Stephen Meyer Mp3 & Video

A lecture on Intelligent Design
A lecture on The New Cosmology: Theistic Implications
A lecture on Quantum Cosmology

 

Stephen C. Meyer is director and Senior Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, in Seattle.

 

Dr. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin of life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences. Previously he worked as a geophysicist with the Atlantic Richfield Company after earning his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Geology.

 

Dr. Meyer has recently co-written or edited two books: Darwinism, Design, and Public Education with Michigan State University Press and Science and Evidence of Design in the Universe (Ignatius 2000).

 

He has also authored numerous technical articles as well as editorials in magazines and newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Houston Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, First Things and National Review.

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27 Responses

  1. So, then, you consider intelligent design to be a religious idea?

  2. That depends on who you ask.

    But, allow me to ask, is atheism or evolution a religion?

  3. Evolution is science. Atheism, by definition, is the lack of religious belief.

  4. ID’s intend is to counter the naturalistic arguments of the evolutionists. ID does not claim any religious ideology. ID claims that the indication of intelligence are information mechanisms, irreducible complexity, specified complexity, etc. If we make a deduction of their arguments then we must apply to the evolutionist as well. Religion is defined as ultimate commitments. Therefore atheism or evolution is a religion. Would you accept that proposition? Probably not.

  5. Edarrell: Atheism is far from the lack of religious belief. Atheism actually asserts that there is no God. That is a propositional claim with a truth-status. Having debated several atheists in formal settings, I know this to be a key claim of the atheist position. Any atheist who debated me with ‘no belief’ would have a hard time articulating his/her position. Agnosticism, perhaps, is the lack of belief–coming in both hard and soft versions.

    And Andrew is right about ID. ID makes no religious claims. It provides an inference-to-best-explanation, just like evolution. That’s just the way it goes with historical sciences.

  6. ID makes no religious claims? That’s hooey. Phillip Johnson, the retired criminal procedure professor who invented intelligent design, said he proposed the thing explicitly to advance his religion. There is no significant non-religious participation in the group.

    If you’re not proposing a supernatural power as the Wilber Force (the force behind intelligent design), just what are you proposing? In presentations I’ve seen by the Discovery Institute — each of them before a religious group, often in a church, never in a science conference or laboratory — the concept that the design “detected” is so awesome that it must be the handiwork of God is quite explicit.

    If ID makes an inference, it’s a faith inference. An evidence-based inference needs evidence, and there is nothing unique to ID that wasn’t observed previously by serious scientists, and most often, explained by resort to wholly natural processes.

    Now, whether one believes as Christians do that natural processes are themselves the product of divine intervention, or as you claim the IDists do, that they are merely the manifestations of a little green alien’s dabbling, that may be a different story. Christians, and scientists, are content to let natural processes manifest themselves. ID insists there must be something intelligent that makes those processes work, though there is not a shred of evidence to support such a claim.

    If ID isn’t religion-based, its founders are misguided, and the whole movement is probably blasphemous.

    What does the definition of atheism have to do with this discussion, by the way? What difference could it make?

  7. ID’s intend is to counter the naturalistic arguments of the evolutionists. ID does not claim any religious ideology.

    By the way, those two sentences are mutually contradictory. Which one did you mean to leave in?

  8. Edarrell: Your claims, again, are overstated and misinformed.

    Anthony flew is a renown Atheist who was convinced by ID arguments and has now made a video documentary in favor of these claims, but still makes no religious claims—he only appeals to intelligence as an explanatory power which evolution could not convincingly provide for him. And I’m sure if anyone had reason to doubt the scientific status of ID, it would be Flew who has built his entire career on the claims of evaluation and using evolution to dismantle Christian claims about origins. Paul Davies, the Cambridge astrophysicist, is another secularist (agnostic) who has put forward arguments in favor of ID with no religious agenda. That Phil Johnson used ID to propagate religion does not de facto make it a religious position anymore than secular humanists use of evolution makes evolution a social philosophy. This argument is a red haring and has no relevance to the discussion.

    Further, ID makes no claims about the attributes or character of the intelligent cause, it just states that there is an intelligent cause. Personal beliefs of individuals about the intelligent cause have no bearing on the theory itself. This is what the causal histories of several historical sciences are based on including, archeology, psychology, forensic science, etc. All of these are considered a valid form science and all posit intelligent causes at some point in the causal histories that they produce. Like these sciences, origins-of-life research is a historical science where causal histories are investigated. It is, therefore, special pleading to insist that these other sciences can posit intelligent causes whereas origins-of-life research cannot, especially if evolution cannot explain evidence that ID can. And again, your claim that ID representatives do not participate in the larger scientific community is entirely off base. It interesting that you say this here since the very presentation by Stephen Meyer under which these comments are being posted (yours included) was given at a conference on science with Eugene Scot and Michael Ruse, both accomplished atheists and evolutionists. Did you even look at the lecture? If you did, you would know that this is a rather odd statement given the context for this discussion.

    Third, you claim: ‘If ID makes an inference, it’s a faith inference. An evidence-based inference needs evidence, and there is nothing unique to ID that wasn’t observed previously by serious scientists, and most often, explained by resort to wholly natural processes.’ Can you please explain to me then how the bacterial flagellum, one of the simplest living organisms, evolved according to principles of natural selection? How can chemical evolution account for the origin of the DNA molecule? Evolutionists admit that these types of questions cause serious anomalies for the theory, but apparently you’ve found a solution. I am interested to read it. Specified complexity as we see in these examples can, however, easily be accounted for through ID—quite apart from faith as we see in Flew and Davies that I mentioned above. You also say that ID advocates are not serious scientists. Paul Davies has won a Nobel Prize for physics. Bill Dembski has two PhDs, one from Princeton and one from the University of Chicago (Mathematics and Physics), both top ten schools. He also had his monograph published in the prestigious Cambridge series: ‘Cambridge Studies in Probability, Deduction and Decision Theory’. Stephen Meyer has a PhD in philosophy of Science from Cambridge University where he studied with over 50 Nobel Prize winning scientists. And all of these scholars having published in serious peer reviewed journals. What, exactly, then is your definition of a ‘serious’ scientist? I wonder if Einstein would even meet the criteria… If fact, he wouldn’t, he never went university.

    You say: ‘If ID isn’t religion-based, its founders are misguided, and the whole movement is probably blasphemous.’ I don’t understand. How is this the case? And like I say, many of its advocates are not theists.

    Finally, on the definition of atheism: this was a response to your suggestion that Atheism is the lack of religious belief, a claim no professional atheistic philosopher would take seriously. I notice you don’t respond to my argument, but you just claim that it is irrelevant to the discussion. Well: you brought it up.

  9. Ouch! The “serious scientist” thing came back to bite ya’. I like this quote especially: “Any atheist who debated me with ‘no belief’ would have a hard time articulating his/her position.” It makes sense. If you have no belief what are you arguing for. I particularly think that the claim of evolution being science is false as well. Science is based on two things: observation and logic. Evolution has never, ever been observed, nor in my opinion a logical thing to believe in. Human beings have always produced human beings, dogs produce dogs, etc…ad infinitum.

    Evolution is simply the humanist attempt at religion. It is based on faith. One must have faith to believe he came from dirt. One must have faith to believe that a whale used to walk on land and human beings used to have tails, etc. I mean no offense, but it’s almost laughable to think one could believe (a religious concept) in evolution when it has never been observed.

    Moving on, design is inherent in the world. Look at the human body; look at the perfect arrangement of the planets, earth, atmospheric conditions, etc. What makes our hearts beat? If evolution is true then how did the first two cells find each other to reproduce, and furthermore why would they want to and what made them reproduce? There must be a beginning to all of this. If evolution is true than where did life come from (the first cell) and where did the matter and energy come from for the big bang? Where did space come from? How did matter in the universe/earth get so perfectly organized? Every time I blow stuff up it gets destroyed. I have never made a planet or universe by blowing up stuff in my backyard.

    Which came first RNA or DNA? I could list hundreds of questions if I had the time. There are so many questions that need to be answered before evolution will be believable, so for now, lets call it a religion.

    That was my brief blogosphere treatise on evolution. Sorry it was so general and overarching. I also assumed (I know, I know…straw man) that you (edarrell) believe in the big bang theory so please forgive me if I am wrong.

    Pax Vale,
    ~Brian

  10. nice Brian. The question you raise about RNA and DNA is an espeically interesing one. I would like to see edarrell give us an evolutionary account of the relation and origin of these two that is more convincing than ID. He claims that ID has not explained anything that naturalistic processes have not. If so, I would love to see him give us a nice, solid naturalistic answer to this question.

  11. Not too often one will come across those who would use rhetorics that Christians are not intelligent due to their “belief” and that they are narrow minded and yet never seem to answer the questions or objections.

    Try to answer some of the questions raised by Andrew and Brian and now myself. There are a lot of questions but it would do one a lot of good to think carefully on them.

    A few questions to be answered,

    1. Are you an atheist? (If you are which type, “strong” or “weak”)
    2. or are you an agnostic?
    3. If you are not a Christian, can you give us the basis of your rejection.
    4. Can you prove empiricism empirically?
    5. Can you prove empirically that the sun would “rise” tomorrow?

  12. RNA and DNA origins? Anthony Flew’s now-renounced flirting with ID? Paul Davies?

    Wow. You guys have all the latest creationist canards — right up to, oh, about 1995. Have you spent any time looking to see whether anyone has seriously looked at these issues?

    Here’s a good place to start: http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs.html

    Pick a topic, learn away!

    Neither Davies nor Flew supports ID, by the way — have you looked at what they really said, and what they said when asked about ID? Go see here: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA115_1.html (By the way, anyone who buys any argument from “Harun Yahya” is ethically defective, in my book. Proven liars don’t get credibility first.)

    That Phil Johnson and ALL the people working for the PR firm promoting ID put faith first is a good clue as to their purposes. AS I noted, these guys talk to churches, not scientists. When do you guys start to deal with the fact that there is not any science coming out of ID? The notion is nearly 20 years old now, and not a single research paper. That’s not just slow at the draw — it’s complete sterility of thought.

    Davies has never won a Nobel, by the way. (Don’t take my word for it, go see: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/all/) I worry about what you think is authoritative when statements like that pop up. What else is believed to be true, that isn’t? Much, it appears to me.

    Let me short circuit most of this stuff (I still have papers to grade) — go to PubMed, see if you can find any paper that lays out a hypothesis for intelligent design in biology. See if you can find any paper that lays out any information supporting intelligent design over evolution. There are none. ID is sterile — which is why, in federal court, IDists lost. When they have to put evidence up to support their claims, evidence that is valid, evidence from real research, there simply isn’t any. When put under oath to tell the truth, the advocates of ID have nothing to say.

    By the way, have you read the decision in the Dover case? You should. (Here: http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/decision.htm)

    And, have you read Jonathan Weiner’s book, The Beak of the Finch, a story of evolution in our time? You should. And you might follow it up with Niles Eldredge’s recent book, The Triumph of Evolution and Failure of Creationism. And, you’d do well to get Carl Zimmer’s book to accompany the PBS series “Evolution.” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/)

    I’ve suffered through too many hours of Paul Nelson, Bill Dembski, Michael Behe and others in person, and queried them, to let pass claims that ID isn’t inherently religious. It’s religious from the get-go. It is spread by churches, not by scientists. Books on the topic generally cannot pass muster of fact checkers at reputable publishing houses, so they get published by darker forces — Regnery, for example. ID advocates crumble under cross-examination under oath, and their stories of having science to back their claims suddenly start to match what we find in the journals and in the labs — nothing.

    Meyer and Dembski have lots of degrees, and once had bright academic futures in front of them. But they have not produced an iota of research in biology to support any claim against evolution, or to support any hypothesis of ID (which they don’t have anyway). Degrees tell what they earned, once. They do not connote “correct” in science. In science, it doesn’t matter if you have no degree at all — if you have the facts on your side, that alone carries the day. But if we were weighing authority, consider that the last time an evolution case got to the Supreme Court, 72 Nobel laureates signed an amicus for evolution, against creationism including ID. I hear rumors a Nobelist outside of the life sciences once favored ID, but he died. In any case, in the real world, in laboratories and in the stock market, ID is a dead issue. It’s sterile. Evolution sells, however, and advances medicine and agriculture, and fights disease.

    Theologically, I think it’s a bad position to oppose stuff that fights disease. Others may disagree — but they generally think their shots are up to date. Their inoculations, of course, are grounded in applied evolution theory.

    So a rational person might weight all the 79,000 or so professional, advance-degreed biologists who do not support ID and who work with evolution, against the half-dozen biologists who claim to be working in the field but never produce anything, and decide on authority alone, ID is dead.

    But don’t take my word for it. Check it out.

  13. So you didn’t answer any questions, you posted lilnks instead. Nice avoidance tactics. It seems that all of your arguements boil down to consensus in the the scientific world. Its a classic example of argumentum ad populum. Consensus in “science” or anything doesn’t really mean anything. Science isn’t based on consesnsus it is based on observation. Scientists used to believe the world was flat and the earth was the center of the universe as well. Consensus isn’t science at all. It’s an opinion. It proves nothing, and is actually antithetical to real science.

    And contrary to the Andrews I do believe ID is motivated by “religious” purposes yet this doesn’t hurt it in my opinion.

    ~Brian

  14. My apologies. You didn’t answer any of my questions either.

    I’m low on time, I thought you’d prefer a substantive answer, even if it is from the experts, than a less-authoritative answer from me.

    Avoidance? No, I give you the slam-dunk refutation of the claims you noted. Consensus in science is a legal term, and it can indeed be determined.

    In any case, with absolutely zero science publications advancing a hypothesis of intelligent design, we know intelligent design is dead in the water (did you go to PubMed to try to shore up your claims? No? And you accuse me of avoidance?)

    Science is indeed based on observation. So far there has been zero observation supporting intelligent design. Consensus is that zero observation proves less than nothing — it’s a waste of time.

    You can rail all you want at the fact that 99.999% of all working biologists not certifiably insane vouch for evolution as a workable theory, you can complain bitterly that Genentech shouldn’t be treating diabetes with evolution-based science — but the fact is that most diabetics prefer it that way. Is there an ID alternative? No.

    So ID fails as science, even as it qualifies as religiously-motivated.

    What was the point of ID again?

    Here, this is a lay, non-science explanation for why ID is considered not suitable for children: http://www.sciohost.org/ncse/kvd/kitzmiller_decision_20051220.pdf

  15. edarrell:

    First, your questions came later and even though you put a “?” at the end of your sentence they are rhetorical.

    This is not the place for people who merely want to rant and rave.

    The contributors of this blog is not afraid to list their current subject focus or their personal belief. I have found that many atheists will not come clean in what they believe.

    So, I am going to ask again these questions,

    1. Are you an atheist? (If you are which type, “strong” or “weak”)
    2. or are you an agnostic?
    3. If you are not a Christian, can you give us the basis of your rejection.
    4. Can you prove empiricism empirically?
    5. Can you prove empirically that the sun would “rise” tomorrow?

    After you have answered some of the questions and we know a little about your belief perhaps we can have a real dialog.

    Also, since you mentioned that you are grading papers. I would assumed that you teach in a school.

    Would you debate in a public setting with us?

    Suggested topics,

    1. Is Atheism Rational? (or Is Atheism/Theism Rational)
    2. Does God Exist?

  16. Again, your “arguements” boil down to ad populum fallacies. This quote is classic: “So far there has been zero observation supporting intelligent design.” It’s great for two reasons:

    1. There are boatloads of observations pertaining to ID, look around, look in the mirror, look at DNA, etc. , etc. All of these things are more complex than anything man can build. If you choose to ignore it, fine. But don’t call ID religious without throwing evolution into the same category. Both take faith.

    2. And your statement (the one I quoted) would be more accurate if you substituted “evolution” for “intelligent design” because no one has ever observed evolution, ever.

    ~Brian

  17. I’m an active Christian. I’m an elder in our congregation.

    How about you guys? Do you think it’s important to stick to the facts? Do you think Jesus urges flights from reality? Are honesty and accuracy in technical work things Christians should support, or avoid? How does faith change the way a scientist works — should we distrust Christians in the lab, fearing they will misreport their results to square with preconceived faith, or can we trust Christians to tell the truth? When Christians tell the truth, that their experiments disprove some odd claim of some odd sect, must they be muzzled and drummed out of the faith? When scientists are muzzled and drummed out of the faith, is that what Jesus really urged? Are we not told to pursue truth instead of shoring up weak faith? Inquiring and informed Christians want to know.

    Evolution has been observed dozens of times. Hundreds of times. The first scientific paper on actual observation of speciation (“macro” evolution by any defintion) was published in the 1870s (Spartina townsendii, a salt grass that arose suddenly in the Thames River, an entirely new species sprung from a union of common European spartina and an American version, probably accidentally imported as ballast water in a ship). It is impossible to eat at McDonalds without consuming a dozen species whose rise is recorded in human history, including beef and tomatoes. Modern bovines are new species descended from the ancient aurochs, extinct since the last one was poached in Poland in the 17th century. In fact, one of the key problems in insecticide research is to keep lab populations of insects from speciating, since the new species often exhibits different tolerances and intolerances to various insecticides.

    At a minimum, the sort of diversity that produces radishes and Broccoli from the same mustard that Jesus spoke of, demonstrates that the diversity necessary for evolution clearly exists and is natural. I’ve run into some people so deep into denial that they claim radishes and Broccoli are still the same species. Keep those people away from my farm and my salad.

    So the claim that evolution has never been observed is naive, and wrong. Evolution is observed all the time, in all parts of the world. Some of the more spectacular forms include the little microbe which eats nylon, a substance that did not exist prior to the 20th century. And, yes, information in the genes arises spontaneously as well — T-URF 13 provided spectacular evidence of that in controlled experiments at Texas A&M some years back. Thousands of cases of evolution are known in fossil form — and yes, there are spectacular transitional fossils. (Niles Eldredge curates a collection of more than 2,000 species of trilobites, covering 300 million years of evolution, clearly showing evolution in all of its forms. Have you been to the American Museum of Natural History to see? Have you read any of Eldredge’s books? How about the one I recommended earlier?)

    Again, I urge you to look for answers to these questions. Creationists would like you to believe science is stupid and does not know half so much as it does — and at the same time they would like to convince you scientists are arrogant and insist that they can disprove God (most scientists don’t; there is no such science paper anywhere; textbooks scrupulously avoid making such unscientific claims).

    Yes there are boatloads of observations showing “design.” That’s where Darwin started. Alas for ID, Darwin provided explanations for how the appearance of design can be done by natural processes, accumulating over time into spectacularly different organisms. As of yet there is not a single example anyone can offer of intelligent design that does not have perfectly natural explanations of much better quality, that better explains the appearance of design, and that works. It takes an odd sort of faith to “disbelieve” evolution — it’s called denial. Scientists are usually careful to note that faith is not required for science; instead, science tests things to see what happens. Generally things are tested to see if a hypothesis can be disproven. For more than 170 years now scientists have diligently worked to disprove evolution, through hundreds of thousands of experiments. None have succeeded in disproving it.

    For 20 years now, ID advocates have promised to devise an experiment that might offer a chance to test intelligent design. Nothing yet.

    As Romans informs, unwise are those who reject what is before their eyes.

  18. Edarrell, I appreciate the dialogue and your thoughts on these issues. I do, however, think that you consistently overstate your case. 1995? Please. It was 2004 (hardly 12 years ago) that Flew confessed to Habermas that he had become more convinced of theism due to reflections on the inadequacy of evolution to explain ORIGINS (even the site you reference mentions this). He thought design was more likely. In my book, that’s ID. Of course, Flew is not a Christian theist, more of a deist-agnostic and that was my point. Flew is not religiously motivated in his belief. I was by no means marshalling support for ID by showing that Flew is ‘on our side’—that would be the kinds arguments from authority that you like so much to use. My point, which I think was clear, was that Flew had no religious motivations for holding to a version of ID. Again, this is not to say he is a spokesman for ID or whatever, but he is still a deist and still reasons that it is because of the insufficiency of naturalism to explain the origins of life. Even the site you point to admits that Flew ‘remains a deist’ and it is based on his original skepticism about the ability of naturalism to provide an explanation for the origin of life. Unlike the site you mention, I offer an interview published in a peer reviewed philosophical journal in 2005 (websites are a dime a dozen and everyone’s got one BTW) (again, only one year old—a far stretch from 1995 [what were you thinking on that?]):

    http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf

    Your site mentions nothing about Davies, but he continues to publish books on God and design in the universe. His most recent book, ‘The Re-Emergence of Emergence: The Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion,’ was published in 2006 (Oxford Press), that’s this year, by the way—doesn’t get much more up-to-date than that. Furthermore, in 2004 Cambridge University Press published the edited volume ‘Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA’ showing that the DNA problem is a hot topic as recently as two years ago and continues today—again, your criticism that these comments are out of date proves as empty as the rhetoric in which it is contained.

    You say these guys talk only to churches. Did you read my response? I seriously questioned that comment. The very lecture by Stephen Meyer that provides the context for this set of comments was given at a conference on SCIENCE, with Eugene Scott, Michael Ruse and many other evolutionists. Are they not scientists? What about the new book from Cambridge edited by Dembski and Ruse, both evolutionists and ID theorists contribute, and there are many other examples. I find your comment that ID theorists only speak to churches not only misinformed, but ironic since this post links to a conference on SCIENCE where Meyer spoke in the same forum as prominent evolutionists such as Ruse and Scott. This lecture is the very basis for these comments!

    You consistently want to separate ID from ‘science’ while including evolution. Your arguments are rather rudimentary, but this is a typical strategy of those who oppose ID. And this is not a question of science as much as it is a question of the philosophy of science. Science is a first order discipline that rarely thinks about the second order questions of philosophers of science. So quoting a bunch biologists, who rarely reflect on second order status questions such as these, is hardly convincing to me. The position you state is based on a set of arguments designed to exclude ID from all that is called ‘scientific.’ In modern parlance, these types of arguments are called demarcation arguments since they seek to demarcate ID from the category of science. But as I shall demonstrate, there is a methodological equivalence between ID and neo-Darwinianism. Meaning, both theories will project the same scientific status if the same method of determining what is ‘scientific’ is applied to both. If one method is religious, then both are religious (as Brian suggests). I will mention the major arguments used to draw these demarcations and offer a brief critique of each.

    1. The first of these criteria suggest that for something to be scientific it must be explainable by natural law. But there are several problems with this criterion.

    The primary reason that ‘explanation by natural law’ can not act as a judge of what is scientific is because many events, especially in applied or historical sciences do not utilize laws in their explanation. In fact, the method of analysis usually, even exclusively, used in these disciplines is explanation by reference to past causal conditions and events called ‘causal histories.’ One example of this is the Doppler Effect. No particular law explains the expanding nature of the universe evidenced by this phenomenon; rather, on the basis of this effect it can be inferred that the universe had a beginning i.e. the big bang. Is this making an inference based on a current observable effect to the hypothetical causal event we call ‘the big bang’ a non-scientific endeavor. Of course not, but such an inference does not appear to be any more scientific or non-scientific than inferring intelligent design from high information content in DNA and RNA also known as specified complexity. Consider the example of the archeologist who finds Egyptian hieroglyphics engraved on the side of a cave wall. Such things can not be explained by natural law but only by reference to past causal, and in this case intelligent, conditions. Even common decent, arguably Darwin’s central thesis in the Origin of Species, does not seek to explain by natural law, but by “postulating hypothetical historical events (and patterns of events) which, if actual, would explain a variety of presently observed data.”

    Examples of this type lead Philosopher of Science William Alston to conclude that to equate law with explanation or cause as this demarcation criterion seeks to do is a ‘category mistake of the most flagrant sort.’.

    2. A second criterion that is offered is Observability. This criterion however, fairs no better than the first. It is obvious that many explanations in modern science in general and neo-Darwinian science in particular can not be made on the basis of observability. Many sciences are directly charged with inferring the unobservable from the observable. For instance, forces, fields, atoms, quarks, past events, mental states, subsurface geological features, molecular biological structures are all unobservable entities inferred from observable phenomena. What is more, even as an intelligent designer is unobservable, so also transitional life forms, chemical evolution, and neo-Darwinian mutations are unobservable theoretical entities that offer evolution-type explanation to the biological data.

    3. Testability has also been suggested as criterion. But of course, testability may exclude IDT as a scientific theory but it also excludes all historical sciences including biological evolution since these disciplines inquire into the past which can not be directly tested.

    With reference to general success of such demarcation arguments, prominent philosopher of science Martin Eger summarizes the contemporary seen by saying: “Demarcation arguments have collapsed. Philosophers of science do not hold them anymore. They still enjoy acceptance in the popular world. But that’s a different world.”

    The reason for the general failure of demarcation arguments has been noted by Stephen Meyer in his Cambridge doctoral thesis. Here, he argued that the general failure of these arguments results from a failure to observe the distinction between phenomenological or nomological science and historical science. The former investigates present observable, testable, naturalistic phenomenon; whereas, the latter is concerned with historical questions, inferences, and explanations. You consistently seem to confuse the two, conflating them into one discipline. But when they are distinguished, the few arguments you do make do not hold up.

    Both ID and neo-Darwinian theory classify under the latter heading—historical science—since they are both interested in making inferences about the past based on the present. This accounts for the methodological equivalence of the two theories. In sum, because both are based on the same scientific method of analysis, both will either qualify as scientific or be disqualified as nonscientific (and/or religious) if the same criteria for establishing what is scientific is applied to both theories.

    Thus, if ID is religious because it posits an intelligent designer as an explanatory causal entity, then according to the same method of analysis neo-Darwinian theory must be deemed religious because it posits non-intelligent explanatory causal entities.

    Conclusively then, the scientific status of evolutionary theory and ID is co-extensive. They are both either: scientific or non-scientific; religious or non-religious. It is my contention that they are both scientific non-religious ways in which the data can be integrated and that what is needed is a broader more eclectic definition of ‘scientific.’

    Therefore instead of just accepting your assumption about the nature of science based in a first order reflection, I suggest we start from a more broad eclectic definition of ‘science’ that is generally accepted the community of philosopher’s of science i.e. that good scientific theories will possess certain epistemic virtues such as explanatory power, and the ability to coherently integrate the data. ID indeed posses these properties and, in my opinion, in higher degree than biological evolution.

    ID can explain all of the evidence that neo-Darwinianism can as well as some that it cannot (you certainly have not proven otherwise). This qualifies it not only as a possible scientific alternative but also as a superior one.

    To argue my point here, allow me to briefly explain the four premises of ID.

    The first premise states that “High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute high indicators or hall marks for intelligent design.” What is meant by specified complexity is the high information content contained in DNA and RNA within the cell or other living organisms. Each cell has proteins which are produced by a proper sequencing of amino acids which are in turn sequenced by encoded biological instructions that are trillions of times more information-dense than our most advanced computer chips. These instructions are called DNA and RNA. Put simply, “the sequence specificity seen in proteins depends on the prior specificity (i.e. information) encoded in DNA.” Irreducible Complexity here refers to, among other living organisms, the nature of the cell. Prior to the 1950’s it was thought that the cell was a very simple protoplasm that was in turn very easy to explain. However, recent discoveries in biochemistry have proven this assumption to be false. It is now known that even the simplest cell organisms, like bacterial flagellum (you still have not explained this), are very complex and sophisticated. In fact, the bacterial flagellum cell has 40 different parts which are constructed in a certain specified order by the information rich system I just described. The idea here is that no cellular part can function without the whole and thus biological systems ‘irreducibly complex.’

    The second premise states “Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.” What is meant by the first part of the premise that all biological or living systems depend on highly sophisticated encoded information. The second part of the premise simply asserts that the complexity in biological systems is such that if one part of the system is removed or ‘reduced’ the whole system becomes inoperative all the way down to the biological subsystems that support the most basic elements of life.

    The third premise states “Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.” It has traditionally been thought that evolutionary natural selection could explain these phenomena. But as recent biochemical discoveries indicate, this assumption is patently false. With regard to the origin of information, we should keep in mind that natural selection only occurs in living organisms that can replicate themselves by passing on positive mutations encoded in DNA. But this begs the question since natural selection must presuppose the very thing that it is trying to explain, namely, DNA. And certainly, natural selection fairs no better in attempts to explain the irreducible complex nature of the first cell. This is because the positive mutations that would have produced the different parts of the cell would not have been positive since they would have been useless without the other parts. In fact, because of the uselessness of such mutations, survival of the fittest demands their exclusion from future genetic chains. On which account, life would have never evolved. But such a conclusion is absurd, because here we are. In sum, biological evolutionary theory can not explain the two most fundamental questions of biological origins; namely, “How can we account for the irreducible complexity of biological systems?” and “How do we account for the origin of the specified information that governs such systems?”

    Alternately, ID can explain such questions. This is where the fourth premise of IDT comes in. It states: “Therefore (based on the preceding three premises) intelligent design constitutes the best explanation for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.” Admittedly, this has profound religious implications, but this is not the same as saying that it is based on religious premises.

    Brian is right as well, you’ve haven’t responded to any of my arguments. You called the people I cited ‘out of date’, but clearly that is not the case. You say no ID theorist has published a major scientific work, but did not respond to the fact that Bill Dembski’s book, The Design Inference, was published in the peer reviewed Cambridge Studies in Induction, Probability and Decision Theory. Although Paul Davies is not a spokesperson for ID, he still posits intelligent design in the universe and has made several significant contributions to physics. You did not respond to this. You just state stuff I have already responded to.

    I look forward to your response to the above post. I have to interact with your arguments one by one. I would like for you to engage mine at the same level.

    Thanks,
    Andrew

  19. My point on Flew is that, first, he’s retracted whatever ID advocates could claim as a victory (see the Talk.origins site I referred to). So, even were his stuff more recent than 1995, it’s still contradicted by even more recent events. Second, Flew is a philosopher, and hardly the Earth-shaker he’s made out to be (had you ever heard of him before? I hadn’t.). So whatever he said, it’s not biology.

    I love the way that, as soon as I note an authoritative website that contradicts the claims about Flew, you say “you rely on authority” when I don’t, and you say “everybody has a website.” One of the chief problems with evolution deniers is the way they play fast and loose with the evidence. This is a foundational issue — if you have no standards for what is accurate and correct, anything goes. Creationism profits from this moral relativity; science can’t afford it. Creationists will argue that they have standards, until it comes to the fact that the standards for truth and accurate data cut their arguments off — then they become relativists with lightning speed. Understand what it is they argue, and how, and why such arguments should be avoided.

    Again with authority: You reject 10,000 annual publications on evolution in serious, peer-reviewed science journals, and offer instead one philosophy journal article you claim is peer reviewed. Did you notice it comes from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA)? Do you fail to see exactly how that cuts against claims that ID is not religious? In any case, on the authority argument scale, ID is still woefully short.

    I’m not saying Davies isn’t a good physicist. But he’s no ID supporter, and contrary to the claim from authority made earlier, he’s no winner of a Nobel. My only point in mentioning that is that I don’t think you guys are analyzing your sources hard, or well.

    Ruse is generally good, too, but I can’t see why he stooped to editing with Dembski that collection of essays. In any case, the book, by Ruse’s confession, is not science, but instead recognizes that ID is a wholly political or cultural movement. The issue for me is this: Is there science value there? On ID’s side, there is none. Zip. Nada.

    Dembski’s book was not peer reviewed, by the way, nor does it feature any original research. He argues that DNA is information — which is a slight to a living thing, I think — and then he makes a leap that all information behaves as a signal in a wire would, to which he then magically leaps to Shannon’s arguments about noise and signals. It’s all entertaining, but it’s not information theory (Dembski’s work with these claims has never been published in information journals), it’s not math (Dembski’s work on ID has never been published in math journals), it distorts biology (Dembski’s work has never been published in biology journals), and there are good mathematicians who argue Dembski is doing sleight of hand tricks with the math (check out Good Math, Bad Math, for example: Here, http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/11/iscid_and_the_definition_of_sp.php, and here, http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/08/causeless_math_from_dembski_an.php. Go to Mark’s site and do a search for “Dembski,” you’ll get at last half a dozen articles, each taking Dembski to task on the math (I don’t profess to be a mathematician; I’m good up through calculus, but I don’t pretend to understand the math Dembski uses; I only know he uses it in odd places — DNA is not a signal in a wire, nor even analogous). You may complain I refer to authority, but at least I defer where my ignorance swells, which is not a feature of any of the blow-hards in ID today. Sadly.

    Yes, I’ve read Dembski, and the criticisms. Notice please that Dembski’s book is also scientifically sterile (why do I feel I’m repeating myself?) — no one else in mathematics or information theory has hailed it as anything but a moneymaker for Dembski, maybe. There are no research proposals coming out of it, and what few claims in biology he has made have been disproven (he claimed that genetic information cannot arise spontaneously, for example, but he made that claim a couple of years after the well-documented case of information arising spontaneously in T-URF 13, at Texas A&M; there are other cases, too).

    So, what’s your point? I know Dembski writes a lot, and that it’s all blather. I know already that the mathematicians reject his math, the information theorists reject his information claims, and the biologists roll their eyes at his exactly wrong biology claims. From his “research labs” at Southwest Theological Seminary, do you think his title suggests that ID is not religiously-based?

    2. Observability doesn’t mean at least the effect can’t be observed. We make rational inferences about the existence of atoms because the theory predicts behavior which is then corroborated in later experiments. Plus we have pictures of the shadows of atoms, plus we have photos of the paths of atomic and subatomic particles. We might know a rabbit passed this way by the rabbit tracks — we can do the same with neutrons, electrons, and smaller particles.

    In contrast, there are no observed effects from ID. There are no predictions. If ID were accurate, we could really use some advice from IDists on how to craft a cure for HIV, or for anthrax. Were ID substance at all, that would be the place we’d expect to see results, and they would be greatly appreciated. Of course, you know there is no such research plan. Why? Why is ID so sterile that it can’t even propose a line of research?

    And, though you appear desperate to ignore the facts, there is no part of evolution theory which has not been observed in action in real time, even speciation. Evolution is observable in each and every particular. No one can point to a hand of an intelligent designer, in any particular. (Did you read the cross-examinations of the ID advocates at the Dover trial?)

    3. Testability — you are simply in error when you claim we can’t test history. We do that every day in criminal and civil courtrooms, with hard tests for evidence. We do it every day in the study of history. We do it every day in archaeology and paleontology, and in geology. Of course, it’s notable that ID is particularly sterile in those latter three sciences. Archaeology is all about human creations and human lives — intelligent beings who design. ID is completely inert in that science today. Paleontology would be the place that an intelligent designer would be well manifested — there is not an ID -based research plan anywhere in paleontolgy today, no papers in paleontology supporting ID, no papers proposing ID.

    Is there any scientific value from any part of ID, anywhere? I can’t find it.

    DNA is not presupposed. You would do well to spend some time studying “RNA world” and other origin of life issues — start with Astro Biology Magazine on-line (here: http://www.astrobiology.com/ — also see here, http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/ and here, http://www.astrobio.net/). Curious: This would be a key area where ID would be active, if it were science. There is not a single ID paper in Astro Biology, nor a single ID research project anywhere in astrobiology. Why is ID completely sterile in that discipline?

    It just seems to me that you’ve been relying on ID-biased information, the few that are out there, and that somehow you’ve been avoiding the 99.9% of the information in the field. That’s a tribute to the $2 million spent every year on public relations to promote ID, I suppose; that $2 million would be welcome in research on cystic fibrosis, for example — ID consumes resources that would be better spent in real science.

    Have you read the court’s decision in the Dover case? (Here: http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf) ID is intellectually dead — or still not living, if one holds out hope it will improve. But in any case, there is nothing there of value. It offers no alternative to evolution theory (still waiting for you guys to offer something there — heaven knows Dembski and Behe and Berlinkski have not, and cannot).

    Yes, Stephen Meyer occasionally shows up at conferences to debate Eugenie Scott. For every one of those, he does a dozen church appearances. Churches are not the places that science gets done — and, moreover, that these guys speak in churches only makes mockery of the claims that ID isn’t religiously based. Except for the church appearances, there would be nothing visible. The conferences and debates wouldn’t get done, because scientists generally have better things to do. The conferences with these “debates” ONLY happen because scientists are troubled by the grossly misleading, inaccurate claims made in the churches by ID supporters. Scientists think the public deserves better. That’s not evidence of science in ID at all.

    Forget demarcation arguments. They are wholly irrelevant to the discussion. Scientists don’t worry about it — scientists do not, contrary to ID wags’ claims, exclude the supernatural. Any potential cause is examined, but scientists do not waste time speculating about what cannot be tested for. The fact is that no one has a God filter that can exclude God from any test-tube. All of science is done on the Psalmists’ understanding of God — eternal, ever-lasting, and doesn’t meddle in natural processes when miracles are not required. The “materialist” view is what makes our technology run. We cannot function if scientists say, ‘Ya know, God may refuse to make the electrons move through this transistor next week, so we can’t verify it as reliable.’ That’s the root of the argument made by the anti-materialist bunch — and it’s silly.

    For something to be scientific, it has to be testable in some way. If you propose a supernatural solution, if it’s testable, fine. (Of course, if it’s testable, it’s natural, isn’t it?) There is no rule of science that excludes supernatural causes.

    There is a tendency in science to discover natural causes where supernatural causes were claimed previously, however. We no longer believe diseases caused by demons and angry deities — we know germs exist. We no longer think lightning is hurled by gods in clouds. Ben Franklin showed it to be electricity, and we have tested that hypothesis and found it accurate.

    We don’t think angels push the planets around, any more. Newton demonstrated how other forces could do it, and we’ve verified that in outer space.

    Why, do you think, DI doesn’t rail against those materialist claims? Certianly they reduce the gaps in which God could reside, much moreso than does the simple observation of evolution.

    Go back to the religious claims made by Phillip Johnson. He believes — in error — that evil is founded on a rejection of God, and that evolution rejects God with science backing it. All this hoo-haw isn’t based on science at all. It’s based on a fundamentalist wish to find science to back faith claims as well as science backs science claims, such as evolution.

    But that whole thing is aimed wrong. Evolution doesn’t deny God — at least, not to Christians. Darbyists — that’s a separate matter.

    So the first complaint you have is philosophically based — mis-based, I argue — and has nothing to do with real science as practiced.

    By the way, it’s interesting that you appear to give so little credence to Big Bang. Once again, it appears to me that you’re listening solely to creationist propaganda, and not the science. After all, we do have photographs of shortly after Big Bang; we have the theory that explains it, and it works, mathematically, back to the first expansion. These are things that HAVE BEEN OBSERVED, they are not conjecture. And yet, you appear to be unsure. This gets to my worry that you’re not consistently applying evidence to science claims. If you’re concerned about observability, you should give observed phenomena more credence, it seems to me.

    I’ve gone on too long, and I’ve jumbled some paragraphs, I think, in between getting other stuff done.

    I notice no one else has answered by questions about theology — just as I thought, you all assumed this was a religion-versus-atheism discussion. Sorry to disappoint you.

  20. Don’t have time for a full response, but a couple things:

    (a) there is a difference between generral evolution theory and chemical evolution which seeks to explain the origin of life. I am concerned only to debate the later here. And how is it that chemical evolution provides a cure for diabetes? I spoke to this breifly before, but it seemed like you were talking about applications of more general evolutionary theory (some of which I subscribe to) rather than chemical evolution. Then I can answer your theological question perhaps.

    (b) I support the big bang. I think it makes a great arugment for the existence of God.

    (c) Why should ID or chemical evolution be required to make advances in medicine?

    Andrew

  21. Andrew, abiogenesis is not evolution. ID isn’t a theory of abiogenesis, either, nor even a hypothesis. We’re in different debates. Sorry.

  22. Andrew, here’s an animation of one path (out of four or five that have been proposed, all of which could work) by which bacteria evolve flagella: http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/12/ode_to_the_flag.html

    Incidentally, can you point to any ID proposal for how the thing was designed and inserted by any intelligence? You propose that science can’t explain the evolution of the device to your satisfaction, but then you propose as an alternative a completely unexplained alternative. Why is a partial explanation not acceptable to you, but a complete lack of any explanation acceptable?

  23. I watched the video. I posted a series of videos a while back. The first in this link shows why that theory (among several other theories) doesn’t work:

    https://graphe.wordpress.com/2006/12/01/video-library

    ID is ONLY about origins. Many of its advocates are evolutionists, in fact. For example Behe is a committed evolutionist, but does not agree with chemical evolution. Can you please explain this?

  24. Well, once again we confront the issue of who should be considered authorities. Jonathan Wells is an unrepetant liar, and anything with him in it, or anything with his title “Icons of Evolution” is unsuitable for children, or anyone who subscribes to the Scout Law.

    Were ID only about origins, the Discovery Institute, Bill Dembski, Frank Beckwith and others would not be asking school boards and state school boards to stop teaching natural selection, which has nothing to do with origins. I do wish ID advocates would keep up with their own field.

    Have you read Phillip Johnson’s stuff? Wells’? Dembsk’s? Since almost all of their arguments are based on fossils and living things, where did you ever get the idea that ID is about origins? That’s silly on its face.

  25. Dembski’s work revolves largley around origins, esp. DNA–No Free Lunch is his major monograph, none of which speaks of fossils. He never talks about the fossile record, to my knowledge. The book he recently edited with Ruse revolves almost entirely around the ORIGIN of DNA and various accounts of it. Wells has a much bigger agenda than what is spelled out by ID. And he talks a good bit about fossils, but I don’t think Johson does. Can you provide references?

    If you look at the four premises of ID laid out by the Discovery Institute that I’ve mentioned above, origins is the primary focus. That is why various contributors may take different perspectives on evolution unrelated to origins-of-life research. When Wells speaks, he does not necessarily articulate ID at its essential core as much as he advocates his own version of it. ID is a theory about origins and where people take it beyond that is up to them. That is why the discovery institute laid out those key premises so there would be no confusion on these issues.

  26. If you look at what the Discovery Institute actually says, publishes and advocates, however, you quickly come to understand that they have adopted most of the old creationist canards, and they spend much more time talking about them, than they do origins of life. As I noted, evolution is not a theory of the origins of life — so why all the angst about evolution, if ID isn’t directed at evolution?

    Take a look at the ONLY paper published in support of intelligent design in a juried journal, for example — the controversial paper Stephen Meyer published in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (the paper has been essentially retracted by the Society since then, but the Discovery Institute dishonestly has it posted at their website as if it were just another research paper: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2177&program=CSC%20-%20Scientific%20Research%20and%20Scholarship%20-%20Science)

    The paper is titled “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” and it dwells on fossil issues such as the ineptly called “Cambrian explosion.” Of course, the Cambrian was 543 to 490 million years ago, or about 3 billion years AFTER the origin of life.

    Now, I appreciate that Meyer talks a bit about genetics and molecular formations, but it’s all in the context of already-existing life.

    So, since the ONE paper in ID dwells on fossils, and mentions the origins of life almost not at all — where in the world did you get the idea that ID deals with life’s origins, and not evolution?

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