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

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Sat Jul 05 2008 - 18:07:41 EDT

Hi Rich,

One thing I'm thankful for is that we don't, down-under, have to suffer
the same political difficulties as you in the States viz-a-viz the
entire creation-evolution debate.

Whilst this is a plus in many respects, it has the draw back that it
makes it hard to grasp the way in which science can be such a political

I do take your point about ID theorists abandoning science for
relativistic politics. I just hope you understand that the debate
doesn't take on quite the same political character here as it does there
so it's all to easy to miss the broader issues.

If I attempt to stand in your shoes, however, I acknowledge that ID
theory might be a considerably more problematic animal.

Other than that, I'm a bit reticent to comment upon touchy points of US
domestic politics. I'm simply not well placed to evaluate the competing
view-points on such matters.

All that said, however, I did just recently receive a mail-out from a
Christian group raising funds in order to supply every year 11 student
in Australia with a copy of the "Unlocking the Mystery of Live" DVD.
Seems things are getting interesting...

Murray Hogg
Pastor, East Camberwell Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia
Post-Grad Student (MTh), Australian College of Theology

Rich Blinne wrote:
> On Jul 4, 2008, at 3:35 PM, Murray Hogg wrote:
>> Hi Pim,
>> I don't disagree entirely with your remarks in the below, except to
>> say that I think that you more demonstrate the weakness of ID rather
>> than it's status as a "science stopper".
>> What I'm thinking is that ID theorists have tried - and I mean really
>> tried - to construct a viable argument in support of the view that the
>> bacterial flagellum (to cite the favored instance!) did indeed go
>> "poof". I really think this cannot be fairly denied.
>> So ID theorists demonstrably haven't just announced "irreducible
>> complexity" and walked away. They don't, in other words, just take
>> "poof" as the end point of their discussion, but attempt to
>> demonstrate that "poof" really is a meaningful hypothesis.
>> In this regard while they may well have started with ignorance ("we
>> don't know") they have attempted to demonstrate impossibility ("not
>> naturally possible").
>> The real issue, as you correctly point out, then becomes whether this
>> move from ignorance to impossibility has been successfully made.
>> I would have suggested that the answer, at this point, is "no" - but I
>> also would have suggested that this "no" comes AFTER a fair degree of
>> effort on the part of ID theorists. Hence my feel that while ID is
>> probably not a sustainable position it is not, in my opinion,
>> correctly described as a science stopper. Scientifically unfruitful,
>> perhaps, but a "science stopper"?
>> Here I'd throw in the observation that even the most prominent ID
>> theorists such as Behe and Dembski don't seem to have abandoned
>> science in favor of golf - rather they have bent their scientific
>> endeavors in a different direction. If that direction doesn't involve
>> pursuit of evidence which might overturn their theory then I don't
>> really think they can be criticized. One holds a theory because it
>> seems to one to be the best explanation of the evidence and the job of
>> disproof falls to those who feel otherwise. I don't think it quite
>> fair to blame ID theorists for not doing somebody else's research.
> ID hasn't abandoned science for golf but they have abandoned it for
> relativistic politics. It's not that they have had no effort but where
> the effort has been placed. I have had clearly shown there has been no
> science done but there has been a lot of politics, public relations,
> court cases, and legislative activities. Take Michael Behe for example
> he didn't publish his concept of irreducible complexity in a scientific
> journal he went straight to a book. The Wedge Document stated as a goal
> 100s of papers PRIOR TO their political activities. It's that premature
> declaration of victory which is a large part of the problem. Pons and
> Fleischman had more evidence for their so-called cold fusion. They
> submitted it to peer review where no one could replicate their results
> and that was the end of cold fusion. That's how bad hypotheses get
> thrown on the trash heap but since ID didn't do that we still have to
> deal with their bad hypotheses decades after we should. Note also even
> for the relatively small benefit of finding the holes ID is making
> little progress repeating the same talking points for decades.
> In 1987, Allan Bloom wrote the best-selling book, /The Closing of the
> American Mind./ He was concerned the new "openness" coming from the
> radical left actually closed the mind. The reason why was relativism. As
> long as someone came up with an idea it was to be considered regardless
> whether that idea was true or not. Think of it as the original "teach
> the controversy". Bloom was most concerned about the humanities but was
> relatively sanguine about the sciences. Why? Because the sciences tested
> their ideas against the facts. Two other things that happened in 1987
> was the repeal of the so-called Fairness Doctrine and Edwards v.
> Aguillard. The Fairness Doctrine was used by relativists on both the
> right and left to get their ideas out. As I said in a previous post on
> climate change the George Marshall Institute used the Fairness Doctrine
> to sue PBS over coverage of physicists and SDI. It didn't matter that
> there might have been thousands of physicists on one side and three on
> the other, the Fairness Doctrine argued for "balance". As I also stated
> previously, The Marshall Institute went straight to the public rather
> than go through peer-reviewed journals. It's this destructive practice
> that would ultimately make Bloom's confidence that relativism wouldn't
> infect the sciences because they were fact-based to be misplaced.
> Here's what Michael J.W. Stickings, a disciple of Bloom, had to say to
> say in 2005 of the connection between what Bloom feared and ID:
>> Note what the proponents of intelligent design — here, the advocates
>> of its inclusion alongside evolution and other scientific theories —
>> are doing. They’re arguing that all points of view, all possibilities,
>> all claimants to the truth, even the most absurd, should be considered
>> on an equal basis with one another. Since the truth itself is, it
>> seems, largely indeterminate (except for ardent creationists, who must
>> be willing to go along with intelligent design so as to sneak
>> creationism back into the schools), various “truths” may be put on the
>> table — and into the minds of our children. In short, they —
>> right-wingers all — have become relativists.
>> What would Allan Bloom, the teacher of my teachers, say? For years,
>> theorists and commentators like Bloom railed against what they saw as
>> the encroaching nihilism brought to America by German and French
>> philosophy, namely, by the followers of Heidegger. And, to a certain
>> extent, they were right, which is why the right, the new R epublican
>> Party, has had such success winning the “values” votes. Blue-staters
>> on the coasts and in the urban heartland may be quite comfortable with
>> some of the softened aspects of postmodernism, such as value
>> relativism and multiculturalism, but huge swaths of middle America
>> object to what is seen as the political supplanting of their theistic
>> and absolute values by the levelling of all values.
>> But this is precisely how intelligent design is being sold.
>> Creationism won’t work politically in diverse America, but intelligent
>> design can be brought in as a substitute, as one value among many, as
>> one possible answer to the fundamental questions of existence. Which
>> is precisely why the rhetoric has changed (always look to the
>> rhetoric, for therein lies the political truth). Frist refers to “a
>> pluralistic society,” that is, a society with different values, a
>> society without one overarching truth (except, perhaps, the absence of
>> any one overarching truth). And Bush calls for more “debate,” as if
>> our children, who would be subjected to this debate on the origins of
>> life, need to consider all possible options before settling on, well,
>> what? Do proponents/advocates of intelligent design hope that the
>> teaching of their theory would be the thin end of the wedge that
>> reasserts creationism? Or will there simply be endless debate? Or are
>> we left with nothing more than infinite possible truths, with
>> pluralism run amok? After all, as Sir Humphrey Appleby says in the
>> great BBC comedy Yes, Prime Minister to the impressionable Bernard
>> Woolley, “anything might be true”. That, for now, seems to be where
>> people like Frist are coming from.
> Ken Miller in /Only a Theory/, also invokes Bloom and claims quite
> persuasively that ID is destroying science itself because of this
> corrosive relativistic effect particularly if science is not grounded in
> empirical evidence. In yesterday's post I quoted how Michael Behe wanted
> to redefine science but it's not that /per se/ that is the problem. It's
> the skipping of the testing and peer review and the appeal for "balance"
> and "teaching the controversy" that is. No one requires ID to submit
> their ideas to peer review but if they chose to do that they then
> cannot slip their ideas in /*as science** *through through the process
> of relativism and political polarization. We are raising a generation
> that do not know what science is because of the political machinations
> of a few. This is the basis for Miller's argument that ID is destroying
> science as a fact and truth-based enterprise and IMHO he has an
> excellent point./
> Rich Blinne
> Member ASA

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Received on Sat Jul 5 18:08:02 2008

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