RE: [asa] Expelled and ID

From: Stephen Matheson <>
Date: Mon Apr 21 2008 - 17:40:34 EDT

James, if you're simply arguing that some of the ID players are credentialed scholars, then fine. And I think you're right that some of ID is careful to avoid the god of the gaps trap, most of the time.

But if you want to claim that "some of the heavy players do good science," and suggest that this implies even a hint of credibility for their ideas, then I think you should be much more careful. Behe used to "do good science", but he sure doesn't do it now, and The Edge of Evolution is entirely built on errors so rudimentary that they call his intelligence into question. Your claim that this embarrassingly bad book is based on "his own published area of hemoglobin research" is potentially misleading; the vast majority of Behe's published research was focused on nucleosomes and DNA structure, and not on hemoglobin, which was the focus of his 30-year-old work as a graduate student. Behe hasn't published on hemoglobin in 3 decades, and I think therefore that one should be careful describing him as "doing good science" in "his own published area of hemoglobin research."

I have the impression that Dembski's suggestions have been completely dismissed by his professional colleagues, and it's not clear that he's engaged in scholarly activity of any kind at the moment. His culture-war tendencies, in my opinion, have reduced his recent actions to grotesque self-parody.

We're talking about a movement that is trumpeting as "peer-reviewed research" Jonathan Wells' empty (and erroneous) speculations about centrioles acting like turbines, published in a journal with an impact factor barely distinguishable from zero. Ditto for Meyer's screed.

In the presence of frequently astonishing hubris, accompanied by profoundly underwhelming achievement, I personally can't imagine seriously claiming that the ID movement is led by serious scientists. It's not. And as long as the "movement" is built on the irrational denial of evolutionary science, I don't see how the situation can change.

Steve Matheson

>>> "James Mahaffy" <> 04/21/08 4:12 PM >>>

>>> On 4/19/2008 at 5:39 PM, in message
<>, "Dehler, Bernie"
<> wrote:
> ID is saying it is "science" so it can be more serious. To make it
> science, you have to bear on scientific things, such as math
> (statistics) and biology. So they are appealing to the hard sciences to
> bring it into the scientific realm.
> However, they have no scientific hypothesis. "God made it" is not a
> hypothesis, since it can't be tested. By definition, the scientific
> method requires a hypothesis that can be tested. You also can't test
> evolution per "origin of life," but there are other parts of evolution
> which are testable... ID has nothing testable. They think by disproving
> known naturalistic methods, God is then the default answer-but it isn't.

Please don't pick on strawman. ID has gained notice in the scientific world in
part because some of the heavy players do good science. Behe is his latest book
"The edge of evolution makes a scientific case for what can and can not be caused
by random mutation. The examples he draws on are from his own published area of
hemoglobin research.

Dembski makes mathematical arguments that is possible to detect design mathematically.

Gonzalez does a good job of showing that earth is uniquely fit to support life. I believe a lot of his
well cited publications dealt with defining what conditions where needed to have a planet that could support life.

I would agree that there a bunch of second tier ID folks that don't do much research but
it surely is NOT true of these three. I am not suggesting that the science of these three is
always right but it clearly is science. I see weakness in ID trying to only make a scientific
argument (I have too much of C. Van til's presuppositionalism in me). In fact Bernie's statement,
"They think by disproving known naturalistic methods, God is then the default answer-but it isn't." just is not true.
The spokesman are VERY careful to say they can NOT prove the God of the Bible.

It is possible that over time ID could replace YEC's but then ID would become something quite different.

bcc to a colleague (as a bcc his e-mail is not out on the web in our ASA archives.

James Mahaffy (ASA member).

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Received on Mon Apr 21 17:41:46 2008

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