Thursday, December 3, 2015

Follow-up to "So There is Nothing Religious About Intelligent Design (Part IX)"

As I mentioned earlier in the week, the Discovery Institute, while still claiming to not be a religious organization, is very concerned with young people losing their faith-based beliefs ("Are Young People Losing Their Faith Because of Science?").  They are offering a 'free' report to:

"Download this free report from Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture for information and resources to equip yourself, your family, and your congregation on issues of faith and science." 
Aside from this reminding me of those theists who used to roam the airport giving out a flower or a book and then asking for a monetary contribution . . . anyway . . .

One of the commenters on the Sensuous Curmudgeon blog, where I first caught the DI's report, apparently did download it.  If you remember I wasn't sure what five big truths the DI was going to 'explain' in order to help you counter the myth that belief in God is anti-scienceI did postulate some possibilities, and got a couple of them right.  Here is the list and my responses.  According to 'michaelfugate' they are [my comments follow and are italicized]:

  • Christianity is not anti-science. Indeed, the Judeo-Christian worldview helped nurture the scientific revolution.
    This is one of the ones I did predict.  The DI loves to lay claim to such things, but they tend to do quite a bit of cherry picking and only remark with vague generalities.  Partially true, but across history the Judeo-Christian worldview also greatly inhibited science, especially science that disagreed with that worldview.  Can anyone remember how long it took before any part of the Judeo-Christian worldview apologized to Nicholas Copernicus? 500 years?  I guess they might consider it only took 350 years to apologize for what it did to Galileo an improvement.  But you cannot consider that a nurturing environment!  Making this claim doesn't support that belief in God is scientific, only that religious groups can use their belief set in many ways, including ways that do more damage than good.
  • Even many secular scientists affirm the incredible fine-tuning of the laws of physics that make life possible. We live on a “privileged planet” designed in a multitude of ways for life and for scientific discovery.
    I would love to see their definition of a 'secular scientist' because this is patently untrue.  While real scientists have uncovered the laws of physics, they do not consider the 'fine-tuning' argument persuasive.  This top-down view of the evolution of life and the formation of the universe is much more a philosophical argument than a scientific one.  If you disagree, go out to PubMed and do a search for 'fine-tuned universe', there were six articles, and only two addressed this from a philosophical viewpoint, not a scientific one.  The other four used the term 'fine-tuning' in a different context.
  • Inside our cells are molecular machines of exquisite beauty and complexity that point powerfully to purposeful design.
    This was the other I predicted.  I figured they would try and work in their pet version of Creationism somehow.  While they often make this claim, they have yet to support it.  One of their own 'scientists', Ann Gauger said recently that not only do they not know the process of ID, but that since the Intelligent Agent (what the rest of religions call a Deity) is so far outside of us, we will never know that process.  Other than wishful thinking and conjecture, they not found anything that actually contradicts evolutionary theory.  They offer statements like this as if they are conclusions rather than just more speculation.  To make this claim, they have a great deal of work in front of them -- but so far it seems to be work they are unable or unwilling to do.
  • Human beings are special and unique in a multitude of ways.
    As compared to what?  Tigers are special and unique in a multitude of ways as well, and in many ways we would fail to measure up.  Humans also share a great many ways with many other species on this planet.  DNA studies, physiology, and studies in comparative anatomy clearly demonstrate that while we might like to think we are unique and special, there isn't all that much evidence to support it. 
  • Science is a wonderful human enterprise, but it is fallible and can be abused. It is therefore rational (and not “anti-science”) to explore competing scientific explanations, and to scrutinize cultural claims made in the name of science.
    As so goes the lesson in distrusting science that the DI has been pushing for years.  Is science perfect?  No!  But it's the exploration of other scientific theories, it's the validation with experimentation, it's following a methodological approach that makes science work and when science gets things wrong, it is often a self-correcting activity.  But it's not exploring just any ideas and trying to contrasting them with scientific theories that improves science, but actual scientific theories.  While they keep trying to claim it, Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory and until it's proponents get out of the marketing world and get into the weeds of scientific work, no one within science needs to take them particularly seriously.  By this wording here, every scientific discipline that gets questioned in any way by anybody is supposed to be addressed.  Talk about a complete and total waste of time.  For example do we really need to have Mathematicians spend time addressing Numerology?  How about Astronomers dealing with Astrology?  Archaeologists are going to have to address 'pyramid power' and chase down rumors and stories of ancient astronauts?  Until ID proponents do the actual scientific work to support their idea, real biologists should be focused real science, not trying to justify someone else's religious beliefs. 
This five things aren't 'truths', they are just more examples of the marketing of the Discovery Institute. 

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