Saturday, June 5, 2010

Intelligent Design, Sh** or get off the Pot!

While Christianity Today is not a magazine I read regularly I caught this little article on John Lynch's 'A Simple Prop' blog, something I do read on a regular basis. He linked to an article there by Karl Giberson, director of Gordon College's Forum on Faith and Science. The article "Intelligent Design: Find a Fertile Idea" is one of three that try and offer suggestions on ways intelligent design can gain academic currency.

The first article in the trilogy was by Stephen C. Meyer, author of that disaster "Signature in the Cell" and one of those disreputable Discovery Institute ideologists. Meyer said his usual mishmash of defensiveness. I was not surprised at his opening:

Asking what advocates of intelligent design must do to gain credibility in the academy is a bit like asking a man when he stopped beating his wife. Such a question makes a prejudicial assumption.
Meyer tries once again to convince people that ID has any credibility at all in the scientific community. Tell me how credible is a concept who's own supporters fail to do any actual work to support their idea. The majority of the time they are trying denigrate Evolution rather than promote ID. I'll close this blog entry with another example of Meyer's poor personal credibility, but first on to the other two articles in the trilogy.

The second article was done by a geologist, Marcus Ross, the down side is that he teaches at Liberty University. Liberty is not exactly a place brimming with open-mindedness for new scientific ideas. So I do feel some resistance to Ross immediately, but what he says makes some amount of sense, but I can't see the ID community paying any attention. It's time to give up on the Big tent approach:
It is one thing to argue that an object or organism is designed. But then comes the question of how and when the design was implemented (and also by whom). Because ID is minimalistic, a number of options are available. Was the design implemented over a multibillion-year history of Earth, or in six rotational days several thousand years ago? Was it worked out through a genetic unfolding of a single information-rich cell, or through designed interventions within evolutionary lineages, or by separate, ex nihilo creations? Various ID proponents offer different answers, but none speaks for ID itself, because if one perspective were widely accepted, the other members would be forced to leave the tent.
In my opinion Ross' first mistake was not starting with the basics. Prove design and then you can deal with the different members standing under the tent. Obviously that has not happened at all. Ross does state something that I disagree with. Since when have
" . . . proponents have made progress in advancing design-detection methods, and have been modestly successful in applying them to real biological systems . . ."
I certainly haven't seen any actual progress, certainly not by anyone from the Discovery Institute or Liberty University. If he is thinking Meyer's book is progress, he needs to relearn that progress is considered forward, Meyer's book took his buddies in the opposite direction, so much so that they [the DI] are already publishing a book to address all the criticism. (PZ Myers Pharyngula blog reports "The Discovery Institute is desperately patching Meyer's mind-numbing magnum opus") To bad they don't address the cause for the criticism, instead they seem to want to attack the critics. Typical Dishonesty Institute tactic.

Giberson's article was the third. He is a proponent of theistic evolution, another concept I disagree with, but have fewer issues with it. Basically it surrounds evolution is a religious wrapper, but it does leave the theory pretty much alone. I really liked his summary:

I would love to see ID redirect its energies to developing a genuinely fertile idea. Stop trying to prove that Darwin caused the Holocaust or that evolution is ruining Western civilization. Agree among yourselves that the earth is old, since science has proven that. Do not call world-class scientists "cranks," as Meyer implies in Signature in the Cell. Do not claim that evolution is collapsing, when everyone in the field knows it isn't. Stop claiming that you cannot get your work published in conventional journals when you aren't submitting papers to these journals.

Instead, roll up your sleeves and get to work on the big idea. Develop it to the point where it starts spinning off new insights into nature so that we know more because of your work. Then the academy will welcome you with open arms. Science loves rebels.

This is a familiar theme I read about constantly. Most critics of the ID political and marketing movement have been asking for this for 20 years. I like to put it a little more succinctly:
Quit whining and do some science -- real science not make believe!
However, I can't see anyone from the Discovery Institute paying any attention. They already know they haven't done any science, they even stood up their own lab (Biologic Institute) and still haven't managed to do any science. Yet they stand by their marketing and keep trying to convince everyone how 'scientific' they are. They won't listen, especially not with the apologetic like Meyer leading the charge.

Speaking of Meyer again, here is another quote from his article:
First, the scientific community is not uniformly opposed to ID. My recent book on the subject received enthusiastic endorsements from many scientists not previously known as advocates of ID, such as chemist Philip Skell, a National Academy of Sciences member, and Norman Nevin, one of Britain's top geneticists.
In my humble opinion Stephen C. Meyer is a liar. According to this quote Meyer states that Philip Skell and Norman Nevin were not previously advocates of Intelligent Design. Let's set the record straight, Skell is a Signatory of the very discredited "A Dissent From Darwinism", the list used in Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns in an attempt to discredit evolution and bolster claims that intelligent design is scientifically valid by claiming that evolution lacks broad scientific support. Meyer is a liar, Skell may not have published a pro-ID fluff piece, but he is an advocate. Nevin is a supporter of "Truth in Science" a United Kingdom-based organization which promotes the "Teach the Controversy" campaign. It uses this strategy to try to get intelligent design taught alongside evolution in school science lessons. Meyer is once again, in my opinion, lying!

Now maybe Meyer should work on his own credibility before claiming how credible Intelligent Design within the scientific community. How can anyone believe a word he says?

But back to the gist of this trilogy and my blog entry -- I think it's time for the DI to get off the pot. How can ID gain acceptance, or as the articles put it 'academic currency'. I believe it's too late for that. ID is an idea that has failed and started failing when Philip E. Johnson wrote the Wedge Strategy Document. It's time the ID proponents faced facts and ID, as a way to get Creationism re-introduced to the science classroom in public schools, is an abject failure. I know they won't, but I can hope.

If they need any more incentive, John Lynch, and the NCSE also reported that the last two anti-evolution bills have died. Two bills introduced in South Carolina have died in committee.


  1. Some of the resistance to the notion of Intelligent Design relates to the politics and sociology associated with this theory. Various political groups use the notion to support their entitlement.

    The most notorious example is the Taliban, who use intelligent design to reinforce a particular relationship between men and women. Women in their view are the servant of men as this is the way "god" created the universe in his wisdom.

    A more subtle politicizing is that various ethnic groups assert their dominion and superiority over others based on the view that this is a fact of creation. Nazi Germany, and the superiority of the German race, would be a blatant example, but many other examples exist today in one form or another.

    Intelligent Design can be used to block progress, resist change, and maintain the property and power relationships of the status quo.

    While such political and sociological mis-application is not endemic to the notion itself, it does represent a threat to society, to progress, and to the American Dream. Consequently,the issues flowing from the politicization of Intelligent Design must be addressed before the theory of Intelligent Design will gain traction with the scientific community and the majority of people.

  2. I think another political group trying to use the concept of ID is Conservatives. Even the Wedge Strategy document shows that ID was nothing but a shill to get all of science on a more theistic-friendly avenue.

    I am not yet convinced there is any validity of ID as a scientific theory. For one reason is no one seems to be actually working on it. Even it's supporters would rather make claims of being bullied than do the work. I think that when an idea isn't being pursued by its own supporters in a way that will gain acceptance, then it's a sham and it means the supporters have a hidden agenda. This time the agenda isn't so hidden. Philip E. Johnson stated it pretty succinctly.

  3. Actually, an increasingly large percentage of today's scientists believe in an intelligent designer of the universe and life, and this is now an established one way trend. To understand this turn of events, including perspectives of many leading scientists, see Intelligent Design vs. Evolution — The Miracle of Intelligent Design.

  4. Rory in short I disagree . . . for a longer comment you can look at I had too much to say and didn't want to bury it in a comment. It's a new post.