Uncommon Descent is starving

If Uncommon Descent (UD) is not suffering from our departure, then why has the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture stooped to lame promotion of the site? I’m referring to an ID the Future podcast, “Eric Anderson: Probability & Design.” It begins with Casey Luskin singing the praises of UD.

[Eric Anderson…] for the past year has been a contributing author about intelligent design at the great intelligent design blog, Uncommon­Descent.com. So, quick plug for Uncommon Descent. If you’re an “ID the Future” listener and you’ve never checked it out, go to Uncommon­Descent.com. And it’s a great ID blog, kind of like EvolutionNews.org. It has many participants, and many contributors, of which Eric is one of the main authors there.

And it ends with Casey Luskin steering listeners to UD.

And I would encourage our listeners to go check out the blog Uncommon Descent. That’s Uncommon, and the last word is spelled D-E-S-C-E-N-T, dot com. So “descent” like you’re going down into something. So Uncommon­Descent.com.

Well, it doesn’t quite end there. Anderson, whose “main focus is analyzing the logical and rhetorical bases of arguments to help people understand the strengths, weaknesses, and underlying assumptions used in the debate over evolution and intelligent design,” closes by tacitly characterizing us as illogical fools:

Well, I’ll just add that when we look into some of these arguments — this is just one example of an argument, that we’ve analyzed today — but when we have critics put forward arguments against intelligent design, what I’ve typically noticed, and found upon closer scrutiny, is that when you parse through it, you find that it actually underscores the whole validity of the approach that’s been taken by the major proponents of intelligent design, in formulating a careful approach to design detection.

Anderson lives up to Jeff Shallit’s characterization of him, revealing that he is laughably far behind the curve. He’s not worth my time. And there’s something wrong if you think that he’s worth yours. Then again, he was about the best choice Luskin had for the interview.

UD degenerated into a madhouse long ago. Barry Arrington has done everyone a favor, having finally gone too far, and given us a clear reason to do what we should have done already. I know that some of you are itching for him to post something that permits you to rationalize a return to UD. Please work to kick your UD habit for good.

I offer as “methadone” the Discovery Institute releases on ID, including the news feed Evolution News and Views, the podcast series ID the Future, and the YouTube channel Discovery­Science­News. There’s also the DI’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, with prime pickings for the philosophically inclined. Now, I know that you get no rush at the thought of this. None of the big fish would argue (and argue about arguments, and argue about argu­ments about argu­ments) with you. But you would get a rise out of the UD minnows — a fix, though not what fully feeds your habit. For a change, they’d be responding to you, rather than you to them. Wouldn’t that be an improvement?

To close on a positive note, I want to emphasize how amazing it is to see the travesty of discussion at UD shut down. To be honest, I didn’t think you could do it. You have my sincere thanks for exercising the discipline that you have.

290 thoughts on “Uncommon Descent is starving

  1. Robert Byers,

    ID, on the other hand, is dead (stillborn) as a scientific concept.Unfortunately it is all too alive as a political ploy to get around separation of church and state.We need to kill it there, too.

    Thats why there is trouble. Your not being nice.

    I’m not the one trying to push sectarian dogma into public school science classes. You’re damn right I’m not going to be nice when people try to impose that on my children.

    All the thread makers on UD are excellent.

    Strike one.

    They expect to persuade by intellectual argument and welcome opposition.

    Strike two.

    Any banning is based on real or perceived malice toward the bosses or other posters or general moral conclusions as they see it.

    And you’re out.

    Look here for many examples of people being banned at UD for polite disagreement.

  2. walto:
    Patrick, separation of church and state is a two-edged sword. For every benefit you’re getting by not having the state interfere in some segment of your beliefs, there’s a religious wacko using it to gain a special privilege, and it’s often one that is dangerous to everybody else–see the Vermont thread.

    The anti-vaxxer movement isn’t limited to religious people by any stretch.

    The fact that intelligent design creationism is a blatant attempt to circumvent the separation of church and state is beyond dispute. That’s unconstitutional according to the Supreme Court. It needs to be stopped.

  3. William J. Murray:
    Charlie M,

    Every few months some anti-ID critic says “ID is dead”.Before that, it was “ID doesn’t produce any peer-reviewed papers.” Before that it was, “ID proponents don’t do any real research.” Before that it was, “There are no real scientists involved in ID.”

    It’s a narrative reification process.They give ground grudgingly (without ever admitting it explicitly) as evidence to the contrary mounts, but keep announcing and insisting how useless and/or dead ID is every inch of the way.

    While I’m waiting for links from William I’ll respond to this (which I found while trying to search for the comments he was referring to in the “other thread”):

    I’m not aware of any “ground” being “given” at all. What might be happening, which I would welcome, is that ID proponents have become incrementally aware that their various straw man versions of evolution are indeed straw men. And I guess they might see that as evolution “giving ground”.

    But without knowing what William is talking about, it’s hard to say. But certainly “junk DNA” and “vestigial organs” are two things that ID proponents in general, and Cornelius Hunter in particular, routinely misunderstand.

    So perhaps they now think that “evolutionists” have “given ground grudgingly” on these, whereas in fact, all “evolutionists” have done is point out the misunderstanding.

    To be clear:

    Darwinism does not “predict” “junk DNA” (one of Hunter’s errors). It merely accounts for it in a way that intelligent design does not, or at least, does not do so readily (intelligent design’s big problem is that it potentially accounts for anything, as long as we allow the designer to do what the hell s/he likes). If spare DNA is “cheap”, then, under Darwinian evolution, we’d expect it to accumulate. If it isn’t, we wouldn’t. Either way, finding it does not refute Darwinian evolution, it merely tells us that, if Darwinian evolution is true, spare DNA is cheap/expensive.

    The finding that “vestigial organs” have a function again does not refute Darwinism, nor does it rebut the Darwinian argument that vestigial organs are evidence for Darwinian evolution (again, contrary to Hunter’s claim). What “vestigial organs” do is provide evidence for common descent and sub-optimal retrofitting, both of which are predictions of Darwinian evolution, but not of ID.

  4. Imagine there were two speedboats, one with a smooth hull designed to give a very good drag reduction and a second with human designed “shark’s skin” which out-performed the other boat. Would you not say that the former was well designed but the latter was very well designed?

    Why don’t seals have “shark’s skin”? Was a lesser designer responsible for seals?

    Or is it as evolution without much HGT predicts, that good traits in one lineage almost never transfer to another, separate lineage?

    That’s one of the problems of “great design” bandied about by IDists/creationists, the “designs” aren’t “portable” like they are when actual known designers are involved, unless you start looking at organisms where HGT is common, at which point there is an evolutionary explanation. That, and the slavish derivation of adaptation of both “bad design” and very “good design” from ancestors of birds, sharks, and geckos, are tests that evolutionary theory passes, and that the design idea does not pass.

    Glen Davidson

  5. GlenDavidson: Why don’t seals have “shark’s skin”? Was a lesser designer responsible for seals?

    Or is it as evolution without much HGT predicts, that good traits in one lineage almost never transfer to another, separate lineage?

    Exactly.

    And HGT isn’t much use for polygeneic traits anyway.

  6. KN said:

    Except that there are serious problems with all of those claims.

    We don’t actually know that the laws of physics are fine-tuned for life because we don’t know what other kinds of life would be possible if the laws of physics were different.

    When you have to refer to what science doesn’t know in order to salvage what you prefer to believe in light of what science does know, my case is made.

    We don’t actually know that “the heart of life” involves “an irreducibly complex code-translation system”,

    Yes, we do. The physical nature of the process is a demonstration of semiosis – not as a metaphor, but as an instantiated fact.

    ..because the code metaphor is actually quite contested among biologists and philosophers of biology — see the dynamical systems theory developed by Susan Oyama (The Ontogeny of Information, Lenny Moss (What Genes Can’t Do), or for that matter, the teleological, organism-centered philosophy of biology popularized by Stephen Talbott — certainly a critic of both Epicureanized Darwinism and intelligent design!

    If you’re not going to summarize, paraphrase and/or provide quotes, references such as this are empty.

    Finally, “the consciousness-centric evidence revealed by various QM research” is also highly controversial, since it depends on a metaphysically problematic interpretation of the measurement problem, which in turn only arises in the Copenhagen interpretation of QM. Measurement is not central to any of the alternatives to the Copenhagen interpretation, and all of these interpretations are (so far as I know) empirically indistinguishable. There’s the GRW interpretation, Bohmian mechanics, and of course we have no idea whether there even will be a measurement problem in any successor theory to quantum mechanics.

    Of course there are alternative, less consciousness-centric interpretations of experimental results. Of course the consciousness-centric view is controversial. Even though mateialism is dead, many in the scientific community insist upon models and interpretations because – as with the fine tuning and semiosis evidence – they still want to frame our existence in a box that conforms, in a very meaningful way, to the anti-theistic, anti-transcendence essence of materialism.

    In short, the empirical sciences do not unambigously point towards theism; on the contrary, one would already need to accept theism in order to prefer theistic-friendly interpretations of the empirical sciences over alternative interpretations.

    On the contrary. Starting with the big bang and the original double-slit experiments, the uncovered facts could have all been a slam dunk for anti-theism, non-transcendence and the non-centrality of intent/consciousness. Now, however, after the accumulation of many of the facts, it is the “materialist” scientists that are left scrambling for some kind of anti-theistic, materialist-friendly interpretations and models in those advanced areas of knowledge and research.

    And so you have the failure of string theory; the advancement of infinite multiverses from “nothing”; a sterile RNA-world model that can’t get off the ground, and QM experiments that have all but disproven local realism and have verified backwards-causality based upon intentional arrangements of the experiment.

    So yes, IMO this scrambling of scientists to find “materialist” -friendly interpretations and models to account for what must be apparently anti-materialist facts (otherwise, why are they trying so hard to find new models to explain the data?) clearly indicates that the accumulation of scientific facts is definitely going the way of theism. The more you must refer to what science doesn’t know, or hand out promissory notes on what science might find in the future, only reveals to me the odd attachment to some metaphysical commitment – which I hold to be, essentially, anti-theism.

  7. EL said:

    Darwinism does not “predict” “junk DNA” (one of Hunter’s errors).

    The finding that “vestigial organs” have a function again does not refute Darwinism, nor does it rebut the Darwinian argument that vestigial organs are evidence for Darwinian evolution (again, contrary to Hunter’s claim).

    You should get KN to interpret everything I say for you before you attempt to reply. I’ll give him this – he at least makes a good faith effort understand what I’m actually saying in context – he (for the most part) doesn’t just reply with knee-jerk defensive statements triggered by recognizing out-of-context phrases.

  8. William, I also make a good faith effort to understand what you post. That it takes a professional philsopher to parse it into just-about-understandable-English should give you pause to consider whether the communication problem might just be at your end.

    And what has this got to do with junk DNA and vestigial organs?

  9. William J. Murray: We don’t actually know that “the heart of life” involves “an irreducibly complex code-translation system”,

    Yes, we do. The physical nature of the process is a demonstration of semiosis – not as a metaphor, but as an instantiated fact.

    Of course it’s a metaphor. The extent to which the metaphor is applicable is not an indication of whether “the heart of life” is irreducibly complex.

    And, even if it were, it would not tell us that it was unevolvable.

    So you are wrong three ways here.

    William J. Murray: Of course there are alternative, less consciousness-centric interpretations of experimental results. Of course the consciousness-centric view is controversial. Even though mateialism is dead, many in the scientific community insist upon models and interpretations because – as with the fine tuning and semiosis evidence – they still want to frame our existence in a box that conforms, in a very meaningful way, to the anti-theistic, anti-transcendence essence of materialism.

    Materialism, in the sense you say is “dead”, was never alive. It’s a straw man.

    The “fine tuning” and “semiosis” evidence are evidence for what? That God is real?

    Because they are neither.

    Can you try to articulate, in plain English, William, what it is you disagree with about standard evolutionary theory? Without mentioning “materialism”?

    William J. Murray: On the contrary. Starting with the big bang and the original double-slit experiments, the uncovered facts could have all been a slam dunk for anti-theism, non-transcendence and the non-centrality of intent/consciousness. Now, however, after the accumulation of many of the facts, it is the “materialist” scientists that are left scrambling for some kind of anti-theistic, materialist-friendly interpretations and models in those advanced areas of knowledge and research.

    No they aren’t. There is no reason at all for an “anti-theistic, materalistic-friendly interpretation” of our data. You are conflating, yet again, meanings of “materialism”. If we are using KN’s, then there isn’t a problem for “materialism”. If we aren’t, then your whole argument is against a straw man.

    What is it that you think “materialism” (by whatever definition you are using) leaves out?

  10. William J. Murray:
    EL said:

    You should get KN to interpret everything I say for you before you attempt to reply.I’ll give him this – he at least makes a good faith effort understand what I’m actually saying in context – he (for the most part) doesn’t just reply with knee-jerk defensive statements triggered by recognizing out-of-context phrases.

    …as WJM replies with knee-jerk defensive statements triggered by recognizing out-of-context phrases. 😀

  11. William, I also make a good faith effort to understand what you post. That it takes a professional philsopher to parse it into just-about-understandable-English should give you pause to consider whether the communication problem might just be at your end.

    It would give me pause if it was anything other than anti-theists that ever had a problem parsing what I say. The people at TSZ represent a tiny fraction of people I have ever interacted with. I also see the same thing occur when other theists/ID proponents/anti-materialists attempt to explain something to someone with an anti-theistic perspective: I understand it perfectly, but the anti-theist or materialist simply cannot understand it to save their life.

  12. William J. Murray: It would give me pause if it was anything other than anti-theists that ever had a problem parsing what I say.

    Well, I’m not an anti-theist, William.

    But consider that it may be that what you say has flaws in it that some non-theists have considered and that you may not have 🙂

  13. Or as an alternative: that you are using words in a sense that non-theists understand differently.

    It’s difficult, I agree. For instance, this wretched word “materialism” is one – it is generally used as a pejorative at UD, for instance, and yet most of us would not recognise the apparent connotation as a description of ourselves and our views at all.

  14. EL: I have no trouble making myself clear to virtually anyone but a handful of people here at TSZ and a couple of other anti-theists I know. The pattern is, as far as I’m concerned, clear. The problem isn’t mine; charitably speaking, I’d say the problem is that there is a profound difference in the existential narrative, which leads to deep cognitive biases that are virtually impossible to bridge.

  15. William J. Murray: also see the same thing occur when other theists/ID proponents/anti-materialists attempt to explain something to someone with an anti-theistic perspective: I understand it perfectly, but the anti-theist or materialist simply cannot understand it to save their life.

    Yeah, I understand this. It’s like when woo peddlers use the fact that quantum theory predicts a particle has no exact location, rather it could exist in range of places to justify their claims for the existence of auras. So a human has an “aura” around them and that’s now been proven by science™. And that precisely what you are selling. Religion proven by science™

    : On the contrary. Starting with the big bang and the original double-slit experiments, the uncovered facts could have all been a slam dunk for anti-theism, non-transcendence and the non-centrality of intent/consciousness.

    I don’t actually think you understand much at all of any of that. What interpretation of quantum physics do you think best describes reality?

    You are just another woo-peddler, just another Deepak Chopra. Cherry-picking science to get back what you think Darwin stole all those years ago.

  16. Elizabeth: Materialism, in the sense you say is “dead”, was never alive.It’s a straw man.

    You say this in spite of the fact that Kantian Naturalist disagrees with you and agrees with William.

  17. There is no single “cause” of “changes in the form” of an organism.

    No but I find it helpful to think of the organism as a whole acting as the master controller as put forward by Stephen Talbott in How the Organism Decides What to Make of Its Genes

    Actually I think you mean changes in the forms taken by members of a population of organisms over time, but again, the same applies.

    Yes that is a better way of putting what I was trying to say.

    Identical genomes do not produce identical individuals, and in any case, a single DNA strand is not sufficient to make anything happen, let alone an organism appear.

    agreed.

    So the authors do not make the assumption that you think they make. If they did, they’d be wrong. But your assumption: “I assume that the genome is the means by which the physical substance necessary for the formation of the organism is achieved, but it is not the cause” doesn’t even make any sense, at least on my reading. What does it mean for “physical substance” to be “achieved”? This is why I advocate E-prime! Translating your sentence into E-prime reveals the problem:

    “I assume that the genome enables the physical substance that an organism requires to [emerge? create itself ex nihilo?] but does not cause it”

    Well I like to put my views across in plain, understandable English. But, unfortunately as you have pointed out, I don’t always succeed.

    What exactly is it that you think a “genome” does?

    Rather than answer that question, perhaps read a textbook on developmental biology! Where you will learn that the development of multicellular organisms like geckos is an interactive feedback process by which cells that start of “totipotent” have their genes switched on and off by chemical signals in a process that causes cells to divide and specialise, and create proteins as required in a pattern that gradually builds a gecko, and continues to do so throughout the gecko’s life, otherwise the gecko would not function.

    And how the gecko turns out will depend on both internal and external chemical signals, many triggered by signals that arrive at the sensory organs of the gecko, including those that frighten it into dropping its tail, then growing a new one.

    I’m glad that we are both agreed that the genome alone doesn’t do much at all, it is not so much actor as acted upon.

  18. Mung: You say this in spite of the fact that Kantian Naturalist disagrees with you and agrees with William.

    Sure. I don’t always agree with Kantian Naturalist and I frequently disagree with William.

  19. CharlieM: I’m glad that we are both agreed that the genome alone doesn’t do much at all, it is not so much actor as acted upon.

    I think it can be useful to think of it as a database.

  20. Re-reading KN’s actual post:

    Kantian Naturalist:
    Elizabeth,

    I think that Murray wants to use “materialism” to mean a metaphysical position, and specifically the Epicurean metaphysics aggressively promoted in the early Enlightenment by Locke, Hooke, Boyle, Diderot, d’Alembert, and others in order to legitimize their anti-clericalism. In those terms, Murray is right to say that “materialism” has been overturned by 19th- and 20th-century physics, chemistry, and biology. (Interestingly, the development of thermodynamics played a huge role in the 19th-century overcoming of “materialism.”)

    Since he wants to use “materialism” in that sense, I worry that it will be a bar to further communication for any of us to use “materialism” to mean an epistemological position that would be better called empiricism or (as I prefer) epistemological verificationism.

    I’m happy to concede that it may have been “alive” in 18th C philosophy. But I don’t think it’s every been alive (or at least not for long) in empirical science. As KN says, thermodynamics would have been a killer.

    It’s certainly not something that the DI should have been worrying about in the late 20th century.

  21. Elizabeth,

    There’s a difference between the fact that science has disproven materialism, and whether or not scientists have accepted that verdict philosophically, including all it entails. Why deliberately attach a disproven, 18th century “ism” to the very definition of how modern science is done unless there is some significance?

    If scientists have abandoned materialism, how is it that the history of science is littered with cases where empirical evidence is dismissed either because there was no materialist-friendly narrative to support it, or because the current narrative contradicted it? Why would cosmologists hypothesize multiverse scenarios to explain what they consider to be highly unlikely arrangements of fundamental forces, energy, and matter via some non-intentional premise?

    Materialism is an 18th century myth. It has been disproved. So what are modern, atheistic scientists, metaphysically speaking? Within what worldview do they interpret evidence and generate theories? If you admit that you don’t know what the limits of nature are, and that it may even include intention as a fundamental force that can affect matter and energy, what does the “materialism” in “methodological materialism” even mean, other than serving to attach the imprimatur of science to an 18th century myth?

    IMO, the wedge document rightfully denounces the spread of an 18th century myth in our public school system and in our culture at large.

  22. From the Alzeimer thread:

    Mung: I’d like to thank Elizabeth and Joe for their explanations.

    The funny thing is Mung is that nobody at UD on the ID side of the fence could give you those explanations. Yet the people at UD think they understand evolution so well they know it’s impossible and therefore should have been able to offer equally detailed explanations, given their superior knowledge. And it must be superior otherwise how do they spot all the problems they point out daily when people working in the field seem to have not spotted them themselves! It’s the only explanation!

  23. William J. Murray: Materialism is an 18th century myth.

    This is true, especially in the way IDers use the word with pejorative intent.

    It has been disproved.

    Because there are fields as well as particles? In case you’d like to support one of your throw-away claims, who disproved what, exactly?

  24. Alan Fox: Because there are fields as well as particles?

    Apparently ID/theism predicted that a non-designed universe would contain only billiard-ball type inelastic particles. I’d also like to see the experiment that proved god exists.

  25. Elizabeth: Exactly. And which evolutionary processes are really excellent at producing, which is why, increasingly that’s what human designers do – harness evolutionary processes to come up with novel solutions.I notice that that is what seems to have been done in this example, although “news” at UD has managed to miss the point

    What have they done exactly?

    from Live Science

    Despite more than a century of attention from scientists, and increasing insight into the chemical pathways that control the stem cells responsible for the uncanny ability of these worms to regenerate, no one has been able to come up with a model that explains the process fully. That is, until now…

    Does it really explain the process fully?

    From your link they have this to say:

    For the first time ever a computer has managed to develop a new scientific theory using only its artificial intelligence, and with no help from human beings.

    What is this new scientific theory has the computer developed and did it really do this with no human help?

    As far as I can see they have entered masses of data from flatworm research into the computer and programmed it to examine and compare regulatory networks. They modelled the flatworm as a two dimensional shape composed of three sections, head, trunk and tail and the computer was able to predict which conformation of the sections various networks would produce. Have I got that right?

  26. Piotr Gasiorowski,

    Play nicer. your accusing peoples intellectual and moral character.
    on these foirums almost everybody is smart and good.
    UD is well done. Its about respecting those you disagree with.
    UD is a successful forum and thats the evidence for ability. These subjects have trouble getting viewers.
    There is no need for such trouble.

  27. Robert Byers:

    UD is well done.

    Rich:

    Close. UD is, well, done.

    Robert is right. UD is well done. It’s time to stick a fork in it.

  28. William J. Murray:
    Elizabeth,

    There’s a difference between the fact that science has disproven materialism, and whether or not scientists have accepted that verdict philosophically, including all it entails. Why deliberately attach a disproven, 18th century “ism” to the very definition of how modern science is done unless there is some significance?

    Why indeed, William. That 18th century view that everything is reduced to matter is not philosophical position held by anyone I know, and certainly by no scientist.

    If scientists have abandoned materialism, how is it that the history of science is littered with cases where empirical evidence is dismissed either because there was no materialist-friendly narrative to support it, or because the current narrative contradicted it? Why would cosmologists hypothesize multiverse scenarios to explain what they consider to be highly unlikely arrangements of fundamental forces, energy, and matter via some non-intentional premise?

    OK, you’ve lost me. What, precisely, is it that you think was “disproven”? Because you seem to have moved the goalposts again. Cosmologists are not adherents of epicurean metaphysics.

    And you seem to have misunderstood the thinking behind “multiverse” theory. William, you seem sure you are making sense, because other people understand,
    you, and only “anti-theists” as you call us (I am not an anti-theist) do not. But an alternative interpretation of your experience is that the people who understand you share your misunderstandings of science. The people who think you don’t make sense are the people who can see that you don’t. I’m not saying that is definitely the case, but it is something you should consider, particularly when you are talking about science to scientists, and the scientists are the ones that don’t understand you and only the non-scientists do. Maybe it’s because the scientists are blinkered materialists (choose your definition). But maybe it’s because they don’t misunderstand the science. Your rendering of cosmology above is simply garbled. It seems to be a retelling of the UD myth that cosmologists dreamed up “multiverse theory” because – yikes – “if we don’t posit multiverses we will have to include that this universe was DESIGNED!!!! ARRGGGHHHH!!!!”. That is not why cosmologists propose various multiverse theories.

    But, backing up: what particular variant of the word “materialism” are you talking about when you say that:

    Materialism is an 18th century myth. It has been disproved.

    What was “disproved”? In your view?

    So what are modern, atheistic scientists, metaphysically speaking?Within what worldview do they interpret evidence and generate theories? If you admit that you don’t know what the limits of nature are, and that it may even include intention as a fundamental force that can affect matter and energy, what does the “materialism” in “methodological materialism” even mean, other than serving to attach the imprimatur of science to an 18th century myth?

    I would say that the “worldview” within which they “interpret evidence and generate theories is simply the one I proposed in my thread on “materialism”, namely:

    ….that our knowledge of the world is limited by our ability to make predictive models, and that therefore where we cannot predict (at least probabilistically) we can only conclude that “we do not know”.

    William:

    IMO, the wedge document rightfully denounces the spread of an 18th century myth in our public school system and in our culture at large.

    Well, you will have to define that “myth”. You seemed to think that KN understood you, and he seemed to think you were referring to what he described as “epicurean metaphysics”. Which nobody holds and nobody teaches.

    So what DO you mean?

  29. Elizabeth: You seemed to think that KN understood you, and he seemed to think you were referring to what he described as “epicurean metaphysics”. Which nobody holds and nobody teaches.

    On my reading of the situation, it is essential to the ideology of the ID movement that Epicurean metaphysics is the ideology of scientists. It is also essential to the ID movement that the prevalence of Epicurean metaphysics has had deeply pernicious cultural effects — like sexual promiscuity, moral relativism, dehumanization of various dimensions, and so on. It doesn’t matter that these claims are all, so far as I can tell, utterly false — that’s the ideology of the ID movement. And it is not easy (if even possible at all) to argue someone out of his or her ideology.

    In short, the very identity of the ID movement is constituted by its opposition to (what it calls) “materialism”; as such no one involved with the movement is likely to acknowledge that what it opposes is basically a fantasy of its own devising.

    (I realize that this post may violate the rules of TSZ, which require that one act as if others are writing in good faith. I leave to the moderators to decide if it should be put in Guano or not.)

  30. It seems to me it’s within the rules. You aren’t obliged to think that the DI is posting in good faith!

    Can you explain what “epicurean metaphysics” is? Ideally in the new thread I just started? I thought I knew, and William seemed to agree it was what he meant, but now I’m not so sure.

  31. GlenDavidson: Would human designers have obeyed the (vertebrate) hereditary limits of biologic evolution?

    Glen Davidson

    In order to understand why organisms have one particular form at any particular time we need to consider life as a process of becoming. A living being is much more than just the narrow snapshot we see in front of us.

    The examples of design I gave can be studied to see how suited they are to tasks we see them performing. We don’t need to consider the origin of a gecko’s foot to study how well it adheres to surfaces and how that adhesion is released when required.

    You are conflating a “why” question with a “how” question.

  32. WJM just needs to crack open a book about the history of science I think. Getting your learnin from the DI seems not to be working.

  33. CharlieM: In order to understand why organisms have one particular form at any particular time we need to consider life as a process of becoming. A living being is much more than just the narrow snapshot we see in front of us.

    Absolutely. I’m so glad you made that point, Charlie.

    It’s the reason I reject the label “reductionist” for my own stance. We can only understand living things in their totality – extended over time as well as space.

  34. CharlieM: If you look at my replies I am answering questions in the order they were asked (apart from this one). I am not likely to get ahead of myself, it is just that the stream of posts are getting well ahead of me.

    Yes, blog format isn’t always ideal! I toyed with a threaded format, but that doesn’t work too well either. Do post your own thread if that would make it easier.

  35. CharlieM,

    Thanks, so that question waits in the queue then and I’ll assume you’ll get to it this week some time. 😉

    I’ve grown accustomed to IDists evading and avoiding tough questions. This happened also when I visited the Discovery Institute. But then again, you haven’t confirmed yourself as an IDist yet either.

  36. “extended over time as well as space.”

    Sometimes you make me smile, Elizabeth.

    p.s. you don’t seem to be a holist, rather than a reductionist either

  37. I think the ism for me is probably “emergentism”! But I’m not a fan of isms. I don’t like signing up to things without reading the small print. And I don’t like creeds. Comes from my Quaker education I guess 🙂

  38. Robert Byers: Play nicer. your accusing peoples intellectual and moral character.

    You must have confused me with someone else — perhaps Barry Arrington, who routinely calls his visitors stupid and morally bankrupt.

  39. CharlieM: What have they done exactly?

    from Live Science

    Does it really explain the process fully?

    From your link they have this to say:

    What is this new scientific theory has the computer developed and did it really do this with no human help?

    As far as I can see they have entered masses of data from flatworm research into the computer and programmed it to examine and compare regulatory networks. They modelled the flatworm as a two dimensional shape composed of three sections, head, trunk and tail and the computer was able to predict which conformation of the sections various networks would produce. Have I got that right?

    Look! Look! Lookie here! A gap! Quick, squeeze God into ti before it closes up!

  40. GlenDavidson:
    Would human designers have obeyed the (vertebrate) hereditary limits of biologic evolution?

    CharlieM: In order to understand why organisms have one particular form at any particular time we need to consider life as a process of becoming. A living being is much more than just the narrow snapshot we see in front of us.

    The examples of design I gave can be studied to see how suited they are to tasks we see them performing. We don’t need to consider the origin of a gecko’s foot to study how well it adheres to surfaces and how that adhesion is released when required.

    You are conflating a “why” question with a “how” question.

    So it’s not really like a design matter, then.

    Yes, I can see that.

    Glen Davidson

  41. Acartia: No, I don’t see them as design at all. I see them as adaptations. Adaptation and design are not the same thing.

    I think people these days are afraid to use the word “design” because they don’t want to be seen to be agreeing with anything associated with ID.

    The example I gave of an eagle’s wing I would call adaptive design. It is obviously an adaptation of the pentadactyl limb which has been “designed” to allow the bird to fly.

    In the case of a feature such as a bacterial flagellum it is difficult to see what it could have been adapted from and I don’t think that the type 3 secretory system fits the bill.

  42. CharlieM: I think people these days are afraid to use the word “design” because they don’t want to be seen to be agreeing with anything associated with ID.

    I think this is true to some degree and we should take “design” back for its correct and general usage. ID ideology has no useful content. It merely parasitizes (Is that a word? It is now!) science. The ID movement and its supporters are politically motivated and those of us who see the deception should not be reticent about pointing it out.

  43. Yes, ‘parasitizes’ is a word, Alan.

    “ID ideology has no useful content.”

    Actually, it does. But don’t forget the proper grammar; ‘IDist ideology.’ The ideology is IDism.

    I’m not going to respond to CharlieM’s comments such as “afraid to use the word ‘design'” until he responds to my question to him. There’s surely an English language backlash, finally even by theists (including scientists, theologians and philosophers) to the attempted appropriation of ‘design’ by the IDM.

  44. CharlieM: I think people these days are afraid to use the word “design” because they don’t want to be seen to be agreeing with anything associated with ID.

    One problem is that the word has connotations of “intention” as in “was this by accident or design?” If it is clear that it can be applied to something that serves a function, and has been optimised to serve that function, but that the optimisation process may not have been intentional, sure I’m happy to use the word.

    But I think it’s an awkward one, because of that baggage.

    In fact, the key issue, it seems to me, in the ID debate is: can something be optimised to serve a function without an intentional designer setting up the optimisation process?

    I would say the answer is clearly “yes”, given (and it’s a big given) a starting population of self-replicators. We don’t have a good model for that yet. But given a starting population, Darwin was bang on:

    There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

    Teleonomy is a perfectly good substitute for teleology 🙂

  45. Clap your hands and be satisfied in your current atheism, Elizabeth, without a psychological sense of ‘self’ that elevates, rather than reduces. Once again, your intentional failure to distinguish ‘designer’ from ‘Designer’ shows its face. Would you sell your soul on ‘optimality’?!

    ‘breathed into’ – then who/Who/what did the ‘breathing-in’? Darwin’s worldview, thanks to his wife’s faith, never turned into atheism. But you seem to want to try your intentional hardest, Lizzie, to be an atheist.

  46. Gregory: Clap your hands and be satisfied in your current atheism, Elizabeth, without a psychological sense of ‘self’ that elevates, rather than reduces. Once again, your intentional failure to distinguish ‘designer’ from ‘Designer’ shows its face. Would you sell your soul on ‘optimality’?!

    What a strange man you are, Gregory. I most certainly have a “psychological sense of ‘self'”. Why should I?

    And I am not distinguishing a Designer from a designer in this instance, because the identity of the designer is irrelevant to my point.

    Gregory: ‘breathed into’ – then who/Who/what did the ‘breathing-in’? Darwin’s worldview, thanks to his wife’s faith, never turned into atheism. But you seem to want to try your intentional hardest, Lizzie, to be an atheist.

    Oh, fooey.

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