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  Topic: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed., Sternberg, Gonzalez, Crocker - A film< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Glen Davidson

Posts: 1100
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 15 2007,18:39   

Kevin Miller--one of the writers of "Expelled"--responded to me, and really most dishonestly.  I wrote a very long response, so I'm making another post in which to archive it.  Note, this is before editing and splitting up my comments, which I think I ought to do.

--Glen Davidson,

Thanks for being such a lively participant on this blog. However, I’m afraid your enthusiasm may have gotten in the way of a few facts.--

I'm afraid that your claim that I have neglected any facts is itself markedly lacking in fact.  Of course I don't see the matter as you do, I see it as a philosopher does, and just because I disagree with your tendentious interpretation does not mean that I quoted anything out of context or related anything that wasn't the truth.

--Case in point: When you quoted me in comment 1090, you did so out of context.--

I included everything that was in that section.  The earlier section of your post didn't have a lot to do with the later section.  What is more, I linked to your post.  What am I supposed to do, include the entire thread before you'll allow that it wasn't out of context?  I followed standard procedures, I included a lot of context, and I linked to the rest.  

--What I wrote was not meant as an apology for ID but an explanation of why ID is friendlier to theism than classical Darwinism.--

I neither said that it was intended to be an apology for ID nor that it was.  I said that ID is apologetics.  Here it is:

Try to get your facts straight, Mr. Miller.  It's your "explanation" that indicates that ID is apologetics.

--What I said was, ID leaves room in its paradigm for an active designer,--

No, the relevant statement was not that ID leaves room in its paradigm for an active designer, the relevant statement (the one to which I referred in my comments) was, "ID, on the other hand, suggests that rather than something tacked onto one’s interpretation of science, God–or whoever you believe to be the Intelligent Designer–is literally at the heart of nature itself...".  That not just leaving it open, so you've subtly altered your point without any justification for it.

--whereas the best that Darwinism allows is some sort of non-involved deity or a deity that interacts with the world in a way we cannot measure.--

That's not the "best that Darwinism allows" (and why can't you people ever get it right?  In the US it isn't "Darwinism" as such), it is the best that the evidence allows.  You have no business suggesting that we leave out God at the start, we only leave out God for the same reason that meteorology leaves out God, the evidence just isn't there for biology.

--Hardly a satisfying situation for your average theist.--

Which is irrelevant to science and its practices.  Are you going to write a movie about how meteorology leaves God out of the picture?

--Even so, it is not so much a criticism of Darwinism as a mere a statement of fact, and I don’t see how it can be construed as an endorsement of ID.--

Did I call it an endorsement of ID?  No, I did not.  You're setting up strawment left and right.

--If you read my entire conversation with Peter Chattaway, you will see that it was merely meant as a point of clarification.--

Yes, I don't care what it was.  What you wrote is what I was interested in, how completely wrong you are that we aren't willing to consider intelligence acting in nature (we do all the time where the evidence exists), and how you admit that God is insinuated into ID from the beginning.

--I can accept the above mistake as a potential oversight on your part.--

Sorry, I didn't make any mistake, you just assumed that I wrote what I did not in fact write.  If you care to pursue this any further, please bring up any kind of justification you might have for your claims.

--However, my real bone of contention is when you say, “What Miller doesn’t know is that science doesn’t presuppose entities like God or the wink-wink nudge-nudge ‘Designer’, it looks for the best hypothesis. He is trying to tell us that ID is science because it has decided already that God (or “the Designer”) is at the heart of nature, so instead of simply searching for the best explanation, ID searches for ‘potential signs of intelligence in nature’.”

I meant nothing of the sort, Glen, and I suspect you know that to be true.--

I know very well what you wrote, and I properly interpreted it.  And yes of course it's an interpretation, but it isn't an unwarranted one.

--At best, your interpretation of my post is just plain wrong. At worst, it is a wilful distortion of the facts.--

It is neither, and again you fail to bring any sort of justifiable evidence against my reading of what you wrote.

--Perhaps it will help if I clarify things a little: To disqualify ID merely because it starts from a particular philosophical position is ridiculous.--

There are philosophical positions which have assumptions in them which cannot be justified, and there are philosophical positions which merely formalize the practices of working science and forensics.  Indeed, science essentially operated without a real philosophical basis up until the time of Hume and Kant, because the old metaphysical philosophy didn't work in science, and no satisfying new philosophy existed.

--Who doesn’t do science from a philosophical position?--

The most that Newton had were some rules of inference in science.  He was not working within the edifice of ancient or medieval philosophy as such, he merely borrowed the rules that philosophy had acknowledged regarding evidence.  He did not begin with the assumption that God was "working in the solar system," though it is true that he let God take care of the gaps left over.

Only if you insist that the rules of science "come from philosophy," when it is at least as arguable that they originally came from practical matters, can you even begin to claim that science necessarily operates from a philosophical position.  The fact that philosophy helps to deal with empiricism does not obviously mean that it is the basis from which empiricism is done.

What is perhaps more important is that I actually discussed a good deal that you ignore, like the consistency of sticking with the philosophy and/or scientific positions that work in meteorology when one is also doing biology.  Here you come up with a lot of strawmen to attack, while you ignore the importance of consistency in science.  Why am I not surprised at the lack of consistency between what you wrote previously and what you wrote more recently, and at the lack of consistency between what I really wrote and what you claim that I wrote?

The fact is that IDists generally accept the "philosophy" or science that we use everywhere in our science, but you refuse to follow the same position where it comes to biology.  Ignore that point as many times as you wish, Mr. Miller, but it remains a gaping hole in your treatment of the issue.  

But then I hardly allow that medieval philosophy has stood the test of time anyway, so that on philosophical grounds ID fails, even before it fails on empirical grounds.

--That’s all science is: conceptual model building upon a philosophical foundation—a constellation of unprovable assumptions.--

No, that isn't even close to what science is.  It is a way of dealing with the world in an "intersubjectively sound" (I hate use "subjective" at all, but it gets the point across) manner.  Kant detailed some of the "unproven assumptions" that necessarily go into science, and those have been honed and shaped over time into a more nuanced and sound manner (for instance, we know that at least some of Kant's "givens" are shaped by experience), but it is true that in the most foundational sense we cannot prove or empirically demonstrate that we know the world "as it really is," so to speak.

But as Kant (who was no atheist, by the way) noted, we can agree on how we do understand the world, and from there we can do satisfactory empirical science.  And modern science is "based" upon his philosophy, if any, not upon the unwarranted claims of medieval philosophy.  Metaphysics is just speculation, science operates according to working understandings and constructive capabilities of the mind to work through empirical data in a mutually ("intersubjectively") agreed-upon manner.  You want to claim that ID is equivalent to this, when it simply assumes that a sort of philosopher's God exists, when it cannot show that this God exist in either an empirical sense or in the "intersubjectively sound" sense that much of modern philosophy understands our "prior assumptions" to be.

--If you don’t believe me, just look at someone like Richard Dawkins.--

Dawkins is not my God, or any kind of authority to me.  

--While he claims his atheism is inferred from the evidence—which it may have been at one point—his scientific writings are clearly meant as an apologetic for his atheistic point of view.--

Do you have some kind of legitimate point?  Dawkins has his own problems with philosophy and theology, they aren't mine, or science's in general.

--His atheism doesn’t flow from his science; his science flows from his atheism.--

I see absolutely no justification for this claim.  More importantly, this has no bearing upon your claim that science is simply conceptual model building upon a philosophical foundation.  Anyone who leaves out the empirical matters, and the attempts to remain true to the evidence, is hardly an authority on either science or philosophy.

--So if you want to disqualify anyone for mixing their philosophical presuppositions with their science, Dawkins is your man.--

Nothing at all in your "argument" showed that Dawkins's science comes from his atheistic position.  I have faulted Dawkins at times when he got into philosophical matters (recently on Panda's Thumb), but on the whole he just isn't my concern.  The perversion of science is.

--You may not like ID’s philosophical starting point, just as many others may not like Richard Dawkins’s starting point.--

I do not like ID starting with a philosophical position which assumes that entities are acting without there being any kind of evidence for these undetected entities.  Not all philosophical positions are the same, and it's absurd that you treat them as equals.  That you write as if they are all equal indicates that, as a writer for a movie which delves into both philosophy and science, you cannot do justice to the issues involved.

--But if so, that is a philosophical issue, not a scientific one.--

Evidently you are without any adequate knowledge of science.  Science and modern philosophy are meshed together, with give and take in both disciplines.  Einstein was something of a philosopher, as were most of the early quantum theorists.  Most of us who know philosophy as well as science understand how illegitimate the metaphysics behind ID really is, how it completely fails to follow the methods of either science or of modern philosophy.

Why don't you make a movie about how we reject Hindu philosophy in science like we reject Aquinas's philosophy in science?  Of course we do, because Hindu philosophy, like medieval philosophy, merely assumes what it cannot show empirically or "intersubjectively," instead resting many of its claims upon prior religious assumptions.  So not only does your "argument" fall flat on philosophical and scientific grounds, evidently you're insisting upon that a philosophy coming out of Western religions is as legitimate as modern philosophies which make as few assumptions as possible (and ground them in "intersubjectivity" as well").

Why do you suppose that most of the world adopts the philosophical bases for science, while most reject the philosophies behind ID?  It's because the philosophical basis with which science is associated happens to yield practical and intellectual results, while the philosophies of the IDists belong to Western culture and are not universally applicable.

--If you’re going to reject ID—or Richard Dawkins—you need to do so on the basis of their science.--

We do.  The fact that you ignore all of the scientific arguments that I made against ID explains much of your unjustifiable attacks upon my justified argumentation.

--Which brings me back to my post: Contrary to your interpretation, I am not arguing that ID should be classified as science because it begins with the assumption that God is at the heart of nature. I’m merely arguing that ID should not be disqualified on this basis.--

Sorry, not only does your distinction not make much difference, it doesn't relate what you wrote in your post, which was:

You said that ID suggests that God or the "Designer" is at the heart of nature itself, then you claimed that "therefore the search for potential signs of intelligence in nature [which may be taken as a euphemism for ID] becomes a legitimate scientific enterprise."

It was precisely their "suggestion" that God or "Designer" is at the heart of nature that was your premise for why ID becomes a legitimate scientific enterprise.  I "interpreted" you justly, and you simply deny it without dealing with the evidence that I included.

--As I understand it, the core scientific program of ID seeks to explain how information moves in and out of biological systems. That’s it.--

What's scientific about it?  And how do they seek to find out how information moves in and out of biological systems?  More importantly, how would that relate to their core design claims?  You left those out, didn't you (though it's true that they fail to do science to find evidence for design in nature)?  

Look, we know very well what ID claims, and that it fails to provide any legitimate criteria for what would be "designed," claiming instead that a false dilemma would provide "evidence" for ID.  Indeed, if it is studying information in biological systems in a scientific manner at all, this has nothing to do with their core claims, which are that a designer is responsible.

If they were serious about design being in nature, they'd predict that rational "planning" of organisms would be in evidence, and that purpose, novelty, and "borrowing" might also be visible.  Because none of these are (as meant in science), they refuse to predict that the designer did what known designers do, instead pretending that faulting another theory is all they have to do in order to be scientific.

--All of the religious baggage that gets tagged onto the movement is essentially a red herring perpetuated by their opponents.--

Right, that's why they speak largely to religious audiences, refuse to discuss the age of the earth, and repeatedly claim that ID points toward the supernatural.  Remember, we listen to the IDists, and at a speech I attended, Behe claimed that the reason we reject ID is merely that it points beyond science.  Hardly, we reject it because nothing in biology points beyond the cause and effect standard practices of science.

--Darwinian evolutionists think they’ve already solved the information problem by proposing purely natural information-producing mechanisms, such as random mutations and natural selection.--

You really don't know the science, do you?  There are quite a large number of information problems in biology at present, notably because a whole lot of information has recently become available through DNA sequencing.

Yet virtually all of the data point to nothing but the familiar non-teleological mechanisms known from the laboratory and in the collected data.  Moreover, the predictions of non-teleoligcal evolution have been satisfied by the evidence, while teleology and the marks of rational thought are absent.  Thus we stick with the evidence, no matter how much theology attempts to intrude into science.

--But the ID proponents are skeptical that such mechanisms are sufficient to explain the origin and diversity of life.--

Huh, and very few of them are biologists.  We do have the Moonie Jonathan Wells, and biochemist Behe, but Dembski is a philosopher/mathematician, Phil Johnson is an attorney, Paul Nelson is a philosopher (who can't answer the questions we pose on PT), you have a host of engineers, physicians, and the like, while nearly all biologists are satisfied with the direction in which research is going.  Where is the justification for their "skepticism"?

--In their search for a more satisfying hypothesis, they are willing to consider all possible explanations—including some form of superior intelligence.--

Really.  Why don't they answer our questions?  You know, we discuss these issues on numerous forums, while ID forums are often closed to us.  Still, they could answer our questions--if they had answers.  I see that you don't supply any answers either, but merely try to claim that ID is scientific without your telling us any way in which they actually do science, or conform to science practices.

I have yet to see them consider anything but a "superior intelligence," and this all without any kind of cause and effect relationship being proposed.  I've brought this up in at least one post, and instead of you dealing with such a necessary condition to do science, you're claiming that I wrote what I didn't write, and claiming that you wrote something other than to what I actually responded.

--I fail to see how that makes them unscientific.--

Of course you do, because you don't understand to what we're objecting.  We're objecting to the claim that intelligence was involved without evidence either for an inscrutable designer (one not acting like us, but which can nonetheless be seen to act in ways that produce what we see), or evidence for the marks of design that we use to understand whether or not an object was designed by humans.

We'll consider any investigable cause that leads to observable effects.  We're not willing to "consider" a "cause" that cannot be shown to produce what we see, or which perhaps does design in an intelligible manner, yet doesn't produce the patterns seen in biological change.  It's the evidence that fails, and you completely fail to deal with our actual objections.

--In fact, I think it displays an open-mindedness that seems sorely lacking on the part of their purely Darwinian counterparts—including,--

If they and you were open-minded, you'd actually deal with scientific issues, not monotonously droning on about the "open-mindedness" of those who fail to utilize the methods of either modern science or modern philosophy.

--if I may say so, Mr. Glen A. Davidson.--

You cannot legitimately say so.  I've made the point that I am completely willing to consider anything that fits the accepted methods of forensics and of science (which cannot honestly exclude the "supernatural" except by defining the "supernatural" as something totally unreachable with legitimate epistemologies).  We're (at least not those of us steeped in philosophy) not denying that a superior intelligence could never operate in the biosphere, only that there have to be some observed match between the purported cause and the "effects" that we see in organisms.

Open-mindedness entails giving up meaningless claims when they have proven to be meaningless.  That is why I am open-minded, and your IDists are not---they cling to a "cause" for which they claim no causal markers, for effects which are predicted by non-teleological evolutionary theory.  Hanging onto a non-falsifiable "hypothesis" is not open-minded at all.

Glen D


Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of coincidence---ID philosophy

  3612 replies since Aug. 12 2007,07:23 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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