Re: [asa] ID is scientifically vacuous

From: PvM <>
Date: Wed Jun 20 2007 - 23:05:22 EDT

On 6/20/07, Gregory Arago <> wrote:
> There will be no further comments by me on this thread
> in dialogue with Pim after this message. Already
> someone has stated they will trash any messages from
> him without readiing them. I am inching toward the
> same conclusion. My reason for doing this: it is not
> the place at ASA for someone to simply mock and
> tarnish IDT's as if they them-self were a more
> righteous scientist than others (especially when one
> doesn't want to quote scientifically-minded Christians
> instead of anti-theists on topics such as 'altruism').

There seem to be so many things wrong here. So let me point out here
that 1) I do no mind quoting scientifically-minded Christian on the
topic of altruism 2) the fact that I quote anti-theists on this topic
has no relevance as to the veracity of their claims 3) I am not
mocking or tarnishing ID as if I were a more righteous scientist than
others, on the contrary, I argue that any scientist would quickly come
to realize the simple fact that ID is scientifically vacuous.

> Though IDT's may not be making significant
> contributions to science 'at this point,' first, it is
> wrong to suggest that they cannot EVER make
> contributions (which was Burgy's first point), and

That's true of course, miracles do happen. However since ID is based
on an eliminative approach, it seems unlikely that it will succeed.
Just an informed prediction.

> second, I doubt that Pim himself has made any
> contribution to science that rivals what the IDM has
> tried to do/is trying to do. Many books, for example,
> have been published about ID, IDT's, the IDM, science
> and religion and arguments to and from design over the
> past 5 or so years.

Yes, I read the horoscope in the newspaper every day, and many books
and articles have shown the scientific vacuity of ID, combined with
the Kitzmiller testimony and the known absence of much of any ID
relevant research and it is easy to see that the volume of books may
have less to do with the scientific content and more with evangelizing
the concept.

> Let me repeat then, what I have asked Pim already:
> Pim, could you point us to papers, articles or
> publications that you have contributed to what counts
> as scientific knowledge? This will help us to evaluate
> the authority of your supposed scientific knowledge.


> A few responses to the previous post (which no one
> seems to want to comment on...I wonder why?):
> "ID has failed to contribute in ANY of the areas in
> which ID proponents have hypothesized and speculated
> that it could contribute." - Pim
> If one considers the fact that ID has raised peoples'
> interests in the dialogue between science and
> religion, then yes, here it has contributed. More
> people are interested than before ID and the IDM.

Many pseudoscientific ventures can still help increase people's
interests, of course I am not sure if ID has helped in a dialogue
between science and religion because it is vacuous scientifically
speaking and risky theologically speaking. I would say that ID has
done much damage rather than raise people's interest. But raising
people's interest still does not negate my simple observations about
ID being scientifically vacuous.

> As for "religiously inspired, design-based
> assumptions," these have been plentiful throughout the
> history of sciences. Some of the most well-known
> scientists in history have operated with religiously
> inspired, design-based assumptions. This does not mean
> they used a Johnson-Behe-Dembski-DI-type of
> Intelligent Design (or intelligent design) theory. But
> it is ridiculous to ignore that what is behind (and
> really, within, e.g. I. Newton's case) science can
> affect science too.

Sure and while in most cases such scientists have managed to
distinguish their faith and their science, it is particularly notable
how Newton himself let his ignorance about orbital dynamics propose a
deity that continuously makes adjustments to the orbits.

> "historically speaking they [philosophers] have failed
> many times already" - Pim

> Let's not paint all philosophers and all philosophies
> as 'failures' so quickly! What a hoot for a
> non-philosopher to tarnish philosophy, the love of
> wisdom, so condescendingly. As if, for Pim, natural
> science (e.g. physics and oceanography) held a trump
> card over what counts as socially important knowledge.
> Philosophers, be gone...until we desperately need them
> once again (and then, will they come?).

Again I fail to see how this addresses my observation. Why should we
expect ID to succeed after much additional knowledge of evolution has
been obtained?

> The fact that Pim calls Fuller and Woodward 'poor
> souls' is really a bit over the edge judgmentally -
> imo, ASA is simply not the place for this kind of
> language. Yes, I'm a junior here, but such talk seems
> to belong elsewhere.

I once again fail to see how pointing out how people (poor souls) have
come to accept ID's claims quite uncritically and I mentioned Woodward
and Fuller as two examples in my humble opinion of course, there are
countless more. Such as the poor souls in Dover, the Thomas Moore law
firm and so on and so on.

> "I am willing to defend the position that ID's
> approach is inherently unreliable and fails to be able
> to compete with the null hypothesis of 'we don't
> know'." - Pim

> So really, what is argued here is that 'nothing is
> better than nothing,' which is apparently exactly what
> Pim is peddling (though admittedly, I have gained from
> some of the clips and articles he's gathered from
> others).

What I observe is that ID is nothing more than the null hypothesis
with an added requirement of 'design' without however any ability to
compare this thesis with the null hypothesis. ID may be right but we
cannot determine this solely from the approach chosen by ID.

> How can ID FAIL to compete with 'we don't
> know'? It HAS offered a variety of positive

ID fails to compete with the null hypothesis because it is for all
practical purposes the null hypothesis and provides NO evidence for
its position to refer to the null hypothesis as intelligent designed.

> conclusions, in a variety of disciplinary fields. Many

Again, if ID has offered a variety of positive conclusions in a
variety of disciplinary fields, then please present them and we can
determine to what extent these positive conclusions follow from the
basic premises of ID.

> of these fields neither Pim nor I are trained in and
> therefore it is presumptuous to offer such certain
> rejections of the proposed positive contributions ID
> can/could or even sometimes does make to knowledge.

Even as an untrained scientist in these areas, it is trivially simple
to detect the major flaws in their arguments. In fact, I'd say that
most scientists would have little problems detecting them for
themselves, which explains why so many scientists have spoken out
critically against ID. Ayala, Ruse, Pennock, Sober, and many many

> For me, I am somewhat glad for the IDM in the sense of
> raising public awareness about science and religion
> discourse, that it is willing to call into question an
> accepted paradigm, a 'normal science', especially one
> that for many people has snugly comforted their
> atheistic or anti-theistic worldview, i.e. the abuse
> of Darwinian evolution as an instrument for erasing
> the possibility that our universe and the human hearts
> that live in it are designed, created, inbreathed,
> made in the image of a Creator, our Creator.

That seems to be a poor abuse of science. To counter bad "science"
with more bad "science". Why not expose the abuse of science, rather
than attempt to suggest that ID somehow provides a better alternative
for the scientific theory of evolution?
St Augustine would roll over in his grave.

> That Pim appears not to see this connection between
> science and religion discourse and in some cases the
> positive value of IDT's and the IDM shows that he
> prefers rather to speak to 'just the science' (with a
> bit of Augustine sprinkled in sometimes), as if HIS
> SCIENCE were the only science that really counts. In
> such a position, the statement that "ID is

Sure ID may have positive values but nothing at a scientific level.
That's what I am pointing out. Theologically speaking ID seems
unnecessarily risky and with few redeeming qualities. It's not that
'my science; really counts, its that ID fails to compete in the
scientific arena.

> scientifically vacuous" is really itself almost a
> vacuous statement, rather attached to the personality
> proclaiming it than to a neutral and objective survey
> of the actual state of affairs.

The observation that ID is scientifically vacuous is well established
and has been pointed out by more than one scholar. If Gregory
disagrees then surely he can provide some evidence to the contrary?
Even a philosopher's perspective on the issues of science would
certainly be welcome. And I do not even expect Gregory to provide me
with his CV, after all such arguments seem to better belong on a
playground of a kindergarten.

> Perhaps the playground rule should be reminded to Pim:
> "If you can't say anything nice, then don't..."

I suppose that you believe you are exempt from your own playground rules then?

> Gregory A.
> "I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the
> seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding
> a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary,
> whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered
> before me." - Isaac Newton
> Ask a question on any topic and get answers from real people. Go to Yahoo! Answers and share what you know at

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Received on Wed Jun 20 23:05:56 2007

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