A Lesson in Discoveroid Logic

The Discovery Institute has been posting an amazing series of articles lately, each one illustrating a different creationist argument technique. Today, in Horns of a Dilemma: Does Intelligent Design Do Too Little — or Too Much?, they’re accusing their critics of being illogical for claiming two contradictory things at the same time. This is going to be fun. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

An irony about intelligent design is that it is attacked from, so to speak, front and behind. Some, including theistic evolutionists, criticize ID’s minimalism — it declines to name a designer, to describe the act of design (so that you could picture it happening), to say when or how often the design is instantiated in life, among other things.

It’s entirely appropriate to criticize the Discoveroids’ “theory” if it doesn’t do those things. They give us a few examples of such criticism, along with their attempted refutation:

When: Different scientific fields tell us different things. Astronomy doesn’t tell us when the earth formed. But geology does. That doesn’t mean astronomy is less a science because it can tell us things that geology cannot. ID tells us whether something was designed or whether it arose via material causes. ID doesn’t tell you when the designer acted. But other fields can. Fields like geology (dating methods), paleontology (looking at fossils), or molecular biology (molecular clock methods) can potentially tell you when the designer acted to implement some design.

How often: As we learn more and more about where we should detect design, and as other fields tell us when that design happened, we can begin to get a handle on “how often” the designer acted. So this question is definitely not off limits to intelligent design and ID can help address it.

Identity of the designer: True, ID doesn’t tell you who the designer is. That is because the scientific evidence doesn’t tell us. This is a good example of ID respecting the limits of science. Some see it as a weakness of ID. In fact, it’s a strength. As William Dembski has said, “This is not a matter of being vague but rather of not pretending to knowledge that we don’t have.”

See? No problems. Then the Discoveroids say:

In a special irony, many theistic evolutionists tout methodological naturalism, criticizing ID for supposedly bringing God into science. These same individuals then pivot and complain that ID fails to identify the designer as God.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! But both claims are true. The Discoveroids’ refusal to identify their designer isn’t because the designer isn’t God — he most definitely is — but saying so would be fatal to their fading hopes of one day persuading the courts that their “theory” is science, not theology. Besides, the Discoveroids sometimes slip up and do identify their designer as God, albeit not with scripture quotes as the other creationists do. For a few examples of their admission that their designer is Yahweh, see Klinghoffer Admits Intelligent Design Is Theism, and also Discoveroids: All Theology, All the Time. After insisting that they don’t identify their designer — blessed be he! — the Discoveroids tell us:

Meanwhile, design advocates are slammed for maximalism, or worse. Much worse.

Aha — that’s the contradiction! They give us quotes from critics who say that the Discoveroids are trying to destroy science. Gasp — imagine that! How could anyone make such an accusation? Perhaps it’s because they’re familiar with the Discoveroids’ Wedge strategy, the founding manifesto of the Discovery Institute, about which we wrote What is the “Wedge Document”? It declares:

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. … Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science.

[…]

Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. … Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.

After attempting to rebut their critics, the Discoveroids say:

Whoa. So which is it, folks? Does ID do too little [failing to identify their designer] — or too much [trying to destroy science]? And why the hysteria?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s both! Imagining that they’ve debunked their critics, they announce:

ID may be limited, but if it can show that even one feature in living things is designed by an intelligence (no matter when,where, or how), the whole edifice of materialism collapses. That’s why Darwinists are terrified. They cannot allow an intelligent foot in the door.

Yes, we’re terrified. The final words of the Discoveroid post attack their critics for contradicting themselves by simultaneously claiming the Discoveroids don’t identify the designer (which they do), and then claiming that they go too far in trying to destroy science (which they also do), and they label their critics as illogical:

As for our theistic evolutionary friends, well, they’ve abandoned the principle of non-contradiction. Everything and nothing follows from that.

So there you are — a dazzling exercise in Discoveroid logic. They claim that their critics are illogical for saying two contradictory things at the same time. But the critics are correct, and the things they say aren’t contradictory at all.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “A Lesson in Discoveroid Logic

  1. Although this post is available (obviously), the previous post does not yet link to it. Is this some peculiarity of WordPress?

  2. jimroberts, I don’t always update earlier posts with links to later ones.

  3. SC: I expressed myself unclearly, sorry. I meant the link above the post, next to the link to the chronologically previous post. However, the expected link has now appeared.

  4. BTW, I think that the emptiness of evolution-denial was first pointed out by
    Herbert Spencer in his 1852 essay “The Development Hypothesis” – see Wikisouce.org – I’d like to hear of any other early sources.

  5. “if it can show that even one feature in living things is designed by an intelligence (no matter when,where, or how), the whole edifice of materialism collapses.”
    If “no matter when, where and how” (note that this IDiot doesn’t address the question how the Grand Old Designer did it) don’t matter then why answer to materialist complaints in the first place? Just demonstrate that they don’t matter – and merely proclaiming won’t do.

  6. As we learn more and more about where we should detect design, and as other fields tell us when that design happened, we can begin to get a handle on “how often” the designer acted.

    So far, ID hasn’t been able to pinpoint a single design event. Any design event. They can only use their intuition to claim that something appears to be designed. No specifics at all. None.

    There is nothing for “other fields” (a.k.a. science) to work on. The author is being very pretentious in asserting that scientists will spend any time at all in attempting to quantify or date ID events.

  7. ID may be limited, but if it can show that even one feature in living things is designed by an intelligence (no matter when,where, or how), the whole edifice of materialism collapses.
    Yawn. We’re still waiting for the one designed feature and exactly how this non-natural feat was achieved and exactly how it was detected.

  8. “ID may be limited, but if it can show that even one feature in living things is designed by an intelligence (no matter when,where, or how), the whole edifice of materialism collapses.”

    Why? What if the designer is a naturally evolved entity or principle, a property of the universe we simply have yet to comprehend? Or is “designer” now synonymous with “God” in ID? But if that’s the case, then, whoops….

  9. May I point out that some of us are not concerned about the collapse of materialIsm, but in the explanation of the ways of nature. If Intelligent Design could present an alternative account for the sorts of things which evolutionary biology treats, we would be interested in hearing about it. Of course, we would be surprised to hear that someone had an alternative, given the lack of progress over the last … Well, even the Cubs have won the World Series! And just having an alternative is not enough, there would also have to be some evidence.

  10. “ID may be limited, but if it can show that even one feature in living things is designed by an intelligence (no matter when,where, or how), the whole edifice of materialism collapses.”

    No, that would only mean that you have shown that the “one thing” was designed, not that everything was. Indeed, many plant and animal species have been “designed” by humans with selective breeding, but that does not mean that humans have “designed” all species.

    Creationist “logic” *always* involves using a NOT gate (usually known as an inverter). They cannot compete with rational logic so they use the inverted form instead.

  11. I guess a theistic evolutionist is someone who believes in a god but also understands modern science. What do you call someone who thinks there are some positive messages in the Bible , a lot of metaphors and lessons in daily but who also uses and understands science. Oh wait, its the Pope !!!!
    He does support evolution you see. Pity the discoveroids have pitted their little office over the fitness center against Vatican City. Talk about a David and Goliath struggle…!

  12. Charles Deetz ;)

    “True, ID doesn’t tell you who the designer is. “

    *Who* the designer is? A little presumptive with that pronoun.

    I’ve been watching Westworld, where the living environment and the ‘hosts’ are created … by a corporation and its paid employees. Or, as Ed implied above, perhaps a *what*, some other power.

  13. michaelfugate

    So if someone has an artificial limb or a stent or a insulin pump – materialism is destroyed? How come no one noticed?

  14. True, ID doesn’t tell you who the designer is. That is because the scientific evidence doesn’t tell us. This is a good example of ID respecting the limits of science. Some see it as a weakness of ID. In fact, it’s a strength. As William Dembski has said, “This is not a matter of being vague but rather of not pretending to knowledge that we don’t have.”

    Nonsense. “Intelligent design” doesn’t name the Designer because ID isn’t a scientific theory but rather a legal strategy to get around unfavorable court decisions regarding the teaching of the Book of Genesis as science and history in public schools.

  15. Hans-Richard Grümm

    “Intelligent design” and “material cause” are not mutually exclusive. In fact, everything we know to have been designed (from a Acheulian hand-axe to a computer) was made by material causes.

  16. You foolish materialists!

    Could blind, undirected natural forces alone cause this: Giant snowballs appear on Russian beach in Siberia?

    Surely this is yet another piece of exquisite fine-tuning from the hand of the Intelligent Designer(s) (Blessed be He/She/It/Them!, who is(are) just itching for a snowball fight!