This one from the Discovery Institute is painful to read. It’s about a familiar feature of their peculiar version of creationism, William Dembski’s Design Inference. It’s the means by which the Discoveroids use their “theory” of intelligent design to detect the existence of a transcendent designer of the universe. Our all-time favorite example of its application is Mt. Rushmore Is Designed, Therefore … .
They claim that their filter is a “scientific” tool that is useful in a number of different fields, including archeology — see Rock Mounds Are Designed, Therefore …. The last time we wrote about it was shortly after Dembski’s departure from the Discovery Institute: Discovery Institute Descends into Incoherence.
That incoherence is very much in evidence today in the latest post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: A Design False Positive? Applying the Design Filter in Archaeology. It has no author’s byline. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Off the coast of a Greek island, snorkelers found structures that resemble human artifacts. Some look like pottery, others like pipes. There even appear to be paved courtyards. Were these treasures from a sunken ship, or remains from a town that became submerged after a tidal wave? Archaeologists from two universities went to investigate.
Wowie — a scientific mystery! But it’s no mystery to the Discoveroids. They say:
We’ve considered cases before [links omitted] of odd formations that didn’t look designed but were judged by archaeologists to be man-made structures. Here’s a case of the opposite: features that look designed at the outset, but left room for doubt. Can William Dembski’s famous Design Filter rescue us from a case of mistaken identity?
Can the Discoveroids’ filter solve this abominable mystery off the coast of a Greek island? Let’s read on:
As they gathered data, the geological explanation became clearer:
1. The lack of other evidences of human artifacts was unexpected if this were a city port.
2. The linear distribution suggested association with a fault line.
4. Isotopic data fit the theory that these were natural concretions. ….
For these and other reasons, the scientists rejected the design hypothesis and attributed these structures to natural causes.
Then what’s the problem? We don’t see one, but the Discoveroids continue with several mind-bending paragraphs that we’ll skip because they’re totally incoherent. Then they say:
Here’s another interesting test case from some pictures sent along by our old friend David Coppedge. [Hee hee!] Along the shores of Lake Crowley in eastern California, he photographed a series of regularly spaced columns that look, for all the world, like the remains of an ancient temple. Quite amazing. See the photo at the top. Each column is further composed of regularly spaced disks of stone. The width, spacing and regularity of these structures are remarkable.
Where is this going? We’re told:
We know these are not designed, however, for a combination of reasons. … Additionally, geological theories exist to explain these formations by natural causes. … None of these reasons is alone sufficient for rejecting design, but according to Dembski’s design filter, a natural cause is preferred when available and when the amount of specified complexity is low.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Nonsensical, isn’t it? In all modesty, we remind you of a post we wrote almost four years ago, Rethinking Paley’s Watchmaker Analogy, in which — at least to our satisfaction — we demolished the Discoveroids’ fictional design filter. You can look at that later if you like. Meanwhile, here’s more from the Discoveroids:
One last example comes from Spain. Look at National Geographic’s picture of “mysterious stone circles” found a thousand feet inside the entrance of Bruniquel Cave. Though not elaborate, the ring of broken stalactites contains sufficient specified complexity for archaeologists to infer design. They believe Neanderthals who inhabited the area built the structure for unknown reasons. … [S]cientists felt justified in inferring that the stones were placed deliberately by beings with cognitive abilities and acting with purpose. Natural law and chance were thereby rejected.
What does Dembski’s magic filter have to do with that? It’s all explained in their final paragraph:
Archaeology is intelligent design in action. Archaeologists routinely distinguish between natural causes and intelligent causes. A design inference may be drawn with rigor, avoiding hasty conclusions. But if the paltry level of organization seen in a ring of stalactites is sufficient for a design inference, how much more the genetic code of a microbe, containing vast amounts of complex specified information?
So there you are. We have no idea how to make any sense of what they said, but they seem to be claiming that archeology is totally dependent on their magic design filter. It works! And if it works in archeology, it also works for everything else. That’s how they know that their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — is responsible for the universe, the Earth, life, and even you, dear reader.
Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.