TSZ Moderator Mung wrote over at PS about why he is a design proponent (https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/why-i-am-an-id-proponent/2955):
“[I] believe that design is obvious.”
Let’s be clearer and more accurate with our words than are most IDists at the Discovery Institute (DI) based in Seattle. I as well as most, if not all ‘skeptics’ here believe ‘human design’ is obvious. More importantly, however, so do most actual ‘design theorists’ around the world. Do you agree with us about the obvious reality of ‘human design’, Mung, or not?
IDists based at the epicentre of IDism at the DI in Seattle, as well as those who associate themselves with ‘Intelligent Design’ pretty much everywhere else globally, generally refuse to identify & discuss those ‘design theories’ as legitimate scholarship. Why? Is it an unspoken rule their followers are required to obey? Is it just a more than significant oversight on their part which they are innocent for making? Why otherwise would the DI studiously avoid, except for little nibbles of exposure here or there, a rather significant & well-attended field of study already in existence, using the same exact term as theirs: ‘design’?
Is it fathomable that this is because the DI knows that if they were to expose legitimate ‘design theorists’ who reject IDism as voices in their media echo chambers, those scholars & scientists, philosophers & even sometimes theologians, might outshine their own reactionary politically-oriented ‘intelligent design theories’ (acknowledging it the way they always officially write it now, in lowercase form, according to DI hidden policy) and thus upset the Founders & Donors of the IDM?
Non-IDists, however, who are far & away the vast majority of normal people, know that the DI is hiding inconvenient facts like that there are large numbers of non-persecuted ‘design theorists’ out there doing just fine. Hurrah, would anyone at the DI say for those ‘design theorists’? The DI is intent on pushing a culture-warring political narrative to oppose what it calls ‘cultural materialism’ (& other such names in their rhetorical playbooks, still drawn largely along the lines of the lawyerly Phillip Johnson days). Are you aware of any of this, Mung? And if you are, then why don’t you take some intellectual, political or at least financial stand against what they are doing?
“The only contender for explaining the appearance of design is Darwinism.” – Mung
This is incorrect. The actuality of ‘design’ (meaning philosophically speaking; being, existing, essence, substantiated, manifest, etc., yet somehow the ‘intelligence’ again here got dropped, in order to focus on the DI’s supersized ‘D’-word), not just the mere ‘appearance’ (cf. inferentialism) of ‘design’ (with a little ‘d’), has little to nothing to do with ‘Darwinism.’ There are thus good reasons the DI runs away from public conversations about proper & improper uses of their grammar, since they have invested such a massive stake in their credibility upon that one devastatingly ‘obvious’ term.
NB: Mung, I would rather prefer that you, & other IDists or fideists here *not* mention ‘Darwinism’ because it is clearly, already & long enough ago the wrong term for this discussion at the front lines. The actuality of ‘human design’ & community of its ‘designers’ has already been validated by more than enough scholars & scientists to have achieved ‘consensus’ & just by its existence negates the DI’s cries of injustice & unfairness against ‘design theorists’ & ‘design thinking’ in the Academy & higher education. There is simply a consensus about ‘design’ that the DI blatantly ignores.
In this author’s humble opinion, the DI does this so that they can play themselves off to their funding channels as vicitimised underdogs who made a genius discovery about ‘information’ & ‘intelligence’ (they apparently negate materialism, full stop) that all people everywhere should ‘scientific’ evangelicalistically learn about it (but they admit not yet ready for schools). And as you know, with ‘ID’ (so cute & easy to think of as a cross between Identity – ID & Intelligence Quota – IQ) the DI deep down believes their theory holds implications for, as Behe not-humbly stated, “all humane studies.” What is this other than mousetrap-style nonsense & exaggeration parading as Science?
“There is no design in nature. More specifically, there is no design in biology. Contra Darwin. Contra Dawkins. etc. That’s one way to approach it. Who are the proponents of that position?” – Mung (edited to remove the superfluous inferentialist ‘appearance of’)
So yeah, I’m a proponent of that position. The concept of ‘design’ is largely considered now just (read: has become) a category error in biology, pure & simple. End of story. Stop blaming anyone for this except the DI & the IDM themselves. The shame of endless lobbying & propagandising remains. Theists especially don’t need to use ‘design’ to create an Engineer’s God made in their own image & don’t think the DI following Thaxton, Bradley & Olsen, Johnson, Behe, Meyer, Chapman, West, Gordon, Nelson & others has reinvented sliced bread. It’s an embarrassment to scholarship and intellectual integrity!
Perceiving things this way of course runs contra Dembski, contra Behe, contra Meyer, contra West, contra Wells, contra Axe, contra Gonzales, contra Gauger, contra Denton (with his engaging numbness to Design, likewise contra Berlinski), contra Marks, contra Ewert & other ideological IDists who do not know the appropriate and proper limits to ‘designist’ thinking and engage in ‘intelligence faking.’ These are not appropriately trained, honestly aspiring (double-talking, polemical rhetoric, etc.) or philosophically well-balanced scholars (Meyer’s dissertation at Cambridge is funny – he started it by redefining ‘history’ to suit his ideology). The DI invested in a religious-political platform for themselves (built also around Gilder’s radical economic futuristics) through institutional channels & has milked their funding bodies for ‘fear capital’ to stay afloat as they propagandise & polemicise the US cultural landscape. This is the basic sociological reality of the IDM & it’s proponents at the DI.
So, are you part of that ‘evangelical milking’ via allegiance to a linguistic frame of communicating that smacks of ‘designist’ ideology? Such is the blatant strategy & the provocative motif of the DI in their outward communications, Mung. Think ‘design/Design’ as much as you can & you may lose some of the richness that remains in the larger Narrative. If you wish to seek greater balance, how then do you distinguish yourself from the DI’s on-going propaganda & oftentimes petty (Klinghoffer & O’Leary at the moment) divisive culture warring, such that you would fit ‘design’ in among several other categories of ideas, rather than priviledging & lofting it up on high as Seattle’s DI & their little satellites do?
Rejecting ‘design in nature’ is also, those early readers here might remember as there was a disturbance with him at UD, a position that runs contra Adrian Bejan, an atheist-egoist Romanian thermodynamicist whose work the DI likewise all but silences by conveniently ignoring it. Not unlike deplatforming, these omissions by the DI are from adequately engaging with ‘design theory,’ design theorists, designers themselves, and now the work of an author who uses the same language as they do: ‘design in nature.’ His only crime, it seems? Being an atheist. Otherwise, why wouldn’t the DI be all over this person who is more credentialled & sought after for speaking invitations than most of their entire ‘faculty of thinkers’ at their Think Tank with his ‘design in nature’ theory & ‘constructal law’? Is that simply ‘too scientific’ for the DI, whose Biologic Institute just isn’t about physics; a biology-only research logic & strategy for funding purposes to feed their self-proclaimed ‘revolution’?
S. Joshua Swamidass (WUSTL) is of course partly correct when he notes in the same thread to Mung that, “The appearance of design, outside of [natural] scientific study, is not actually ID.” Yes, but the DI is slippery about it. Joshua & I & many others reject Mung’s (& Behe’s & the ‘philosophers’ of the IDM) ‘obvious design’ view of IDism. The category error isn’t something most IDists will own up to with their rhetoric.
The continued & well-thought out rejection of IDism/IDT by Abrahamic theists must unfortunately offend the purists at the DI. That seems to matter little at this point, however, for all they’ve willingly put themselves through in order to reinvent the ‘D-word’ & risk offending others who see a better more constructive way forward. Most people are rather well aware that applied sciences (from engineering to creative arts & business) use ‘design thinking’ regularly, while IDists stick their heads in the sand in denial about it.
Swamidass, on the other hand, is clearly self-selective with his recent memory, for example, when he argues: “I would not associate with any organization that makes bad arguments for evolution.”
This is false, as on the individual level Joshua would rather defend atheist cultural evolutionists, than actually taking effort to listen to an alternative to his oftentimes superficial ideological positioning re: MN & creationism. As a result, we get what appears as almost ‘universal evolutionism’ sometimes from Swamidass; he just doesn’t know where to stop the notion of ‘evolving’ in the natural world!
Joshua continues: “Why do you think I left BioLogos?”
As a note of private research, I’ve been watching Swamidass’ heroic genetical Adamics & genealogicalistics closely since he began going public not long ago with his works at BioLogos, after being invited there to join them in Francis Collins’ project. Let’s set the record straight; Joshua left BioLogos not long after accusing them of being racist towards him. The record shows, however, that he was himself the initiator of ‘racism talk’ there & so it went quickly downhill.
The suggestion that Swamidass, newly blessed with tenure in Missouri, didn’t actively escalate his challenge to likewise philosophically almost illiterate geneticist Dennis Venema in B.C. (TWU) & puff up his chest towards his fellow evangelicals & their specific ‘mission’ at BioLogos is highly misleading. Joshua is still swimming in the same waters with BioLogos-style evangelicals & now wishes to pose a kind of ‘fifth voice’ challenge to them (that’s why he got bombarded from fellow USAmericans with concern for his ‘faith & politics’ when he posted about BioLogos as possibly being called ‘post-evangelicals,’ when it appears he is more one himself!) in generating a swarm of potentially highly divisive genealogical Adamistics around his own research & “Science of Adam” book plans. He just doesn’t seem to realise the consequences his provocations so far & people at PS so far aren’t pressing him for answers about it.
“If someone has a better alternative than ‘Intelligent Design’ I don’t know what it is.” – Mung
Noted with thanks, you capitalised ‘Intelligent Design’ because that is the proper & most accurate way to signify what the DI means by it, even though they lack the courage & dignity to write & clarify that openly in public. The DI’s ‘strictly scientific’ IDism (they call it IDT) requirement bars them from speaking with the honesty that you have just displayed. Why do you think they can’t allow themselves to properly capitalise ‘Intelligent Design’ since everyone knows via ‘father of the IDM’ Phillip Johnson what they really mean? It is left as one of those mysteries of the Pacific mindset that the DI still holds itself back from wider credibility through such manoeuvers.
If you mean you believe that biology is ‘Designed by God’ then by all means, yes say that is what you intended, Mung. This is much preferred to instead parading around duplicitously as the DI still does further degrading themselves as interlocutors (e.g. Klinghoffer). Even Vincent Torley, who has now unofficially left the IDM, properly capitalises that term! As religious monotheists, we already accept a ‘Designed’ world in the capitalised sense without trying to ‘scientise’ our theological orientation in order to overcome local schoolboard restrictions based on the US Constitution. The rest of us acknowledge divine Creation, instead of harping on ‘Design’ & trying to ‘scientise’ it.
As for alternatives, I use an inherently teleological term ‘extension,’ that doesn’t double-talk like the DI does between human design & Divine Design. That’s a much better approach than IDism don’t you think, Mung? Human extension has also been considerably more impactful not only just ‘within’ social sciences & humanities, but also as applied in societies globally, than either ‘mere design’ or ‘actual evolution.’ Cultural evolutionists of course disagree with both my position and claims of any alternatives to their ‘theory’, while still pushing ahead their Darwin-disenchanted views of human society without meaningful hope of finding ‘strictly scientific’ evidence for their anti-IDT grand ideological, usually religion-substitute plans for ‘evolution’ to conceptually rule the realm of culture & ideas.
At the end of the day, human agency & free will aren’t easily persuaded that they don’t exist. ; ) They simply don’t package deterministically into a repeatable, verifiable ‘mechanism’ of change-over-time for evolutionists to justify cocking & crowing about themselves as ‘sustainable development gurus!’ (https://evolution-institute.org/) At the same time, through the DI’s apologetic faith-channels mainly only flat-minded fools are still falling for their IDism anymore. Better options are now available that are not myopically focussed on a single word or bent towards skepticism &/or atheism. Maybe Mung just needs another inspiration that is doing something actually ‘scientific’ approach to join in with rather than maintaining allegiance to & support of the DI? It sounds like he’s ready for some non-evolutionary change.