Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nagel on the not-science charge against ID

Judge Jones cited as a decisive reason for denying ID the status of
science that Michael Behe, the chief scientific witness for the defense,
acknowledged that the theory would be more plausible to someone who
believed in God than to someone who did not.12 This is just common
sense, however, and the opposite is just as true: evolutionary theory as a
complete explanation of the development of life is more plausible to
someone who does not believe in God than to someone who does. Either
both of them are science or neither of them is. If both of them are
scientific hypotheses, the ground for exclusion must be that ID is hopelessly
bad science, or dead science, in Kitcher’s phrase.

12. “Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the
argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God. As no
evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition’s validity rests on
belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe’s
assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other
prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition” (Kitzmiller,
at p. 720).

12 comments:

Crude said...

Does anyone believe, even for a moment, that if Jones ruled in the opposite direction people would still be playing the 'he's a federal judge with no scientific training but he's still the final word on what does and doesn't count as science' card?

Kairos said...

Plausibility shouldn't be a criterion at all. The relation between X being a scientific hypothesis and X being plausible is irrelevant to whether X is a scientific hypothesis. Plausibility is subjective. Round Earth geography is not plausible to Flat Earth adherents; but the reason we eschew Flat Earth geography isn't because it's not plausible to Round Earthers; it's because it's bad geography. Plausibility should be determined by the science, not the science by the plausibility.

im-skeptical said...

"Does anyone believe, even for a moment, that if Jones ruled in the opposite direction people would still be playing the 'he's a federal judge with no scientific training but he's still the final word on what does and doesn't count as science' card?"

Funny how that works. If a judge finds that pseudo-science is not science, his decision is praised by the scientific community and deplored by the science deniers, and if he finds the opposite, the scientific community objects, but lauded by the science deniers. I guess those scientists are just biased.

Crude said...

Funny how that works. If a judge finds that pseudo-science is not science, his decision is praised by the scientific community and

Ain't what I said, squirt. Try again. ;)

im-skeptical said...

"Ain't what I said, squirt. Try again. ;)"

OK. I'll spell it out for the intellectually impaired: what you make of the judge's decision is what best suits your cognitive bias. But the judge is NOT the arbiter of what counts as science, and only a fool like you would think in those terms. He simply has the good sense to recognize ID for what it is: an attempt to replace science education with religious hogwash.

Crude said...

OK. I'll spell it out for the intellectually impaired: what you make of the judge's decision is what best suits your cognitive bias.

Oh, so you mean that if you think it's a great decision and he's a legitimate arbiter of what is and isn't science, you're showing your cognitive bias? :D

You need a spellchecker, squirt. ;)

Crude said...

For those who are outside the Cult of Gnu, let me make what I'm saying a bit more clear.

Judge Jones is no authority on what is or isn't science. When he says "ID is not science", he has as much intellectual authority as *I* do when I say it's not science. (Something, by the way, I do say.)

In fact, insofar as evidence indicates Jones didn't even understand the debate? Probably less.

What he does have is some authority in determining how ID will be treated by the state. Important when we're dealing with certain legal contexts - and by the way, not immutable authority. But when it comes to determining if ID is or isn't science in an intellectual sense? It doesn't mean a damn thing.

What matters are arguments and evidence, gents.

im-skeptical said...

"Oh, so you mean that if you think it's a great decision and he's a legitimate arbiter of what is and isn't science, you're showing your cognitive bias? :D"

So crude, being intellectually impaired, thinks he has scored some kind of coup here. He fails to recognize that we are all cognitively biased, and that is likely to determine whether we are happy with the judicial decision. I don't hide from the truth of my own bias. But recognizing it is the first step toward taking a more objective view of reality.

But that misses the point altogether. It's not about determining what is science. It's about complying with the constitution and keeping government institutions (which include public schools) out of the business of establishing religion. It doesn't take any kind of special authority, knowledge, or intellectual prowess to recognize that ID is religion. Despite the best efforts of its proponents to disguise it and make it appear to the scientifically illiterate as science, it pushes belief in God. This was established by the evidence, and that's what the judge found.

"In fact, insofar as evidence indicates Jones didn't even understand the debate? Probably less."

Wrong. You don't understand the debate.

Nagel presents an utterly false dichotomy: "Either
both of them are science or neither of them is." As I'm sure some people here will attest, there are plenty of religious believers that do not reject a scientific view of evolution. Nagel (who publicly sides with the ID propagandists) wants to twist science itself into a theological proposition, erasing any distinction between theology and science. The judge didn't fall for that.

"What matters are arguments and evidence, gents."

You unwittingly said something true. While religion is based on arguments, science is based on evidence. And there is a clear distinction between them.

Crude said...

I don't hide from the truth of my own bias.

IM Skeptical of that. ;)

But that misses the point altogether. It's not about determining what is science. It's about complying with the constitution

Then tell that to the people who point to Judge Jones as an arbiter of what is and isn't science. And please, don't tell me about constitutional law - you're clueless about science enough as it is. Do you really want to prove you know nothing about law as well?

Wrong. You don't understand the debate.

I understand it better than Jones. And holy shit, better than you. You can't even accurately summarize ID, as has been shown countless times before. ;)

Nagel (who publicly sides with the ID propagandists) wants to twist science itself into a theological proposition, erasing any distinction between theology and science.

Yep, just like those atheists to do so! *shakes fist*

While religion is based on arguments, science is based on evidence.

Hahahaha. Oh God, you're so fucking dumb. :D

im-skeptical said...

"I understand it better than Jones"

How totally deluded do you have to be to go around claiming you understand the US District Court case better than presiding judge.

Hahahaha. Oh God, you're so fucking dumb. :D

finney said...

"It's not about determining what is science. It's about complying with the constitution and keeping government institutions (which include public schools) out of the business of establishing religion. It doesn't take any kind of special authority, knowledge, or intellectual prowess to recognize that ID is religion."

Actually, the judge did just that. He did employ a definition of science for the purposes of his First Amendment inquiry into whether ID advances a religion. The inquiry was, if ID is the posit of genuine scientific theories, then the same is not a religion. If ID on the other hand is not the posits of scientific theories, then we must consider if its true purpose is to advance a religious belief. If its purpose is that, then it violates the anti-establishment clause.

The judge defined science in such a categorical way as to exclude matters of purpose and reasons from the scope of scientific inquiry: "In deliberately omitting
theological or “ultimate” explanations for the existence or characteristics of the
natural world, science does not consider issues of “meaning” and “purpose” in the
world."

It also does require special legal authority to exclude religion, because you have to define it in order to know what you're excluding. And the judge did not decide that ID "is a religion" - that's nonsense, because there are no churches of ID, there are no customs or practices of ID. The judge decided that the teaching of ID amounts to an "endorsement" under the Lemon Test.

im-skeptical said...

"The inquiry was, if ID is the posit of genuine scientific theories, then the same is not a religion. If ID on the other hand is not the posits of scientific theories, then we must consider if its true purpose is to advance a religious belief. If its purpose is that, then it violates the anti-establishment clause."
- The case (Kitzmiller v. Dover) is stated as: "The plaintiffs successfully argued that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution." (Wiki) This was the basis of the lawsuit. It was not a question of what constitutes science - it was a complaint that ID is religion.

"The judge defined science in such a categorical way as to exclude matters of purpose and reasons from the scope of scientific inquiry"
- The judge did not define science. He deferred to the scientific community for that by relying on expert testimony. "Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena." "ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community." "ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community."

"the judge did not decide that ID "is a religion""
- Nobody claimed or said that ID "is a religion". You quotation amounts to a strawman. The claim is that ID is religion - in other words, it is a religious tenet, not a religion in its own right.

"The judge decided that the teaching of ID amounts to an "endorsement" under the Lemon Test."
- The Lemon test focuses specifically on secular vs religious. There is nothing in it that defines or even mentions science. The decision says: "we find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom, in violation of the Establishment Clause." This is the primary and central finding of the case.