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Dembski’s stand

January 7, 2010 Comments off

The following is from Dembski. It’s worth archiving if only because it is the clearest statement by him so far as to where he stands on the YEC-OEC axis:

I subscribe to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as well as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. I believe Adam and Eve were literal historical persons specially created by God. I am not … a theistic evolutionist. Within the Southern Baptist seminaries, both old-earth and young-earth creationism are accepted positions. True, young-earth creationism remains the majority view in the SBC, but it is not a litmus test for Christian orthodoxy within the SBC. I’m an old-earth creationist [OEC] … I don’t endorse evolutionary theory, as all my books on intelligent design demonstrate (search my name on the Internet, and you’ll find that I’m often called an “anti-evolutionist”).

Such candor is relatively refreshing but now that Dembski has come out as an OEC, will he now denounce some of the scientific idiocy of the YEC camp? Probably not, given the past history of ID proponents such as Philip Johnson who has refused to do so.

Todd Wood on Evolution (Pt 2)

October 6, 2009 3 comments

Todd clarifies:

I believed (and still do) that what I wrote was quite clear and straightforward. Evolution is science, there is evidence for it, but I don’t believe it. I never said it was true. I also never said that all the evidence favors evolution, nor did I say there was no evidence of creation.

Read more here. He’s also got some links to other reactions.

Todd Wood on Evolution

September 30, 2009 8 comments

Todd Wood – as many of you will know – is a YEC baraminologist who is a protegee of Kurt Wise. His blog is worth a read as he often takes on some of the sillier anti-evolutionary stuff that is out there (e.g. here). Today he writes:

Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.

Then he states something that very much echoes what Wise has said in the past:

It is my own faith choice to reject evolution, because I believe the Bible reveals true information about the history of the earth that is fundamentally incompatible with evolution. I am motivated to understand God’s creation from what I believe to be a biblical, creationist perspective.

Despite his acceptance of the evidence for evolution, the Bible still trumps all.

“Molecular Darwinism” – like Abe Vigoda – is still not dead

June 23, 2009 Comments off

PZ has reminded us that five years ago, Dembski predicted

In the next five years, molecular Darwinism—the idea that Darwinian processes can produce complex molecular structures at the subcellular level—will be dead. When that happens, evolutionary biology will experience a crisis of confidence because evolutionary biology hinges on the evolution of the right molecules. I therefore foresee a Taliban-style collapse of Darwinism in the next ten years.

How’s that working out for you Bill?

(See here if you need the Abe Vigoda reference explained).

Librarian fails at basic biology, “journalist” fails at detecting said failure.

June 21, 2009 6 comments

800px-Greyhound_running_brindle.jpg

I’ve mentioned Michael Flannery before – he’s an ID sympathizer and librarian at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Now he’s apparently also an expert on canids. Denyse O’Leary approvingly quotes Flannery:

Anyone can breed a weird dog (I mean, assuming they have basic knowledge of canines).

But nature has a funnel.

There are only certain ways that dogs can really live in the wild.

For example, a greyhound can run faster than a wolf, because he doesn’t have heavy jaws – but what happens when he catches up with the prey?

Someone throws him a bag of Science Diet for Adult Working Dogs, right?

… A wild animal that cannot feed itself will die ….

If all the dogs in the world ran away, 50 years later, you would likely see only nature’s usual wolfhound type.

This is so full of fail, it’s hard to know where to start. The assumption that all canids would have to have wolf-like jaws to survive is clearly deeply erroneous – not all canids have (or need) “heavy jaws” because they don’t need them to process their prey.

Greyhounds, by the way, are perfectly capable to hunting, killing, and eating wild prey – Flannery has clearly never heard of hare coursing which often ends with the dismembering of the “prey”. These jaws would be perfectly able to enable a greyhound to survive in the wild. (The breed’s relative gentleness may be another issue).

I can’t figure out whether this reflects worse on Flannery for making the comment, or O’Leary for using her sharp journalistic skills and posting it. Probably a tie, frankly.

(image source)

Klinghoffer: Terrorist was an evolutionist

June 11, 2009 3 comments

Following yesterday’s tragedy at the Holocaust Museum, it is more than a little repellant that Discovery Institute senior fellow, David Klinghoffer, proclaims “James von Brunn, Evolutionist” over at BeliefNet. His evidence? von Brunn’s manifesto in which he states:

As with ALL LIBERAL ideologies, miscegenation is totally inconsistent with Natural Law: the species are improved through in-breeding, natural selection and mutation. Only the strong survive. Cross-breeding Whites with species lower on the evolutionary scale diminishes the White gene-pool while increasing the number of physiologically, psychologically and behaviorally deprived mongrels.

Apparently, Klinghoffer feels that this makes von Brunn an evolutionist. He must have been a Mendelian as well, of course.

Kinghoffer gets called on this rank stupidity in the comments but it is worth remembering that he is only being faithful to his DI masters. The “Darwinism has evil consequences” claim is one of the few arguments that the DI have been able to make since Kitzmiller v. Dover and in so doing, all they do is resurrect a pre-existing Young Earther claim. Faced with the sheer lack of scientific credibility for their position, they have made their “culture war” more explicit and stooped to blaming every ill on evolutionary thinking.

Francis Beckwith, Creationism and ID

May 10, 2009 Comments off

Back in December 2006 I referred to Francis Beckwith as an ID supporter. This resulted in he informing me that he “has never been much of fan [of] design arguments, ever [and that his] interest in the debate focuses on the jurisprudential questions involving the First Amendment and what could be permissibly taught in public schools under that amendment.” At that time I retracted and removed any reference to Beckwith as a supporter. More recently, Beckwith has objected to others referring to him as a creationist and an ID supporter. Tim Sandefur has replied, and now Barbara Forrest has offered her reply. You be the judge.

Another ID Anniversary

April 30, 2009 4 comments

Earlier this month we celebrated Paul Nelson Day. Today is yet another ID-related (and as it happens, also Paul Nelson related) anniversary. Four years ago, I posted a piece (reprinted a year and a half later here) on Nelson’s forthcoming monograph on common descent. By now, it has been “forthcoming” for eleven years. At the time of my original post, Nelson claimed that he was “carefully doing a good job with a rich and difficult topic” but also noted that he and Dembski “have been working on a shorter article, with some of the monograph’s main points, which we plan to submit to the best peer-reviewed biology journal we can find.”

Guess what?

*chirp*

How Dare You Suggest A Christian Could Be A Racist!!! (or fun over at Uncommon Descent)

March 15, 2009 4 comments

The peanut gallery over at Uncommon Descent seems to be uncommonly interested in beating the Darwinism/Racism meme to death (see here, for example, for my comment on one such post and here and here for Barry Arrington‘s latest ejaculations on the matter; the latter features this historically inaccurate gem: “Darwin was a firmly committed Racist.”).

Dave Springer saw fit to post a piece on “Racism Sans Darwin” which quickly disappeared down the memory hole and got him banned by Arrington for not toeing the party line regarding Darwin being the Uber Racist. Hilariously, Arrington writes:

The moderation policy does not apply to [UD contributers]; you are held to a higher standard. I expect your posts to have at least some tangential relationship to Darwinism, ID, or the metaphysical or moral implications of each. The purpose of this site is not to provide a place for you to jump up and rant on one of your pet peeves. DaveScot will no longer be posting at UD.

So what did DaveScot write?

Since we now seem to be focused on racism instead of design detection and my motto is “When in Rome do as the Romans do” in order to balance the picture of the theory of evolution’s role in racist movements let’s look at some of the other modern history where evolution isn’t the banner around which racists rally.

[SNIP: Extracts on the Christian Identity Movement]

There’s a lot more at the link along with references linked to the numbers. I’d like to ask the audience to consider where we can find more people in positions of socio-political leadership: Christian church members or people who hold a PhD in evolutionary biology? Darwin, I contend, was a piker when it comes to fomenting racism.

Yup, he went there. He dared suggest that Christians could be or have been racists in the past. And for that he got kicked to the curb. Arrington’s reply? They’re not really Christians … and the Darwinists are worse.

Update: Afarensis beat me to the punch on this one by a few hours.

Casey Luskin is a WHAT?

March 8, 2009 10 comments

The Koolade over at ARN is particularly strong today. Robert Deyes speaks of “biologist Casey Luskin”. Seriously. At best, Luskin was a geologist MS in earth sciences before becoming a lawyer. He has one (second-author) paper:

Lisa Tauxe, Casey Luskin, Peter Selkin, Phillip Gans, and Andy Calvert, “Paleomagnetic results from the Snake River Plain: Contribution to the time-averaged field global database,” Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems (G3), 5(8) (August, 2004).

Creationist credentialing once again, I fear.

Equally as problematic is Deyes’ claim:

We learn many a lesson from Conan Doyle’s thriller perhaps the most important being the absolute need for strong evidence and empirical rigor in science.

Indeed. Pity Conan Doyle descended into spiritualism and a naive belief in fairies. What we can learn from his literary productions isn’t as much as Deyes wants.

Creationist credentialing redux

February 22, 2009 18 comments

Creationists have long used credentials to make their case for them. Demsbki has posted a link to a SSRN (i.e. grey literature) paper by Edward Sisson (who is an architect and lawyer) in which he “relates lessons learned not only about evolution, molecular biology, and ‘intelligent design,’ but also about the accumulated ‘bad habits’ that have developed and encrusted the conduct of science in the 130 years since the foundation of the research-oriented universities in the 1870s.” It’s actually an address to architecture students, but I guess by the standards of ID literature it counts as a research paper. And why should we take Sisson’s views seriously? Let’s allow he tell us himself:

So, in sum: I have an MIT bachelor of science (graduating with a 4.6 out of 5.0 possible GPA), as well as a law degree magna cum laude.  One of my brothers has an MIT Ph.D. in science.  My other brother has a masters degree in engineering.  My father has a bachelor of science and was in the top 2% of his class, as well as a masters degree in political science.  Both of my grandfathers had bachelor-of-science degrees, and one a graduate engineering degree as well.  One of my great-uncles had a bachelor of science and led a government research laboratory, affiliated with the University of Wisconsin, for more than 20 years; one of my great-great uncles not only had an MIT bachelor of science, he served on the board of MIT, and is honored today at NC State for his leadership role in founding a scientific and technical school in North Carolina (which became NC State). Two of my four great-grandfathers had bachelor-of-science degrees; one of them was a professor at UC Berkeley for many years, the other a key member of the groundbreaking Johns Hopkins’ Chesapeake Zoological Laboratory.  The other two great-grandfathers were a long-time U.S. congressman and a career Ambassador to the US; both had law degrees.  A great-great grandfather spent 20 years with what is now NOAA, the last 7 of those as the agency head; a great-great-great-great grandfather helped found the original professional medical societies of both Maryland and the District of Columbia, was the first President of the DC medical society, and was a trustee of what is now George Washington University; a great-great-great-great uncle was a Professor of Pharmacology at the medical school of that same George Washington University.

Thus my heritage going back many generations is uniformly a heritage of secular higher education, usually in science and engineering.  It is this deep, broad background in science, combined with my own credentialed accomplishments in diverse fields, that gives me the self-confidence not to be intimidated by the emotional attacks of the transitory majority of the day – whether in science, or in the law, or in the arts. 

Wow. Argumentum ad genelogicum. My dad was an engineer (as are many in my family) … maybe I should design airplanes.

Sisson claims

that Darwin, because his theory enabled scientists of all fields to claim that religion was inaccurate and useless are regards the natural world, tempted science into a diversion of massive proportions, into almost two centuries of wasted effort, and that science needs to return to the point at which it stood when Buffon postulated that yes, species in nature can vary from one generation to the next, but only within the limits permitted by the “interior mold.”

Indeed. And there are 60+ pages of this.

Latest Fuller

December 31, 2008 7 comments

Quoth Fuller:

But I happen to think that there is something more worth arguing about here, and a better way to think about the stakes is to ask, Suppose the matter of evidence remains unresolved or equally balanced: What difference does it make whether I endorse ID or Darwinism? Does it lead me to do science differently – in terms of the research questions chosen, the range of interpretations given to research results, as well as science’s broader cultural significance? The answer to these questions seems to me to be clearly yes – and this is what the battle is about. Only some leftover logical positivism and a repressive US legal environment could be discouraging ID supporters from thinking about science in a way that acknowledges the philosophical and theological issues implied here. ID’s Darwinist opponents certainly do not feel the need for any such reticence – hence, their talismanic appeal to ‘methodological naturalism’, a lifestyle choice masquerading as a competency test.

Yup, “leftover logical positivism” and “a lifestyle choice”. You’ve got to wonder whether Fuller ever tried to do any science. Methodological naturalism – a rule that developed within science because it, you know, actually works – is a “lifestyle choice” like vegetarianism or being a fan of football. Glad Steve cleared that up for those of us who have actually attempted to do scientific research.

And then there’s this:

I have followed what people on the internet have said about my interest in ID since my participation in the Dover trial. If there are any professional historians reading this blog, let me tell you that the capacity of people – even highly credentialed ones – to misconstrue motives defies description, even in one’s own lifetime, where a few clicks of the mouse would enable would-be critics to get a clearer fix of where the criticised party is coming from. However, it may be that people who comment on blogs are unusually stupid, sloppy or bigoted, while everyone else (the majority) silently draws more informed and nuanced conclusions.

Perhaps Fuller just needs to be a little clearer in stating what his motives are? Just saying.

Have at it.

ID rap (seriously!)

December 28, 2008 14 comments

I have a dislike of hip-hop and rap. But when it is mixed with ID, well, I’m speechless. Witness Atom tha Immortal‘s silken rhymes:

Apocalyptic G-d presence/
Feeling the fire of G-d’s essence/
You need Rosetta Stones to unlock my poem’s message/
Born in a body of sand since early dawn/
Adam spawned genetic code of early on/
Written on the rocks of Hebron, The Earth Is Gone/
Reverted from an Information Age to Early Bronze/
Punishment of Civilization/
The only reason why this wicked nation ain’t burning is G-d’s patient/

Chorus:
—–
The best decision/
For somebody in your position/
Is head down, hands up in submission/
Realize/
We’re where the future lies/
With Y-S-H-U-A the truth’s alive/
(x2)

Will somebody tell me how come/
My sound waves will never ricochet/
Obliterate your breath and leave your chest concave/
Killing a knave/
Sound decibel levels of wrath/
Your inner ear hammer will crack your anvil in half/
I follow a path through Euclidean spacetime/
Mythological allusion inserted in every line/
Telekinetically crack a lion’s spine/
Freeing the blind from mind control on mankind’s soul/
So/
We strike Achilles at his heel/
We strike the modern man like Gregor Mendel, meddling with his alleles/
Wounds of Darwinian Theory will never heal/
Once the population finds Intelligent Design/
Enzymes hold the signs of a Divine Mind/
Darwinian speculation is useless/
To explain emergence/
Of cellular machines below the surface/
Seeing Specified Complexity points to a purpose/
Of a system of integrated parts/
Excluding chance as part/
Of how it could ever start/
So/
I speak with truth and in reason/
But whether you believe or not/
We leave Darwinian fish bleeding/

(Chorus)

Dennis Wagner over at the ARN ID Arts Blog predicts that “intelligent design will be here to stay when it appears in Hip-Hop music.”

What is truly interesting is that Mr Immortal’s name appears on Dembski & Marks’ Evolutionary Informatics virtual lab where – it appears – he programmed their “Weasel Ware” and “EV Ware” programs. He’s also over at Uncommon Descent commenting as “Atom” where he claims:

2008 was a good year for ID, since ID research was being done. Politics and opinions do not change truth; as long as the ID project is moving forward, then ID is having a good year. The only bad year for ID is when ID research is not being done.

Indeed.

Nazi Eugenics Version 2.0

April 16, 2008 4 comments

Richard Weikart:

Today’s Darwinists are not Nazis and not all Darwinists agree with Dawkins, Wilson, Ruse, Singer, or Watson. However, some of the ideas being promoted today by prominent Darwinists in the name of Darwinism have an eerily similar ring to the ideologies that eroded respect for human life in the pre-Nazi era.

There you have it folks – if we’re not careful and muzzle those “prominent Darwinists” we’re heading for Nazi Eugenics Version 2.0.

Expelled: Now with added anti-Semitism

April 13, 2008 45 comments

expelled.jpg One of the central themes within Expelled is the equation of Darwinism with Nazism. We are treated to a somber Ben Stein visiting the death camps. Without Darwin they wouldn’t have existed goes the simplistic viewpoint. Yet, before we criticize Stein and the producers of the movie, we must acknowledge that there are scientists – biologists even – who harbor(ed) anti-Semitic views. Witness the following:

By their own will, [Jews] prefer to live a separate life, in apartheid from the surrounding communities. They form their own communes (kahals), they govern themselves by their own rules and they take care to maintain also a spatial separateness. They form the ghettos themselves, as districts in which they live together, comparable to the Chinatowns in the USA. It was only Hitler’s Germany that created the concept of forced separation, of a closed ghetto from which Jews were not allowed to leave.

Jews are not pioneers. They do not go conquering the wild world or overpowering the hazards of nature. They settle among other civilisations, preferably among the rich. They tend to migrate from poorer to richer lands.They do so always as a group, immediately forming their own separate community. (source)

So who wrote this? Hitler? Darwin? Dawkins? If I tell you that the writer was interviewed for Expelled, does that help you guess who it is?

Read more…

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