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Is Intelligent Design identical to Creationism?

Think Christianly: Is Intelligent Design identical to Creationism?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is Intelligent Design identical to Creationism?

Confusion abounds concerning what ID (Intelligent Design) is and isn’t. So, we must be careful to clearly define it. The media, for the most part gets it wrong by calling ID a form of Creationism (we will discuss the difference below). And opponents of ID label it Creationism for rhetorical reasons so as to paint ID with the same ignorance brush as those who still believe the earth is flat. So instead of engaging with the scientific evidence marshaled by ID scientists and philosophers,[i] DE (proponents of Darwinian Evolution) resorts to name calling and institutional bullying. To get at the truth, here are some definitions straight from leading ID proponents.

William Dembski argues that the basic claim of ID is that “there exist natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural causes and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to design.” For example, imagine you are driving through the mountains and all of the sudden you come across a rock face that demands your attention—it is different than the others. Whereas wind and erosion can account for the random appearances of most of the mountains you have seen that day, it cannot account for the four shapes embedded in this rock face. Why not? Because there is a recognizable pattern of intelligence that went in to the formation of this mountain. This becomes obvious by the fact that there are four specific shapes / patterns matching the faces of four former presidents of the United States (Mt. Rushmore). The natural inference here is not to the blind and unguided natural processes of wind and erosion but rather to design.

Consider another example from the science of Archaeology.[ii] When archeologists excavate sites and sift through dirt, how do they distinguish between authentic artifacts and rocks? Answer: they look for marks of design or what Dembski calls Specified Complexity (highly improbable patterns). Now what happens when scientists apply this same principle to biology at a molecular level? Michael Behe did just that and observed that some systems (e.g., Bacterial Flagellum) cannot be accounted for by blind natural selection.[iii] In fact, he concluded from his research that the most probable inference for the origin of irreducibly complex systems is design. A system is irreducibly complex if “it consists of several interrelated parts for which removing even one part destroys the system’s function.” If this concept is still a little fuzzy think of a mouse trap. What is necessary for a mouse trap to work is its having all the parts (wood, spring, cheese, latch etc.) working together. But it is not as though a block of cheese catches some mice, so adding a spring would catch more, then adding a block of wood would catch even more. The point is that the individual components serve no function by themselves. It is only when they function together as a whole do you get a beneficial function. Charles Darwin in 1859 admitted that “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not have possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” That is quite a statement! Dembski pinpoints the crucial issue, “the point is whether nature (conceived as a closed system of blind, unbroken natural causes) can generate specified [or irreducible] complexity in the sense of originating it when previously there was none.” After one hundred and fifty years, it does not seem that it can. So by Darwin’s own admission, his theory is breaking down. It should also be noted that as we learn more and more about the complexity of the cell and DNA, the problem is only going to get worse for DE.

It is imperative to recognize that ID is not making a claim based on religious presuppositions. On the contrary, scientists have observed the relevant data and inferred design as the best explanation. Gaps exist in the understanding of molecular biology that DE has no way of bridging according to their theory. ID does have an explanation. As noted above, DE is stuck with the problem of where information comes from and how it is transferred (See Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell). ID has an explanation for this, inferred from the data, as well. These systems and organisms appear designed because they are designed. Now to be sure, ID research has religious implications but it is not religious in nature. It does not claim to say who this designer is or what he is like—that is a question for Theology and Philosophy of Religion to debate. ID is not Creationism in sheep’s clothing adorned with fancy vocabulary.



[i] I include philosophers as well, because it is actually impossible to separate scientific inquiry from philosophical assumptions.

[ii] We could also talk about cryptology or the SETI project (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence—regardless of what you think about this, these scientists are assuming that intelligence can be recognized—like a series of prime numbers 1,3,13 etc. [see the movie Contact]). So if Scientists know what does and doesn’t count as intelligence, then why the hesitance to apply that understanding to what they observe in biology?

[iii] Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996).





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19 Comments:

Blogger Human Ape said...

It is imperative to recognize that ID is not making a claim based on religious presuppositions.

Who do you think you're fooling? Certainly any scientists reading your article would immediately know you're full of it. Even the brain-dead creationists would admit, if they were honest, that you're lying about what intelligent design really is.

Everyone knows that the designer is a magic god fairy, and that's why only religious hicks believe in it.

The problem with you compulsive liars is the lying is getting boring. The same dishonest nonsense, ID is not a religious idea, has been repeated constantly for many years, and it's just as dishonest today as it was when the "intelligent design" code words were first used to try to sneak religious stupidity into America's science classrooms.

January 5, 2010 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Shawn White said...

@Human Ape - If what you claim is true, that ID is masquerading as Creationism and based on religious motivation, then tell me why an agnostic/atheist like David Berlinkski thinks ID is a better explanation of the scientific evidence than Neo-Darwinian evolution?

I'm really curious at how you can sustain your claim given the likes of Berlinski and others who are non-Christian who are supportive of ID.

Also, name calling does not an argument make. Even if your claim is true (which I don't think it is), you still haven't dealt with the argument itself. All you have done is resorted to ad hominems and that doesn't prove anything. As a matter of fact, that accusation cuts both ways.

January 5, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Hrafn said...

"The media, for the most part gets it wrong by calling ID a form of Creationism..."

BOLLOCKS!

1) 'Intelligent design' was introduced in Of Pandas and People as a copy-and-paste replacement for 'creationism' after SCOTUS ruled that Creation Science was religion.

2) ID is nothing more than a repetition (with sciency sounding language) of the same old long-debunked anti-evolution arguments of creationism.

Other points:

1) "Answer: they look for marks of design or what Dembski calls Specified Complexity..."

(i) Dembski's "Specified Complexity" claims have been described by one prominent mathematician as "written in jello". (ii) At least one other mathematician has pointed out that the term is oxymoronic -- to the extent that something can be considered "specified" it is not "complex", and vice versa.

Thus, you might as well state 'Answer: they look for marks of design or what Dembski calls magic pixie dust' for all the weight your claim has.

No archaeologist, forensic scientists, SETI, etc, etc, etc employs your/Dembski's flawed logic in their investigations.

(iii) Dembski has in fact abandoned 'specified complexity' for his new and improved 'magic pixie dust': 'active information'.

2) "David Berlinkski thinks ID is a better explanation of the scientific evidence than Neo-Darwinian evolution"

No he doesn't.

He describes his relationship to ID as "warm but distant. It's the same attitude that I display in public toward my ex-wives." In any case, Berlinski is (i) a self-described "crank", (ii) doesn't have any background relevant to evolutionary biology -- so his views are largely worthless.

January 7, 2010 at 1:03 AM  
Blogger Hrafn said...

No Jonathan, Darwin DID NOT 'admit' that "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not have possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

What he stated was:

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case."

The final sentence makes it clear that this is not an admission. Removing it, to present the statement as an 'admission' is clearly lying by omission.

It is a lie that has been repeated countless times by creationists, from Young Earth Creationists through to Intelligent Design Creationists ("cdesign proponentsists").

Lying about the statements of somebody who is dead, and thus unable to defend themselves, is pretty contemptible. "Bearing false witness" is hardly "thinking Christianly".

January 7, 2010 at 2:08 AM  
Blogger Hrafn said...

"It is imperative to recognize that ID is not making a claim based on religious presuppositions."

WRONG!

"Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory."

-- William Dembski

January 7, 2010 at 2:10 AM  
Blogger in_search_of_truth said...

Regarding the origins of "intelligent design"it wasn't created as a result of the SCOTUS ruling.

"Critics of the theory of intelligent design often assert that it is simply a re-packaged version of creationism, and that it began after the Supreme Court struck down the teaching of creationism in Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987. In reality, the idea of intelligent design reaches back to Socrates and Plato, and the term “intelligent design” as an alternative to blind evolution was used as early as 1897. More recently, discoveries in physics, astronomy, information theory, biochemistry, genetics, and related disciplines during the past several decades provided the impetus for scientists and philosophers of science to develop modern design theory. Many of the central ideas for the theory of intelligent design were already being articulated by scientists and philosophers of science by the early 1980s, well before the Edwards v. Aguillard decision."

for readers to see for themselves, the full paper documenting the source material backing this up is available here...

http://www.discovery.org/a/3207

anticipating an ad hominem response, just because a scholar you obviously disagree with writes a paper refuting the popular myth you mentioned doesn't make it false.

But even if it were coined then, it also doesn't mean it is false. to conclude that it is to commit the genetic fallacy.

Regarding Darwin's quote, it seems you missed the point. The blog article you commented on doesn't say that Darwin admitted it was false...only that here was a condition that if it were to obtain would falsify his theory. Of course Darwin didn't think it had been falsified.

Darwin:

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case."

Regarding Dembski's quote on the Logos doctrine:

"Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory."-- William Dembski

I don't know if you read all of Signs of Intelligence (2001) or pulled it from wiki quote (first hit when you google this quote). I don't have the book in front of me.

But since we are all concerned with authorial intent and the context, as you rightly asked for regarding the Darwin Quote above, let's give Dembski a charitable read here. (I know this may take a herculean effort!). If Darwin wouldn't put forth a theory and then admit it is false in the next breath then why would Demsbki, a leading proponent of ID, say in one line something that contradicts hundreds of pages of his other writings? I have read enough of his writing to make a good guess at what we would find if we looked up the context. It would probably be in a discussion regarding if ID is consistent with a biblical doctrine of creation (young, old, framework, analogical, etc.). Understood in this light, it would mean something like this.

Conditional: "If the God of the Bible is in fact the creator of all there is [not a principle of ID], then what you find in the logos doctrine in John's Gospel is entirely consistent with the theory of ID."

But so is a really powerful alien as Dawkins admitted (and he did say this in unedited form) in Expelled. Thus the careful, not dishonest, language of ID theorists regarding their theory being consistent with but not motivated by a particular religion. ID reasons from evidence discovered empirically in nature and reason from that to an Intelligence as the most plausible source.

Finally, it really doesn't help your case to come across so angry in your posts and accusing people you don't even know (unless you claim omniscience) of "bearing false witness." Especially when it is possible you misunderstood the point of the above comment (as I suggest).

January 7, 2010 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Hrafn said...

Jonathan Witt is playing fast and loose with the facts. And no, that is not an ad hominem. He is not wrong because he is a playing fast and loose with the facts, he is a playing fast and loose with the facts because:

(i) "(1) the definition for creation science in
early drafts is identical to the definition of ID; (2) cognates of the word creation
(creationism and creationist), which appeared approximately 150 times were
deliberately and systematically replaced with the phrase ID; and (3) the changes
occurred shortly after the Supreme Court held that creation science is religious and
cannot be taught in public school science classes in Edwards." (Dover Decision)

(ii) The term 'intelligent design' was not in common use in this context prior to 'Pandas'.

(iii) That they used an old idea to provide a 'new' wrapper for these pre-existing creationist anti-evolution canards does not change this.

Omission of the final sentence of the Darwin quote radically changes the meaning of the quote. Its truncated use is lying by omission.

None of your hand-waving, nor the wider context of the quote (which is explicitly theological, and bears no particular resemblance to your 'interpretation') can avoid the fact that Dembski's statement explicitly contradicts the claim that "ID is not making a claim based on religious presuppositions."

'Quote mining' is lying by omission. Lying about what somebody said is "bearing false witness" against them. I will stop making accusations when creationists stop repeating the offense. See http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/project.html for a (partial) list of the offences to date.

January 7, 2010 at 1:12 PM  
Blogger in_search_of_truth said...

RE: 'Quote mining' is lying by omission. Lying about what somebody said is "bearing false witness" against them....

So please type the surrounding context of the passage you cited by Dembski about the logos doctrine (the question he was answering).

It isn't hand-waiving just making precise distinctions which really matter in this conversation.

I simply disagree that leaving the next sentence off the Darwin quote changes radically the force of it. There wasn't a lot of .....the....evolution...kind of...stuff...which makes...people guess...what was......left out. People are naturally going to assume that Darwin believed his own theory. and there have been over 150 years of stuff he didn't/couldn't know about. So we'll have to agree to disagree.

As long as there has been quoting their has been misunderstanding. No one on whatever side of whatever issue can quote everything...and in the end it is subjective. You simply have to trust the individual to act in good conscience. I am trusting that you are even though you persist in name calling and belittling those who disagree with you. Maybe you are having a bad day.

I am curious about one thing. What in your mind would be enough to falsify Darwinian evolution? (Is there anything?)

January 7, 2010 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Hrafn said...

The full paragraph is:

"The world is a mirror representing the divine life. The mechanical philosophy was ever blind to this fact. Intelligent design, on the other hand, readily embraces the sacramental nature of physical reality. Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory."

It is the final (and thus conclusionary) paragraph of Dembski's essay that comprises the 13th chapter of the book. As you can see, the preceding sentences, which discuss the world as "a mirror representing the divine life" and ID's embrace of the "sacramental nature of physical reality" are likewise explicitly religious.

"I simply disagree that leaving the next sentence off the Darwin quote changes radically the force of it."

BOLLOCKS!

Without the final sentence it appears that Darwin is "admitting" an open question. The final sentence makes it clear that he has considered the question, and has rejected it, and that it is therefore neither an 'admission' nor an open sentence -- resulting in a radical difference in meaning.

Your claim quite simply has zero credibility.

"Darwinian evolution" (DE) explains an enormous wealth of observations, experimental results and other facts. Therefore any falsification of some element of DE would (eventually) result in a theory that would have to explain all of these facts and thus be, to a layman, imperceptibly different from the original theory (just as a layman, not having access to speeds approaching that of light, or gravity fields approaching that of a black hole would have difficulty in discerning any difference between the results predicted by Newtonian and Einsteinian physics). This process of refinement has in fact been occurring continuously over the last 150 years.

However for wholesale falsification of Darwinian evolution to occur would most likely require the wholesale discrediting of this mountain of facts -- including the entire fossil and genetic records. Except in the unlikely case that these entire records are proved to be a hoax of cosmic proportions (along the lines of Pratchett's Strata), this is highly improbable, to say the least.

January 7, 2010 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Hrafn said...

No demonstrated "problem of where information comes from"

For such a problem to be demonstrated, IDers would first have to get their definition of 'information' published in a peer-reviewed mainstream Information Theory journal (they have not, and the widespread consensus is that 'Complex Specified Information' is far too flawed for that to ever happen) & (ii) publish, again in a peer-reviewed mainstream Information Theory journal, why this definition of information creates an insummountable problem for Darwinian evolution.

Orthodox Information Theory appears to hold that 'information' is created with every single mutation and sexual recombination. I see no reason to entertain arguments to the contrary until they pass muster with the Information Theory community.

January 8, 2010 at 12:20 AM  
Blogger in_search_of_truth said...

Since life is short, let’s agree to disagree on the legitimacy of employing Darwin’s quote. I appreciate and understand what you are saying, but simply don’t see it that way.

Regarding the Dembski quote, thanks for adding the line to it. I haven’t read the whole chapter, so will have to look at that sometime. But I have heard him speak and read enough of his writings to share what I have understood regarding his position.

First, as you know, Dembski is a Christian. And that involves certain commitments beyond pure physics and chemistry. (Atheism requires further commitments as well--Agnosticism would be the default / neutral point). This is not new news.

So my explanation of that would be that it is Dembski’s own personal theological interpretation of the implications of ID (i.e., the nature of the designer etc.) and how his observational data of nature fits with truths he is committed to by Revelation (i.e., the Bible) that go beyond physics and chemistry.

And this is where I know you will disagree, but will say anyhow, theology is a further commitment…not the presupposition.

Every one of us from atheist, to agnostic, to pantheist, to theist, starts with basic data of the physical world…and all of this has to be interpreted and organized.
We all have to make sense of what we see and experience. Everyone has a worldview. And that is what makes philosophy of science and epistemology so important to this discussion (but it is sorely lacking), but it ends up devolving into each sides best slogans.

Now a parallel argument could be made for Richard Dawkins who famously remarked in the Blind Watchmaker, “Darwin made it possible to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” This is not a neutral, objective, unbiased position on the facts. Dawkins despises religion and especially Christianity. He is not indifferent about it. He is anti-designer if ever there was one. But does that mean he is being “purely scientific?” His life work is spent trying to explain everything (including beauty and morality and religion) in light of Darwinian natural selection.

The point is simply this. We live in a big universe and there are scientific, philosophical, sociological, and personal questions / issues we all have to address. And that process is complex as any sociologist of knowledge would tell us. So sorting out what people deep down really believe in their heart of hearts and how that impacts what they do and publish requires omniscience—and I haven’t achieved that yet.

So when I approach Dawkins writings for example, I try to look at the facts he offers and then judge accordingly. I don’t demonize Dawkins even though I disagree with him. I invite people to do the same with ID.

A final word about the information and peer review.

Unfortunately it ends up looking like this….”Until it is peer-reviewed, it isn’t science…..but we don’t let anything that isn’t science into our journal, and your work isn’t peer reviewed.” And so the merry-go-round of circular reasoning goes…

For those interested, Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design see…

http://www.discovery.org/a/2640

I am not an expert in information theory, so if people want to see how information theory fits with ID, they can read Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell and make up their own mind and read reviews etc…

What I would like to see is papers that get published side by side on a topic. And then let the academic process weed it out…if it isn’t good people will not buy it. Case closed.

January 8, 2010 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Hrafn said...

First, the Darwin quote is not an "agree to disagree" situation. Anybody who uses Darwin's statement, without its final sentence to manufacture an 'admission' out of it is LYING! Likewise, anybody defending this dishonest practice is likewise guilty of dishonesty.

All your handwaving in no way changes the fact that Dembski has clearly stated that ID is based upon religious suppositions.

Nor is your attempt to create a (completely fallacious) equivalence between Dembski's quote and Dawkins in any way availing. Dembski talks about an equivalence between ID and a central tenet of Christian theology ("...is just the..."), Dawkins of a mere possibility entailed in Darwinian evolution "...made it possible...".

Your invocation of the Disco 'Tute list is utterly worthless as:

1) I have yet to come across a DI member who hasn't been caught out in repeated lies, deceptions and misrepresentations. They have even less credibility than you have (which is to say none at all).

2) The list has been repeatedly discredited. See for example http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CI/CI001_4.html

3) From memory, at least one of the 'peer reviewers' Behe claimed for DBB (at Dover, I think) turned out never to have read the book (and had merely discussed the feasibility of the concept with the book's eventual publisher).

Why on earth would I want to read a book by somebody who (i) is a notorious pathological liar (ii) who has no expertise in relevant fields (molecular biology, etc) & (iii) apparently fails to address the most promising avenues of research in the field (recent developments in the RNA World hypothesis). The book is simply yet another 'if you close one eye and squint real hard with the other, it looks like ID' attempt.

I don't waste money on non-fiction books, unless they're by credible experts on the subject. Any half-baked crank can get a book published these days.

January 8, 2010 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Hrafn said...

Cross-examination of Behe's claim of Michael Atchison's 'peer review' of DBB can be found at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day12am.html

Further information on Meyer & RNA:
http://aghunt.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/signature-in-the-cell/

http://biologos.org/blog/signature-in-the-cell/

January 8, 2010 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Morrow said...

Hello Hrafn. As the moderator I appreciate your spirited replies. I am happy for people to share their opinions in the comments section but a couple of ground rules I want to make you aware of.

1. you are free to disagree with ideas or opinions, but at least on this blog, you are not free to accuse anyone who happens to disagree with you as lying or employ name calling. That does not promote civil discussion of ideas and will not be tolerated on this site.

2. I have let it go for several posts now (including Human Ape), but no more. That applies to other authors on whatever side of the debate. I won't tolerate people calling Dawkins a Crank or a liar and neither will I tolerate Meyers or Behe being called a crank or a liar. Simply make your point concerning the ideas and let readers decide for themselves.

3. Finally, this is not a forum, which has endless threads. All visitors are welcome to weigh in on a post and make their points in a couple of brief comments. this keeps endless back and forth on points that apparently either side is unwilling to budge on to a minimum. If you or anyone else would like pursue it further...you can always start your own blog :)

Thank you. But please know that I will not debate this policy with you or anyone else and further violation of these rules will not be tolerated and you will be banned. The goal is respect and tolerance.

January 9, 2010 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Hrafn said...

Jonathan Morrow:

I would like to dispute you on a number of points.

1) The only person I have directly accused of lying is yourself (by omission by employing a truncated quote-mine that is sufficiently notorious to be documented here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part1-4.html#quote84 ). As such your demand that nobody be accused of lying would appear to be more than a little self-serving, as it would serve to shield your misrepresentations from scrutiny.

2) Neither Behe nor Meyer have any credibility on this issue. Behe's own department has disavowed his claims, Meyer has no relevant qualifications or expertise, and both have had their claims repeatedly shredded by the scientific community (including having their familiarity with the primary literature repeatedly called into question). If "crank" is not the correct descriptor for such lack of credibility, then what is?

3) Dawkins on the other hand is a highly respected scientist, and his scientific hypotheses, although at times controversial, are well within the mainstream of scientific discourse. He at times also presents philosophical musings on the basis of his scientific understanding -- but then so do theistic evolutionists such as Ken Miller and Francis Collins.

4) If you don't want your arguments shredded, then I would suggest either (i) you present stronger arguments or (ii) that you turn off commenting. If you don't want your own credibility or the credibility of those you cite impeached, then I would suggest that you (i) take greater care in not misrepresenting others & (ii) cite more credible sources.

January 9, 2010 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger in_search_of_truth said...

Here is a previous interaction years ago about this so called "logos quote" - "Arnhart’s principle use of this quote is to claim that Dembski is arguing we can detect divine design, i.e. that the God of the Bible is the designer. If we take into account the context in which Dembski writes this statement, we can see that it is wildly out of context to claim Dembski is arguing that we can detect that the designer is the God of the Bible...The line of reasoning could be subtle. Let’s explore it.

Arnhart seems to fail to recognize that one can study a subject through both scientific and theological lenses. As a theistic evolutionist, he may ascribe to the “separate realms” or “Non-Overlapping Magisteria” (NOMA) model of science and religion, which mistakenly claims that religion and science can never talk about the same subject. This assumption is flagrantly false, for religion and science are very capable of talking about the same subject. Though religion and science can talk about the same subject, they are different ways of talking about the same subject. In essence, they are different “ways of knowing” they can be different ways of knowing about the same subject. Religion “knows” or makes claims via faith or divine revelation. Science, in contrast, attempts to have no faith and rely only upon the authority of observations of the natural world. Science’s way of knowing is the scientific method (observation, hypothesis, experiment, conclusion). When Dembski writes books like The Design Inference (Cambridge University Press, 1998), Dembski is looking at the design question from a scientific standpoint, making a scientific argument. Thus, he argues that we can detect design empirically, but that one cannot determine the identity of the designer through studying the data via the scientific method. Dembski writes:
“[T]he only commitment [of intelligent design theory] is that the design in the world be empirically detectable… This is not a matter of being vague but rather of not pretending to [have] knowledge that we don't have."[24]
Thus, Dembski believes that the data simply cannot allow us to determine who the designer is. How can we reconciles Dembski’s quote here with the his previous quote, where Dembski talks about the designer as being Jesus Christ, in the Logos quote? The answer is that sometimes Dembski approaches the design question using religious methods of knowing.

That Dembski approaches design from both a scientific and religious perspective is unsurprising, for he holds Ph.D’s in both mathematics and philosophy, as well as a Master of Divinity degree. He is thus an ideal candidate to talk about the subject of design from various vantagepoints: sometimes using religious methods, and sometimes using scientific methods. Arnhart gets confused because he thinks that when Dembski calls the designer God, Dembski is making a scientific argument. Dembski isn’t making any sort of scientific argument, and a cursory look at the article being quoted reveals that the Logos quote comes from an article written in a Christian magazine, (Touchstone), written for a Christian audience, talking about the implications of intelligent design theory within the context of the Christian faith. Such a context is perfectly consistent with the aim and goal of Touchstone Magazine:
"Touchstone is a Christian journal, conservative in doctrine and eclectic in content, with editors and readres from each of the three great divisions of Christendom--Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox. The mission of the journal and of its publishers, the Fellowship of St. James, is to provide a place where Christians of various backgrounds can speak with one another on the basis of shared belief in the fundamental doctrines of the faith as revealed in the holy Scripture and as summarized in the ancient creeds of the Church." more...

January 9, 2010 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger in_search_of_truth said...

(cont.) Writing in such a context, it makes sense for Dembski to give his interpretation of the religious and theological meaning of intelligent design for his own Christian faith. Perhaps that's why this quote comes at the very end of an article about ID in a section entitled “Design, Metaphysics, & Beyond.” Clearly, in this section, Dembski is looking at design in a much broader context than its mere scientific implications."

Dembski is not stating that intelligent design as a science implies the designer is God. He's interpreting the theory as a philosopher and a theologian within the context of his own faith. If intelligent design is correct, as Dembski believes, he has every right to talk about it in the context of his Christian faith as Arnhart has to interpret the meaning of evolution (which Arnhart believes is correct) within the context of Arnhart’s Christian faith. (And Arnhart does much interpreting of the meaning of evolution for Christianity in his own work and in the essay being critiqued here) This Touchstone article is not just a scientific article—it explicitly goes "beyond" the science. Of course Dembski believes the designer is the God of the Bible, but he “knows” this not through the scientific method, but through faith and his religious beliefs about divine revelation. Of course Dembski probably thinks that intelligent design theory might support some aspects of his religious beliefs, but he clearly never makes the argument that scientific theory can demonstrate that the designer is the God of the Bible.

In short, the Logos quote discusses ID in terms of its religious implications, interpreting the scientific claims of intelligent design from Dembski’s religious perspective. However, Dembski also writes, "Design theorists attempt to demonstrate its merits fair and square in the scientific world — without appealing to religious authority.

The science of intelligent design thus makes no claims about the supernatural and does not extend itself beyond what the data can claim: that life bears the tell-tale marks of being designed. But if you accept the scientific theory of intelligent design then you can interpret the implications of intelligent design in the context of your beliefs. And that's how the Logos quote is talking about design.

Arnhart thinks that ID is religion. In this quote from Dembski, there is no indication that Dembski is arguing for intelligent design from a scientific standpoint. Dembski is talking within the context of Christian theology—he is talking about this from a religious perspective, not in terms of what we can infer scientifically. Dembski is discussing the implications of design from his Christian religious viewpoint." For full article, see http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1261#_ftn25

January 9, 2010 at 11:27 PM  
Blogger in_search_of_truth said...

Regarding differences between ID and Creationism:

"There are a variety of crucial distinctions between intelligent design (ID) and creationism:

Firstly, creationism is always based upon some kind of religious text, such as trying to prove the Book of Genesis in the Bible. Intelligent design takes no stance on religious texts and makes its arguments using purely scientific and empirical data. ID makes no reliance upon religious texts in making its arguments. In fact, there are various pro-ID scientists who themselves are not religious, or have widely different religious viewpoints. Thus ID scientists are not unified around a religious viewpoint or religious text, but rather they unify around the claim that we can scientifically detect design in natural objects.

Secondly, creationism always postulates some kind of a supernatural or divine creator. Intelligent design does not try to speculate about the nature or identity of the designer because it recognizes that the scientific data alone cannot answer questions about whether the designer is supernatural. Thus ID attempts to limit its claims to what can be verified via the scientific data. That is a crucial distinction between ID and creationism, because creationism often goes beyond the scientific data and makes philosophical or religious claims about the identity of the designer."



Finally, and since this is beginning to get very long as has been observed by the moderator, I will end with this.

Meyer, who holds a PHD in Philosophy of Science from Cambridge (and they don't just give these away by the way) address the newer alternative RNA prospects in endnote 47 of his chapter on the "RNA World" in Signature in the Cell. He also mentions that he will track these as they develop at his website: http://www.stephencmeyer.org/

If anyone else is reading this long string of comments, I will trust them to read carefully on both sides and make up their minds.

January 9, 2010 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Morrow said...

Hello hrafn:
RE: 1) if I wanted to shield myself from scrutiny, i could have censored you from the beginning. I haven't. (and I even included your dispute of me)

Hold on to your hat, this may surprise you. I agree I could have been more precise as to what I wanted to highlight about Darwin's quote and when I use this in the future, i will include that last line with the appropriate qualifications. My intention never was to say that Darwin admitted his own theory to be wrong (indeed, he thought there was no evidence at the time), but only to say that he laid out ("admitted") the criteria for falsification in the future. I still fully believe this to be a legitimate inference from this quote. So I appreciate you pointing that part of it out. But I would say that the charge of lying by omission is a bit strong. :) I have made mistakes in the past and I am sure I will make some more in the future. But I will always do my best to own them. So, that was poor word choice and appropriate qualification on my part.

RE: 2) You are certainly entitled to that opinion, but they do have PHD behind their name and others do as well in the ID community. But come on now, you don't think Crank is pejorative? Simply say that many are not convinced by their arguments. If they were having the debate in all the reputable journals, this subjective nose counting could be avoided.

RE: 3 Dawkins on the other hand is a highly respected scientist, and his scientific hypotheses, although at times controversial, are well within the mainstream of scientific discourse. He at times also presents philosophical musings on the basis of his scientific understanding -- but then so do theistic evolutionists such as Ken Miller and Francis Collins.

They are are all free too...my own view is their is much more philosophically going on in this discussion than "pure empirical science."Implications are always subject to interpretation and prior commitments.

Question, why do you think Dawkins keeps dodging Meyer in a debate? what better way to expose him if he isn't in touch with the relevant data? Instead Dawkins hides behind "I don't debate creationists." Meyer isn't citing Genesis 1, he is talking about Dawkins et al's field.

RE: 4 - overlooking the condescending remarks, I addressed the quote above.

regarding credible sources, Citing a PHD in Philosophy of science from Cambridge isn't like citing a pastor from Mississippi...so disagree with him on the merits, not attempt to discredit the person.

Finally, I am serious about the condescending tone / name calling of posts / comments of others or myself--I will not allow them any longer. As is made clear by my willingness to engage here, this is not about self-protection, it is about having a civil conversation about topics that deeply matter. There are plenty of other places online to have more heated exchanges if that is what you are looking for.

January 10, 2010 at 12:25 AM  

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