Sunday, November 7, 2010

DI's knee-jerk anti-ID whine

One of the more common posts over on the Discovery Institute 'website' are those whining about other people not 'explaining' Intelligent Design correctly. It happened yet again with "Correcting Kirk Fithzhugh's Misunderstandings About Intelligent Design".

Why is it that when anyone writes something critical of intelligent design they are pretty much guaranteed to received such a whine. What's interesting is that rarely does the DI responder address the issues raised by the writer, but spend an inordinate amount of time whining about their definition. Now if casey was fair, he would have stopped this particular line:

"It's important to note that Dr. Fitzhugh should have every right hold, publish, and discuss his views that dissent from ID in the public square and within the scientific community."
In all honesty, if he really is free to do this, casey should just slink away. But of course that never happens. The DI has to respond, because they really have nothing else. So here is my point. For years now actual scientists have been asking for the DI to . . . well let me quote Dr. Chancey, Chair of the Religious Studies Department at SMU again:
"They are only asking ID proponents to be transparent in their agenda, accurate about their representations of scholarship, and willing to play by the same rules of peer review and quality control that legitimate scholars and scientists around the world follow every day."
If the Discovery Institute would only support their ideas with actual work, this whole definitional issue would disappear. But no! Since ID proponents keep moving the goal posts, and since they also have both their official definitions -- and personal definitions (as evidenced when Behe identified the designer, unofficially -- and he is not the only one to do so) it is no wonder that people rarely agree with the definition of the moment as published by the DI-mouthpiece-on-call who respond to the many articles critical of ID.

What is casey's specific whine, he is still playing the 'official' line that ID doesn't address the supernatural. Since when? Certainly not when Behe had to expand the definition of science to include supernatural causation in order to include ID. Not when Johnson wrote the Wedge strategy document. Not during presentations where multiple ID proponents identified the Christian God as the intelligent designer. So little casey's whine is just that, an incessant noise conveying no actual information.

Now the rest of his little post, where his quotes one of his personal heros, Steven C. Meyer. Well early in his post he asks a question
"Would they [criticisms of ID] cut against his own Darwinian viewpoint, if they were applied fairly?"
But then he doesn't bother to assess current science, scientific methodology, not even scientific philosophy. So once again he starts a point that should summarize one of his issues with what was said critiquing ID, and then he heads off in a completely different direction and nit-picks one other comment on the testability of ID. Fine, if that's what he wants to play, let's look at the other part of his whine.
"His criterion for testability is that "When causal conditions of type x occur, effects of type y will occur." ID easily meets this standard. When intelligent agents act, high levels of CSI are generated. "
Does it really? Has the existence of intelligent agents been supported by any evidence? Has CSI (Complex and Specified Information) been supported by any evidence? The answer to both questions is a resounding 'No they have not'. So let me get this straight, casey claims that ID meets the testability criterion by invoking a non-existent agent who uses a 'level' of a non-existent concept. Gee, what could possibly be wrong with that?

Well casey finishes this particular bit of nastiness with a change to a different tactic, co-opting evidence.
"Predictions of Design (Hypothesis):

(1) Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (i.e., complex and specified information).
(2) Forms containing large amounts of novel information will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without similar precursors.
(3) Convergence will occur routinely. That is, genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms.
(4) Much so-called "junk DNA" will turn out to perform valuable functions."

OK, (1) without his little parenthetical addition is something discovered and well explained with evolutionary theory. Of course he had to add the '(i.e., complex and specified information)' as if this is a actual scientific concept rather than ID proponent wishful thinking.

(2) is a lie. Forms have appeared in the fossil record and most were preceded by similar precursors. In fact as we discover more fossils, many of those that didn't appear to have a precursor do now. This is just a typical 'God-of-the-gaps' argument that doesn't stand the test of time well. I know someone reading this will think about the 'Cambrian Explosion', however while a 'explosion' that lasted 50-70 million years might not be extremely explosive, many of the forms that the DI likes to claim 'appeared' have clear precursors from the Ediacaran Period.

(3) More already understood part of evolutionary theory.

(4) Scientists rarely called parts of a genome to which we didn't have an identified purpose 'junk', as in useless or unused. Scientists have been adding functionality to many parts of various genomes not previously identified. Tell me one example of an ID 'scientist' actually filling one of these perceived gaps? I don't know of one and I don't plan on holding my breath.

See what I mean, casey is trying to co-opt known science for supporting ID -- and yet offers nothing in addition. How do any of these hypothetical predictions actually support ID? What in the world makes him think that just because he thinks they will be successful predictions, they would in fact support ID?

casey also tried to change tactics as well. Remember He accused Kirk Fithzhugh of setting a standard that could not be applied to evolutionary theory -- and yet tried to grab existing evidence for evolution and claiming they would also support ID -- without explaining how or why they would do so. More fertilizer from casey and his buds. Color me unimpressed!


  1. I think originally the DI savants claimed that all DNA has a function. This is clearly not the case, even viewed in hindsight as material for future change. You would think something designed would be a little less messy. Maybe all that "junk" is some sort of decoration. I'm beginning to get the feeling that Casey is not an honest seeker of the truth.