Casey Defends Intelligent Design as Science

There’s another winner at the blog of the Discoveroids, and it’s by Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist. He, and the Discoveroids, are described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page.

Casey’s post is titled Intelligent Design Is a Historical Science, Just Like Darwinian Evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A student who saw my comments on intelligent design and the “god of the gaps” argument wrote me and asked this follow-up question:

[Shortened version of the question Casey claims he received:] If ID theory is claiming a non-materialistic explanation for “gaps” in our understanding (whether origin of the universe, irreducible complexity, etc.) … would this imply that science should stop trying to understand/research some things?

We wrote about Casey’s earlier post here: Casey Luskin and the God of the Gaps. The questioner is claiming that if the magic designer lurks in the gaps of our knowledge, then ID is a science stopper. He’s right. Here’s Casey’s response:

I replied by noting that the student’s question seems to assume that only materialistic answers are “knowable” whereas non-materialistic answers are “unknowable.”

That’s entirely correct, but Casey disagrees. Here it comes:

In fact, we can “know” that an intelligent cause is the best explanation in precisely the same way that we infer materialistic causes.

Amazing. Casey claims he can know that Oogity Boogity! is the “best” explanation. This is very sad, but it’s a fundamental part of the Discoveroids’ version of creationism. Note, dear reader, that if the Discoveroids were “honest” creationists, then they could just come out and proclaim their faith in scripture. But because they pretend to be doing science, they have to go through all these epistemological contortions. Let’s read on:

Historical sciences like Darwinian evolution and intelligent design rely on the principle of uniformitarianism, which holds that “the present is the key to the past.” Under this methodology, scientists study causes at work in the present-day world in order, as geologist Charles Lyell put it, to “explain the former changes of the Earth’s surface by reference to causes now in operation.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Casey casually declares that ID is an historical science — as if it were like geology, climatology, plate tectonics, anthropology, paleontology, etc. We continue:

Darwinian evolution applies this method this by studying causes like mutation and selection in order to recognize their causal abilities and effects in the world at present. Darwinian scientists then try to explain the historical record in terms of those causes, seeking to recognize the known effects of mutation and selection in the historical record.

That’s correct. And when they do it, they produce evidence of the mutations and their effects. How does DI do it better? Casey says:

Intelligent design applies this same method this by studying causes like intelligence in order to recognize its causal abilities and effects in the present-day world. ID theorists are interested in understanding the information-generative powers of intelligent agents. ID theorists then try to explain the historical record by including appeals to that cause, seeking to recognize the known effects of intelligent design in the historical record.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! An Ark-load of obfuscation! Here’s more:

So whether you appeal to materialistic causes like mutation and selection, or non-material causes like intelligent design, you are using the same basic uniformitarian reasoning that is well-accepted in historical sciences.

Yeah — except that identifying a mutation is not a rational justification for conjuring up the phantasm of a magical designer. Moving along:

[I]n our present-day experience, we observe that intelligent agents alone generate systems with high levels of specified complexity — such as codes and languages. When we find language-based codes in nature, we have positive reasons, based upon our uniform and repeated experience, to infer that an intelligent cause was at work.

Oooooooh! They find “language-based codes in nature”! They do, they really do! Another excerpt:

This reasoning does not suggest ID is invoked only when something is “unknowable.” Rather, ID is invoked when something is positively “knowable” — namely when we have positive reasons to understand that intelligence is the best scientific explanation of a phenomenon.

We’ve seen that before. It’s just as “logical” — and useful — to conclude that the same phenomena are caused by Zeus. Casey’s article goes on and on. We’ll just give you a few choice snippets from what follows:

If we infer design, we’re still doing research and gaining understanding of the world around us.


[T]he research of ID theorists has done a lot to advance our understanding of exactly what material causes like mutation and selection can and cannot do.


[I]f ID is a scientifically investigable cause, then it is ID critics who are the ones that are closing off legitimate avenues of research and preventing scientists from invoking design where it is scientifically appropriate.


ID lets the facts speak for themselves and tries to follow the evidence where it leads. Some things may be detectably designed, and some things might have evolved by Darwinian processes or other material causes, but scientists must do the hard work and determine which explanations are warranted in which situations.

That’s about it. As we said, it’s an Ark-load. But what else were you expecting?

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Casey Defends Intelligent Design as Science

  1. Is it my imagination, or have I really never heard the name “Historical Science” before about the last fortnight? ISTR first noticing it on Ken Ham’s hokey response to Bill Nye’s video about teaching creationism in schools.

    To my knowledge, the distinction is between experimental and *observational* science, not experimental and “historical” science.

    Maybe I’m just mis-remembering, but I could swear I smell something fishy about this.

  2. Hold on a minute…

    Surely all science is “historical” science, even experimental science. If I conduct an experiment and then go on to analyse the results, I am analysing the results of an event that happened in the past.

  3. [T]he research of ID theorists has done a lot to advance our understanding of exactly what material causes like mutation and selection can and cannot do.

    Right. Exactly which things has ID advanced? I know there was a bit about mutation and selection NOT being able to develop the eye – that was wrong. Then there was NOT being able to blood clotting – that was wrong too. I am not aware of ANY contribution that ID has made towards advancing what natural selection CAN do, unless maybe you count that they allow “micro” evolution. Is Casey now trying to claim micro evolution as a contribution of ID science?

    That’s pretty funny Casey. I think I may now refer to ID as a hysterical science.

  4. [I]n our present-day experience, we observe that intelligent agents alone generate systems with high levels of specified complexity — such as codes and languages.

    (a) DNA is not a computer code, or a language. It is a molecule, which reacts with other molecules that it bumps into. Describing it as a code is a handy metaphor for describing the effects of it’s reactions with other molecules, but it’s not really a code in the same way that a language or a computer code is. There is no CPU in the cell reading the DNA “code” and executing it’s instructions, step-by-step, for example.
    (b) We do not observe that intelligent agents alone generate complex systems. Rather, we observe that nature creates very complex systems as well. The evidence is clear that complexity can arise from both nature and intelligent agents. There is zero justification to leap from the observation that humans can create complicated things to the conclusion that only intelligent beings of some sort can create anything complex. It’s logically absurd.

  5. Spoken like a true lawyer, with no meaning whatsoever, as he tries to defend this empty case, and in this instance his defendent, the intelligent designer.

  6. Alex Shuffell

    Historical sciences like Darwinian evolution and intelligent design rely on the principle of uniformitarianism

    Since when has intelligent design relied on uniformitarianism? Isn’t the whole point of intelligent design evolution but with random miracles thrown in? There’s nothing uniform about ID, it’s totally unpredictable.

    ID lets the facts speak for themselves and tries to follow the evidence where it leads.

    And when you can’t fix the facts you lie.

  7. Well, Casey is not so much an IDiot as a dishonest propagandist whose job it is to produce dreck, which he does in abundance.

    Aside from that, Luskin the Gerbil has no more effect on the world or science as a gerbil, that is to say, none. So, whatever he says is read by a few hundred people at most including us who don’t care.

    Boo Hoo and happy Halloween, Gerb, your life has been wasted. Hope you’re happy with that. Me, I’d be pretty depressed.

  8. Historical sciences like Darwinian evolution and intelligent design rely on the principle of uniformitarianism, which holds that “the present is the key to the past.”

    But then, what about the fall? And what about Dembski’s retroactive theodicy?

  9. Jeepers, I am alone here in genuinely valuing Mr. Luskin and his delightful articles—of which this present instance is, in fact, an especial gem? Gee whiz, folks, Luskin’s latest is an absolute treasure, one to savour rather than ridicule.

    Let’s have a closer look at the insights my all-time favourite geologist/lawyer is generously offering here. We learn from this piece that Intelligent Design is not, as so many have simplistically declared, a dishonest attempt to smuggle ‘religion’ into the classroom (if it were, why would so many mainstream religious denominations distance themselves from it?). It really is nothing to do with ‘religion’ at all. Casey usefully shows us here that ID is in fact a colourful Cargo Cult. You know: remote Pacific islanders who clear “runways” in the jungle, complete with “landing lights” fashioned out of coconut shells, a “radar dish” woven out of vines, and a “radio” constructed from empty boxes of corn flakes–just like a real airport!. Never mind that the Kellogg radio is mute, for there are (fortunately) a few self-elected priests who can use the device to transmit and receive messages telepathically—and incidentally are thus able to direct their less exalted fellow islanders in the necessary rituals and payments to ensure that a cargo plane filled with wonders will come – someday. Any day now. Just you wait…

    It was Richard Feynman who proposed the term ‘cargo cult science’ back in the 1970’s as an analogy for the less-than-vigorous practises of some of the ‘soft sciences’, but we have to look to the wonderful Casey to experience, not an analogue to a Cargo Cult, but the real deal!. “Look!” proclaims Luskin, “We have all the same trappings of real science! We have research ‘fellows’, and edit our own ‘peer-reviewed’ journal, and a list of some people with letters after their names: all hail our science of Oogityboogityology!”

    But now comes the best bit: unlike isolated Micronesians on a remote island, the Discoveroids have cleared their jungle runway in the middle of a technologically-advanced world superpower! It is as if the Pacific islanders set up their coconut shell landing lights and cardboard ATC tower alongside the perimeter fence of Sea-Tac International or Boeing Field! What stunning power of self-delusion it would take to man the cereal-box radio year after year, desperately listening for messages therein amongst the incessant roar of the jumbo jets landing next door. But that, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely the superhuman delusional fortitude so remarkably displayed by the singular Mr. Luskin.

    So c’mon, guys and gals, lighten up! Watching Luskin, Klinghoffer et. al. playing at ‘science’ is every bit as cute and charming as watching 5-year-olds playing at ”Mommys and Daddys.” Or “Doctors.” It’s … well,… precious!

    Casey, I salute you! How dull our world would be without the example of your stupendously convoluted triumph of flat-out barking-mad delusion over simple reality!

  10. Glorious insight, Megalonyx. Glorious! Yes, they’re cargo cultists!

  11. “Megalonyx.”
    Super reply.
    “Failed geologist” would be my term for Luskin. God bless James Hutton.
    As for me, I am a failed light beer drinker, having advanced to Guiness. :) , Also, “The mayor of Lajitas Texas” , a goat penned outside the general store, could chug a bottle of Corona in 5 seconds by grabbing the bottle between its teeth and tilting its head back. Hilarious and cheap at a $1.59 per viewing. Casey should visit. it might help his illness. There are lots of little caves nearby in the volcanics, dug by mercury miners who scooped it out with their hands into buckets. Its possible Casey did this….. One wonders if giant ground sloths could be good beer drinkers.
    My suspicion is they would have been, but how to confirm this.

  12. Yes, I agree! The Discoveroids are cute and childish. Why, whenever I see chubby little Johnny Wells I just want to run up to him and pinch his widdle cheeks. Oogie woogie boogie boogie …

  13. Intrusives