Joined: Aug. 2005
Well, I conceded that "Not all critique of ID is sidestepping rhetoric."
"I wonder if there would be anyone in your camp who would concede as much?"
then you wondered what you were supposed to concede.
Well, first off, my query was directed at ID critics in general. You must admit that some people in their published articles, or public lectures, frequently sidestep issues by referring to over-blown, sometimes blatantly false, meta-issues, in order to avoid discussing some of the more complex or possibly dangerously convincing arguments for the ID hypothesis.
An example jumps to my mind of a Barbara Forrest lecture that I attended last year in which she never once discussed any ID arguments and thus provided zero scientific or philosophical refutations. When she put up definitions of terms like irreducible complexity and specified complexity they were her own very watered down and dare I say, straw-man versions. Instead of looking into the claims of ID theorists, she sidestepped them entirely. You see, the problem with her lecture, the "sidestepping" if you will, was that the lecture was called "What is Intelligent Design" and was meant to refute ID but in actuality never once examined or properly defined ID. It was an hour and fifteen minutes of Dr. Forrest, quoting evangelicals and fundamentalists that supported the ID movement or donated money to it, presenting poor quality or silly looking pictures of ID theorists and going to some length to make them look sound stupid, presenting of pictures of stuff like, Sun Yung Moon looking like a freaky cult leader (well he might just be that but...that wouldn't discredit an idea such as that centrioles are holistically designed to be turbines), talking about some little kid being forced to learn fundamentalist religion in her school if we didn't fight the evil IDiots, and so on and so forth.
In my opinion, she sidestepped the real issue entirely, and used her lecture to sway a largely uncritical audience about how evil and stupid ID was.
When I had conversations with students and faculty afterwards, everyone (besides members of our little IDEA Club) that I talked to had some definite ideas about ID such as, "ID is a pseudoscience." or "ID has been scientifically refuted." and the like. But when I ask them something like, "What do you think about the arguments presented by Stephen Meyer concerning the inability of the forces of chemical necessity in combination with any known naturalistic mechanism to produce the complex specified arrangement of nucleotide bases along the sugar phosphate backbone of the DNA Molecule which gives proteins their specific three-dimensional shape, and therefore their function....and on and on " The response that I invariably received would go something like, "Well, uhh, I actually haven't really heard of that one, but umm, uhh, isn't Stephen Meyer uhh, just motivated by his being a Christian or umm, uhh, he obviously has misunderstood or ignored alot of scientific literature, etc."
At least among the anti-ID students and faculty here at OU, it has been really hard to find someone who will focus on an argument instead of trying to sidestep it with what may or may not be a valid meta-issue.
Before I go, I will reiterate my concession that in your work Dr. Elsberry, you do take up some actual arguments given by ID theorists and provide some thoughtful and non-side-stepping criticisms.
Here in a while I will post my review of your work and attempt to illustrate why I would concede this point. I will also note where you might be committing some errors or evasions in your critique of Dembski's work.
I hope that nobody holds my opinion in very high regard and is expecting me to produce any sort of demolition of Elsberry's criticism. I am just going to asses his papers along the lines which I have been ask to asses them.