Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Del Ratzsch on ID in 2004

This is a Panda's Thumb response, and I am somewhat surprised by the PT commentators' level-headed responses.

Ratzsch's attitude is pretty close to mine. I recently did some re-reading in Dembski's book The Design Revolution, and I think it contains two significant overreaches. First, he rejects Bayesian inference, probably because he doesn't want prior probabilities to undermine his case. Lydia McGrew argues that this is a mistake, and I agree. Second, he was touting "Of Pandas and People" as a way of recruiting people to ID, and supporting the attempt to get this into the K-12 classroom. I think that's an overreach, too. 

I don't think ID, or even the Discovery Institute, deserves the kind of demonization that we often see. I think evolution advocates are guilty of some pretty egregious overreaches themselves. 

13 comments:

Greg said...

The problem with this thinking is ultimately one of overly-strict demarcation--what does one mean by "science"?

If we are able to make design inferences in archaeology, criminal forensics, architecture, and so on then why not biology? To say we cannot is to beg the question. To say that design can be inferred but there isn't evidence for it is to imply that either design study is a science just that the evidence currently doesn't support it as a conclusion or it isn't a science and that any evidence against it isn't either.

Either way, let us force the Darwinist into a consistent, non-question begging position.

Hugo said...

"I don't think ID, or even the Discovery Institute, deserves the kind of demonization that we often see. I think evolution advocates are guilty of some pretty egregious overreaches themselves."

The fact that an expression such as 'evolution advocates' is still used nowadays (and I don't blame you Vicor; I blame the context) is to me a clear indication that most ID advocates, and certainly the Discovery Institute, deserve the kind of demonization that we see, and we don't see it often enough due to some ill-placed political correctness.

Where are the 'germ theory advocates', the 'electromagnetism advocates', the 'atomic theory advocates'? Nowhere, because there is no need to 'advocate' for these areas of science. But because of the ID movement, we still need some 'advocates' for evolutionary biology, which is no more no less good science than any of these.

Papalinton said...

I think ID advocates deserve every bit the opprobrium directed at them. Lazy sods. They tried to squirrel ID [a euphemism for the proven fact that ID is indeed Creationism] into science and the science curriculum through the courts, through the media, through the legislatures, both State and Federal, without for one moment doing the hard yards in the laboratory. Through such faithhead mentality, and that is a reasonable characterization of the recalcitrant motivation behind inveigling IDi into science, the ID proponents simply switched off whatever reasoning circuitry their brain might have had access to, and blinded them to the brick-to-the-head reality of evolution. The competing six-day design model of christian science has been comprehensively, methodically and painstakingly debunked.

Now that Victor has pretty much concurred with that conclusion the IDiots on this site ought to heed his counsel. And who cares whether evolution advocates have overreached themselves or not? It's only a question of degree not of the substantive nature or the veridicality oof evolution. The theory [i.e. the fact ] of evolution is ubiquitous and fundamental to the universal understanding of every facet of research in the biological sciences. Moreover, the theory [FACT] of evolution is an explanatory model that usefully has paved the way for the proper investigation and research into almost every aspect of life. It is in essence an explanatory paradigm of extraordinary and unsurpassed power.

I can understand how and why the religiose were so keen to hang this somewhat pathetic and bedraggled ID model onto the coat-tails of science. It was a matter of survival. Do any of you recall THE MICHAEL POLANYI CENTRE founded at Baylor University? A reminder: "The Michael Polanyi Center (MPC) at Baylor University, Texas was the first center at a research university exclusively dedicated to intelligent design study." It was founded in 1999 and fully dissolved in 2003, completely disappearing from the face of the earth in under 4 years. What an extraordinary record of achievement?

Really folks. The time to sweep this nonsense into the dustbin is now.

Obsidian said...

I think the empirical tractability problem Robin Collins outlines is a huge problem for any ID based program as well.

I think people like Forrest and Pinnock show the reason for teh anti-ID hysteria.
They view the ID guys as anti-secularist and the first step to theonomy and attack them by any means necessary.

im-skeptical said...

"the reason for teh anti-ID hysteria."

This so-called hysteria is a reaction to charlatans passing off their religious superstition as science.

Obsidian said...

@im-skeptical

So you have no problem with non-religious guys like Berlinski or Denton who advocate for ID?

ID is religiously neutral wrt the designer.
You could belive in aliens or directed pansperma like Crick and accept ID

Hugo said...

@Obsidian

A quick Google search shows that they are both working with the Discovery Institute, which is not religiously neutral.

Moreover, ID could in principle be neutral, yes, but that would imply starting from known biological facts in order to come up with valid conclusions. That has not been done so far for the obvious reason that it conflicts with the actual science of biology, which shows that things evolved without being designed.

oozzielionel said...

RE: "which shows that things evolved without being designed"

Interesting choice of words...
Did not say "which proves"

"shows" is pretty non-committal, yet more forceful than "indicates."

"things evolved" is more direct than "things could have evolved without being designed.

It seems to me that science actually "has discovered mechanisms that appear to be sufficient to explain how things may have evolved naturally."

Would this not more accurately describe what science has done without making assertions that extend into philosophical materialism?

Hugo said...

I did not think about the choice of word that much honestly so it's interesting that you bring it up.

However, I don't see the difference between indicate/show/prove in that context. Science facts are what they are, nothing more, nothing less. In this case, the fact is that living things evolved naturally. I don't see the need for the superfluous 'may have'.

For example, I would not say that the Earth 'may have' been around for more than 3 billion years. It 'has' been around for at least that much time, but a more precise birth date that 'may have' been 4.3 billion years ago.

Biology indicates/shows/proves that living things evolved naturally with the same kind of certainty as the 3+ billion years. It does not prove beyond doubt that self-reproduction started without the aid of a designer, but we can be as sure as we ever are about any science facts that nature did the job by itself regarding the diversity of living things.

That's not a philosophical statement; that's modern scientific knowledge.

oozzielionel said...

It seems to be confusing the facts with the interpretation of the facts. We have a good deal of knowledge about genetics and about fossil records. The conclusion that "nature did the job by itself" may be consistent with the natural mechanics, but you need something beside that to come to that conclusion. Science is not very good at arriving at certainty about non-repeatable historical events.

Hugo said...

It's not just historical, it happens now so we can extrapolate backward. Moreover, science can answer such questions; we are justified to believe that the Grand Canyon was made naturally but mount Rushmore was not.

im-skeptical said...

"ID is religiously neutral wrt the designer."

The ID advocates refrain from making claims about who the designer is strictly for political reasons. It was part of their strategy to inject ID into public schools in the guise of science. Of course, if they were honest about their beliefs, they would never be allowed to do so. So they had to maintain this public facade of neutrality.

Eu Phoric said...

“If we are able to make design inferences in archaeology, criminal forensics, architecture, and so on then why not biology? To say we cannot is to beg the question. To say that design can be inferred but there isn't evidence for it is to imply that either design study is a science just that the evidence currently doesn't support it as a conclusion or it isn't a science and that any evidence against it isn't either.”

Depends on what you mean by design. I'm willing to bet that design inferences made in biology are not the same as design inferences made in archaeology, criminal forensics, and architecture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP2Fd3IqBdw