Klinghoffer Flips Logic Upside Down

This one is bizarre, so we had to recycle an old graphic to warn you about what’s coming. But before we can begin we need to give you a self-indulgent quote as background. In Creationism and the Burden of Proof we said:

There is something that lurks within every debate about The Controversy between evolution and creationism, but which is sometimes overlooked — the question of who has the burden of proof.

You have all heard of the burden of proof. Basically, it means that whoever makes a claim has the burden of supporting that claim. Literal proof isn’t required (except for something like mathematics), but at minimum the claimant must offer credible (i.e., verifiable) evidence that supports his position. Without that, there is nothing to talk about.


We suggest that when the subject is a long-accepted scientific theory, it’s a perversion of the burden of proof to challenge the theory with nothing other than “Oh yeah?” Why do we say that? Because for something (like evolution) to have achieved the universally-recognized status of a scientific theory, it has already met that burden. The original hypothesis has been challenged and tested again and again, and it has survived such challenges. That’s why it is regarded as a theory. It also makes predictions that can be demonstrated to be true (see, e.g.: The Lessons of Tiktaalik).

Okay, now that we’re clear on the burden of proof we can turn to the latest from David Klinghoffer. This is what he just posted at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: How to Tell if You’re NOT an Intelligent Design Proponent.

Most of it is a big quote from something by Granville Sewell, who is not a Discoveroid “fellow,” but they think highly of him. You may recall one of our posts, Discovery Institute Gives Us Their Best Argument, where Sewell claims that the second law of thermodynamics is powerful argument for intelligent design “theory.” He actually said: “I still consider this argument to be the simplest and clearest argument for intelligent design that it is possible to make … .”

That’s the intellectual giant Klinghoffer is quoting. Klinghoffer begins his post by saying, with a bit of bold font added by us for emphasis:

[O]ur colleague the University of Texas, El Paso, mathematician Granville Sewell smartly answers a good question: What do you have believe if you’re NOT a proponent of intelligent design?

If you care what Sewell wrote, you can find it in the El Paso Times: Intelligent design shouldn’t be dismissed. We’ll give you one excerpt, so you’ll know whether to click over there:

The prevailing view in science today is that physics explains all of chemistry, chemistry explains all of biology, and biology completely explains the human mind; thus physics alone explains the human mind and all it does. This is what you have to believe to not believe in intelligent design, that the origin and evolution of life, and the evolution of human consciousness and intelligence, are due entirely to a few unintelligent forces of physics.

Thus you must believe that a few unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into computers and science texts and jet airplanes.

That’s only a small sample of the material that Klinghoffer admiringly quotes at length. In fact, a big quote from Sewell is most of Klinghoffer’s post. His only original contribution is this brilliant conclusion, which is what inspired us to use our leading graphic:

The great point Granville makes is that far from ID proponents being the ones who should be on the defensive, it’s really design deniers who are saddled with a heavy load of presumptive error. The real burden of proof lies on them. Poor guys!

Yes, now we’re the ones on the defensive. The Discoveroids hold the high ground, and we’re nowhere! They can look down on us, smirking, and we have to struggle with the burden of proof. They’ve won! That it. Game’s over.

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

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7 responses to “Klinghoffer Flips Logic Upside Down

  1. ….design deniers….


  2. Yeah, right, Klinghoffer. Now go tell that to the biology department of every University and college in the world. (Well, nearly every. There are a few bible colleges that would agree with you, and probably the Islamic schools in Iran as well.)

  3. Granville Sewell is a mathematician?

    “A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there.” Charles Darwin

    “I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning.” Plato

    “Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.” Bertrand Russell

    So now I understand Granville Sewell a little better.

  4. “Because for something (like evolution) to have achieved the universally-recognized status of a scientific theory, it has already met that burden”
    That’s not exactly true; think of String Theory. But scientists – in this case physicists – are intellectually honest enough to admit its problems, even if they are huge.

    “thus physics alone explains the human mind and all it does.”
    That’s a bit of a stretch. But yes, all scientists agree that two theories can’t contradict each other. A remarkable example was the debate on the age of the Earth; according to biologists she was much older than according to physicists, notably Lord Kelvin. The biologists won.
    So yeas – when the neurobiologists have formulated a theory of the human mind Klingy can bet his ass that it won’t contradict modern physics and that it will contain several references to it. What’s more – if that theory of the human mind would contradict modern physics (it’s conceivable) scientists all over the world will get a scientific hard on and look for additional empirical data to find out what’s wrong.
    Now if a scientific theory contradicts Klingy’s bias called creacrap at the other hand ….

    “Thus you must believe that a few unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into computers and science texts and jet airplanes.”
    But …. but ….. that’s spot on! That’s exactly what people do in factories! Rearranging huge chunks of fundamental particles! Resulting in computers and jet airplanes! Even science texts! They can because of understanding a few (hattip for Granville: the wet dream of physicists is to reduce this amount to exactly one; only gravity doesn’t cooperate yet) unintelligent forces of physics!
    Wow. How helpful that Granville lifts the burden of proof from the shoulders of scientists. It’s less surprising that Klingy doesn’t even notice.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    The thing is that physics doesn’t have any intelligence or behavior. Physics are just rules for matter. His is way off target.

  6. Groanville, ably helped along by Klangerhuffer, seems to commit a fallacy of decomposition — and boy, does it smell rotten!

  7. So rather than merely shifting the goalposts further back these two cretards have moved them to the opposite end zone. These people are even more loathsome than televangelists.