Re: [asa] The Myth of the Rejected ID Paper (science stoppers and OOL)

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Fri Jul 04 2008 - 09:17:11 EDT

Bernie, it seems that it does take an atheist to move this science
forward because ID truly is a science stopper for those who hold to
it. As I already have shown all the areas which ID has posited as
"problems" has spawned tens if not hundreds of thousands of peer-
reviewed studies the results of which have been simply ignored by ID.
(To this day, they keep repeating their now-discredited talking
points.) My own personal journey away from YEC/OEC/ID was spawned
partly by this list a number of years ago. As part of my work, I have
to navigate peer-reviewed studies so I got pretty good at reading them
and have done peer review myself of papers submitted by junior
colleagues. I subscribed to Science and Nature to see for myself the
primary literature. I was floored by the quantity and quality of the
studies that utterly decimated ID. Many people in ID say that people
accept evolution because of their "worldview". In my case it was
despite my worldview except for the part of my worldview that I go
wherever the evidence leads because I have the confidence that God is
a God of truth and the truth is nothing to be feared.

In 1998, the "Wedge Document" set a five year goal of 100s of peer-
reviewed papers for the DI's senior fellows. In 2004, Paul Nelson gave
the following evaluation of their progress towards that goal of a full-
fledged research program for Touchstone Magazine:

> Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a
> full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a
> theory right now, and that’s a real problem. Without a theory, it’s
> very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now,
> we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions
> such as “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity”— but,
> as yet, no general theory of biological design.

Over and over, when I ask for names I get pushed back with claims we
are being persecuted with the so-called documentary Expelled being
used as evidence. Fortunately, we have the trial record of Dover which
put the ID proponents -- specifically Michael Behe -- under oath. No
more of these vague, unsubstantiated claims. Here's some more from
Judge Jones' opinion (Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision, p. 88):

> On cross-examination, Professor Behe admitted that: “There are no
> peer-reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design
> supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide
> detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any
> biological system occurred.” [22:22-23 (Behe).] Additionally,
> Professor Behe conceded that there are no peer-reviewed papers
> supporting his claims that complex molecular systems, like the
> bacterial flagellum, the blood-clotting cascade, and the immune
> system, were intelligently designed. [21:61-62 (complex molecular
> systems), 23: 4-5 (immune system), and 22:124-25 (blood-clotting
> cascade) (Behe).] In that regard, there are no peer-reviewed
> articles supporting Professor Behe’s argument that certain complex
> molecular structures are “irreducibly complex.” [21:62, 22:124-25
> (Behe).] In addition to failing to produce papers in peer-reviewed
> journals, ID also features no scientific research or testing.

Bernie, you will note that this covers a variety of potential research
areas that simply were never explored. One of the positive things that
ASA fellow Francis Collins did was insist that genetic data be in the
public domain. At the time he was competing against Craig Ventnor who
most likely would have privatized the info. Computer programs such as
BLAST are open source. Thus, there is no good reason why there isn't
any research in the problem areas already identified by ID. For
example, Nick Matzke as a grad student using BLAST showed homologies
for most of the parts of the bacterial flagella. (

Now I would move from the undeniable fact that ID is a science stopper
to why ID is a science stopper. It's the attitude concerning the gaps
in our knowledge. For normal science when we don't know something or
there is a shortcoming to a theory that's viewed as a "research
opportunity". For ID, it's a "talking point". It's one thing to point
out that the bacterial flagellum appears irreducibly complex but to be
completely intransigent to the evidence and to do no research yourself
proves ID is not really interested in truly advancing the science.
Note I am not talking about merely trying to make anti-evolutionism
respectable. Rather, by attacking methodological naturalism ID goes
way beyond anything that so-called scientific creationism dreamed
about and goes to the heart of science-in-general and well beyond the
narrow confines of biological evolution. Another thing that Behe
admitted on the stand at Dover was the following:

> Q In any event, in your expert report, and in your testimony over
> the last two days, you used a looser definition of "theory," correct?
> A I think I used a broader definition, which is more reflective of
> how the word is actually used in the scientific community.
> Q But the way you define scientific theory, you said it's just based
> on your own experience; it's not a dictionary definition, it's not
> one issued by a scientific organization.
> A It is based on my experience of how the word is used in the
> scientific community.
> Q And as you said, your definition is a lot broader than the NAS
> definition?
> A That's right, intentionally broader to encompass the way that the
> word is used in the scientific community.
> Q Sweeps in a lot more propositions.
> A It recognizes that the word is used a lot more broadly than the
> National Academy of Sciences defined it.
> Q In fact, your definition of scientific theory is synonymous with
> hypothesis, correct?
> A Partly -- it can be synonymous with hypothesis, it can also
> include the National Academy's definition. But in fact, the
> scientific community uses the word "theory" in many times as
> synonymous with the word "hypothesis," other times it uses the word
> as a synonym for the definition reached by the National Academy, and
> at other times it uses it in other ways.
> Q But the way you are using it is synonymous with the definition of
> hypothesis?
> A No, I would disagree. It can be used to cover hypotheses, but it
> can also include ideas that are in fact well substantiated and so
> on. So while it does include ideas that are synonymous or in fact
> are hypotheses, it also includes stronger senses of that term.
> Q And using your definition, intelligent design is a scientific
> theory, correct?
> A Yes.
> Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under
> your definition, correct?
> A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation
> which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical
> inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science
> which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that
> -- which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one,
> and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many
> other -- many other theories as well.
It's important to see where ID deviates from standard science. First,
let's look at the NAS definition:

> In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the
> natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, and tested
> hypotheses. The contention that evolution should be taught as
> "theory, not as fact" confuses the common use of these words through
> the accumulation of evidence. Rather, theories are the end points of
> science. They are understandings that develop from extensive
> observation, experimentation, and creative reflection. They
> incorporate a large body of scientific facts, laws, tested
> hypotheses, and logical inferences.

Note that the NAS point marks theory as the "end point" of science.
Behe and ID confuse it with the beginning point namely a hypothesis
and they apparently are very happy staying stuck at this beginning
point of their "inferences". The rest of the testimony that day was
Behe's failed attempt to extract himself from the pit he dug for
himself. He said we used to believe in astrology but no longer, for
example. Nowhere did he say why we abandoned the hypothesis which was
we tested it and it was falsified. The testing part I guess is just
too close to that nasty concept of "methodological naturalism" and
that's the why behind the science stopping as it goes against that
base concept. So, now I will summarize:

The part of ID that is opposed to methodological naturalism is
organically a "science stopper" in that research that is based on that
concept is not done. Intelligent Design that is not opposed to
methodological naturalism does not have this flaw. Furthermore, those
who hold to intelligent design but not opposed to methodological
naturalism also admit that our -- I consider myself part of this group
BTW -- current positions concerning such things as fine tuning and
abiogenesis may be falsified in the future and thus we should hold on
to these arguments lightly. One thing I learned while researching this
series of posts is the lesson from Euler. The science of the time
pointed to a young Universe and Euler -- unlike Newton -- could not
really be faulted for his position of a young solar system because of
the apparent problem of planetary instability. Nevertheless, it's a
cautionary tale for all of us whether we hold to ID or not.

Rich Blinne

Member ASA

On Jul 3, 2008, at 11:14 AM, Dehler, Bernie wrote:

> RE: ID is a science stopper?
> I think it might be helpful to look at specific scientific details,
> too.
> For example, how did life originate? Should we investigate? We had
> the Miller/Urey Experiment experiment. Seems to me that those who
> love science and want to investigate would say that it was a good
> start, and wonder what we can learn from it and improve upon it.
> Those who may think that God designed life may think this is all a
> waste of time, and have nothing positive to say- only negative.
> They are science stoppers.
> Now, what does the ID movement say about the Miller/Urey
> Experiment? Seems to me to be nothing but negative (RE: the DI-
> blessed “expelled” movie)—not even any suggestions on how to improve
> it or what can be learned from it. Does it take an atheist to move
> this kind of science forward?
> …Bernie
> From: []
> On Behalf Of Rich Blinne
> Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2008 9:43 AM
> To: ASA
> Subject: [asa] The Myth of the Rejected ID Paper
> Over and over I have asked for evidence that this is occurring and
> over and over I get offline complaints that somehow I was "exposing"
> ID proponents or climate skeptics. So, I then asked for titles and
> journals. But then the push back on submission policies of journals
> like Science and the Sternberg incident which was about anaccepted
> paper. See here if any of you find this objectionable (
> ).
> My patience has been exhausted. Rather than accept the fact that ID
> proponents have not stepped up to the plate this myth continues to
> be propogated. So, let me suggest one more avenue for the ID
> proponents to prove their point. Poll your colleagues ask them how
> many papers were rejected and from what journals. Summarize here
> with the number of researchers polled and the results. We can
> compare the rejection rates with people here that are not ID
> proponents. If I hear crickets, combining this with what I have
> previously presented it should be patently obvious to all that ID is
> truly a science stopper.
> Rich Blinne
> Member ASA

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Received on Fri Jul 4 09:17:49 2008

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