Comparing Internet Argument Styles: Creationists, IDists, Scientists

Skeptic magazine has an interesting article, based on a 2017 article in Science & Education, describing a study that compared the argument topics and argument types found on websites discussing origins issues. It is not clear from the Skeptic article whether they counted arguments on discussion forums.

The comment I found most interesting is:

[T]he ID creationism approach has been, and continues to be, primarily a program meant to prove the existence of God. It therefore bears more resemblance to natural theology and apologetics than it does to science. Seen in this light, it is surprising that ID creationists once believed that ID would somehow help them achieve their goals.

The author characterizes the irreducible complexity argument as an argument meant to prove the existence of God. I suppose some here would disagree.

I think the ID creationists may have believed ID would help them achieve their goals only because creation science had been so decisively rejected. At that point it was either become more scientific or become more apologetic, and science was clearly not a way forward.

The original article is R. M. Barnes, R. A. Church, and S. Draznin-Nagy. 2017. “The Nature of the Arguments for Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Evolution.” Science & Education, 26, pp. 27–47.

0

239 thoughts on “Comparing Internet Argument Styles: Creationists, IDists, Scientists

  1. newton: Present life , but what is the minimum required to qualify as life? Are viruses alive?

    It doesn’t matter if it can’t get significantly more complex…with Darwinism being dead etc…

    0
  2. newton: Human design has been a bottom up ,gradual increase in efficiency and complexity.

    It’s not the same thing as building a fully functional robot…All parts have to be there fully functional and then you power it up…
    If something essential is missing and it may not work…
    Life is like 3D printed organs plus some kind of power to animate them…quantum perhaps…

    0
  3. phoodoo:
    Citrate!Ha, that’s what the other side has.

    A million plus intricate systems, guided by an intricate code, guided by even more development codes.That’s what our sides has.

    I’d say our side is winning the science race.I am not afraid.

    I marvel that it never seems to bother you that scientists of every one of the world’s thousands of religious faiths except yours understand and accept evolutionary theory. I do not marvel that your grasp of evolutionary theory has nothing longitudinal in it at all — that is, incremental changes, filtered by trial and error with successes being kept. Your concept of evolution is more like a thousand fair coins all thrown at once, and all coming up heads.

    I cheerfully grant that your weird distortion of evolution is absurd, completely impossible, and should be laughed at. Much as your faith might be mischaracterized as an all-powerful white-bearded invisible old man waving a magic wand — which you call “science.”

    But discussions where both sides endlessly attack truly stupid parodies of the other’s position provide very thin entertainment. You might have more success critiquing the actual evolutionary theory, rather than the punch line of a creationist joke.

    0
  4. Corneel: I always thought so.

    Robert Byers

    I might put it carelessly sometimes but its close to the same thing.
    ID exists as a conclusion complexity in nature is scientific evidence for a creator and claims that evidence in nature show its not needing a creator ARE WRONG.
    Its a hypothesis with investigation.
    YEC starts with a witness to origins and then uses investigation to debunk opposition or make proposition where it can on behalf of the witness.
    its organized investigation. Its not theology. All truth in the universe does not equal theology even if its about God.
    I smell another attempt, however innocent, to say ID/YEC are theology and not science.
    They give up. Neither does YEC or ID.

    0
  5. J-Mac: You’ve read the whole poppycock?!
    I admire you… I usually read 2-3 of his sentences and lose interest…
    I don’t tolerate attention seeking behaviour particularly well…😎
    You?

    Heh.

    0
  6. Robert Byers: ID exists as a conclusion complexity in nature is scientific evidence for a creator and claims that evidence in nature show its not needing a creator ARE WRONG.

    That seems correct. ID seeks to bolster the conclusion that God exists and created mankind by arguing that the complexity observed in biological organisms cannot have been brought about by known natural processes. That indeed involves, as you correctly state, trying to discredit scientific evidence that demonstrates this claim is wrong.

    But I thought you were trying to convince me that ID is not natural theology or apologetics.

    ETA: Biological complexity is the *main* argument. But I wonder what you think of efforts like that of EricMH that directly go for proof of the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

    0
  7. J-Mac: It doesn’t matter if it can’t get significantly more complex…with Darwinism being dead etc…

    It is a design question, what is the minimum design to qualify as alive?

    0
  8. newton: It is a design question, what is the minimum design to qualify as alive?

    Give me the definition of life you agree with…

    0
  9. J-Mac: It’s not the same thing as building a fully functional robot

    “The Litter-Robot 3 features an expansive litter chamber and larger, upward-facing entryway that gives it an open-air feel, making it much more inviting and comfortable for large cats. The self-adjusting weight sensor can easily detect both small and larger cats (cats must weigh at least 5 pounds). As with all Litter-Robot units, the litter is automatically sifted after each use and waste is deposited into a convenient drawer, all while using less litter and reducing litter spilling and tracking. ”

    Makes you wonder what the problem was with Litter-Robot 1 and 2.

    0
  10. newton: Makes you wonder what the problem was with Litter-Robot 1 and 2

    They weren’t internet enabled.

    Now Facebook knows how often your cat poops.

    0
  11. petrushka: newton: Makes you wonder what the problem was with Litter-Robot 1 and 2

    petrushka: They weren’t internet enabled.

    Also, Litter-Robot 2 had a tiny production fault causing it to retain the turds and deposit the cat in the waste drawer.

    0
  12. J-Mac: Give me the definition of life you agree with…

    I make bowls not life, seems like a design of life proponent who knows what dead is ,might know what is the minimum requirement for not dead is before being sure it is impossible for non-design.

    In other words , where did the designer choose to start per what we observe in the historical record. Or is that record misinterpreted. The beginning of the design process could have occurred far from Earth.

    With evolution , it is believed to still be happening, very slowly like the movements of the continents, but the same processes in play. Theoretically as our knowledge and tools improve so should our abilty to observe them.

    Design ,on the other hand ,we have no idea. Every cancer could be a designer at work or not. Now of course, if one knows who possible designer likely is, one might extrapolate some likelihoods.Flesh out design.

    Yet ID proponents actively refuse to consider that line of inquiry despite there being the necessity at the beginning of the casual chain an undesigned intelligence capable of manipulating matter. One well known character fits the bill by definition and is claimed to be the sole such being .If top down is the approach, then that is the top.

    Some records indicate possible scenarios.

    Maybe an OP. Why does the top down approach start in the middle, not the top?

    0
  13. petrushka: They weren’t internet enabled.

    Now Facebook knows how often your cat poops.

    Helpful if your cat has his own page. It is tiresome doing it by hand.

    Just hear the late Karl Lagerfeld’s cat,Choupette, was left his estate. Weird but weirder still, the cat already had a net worth of 3,000,000 from its modeling gigs. The rich get richer.

    0
  14. J-Mac: Boring…

    At times, and dusty. At other times ,close proximity to a rapidly rotating block of wood gets your attention.

    0
  15. newton: No doubt, design aficionados rarely want to talk about design. Often act insulted.

    After all this time I still don’t know if Mungs designer is phoodoo’s designer is J-Mac’s designer. Does their designer intervene all the time? No idea. Just the once, to create the universe? No idea. Does it make malaria, like Behe’s designer? No idea.

    Literally all I know about “design” is that it does what “Darwinism” cannot. Beyond that, literally no idea.

    It’s almost as if “Intelligent Design” is a failure to fully appreciate what biology actually is and the sheer scale and scope of everything that has happened over millions of years. In fact, it’s an attempt to deny it.

    Behe could not even reason properly about what the bacteria in a sq mt of soil can achieve. And he’s their top guy.

    Under cross examination however, Behe was forced to agree that “the number of prokaryotes in 1 ton of soil are 7 orders of magnitude higher than the population [it would take] to produce the disulfide bond” and that “it’s entirely possible that something that couldn’t be produced in the lab in two years… could be produced over three and half billion years.”

    So I say let’s have more court cases! What happened to JoeGalliens case I wonder, where he was going to take his kid’s school to court for teaching evilution?

    What about you J-Mac, you seem convinced you are right (about what I don’t know) and I’m sure you could take that conviction to court and win! Will you consider it?

    0
  16. Corneel,

    Corneel wrote: “So any argument in favor of the existence of an Intelligent Designer was classified as “God exists”, whether that was explicitly stated or not.”

    Yes, that is correct. As was revealed in the Dover trial, ID proponents have deliberately attempted to hide the fact that ID = the Judeo-Christian God, so all mentions of the ID in creationist and ID websites were taken to indicate a divine/supernatural being. Quite a few of the ID references we came across capitalized ID (e.g. Intelligent Designer vs. intelligent designer) thus, we assume, indicating a deity rather than a super intelligent race of being who were the architects of evolution for millions of years. Still other self-identified ID websites quoted scripture, and stated outright that the Intelligent Designer was the Judeo-Christian God.

    We did feel that some might object to our coding of an intelligent designer as the God of Abraham. That is why we clearly specified our coding algorithm in our manuscript. Anyone who thinks that ID =/= God can interpret our results as revealing that the claim ID exists is more common than the claim God exists in terms of raw frequency count in ID websites.

    0
  17. OMagain: After all this time I still don’t know if Mungs designer is phoodoo’s designer is J-Mac’s designer.

    Oh gee. And here I thought the designer could only be God, no matter who was talking. If you’re saying you don’t know who God is, I believe you.

    0
  18. Corneel: The search for the evidence of design in human biology is the attempt to find evidence for the existence of God. You cannot possibly separate the two.

    The search for an unguided explanation to evolution is clearly an attempt to find evidence of no God. You can not possibly separate the two.

    Unfortunately, now that Darwinism is dead, its getting harder and harder to justify the unguided part. So now evolutionists are trying to replace a designer with the Third Way- a God who is not a God, a God who just is because.

    0
  19. phoodoo: Likewise, Stephen Meyer. DNA Jock calls him a liar (Jock doesn’t care about UK libel laws much, except for sometimes), not a scientist. In Wikipedia they give him the same distorted types of characterizations, even though he holds a PHD in History and Philosophy of Science. So what is he, a scientist or a creationist or an IDist?

    Mr Barnes does not appear to want to answer the question about whether someone who holds a religious view is also considered a scientist.

    In your study, are those who are referred to as creationists, segregated from those you call scientists?

    In your study are those who call themselves skeptics, considered scientists?

    Are you considered a scientist in your study, or an atheist?

    0
  20. Err, phoodoo, Dr Barnes already answered your question, viz:

    we simply relied on the identification of individuals by the person writing each individual web page

    which, if you think about it, is the only thing that matters. Does the person making the appeal to authority consider the authority to be a religious one or a secular one.
    Glad to see you concede that Dr. Meyer is NOT a scientist. Some people like to flaunt his earth science degree from Whitworth College; you and he correctly focus on the Philosophy degrees he received from Cambridge.

    0
  21. DNA_Jock:
    Err, phoodoo, Dr Barnes already answered your question, viz:

    which, if you think about it, is the only thing that matters. Does the person making the appeal to authority consider the authority to be a religious one or a secular one.
    Glad to see you concede that Dr. Meyer is NOT a scientist. Some people like to flaunt his earth science degree from Whitworth College; you and he correctly focus on the Philosophy degrees he received from Cambridge.

    No, that doesn’t answer the question at all Baby-Doc. Is someone who is religious also a scientist? If you are going to claim that Meyer is not a scientist because he holds a PHD in Philosophy and History of SCIENCE (and a bachelors degree in PHYSICS and Earth science-and worked as a geophysicist!), then you are not a scientist, because that is both unscientific and fucking dumb.

    Sorry Baby-Doc, Meyer is a scientist. Maybe one day you can be one too.

    0
  22. No phoodoo,
    You fail to understand, as usual.
    All four categories of scientist/not and religious/not exist. Amongst my friends, even. Big whoop. That makes no difference to Dr Barnes’s, paper.
    What Dr Barnes is measuring is the “appeal to a secular authority” versus the “appeal to a religious authority” as different forms of argumentation. It matters not whether the people appealed to are actually scientists or actually theologians or, in fact both or neither. What matters is whether the APPEALER views them as an authority in this field or that. He is contrasting the nature of the arguments.
    FYI, Meyer is still not a scientist. PHS is philosophy and/or history, not science, your all caps ‘argument’ notwithstanding.

    0
  23. DNA_Jock,

    In fact, Barnes pulls an even slicker trick than you in his paper, when someone who is a scientist, but they hold views that skeptics don’t like, he seems to put them in a separate category altogether, “scientists outside the mainstream” as if they are in some kind of purgatory imposed by him.

    Now of course, Barnes considers belief in evolution (I can not see anywhere where Barnes explains what evolution means, so I am sure Rumraket will have a big problem with this, because he is not defining his terms) to be mainstream, so anyone who argues against this vapor known as evolution is to be in the purgatory.

    So you see, when Barnes says

    “Creationists concluded that scientists are either liars…”

    he has in fact shown that he does make an artificial divide between Creationist and Scientists. Why doesn’t this read “Creationist concluded that EVOLUTIONISTS are liars…”?

    0
  24. DNA_Jock,
    What’s Richard Dawkins Doc? He is an evangelist right? Not a scientist.

    And yet:

    The scientist and bestselling writer has become the face of a new crusading atheism. But even his closest allies worry that his online provocations do more harm than good

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/09/is-richard-dawkins-destroying-his-reputation

    Why did they call him a scientist do you think?

    What’s Dawkins major Doc? Look up “evolutionary biologist” Richard Dawkins and see how many hits you get.

    Is he an evolutionary biologist?

    0
  25. Corneel: That seems correct. ID seeks to bolster the conclusion that God exists and created mankind by arguing that the complexity observed in biological organisms cannot have been brought about by known natural processes. That indeed involves, as you correctly state, trying to discredit scientific evidence that demonstrates this claim is wrong.

    But I thought you were trying to convince me that ID is not natural theology or apologetics.

    ETA: Biological complexity is the *main* argument. But I wonder what you think of efforts like that of EricMH that directly go for proof of the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

    Proof og god ideas is possibly scientific if its based on the natural world.

    Yes to your definition but no to the characterization ID tries to discredit science evidence to the contrary. It is just competing hypothesis in normal science method.
    Again why say theology? If a god is proven that just a fair result of scientific investigation.

    0
  26. Ralph_Barnes: We did feel that some might object to our coding of an intelligent designer as the God of Abraham. That is why we clearly specified our coding algorithm in our manuscript. Anyone who thinks that ID =/= God can interpret our results as revealing that the claim ID exists is more common than the claim God exists in terms of raw frequency count in ID websites.

    Thanks, Ralph. I have no problem with collapsing the two categories into one, but then again, I am not an ID proponent.

    I wonder whether the coding of God as ID is completely due to the legal issues with teaching creationism in the US, or whether the idea that ID is a scientific program has a more general appeal. I get the impression that ID proponents really like the idea that the ID arguments for the existence of ID/God are scientific, because it confers a sense of impartiality.

    0
  27. phoodoo: The search for an unguided explanation to evolution is clearly an attempt to find evidence of no God. You can not possibly separate the two.

    Sure you can, and many people combine personal faith with an acceptance of unguided evolution. Omnipotent omniscient entities have quite some options in this regard, you know.

    phoodoo: Unfortunately, now that Darwinism is dead, its getting harder and harder to justify the unguided part. So now evolutionists are trying to replace a designer with the Third Way- a God who is not a God, a God who just is because.

    I have no problem explaining “the unguided part” and no use for a third way. I fail to see how evolutionary biology overturns the existence of God. You will have to explain to me why you need Him to be the guiding Creator.

    0
  28. Robert Byers: Yes to your definition but no to the characterization ID tries to discredit science evidence to the contrary. It is just competing hypothesis in normal science method.

    Then you are seeing things very differently from me. To my eyes, over 90% of ID output is sowing doubt about established evolutionary explanations of complex traits, and then insisting that the only other option is that an Intelligent Designer must have been involved.

    Robert Byers: Again why say theology? If a god is proven that just a fair result of scientific investigation.

    Two reasons. One reason is the history of the ID movement; “cdesign proponentsists”, wedge document, remember? The other is that the mainstream scientific community does not agree that that conclusion (complexity results from Design) is supported by the facts. Hence, it does not qualify as a valid scientific conclusion.

    0
  29. Corneel,

    To my eyes there is no evolutionary explanation. There is a promise of an evolutionary explanation, sometime in the future.

    Evolutionists promissory notes are not very robust, however.

    0
  30. phoodoo: To my eyes there is no evolutionary explanation. There is a promise of an evolutionary explanation, sometime in the future.

    That is why the ID program appeals to you, no doubt. Your statement also nicely corroborates my argument that discrediting accepted scientific evidence is the main strategy of ID proponents to support the claim that biological complexity must have been designed. Thanks, man.

    0
  31. I have to hand it to Jock though, for calling out all the fake scientist skeptics. Finally someone is. You know, like Dawkins and Dennett, and Steven Pinker, and Alex Rosenberg, and Peter Singer, and Michael Shermer, and Susan Blackmore, Quentin Smith, of course Hitchens, Richard Wiseman, Susan Gerbic (boy does she have nerve trying to act like an authority on anything!) , Paul Kurtz, James Randi, Martin Gardner, Ray Hyman …

    Heck is Roger Penrose even a scientist? I guess Jock says no.

    Then of course you have your other scientists talking about shit they know nothing about, you know like Sagan, deGrasse Tyson, Phil Plait, Steven Novella, and the list just goes on and on.

    Thanks for calling them out Jock. Not that we didn’t already know that skepticism was anti-scientific, but it never hurts to remind, right Jock.

    0
  32. phoodoo: DNA_Jock,
    What’s Richard Dawkins Doc? He is an evangelist right? Not a scientist.

    And yet:

    The scientist and bestselling writer has become the face of a new crusading atheism. But even his closest allies worry that his online provocations do more harm than good

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/09/is-richard-dawkins-destroying-his-reputation

    Why did they call him a scientist do you think?

    Because the Grauniad employs writers, not scientists.
    I would refer to Dawkins as a successful writer.
    As a matter of fact I did just that, a while back, writing:

    I think many scientists are peeved that he is viewed as a foremost authority on evolution, or the inventor of the Selfish Gene concept, when he’s just a writer. A very good writer. There’s a silly jealousy because successful writers get paid more than scientists.

    You should also check out Allan Miller’s and petrushka’s take on Dawkins in that 2013 thread.

    What’s Dawkins major Doc? Look up “evolutionary biologist” Richard Dawkins and see how many hits you get.

    Is he an evolutionary biologist?

    Well let’s see. He has his M.A. and his D.Phil. in Zoology from Oxford, and he taught zoology at UC Berkeley.
    That’s waaaay better biology credentials than Meyer’s undergraduate degree in Earth Science and Ph.D. in HISTORY and PHILOSOPHY of Science, albeit from Cambridge.
    Hey, I know a guy whose got an M.A. in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Cambridge, and who taught at Harvard; how would you rank his credentials? What if I told you he was closet ID advocate?

    0
  33. Mung: Oh gee. And here I thought the designer could only be God, no matter who was talking.

    Per the cosmological argument, God must be the first designer. I

    If you’re saying you don’t know who God is, I believe you.

    There are 4,200 or so religions in the world , and all members within each religion do not agree exactly what God is. Seems like OM has lots of company.

    0
  34. DNA_Jock: You should also check out Allan Miller’s and petrushka’s take on Dawkins in that 2013 thread.

    He makes some money because he is entertaining,and that’s a rare commodity in science writing. BF Skinner had a best seller. Stephen Gould a series of best sellers. Feinman. Sagan. And of course Asimov, Fred Hoyle, Hawkins and Clarke. I suppose I’ve left out a bunch.

    Gould is the most notable popularizer of evolution. I’ve had a passing interest since 1956, when Life Magazine published a series on human evolution. But my lasting interest was kindled by Gould’s essays in Natural History.

    Dawkins has never had that level of influence on the public.

    0
  35. Oh dear, phoodoo,
    My position is that the letters after the name are a deeply fallible indicator; what actually matters is whether you make any sense, whether you are capable of mustering evidence to support your claims, of understanding and responding to criticisms coherently. Creationists love to inflate the credentials of people who agree with them, while not inspecting their arguments for soundness or support. At all.
    Reality-based posters are more likely to treat people and arguments on a case-by-case basis. Hey, I am not above calling Dawkins and (scientist) Venter “something of a narcissistic windbag”, or throwing shade at a Nobel Laureate, either.
    Your list interests me, however. You seem to be particularly upset by people who debunk the paranormal (Randi, Gardner, Hyman, Blackmore, Gerber wtf?) and, well, atheists in general.
    The rest of your first list (Rosenberg, Singer, Smith, Kurtz) are philosophers famous for their ‘theological’ arguments.
    Not sure why their lack of scientific credentials upsets you, and it makes no sense that you think that I should be calling them out for it.
    Your second list is even more revealing.
    You appear deeply offended by people, especially astronomers, who tell you things that you don’t want to hear. Like you are not that special. That might explain your beef with the debunkers of the paranormal too, I guess
    Pro-tip: reality cares not one iota for your precious feelings.
    Also: the universe is cool enough without making up crap about it (Phil Plait).

    0
  36. Corneel: I get the impression that ID proponents really like the idea that the ID arguments for the existence of ID/God are scientific, because it confers a sense of impartiality.

    For the record I do not consider ID arguments to be arguments for the existence of God or arguments for Creationism. Once God or Creationism enters the picture it’s not an ID argument.

    I acknowledge that many people are unwilling to make this distinction, and that this unwillingness takes place on both sides.

    0
  37. Corneel: To my eyes, over 90% of ID output is sowing doubt about established evolutionary explanations of complex traits, and then insisting that the only other option is that an Intelligent Designer must have been involved.

    This is a misrepresentation of the ID argument. Which does not not mean people do not argue this way, or that you don’t see the arguments in those terms.

    Intelligent design is an option, not the only other option. Of the other competing options intelligent design is the best option.

    Perhaps you see things as ID vs. Evolution. And I can see why you might think that. But what to make of those in ID who accept evolution?

    0
  38. DNA_Jock: My position is that the letters after the name are a deeply fallible indicator

    The letters J o c k are a deeply fallible indicator?

    0
  39. Mung: For the record I do not consider ID arguments to be arguments for the existence of God or arguments for Creationism. Once God or Creationism enters the picture it’s not an ID argument.

    I acknowledge that many people are unwilling to make this distinction, and that this unwillingness takes place on both sides.

    Why would that be? Creationists constantly whine about science excluding God, but they stubbornly refuse to include God in their “scientific theory”. What gives?

    0
  40. petrushka:
    Gould is the most notable popularizer of evolution.I’ve had a passing interest since 1956, when Life Magazine published a series on human evolution. But my lasting interest was kindled by Gould’s essays in Natural History.

    Dawkins has never had that level of influence on the public.

    Depends where you live, I guess. But regardless of popularity, I always found Dawkins the more … inspiring. I don’t agree with everything he says, but the Selfish Gene perspective – which he freely admits he only popularised – cuts closer to the heart of evolution, for me. (Gould hated it!).

    0
  41. DNA_Jock,

    You should also check out Allan Miller’s and petrushka’s take on Dawkins in that 2013 thread.

    Aaargh! Don’t! I’ve been at this 6 years? I did make myself laugh though – I’d forgotten the FIIIIGHT! link prompted by Joe G’s misunderstanding of differential fitness.

    0

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.