Monday, November 29, 2010

DI's version of Larry, Moe, and Curly!

Been a busy couple of weeks so I am a bit behind on my blog. So here is a trio of posts concerning three of my favorite Discovery Institute/Intelligent Design stooges Behe, Dembski, and the lightweight luskin.

So what has Michael Behe been up to? He's been touring Great Britain at the invite of the new Centre for Intelligent Design (CID) in Glasgow, Scotland. I posted a little about it "So there is nothing religious about ID? Part III", "That didn't take long UK Intelligent Design meet US Intelligent Design" and "It is about time we got even!" Well He had a little opinion piece published in the Guardian called "Finding Design in Nature" and it's filled with it's usual tripe. He says:

"My contention is that 'the purposeful arrangement of parts' to achieve a specific purpose is the criterion that enables us to recognise design. I argued that the conclusion of design in the bacterial flagellum and in many other biological systems is no different from discerning it for a mousetrap or a Ford Mondeo"

Here is my issue with his definition of Intelligent Design and it's with the word 'purposeful and purpose'. Exactly what does a 'purposeful arrangement of parts to achieve a purpose' say about itself? That it serves a purpose. That's it! So what exactly does that say about the origin of a cell, or any biological component? Absolutely nothing. What he is trying to do is muddy the waters and make people think that because something has a purpose it could not have possibly come about except through being arranged for that purpose. But he offers no support for having a purpose requires a intended purposeful arrangement. If you disagree then please let me know what support he provided that shows the pieces and parts were arranged IN ORDER to achieve that specific purpose. That's what he says -- but that isn't what he supports or provides evidence. I don't see it, I see his argument as conjecture with a side-order of wishful thinking. The other comment of his I find funny is:

"So what makes Intelligent Design fundamentally different from Darwinism? The Darwinian view which dominates biology holds that the design we all see in life is merely illusory and that life is essentially a blind and purposeless phenomenon. Intelligent Design claims that the design is real and demonstrable; we are left to draw our own conclusions about the implications."
The part that cracks me up is a frequent Creationist strawman. Evolution does not say 'blind and purposeless', what evolution says is that there are parts that are undirected, like Random Mutation. But when it comes to Natural Selection, there is a great deal of 'driven by environment' in the selection of the traits that offer survival and reproductive advantages. Behe only wants you to think about Evolution being blind and purposeless because if he admitted the truth, it would undercut his less-than-well-supported arguments.

But Behe isn't the only target of this little post. Recently William "Wild Bill" Dembski had a change of heart, or he lost his mind, and switched from being an OEC to a YEC, that is his frequently voiced support for an Old Earth has changed camps to join the Young Earthers. I posted about it in "Wild Bill and his sidekick Glenn Beck-erhead". Well what I apparently missed was the reason for his latest disregard for scientific evidence. Apparently those "open-minded" YEC's he works with over at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary can't possible have someone on staff that isn't toeing the ideological line. So Dembski finding himself possibly unemployed yet again (Remember when Baylor sent him home?) he quickly quickly disregarded years of OEC support to keep his job. Panda's Thumb has a lovely post about it "But it’s all about the science …". They highlighted a Dembski quote that I just have to repeat here:

“In a brief section [of his book] on Genesis 4-11, I weigh in on the Flood, raising questions about its universality, without adequate study or reflection on my part,” Dembski wrote. “Before I write on this topic again, I have much exegetical, historical, and theological work to do.”

This, in my opinion, is Dembski being Dembski and trying to skate around years of Old Earth support and trying to make it sound like his changing camps is no big deal. For a change he isn't trying to claim expertise he doesn't have. But his stating that there is 'Exegetical, Historical, and Theological' work that he needs to do is a bit foolish to me. Along with Panda's Thumb, I have to ask why isn't he going to do quite a bit of Geological work as well? But then the answer hit me. Dembski has absolutely no interest in heading down the path of science. It would again put him at odds with his employers. Someone who identifies himself as one of Dembski's students said this:

"As a student at SWBTS currently, and knowing Dr. Dembski through his writings and as my professor . . . his views are extremely conservative. Indeed, he repeatedly stated that he wanted to see theology as the "queen of the sciences" again, guiding all of our disciplines.

I think if we were honest, most of us would admit that we don't have the scientific background to really understand half of what he says. . . . If this is about "new earth" vs "old earth" being accepted Baptist orthodoxy, we are going to see many of our respected Christian scientists, mathematicians, etc. abandon our fellowship if we cannot allow for an old earth."

Division in the ranks, I hope the student covered himself or he might find himself on one side of a Dembski-ish inquisition.

Now last and, as usual, least little casey luskin. Luskin again attempts to put on a lab coat and posts on the DI news site (They call it a blog, but they do not allow any comments, so it's a news site). "Does Intelligent Design Help Science Generate New Knowledge"and here is a summary of the great work he thinks is inspired by intelligent Design:

  • ID has inspired scientists to do research which has detected high levels of complex and specified information in biology in the form of fine-tuning of protein sequences.
  • ID has inspired scientists to seek and find instances of fine-tuning of the laws and constants of physics to allow for life, leading to a variety of fine-tuning arguments including the Galactic Habitable Zone.
  • ID has inspired scientists to understand intelligence as a scientifically studyable cause of biological complexity, and to understand the types of information it generates.
  • D has inspired both experimental and theoretical research into how limitations on the ability of Darwinian evolution to evolve traits that require multiple mutations to function.
  • ID has inspired theoretical research into the information-generative powers of Darwinian searches, leading to the finding that the search abilities of Darwinian processes are limited, which has practical implications for the viability of using genetic algorithms to solve problems.
OK, that's enough. If you want to get bored you can go look at the rest of them. They are equal part obfuscation and pretty wordy pseudoscience. First of all I would like to comment on who are all these 'scientists' he claims are being inspired? Douglas D. Axe, Guillermo Gonzalez, Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, William A. Dembski, Richard v. Sternberg . . .. Anyone else see a trend? These people don't need inspiration from Intelligent Design, these are fellow members of the Discovery Institute that are busy trying to market ID. Now if ID was actually an inspiration, casey, how about a list of real scientists who are inspired -- but who are not already fervent believers in ID? That would be an interesting list -- but of course it would be an empty one. The best you have been able to do is a list of 700 people, some of which are scientists, few are biologists, that think questioning Darwin's work is a good idea. the list doesn't support, nor was it inspired by ID -- even though your buds at the DI tried to make it sound that way during the Dover trial.

Of course little casey has to start off with a huge assumption
"It's important to realize that when dealing with historical sciences like neo-Darwinian evolution or intelligent design . . ."
Um, since when is 'Intelligent Design' science? Plus just what the hell is a 'historical science'? He never goes into that. he just makes his statement without any actual support and assumes it to be factual.

Do any of his comments address HOW Intelligent Design inspired all this? Or any of the open questions about Intelligent Design, like the identity of the Designer, that mythical designer that could clear this mystery up in a second -- if only there was support for the existence of the 'officially' unidentified designer.

Well of course anything casey writes needs to be subjected to the 'giggle test', that means if you can get through it without giggling, someone else wrote it for casey.

More soon because I certainly would like to comment on the counter suit by the California ScienCenter over the broken contract to show an ID film. Apparently they were 'helped' by the Discovery Institute and even little casey might get deposed. And I need to catch up and see if there is anything new on the David Coppedge case. It downed on me that I haven't heard a thing lately. After Coppedge filed his suit the DI's various mouthpieces had a flurry of posts supporting him . . . and then it tapered off to nothing! I wonder if they actually know something or they are simply being shy of supporting yet another loser.


  1. I call it the Magical Creationism Discovery Institute. I noticed they have never discovered anything. Perhaps they're too busy attacking science education.

  2. That's been one of my issues with them as well. Even if by some miracle ,pun intended> they manage to find a real issue that casts doubt upon evolutionary theory -- that still would not advance Creationism/Intelligent Design one iota.