution. All sorts of weird concoctions have been presented to “proof” Creation, with an amazing force and often an disgraceful amount of slander, for 150 years now without seize. Evolutionists – unlike the thermodynamics folks or the mathematicians – have grown defensive and… somewhat grumpy from this constant assault. As you can imagine will be the climatologists and – back in the day – the medical experts in the case of smoking hazzards.

    I think that in the end, your question should be: are the Darwinists right or not? They did not push ID out of the arena initially: they looked at it and found it scientifically flawed and Dembski’s book filled with scientific fallacies. That is why they rejected ID and that is why they keep on rejecting it.

  11. erixx said,

    “You’re right, I’m sorry for the arrogance of my last line, and I agree it doesn’t help.”

    Np. I turn the other cheek😉

    “Even so, my points stand. What you say about ID, I say about evolution – prove it, and you are indeed home free.”

    No, they don’t. I have given you three explicit reasons why they don’t. You should engage them, rather then repeating yourself.

    The same is not true for evolution. Evolution is in no way illogical and it has been proven on numerous occasions and in numerous fields of science. But that is irrelevant to your point. Because, even *if* evolution were completely false, that does not for one moment mean that creation is true. Therefore i urge you to refute my arguments in stead of switching to another topic.

    “Now, however, we’ve gone full circle, and I’m in danger of re-stating things that I wrote earlier.”

    That is simply because you do not engage my arguments and do not back up your claims. Therefore i’ll re-state mine and point you to the above posts for the arguments you still need to refute:

    – Design can not be inferred.
    – Intelligent Design is not ‘a probability’.
    – ID is by no means scientific.

  12. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    Gentlemen,

    I think we’re coming to end of what we can profitably achieve in this discussion; Bram’s article and my initial comments were specific to the film and whether or not it made a valid point. I can’t, however, leave some of the above assertions unanswered:

    Bram: “They did not push ID out of the arena initially: they looked at it and found it scientifically flawed and Dembski’s book filled with scientific fallacies”

    Well, hardly; if that were the case, one would have expected to see articles by tenured scientists in the ID community published in the journals, critiqued and examined in the usual way. However, that is not what happened; instead, articles have been blocked and careers terminated in a way that is wholly extraordinary. Not even in the fields of cosmology and climate science (yet) have these methods been resorted to. The only remotely comparable case I can think of is the Holocaust-denial laws in some European countries. Now, I think that anyone who seeks to deny the Holocaust is an inept historian and probably has a separate agenda, but I’m still uncomfortable whenever academic enquiry leaves academia and ends up in the courts; it’s a bad precedent to set.

    erixx: “Evolution is in no way illogical and it has been proven on numerous occasions and in numerous fields of science”

    I encounter plenty of people who say that “evolution has been proven”, but when you ask to see the proof it tends to be disappointing. There are whole websites dedicated to this subject, but to give some examples (some of them repeated from what I wrote earlier):

    – peppered moths, Darwin’s finches: excellent proofs of the effects of natural selection among a given population, which isn’t in any case the least controversial. Nothing has yet arisen from these populations which isn’t a peppered moth or a Darwin’s finch.
    – Haeckel’s embryos: a well-documented fraud, but they still appear in school textbooks to this day.
    – similarities and differences in the DNA of different species: a ringing endorsement of Linnaeus, but what it has to do with anything Darwin predicted is a mystery to me.
    – Archaeopteryx: proves birds evolved from dinosaurs as convincingly as a duck-billed platypus proves poultry evolved from badgers.
    – punctuated equilibrium: a confession, however elaborate, that Darwin’s predictions about the fossil record simply have not been borne out.

    I could go on, but I suspect this part of the discussion would generate even more heat and even less light. I will just add for clarification that I don’t in fact believe it is possible for evolution to be proved because the usual avenue for proving a scientific theory (making a specific prediction and validating it experimentally) simply isn’t available. For exactly the same reason I don’t believe that Creation can be proved either. I’d welcome more honesty from both sides of that particular debate.

    “Therefore i’ll re-state mine and point you to the above posts for the arguments you still need to refute:

    – Design can not be inferred.
    – Intelligent Design is not ‘a probability’.
    – ID is by no means scientific.”

    Well,
    (1) It “obviously* can. If I asked you to pick out a dice from a bucket of small pebbles, you could do so without any difficulty. However you chose to dress it up, essentially you would be looking for an object in the bucket that bore the hallmarks of having been designed by an intelligence.
    (2) Everything is a probability. You obviously think it is a probability very close to 0. I think it is a probability very close to 1. Assigning a value to it, or at least developing a methodology for doing that, is a scientific question. That, as I said earlier and as Bram more-or-less agreed, is all that the SETI guys are doing.
    (3) Again, if ID is not scientific then neither is SETI. We may all smile indulgently at the SETI guys and retain our doubts about whether they’ll ever find anything, but no-one seems to be trying to terminate their careers or banning their work from being discussed in schools.

  13. erixx said,

    I have refuted every single argument you have given and yet you keep repeating yourself without specifying where my reasoning is flawed. You haven’t even confronted the arguments! Makes me wonder whether creationists have actually evolved from parrots.

    (1) If you were to tell me to pick up the pebble, I’d pick up the pebble. That only means that i am able to distinguish between objects and their common names. It reveals nothing about their origin. Again you make the same mistake. Therefore i will repeat the points i made earlier:

    Your reasoning is flawed in multiple ways:
    – It’s an equivocation to say that computers are complex in the same way as living organisms.
    – This equivocation is begging the question of design.
    – It is a non-sequitur to state that because something is complex, it has been designed.

    (2) Not everything is a probability. You can’t throw seven with a single dice. The point being that not all probabilities are a matter of science. Especially since the ‘probability of creation’ can not be quantified. Unless you want to give that a shot, since you seem to be a firm believer in it.

    (3) I haven’t spoken out about SETI and the subject has no bearing on creationism being a probability or not.

    I urge you to show the common decency to respond to what i say.

  14. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    Erixx writes:
    “I have refuted every single argument you have given and yet you keep repeating yourself without specifying where my reasoning is flawed.”

    If you’ve refuted any of my arguments so far, I must admit I hadn’t noticed. All I’ve perceived in your responses is blank denial of what I’d put forward, which where I come from doesn’t really count as “reasoning”. You certainly haven’t answered any of my points, but as you insist on a chapter-and-verse response to yours…

    “It’s an equivocation to say that computers are complex in the same way as living organisms”
    – I’m not sure what you mean by ‘equivocation’ here, but that’s beside the point because it’s not what I said. I simply offered a computer as an example of something that has been designed, and at a single glance it would be just as obvious that it had been designed, even if we’d never seen one before.

    “This equivocation is begging the question of design”
    – I agree that there is a lacuna in our debate over the precise definition of how we tell whether something is designed or not. That we can, generally speaking, is not in doubt. Going back to the dice-in-a-bucket-of-pebbles example, even if you had no idea what a dice was, and even if the size and weight of the dice were very close to the average size and weight of the pebbles, you’d have no difficulty picking it out. Not just because it would be different from all of the other pebbles either – after all, each pebble would also be different from all the other pebbles – but because it had certain characteristics that marked it out. I don’t have a simple formula for filling that lacuna with a straightforward definition of ‘design’, but part of the challenge of ID is to find it and to test things against it. This is, I repeat, a legitimate endeavor as far as I can see.

    “It is a non-sequitur to state that because something is complex, it has been designed.”
    Obviously. The definition of “design” requires more than mere complexity. I never claimed otherwise.

    As for your items (2) and (3), I have already stated that I don’t believe Creationism is provable so I’m not sure what your point is. SETI, I believe, is extremely relevant because, in Bram’s words “SETI is based on probabilistic mathematics” and so is ID.

  15. erixx said,

    Thanks for finally engaging my points. I Appreciate it!

    “I simply offered a computer as an example of something that has been designed, and at a single glance it would be just as obvious that it had been designed, even if we’d never seen one before.”

    And by implicitly comparing a *known* design to a natural object, you do just what i accused you of. You conclude that everything designed can be recognized as such, including the natural world (inferring design). This is an equivocation of the complexity of both entities. Yes, the natural world is complex, and yes a human design is complex. But they are not complex in the same way, until it has been proven that both are designed. Hence you cannot use the complexity to argue that both are designed. It’s really very simple.

    “I agree that there is a lacuna in our debate over the precise definition of how we tell whether something is designed or not. That we can, generally speaking, is not in doubt.”

    I absolutely agree. But this still is no reason to assume design and to state that design can therefore be inferred from nature by complexity, which you did earlier. It is still a fallacy: Begging the question.

    “even if you had no idea what a dice was, and even if the size and weight of the dice were very close to the average size and weight of the pebbles, you’d have no difficulty picking it out.”

    Actually, no. If i have no idea what a dice is, and you ask me to pick up a dice, i cannot comply. Its a silly example and again you make the error of equivocation of complexity. Just because, for some strange reason, a pebble seems complex to you, that doesn’t mean its complexity is the same as the designed complexity of a dice. If you would want to call that complex.

    “I have already stated that I don’t believe Creationism is provable so I’m not sure what your point is”

    The point is exactly this. It is not provable, hence it is not disprovable. This makes it a non scientific area and as such, creationism is not science, its a believe.

    “SETI, I believe, is extremely relevant because, in Bram’s words “SETI is based on probabilistic mathematics” and so is ID.”

    Ahhh, i get it. Ok, i see the relevance now, except for the details Bram mentioned earlier. These details make perfectly clear why ID is not comparable with SETI’s efforts.

    Why don’t you elaborate on your idea that natural complexity constitutes design in the same way humanly designed objects display complexity? I see no logical reason to infer this. What constitutes design, according to the Intelligent Design ‘theory’?

  16. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    I think we are beginning to get somewhere…

    “Yes, the natural world is complex, and yes a human design is complex. But they are not complex in the same way, until it has been proven that both are designed. Hence you cannot use the complexity to argue that both are designed. It’s really very simple.”

    You acknowledge that the difference between a human design and a “natural” object is one of type and not just of degree. It is nothing to do with just the degree of complexity. Would you also acknowledge that the difference between, say, a snowflake and a microbe is one of type and not just of degree? Or between a microbe and a whale? Where would you put the dividing lines? They must be put somewhere, otherwise any human design would in fact be “natural” in that it arose from human intelligence which in turn arose from natural processes. Yet the essence of Darwinism is that there are no such dividing lines, but that everything has arisen from a continuum of natural processes.

    “But this still is no reason to assume design and to state that design can therefore be inferred from nature by complexity, which you did earlier.”

    I have done nothing of the sort. In fact, I just read through the thread again to check, and you are the only one who has been using the word “complex”. I have been taking mainly in terms of “information”, which is not the same thing. I don’t have a simple definition of this – maybe other ID proponents are further along the line with it than I am – but undeniably it exists, and some things contain it and other things don’t. And it has to come from somewhere.

    “The point is exactly this. It is not provable, hence it is not disprovable. This makes it a non scientific area …”

    Aha, where would be be without Popper? I agree absolutely.

    “…and as such, creationism is not science, its a believe.”

    So how might one go about trying to falsify evolution? It makes no testable predictions (unlike, say, relativity or quantum physics), unless you count Darwin’s (and others’) predictions of what the fossil record would find and these have generally been null results. In fact, the history of palaeontology over the last 150 years or so has been one of finding unexpected things and adapting the theory “on the fly” to deal with them. But that’s not the main point; the main point is that unless we regard evolution as “disprovable”, then we have no right to regard it as “science”. You can’t have it both ways.

  17. erixx said,

    “You acknowledge that the difference between a human design and a “natural” object is one of type and not just of degree.”

    No. I do not. I said: There is no reason to compare them in any way, except when one would state that both are complex in some way. But this comparison is worth nothing without you defining complexity. Apart from this there is no reason to assume anything in nature is designed like human designed objects are. If there is, i would gladly hear it from you.

    “I have done nothing of the sort. In fact, I just read through the thread again to check, and you are the only one who has been using the word “complex”.”

    Correct. I am the one that used the word, but you implied it. Why else would you try to compare human designs with nature? This is exactly the point of the fallacy of begging the question. Let me put it this way: If it is not about complexity, what motivates you to compare human designed objects with organisms? Enlighten me.

    “So how might one go about trying to falsify evolution? It makes no testable predictions (unlike, say, relativity or quantum physics), unless you count Darwin’s (and others’) predictions of what the fossil record would find and these have generally been null results.”

    So, what does this mean for intelligent design then? Apart from the fact that it is completely incorrect to say that evolution makes no testable predictions (this makes me infer you haven’t even bothered to read up about it), it is completely irrelevant for the so called theory of intelligent design! Even if Darwin dreamt it up, this doesn’t make ID any more viable then it is today.

    “unless you count Darwin’s (and others’) predictions of what the fossil record would find and these have generally been null results.”

    Go find a rabbit fossil in the Precambrian and you have disproved the theory of evolution. I could go on endlessly with examples for falsification. Here is another nice one: Prove the process doesn’t work as described in the theory. Now how do i disprove ID again? Oh yes, that’s right. There *is* no theory…

    As for your argument here: Nonsense. There is an abundance of fossil evidence in favor of evolution. Better yet; there is none contradicting it.

    “the main point is that unless we regard evolution as “disprovable”, then we have no right to regard it as “science”. You can’t have it both ways.”

    I’m not trying to have it both ways. You are trying to bring the theory of evolution down to the level of ID, so you can state that they both be accepted or both be rejected.

    Without being arrogant; I suggest you start working on your knowledge of evolution. Your claims regarding evolution not being disprovable are… well… simply ridiculous.

  18. erixx said,

    PS: Again you failed to answer the most important part of my post:

    “Why don’t you elaborate on your idea that natural complexity constitutes design in the same way humanly designed objects display complexity? I see no logical reason to infer this. What constitutes design, according to the Intelligent Design ‘theory’?”

    You believe it, you claim it, prove it. At least define something?

  19. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    Erixx, I’m afraid you are stumbling over your own logic so many times that it’s getting hard to keep up.

    Firstly, and trying hard not to sound arrogant, it gets tiresome having to explain to evolutionists how the scientific method works. A ‘testable prediction’ has to be something that would naturally follow from the theory under scrutiny, but which could not be explained by any alternative theory which is put forward. The classic example of this (at least from the last 100 years) is Eddington’s data from the 1919 solar eclipse which is considered to have proved Einstein’s theory of general relativity. With the sun blanked off, Einstein’s theory predicted that a nearby star (obviously not visible in daylight) would appear in a certain position because of the sun’s gravitational lens effect: Newtonian mechanics predicted a quite different position. Eddington did the measurement and, bingo, the star was where Einstein said it would be and not where Newton would have expected it.

    So how does this look for evolution? Well, your precambrian rabbit would be equally surprising for a creationist, since precambrian fossils are exclusively sea-creatures and rabbits aren’t. I suppose someone might have thrown one off a passing ship, but even then I expect it would get eaten by something on the way down. Less facetiously, there is a perfectly viable alternative explanation of why the fossil record looks as it does, and evolution needs to find examples where its predictions significantly diverge from the alternative. I know of none. Frankly, either evolutionism or creationism are equally adept at fitting whatever is dug up from the ground into their worldview, which indicates both are equally metaphysical narratives rather than actual science (a point I’ll come back to later).

    As for “prove the process doesn’t work as described in the theory”, that is nothing but an attempt to shift the burden of proof. There isn’t an ounce of evidence that natural selection can lead to speciation. Yet everything from our daily experience (picking dice out buckets) to the widely-supported SETI program takes for granted that information (which, I insist, is not the same as complexity but is sometimes a prerequisite for it) doesn’t arise apart from intelligence. The burden is on evolution to demonstrate that in this one special instance, that rule does not hold. That’s quite a big thing to prove, and it’s made a pretty poor fist of it so far.

    If I were to take the bait, then in fact you’re asking me to prove a negative which is notoriously hard to do. Certainly, however, there seems to be compelling evidence that the second law of thermodynamics provides a major hurdle for the idea that organisms can spontaneously develop increasingly complex forms without external intervention. Evolutionists have had trouble with this since Lord Kelvin’s time, and usually respond by smokescreening in a way that generates a lot of entropy and very little useful work! However, a personal friend of mine who is a Professor of Thermodynamics at one of the main UK universities (Leeds) makes the case very compellingly. Prof. Dawkins, who has publicly debated with my friend and who is visibly at sea in these matters, has publicly called for his University to terminate his tenure. That’s about par for the course.

    But before I go any further on this subject, you more or less gave away the store in your earlier mail (I should have remarked on it at the time) when you said that “creationism is not provable, hence it is not disprovable”. Well, since evolution and creationism are clearly mutually exclusive, if you could prove evolution then you would of course have disproved creationism. Creationism is, in fact, disprovable (and then, by implication, a legitimate science) if, and only if, evolution is provable. This tension provides no problem for me, since I don’t actually believe that either of them are either provable or disprovable, nor, in fact, are either of them legitimate sciences. It seems a big problem for evolutionists, however.

    All of which brings us back to the question of whether ID fares any better. Well, I believe it does. You ask me “What constitutes design, according to the Intelligent Design ‘theory’?” I don’t claim to speak for the whole ID movement, but my reading of what the main practitioners are coming up with focuses on ‘the encapsulation of information’. That of course leaves us having to define “information”, and I don’t have a one-phrase answer for that but there are plenty of practitioners out there, within the identified ID community and outside it, who are actively working on the same problem. Putting SETI to one side for now, how, for example, do telecommunications engineers optimize the detection of signals in the presence of noise? How do reviewers of scientific publications identify falsified data (a particularly pressing question in medical trials, but which surfaces in many other cases as well)? How do archaeologists know whether something they dig out of the ground is of human or natural origin? In all of these fields, success (and economic value) depends on being able to identify when a particular outcome differs from what would have been expected from ordinary, undirected natural processes. All ID does is to take this (hopefully in some ways contribute to it as well) and apply the same filter which all these other disciplines use routinely and uncontroversially to DNA. If this whole debate were just about the science, then I really can’t see why that should be the least controversial.

  20. erixx said,

    “Erixx, I’m afraid you are stumbling over your own logic so many times that it’s getting hard to keep up.”

    Yes, i thought you would come up with something as silly as this. Btw: Sorry for my late answer!

    “A ‘testable prediction’ has to be something that would naturally follow from the theory under scrutiny, but which could not be explained by any alternative theory which is put forward.”

    Again: I suggest you read up on your knowledge of evolution. Go to some public place to find the predictions claimed by the Theory of Evolution and provide an explanation with the Theory of Creation.

    Why don’t you start with a creationist explanation of the GULO-Gene? Maybe you could clarify the obvious merger of 2 chromosomes in humans when compared to the great apes? Notice the location of the telomeres on this ‘new’ extended chromosome. If you are done explaining how this -in its historical context- has not been a successful prediction by the Theory of Evolution, i’ll provide you with an endless amount of other proofs you will have to refute before you are anywhere near being able to claim that Evolution does not predict anything that any other theory couldn’t have predicted either. But then again, you should already be aware of all these predictions, looking at the claim you made😉

    “So how does this look for evolution? Well, your precambrian rabbit would be equally surprising for a creationist, since precambrian fossils are exclusively sea-creatures and rabbits aren’t.”

    Really? Then please, show me the creationist theory which predicts this. I’m not asking you to prove a negative. I’m simply asking you to show me the theory. How does an era like the precambrian fit in ‘The Theory of Creation’? Show me the creationist evidence.

  21. erixx said,

    Whoops, forgot this one.

    “That of course leaves us having to define “information”, and I don’t have a one-phrase answer for that but there are plenty of practitioners out there, within the identified ID community and outside it, who are actively working on the same problem.”

    I see. So you really can’t define what constitutes design, yet you claim to be able to infer design from nature? And you claim it to be as scientific as the Theory of Evolution. Fascinating. Please, go on, because i hope you understand i need a bit more to go on with this. What constitutes design?

  22. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    Erixx,

    “Yes, i thought you would come up with something as silly as this. Btw: Sorry for my late answer!”

    That’s OK, I’ve been pretty busy myself this week😉

    “Again: I suggest you read up on your knowledge of evolution. Go to some public place to find the predictions claimed by the Theory of Evolution and provide an explanation with the Theory of Creation.”

    Well, a “prediction” has to be precisely that, something forecast before the evidence one way or the other comes to light. An a-posteriori explanation for something already found doesn’t qualify.

    “Why don’t you start with a creationist explanation of the GULO-Gene? ”

    Did somebody predict the GULO gene-sequence before it was first observed? This would be GULO pseudogene whose sequence is (reasonably, but by no means exactly) common to humans, higher primates and, er, guinea pigs but not to rats or most other mammals. Well, a creationist would remark that it’s not the least surprising that creatures which have similar characteristics are made of similar “stuff” at a molecular level – as I said earlier in the thread, this is a vindication of Linnaeus but largely irrelevant to Darwin’s ideas. The commonality with the guinea pig genome is a puzzle to both parties, and the favored explanation seems to be that it’s something to do with a predisposition towards certain mutations at certain sites, arising from the chemistry. I’m not a chemist so I can’t comment on this.

    “Really? Then please, show me the creationist theory which predicts this. I’m not asking you to prove a negative. I’m simply asking you to show me the theory. How does an era like the precambrian fit in ‘The Theory of Creation’? Show me the creationist evidence.”

    What the fossil record shows is that certain classes of fossils are invariably found together, and conversely fossils from one class are not found mixed in with those of another class. The most this shows is that certain habitats support certain types of life, but not others. Rabbits don’t live at the bottom of the sea, ergo it would be very surprising to find rabbit fossils mixed in with those of deep-sea creatures. It would be equally surprising to find cat fossils mixed up with polar bears. At any given location, habitats change over time, and it’s not greatly surprising if over the history of the world (whether that’s long or short) they have changed in more or less the same sequence.

    When evolutionists talk of a ‘precambrian era’, what they mean is fossils that have no ‘older’ fossil-beds beneath them but which are found straight on top of igneous rocks. This type of habitat may just be a legitimate preference for these types of creatures.

    So we don’t find precambrian creatures living on igneous seabeds any more? Well, hold fire, they may be lurking somewhere undiscovered just like the coelacanth was for so long. But even if we don’t, we already know that creatures become extinct, for all sorts of reasons. That’s hardly an argument either way.

    “So you really can’t define what constitutes design, yet you claim to be able to infer design from nature? And you claim it to be as scientific as the Theory of Evolution. Fascinating. Please, go on, because i hope you understand i need a bit more to go on with this. What constitutes design?”

    I can’t quite get at what your point is here. Are you denying that there is such a thing as “design” in the most abstract sense? Hardly, because you conceded earlier that there is a difference in type and not just degree between items designed by humans and items arising in the natural world. You never did answer my question about whether you saw a similar discontinuity between living and non-living things in the natural world. Either way, the most I’ve claimed at any point in this discussion is that “design” exists and can be recognized (and in some cases quantified) even without a precise definition. That precise definition would be useful to have, but is a subject of ongoing research. What’s the point of doing science if you already know all the answers?

  23. erixx said,

    “Well, a “prediction” has to be precisely that, something forecast before the evidence one way or the other comes to light. An a-posteriori explanation for something already found doesn’t qualify.”

    Nonsense. A prediction like chromosome 2 is not disqualified because no scientist thought of it earlier. predictions touch the bare method of a theory. Not an incidental find.

    “Did somebody predict the GULO gene-sequence before it was first observed?”

    As i said before, this is not what ‘prediction’ means. The point is that ON discovery one can fit this into the theory of evolution, because this is just the kind of thing the method of evolution predicts will happen.

    “The most this shows is that certain habitats support certain types of life, but not others.”

    Nonsense. This is not locational, its temporal.

    “Rabbits don’t live at the bottom of the sea, ergo it would be very surprising to find rabbit fossils mixed in with those of deep-sea creatures.”

    This is probably the most funniest comment i have seen on the net. I’ll recommend it to ‘fundies say the darndest things’🙂 Study geology a bit please and then answer this question again, would you? And no, i’m not trying to be arrogant here.

    “But even if we don’t, we already know that creatures become extinct, for all sorts of reasons. That’s hardly an argument either way.”

    Therefore you would suppose that, if creation is indeed true, this planet was once teaming with a gazillion of species, al designed and created. Boy, it must have been crowded. Do you have any idea HOW crowded?😉

    “I can’t quite get at what your point is here.”

    Funny, i thought my question was clear. I asked what the theory of creation was all about and to get there i wanted to hear the definition of design. You referred to ‘information’ without providing me with any definition of it. How can there be a theory of creation if there is no definition of what creation (and therefore design) is?

    So, ill resubmit my question: What constitutes design?

    “Either way, the most I’ve claimed at any point in this discussion is that “design” exists and can be recognized (and in some cases quantified) even without a precise definition.”

    And i have refuted this point by making clear that we do, in fact, not infer design by studying the object, but by studying the bill of purchase and ask the designer.

  24. Dr Stephen Morris said,

    Erixx,

    I think we’re reaching end-game here. Unless you can come up with something a bit more substantial then I expect this will be my last post in this thread.

    “As i said before, this is not what ‘prediction’ means. The point is that ON discovery one can fit this into the theory of evolution, because this is just the kind of thing the method of evolution predicts will happen”.

    Let me quote you something written by a prominent evolutionist in what is probably the main evolutionist journal:

    “Our theory of evolution has become, as Popper described, one which cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus “outside empirical science” but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas, either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems have attained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training. The cure seems to us not to be a discarding of the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory, but more skepticism about many of its tenets.” (P. Ehrlich and L.C. Birch, Nature, 214 p.352 (1967))

    So we have Ehrlich saying that evolution is not science but may nevertheless be true, exactly as the Dover judgement stated that ID was not science but may nevertheless be true. I continue to maintain that ID is, in fact, scientific in a way that evolution clearly is not, namely that it shares clear methodological approaches with a range of allied disciplines whose scientific credentials no-one disputes.

    Meanwhile, you have not attempted to address my critique of the GULO example, namely that even if I concede [which in reality I don’t] the a-posteriori argument that “recent common descent is the most likely explanation for similarity in gene sequences”, then we are forced to conclude that guinea-pigs are also recent evolutionary ancestors but rats and dogs aren’t. I wish we could get away with this sort of stuff in other sciences.

    “This is probably the most funniest comment i have seen on the net. I’ll recommend it to ‘fundies say the darndest things’🙂 Study geology a bit please and then answer this question again, would you? And no, i’m not trying to be arrogant here.”

    Think about it a bit longer and it won’t be so funny. Actually it was studying geology that gave rise to my first doubts concerning evolution. Darwinian evolution depends wholly upon Lyell’s principle of uniformitarianism, which is an axiom rather than a theory and is wholly untested, nor can it be. Take this away, and the whole edifice comes crumbling down. The shakiness of its foundation is witnessed by the circular reasoning common in geological dating: fossils being dated by the strata in which they are found, while the strata themselves are dated by the ‘leitfossils’ contained either in them or in adjacent strata. Where radiometric methods are used as references, these have proved notoriously hard to calibrate, with tests on ‘known’ samples (e.g. newly-extruded volcanic rocks) being inaccurate by factors of 10^6 or more.

    “And i have refuted this point by making clear that we do, in fact, not infer design by studying the object, but by studying the bill of purchase and ask the designer.”

    The above statement is quite plainly false. You don’t go into a computer shop and ask to meet the designer of each computer on offer, nor do you ask the shop assistant to show you which ones have been designed; it is perfectly obvious from their observable characteristics that each one there has been.

    Yet even so (and here I am well aware that I’m well within “not science but nevertheless true” territory), you won’t be surprised if I add that I do indeed believe it is possible to “study the bill of purchase and ask the designer” in the case of the natural world. Though my doubts about evolution started with the study of geology, they culminated in my study of history when I came up against the reality of the person of Jesus Christ. In a court case, scientific or forensic evidence has some value in establishing what may or may not possibly have happened, but it will always take second place to a credible witness who was there at the time. In the case of the origin of the cosmos, Jesus Christ has a compelling claim to be a credible witness, and his account is not lightly discarded. Anyone inclined to accept evolution must, besides the theory’s intrinsic untenabilities which we have already discussed in some length, account for him. Again, efforts to do so by evolutionists have generally been unimpressive (Prof. Dawkins’s particularly so).

    As a post-script, and referring back to my very first post, I would just add that the advanced, economically prosperous and free society that we enjoy in the West is largely founded on the scientific enterprise and that in turn is largely founded on biblical Christianity. Though counter-intuitive for many people who have not read much history, it is fairly straightforward to verify this (for example, it is no accident that the great leaps forward of the last few centuries took place in Europe and the US, and that so many leading scientists particularly in the field of Physics have been evangelical Christians – for example, Faraday, Maxwell and Kelvin). My big concern about Darwinism is not that it’s a threat to Christianity (because it quite clearly isn’t) but that it’s a threat to science. When its effect is to close down career paths for competent scientists in certain fields, and to prevent those that remain from following where the evidence leads them for fear of the effects on their livelihoods, that is a serious matter.

  25. erixx said,

    “Let me quote you something written by a prominent evolutionist in what is probably the main evolutionist journal”

    Quotes only mean something to bible thumping fools. I can supply you with an equal amount of quotes that say the opposite. It proves nothing and it does not refute the point i made.

    “Meanwhile, you have not attempted to address my critique of the GULO example”

    You are completely correct. Let me tell you why. My question to you was: “Why don’t you start with a creationist explanation of the GULO-Gene?” And again you failed to do the simplest thing: Answer my question. Instead you deployed a creationist tactic: Explain why it is no evidence for evolution. This, dear Dr Morris, is intellectually dishonest and i fail to see where you find the audacity to urge me to answer your ‘critique’ when you can’t even display the common courtesy to answer the question.

    “Think about it a bit longer and it won’t be so funny.”

    Done that, and i’m still laughing my pants off.

    “The above statement is quite plainly false. You don’t go into a computer shop and ask to meet the designer of each computer on offer, nor do you ask the shop assistant to show you which ones have been designed; it is perfectly obvious from their observable characteristics that each one there has been.”

    Oh, please. The point is not that i don’t. The point is that i CAN. I have addressed this point a number of times already. Please, sir, stop repeating a refuted argument.

    “I think we’re reaching end-game here. Unless you can come up with something a bit more substantial then I expect this will be my last post in this thread.”

    I completely agree with you, although i find the allusion to my arguments not being substantial intellectually dishonest. It is not I who does not answer the simplest questions and it is not i who fails to define my premises.

    This chit-chat would be a lot easier if you had something to prove or even define. You clearly demonstrated that you can’t even live up to these basic requirements.

    Thanks for the chat anyway!

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