Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Thu Oct 15 2009 - 17:27:46 EDT

On Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 4:49 AM, Merv Bitikofer <> wrote:

> Schwarzwald wrote:
>> Heya all,
>> Cameron's pointing out some interesting things here, but there's one
>> particular aspect of his argument I want to emphasize.
>> Does anyone - and I mean anyone - really believe that the NCSE, Eugenie
>> Scott, the NABT, etc, are motivated purely, even largely, by a concern for
>> science here?
>> I mean, doesn't it strike anyone else as odd that science education in
>> America, and in the west in general, so often seems to be measured largely
>> or entirely in terms of belief - not understanding of, mind you, but simple
>> declared belief! - in evolution? Why does everyone in these debates remember
>> Dover, but no one seems to remember the NABT debacle, or consider it as an
>> instructive moment in this debate's history? Does anyone find it odd that
>> the NCSE's commitment to science education seems myopic to the point of
>> caring for nothing but evolutionary theory - and, along with it, the
>> discouragement of any percept of design whether or not such design is
>> inherently opposed to evolution? And further, does anyone find it odd that a
>> scientific theory has political advocates?
> I think your (and Cameron's) characterization of everyone else's
> motivations (i.e. Eugenie Scott in particular) is being uncharitable. I
> can imagine her responding that it isn't her that chose to have this
> insanely intense focus on evolution to the exclusion of all else. It was
> the politically active creationists. And because of *their* intense attack,
> she and others will rise to defend what she sees as sound science precisely
> at the point of that attack: evolution. In other words, this could reduce
> to a case of the "he started it first!" epithet being thrown back & forth.
> If people were lobbying legislatures to try to prevent gravity from being
> taught in physics classes, then gravity would become the new "litmus test"
> that the NCSE and there would be insanely disproportionate focus on that.
> Having said all this, though --I actually do agree with you that both
> "sides" are off center on this one because of the stark tension between them
> in their unscientific dance with each other. They are whirling around,
> unwilling to let go because each perceives that if they let go, their
> nemesis will suddenly triumph at the expense of "true science". These dance
> partners definitely need to be broken up. I don't know Eugene Scott that
> well, but I doubt that she is really "anti-religious", though I don't doubt
> she is anti-ID which is probably what has your ire up --and maybe rightly
> so. A fair and impartial hearing for ID may have been an unfortunate
> casualty in the cross-fire between political creationism and political
> evolution defenders.
> --Merv
NCSE could care less about ID if it was your normal high-risk low-payoff
research program. Most of these die in obscurity. Rarely -- very rarely --
they pay off with a Nobel Prize. But just as the person is sure he will win
the lottery because they saw an interview with a winner ID boasts about its
non-existent research program. (As a side note, Randy, I believe addressing
the innumeracy of the general public particularly in the area of statistics
is an important educational goal that should be addressed by the ASA. How
many times have we heard from the pews and worse from the pulpits a
wrong-headed description of "chance"?) As I noted previously the original
plan proposed by Johnson was a sound one. You don't crow about your
successes until you actually have them. As for your failures, what happens
in the lab stays in the lab. Take the recent example of *Ardipithecus
ramidus *where you didn't hear boo for 15 years until all the results came

The problem is ID is not your typical failed research or development
program. Since most of the general public only sees the successful programs
-- since that's what get published -- they don't appreciate how many
programs fail. Instead of just failing like the majority of research and
development programs, ID wants special rules. None of this testing stuff and
peer review. And more than that they want to accuse those who oppose them of
having bad motives.

As I noted from the list of papers cited by the Biologic Institute when the
same people played by the "rules" they were successful. When they wanted the
"rules" loosened they failed. It's not the people. It's the program. As
Christians it should be obvious why this is the case. We live in a fallen
world and we are also finite. Thus, we have innate biases that are difficult
to overcome. Therefore, you need separation of powers in government,
competition in the marketplace, and peer review and testing in the sciences.
When I use the word success I mean it in the broad sense here. Here I am
talking about not merely winning the political, business, or research battle
but doing so with integrity. One of the reasons why David gloried in the Law
in the Psalms was through the restrictions of the Law there is freedom.

One of the main reasons why organizations such as NCSE oppose ID is its
corrosive effects on science and especially the level of understanding of
science in the general public. The biggest "sin" of ID is not its trying to
prove intelligent design. Part of academic freedom is being able to pursue a
line of research no matter how much your peers think it is fruitless. What
ID does, though, is it misrepresents of both its alleged successes and
mainstream biology's alleged failures. It's the latter that makes ID popular
with YEC even though many ID proponents are old earth and accept bits and
pieces of mainstream evolutionary biology. Compounding their sin is the
imputation of motives of their opponents. ID is not opposed because
mainstream scientists believe they are wrong due to the massive evidence
against ID. Rather, ID's critics of all religious persuasions MUST have a
hidden agenda. This anti-science cynicism has bled all across the political
and religious spectrum and infected other scientific endeavors, e.g. climate
change and evidence-based medicine. Scientific consensus has thus been
misrepresented in the general public who now believe that they can stand in
judgment. They also do not have a clue what the modern scientific method is
and more importantly why it is so effective when it produces all the
wonderful technology that they enjoy.

I'll close with an example where many of the canonical roles are reversed.
Here former Senate Majority Leader and medical doctor Bill Frist tries in
vain to explain why we need H1N1 vaccines due to the science published in
peer-reviewed journals to atheist and liberal comedian Bill Maher. Because
of the damage ID has done to science in general Maher feels qualified to
judge what Dr. Frist has to say and worse spews dangerous medical advice
that could kill people.

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Thu Oct 15 17:28:28 2009

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