Why be skeptical about Swamidass’ ‘Peaceful Science’ pitch?

This thread is meant to be a resource for people to express their hopefully sincere & proper skepticism about Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass’ so-called ‘Peaceful Science’ project on an on-going basis as issues & challenges arise. The purpose for starting this thread now is the announcement of a grant to Peaceful Science (PS) by the mutual fund wealth-based John Templeton Foundation. http://peacefulscience.org/new-voice/

I will express some of my skepticism about PS in a few words: Joshua is strangely aiming by ‘inviting all positions as equal’ to relativise the names ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve,’ while at the same time trying himself to become a ‘genealogist’. The woman in the pair he apparently has some kind of a gender bias against, since he hasn’t laid out why he sometimes omits her & only sometimes brings Eve into the conversation. I predicted here a few months ago that Joshua would eventually change his almost exclusively ‘Genealogical Adam’ talk to finally start being more inclusive with ‘Genealogical Adam & Eve.’ Joshua hasn’t taken the hint by adapting his language & thinking yet, though he has been known to change his mind about things in the past.

Once others realise the relativistic, ‘diversity-driven’ goal of his enterprise, even while he speaks about that goal only indirectly, he will hit his ceiling much like BioLogos has in its mission to convert evangelicals to ‘evolution-accepting,’ kinda like Joshua but different. BioLogos stands as the USAmerican-made role model for Joshua to go his own way, not long after he actively alienated himself from Deborah Haarsma & BioLogos leadership publicly. Example 1 of borrowed modelling: PS uses the same software as BioLogos. (TSZ is behind & should likewise adopt Discourse asap.)

While the explicit intention of making an attempt to bring people of different ‘faiths’ into a dialogue about ‘human origins’ for the improvement of relations between people drawn along what Joshua labels as ‘secularist vs. confessionalist’ lines may sound good on the surface for valuable social & cultural purposes, unfortunately, at the end of the day it’s a USAmerican production of the creationist & IDist flavour that could not have arisen elsewhere the way Swamidass has been promoting himself & selling it. Because of this I don’t think Joshua can actually ‘act peacefully’ in his own community due to his sometimes loud, brash attitude, which I have witnessed now on several occasions in arrogant dismissals & self-justification of wrongs at the cost of relationships with others who he seems to consider as ‘below’ him or simply ‘non-scientist’ & therefore less suited for the broader science, philosophy & theology conversation. Ann Gauger has already expressed how uncomfortable she feels in the way she has been treated at PS, despite Joshua’s efforts at pleasantries. This is largely due to Joshua’s hierarchical structure of participants through which he finds himself compelled to defend one of his largest boosters & fanboys, an atheist friend of FFRF who has made over 3,600 posts at PS, as well as a self-described ‘frantic’ unitarian universalist with 2800 posts.

As for the TSZ & PS relationship, it has been growing & I am delighted to see more and more atheists & agnostics (i.e. ‘skeptics’) from this site visiting there, which is surely more inspiring & enlightening than here. TSZ moderator Neil Rickert a.k.a. “Agnostic Mathematician” has posted over 730 times there in the past 4+ months. Former TSZ moderator Alan Fox “Secular European” has posted almost 160 times. Once volunteer moderator Vincent J. Torley “Catholic Philosopher” has posted 174 times. New TSZ moderator Mung “Theistic-ID Evolution” has posted almost 1,000 times already at PS in just 3 months. John Harshman “Secular Avian Phylogenist” ( I have no idea why he uses the term ‘secular’ there other than following Joshua’s main dichotomy of secular vs. confessional) has created more than 1,200 posts there. This is a record transfer of attention from TSZ to PS, just as I had hoped! There is really no need to turn back to UD or continue to give it attention when PS is available now & growing. http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/peaceful-science-has-eclipsed-uncommon-descent-how-will-that-impact-tszs-reason-to-be/

Nevertheless, the absence of balance is obvious. Joshua has only a few times comes to TSZ to share or explore his views in a more challenging environment than in his own ‘safe space.’ Perhaps he is daunted that he might have to actually face ideological scrutiny, which so far he has proven himself unable to handle carefully, properly or sufficiently, either when he started going public only with his ‘science vs. religion’ views over at BioLogos or now at his own site.

It appears that there’s enough of a taste of PS & Swamidass’ view of managed ‘peace-seeking’ already from people here. So, what do you think? Why are you skeptical about Swamidass’ ‘Peaceful Science’? Or, on the other side, what do you believe in about this ‘new voice’ on ‘human origins’ (which sounds mostly palaeological, rather than contemporary anthropological, sociological or psychological) now funded to expand its platform?

344 Replies to “Why be skeptical about Swamidass’ ‘Peaceful Science’ pitch?”

  1. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: As far as I am concerned, Darwinism only exists as the last holdout against a supernatural explanation.

    And I don’t believe there can be a science of he supernatural. Do you think there can be a science of the supernatural?

    Let me pose another question. Given the tools and methods of ID, can it differentiate a supernatural cause from a natural cause? I don’t think it can.

  2. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy,

    but as a consequence of there being no evidence of anything else.

    The objects themselves, atoms, molecules, life, the four forces are evidence of something else given their specific cause is not yet identified.

  3. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Given the tools and methods of ID, can it differentiate a supernatural cause from a natural cause? I don’t think it can.

    The ‘tools & methods’ of the best speakers & scholars for the IDM are shrouded in double-talk about natural/supernatural. I also don’t think IDT/IDism can. They might retort, however, that they didn’t design it to do that, LOL. Mundane.

  4. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Joshua’s right hand man, George. LoL.

    Ah yes, thus Joshua’s valiant defense of his self-named ‘frantic’ Unitarian Universalist, fountain of woo and biggest fan.

  5. timothya timothya
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd:
    Entropy,

    The objects themselves, atoms, molecules, life, the four forces are evidence of something else given their specific cause is not yet identified.

    No. It is only evidence of our ignorance, baseless speculation notwithstanding.

  6. Joe Felsenstein Joe Felsenstein
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: just random mutations

    Usually when people say things like that, it is propaganda to persuade people that biologists’ views are profoundly wrong.

    Is the root cause of geology “just random chemical reactions and random physical processes”? Why “just”? Why can’t we say that “isn’t is marvelous that random chemistry and physics can produce whole mountain ranges”?

  7. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:
    I am looking for the scientific explanations for how the designs, detected by the scientific/empirical methods of ID, were instantiated. Absent those explanations, I don’t think ID will advance or prosper as a scientific endeavor.

    I think that’s a very reasonable position to take. It doedsn’t deny ID or that there can be scientific evidence for ID.

    It’s reasonable, but there can’t be ‘strictly scientific’ evidence for ‘Intelligent Design’, only ‘intelligent design’. I don’t think IDT/IDism will advance or prosper as ‘strictly scientific’ either. Looked at closely, it never has. All you’ll get is sciency explanations & bloated, pretentious neo-creationism. The category error sinks IDism after all. It’s that simple.

    Don’t pay attention to actual design theory, design thinking & design theorists & pretend instead that you are persecuted because ‘design thinking’ is outlawed and people won’t take you seriously. Meyer & West set up this hair-brained ideology at CRSC (became CSC) in 1996 & likely by now don’t know what else they could do than act as ‘revolutionaries’ & ‘radicals’ for their Republican fanbase chanting: IDism Forever, even against Christians who accept properly bounded evolutionary biology.

    More than that, Darwin hatred & vilification is required by the DI. Get angry. Give them money. They need it. Their ideas are full of holes.

  8. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    timothya,

    No. It is only evidence of our ignorance, baseless speculation notwithstanding.

    So we have common ground it is evidence of something else 🙂

  9. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Well, I have a slightly different take on that, obviously. As far as I am concerned, Darwinism only exists as the last holdout against a supernatural explanation.

    What is the supernatural explanation of disease?

  10. Flint
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: What is the supernatural explanation of disease?

    Depending on definitions, there have been many, from demonic possession to evil vapors to bad luck. Any number of medical problems are still far from understood. Perhaps the only reason we tend to regard these as capable of being solved is because efforts to solve medical problems has a good track record, which has biased us toward material causes.

  11. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: I definitely wouldn’t be persuaded by a free Porsche. A most impractical vehicle.

    I’ll get a trailer hitch installed.

  12. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Flint: Depending on definitions, there have been many, from demonic possession to evil vapors to bad luck. Any number of medical problems are still far from understood

    Is that why they do sonograms, looking for demons?

  13. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: What is the supernatural explanation of disease?

    Without any struggle, there can be no heroics. Do you think a rock can be heroic? Is this the life you prefer?

  14. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung, see Joe both distancing himself and embracing random? It’s the pickle all materialists find themselves in.

  15. timothya timothya
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Without any struggle,there can be no heroics.Do you think a rock can be heroic?Is this the life you prefer?

    That goes close to the most inhuman thing that I have ever heard at this site. I can’t remember the name of the person who expressed a similar sentiment sometime early in the Twentieth Century.

  16. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd:
    timothya,

    So we have common ground it is evidence of something else

    Claiming ignorance of the root cause is an acceptable position for the materialists only. But the designer, for this they insist on a full resume, with photos and five references.

  17. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    timothya: That goes close to the most inhuman thing that I have ever heard at this site. I can’t remember the name of the person who expressed a similar sentiment sometime early in the Twentieth Century.

    I see we have another Keith’s who wants whip cream baths and fluffy pillows you never have to stand up from. Oh and an infinite number of souls who do nothing.

    Maybe that’s what sand is. See you just got the God you want. Just become sand.

  18. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    timothya: That goes close to the most inhuman thing that I have ever heard at this site. I can’t remember the name of the person who expressed a similar sentiment sometime early in the Twentieth Century.

    I see we have another Keith’s who wants whip cream baths and fluffy pillows you never have to stand up from. Oh and am infinite number of souls who do nothing.

    Maybe that’s what sand is. See you just got the God you want. Just become sand.
    timothya,

    Why do you hate goodness so much?

  19. timothya timothya
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: I see we have another Keith’s who wants whip cream baths and fluffy pillows you never have to stand up from.Oh and am infinite number of souls who do nothing.

    Maybe that’s what sand is.See you just got the God you want.Just become sand.
    timothya,

    Why do you hate goodness so much?

    Incoherence does not help your argument.

  20. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    timothya,

    Can you have incoherence without coherence?

    I don’t think even God can do that.

  21. timothya timothya
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo:
    timothya,

    Can you have incoherence without coherence?

    I don’t think even God can do that.

    Have you ever looked at your hand? I mean, I’m sure you have looked, but have you really, really looked at it? It just blows your mind, man.

  22. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    timothya,

    Good without bad. Incoherence without coherence.

    Trippie indeed. Thinking can be so tiring.

  23. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Without any struggle,there can be no heroics.Do you think a rock can be heroic?Is this the life you prefer?

    That is a philosophical explanation of why a Good God allows children to suffer , He does because it is necessary for a greater good. Life is a test.

    It is not an supernatural explantion of how specific diseases work,provding a methodology how we might overcome them to fulfill God’s plan.

    If one wants to compare apples to apples, evolution attempts to answer the question how the present physical configurations of living things came to be , to be replaced by a supernatural explantion that explantion needs to attempt to answer the same question.

    After all, it is not a struggle just to say “ God did it”, to discover He choose specifically to do it , that is a heroic struggle to solve the puzzle.

  24. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo:
    timothya,

    Good without bad.

    God cannot be good unless He creates bad.

    Incoherence without coherence.,

    Thank you for your service.

    Trippie indeed.Thinking can be so tiring.

    Light without darkness, pleasure without pain, happiness without sorrow, life without death.

    I guess you have falsified the concept of heaven.

  25. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Oh and an infinite number of souls who do nothing.

    In other words?

    In heaven there is no beer, that is why we drink it here, when we are gone from here, all our friends will be drinking all that beer.

  26. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    newton,

    Heaven can’t exist until you have Earth first.

    You missed that part.

  27. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    newton,

    Sir, are you a cookie or a blog handle that mimics a great scientist without being one himself? Please excuse, this is a thread about the site Peaceful Science, run & managed by Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass of Washington University in St. Louis. Do you know anything about it? Are you skeptical about it, or do you ‘believe’ in it? They discuss science there, in case you’d like to discuss that rather than what you’re doing now. Joshua would probably provide cookies with your tea if you asked him politely alongside of speaking about ‘the science,’ in his sense confessionally, but in yours maybe not, ok newton? Go there & avoid the weird esoteric self-scribed ‘theologians’ here at TSZ.

  28. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    timothya: Incoherence does not help your argument.

    I beg to differ.

  29. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Joe Felsenstein: Why can’t we say that “isn’t is marvelous that random chemistry and physics can produce whole mountain ranges”?

    You can say it. But no one believes that chemistry and physics are random.

  30. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Mung, see Joe both distancing himself and embracing random? It’s the pickle all materialists find themselves in.

    Yes, I see it.

  31. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    timothya: That goes close to the most inhuman thing that I have ever heard at this site.

    And yet phoodoo’s point still stands.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2019/01/03/former-saint-gleasons-congressional-gold-medal-official/38839725/

  32. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: They discuss science there, in case you’d like to discuss that rather than what you’re doing now.

    About as much as we discuss science here. The latest “scientific” discussion is over whether or not Brian Miller thinks the flagellum is a rotary motor. It’s sad that you can’t see the parts that got relegated to the Back Porch. They are an enlightening view into the personality of JS.

    I’d suggest you return there with a sock puppet just to be able to read the things he tries hard to hide from the public.

  33. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy,
    Good stuff!

  34. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Heaven can’t exist until you have Earth first.

    You missed that part.

    Where did the angels reside?

    Like you said, no good without bad, there is no bad in heaven, there is no good in heaven.

  35. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    newton,
    Trailers on Porsches
    Whiskers on kittens

  36. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox:
    newton,Trailers on Porsches

    If practical is a consideration.

  37. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: And yet phoodoo’s point still stands.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2019/01/03/former-saint-gleasons-congressional-gold-medal-official/38839725/

    Weak, he is striving to eliminate ALS, by your logic that would be a bad thing since no one could bravely , pointlessly suffer anymore.

  38. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: If practical is a consideration.

    Had have* a friend who bought a mini digger and trailer as a business venture. Tried towing with a short wheelbase Landrover. The Landrover was too light and the wheelspin made it…

    Impractical! 🙂

    ETA correction
    .

  39. Joe Felsenstein Joe Felsenstein
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: In other words?

    In heaven there is no beer, that is why we drink it here, when we are gone from here, all our friends will be drinking all that beer.

    You have won the internet. Here is the original as your reward.

  40. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: About as much as we discuss science here. The latest “scientific” discussion is over whether or not Brian Miller thinks the flagellum is a rotary motor. It’s sad that you can’t see the parts that got relegated to the Back Porch. They are an enlightening view into the personality of JS.

    I’d suggest you return there with a sock puppet just to be able to read the things he tries hard to hide from the public.

    No thanks. & I don’t really want to imagine the Back Porch there, after how nastily he treated me.

    Joshua’s just a good ole ‘neutral scientist’ – no ideology possibly involved in his views! – who happens to have grown up with a family of YECists. Thus he is now calling (because he recently got tenure as a computational biologist & then raged at BioLogos by accusing them of ‘racism’) for ‘peace’ in science as a solution to his family’s & church’s ‘creation war’. I guess we must watch this play out somehow & hope for mercy.

  41. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    I told him he reminds me of Salvador. LoL.

    ETA: Pretty sure that post got flagged and hidden too.

  42. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung,

    Yeah, that’s a rather harsh comparison. A giddy incorrigible IDist/YECist vs. a tenured ‘peacemaker’ who is functionally against everyone around him, including his local protestant church. It’s a strange & curious spectacle with the history of creationism & evolutionism, now IDism in the USA!

    Btw, you might have missed this, as it awaits your possible concern. http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/id-3-0-the-new-bradley-center-at-the-di-is-dembski-returning-from-retirement/comment-page-2/#comment-241845

  43. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: Had have* a friend who bought a mini digger and trailer as a business venture. Tried towing with a short wheelbase Landrover. The Landrover was too light and the wheelspin made it…

    Impractical!

    ETA correction

    All good points, I will revise my offer , a 4×4 Winnebago ERA towing the Porsche.

  44. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: science – the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

    Very wrong.
    What is “physical”? Are thoughts “physical” because we do study them.
    What is “natural”? Is logic and advanced math “natural”? But there’s a lot of that we do not observe in “nature”.
    Is Maxwell’s Demon an observation or an experiment? Was Einstein famous for his observations, experiments, or his _____?
    Can you do science just based on “observation” and “experiment”? Hint: no way. Check out why there is no science without religion: http://nonlin.org/philosophy-religion-and-science/

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