Discoveroids’ Kitzmas Series: #7 — The Designer

This is about number 7 — counting upwards from 10 — in a series of posts from the Discovery Institute that we first discussed in Discovery Institute Prepares for Kitzmas.

They’re working their way up to their #1 reason why the decision on 20 December 2005 by Judge John E. Jones III in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District was all wrong and is of no importance whatsoever. We anticipate that their number one reason will appear on the 20th, the day we celebrate Kitzmas.

The Discoveroids’ latest is Ten Myths About Dover: #7, “The Dover Case Showed ID Is ‘Religious’ and a Form of ‘Creationism'”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s a myth? This should be fun. It was written by Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us.

After quoting from an article in the New York Times reporting, the day after the opinion was released, that the Kitzmiller decision said intelligent design couldn’t be taught in high school biology courses because it’s religious, Casey argues:

But is ID actually religious? Is it a form of Christianity. [Casey should have used a question mark.] We can immediately see that it is not since there are ID proponents who are not Christian or even not religious. How could these individuals united around intelligent design if it were a “version of Christianity”? Likewise, we can immediately see that ID arguments are scientific, and not religious, because they use the scientific method to make their claims.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Intelligent design uses the Scientific method? Here we have to quote Casey extensively:

The scientific method is often described as a four-step process involving observation, hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion. ID uses this methodology in making its claims:

• Observation: The ways that intelligent agents act can be observed in the natural world and described. When intelligent agents act, it is observed that they produce high levels of “complex-specified information” (CSI). CSI is basically a scenario that is unlikely to happen (making it complex), and that conforms to an independent pattern (making it specified). From our understanding of the world, high levels of CSI are always the product of intelligent design.

• Hypothesis: If an object in the natural world was designed, then we should be able to examine that object and find the same high levels of CSI that we find in human-designed objects.

• Experiment: We can examine biological structures to test whether high CSI exists. For example, when we look at natural objects in biology, we find many machine-like structures that are specified, because they have a particular arrangement of parts that is necessary for them to function, and complex because they have an unlikely arrangement of many interacting parts. These high-CSI biological machines are “irreducibly complex,” for any change in the nature or arrangement of their parts would destroy their function. Through experiments we can “reverse engineer” such structures and show that they cease to function if a part is removed, showing they are irreducibly complex.

• Conclusion: Because they exhibit high levels of CSI, a quality known to be produced only by intelligent design, and because there is no other known mechanism to explain the origin of “irreducibly complex” biological structures, we conclude that they were intelligently designed.

We could write all day about CSI — that undefinable and meaningless ark-load — but it’s not worth the bother. We’ve already written about it several times. Wikipedia has a write-up on Specified complexity. It’s nothing more than a multi-syllabic blizzard of balderdash. Let’s read on:

This argument for design involves no religious premises and is strictly based upon the scientific method. These very sorts arguments were described to Judge Jones in his courtroom by pro-ID biologists Michael Behe and Scott Minnich who served as expert witnesses in the case.

Casey can’t accept the fact that there’s more to a trial than one side’s testimony. Judge Jones heard from both sides. We give some great quotes from his opinion on this topic here: Kitzmiller v. Dover: Who is the Intelligent Designer? The conclusion was inescapable — the designer is The Man Upstairs, Yahweh himself.

Casey’s post is huge, and it includes a load of quotes from creationists who agree with him. Whoopie! He really can’t understand why the Discoveroids’ nonsense doesn’t impress anyone who isn’t already a creationist. We explained why in Intelligent Design, the Great Incongruity, where we said:

Traditional creationism is openly and honestly religious, while ID is the Discoveroids’ “Don’t ask, don’t tell” version of creationism. ID creationists have repackaged their dogma into an ostensibly secular concept which they claim is a scientific theory. Despite ID’s complete lack of any scientific attributes, it is promoted as a scientific alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution. But it’s a flimsy disguise — a reversible coat with meaningless science jargon on the outside and miracles on the inside — a garment made for flashers.

Casey then gives a number of long quotes from Behe and other creationists, and a really long one from himself. We’re going to ignore that, but you can always click over there to read it for yourself. Then he says:

Unable to show that ID’s published writings refer to a “supernatural creator,” the Dover plaintiffs turned to harping on the motives and religious beliefs of ID proponents. Expert witness for the plaintiffs Barbara Forrest, coauthor of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, testified extensively about the motives and religious beliefs of ID proponents. While all of this is irrelevant to whether ID is science, Judge Jones claimed that Forrest’s testimony provided “a wealth of statements by ID leaders that reveal ID’s religious, philosophical, and cultural content.” Judge Jones even stated, “It is notable that both Professors Behe and Minnich admitted their personal view is that the designer is God.”

Who else could it be? Casey continues:

But just because some ID proponents happen to be religious doesn’t mean that ID is religion. Of course many ID proponents are Christians. But that’s irrelevant. After all, there are non-religious ID proponents and sympathizers like Thomas Nagel or Bradley Monton. Moreover, if religious (or anti-religious) beliefs matter, then what do we make of the fact that many evolutionists are atheists?

Aaaargh!! The only question was whether intelligent design is science or just repackaged religion — and the answer was obvious. After that, Casey attempts to defend Of Pandas and People as a solid science text. We’re skipping that because this is already too long and the Discoveroids have promised a whole post devoted to that issue. Here’s one more excerpt from near the end:

The point of all of this is that ID arguments are based upon science, not religion. Judge Jones ignored ID’s arguments and the way that ID proponents have articulated their position. He twisted ID in order to claim that it is a religious viewpoint, the equivalent of creationism.

That’s enough from Casey. We’ve only seen four of the Discoveroids’ promised ten posts so far. What wonders await us as Kitzmas approaches? Be patient, dear reader, we’ll soon find out.

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31 responses to “Discoveroids’ Kitzmas Series: #7 — The Designer

  1. michaelfugate

    One of Casey’s favorites goes as follows: ID predicts that DNA, which was once considered to be junk, will turn out to be functional after all.

    What does Casey know about “the Designer” (blessed be it!) that would lead him to this prediction? Do human designers only include functional elements in their designs? Can ID define functional so that everything isn’t functional in some sense? For instance, were the fins on a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado functional?

  2. Stupidity is not confined to the Dishonesty Institute and ID fans, though from time to time they themselves have admitted their designer is none other than the big magical sky god.

    Here’s another instance of incredible stupidity, perhaps those who promote this nonsense are creationists or ID proponents as well.

    Town kills solar farm project for fear it’ll consume the sun and prevent photosynthesis

  3. The only place you can find high levels of CSI is on CBS during primetime.

  4. @DevidK: Yikes (I would say something else, but it wouldn’t get past the Curmudgeon’s filters!). My kids knew more about science when they were in 2nd grade than the adults in that town. Perhaps it’s the fault of the “retired science teacher” who thinks solar panels prevent photosynthesis, apparently all around, not just underneath the panels. My advice to the young people whom the town folks think will abandon the place is do it! Run, fast, while you still have a couple of neurons left in your cerebral cortex!

  5. Names? See, twice I have searched the internet if I could find any non-believer who rejects Evolution Theory, but no dice.

    ” It’s nothing more than a multi-syllabic blizzard of balderdash.”
    The proof is in the pudding, isn’t it?

    “Why are there no papers by the ID giants …..?”

    Now let’s apply the Gerbil’s four step method.
    1. Observation: whenever IDiots get the chance to put their “theory” in practice they remain silent.
    2. Hypothesis: they never will try to test their “theory” because they are afraid it will fail.
    3. Experiment: present the IDiots an object of which it’s unclear whether it’s designed or not.
    4. Conclusion: IDiocy deserves this nickname.

    “Unable to show that ID’s published writings refer to a “supernatural creator,”
    Comedy gold indeed. What does the D in IDiocy mean again? Designer! Just a fancy word for creator. What does the Wedge Document tell us? Reject “materialism” – to open the possibility of supernatural explanations. Every single IDiot writing is about an unspecified supernatural creator.

    “there are non-religious ID proponents and sympathizers like Thomas Nagel”
    Nagel is silly, of course, but no, he does not advocate IDiocy.

    “ID arguments are based upon science, not religion.”
    Excellent contradiction of terms. Science is never based on arguments. It’s based on hypotheses and theories at one hand and empirical data at the other. IDiocy at it’s very best.

    However I cannot help, my dear SC, that one fear of yours appears to be unjustified:

    “If they’re all as turgid and tedious as this one, we’ll probably ignore most of them.”
    The Gerbil and co really do their best to contribute to a merry Kitzmas!

  6. “Town kills solar farm project ….”
    These people from NC might have been a bit misrepresented in the media.

  7. Firstly, the DI needs to define CSI in such a way that it can be measured. “High” is not a scientific measurement. Might as well state that something looks darn complicated.

    Secondly, the observation that humans create artifacts with “high” CSI does not mean that natural forces cannot create natural forms with “high” CSI. There is no rule that states “only one process can ever produce something complicated.” Despite their numerous attempts, the DI has not eliminated evolution as a cause of complexity.

    Thirdly, the DI clearly states in their “wedge” strategy that their purpose is to bring about “science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” That is why ID exists. It is ID that is designed, not the subjects of ID.

    No wonder they got trounced in Dover.

  8. Off topic, but it’s an interesting little fact about a guy who regularly figures on this nice little blog:

    In purely financial terms I have picked the entirely wrong job. Teaching creacrap pays a lot better than teaching math and physics.

  9. This Bradley Monton – philosopher who wrote “Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design”.

    A book reviewer said about the book,

    This is a brave and important book. Monton does not defend ‘intelligent design’ as true―he thinks it is most likely false. Instead, he defends it as a hypothesis worth taking seriously. He argues convincingly that it can be formulated as a scientifically testable hypothesis, and that there is some important empirical evidence for it―not as much evidence as its supporters claim there is, but some evidence. Virtually all voices in this debate insist either that ID is not even worth taking seriously or else that it is manifestly the truth. It is refreshing to see a talented philosopher give the thesis its due and make a serious attempt to weigh the evidence for and against it, without the weight of the ‘culture wars’ hanging over every sentence.
    ― John T. Roberts, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

  10. Ceteris Paribus

    Maybe Casey and some of his DI colleagues should be sent down to that South Carolina town which is worried about having all their sun energy sucked up by solar collectors. It is so simple that even PZ missed the point.

    According to the DI, we do live on a planet which was carefully engineered by the DI to supply all of our human needs. So obviously the ID (blessed Be-He!) would have provided for solar energy to be exploited for the benefit of fully ID humans.

    And even with no scientific knowledge at all, everyone can plainly observe that the Sun shines only during the daytime, when there is already plenty of light outside anyway. The little bit sucked up by the solar arrays won’t be missed at all, and can be sold at a profit with no harm to anyone.

    On the other hand, during the night time it is pretty dark outside, and that little bit of illumination provided by the Moon can come in quite handy for humans at times.

    So what the DI people need to do is advise the worried South Carolina residents that if they simply take care to turn off their solar arrays at night, so as to prevent any of the scarce light from the moon light getting sucked up, everything will go perfectly OK according to the sublime plans of the ID.

  11. But is ID actually religious? Is it a form of Christianity. [Casey should have used a question mark.] We can immediately see that it is not since there are ID proponents who are not Christian or even not religious.

    Really? Who are the atheist ID’ers, and why have they not been strung up by the believers? Are the latter that desperate for secular support?

    How could these individuals united around intelligent design if it were a “version of Christianity”?

    It would be easier to answer that question if any of “these individuals” were actually identified.

    Likewise, we can immediately see that ID arguments are scientific, and not religious, because they use the scientific method to make their claims.

    Starting with a desired conclusion and then searching for, and if necessary fabricating, evidence to support it isn’t “the scientific method.”

  12. Hark! The herald Gerbil squeals,
    “Glory to our shop-worn spiels!
    Piss on facts, and data piled–
    God, how logic gets us riled!
    Mindless, all ye bumpkins, drool!
    Wield the Wedge, and be a tool!
    With th’IDiots, chant this swill:
    “Man came from apes? Then why apes still?!”

    Hark! The bald-faced Gerbil’s whine:
    “Monkeys ain’t no kin of mine!”

  13. Away in Seattle,
    No brain in his head,
    The poor abhorred Gerbil
    Flogs his horse that’s dead.

    Judge Jones in the court room
    Found I.D.’s a sect;
    That weird silly dogma
    Can’t get no respect!

    The donors are drying,
    The Disco’Tute quakes,
    So poor abhorred Gerbil
    Much lying he makes.

    I love thee, wee Gerbil,
    Keep blogging away!
    You’ll keep us amused
    From now ‘til Doomsday!

  14. “Observation: The ways that intelligent agents act can be observed in the natural world and described. When intelligent agents act, it is observed that they produce high levels of “complex-specified information” (CSI)…. From our understanding of the world, high levels of CSI are always the product of intelligent design.”

    Beautiful! Intelligent designers make complicated things. Therefore complicated things are made by intelligent designers.

    How can one even begin to discuss things with people who find such an argument convincing?

  15. The whole truth

    Megalonyx, I am really enjoying your lyrics.

  16. @ The whole truth I’m glad, and thank you–but it’s probably a mistake to encourage me…

  17. Megalonyx warns: “it’s probably a mistake to encourage me”

    I shouldn’t tell you this, but Olivia is pleasantly surprised to see that you have any talent other than tree-climbing.

  18. Who are they writing this revisionist history for? Who is the target audience?

  19. anevilmeme asks

    Who are they writing this revisionist history for? Who is the target audience?

    Good question. It would seem they occasionally rope in some fresh young blood (like Patrick Henry College alumna Sarah Chaffee), but mostly I think it’s to keep up appearances for their donors. True, it is all just the same old echoes in the same old chamber, so there’s probably a big dollop of reassuring one another with the old familiar blather in an intellectual circle-jerk.

    Alternatively: the Grand Ole Designer (Blessed be He/She/It/Them!) thoughtfully created them for the perpetual amusement for the rest of us inhabitants of this truly Privileged Planet.

  20. Every pastafarian will go for your alternative, theological explanation, dear Mega. Existing eternally beyond spacetime is no joke, so the Grand Ole Designer will be tempted to stir a little entertainment now and then in our human reality …..

  21. Chew on this definition of ID from Monton’s book:

    The theory of intelligent design holds that certain global features of the universe provide evidence for the existence of an intelligent cause, or that certain biologically innate features of living things provide evidence for the doctrine that the features are the result of the intentional actions of an intelligent cause which is not biologically related to the living things, and provide evidence against the doctrine that the features are the result of an undirected process such as natural selection.

    Here’s the old definition it is to replace:

    The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

    It’s longer, but better?

  22. In my writing classes, I would have my students play a game called “word golf.” I gave them a bloated prose passage and assigned them to express its essential ideas in as few words as possible. The winner received my highest accolade: Hot Damn!

    I pointed out to my students that writers often camouflage bad ideas by piling heaps of words on them.

    Monton played the game backwards, with the usual result. The sad part is that he probably actually thought he was clarifying intelligent design rather than obfuscating it.

  23. michaelfugate

    Matt Young reviewed the book over at Panda’s Thumb (2010) and said this:

    I thought the book was well and clearly written, if not always well argued, but I thought that if I saw one more instance of an awkward and wholly superfluous phrase such as “it is the case that,” I was going to scream or throw my shoe through the monitor.

  24. Megalonyx, you complete me.

  25. Who are they writing this revisionist history for? Who is the target audience?

    Their number one audience are their donors. The Tooters have to keep tootin’ or the donors will see them as a waste of money, if that makes any sense. It doesn’t matter what they write, what books get published, where or how, just so long as they can provide a list. Three bags full, sir!

    The Tooters don’t produce anything, really. They’re not a publishing house. They don’t sell housewares or manufacture anything. Stop the donor’s gravy train and the Tute evaporates. Simple as that.

    Their number two audience are themselves. They have to keep churning out the same old stuff year after year. It’s like that scene in Papillon where the prisoners in solitary stick their heads through the hatch and ask, “How do I look? Eh? How do I look?”

  26. And, finally, in case there was ever a doubt, here are the Governing Goals of the Disco Tute Center for (the Renewal) Science and Culture directly from their own documentation:

    Governing Goals

    To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

    To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

    Yes, the Wedge Document is alive and well in spite of the Tooters calling it, “What, that old thing?” They’ve never disavowed it. They can’t. It’s the reason the donors do the donoring thing.

  27. michaelfugate

    Their new Mission is not much different that above- just a bit more obfuscatory – but I have clarified it below:

    Our mission is to advance the understanding that life, the universe and everything are the result of the Abrahamic God’s creative acts rather than anything scientists might propose. We seek theocracy through subversion of science and public relations; indoctrination of young leaders; misinforming the masses; and advocacy of academic freedom and free speech only for those who aspire to overthrow the enlightenment and its legacy.

  28. I must have missed something. Is there are linked to the new Mission?

  29. michaelfugate

    It is on their web page – I just paraphrased, but they do have a refreshed web site.

  30. Thanks, got it. You missed the most worrying bit, right at the end: ” Its vision of a closing circle of human possibilities on a planet of limited horizons summons instead the deadening ideologies of scarcity, conflict, mutual suspicion and despair.”
    Translation: Only godless wimps worry about things like global warming, population increase, sinking water tables, and species extinctions.

  31. michaelfugate

    But we will still be made in God’s image! Ain’t that grand! Just think that no matter what, you can repeat over and over “I am not a monkey” – it’s almost as good as food and a warm bed.