"...I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..." [Deuteronomy 5:8-10]

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Answering Darrick

Darrick Dean has responded to my post to him of 10 May.

His A Response to a Naturalism Evangelist is a spectacular example of Fundamentalist evasion, hand waving and irony-meter-shattering doublethink.

He will not, apparently, allow me to post this response or even a link to it from his blog.

Darrick Dean:
I have rarely seen such disconnected reasoning as in Ptet’s response to my posts.
Given what follows, that is a rather bizarre statement...

Darrick Dean:
He seems to think because of a statement he cut and pasted from ARN doesn’t claim ID theory is empirical, that it can’t be. Really? Claiming there is no other possibility than ID is not invalid simply because ARN doesn’t claim it, it's valid by virtue of the facts. The probability of chance or evolution creating the fine-tuned constants of biochemical complexity or the big bang are zero. Now because Ptet hasn’t bothered to study ID in-depth he obviously hasn’t come across such things, so in his mind they can’t be true because what he has read hasn’t said so. Bizarre. For more on fine-tuning see Creator and the Cosmos and Nature’s Destiny. For more on testable ID see Origins of Life.
Just wait a minute... My claim was not that ID "isn't empirical". It was that Darrick had not established that ID left "no other possibility" than design.

And he hasn't.

Hugh Ross does not claim that the "probability of chance or evolution creating the fine-tuned constants of biochemical complexity or the big bang are zero" and it is ludicrous to claim, as Darrick does, that "there are no presumptions are involved".

At the extreme, Ross claims that these things are so improbable that they could take much longer than the lifetime of the Universe to occur. That is not the same as the odds being zero.

And Ross's calculations are riddled with ridiculous presumptions.

For examples, see the analysis by the anti-evolution Christian Bolton Davidheiser (Ph.D., Zoology) A Statement Concerning The Ministry Of Dr. Hugh Ross on the Bible.Ca website ; and Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations by Dr Ian Musgrave, Senior Lecturer in Experiment & Clinical Pharmacology at Adelaide University.

Ross (like his follower Darrick) subscribes to the belief that "The Bible is... supreme and final authority in all matters that it addresses." He specifically excludes even the possibility that the Bible could be wrong. How's that for a presumption...

Michael Denton's work contains similar flaws.

For a very beautiful discussion of the issues involved here from a working biologist, see sweetnes_n_light's The Impossibility of Evolution, where he provides this analogy:
"This man is standing in the middle of an airport, with hundreds of planes flying overhead. He is currently talking to a group of aerospace engineers, some of whom have worked on designing actual spacecraft. And he is telling them, "I get frustrated when you guys cannot see the impossibility of making a flying machine heavier than air".
Darrick is that man.

Remember... Both Darrick and I are arguing from authority here. Neither of us are physicists or biologists.

But I can point to thousands upon thousands of working, credentialed scientists working in physics and Earth and life scientists who have no problem whatsoever with the standard evolutionary understanding of evolution. There are a great many Christians amongst them.

Standard evolutionary theory is taught in the Biology departments of every non-Fundamentalist University the world over. Can Darrick point to one single university biology department (which does not insist that a religious work is the "final authority in all matters") which teaches Intelligent Design? Of course he can't.

As for physics and the Big Bang, just who the hell is Hugh Ross? He's hardly a leader in the field. How can he be an authority of what physicists say?

What about Lee Smolin or Brian Greene or Ed Witten or even Steven Hawking? None of them think that the formation of the Universe is "impossible" without an intelligent designer.

Darrick Dean:
...Dembski claims there is an intelligent cause based on the evidence. This is contrary to evolutionists who are still hoping for science to provide evidence for their predetermined construct of the world. See Design Revolution or Intelligent Design.
Note that Darrick neatly sidesteps the issue that Dembski most definitely does not claim that "there is no other possibility" than intelligent design.

Darrick Dean:
I wrote "Virtually no ID theorists hide their agreement with the age of the universe. Virtually none agree with evolution of species over time. Those whom do things are in the minority." ...

Ptet tries to prove his "contradictions" by two limited quotes. Johnson is an old-earth creationist who has avoided the issue to avoid offending young-earthers. I have taken issue with this elsewhere (Chapter 15 of my book), of course Ptet wouldn’t know that, being it's counter to his claims. In fact I have been very critical of ID’s refusal to directly tackle YECism. They bypass it by assuming it's wrong (which it is). In any case, virtually all of the leading ID theorists are old-earth creationists (including Johnson, Dembski, Behe, etc.) Johnson only respects YECs for their discussions on evolution. Rarely do you see YECs at the forefront of ID. Claim one stands.
The sound you hear is Darrick desperately shifting the goalposts. I fully accept that most of the leading ID Theorists reject a "Young Earth". My point is that they avoid talking about this in public.

He has neatly ignored this section of my post:
"...my original point was that IDers are slippery about what elements of mainstream science they actually believe in. This way they ensure the maximum possible base of support - even if it leads to a lot of confusion amongst ID adherents (and everyone else) about what ID actually says."
The YEC organisation Answers In Genesis has a specific page on its website on this point (AiG’s views on the Intelligent Design Movement). They write
"Many of our supporters have asked us repeatedly for our position on the IDM, so this document is in response to that..."
Why would it be necessary for a YEC organisation to comment on ID if the ID theorists themselves were upfront about rejecting a "Young Earth"? They proceed with some telling statements:
"Since the only thing in their platform which comes close to being a commonly-shared presupposition is a negative (naturalism is wrong), they can provide no coherent philosophical framework on which to base the axioms necessary to interpret evidence relevant to the historical sciences (paleontology, historical geology, etc). So they can never offer a ‘story of the past’, which is one more reason why they must continually limit the debate to one of mechanism - and then only in broad, general terms (designed vs undesigned)..."

"They generally refuse to be drawn on the sequence of events, or the exact history of life on Earth or its duration, apart from saying, in effect, that it ‘doesn’t matter’..."

"Some who are prominent in the IDM appear to be sympathetic to the Bible’s account of Creation. However, if the movement should ever make the strategic inroads it hopes for, then our concern would be that any of its leaders who might later identify themselves with Genesis belief would lay themselves open to charges of having been publicly deceptive..."
The problem is compounded by leading YEC's like Albert Mohler and Jerry Falwell (and a host of happy amateurs like Bonnie Alba) who are all to happy to support ID as a movement without worrying about the age of the earth.

Darrick Dean:
Behe’s acceptance of evolution of species over time is not nearly as radical as evolutionists. Behe, who considers himself a theistic evolutionist, actually sounds more like a champion of limited microevolution than macroevolution. Of course genetics is now showing that many species thought related are not so. ID supporters are only 'slippery' in their beliefs when evolution supporters decide to not to study the details and pick and choose a few out-of-context quotes. Claim 2 stands. See Doubts About Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design.
There's no argument on the first point... Behe is essentially a theistic evolutionist.

But the second point is hilarious... "genetics is now showing that many species thought related are not so". Huh? Sure, genetics is clarifying the relationships between species - and many superficially similar species are being shown not to be related as was previously thought. But that is science. Scientific understanding changes in the light of new evidence.

The authority Darrick quotes to support his contention on genetics is Thomas Woodward, a " professor at Trinity College of Florida, where he teaches the history of science, communication, and systematic theology." How does that make him an expert on genetics?

The fact is that geneticists overwhelmingly believe that genetics is one of the strongest pieces of evidence that exists for common descent. As the Wikipedia article on Evolution notes:
"Today, the theory of evolution has been strongly confirmed by the science of DNA genetics. For example, every living thing makes use of nucleic acids as its genetic material, and uses the same twenty amino acids as the building blocks for proteins. All organisms use the same genetic code (with some extremely rare and minor deviations) to translate nucleic acid sequences into proteins. Because the selection of these traits is somewhat arbitrary, their universality strongly suggests common ancestry."
Can Darrick point to anything more than three or four exceptions to the thousands of working geneticists who consider their field to be a strong (but certainly not the only) evidence for evolution & common descent? Of course he can't. That's why he just makes up his arguments as he goes along.

Darrick Dean:
Reality isn’t a democracy. The "overwhelming majority" once thought plate tectonics, the big bang model and impact events were wrong. Science isn’t about popularity. If it was, cold fusion would be "true." And considering that mankind appears in the record fully formed and advanced, genetically unrelated to other hominids, what does that say of the "scientists" who claim common descent? Most naturalists can't get their minds around the finds of genetics that have destroyed their theory. Naturalists claim: "But 90-some % of our genes are the same with primates!" If that's what you think, you don't understand genetics.
If wishes were horses, huh? But who is wishing here? I've already demonstrated that Darrick's view of what geneticists believe has no relation to reality.

And "Mankind appears in the record fully formed and advanced". What kind of gibberish is that? What about Sahelanthropus tchadensis? Or Orrorin tugenensis? Or Ardipithecus ramidus? Or Australopithecus anamensis? Or Australopithecus afarensis? Or Kenyanthropus platyops? Or Australopithecus africanus? Or Australopithecus garhi? Or Australopithecus aethiopicus? Or Australopithecus robustus? Or Australopithecus boisei? Or Homo habilis? Or Homo georgicus? Or Homo erectus? Or Homo ergaster? Or Homo antecessor? Or Homo heidelbergensis? Or Homo neanderthalensis? Or Homo floresiensis?

(Thanks to the TO Fossil Hominids FAQ for the list ;>)

The evidence in favour of common descent and evolution is massively greater now that it was a century ago.

Look. The evidence is overwhelming that evolution has occurred. That is why it is a fact. Behe accepts that it did occur. Other IDers do not. The question in evolution is "how did it occur". That's why its also a theory. We know some things. We don't know other things. But that is science. Does the fact that we don't understand Gravity entirely make gravity false? Or does the fact that we don't understand aerodynamics entirely mean that we can't build airplanes?

Darrick's complete and utter denial of reality seems to be nearly complete.

As I've said repeatedly, the main block to his thinking seems to be his total inability to accept that a great many Christians have no problem reconciling their faith with standard evolutionary theory.

He has swallowed hook, line and sinker the old creationist lie that "evolution" equates with atheism...

Darrick Dean:
No, but why is it that the world’s foremost atheists use evolution to support their belief? Without it, there is no atheism. Such an obvious piece of logic. More on the bankruptcy of atheism here.
Bangs head on desk.

Darrick, yet again, completely, dishonestly, and frankly bizarrely ignores the fact many Christians see no conflict between their faith and the standard scientific understanding of evolution. How many? How about organisations representing more than half of the Christians on the entire planet.

As the internationally renowned theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss recently pointed out:
"Popes from Pius XII to John Paul II have reaffirmed that the process of evolution in no way violates the teachings of the church. Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, presided over the church's International Theological Commission, which stated that "since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism."
Yet again it's a case of:
Darrick: All evolutionists are atheists!
PTET: What about the Christian evolutionists?
Darrick: Yes, but all real evolutionists are atheists!
And he accuses me of a logical fallacy...

Here's another. Darrick seems to think that appeals to authority are valid when they are supporting ID, but not when they oppose it...

Darrick Dean:
No, I’m pointing out your blatant logical error. You tout 'authority' to support your view, but pretend no authority exists for the other side. I have said appeals to authority are fundamentally meaningless. It’s quality of scholarship that counts.
That is utterly surreal. Firstly, what does Darrick do but ignore authorities who do not agree with his position? Especially if they are Christian authorities... Secondly, what gives any validity to Darrick's authorities for Intelligent Design? Their "quality of scholarship" certainly hasn't convinced the overwhelming majority of scientists otherwise. And who judges "quality of scholarship? Darrick? Or, perhaps, other scholars in the field?

Darrick is not an expert in physics or biology. Either am I. Our arguments rely almost entirely on authorities.

An appeal to a valid authority is not a logical fallacy. An appeal to an invalid authority is a logical fallacy.

Darrick complains that I "ignore" authorities. How many would that be? 1% of them? 5% of them? Certainly no more than that. How many does that leave him ignoring?

And what "quality of scholarship" is he referring to?

Even ID theorists admit that there is no scholarship to support Intelligent Design as an alternative to standard evolutionary theory.

Plate Tectonics, the Big Bang model and Impact Events are all generally accepted because they have stood the scientific test of time. Cold fusion isn't because it didn't. Evolution has so it did... Except for one small thing - it conflicts with the theology of a small number of unscrupulous theologians who are prepared to lie outright to their flocks (including poor Darrick) in order to protect their "inerrant" view of the Bible.

(There are, of course, non-religious cranks who oppose evolution too... But then there are cranks who do not recognise Plate Tectonics, the Big Bang model and Impact Events).

Darrick Dean:
...ID has always been foremost about practicing good science, which evolutionists refuse to do. Instead they are busy framing the debate as 'science vs. religion.' People aren’t buying it anymore.

Ptet is a classic example of a naturalist evangelist who only studies what confirms his beliefs and holds to the naturalist talking points like they are gospel. Just like the young-earth creationists, naturalists live in isolation: They have already decided they are right and anything contrary can be labeled as religion or heresy. The point of this site has always been to leave these a priori assumptions behind. But the dedicated zealots on both sides probably never will. Their life’s work is at risk.
This from Darrick, who believes that "The Bible is... supreme and final authority in all matters that it addresses."

This from Darrick, who cannot provide any evidence to support his claims that ID Theory leaves "no other possibility" than design; or that genetics disproves evolution, or even that "people aren't buying" evolution "any more".

This from Darrick, who in post after post after post, squirms and wriggles and dances and evades and does anything but admit that even one single Christian could ever possibly accept the standard scientific explanation of evolution.

This from Darrick, who won't allow me to post this response or even a link to this response from his blog...

Sorry, but I'm done. My irony meter can't take any more...


Updated for typos ;>

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