Discovery Institute: God of the Gaps Again

The Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — are still denying that their “theory” of intelligent design is a god of the gaps argument.

Their latest post (by “Jonathan M.”) is Once Again, Why Intelligent Design Is Not a “God-of-the-Gaps” Argument. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and their links omitted:

The “god-of-the-gaps” objection to intelligent design is one that we have addressed numerous times at ENV and elsewhere (most recently, here).

They link to an article by Casey, about which we posted Casey Luskin and the God of the Gaps. We didn’t leave much to be said, but now the Discoveroids are back, claiming that their “theory” really isn’t that kind of fallacious argument at all. They don’t say anything this time around that Casey didn’t before, but for some reason they think that repetition makes their wretched denials more effective. It doesn’t.

The writer describes a friend’s blog post claiming that intelligent design is as much a god of the gaps argument as the old claim that Thor was responsible for thunder and lightning. That offends the Discoveroid, who says:

This comparison fails on so many levels one barely knows where to begin. It is very difficult to envision how someone could offer an inferential design argument based on the occurrence of thunder and lightning. On the other hand, it is not at all difficult to imagine how one could offer such an argument based upon the digital information encoded in the DNA molecule and the intricate nanotechnology that is so abundant in living systems.

Do you see any difference between thunder and DNA? We don’t. They’re both excuses for invoking Oogity Boogity. Well, one is now hopelessly outdated, while the other hasn’t yet given up to join its relatives like the sun and the rain in the retirement home for obsolete miracles. But the Discoveroids try to show that there really is a difference:

Indeed, a key selling point of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was that it served as a designer substitute. It could produce the appearance of design without the need for intelligent activity. Even Richard Dawkins, at the beginning of The Blind Watchmaker, asserts that “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” No natural explanation for thunder and lightning has ever claimed to offer a designer substitute.

Huh? Well, ancient priests didn’t explicitly attribute thunder and lightning to an intelligent designer, but that’s a trivial matter. Everyone knows who the Discoveroids’ designer is. We haven’t researched them all, but it’s likely that every ancient religion has an Oogity Boogity explanation for thunder and lightning. The bible clearly attributes those phenomena to Yahweh. Check out these passages (King James version, of course):

When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder (Job 28:26)

He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth. (Job 37:3)

Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are? (Job 38:35)

The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. (Psalm 77:18)

Not satisfied to make one bad argument, the Discoveroids then make another:

The analogy offered by my friend also confuses observational and historical science. Thunder and lightening are a phenomenon that we can readily observe, repeatedly in real time. … The origin and evolution of life, on the other hand, are historical events and therefore (since they cannot be directly observed) require a different sort of reasoning process, an inference-based methodology.

Lordy, lordy. That’s creation science’s bogus distinction, which we’ve debunked numerous times (see ICR Says Scientists Don’t Understand Science). But it’s amusing to see the Discoveroids returning to their intellectual roots when they’re desperate. Let’s read on:

Another important problem with my friend’s comparison is that ID does NOT invoke a supernatural force to explain biological phenomena.

Yes it does, and everyone knows it. The only reason they refuse to officially name Yahweh as the designer is that they still hope to fool the courts into thinking that their enterprise is secular and thus jamming it into public schools somehow doesn’t violate the separation of church and state. We continue:

Contrary to [the blogger's] assertion, ID is not “a particular attempt to synthesize modern science and Christian faith.”

Ah, but it is! That’s made explicit in their Wedge Document. Here’s a copy of it from the website of the National Center for Science Education: The Wedge Document. There’s also an informative article in Wikipedia: Wedge strategy. The Wedge Document states in its “Five Year Strategic Plan Summary” that the intelligent design movement’s goal is to replace science as currently practiced with “theistic and Christian science.” Clear enough?

The author goes on for several more paragraphs, but all he does is restate the same arguments that Casey made in the earlier Discoveroid post which we discussed. There’s nothing new here, folks. Well, what’s “new” is the confirmation that the Discoveroids are sticking with their argument, and claiming that it’s not fallacious when it obviously is. But that’s not new — it’s just creationism.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Discovery Institute: God of the Gaps Again

  1. Anyone who loathes the Discovery Institute as much as this is a friend of mine! Keep up the good work!

  2. doodlebugger

    I thought the operative term in this article was “designer substitute”,
    an attempt to elevate their “theory” rhetorhically relative to science.
    Lots and lots and lots of misinformation here. Wow……
    Jonathan M.? Huh?” Hey, this is science, but we don’t want to actually sign the stuff we write”.:)

  3. Ah, Jonathan MacLatchie! Young proto-cdesign proponentsist of the Jon Wells variety earning his PhD so he can be all sciency when he preaches.

    Here is the young Jonathan M getting pwnd by PZ Myers in Glasgow last year.

    Jonathan has an annoying verbal tic, among other annoying things about his personality or lack of one, in that he says a very loud “AM” as his brain catches up to his pie hole. I guess it’s the Scottish version of “um” so it would be his neuron catching up to his haggis hole.

    In any case, everything that Jonathan M writes is wrong, badly written and intentionally distorted, in other words, the perfect Discoveroid. He has a long, dishonest career ahead of him.

  4. retiredsciguy

    “Jonathan M.” wrote, “The analogy offered by my friend also confuses observational and historical science. Thunder and lightening are a phenomenon that we can readily observe…”

    “Lightening”? What’s that? One might say, “The sky in the east is lightening at dawn,” or “I will be lightening my load by leaving my dictionary at home,” but the phenomenon that causes thunder is spelled “lightning”. No “e”.

    He got it right in the first & second quoted paragraphs. Guess he’s just a bit careless — seems to fit his argument as well. But then, we all make misteaks while righting riting writing.

  5. retiredsciguy says: “Guess he’s just a bit careless”

    I can’t criticize anyone for typos. I’ll give him a pass for that. But only for that.

  6. Negative, Curmie. I can criticize the Tooters for typos because they apparently don’t know how to use a spell checker. They don’t simply leave an “O” off of “TO” when they meant “TOO,” rather they misspell entire words. Read anything by Luskin and it comes off like a Nigerian banker letter without, alas, an incentive!

    Creationism will be discovered to be a genetic condition also tied to an inability to spell and a total lack of ethics.

  7. doodlebugger

    Docbill thanks for that PZ link it was amazing how calmly he shredded McLatchie

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    My mommie always told me it was the angels bowling that made the thunder. That wasn’t science? I’m so confused now.

  9. I LOL’d, ROMFAL’d and squeeeeeee’d with glee when MacLatchie pulled a Paul Nelson by saying, “I’ve got examples but I left the papers in my car/hotel/room/whatever.

    Nelson did that in a radio interview during which he said he had a list of seven things that would convince him evolution was true. Great! But, when asked what they were Nelson backpedaled and said he left the list in his hotel room. Seriously, that’s what he said. The interviewer pressed Nelson to at least name one item from memory but Nelson said he didn’t want to misquote himself and begged off.

    Nelson is a liar. He had no list. He just made it up, got called out for his BS and had to retreat. The interviewer by all rights should have called him a liar on the spot.

    Another liar is Berlinski who claimed he “counted” the number of changes it would take to turn a cow into a whale (No, I am not making this up! Yes, it’s so incredibly stupid that breathtaking inanity doesn’t begin to cover it.) and stopped at 50,000. Total BS. Berlinski never made the list and, furthermore, was unable to elaborate on a single “change” in any detail whatsoever. Again, interviewers and debate moderators have simply given him a pass on this nonsense rather than falling down laughing, wetting themselves, crying and demanding that he stop it!

  10. …ID does NOT invoke a supernatural force to explain biological phenomena.

    Ha. So we are supposed to believe that the ID movement seriously considers it possible that a non-supernatural designer is responsible for designing all life on earth? If so, who designed the designer? One can repeat this question until ultimately either a supernatural designer set everything in motion or a designer came about through a natural process. If it is possible that a designer can, in principle, arise from natural causes, them the fundamental premise of ID that a designer is necessary to create complex biological entities is completely negated. ID, therefore, must assert a supernatural designer or it has no logical basis.

    We know that the author is lying on this point, based on the wedge document and statements by ID’s leading advocates, but the claim that no supernatural force is invoked by ID fails on its own logic as well.

    In all of our experience of cause and effect, we know that complex and sequence-specific information, when it is traced back to its source, uniformly originates with an intelligent cause.

    In other words, people design complex things, so all complex things must be designed. No, the fact that people design complex things does not preclude complex things from arising in other ways.

    to assume that every phenomenon that we cannot explain yet must nonetheless have a materialistic explanation is to commit a converse “materialism-of-the-gaps” fallacy.

    HooHoo… I’m sure the DI wishes this were so. First of all, assuming that an yet unknown materialistic explanation exists does not in any way fill a gap – we still don’t know what the explanation is, and readily acknowledge the gaps in knowledge. Secondly, the assumption that the explanation is natural is based simply on the fact that all explanations that we do have for fundamentally everything we know are natural, and no supernatural force or entity has ever been observed in the history of science. ID, conversely, presumes to explain gaps in knowledge by proposing an action by something which cannot ever – even in principle – be observed, tested, proven or disproven, or in any way studied. The actions of this entity are described purely based on what ID’s believers wish were true. The ID explanation is, therefore, no explanation at all. It is the very definition of “God of the Gaps”.

  11. oops, this designer missed a few typos… but SC has already stated that he does not judge based on typos!

  12. It always troubles me to read the Dishonesty Institute’s assertion regarding the “Theory of Intelligent Design.” There is no such theory.

    A simple definition of a scientific theory (from Wikipedia):
    A scientific theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.”

    ID has no body of facts nor has anything related to ID ever been demonstrated, or repeatedly confirmed through observation or experiment. ID “theory” is simply an assertion of statement that they make against evolution in favor of their religious argument, but they have no case whatsoever to back it up. This is a case Luskin would lose again and again in court, e.g., Kitzmilller.

  13. docbill!
    I’m concerned Berlinski hasn’t accounted for the 6,000 years of time in his calculations regarding the cow to whale transition. We need to know the exact amount of time between changes from cow to whale in order to better analyze his powerful quantitative argument.
    I can only hope future research will correct this minor oversight.
    Perhaps McClatchie can help him with the addition and long division.
    A difficult mathematical problem and definitely worthy of someone of McClatchie’s intellectual caliber.

  14. I can observe “encoding of digital information” (aka, DNA synthesis by chemical reactions guided solely by chemical laws) right now, today or any day. It’s hardly historical.

    I’m so tired of the products of reactions being referred to as information. All chemical reactions are specified, and if you want to call that “information” when it’s DNA, then all products of all reactions are information, too.

  15. Ed, I get funky when I hear the gaps argument because it seems as if
    missing time in the rock record (and therefore breaks in observeable paleontologic successions),somehow invalidates the massive amounts of paleontologic data supporting evolution and transitions through time, we do have, and continue to find. Creatoids have no viable explanation except magic.
    Did anyone see the Cretaceous songbird size fanged fossil recently found in Diayou China, the GEICO gecko’s nightmare?……………
    Mr. Gecko would not have been so all British “stay calm and drink Boodles” about seeing one of those winged shredding machines
    nearby. It looks like a mockingbird with an attitude on steroids.

  16. Doodlebugger,
    Do you have a reference?